Stefan Ssykor

Berlin, Germany

I remember that my very first attempt to make geometric compositions dates to my childhood. Reclining on a carpet and playing with an Etch A Sketch—my drawing machine—was great! This gadget gave me seemingly magical assistance to draw very smoothly. A hidden system within created dusty straight lines as just one thumb turned a knob. It was simple: drawing verticals with the left hand and horizontals with the right. But I couldn’t understand the interface, and my two hands didn’t work together very well.

Both the Etch A Sketch technology based on orthogonal elements and my carpet made of crossing vertical and horizontal yarns gave me an early impulse to use this clear concept to make geometrical paintings ever since I became a student of fine art. I began to paint using a limited inventory of basic forms (lines) to develop complex, colorful systems. I preferred to use tape to achieve hard-edged shapes. It reminded me of the mesmerizing computerized images of the early PC era.

Every line is a plane, painted in layers on a ground, that depends on color and co-location to form characteristic patterns and to build a planar system that might suggest a deeper space. A challenge and pleasure for me is to compose with lines until the eye of the beholder recognizes or associates something different from my own point of view. This often marks a good beginning for a rich conversation about visual perception.

It’s actually A RISK TO CHANGE A RUNNING SYSTEM, but failing inspires me more than the paleness of a good but never-changing concept.(1) So I bring to my ideas about geometric composition a subject and the intent to find new forms by exploring various historical paintings. Developing an abstract interpretation of another artist’s creation means at the outset that it’s more important to be a careful observer who slowly seeks a deepening perception and contemplation of a work of art and the time in which it was created.

Inspired by this focused work, I analyze and alter the artwork’s motif and composition. On the computer I divide a copy of the original work into parts, transform and rearrange them and thus reinvent the composition that I can then paint. The means of this transformation—using the available technology—are always the instruments of an ongoing process to refine painting.


(1) German IT experts have coined the saying, “Never change a running system,” by which they mean, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

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