Steffen Kern’s immensely detailed drawings look like eerie photographs
Inspired by artists who “question images” like Joseph Kosuth and John Hilliard, the Munich-based artist uses his practice to investigate how we perceive the many scenes and objects that surround us everyday.
Looking over Steffen Kern’s portfolio, it appears that nothing much connects his subjects. You’ll find a slice of cheese resting on a plate, a deserted living room, a single steak being fried and a lone guillotine. This is because Steffen’s work reflects on “the relationship between images and reality”, and for the artist, drawing such a variety of subjects “conveys an idea of the enormous multitude of images that surround us”.
What does connect Steffen pieces, though, is his alluring, almost photorealistic style. Starting each piece, Steffen begins with a simple sketch, in which he develops proportions, light and perspective, predominantly using coloured pencils and ink. To create such a specific, and ‘high-resolution’ style Steffen continues to explain that he uses “typical aesthetics of photography” like blurring, depth of field and distortions. “As soon as I think sketches suffice to convince the beholder to see the photograph on the first glance, I begin with the final version of the drawing,” Steffen details. Interestingly, throughout this whole process, Steffen doesn’t use any real-life or photographic references; the ideas quite simply come straight from the depths of his “mental archive”.
GalleryCopyright @ Steffen Kern, 2023
Steffen Kern: Light, Window, Chair, TV (Copyright @ Steffen Kern, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.