Sander Steins (Nijmegen, 6 April 1973) grew up in a working-class family in the village of Berg en Dal, located in the wooded area south of his place of birth. As a child, he was always drawing, and his copybooks were filled more with doodles and drawings than with writing. From an early age he was fascinated by forests, by which he was surrounded, and by the industrial landscapes of the Ruhr Area, not far from where he lived. In secondary school his art teacher advised him to go to art school, but since Steins was not very interested in school and often played truant, he dropped out.
The introduction of the Internet and digital camera rekindled his creativity.
In the 1990s Steins held several jobs, ranging from stock manager in a grocery store to night porter at a juvenile prison. He was also unemployed for some time. During this decade creativity was simmering. However, the introduction of the Internet and digital camera rekindled his creativity. In 2004 he fully focused on photography. At first he mainly worked with models, but later he returned to his old favourite themes of forests and industry.
That was also the time he rediscovered his love for drawing. Photographs were frequently mixed with drawn and painted elements, first digitally but later also with acrylic paint, charcoal and ink on materials such as paper, canvas and wood panels. In 2009 he held his first solo exhibition in Beek-Ubbergen (The Netherlands). After that followed a very productive phase in which he shot thousands of pictures for his projects ‘Forest’ and ‘Construct/Destruct’, and produced countless of paintings and drawings.
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In 2012 he started a collaboration with French artist Marijah Bac Cam under the project name of 21358SMart. In 2014 this project was awarded the Kunstpreis der Stadt Fürstenwalde (Germany) and the Prix lacritique.org during the Salon Réalités Nouvelles in Paris (France). In addition to this he participated in many group exhibitions all over the world, including cities like Berlin (Germany), Los Angeles (USA) and Beijing (China), and his work was published in various media, including Cosmopolitan Hong Kong en Advanced Photoshop.
It was the summer of 1980 when I was seven years old that I sat in the back seat of my father’s blue Opel Kadett coupé and saw the first smoking chimneys of the German Ruhrgebiet. Those were the declining years of one of Europe’s biggest and heaviest industrial areas and I will never forget the impression it left imprinted on my retina. As a child I rebuilt entire cities including large factories with my building blocks and then lay on the floor to see the chimneys emerge on the horizon. Later I started drawing complete maps with of course lots of space for industrial areas.
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That fascination with industry and factories has ever since remained, even though these days – with today’s knowledge – I see things very differently.
Most factories in the Ruhrgebiet have been pulled down and a lot of former industrial terrains have been cleaned up and/or have had a change of use. It shows that we, as human beings, continuously build, demolish and rebuild, but still the world is none the better for it.
The rapid technological developments make it possible for me to apply new digital techniques in my work.
New threats such as overpopulation and the blurring of traditional standards and values through the emergence of the internet are seriously endangering our habitats and have a fundamental influence on life here on earth. This theme plays a crucial role in most of my art. Where for me it started with admiration for all those huge factories and smoking chimneys there now is the realization that mankind should use its knowledge much more to ensure an enjoyable future on this planet for the next generations.
The rapid technological developments make it possible for me to apply new digital techniques in my work. Besides these new techniques I still use traditional techniques and materials like pencils, paint, oil pastels and ink. My way of working also includes building, destroying and rebuilding.
I scan paintings and drawings into the computer, cut them into pieces and rebuild and subsequently print them. After that process I can decide to start drawing and painting on the print again. I also can decide to work only the traditional way without using a computer. For me, the choice of medium and ways to edit my materials will always remain a source of experiment that will help me transform my themes into my personal visual language.
Sander Steins / June 2011
I would like like to give sincere thanks to Sander Steins for sharing his art works with KIRSTEINFINEART in today’s art feature.
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