by Alice Monorchio
Pascal Sender is here to show how art and technology can be merged to show a different perspective on how we assimilate a painting. With his inaugural exhibition at the newly opened Saatchi Yates gallery, located in a spectacular location in the heart of London, the Swiss-born, London-based artist presented a collection of paintings with an interesting twist. Influenced by the pandemic and the over-accelerated approach to a digital world, Sender has integrated an app where the painting comes to life in a three-dimensional way. His passion for virtual and augmented reality has brought him to rethink the entire creation of an art piece from start to finish. In this exclusive interview for Zoe Magazine, Sender explains how the two layered artwork has proven to be innovative, fresh and current.
Why did you choose to insert augmented reality into your work?
I want to say that I am an image maker. I like to make tricks to make a good illusion of reality, of depth, of light. Perspective is just integrated and brings to that a lot of new questions, ideas that I want to work on. For me that is already enough, I don’t want to go in the direction of seeing it as a challenge. Now with open-source programs, programming it is so accessible that it is almost like painting. I taught myself how to code [and] I always had a bit of ability in mathematics and after that I studied art and had my degree in Dusseldorf. I was looking for new challenges and one of them was to create a website. Back then it was quite unusual as an artist to have a website … I wanted to do this by myself and not hire somebody and I wanted to do web artwork rather than just a website (pascalsender.com.) That’s how it all started.
You originally come from Switzerland, but are you are now based in London. How did these two cities influence your work?
Yes, I grew up in Switzerland and at the age of 17 I moved to Düsseldorf to study at the Academy, I was still very young, and it was a great opportunity for me. I learned a lot and then I moved to London to study at the Royal Academy, here I mastered my work and I started to work with AR and VR.
How has the pandemic affected your work?
It helped me to stay super concentrated. I used this time to really work on my computer.
As an artist you want to tell something and to do that something needs to happen, and nothing has happened in the last year because we were stuck in our homes. In this time, a lot of artists felt like their inspiration was obsolete. I always thought that it is the actual opposite, it is the first time that there is content, and something is happening to us, to the world! Maybe it is not clear now but later it will affect us all, and it will affect our art. The things that are happening now are already a consequence of the pandemic.
You said that you want to merge older and newer generations, should art change and be more avant garde?
The technique of oil painting is so traditional, artists have been doing this for a very long time and it is amazing how much such paintings can really last, stay in the same colour … I want to play the entire game not just the new technique or the old technique. I think on that level I try to use super old, traditional methods and combine it with technology. My hierarchy of how much time I invest in AR and painting is 50/50, I try to find a balance to do physical work and do the digital part. I am mainly interested to make a hybrid and link these two worlds together. And maybe this plays out in the audience.
Many of your pieces show different perspectives of real-life scenarios and the dualism between interior and exterior. What do you want to transmit?
Most important for me is to give people an entry point. What I find super interesting is that the app can also function in another way, where I invite the viewer to participate in the piece and manipulate it. This is something that I always try to do in any way possible, it is my main interest. But at the end what I want is that there is this layer where you can enter the door, and inside there is something that is happening. Since I started coding, I am mostly keen on giving the participant or the viewer any kind of chance of being part of the work.
What are you working on now?
I recently exposed my work at the Saatchi Yates in London, which was amazing because it gave me so much visibility and it was the first time where I got to show the work between augmented reality and art. On December 11th, 2021, I will expose my art in Switzerland in my home city at the Museum Sankt Gallen , it will be very emotional for me. My family and friends will be there, as they couldn’t come to London. I thought about the times where I went as a young kid to see the artwork of many artists and now it is so weird that I am the artist exposing my art.
video|photo credit: courtesy of the artist, saatchiyates gallery, London