Interview with Sandra Kühne

When everything goes in line with artist Sandra Kühne

She walks through life with an elevated view and she loves paper. To observe a construction site or look down in a hole in the ground, where you can see all the pipes and wires, are inspirations for the paper artist Sandra Kühne. She has always been fascinated with lines.

Sandra Kühne sits in her kitchen in the apartment in Zürich, located near her studio, which she usually goes to every morning. The studio is Sandra’s second home and the place where all her artwork once started. When she began working with art, around 2001, she almost exclusively made things for herself. But since 2011 she has had a numerous of art exhibitions in several European countries and has created a unique expression, based on lines cut out of paper and crumpled paper.

Around 1999, Sandra studied Art and Education in the Swiss town Lucerne and subsequently worked as a teacher and experimented with art on the side. After a couple of years, she realized that the art was more appealing to her, and therefore, she obtained a master’s degree in art at the University of Art in Zürich.
– I wanted to focus on my art and network with likeminded artists, at the same time I wanted to find my niche. I have always loved to draw, but one day I asked myself; how I could take the drawing further to make it something deeper and different, says Sandra.

Take a walk inside the art
The answer to the question was to take the lines out of the paper by focusing on those lines instead of the picture and the paper, which she only could achieve through cutting the paper. Papercutting as a method is not very unusual, many artists use that expression, but what Sandra is doing is creating a constellation which the observer actually can walk through. By hanging the paper strips in the sealing and on the walls she creates a drawing that you can stand in.
– My wish is that people who visits my exhibitions should share the same feeling I have when I walk through the city, that they should observe the paper lines with my eyes. I see the roads I walk on as lines and I look at my surroundings as a map. You could say that I’m trying to build a three dimensional map, where you build the landscape with your own imagination, says Sandra.

Rock, paper and scalpels 
Sandra’s latest project contains a lot of paper work, but in a complete different way than her earlier exhibitions. It was during an everyday papercutting she realized that she could color the paper by painting it with graphite. The paper immediately felt much heavier and looked more like metal than thin paper. Sandra also discovered that if she crumpled the graphite colored paper, the light could hit the art in a more effective way, which enhanced the feel of the paper as a different material – almost as big rocks. So, she continued to fill a five-meter long paper roll with graphite mixed with linseed oil, then she crumpled it.
– When I putted the whole painting on the floor it almost looked like a landscape, like mountaintops. For me, this was a completely new approach, even if I used traditional methods and materials. The deviating process starts only when I crumple the paper, which I do in the exhibition space. And once again the observer is allowed to walk through a landscape, since the artwork fills an entire room, says Sandra.

Lines everywhere
The exhibition was called “Out of the Depth” and was held in Lichtenstein. It was well received and the visitors biggest surprise was that the art in fact was made out of paper. The crumpled paper looks very heavy and many people therefore wants to touch and feel it, something Sandra think is positive.
– It makes me happy that the observers are drawn to touch my art, since I also like to touch everything and I see myself as an analogue person. People tends to be fascinated by how a drawing can differ, and that they are allowed to walk through the layers and are able to get different focuses depending on how far away or near they stand from it, like a camera. But they are often mostly astonished by the fact that they are in the artwork, they become a part of the exhibition in a way, says Sandra.

When a new project is about to start, Sandra puts on her “glasses of lines” as she calls them. With those eyes she only sees lines, everywhere, in a hole in the ground, GPS-maps, construction scaffolds, pipes, cables and wires. The ideas start to form in her head and then the sketching part begins.
– When my pattern is done I start to cut, and I must give it time. Many people ask me why I don’t use a laser cutter, but my technique is like my handwriting, my touch is in the hand and the scalpel, says Sandra.

Heading north
Sandra has a lot of experience when it comes to exhibitions, and now she is longing for new adventures. Since she always has loved and gotten inspired and marveled by maps and undiscovered places, she is soon heading toward the Antarctic. Even though the date is not yet decided, she’s hoping that the journey will be arranged within the next couple of years.
– Imagine sailing to places so few people have seen, so many empty spaces and blanc spots to discover. And just to be on a boat during such a long time, I hardly can imagine all the different lines I will see and every map I will read. It hasn’t so much to do with paper, but what an adventure it will be, says Sandra.

Name: Sandra Kühne
Title: Artist
Favorite material: Paper
Favorite tool: Pencil and scalpel

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