INTERVIEW WITH WILLEHAD EILERS


The Observer of Society: “I depict the world I live in... and am part of. I try to do so without charming it, romanticizing it, or judging it.” 


 


AA00

Wayne Horse. Where did this name come from?


W.E

The name came from my youth. My friends and I  were shooting skateboard videos and came up with this sort of nicknames for ourselves. One day my friend Hanno called and told me: “Willehad, sit down, I have the perfect name for you.” I just came out of the shower, I sat down on my father's office chair. It started with “Wayne Mc Steal”. Deal done. Over the years the last name kept changing, from Wayne Lacrosse the gay fashion designer to Wayne Lambrusco the cheap wine connoisseur...and now...Wayne Horse. I think horses are glorious animals. I could not wish for a better name.



A00

Wayne Lacrosse the gay fashion designer (laughs) I love that. Where did you grow up?


W.E

I grew up in Bremen. A small town in the North of Germany.



A00

What was your childhood like?


W.E

I had a fantastic childhood.



A00

Tell us a story from your childhood that you will never forget.


W.E

On my uncle's 40th birthday, he bought himself a pair of tight orange pants and started to hit the local discotheque again. Though his older sister was giving him harsh criticism, I thought those pants were really cool as a kid.



A00

The start of your career as an artist was back in Germany when you dove into the world of graffiti. Can you tell us more? What was it like back in the days?


W.E

Before graffiti, I was very busy drawing. Mostly gorillas fighting the army. Spiders attacking speedboat races or monster truck conventions, various hostage situations, safecrackers. But never anything about prison. I hate prisons. That said, I do recall drawing prisoners, with balls and chains. But they were on the run.

Anyway, during my teenage years, the idea of 'being cool' really kind of crept into my life and I joined a graffiti crew: DWK, a.k.a ‘Die Wachsamen Kiffer’. Everyone's name had to end on the letters "-ack". We had Mack, Sack, Crack, Back...the list goes on. My tag at the time was ‘Stone-D’, which didn't fit the crew requirements, but I was allowed in any way because I could draw characters. I was a sweet kid with a pot haircut and owned many rap music inspired long sleeve tees. We would meet and hang out in an abandoned factory, which was a fantastic place with random people training dogs, people living through rough times... graffiti pieces from older kids...We could paint anything and destroy whatever we felt like. No one had a telephone, no one knew where we were. In the evenings, I'd go home and eat with my parents and sister. We were somehow always in trouble. Later on, disconnecting from graffiti for a while, I rediscovered it as a hobby and have loved it ever since...In a manner where no one can take it seriously.



A00

So you're based in Amsterdam now. What's your studio like today?


W.E

I have my studio in the back of a big restaurant. It is called Hotel Goudfazant. The food is great. I would recommend you to visit. My studio features a long wall where I line up the pieces I'm working on. In the summer it is boiling hot in my studio. I will go outside jump in the canal and walk back wet to let my fan dry me while I work. There are only a few things in this world I appreciate more than a nice cold breeze.



A00

Is there anything you always do in the morning? Before you work. Something you do every day, like a ritual or a routine?


W.E

Almost everything I do is structured by routines. I work in my studio like an office worker. I will show up at 9 and work till around 17.30. If I work on several pieces that take a long time to execute, I will produce something small on the side. Something that can be done in a few minutes. I do this to keep the machines inside me rolling. Pieces that take longer, ideas grow differently from what I had in mind at the start. I need to keep writing and thinking to find peace.



A00

Do you listen to music when you work?


W.E

I do, but mostly while doing sections with less thinking. I find that the work I do always end up looking like the music I listened to when creating it. So I use it as a tool in some way... keeping it to the moments that are not decisive for the outcomes.



A00

Is there any artist you were inspired by? or admire?


W.E

There are lots and lots of artists I admire and am inspired by. Too many to name. It also tends to change a lot. With each development I go through there are different teachers or like-minded people along the way. I used to be bothered by that, but nowadays I am happy and curious when I discover someone who has been working in similar ways or addressing subjects with attitudes that are comparable to mine. I see it as companions now, like we are fighting the same battle. I am happy and grateful to learn from their experiences.



A00

Let's talk about your work. It has such an interesting touch on modern life, as well as the human race as a whole, in the context of behavior and emotions. Can you roughly tell us what sort of theme or topic you are exploring?


W.E

I think the works are very outspoken, so I don't think it's necessary to go into it with much detail. I depict the world I live in... and am part of. I try to do so without charming it, romanticizing it, or judging it. Obviously, I fail at doing this as, I, myself am a filter where all those information and experiences are interpreted. I am part of the problem, but this shall be forgiven...at least for now.



A00

Your work reminds me of post-WWII German artists. Why did you start painting about those social settings?


W.E

I had this feeling that we, as a race, are steering towards a complete disaster. We close our eyes through distractions and lifestyle. I noticed that about a hundred years ago, there had been a similar atmosphere. Now that we're in the 2000s I reinterpreted some of the imageries with a modern perspective.

Then I came across works from Otto Dix, Max Beckmann, and George Grosz, who blew my mind. It was interesting that we shared many similarities, though I work in a society that's a bit more spoiled and watered-down compared to them. I report from the ignorant west, searching for meanings in the worst places because at the end of the day I am a part of the world we live in. It wasn't a clear decision to focus on social issues, it's what came out of a series of mindlessly produced works. In some ways, this has sharpened my perspectives over the years.



A00

It's interesting that you don't glorify or romanticize humanity much. You seem to accept it as it is, or even embraced its flaws and ugly natures.


W.E

You can't win without a loser. I think beauty and ugliness, good and bad work very much the same way. So to show the beauty in something it's useful to provoke it by its contrast.



