Artist in Residence - Oliver Ross
A good week after completing his residency in the studio at the 25hours Hotel Langstrasse, Oliver Ross explains the extent to which a change of scenery affects his creative process and influences his artworks.
The studio in the 25hours Hotel Langstrasse seems to Oliver Ross to be a good approximation of what a studio needs to be in order to create and produce art. The design is well-suited to its purpose. The soul of the studio comes and goes with each artist.
It can’t be compared with his studio in Hamburg. They do indeed have some things in common: certain colours, for instance. Although the various odds and ends are something of a departure from his own studio. In Oliver’s studio, you can almost feel the art as soon as you step in the room; it is colourful, bright, and organised chaos reigns. Collages, artworks, and objects are distributed throughout the entire space, hung on the walls, set on tables and armchairs, and certainly in a few hidden spots, too.
Every artwork and object he creates reacts to the space and its environment, by way of either juxtaposition or integration. However, the direct surroundings only influence the art to an extent: Of course, “everything always” affects the creative process: the artist, their surroundings, their mood.
This is clearly evident in two of the artworks created in Zurich: For one of them, Oliver used a canvas that was still in its packaging. He injected ink beneath the plastic, and later integrated the syringes into his artwork. He came up with this idea because – as rumour has it – the Langstrasse area is often frequented by drug addicts. Even his breakfast muesli found its way into the same picture: a material that has a use. It wasn’t in Zurich that he first came up with the muesli idea, but you can still see: the direct surroundings have a tangible influence on the artwork.
Moreover, an object came into being that was created in a way that optically integrates the train traffic that passes by close to the hotel. On the one hand, the artwork was wonderfully illuminated by the studio lighting, so that it can be seen from passing trains. On the other hand, the trains are also represented in the image: Oliver was not used to the view of the train traffic, which is highly characteristic of this urban location. Depending on the perspective, the trains can be seen through a hole in the centre of the piece, almost as if they are travelling through the image, thereby projecting the direct surroundings into the image.
Alternatively, art is simply art – it comes from somewhere, it maybe means something or could mean nothing more than a vibrant agglomeration of colours and shapes. For Oliver Ross, art comes “from an unusual world, an intermediate realm between our day-to-day reality and what could be called an abstract cosmos. Art oscillates between the two worlds, which are equally real...”. For Oliver, art always has something to do with “being human”. Although he can’t determine exactly what that may be. He feels his aesthetic to be very self-contained and not easily influenced. It is also generated out of a context other than the relation to the direct surroundings.
Many processes last so long, for instance, that the artwork is not created solely at a single location, or is created without a concrete preconception of what should be created at a specific location. Art is sometimes taken along when travelling, and when it is balanced and interesting enough – a purely intuitive, perceived state – then it’s finished. Some artworks are even brought back out after 10 years and further developed.
Even the daily routine at the studio at the 25hours Hotel Langstrasse is not too different from his usual day-to-day life and is hardly influenced. The morning routine is sometimes followed by running errands before it’s time to hit the studio. There are breaks when needed, but Oliver will often spend the whole day in the studio before letting the evening ring out: Relaxing in the hotel room, going into town, or visiting friends.
It is only breakfast that is much more intensive than at home, Oliver admits. In Zurich, he took significantly more time for breakfast for a relaxed start to his day. As he had already been in Zurich and has a lot of connections there, the evenings were quite typical, too: Go for a meal, go for a drink, meet with friends and acquaintances.
Working in another “foreign” studio is not at all restrictive for Oliver. He uses the existing equipment, procures anything that may be missing, and brings the most important things with him anyway. You gradually settle into the studio and make it your own.
There is something unusual about the studio that takes some getting used to: The studio is separated from the bar by nothing but a curtain. The music and sounds of the guests are clearly audible; and the later it gets in the evening, the more intense this becomes. Where else can you have such close proximity to the nightlife in your own studio?
When the curtain is closed, nobody really comes in – except maybe a hotel employee who has a job to do. As such, concentration is not really interrupted. However, the interaction with guests is generally something special, and the encounters are inspiring. Many of the guests only have limited time and are too busy to engage intensively with the art. But there is definitely interest. There was also an open day, which was very well received by the guests.
There is now a glass door in place of the curtain. You can look into the studio as if it were a display case, a box of art, and gain an insight into the artist’s own little world.
For Oliver, spending time in the studio at the 25hours Hotel Langstrasse has been a very special experience. He can’t think of any other situation that was comparable, where he was given the opportunity to work somewhere in this way. He will definitely consider repeating the project. Even in other cities or other studios. As long as there is a space for him where he is free to express himself.
The artistic heart of the 25hours Hotel Zurich Langstrasse is the hotel’s studio on the ground floor. It is a workspace for international and domestic artists, who produce and prepare for their exhibitions, presentations, or collaborations on-site. The hotel’s studio is occupied by guest artists for 12 to 14 weeks, each year. A residency can last from one to four weeks. Each artist leaves one of their artworks behind at the hotel at the end of their residency. The art collection can be viewed at the hotel, free of charge. The studio is curated and managed by Esther Eppstein, an artist and curator from Zurich.
Oliver Ross designs environments and installations, and creates objects – often playing with light – and collages (micropainting). He breaks away from conformity and general rules, often working with controlled accidents, and uses things like coffee or other materials in his works, alongside conventional paints.