FROM SKELETON TO EXOSKELETON – PAUL SCHUSEIL ABOUT HIS ARTISTIC DEVELOPMENT TO SCULPTURE


Paul Schuseil – Photo: Lukas Gartiser

Paul Schuseil was born in Speyer in 1989. He studied art at Kunsthochschule Mainz with Prof. Martin Schwenk and at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, from which he graduated as master student of Prof. Thomas Grünfeld. He received scholarships from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation and the Eramus Program and an award from Kunsthochschule Mainz, “Advancement Award”.


His works have been shown in numerous shows in Germany and Mallorca, Spain, and are currently exhibited in a group show at K21 Düsseldorf.


Paul, when did you start working as an artist and why? When did you first study art?


A friend of my parents is an artist and comic book lover. Since his studio was in our house, I had early contact with art, among other things when borrowing comic books. The development to the artist was thus a creeping process: from the child who likes to paint, to the pupil, who put the emphasis on art education as much as possible to art studies. Freely independent work was at the forefront here and, as a result, to a certain extent also the activity as an artist, albeit within the protected framework of an institution. Recently I wrote for an entry document on vacation, directly after graduation, for the first time in the category Profession “artist” and not more “student” - there came at the latest the realization that I am now an artist.


How was your way to what you are doing artistically today?


After a brief start in painting (which, however, seemed to me to be a rather closed world), I decided after the orientation year for a sculpting class. There I saw all the possibilities to continue experimenting. In the tool cabinet there was a jigsaw and thanks to renovation measures also some chipboard in the form of old cabinets. This was the starting signal for a modular work with connectors, which I often use until today. The result is never closed bodies but open skeletal structures that sometimes appear as substructures. Initially, it was an intuitive work without a master plan - from one connection to the next. I had the motto "Do today, think tomorrow". Later, usable furniture-like objects and media stations emerged with an interest in the phenomenon of synaesthesia and the wish to bundle everything in one construction. In general, finds and, for me, new materials influence the process. A friend from France told me about a thermoplastic plastic that exists in Germany. The plastic has accompanied me since the first test until now. First I used it to build adapters for connectors. Due to the manual deformability and the ability as a detailed impression material, then an object around the human body resulted. From the skeleton I came to the exoskeleton.


Who or what influenced you?


My work is mainly influenced by the material I use. In addition, I suspect that - consciously or unconsciously - people with whom I shared my studio, conversations with professors, lecturers, workshop directors, as well as dealing with contemporary art at museum visits have a great influence. The workspaces also play their part, as they set the dimensions of the possible and create a specific atmosphere.


You studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf with Thomas Grünfeld. To what extent have the Academy and your professors influenced you and your work?


I've always got a few sentences from the professor in the ear and a special perspective on the way. First I studied at the Kunsthochschule Mainz with Martin Schwenk and later I moved to Düsseldorf to Thomas Grünfeld. In hindsight, having experienced studying in these two places is a perfect mix. Without Thomas Grünfeld, who has many, also rather forgotten, sculptural ways of working in view, I would be e.g. not landed during metal casting. Although the class Grünfeld is open to all media, the change for me was that I focused completely on the plastic. This has to do with the high number of good workshops in the Düsseldorf Academy, where I wanted to learn many new techniques for me.


What concerns do you pursue with your art? What do you want to express?


As a rule, I do not start with a concept of content, but with a playful approach to material. I try, associate, reflect. For a long time, I was particularly interested in a high density of media with a synaesthetic reception. I wrote lyrics, made music enriched radio plays, which I integrated into videos and these in turn into media stations. That has changed a bit. In the current series, I now take a body pose and transform it. Thus a kind of orthosis has arisen, a body support, an exoskeleton - associations to current areas of scientific research. The exoskeleton has long been in the military and medical sectors and now comes into the everyday work environment. In the logistics industry and geriatric care, e.g. supports the lifting of heavy loads by a machine suit. In factory work, systems are used that allow employees to be seated at any time without using a chair. On the one hand, it is about relief, on the other hand, it can also be critically noted that the improved workforce could only be used to increase performance. The topics of usability, functionality, optimization of the body, efficiency, competence are taken up and processed in my objects - not without irony. The terms orthoses and prostheses can also be well transferred to the fields of sociology and psychology. In the sense of expectations, constraints and norms of society that want to shape us and somehow we have to deal with them.


Which techniques and materials do you prefer?


I usually work plastically, so I always combine material to build up. In addition to the above-mentioned connectors made of wood panels and kneadable plastic, I currently also use the lost casting process. Wax is modeled and partially combined with wood elements. The resulting object is then burned out in the foundry and replaced by aluminum or bronze.


Is there a work in which you have invested a lot of energy?


Mille feuille foie gras, which I exhibited at the federal competition in the Kunsthalle Bonn, was my biggest and most elaborate project so far. The 3,5 m high chipboard plug-in object, in which several radio plays and videos are integrated, resulted in particularly energy-intensive work.


Raumansicht der Abschlusspräsentation, Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, 2019

left: Raumansicht der Abschlusspräsentation, Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, 2019 (v. l. n. r): Betrachtungshilfe, 2017, Kunststoffgemisch, Holz, 97 x 50 x 17 cm; Der Denker - eingeschlafen, 2018, Bronze (patiniert), 126 x 20 x 30 cm; H I L F E, 2019, Bronze, 5 mal 12,5 x 7 x 7 cm – Foto: Paul Schuseil


right: Pose no.14 (Engel über Waldlichtung), 2018, Kunststoffgemisch mit Kaffee, Holz, Spanplatte, PU-Schaum, 260 x 61 x 42 cm – Foto: Paul Schuseil



If a child asks you what you do artistically, what do you say?


Almost everything except painting.


Do you collect art?


No, not yet - I am generally not the type of collector and also find that many of the works that appeal to me, in the museum are in very good hands. Theoretically accessible to all and optimally lit.


To what extent is digitization changing the art market? What role does digitization play in art and the art market for you?


So far, I have kept out of the social media world, as I find it very strange that corporations are virtually patenting new ways of communicating, which then become the norm through peer pressure. So I will not sell any work via photo platform directly from the studio. That's probably not very strategic, as it can lead to exclusion from one part of the art market. However, I have nothing against digital, often even prefer websites over books. The possibilities in artistic practice are, of course, greatly expanded by digitization. Although I will not do a VR video first, but I can imagine once a sculptural element 3-D print.


Which projects and ideas are you currently working on?


A large hanging fruit basket and fountain object are on hold. At the same time I will continue to work on exoskeletons in different materials, but not exclusively with humans as a starting point.


If you are interested in Paul Schuseil’s work please contact Dr. Ruth Polleit Riechert (contact@rpr-art.com)

Artist website: www.paulschuseil.de


left: Der Denker - eingeschlafen, 2018, Bronze (patiniert), 126 x 20 x 30 cm – Foto: Paul Schuseil

right: Verzweiflungshilfe (portable), 2017, Kunststoff, Holz, 26 x 54 x 30 cm – Foto: Paul Schuseil



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