A00

Your depiction of humans, women especially, puts a lot of emphasis on ugliness, besides the behavior element. The facial expressions and deformed body shapes have this wonderful yet somewhat terrifying feel.


W.E

I don't see it that way. I would say that men and women are portrayed as equally ugly. It might be because we tend to expect women to be portrayed in a so-called ‘beautiful’ manner, that their bluntness in my work appears stronger than men. I used to draw blindfolded for several years, around 2012. The mission was to find the true lines of a person, rather than the ones I learned how to draw. I wanted to, for example, draw an eye exactly how I saw it instead of how I knew it was supposed to look. In my paintings today, this approach of blind drawing is very much alive. I let the paint define the abstract lines, and we get these distortions...which I purposely welcome. They introduce an element of time and hence allow to tell more in a picture.



A00

The awkwardness and grotesqueness are somehow wrapped up with a sense of dark humor. Like an irony of some sort.


W.E


Humor without jokes: the kind of humor that helps you deal with the horror. I need to discretize the subjects of my work. The same way I do it to the physical shapes of my paintings. I don't want to carefully pace around a topic. By saying the worst thing first, it opens the door for discussion.



A00

So as you mirror the world we live in, documenting it through your filter, what do you see? What do you think about the world we live in? It's obviously packed with problems: political, environmental, moral and ethical, racial, cultural....etc etc. What's beyond all this?


W.E

The thing is...I am not really spreading answers or pieces of advice. What I see is what you see in the works. I am not trying to hide what I think about the world we live in, and there is no complex interpretation demanded from my end. I don't make it a petition that I ask people to sign. My opinion is most likely 'wrong' anyway. What's truly important here is that beyond all the dirt and disgust, I have a strong sympathy for my fellow humans.



A00
That's a beautiful statement. The pain is real. The chaos, the beauty, it's all there in your work. Is there anything you would like to try out in the future?


W.E

There are many subjects I am interested in that will eventually force their way into my work. I long to bring a bit of harmony and calmness into it, but at the same time, I'm afraid that it's still going to be a long rocky road ahead.



A00
Your work is very much hands-on and raw. Do you think you'll ever implement technology into your work? Like 3D printing, Virtual Reality...etc.


W.E

Back in the day, I used to be much more experimental with the medium I work with. I was animating on film and video and creating websites. While enjoying it a lot at first, I prefer to keep my work built upon the fundamentals. I don't really like the way the digital era turned out. Formats, cables keep on changing. There I stand with my dinosaur knowledge on 'flash' a program that has been bullied out of the internet.

But the main reason is that I realized that I prefer to work with my hands instead of in front of a screen. It gives me greater satisfaction and I feel healthier. I am however working on some projects involving 3D printing, but nowadays I work with partners when it comes to this sort of project. My PC work is limited to the occasional video editing and some basic photoshopping tasks.



A00
You obviously did some screenplay and film direction some years ago, 'The Illmannered Milkman' ...I saw it. You gotta tell me more about this.


W.E

I used to try and make one short film every three years or so. It started with 'ELEFANTOS' in 2005, then 'ELEFANT-BOY' in 2007, followed by 'THE ILLMANNERED MILKMAN' first released in 2010 and reworked until 2013.

In these films, I combined experimental storytelling with animation and video parts. The story arose out of filming many days with fictional characters and reading sense into it in the editing room. I usually start with a few scenes in mind and expect them to somehow fall into place.

Teddy, 'The Ill-mannered Milkman' is famous for the fact that he sweats milk instead of sweat. Instead, he would like to become famous for being a daredevil motorbike champion...which he is not. In the company of a good friend, he left society to live his dream. His delusional illusion.
That's the story in short. The film turns out to be about something else, but this can happen when you work the way I do.



A00
And 'Alter Senator' in 2015?


W.E

'Alter Senator' and 'Die Leiden Des Alten Senators' are fictional documentaries built around real footage of 24h bars, coin casinos, and wasteland from my hometown Bremen. I went for walks documenting these places and analyzed the footage to interpret the stories into smaller segments of elements I could see. Basically building a case from scratch.
'Alter Senator' is a strong alcoholic drink that is produced in my hometown.

Back when I was a kid, there was this jingle on the radio: "Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag, Sontag, Alter Senator, der schmeckt jeden Tag" / "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Alter Senator, tastes good every day."

This is how we would learn the days of the week as kids.
In the late 90s, the big ship wharf of Bremen closed down, and a lot of 24h bars and coin casinos opened up in the area to shake down the last cash the poor drunk workers had in their pockets.

'Alter Senator' the fictional documentary tells the story of a full week in the company of the Senator. 'Die Leiden Des Alten Senators' is a project in 52 chapters covering a whole year.

A00

What would you say an artist can do? or should do? Beyond observing the world, interpreting the world, and documenting the world. Are there any other purposes?

W.E

I think there are no specific set tasks for an artist to align to, that is against the nature of the whole thing. Maybe an artist should be able to, in some way, pop their head out of the set cycles of normality. Otherwise, anything that appears to be a purposeless act can be called an art.



A00
Say you're traveling back in time, and you're spending a day with the younger version of yourself. Like the teenager version of yourself. What would say to him? How would you spend the day?


W.E

I would buy him a few beers and then go for a walk in the park and let him do his thing.



A00
What do you see yourself doing in 10 years, 20 years?


W.E

I'll be following this road. Hopefully from a warmer place somewhere in the hills by a river.



A00
Other than art, is there anything you're really into? Something you're equally obsessed with?


W.E

I like chess, going for walks, and boxing. I am obsessed with my family and friends.



A00
We always end with this question. Tell us a Secret!


W.E

I don’t want to go to prison.

 
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