IN THE STUDIO: ANDREAS KOCKS

German artist Andreas Kocks creates intricate, installations of cut paper, metal, and wood. Ranging from smaller, framed works to large-scale, site-specific installations, his compositions reference both organic forms of the natural world and architectural elements of built environments.

Andreas Kocks’ Studio, 2021

The curves, splatters, and brushstrokes of his work evoke the sense of a living, organic being, moving and oscillating within the physical space of the gallery. The metallic layers of laser cut elements also call to mind the sleek lines of modern architecture, highlighting the interplay of positive and negative space on the wall. Through this dialogue of form, the sculptures and wall installations become structural elements of the room themselves, no longer additions to the surface but rather vital and necessary components of the physical makeup of the room.

Site-specific commission in Vienna, Austria

Kocks’ site-specific installations and commissions serve as a pivotal part of his artistic process. Throughout the years, he has created work for both public and private collections including the Neue Galerie Dachau, the Helsinki-Kerava Art Museum, and the August Macke Museum.

Installation at the Helsinki-Kerava Art Museum in 2019

Most commissions begin with a site visit from the artist himself, during which time he takes detailed measurements and photographs of the area where the work will be installed. The artist uses this time to gain a deeper understanding of the space, making note of its distinct characteristics in order to create a work that uniquely interacts with its surroundings.

Andreas Kocks working on preliminary drawings for his sculptures

Kocks then renders a series of preliminary drawings, outlining a set of 2-dimensional blueprints that he will eventually transform into 3-dimensional sculptural elements. Although the drawings are meticulously planned, he allows for the organic inclusion of splatters, drips and flourishes, adding or changing details as the work progresses and takes on a form of its own.

Detail image of coated brass elements and installation templates

The installation process is a decidedly physical one in which the artist often employs ladders and lifts to help reach the highest corners of the room. After creating a template with step-by-step instructions, Kocks carefully adds each element to the wall, slowly building up the overlapping components.

Andreas Kocks installing his site-specific commission at the Helsinki-Kerava Art Museum in 2019

The artist using a lift in order to install his work at the Helsinki-Kerava Art Museum in 2019

The pieces are attached to the wall using pins, magnets, or pegs depending on the sculptural medium. The use of this hardware forms a gap between the end of the wall and the beginning of the artwork, creating the illusion that the work is floating within the space.

The artist adding a new element to his installation at the Helsinki-Kerava Art Museum in 2019

Process shot of Andreas Kocks installing a paper element. The artist uses pins and needle-nose pliers to attach the work to the wall.

Kocks also constructs the works in his studio by beginning with initial drawings, before continuing on to make small-scale models in advance of creating the finalized sculpture. While the final large-scale artwork is formed from laser cut technology, the presence of the artist’s hand is never lost. The emphasis on the painterly brushstroke or the draughtsman’s line is highly apparent in Kocks’ Carved series.

Andreas Kocks working on one of his carved watercolor paper pieces

In this series, the artist carves directly into the surface of thick, watercolor paper, creating a drawing in relief. The ridges and lines jutting out from the creamy white paper cause one to pause, taking in the intimate details of the smaller works.

Untitled #2006, 2020, Carved watercolor paper, 33 x 25 inches (Framed)

Detail image of Untitled #2006

The materials selected for the 3-dimensional sculptures highlight the playful, illusory aspects of Andreas Kocks’ work. His most recent exhibition in New York, Heavy Metal, includes a variety of materials from metal leaf coated paper and wood to lacquered metal. The metal wall sculptures employ light and airy forms, providing the sensation that they are floating into the ether despite their metallic sheens. Conversely the delicate paper works mimic the surfaces of the metal pieces, forcing one to consider the materiality of the works in relation to their visual appearance.

Detail image of palladium leaf watercolor paper

Detail image of a Nickel coated brass sculpture, titled The Three Graces (No.2) (#2109N)

This dynamic is a key part of Kocks’ sculpture State of Mind. At first glance, the sculpture looks as if it was been created by solid blocks of gold, defying the laws of gravity in an ascending stack. In reality, the sculpture is constructed of interlocking wooden components coated in gold leaf.

State of Mind, 2021, Gold leaf on wood, 36¾ x 11¾ x 13 inches installed in Andreas Kocks’ Studio

Process shot of an unfinished State of Mind Sculpture

Through his emphasis on materials and space, Andreas Kocks creates process-orientated works that actively engage with their physical environments. These works both enhance and call into question ones understanding of their visual reality.

Installation view of Heavy Metal at Winston Wächter Fine Art, New York in 2021

Click here to view more work by Andreas Kocks