Before knowing to be an artist … she didn’t know yet that she would be an artist … before the moment she knew that she would be an artist …
In a James Joyceian manner, Lena Lapschina portrays an artist … namely an artist in her juvenescence, before she would even know that one day she would become an artist, and certainly before she would wake up in a country where artists believe it’s normal to live a precarious life in poverty.
Lena Lapschina is painting this full-of-happiness, brimming-with-confidence girl at Kulturhof Villach in bright colours, using (one of) her favourite material for murals: some rolls of heavy-duty duct tape.
Schauraum, Kulturhof Villach. Carinthia.
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Kunsthalle Krems is displaying my triptych “Alien”. It is marker pen on corrugated five-layer cardboard, and I’ve done it in 2011. One can see a cogitating Yuri Gagarin, a robotic lunar vehicle attempting to turn the iconic 1969 moonboot footprints into dust, and apparently a conversation between a landlady and her alien guest.
While it is clear that the three panels’ common topic is alienness, the artist leaves it up to the viewer to decide whether she is reporting historical events or science fiction.
“Alien” is part of the group show “Ticket to the Moon” (curator: Andreas Hoffer).
When Kunsthaus Zürich invited me to be in a heavenly exhibit called “Fly Me To The Moon”, I sat back, listened to sound from outer space – and remembered a photo series I’ve produced once upon a time at the various Star Cities. The following weeks I tried to recap that very moment when people for the first time left the Earth behind and set off towards the Stars. Scientists – from Galilei to Tsiolkovsky – came to my mind, and formulae, and pictures from cosmic voyages.
The result of this endeavour is “Bring Me To The Stars”. Eight photographs, with annotations in the margins, elucidatory or lunatic, a fusion of dreams and reality.
“Am besten gefiel mir immer der Gravitationsunterricht” is a forty meter long story on the walls of the Arlberg 1800 Resort, a deluxe hideaway in the Alps.
The guests who immerse into this mural – in English, its title would read something like “My favourite subject in school and ever since has been gravitation” – will find themselves in a world composed of gravitation-based experiences and authentic Sankt Christoph scenery.
When FDR, the biennial art project of the State of Upper Austria, commissioned me to do a series of six murals themed “Uninvited Guests” along Marchtrenk, I carefully shopped for benevolent walls. So I got this grainy-textured, worn-out façade at a crossroads in the very center of the town, which would become shelter for a work of particularly ephemeral character. Lit by the cars’ headlights by night, the scene depicted in the mural became vivid: For a fleeting moment, drivers could see a group of people, burdened with their personal effects, hiking across the village. Only a split second later, and they had already disappeared into the dark again. Technique: tape.
London-based contemporary art theorist Estere Kajema has written a beautiful essay about murals for Arterritory. I’m grateful that my work has been discussed and assessed among the works of Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ai Weiwei, and Michael Craig-Martin.
There are two very important conclusions in this text. One is about my murals: “By putting images directly onto the walls, Lapschina is almost letting her figures grow free – dogs, magical sword-fighters, gnomes, and even flowers, mountains and trees. These red forms surround and occupy the space, and by doing so they somehow become the hosts, the owners, the ghosts who are attached to the architecture. The characters, which one might be fortunate enough to meet in the stairway of one of these buildings, seem to be participating in some unearthly and transformative performance, completely and utterly revolutionizing the space they are in.”
The other is about the qualities of walls in comparison with relocatable matter: “It is important to understand the crucial difference between a painting or a drawing on a wall, and one done on a piece of paper, canvas, cardboard, or any other surface that can be dismounted or relocated. A message that is conveyed on a wall automatically achieves a different status, even if it happens on a subconscious level. A space that is antipodal to a white cube is a story; it becomes a home, a shelter. A wall that has been transformed by the artist him- or herself is a story and extension of his or her studio work. A voice from beyond, a hint that comes directly from the creator. A thing to remember is that sometimes, walls can tell more than the audience expects them to.”
I’ve been equipping a central London villa with a mural of considerable size. In fact, it is a multi-part drawing which meanders gently through the space. You are going to meet mountains, and people, and text, and even – in the salon – a giant.