WOOL PAINTINGS, exhibition view, 2023

In Sebastian Supanz‘s „Afterglow“ (2019), a horse is captured mid-leap, suspended above a tapestry of yellowand green hues that dissolve into a radiant moonlit glow. The figure, though indistinct, conjures the romanticimage of a knight in shining armour. The viewer is compelled to reach out, to touch the ethereal landscape, adreamy mélange of pastel and vividly hued cotton-like tufts. One is left to ponder the knight‘s destination, hisgesture signalling either triumph or the onset of a new quest. The scene evokes a dream, familiar yet distant, afleeting memory of a golden childhood encapsulated in the whimsical abstraction of colour.

Speaking with Supanz one fall day in September, I got a glimpse into the artist’s world - set against the back-drop of his studio just outside Vienna. Our connection, facilitated by the latest issue of the London Paint ClubMagazine, was a fortuitous intersection of serendipity, social media, and the digital age. As our dialogue un-folded, I began to envision a young boy in the Austrian countryside, embarking on woodland adventures withhis brother, creating drawings that would adorn their family home for years. In his latest series, Wool Paintings,the recurring motif of the knight emerges, one that Supanz revisits time and again. I pondered the profoundresonance of this archetype, the knight - a symbol deeply rooted in collective consciousness. The knight‘s jour-ney, emblematic of the quests we embark upon from the earliest stages of life, conjures visions of a quest for afairy-tale denouement, the quintessential „happily ever after“; Yet, the reality of attainment is often shrouded
in ambiguity. Life, in its multifaceted complexity, oscillates between light and shadow. The knight, steadfast inhis resolve, confronts adversities and adversaries, mirroring our own human struggles. Through Supanz‘s lens,the knight‘s enduring battles become a metaphor for the human condition, a reflection of our intrinsic quest toovercome and persevere.

The tactile allure of Supanz‘s works is immediately striking; their softness and warmth beckon the touch. Thecreation of each piece is a testament to the artist‘s unwavering commitment, with the felting needle becomingan extension of his artistic vision. Some of the larger works are the culmination of over two months of meti-culous labour. This meditative process, undertaken in the solitude of his studio, becomes a journey in itself, apilgrimage through the realms of texture and form. Supanz‘s technique of blending, rounding, and simplifyingshapes, reducing them to their essence, mirrors the way our memories blur and abstract our lived experiences.Yet, through the medium of wool, these recollections gain a new dimension, a weightiness that renders themtangible, bridging the gap between the ephemeral and the concrete.

Embracing technology, Supanz relinquishes a degree of artistic control, allowing algorithms to generate amyriad of compositions. Yet, these digital orchestrations converge on a universal, abstracted essence, akin to acollective human memory. His art becomes a vessel, a repository of shared narratives, forging a surreal lands-cape for the knight‘s odyssey – a modern-day uncanny valley. Supanz‘s work resonates with the contemporaryzeitgeist, encapsulating the pervasive sense of ambiguity and the trepidation of a world in flux. There‘s anunderlying anxiety about the erosion of control, a disquieting sense of disorder and unpredictability that per-meates our collective consciousness. In the face of this existential unease, Supanz turns to wool, embracing themeticulous craftsmanship and laborious toil that harkens back to our fundamental human impulse to create, toshape, to give form to the formless.

In the existential journey of life, we find ourselves in a perpetual state of anticipation, yearning for the elusive„there“ – the pinnacle of professional success, the ideal relationship, the ultimate happiness and tranquillity. Thispursuit, often as intangible as it is relentless, is paradoxically rooted in the present, the only tangible reality wepossess. Supanz‘s oeuvre encapsulates this dichotomy, where the past and future converge in a singular image,yet it is the act of creation that anchors us firmly in the now. Time, in his hands, is malleable, stretched and con-torted through the laborious and deliberate process of his craft.

Supanz deftly navigates the interplay between attainability and the digital realm. His work poses profoundinquiries: Can we traverse the corridors of time to revisit the innocence of our childhood? What implications dothe rapid advancements in artificial intelligence hold for our collective future? His work probes the quintessenti-al human penchant for nostalgia, for yearning for a past steeped in youthful optimism and unfulfilled promises. 

Text by Kelly Foster (London-based art writer, curator, and the founder of London Paint Club Magazine)

"Afterglow", 2019. Wool on canvas, 32 x 27 cm