Yannick Demmerle On Life In The Black Forest

Before my skype call with Yannick Demmerle, the artist sent me this video as a kind of precursor…

And after the call he sent me this 1977 interview with Johnny Rotten…

You get the picture. Saying no to new things is the opposite of creativity, and artists really just should not give a shit about what other people think.

For Yannick Demmerle these two principles are central to his position as an artist. He experienced commercial success with solo exhibitions at various galleries and museums, including Haunch of Venison in London, showing huge beautiful landscape photography. Although he doesn’t regret this it’s clear that he has long since moved on, leaving the art of photography, which he mastered, as a thing of the past.

Living in the Black Forest in Germany for the past 3 years, Demmerle is somewhat a perfectionist, but sets his own rules of perfection. Staticity is not a condition he is familiar with, and as Soderbergh points out it is an unnatural form of being.

I ask him how then he went from photography to drawing and now to painting. It seems the obvious question once you realise the strength of his overwhelming desire to continuously move forward. “Nature and beauty do not interest me anymore in a world where such things as the Charlie Hebdo shooting can happen. I couldn’t do beautiful landscapes anymore, I could just shit on a canvas and it would be better” he replies. His choice to live in completely ‘unfriendly’ commercial art locations is reflective of this. He sent me a photo of one of his latest paintings, seen above, and when we spoke to about it he just said “I’m not sure if its that good but I don’t really give a shit”. For Demmerle the process is obviously as important, if not more, than the product.

YANNICK DEMMERLE Untitled , 2015

When you look at the drawings and paintings of Demmerle now, it’s clear that there is a struggle between calming delicacy and wild anger, but that’s what makes them beautiful. He is motivated by anger, which he considers a form of energy and this is paired with his intense desire to excel in the various crafts of art. It took him three years to perfect his drawing skills. 365 days a year, four to five hours a day of intense practice. He has boxed for 5 years and exercises between nine to midday every morning. His level of self-discipline is outstanding and translates beautifully in his concentrated, subtle yet powerful large drawings.

Demmerle is constantly challenging himself, in all areas of his life. It is obviously a pleasure for him to create art in a space that encourages this kind of freedom of creativity, a space that he has made for himself. He loves the idea of anarchy, of doing exactly what you want and fighting against authority, religion and moral codes of any kind. The result is the perfect embodiment of the juxtaposition between an artist who believes whole heartedly in creative freedom and the notion of only judging yourself, whilst still respecting the traditional craft processes behind art. Going forward in the contemporary art world it could only be of great benefit to have more artists like this.

See Yannick Demmerle’s drawing exhibition here on Collectionair.

Nr 1 (76 x 56cm),  Nr 19, ‘BUZZ-OFF’ feb. 2016 (mixed medias on panel. 150 x 120cm +frame), Nr 13- 2015 (105 cm x 76 cm), Nr 3.

Pallas Kalamotusis

Pallas Kalamotusis is Collectionair’s Editor in Chief. She has an MA in Modernism in Europe from the Courtauld Insitute of art, and works closely with collectors and curators on a variety of different projects.