The path to artistic freedom
When art means freedom
As soon as you speak with Sebastian Wandl it is instantly obvious that he is an optimistic free spirit. When he starts to talk about his artistic evolution it becomes evident that his artistic path is shaped by a good portion of luck and a whole lot of hard work. His art tells stories of our time and is reflects his curiosity and accurate observation skills. It is obvious that he found his artistic medium within painting and drawing and that he is constantly trying to improve his technique, always searching for new topics and inspiration, and that he is very aware that art means more labor behind the scenes than most viewers will acknowledge in the end. Thus, he fills a vast number of sketchbooks until topics start to evolve that can be used for future works.
Similar to biographies of other artists, Sebastian showed early on an interest for forms, colors and creativity, however, this passion was accompanied at the same time by doubts and fears of financial stability. His first steps towards establishing an artistic career were rather bumpy–when he applied for an art focussed high school he was rejected as his entrance exam drawing was stretching the given topic too deliberately. Creativity should not be caged–but he persisted to protect his artistic freedom and change his perspective as often as he could. This attitude might be one of his recipes for success. His countless travels are feeding him with new ideas, which lead to new topics. On these journeys his sketchbook is a constant companion where he sketches people with quick lines or remembers situations that might lead to new pieces.
Years later he took his courage towards his dream and studied art at the “Freie Kunstwerkstatt” in Munich. Once there he focused on illustration and painting. His teachers recognized his talent in visual storytelling and assigned him with commission work early on–an important factor that encouraged him to continue the artistic path and develop his own artistic language.
This rather brave artistic steps paid off and the artistic career was worth every step he took, in the meanwhile Sebastian Wandl has exhibited in numerous galleries and art fairs and was commissioned by et al. LEGO, BMW Mini, Red Bull, Campari, ABSOLUT Vodka, Toy Room London or Glamour.
Portraits as character studies
When you see Sebastian Wandl’s works it is apparent that he focused his education on illustration. His portrait series do have in common that they are highly narrative, even though they just come to live with just a few lines. In the faces of the women these lines translate into life lines and do reveal a lot about the depicted character. The loose strokes enables an immense aliveness within the works.
Sebastian’s pieces are formed with a great love for detail and are evidence of a long interaction with the medium drawing. The lines are always precisely set and are able to oscillate between photorealism and expressive freedom. The artist is particularly known for his female portraits: hauntingly beautiful sirens in surreal worlds of color. In our times where we long for perfection, beauty and flawlessness this female type embodies an ideal. But, as it is the case with every painting, one should take a moment to let the first impression sink in and actually embrace to think further. What do this images tell us about the tension between beauty and our seemingly insatiable longing for perfection? How to these women in this painting withstand the gap between beauty and unfinished abstraction? What do these images tell us about beauty and which multitudes does this notion contain?
As soon as we overcome as observer our need to categorize the images according to our taste, it becomes evident that the pieces are able to contemplate more than just about beauty–where there is light there is always darkness. The portraits of Sebastian Wandl are able to talk about our delusion with aestheticization, our need for instant gratification through fast likes and the bitter aftertaste that comes with perfection.
Sebastian Wandl doesn’t work solely on canvas, but experiments with his style on walls indoor as much as outdoor. The wall pieces, that are called murals in Streetart, are another opportunity to continue developing his artistic skill set. The genre of Streetart evolved long ago from a subversive underground movement into a complex heterogenic art movement. The artists within this genre work multifaceted with political iconography, illustration and comic elements. On a side note, as the genre is still evolving and to mark artists that are working closer within the art market the term Urban Contemporary Art has been coined.
To be honest, it doesn’t affect Sebastian Wandl’s practice through how it is labeled, that said he does work often in the context of Streetart Festivals and has exhibited in the inauguration exhibition in the new Urban Nations Museum for Urban Art in Berlin. One can notice a fruitful interest with this young art form, that might gain more momentum in the future within the art world.
The size of the murals enables a better visibility and facilitates to be seen by more people. For Sebastian Wandl it is a welcome change to work with different materials and to combine spray can and acrylic paint, in order to accentuate his style that brings together the precision of a strong outline and the freedom of an abstract non-finito.
Departure to new horizons
Even though the artist might be better known for his female portraits it is worth to take a look at the newer series that offer a rather unknown facet of Sebastian Wandl. In this newer series he tells stories of humans, environmental engagement and his deep admiration for nature. During his travels he sees the changing landscape and the impact of humans on it. Despite of art his other big passion is surfing and this love connects him with the oceans of this world and shows him how threatened this beauty is. Climate change and the pollution of the oceans are topics that become impressions in his sketchbooks and become leter own elaborate pieces.
This series show a haunting contrast between postcard impressions and the troubling reality: the washed up plastic bags and trash on the coasts and beaches, the threat of rising sea levels and the impact of mass tourism on these places and the people living there. It is a narrow line between tourism that is often essential for the economy of these places and the massive impact on the ecosystem that threatens their idyll. It is a delicate dance between these two worlds that is shown it these series.
Written by Anabel Roque Rodríguez
2007-2010 Art Study Academy for Illustration / Grafikdesign and Painting
2011 Diplom Academy Freie Kunst Werkstatt Munich 1,0
2012 Figure / nude drawing Freie Kunstwerkstatt
Muca Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art (Munich)
Urban Nation Museum of Urban Art (Berlin)