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Fleeting Textures. Written In Fur Drawn In Snow. Christoph Tannert. 2012

Jasper Sebastian Stürup has an insatiable appetite—for the lashing of drums, the carrying-on of the bass, breath drawn in the midst of exclamation, the bliss of melody, and uncertainty. His drawing process is an enduring and intimate occurrence, subject to permanent revision; it gains legitimacy precisely because the artist is capable of articulating doubts and self-doubts. Or in Stürup’s own simple language, schooled by a reading of Karl Popper: “The decisive aspect of critical drawing is a willingness to question one’s own knowledge and examine things as carefully as possible in order to perhaps discover something new about them.”(1) According to this program, Stürup measures his way through a 50-year history of pop music’s ideas—rasping, entirely open to the world, rough, pouncing, and without even a minimum of comfort, but always with rhythm and groove.

Deliberation and outrage come together here, like stoic sovereignty and passion—feeling at home in sound, in a sense of boundlessness, and in the past and the future. And all this within a little book of drawings that in turn provides stimulus for another book. Even those who have no idea at all about pop music will notice the fundamental scraping of the drawing tool, sawing away at authority. Stürup translates sound into drawings, the forms of popular modernity into images, making it possible for us to sense the underground scene, the feeling of being different, and independence.

This is not a backward-looking gesture that plaintively laments something lost, but ammunition for the future. Yet Stürup is very much of today. He shows that repeatedly, drawing has ended up in a dead end or become uncritical whenever it has sought refuge in the past or the future. The youthful temperament of his affection for the old/young spirit of unrest is also expressed wonderfully in his single sheet drawings and artist books. It would be nice to think that there are more such refreshing minds, not yet dozing their way towards immortalization in museums with cultivated resignation and a diffidence that conforms to the art market.

From Stürup we learn that harmony is of no use at all, any more than a society that elevates consensus in daily political affairs, and elsewhere to a confession of faith. In the kingdom of democracy it cannot be a matter of wellness,
peace/joy, and cute kittens and puppies, it should be about friction generated by different opinions. Secondly, we learn from him that humor is not necessarily subversive, often it is quite the opposite. Amidst the raucous bawling of thoroughly commercialized “old man” rock music in stadiums (which as we know, long ago became a program of social duty particularly on TV, and as an action for good causes of all kinds), Stürup hears chiefly the mocking voice of the mob, which sets the jeering pace when it comes to applauding one’s own limitations. He has never been interested in crowd taste.

Stürup’s drawings are connected in a liberating and labyrinthine way, sophisticated as well as punk-primitive—as radical as they are simple. There has rarely been anything as tender, as wild, as bold and as dark, but also as carefree and bright in drawing. Stürup dreams up every conceivable cascade of rock along which he can float without being disturbed by criticism of capitalism and general disquiet in the face of the zeitgeist. It is a carefree attitude that explodes the horizon, mingling with alert reflection without ever becoming dogmatic. He meets the pressure to conform that emanates from the heart of society with the spontaneous, the naïve, and the clumsy, which all make us curious and joyfully expectant.

Here are the solipsistic lines, arcs, and concentrations of line that translate a handwritten score into aesthetic energy. Here is the melancholy expanse of sound, conjuring up images of magical landscapes. And below it all is the gentle, easily pulsating rhythm of a paper structure that asserts a state of the universe in which something white exists, something that no longer needs to be re-drawn but emerges when our attention is redistributed.

The white of the paper holds and releases forms, according to the conventions of drawing. It is a completely organic sound that Stürup has mixed so richly here. Moods develop like fields of clouds—and just like clouds, they pass on. The line may lead down into darkness as if following a convoluted path, only to widen soon afterwards into an even clearer, brighter way. On another occasion, Stürup creates a wonderful fluid balance between all the fleeting and microscopic
textures, so formulating the subject of every sheet.

These drawings exude a freedom that is not only derived from the music Stürup admires—each of them is a cosmos of improvisation, overflowing in its creativity. They are gestures of reverence, living from memory but equally from the spirit of departure, and each little artist book makes sure that its links lead not only into the past but also to the present.

(1) In conversation with the author on October 18, 2011.

Christoph Tannert is Director, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin.