Six Questions

Six Questions: Simon Lehner

Tique | art paper asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Simon Lehner.

Artist Simon Lehner
Lives in Vienna, Austria

How do you describe your own art practice?

It feels like playing hide and seek with my subconscious.
The process of decoding my inner feelings and transfer them into an image can take a really long time. A bit like therapy, actually.

In general I would say that my personal work mostly comes from personal experiences and has a documentary core as it explores, contemporary issues, social structures, psychology and the relation to current human and social developments through direct and embedded observation.

Simon Lehner - Balance study with boy
The boy in the series resembles myself as a child in a state of balancing two conflicting sides in a family.

What was your first experience with art?

I don’t really recall any specific artist but I was definitely drawn to paintings since I was a child.

I always wanted to be a painter or fashion designer before I discovered Photography. I made horrible paintings but now that I have found a vehicle of how I can visualize my feelings, I add and mix everything together.

From Paintings, drawings, notes, archive material to Computer generated images, I don’t care as long as it’s creating the feeling I had in mind.

Simon Lehner - Stem cells before splitting
The depicted stem cells are in the state right before flourishing to any cell type if manipulated, hinting at the different developments of a child when influenced.
Simon Lehner - Father, archive material 3D scan/ rendering with childhood painting of water and ship, (2001-2018)
This 3D rendering/scan consists out of the pictures I took in 2005 and a childhood painting from 2001 hinting at fears and the longing for a father.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

I would say my personal experiences, which are also inseparable connected and charged with emotions and feelings that led and lead me to my way of thinking.

Simon Lehner - Womb / childhood getaway I
The womb references the caring but sometimes harsh shelter my mother could provide in these situations.

What do you need in order to create your work?

I always work with shot-lists and concept lists, so therefore I need a mood or feeling for the project, time, a pen and paper (to be exact, piles of paper) to figure out the cornerstones of the series. That process can take up to a month or more and there are like 50 different versions for each picture and each variation of the concept written on paper first.

After that, I start chopping down all those versions until only a few ideas are left that really embody the core feeling and story I want to depict in the series.

After all the “paperwork” I take the pictures.

Simon Lehner - Father, Archive material 3D rendering/ scan, (early stage)
Depicting my fathers double sided character and my split views on him. The process of passed time from 2005 until now is visible as image remnants of the original archive pictures are noticeable.

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now I work on 2 different projects.
The first one is titled “How far is a lightyear?” and investigates fatherhood, love and the development of identity trough family.
The series uses 3D Renderings/Scans consisting out of the only images I took of my father dating back to 2005, indicating emotional and physical distance. Through this method I now have the chance to make my father tangible in a digital space as I try to make a portrait without physical contact.

The series was awarded at this years Paris-Photo Carte Blanche Award and won the Paris-Photo Maison Ruinart Prize.

The second body of work is a book project called “Men don’t play, (2015–2018)” and examines masculine overcompensation and basic instincts through a documentary core of images about authentic simulated war events and tests the blurring line between reality and perception of the medium.

Both projects deal with forming and finding your identity and especially in context to my own history with my father, masculine identity.

Simon Lehner - Evolution study with boy
The boy also symbolizes the vulnerable process of forming cornerstones of one‘s identity and personality as a young human being.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

I am a big fan of Jordan Wolfsons work which really captivates me in the last few months. It is so intense, haunting and provoking and almost bursts. It gets stuck in your head like a hit single (but in a good way) and not only because of the visual level but also the sensomotoric sensations you feel when looking at his moving figures.

Simon Lehner - Father & Mother
In my childhood I felt empathy for my father but simultaneously resentment due to his actions and his unpredictable character traits.

out now

Tique | publication on contemporary art #3: Six Questions