Graphic Novel

Five Questions for Markus Färber

Markus Färber: „Down River“ 2010Markus Färber, born in 1981, comes from Selbitz in Upper Franconia and studied art education in Würzburg. In 2004 he moved to Kassel to study illustration and comics there. Following study visits at the fine arts academies in Lisbon and Halle (under Prof. Hans-Georg Barber, Atak), he completed his studies in early 2011 with his comic project Reprobus and was accepted as a master-class student under Prof. Hendrik Dorgathen. His poster series for the Junges Theater Göttingen was included among the 100 Best Posters for 2012.

How did your book “Reprobus” come about?

The idea for Reprobus arose during a study visit in Burg Giebichstein in Halle. For a semester project there, I started doing a monochrome acrylic painting every day. Using acrylic paint for scumbling and thereby creating different grey tones fascinated me. This was the reason why I wanted to realise the comic project using acrylics.

The two levels of action in the story can be visually distinguished by their different styles: I painted one part in the classical sense; and the other with emphasis on lines and drawn in part with acrylic paint. In terms of content, Reprobus mainly arose out of my working through my Christian roots. During the discovery phase of my ideas for my thesis project I delved into legends about the saints. In particular in connection with St. Christopher, so many interesting aspects and ideas opened up for me that I took this figure as the main theme for my work.

Slidesshow by Markus Farber

You often work with motifs similar to wood-block prints. How did this come about?

In the past I worked a lot with linoleum prints. Above all, in my first semesters at the School of Art and Design in Kassel, I spent a lot of time in the print workshop. I love the smell of print colours and the rhythm of working at the machines. When I later drew with drawing ink and acrylic paints, this angular aesthetic of linoleum print came through in the pictures. I like the principle of high pressure with which you bring light into the image through carving. In my acrylic picture I work in a similar fashion, and move from darkness towards light.

What artists have influenced you?

Before I came to the art school I was mainly enthusiastic about expressionist graphics and painters such as Ludwig Kirchner and Max Beckmann. Later on, the monochromatic aesthetics of William Kentridge’s animated films inspired me to work with more contrasts and shadowing than colour. Only during my university studies did I discover the comic genre and realised that I could deploy my images in narrative terms. My inspirations here were artists like Peter Kuper and Charles Burns. But above all the extremely symbolic comics by David B. were an enrichment forme, both visually and in terms of content. His masterful graphic arrangements of his narratives are both imaginary as well as political without ever descending into kitsch. For Reprobus I also drew inspiration from altar paintings and iconographic depictions. Since I grew up in a religious environment, my understanding of graphics is of course influenced by religious symbols and gestures.

What was your time like as a master-class student under Hendrik Dorgathen?

As a master-class student, one can devote oneself to one’s own projects for a whole year, which perhaps have fallen by the wayside on account of the intensive work ahead of graduation. In addition, one supports the professor in his teaching activities, for instance introductory courses for students in the subject. This work with younger students was important for me, since I realised just what a treasury of experience I now have, and what fun it can be to share these experiences. My conversations with Hendrik Dorgathen were also important – starting with the question of what comes next after graduation and the way up to concrete fee agreements. During one’ studies one is in a protected space, and then one suddenly realises that one has to make one’s way all alone out there.

You have also worked in theatre. What was that like?

The most exciting thing was how the projected images determine the spatial sense and the atmosphere of the respective scenes – and how the actors react to these spaces. It was a great experiment for all involved, among other things because working with partially animated projection was a new experience for the actors. I found it interesting to be involved with the development of a theatrical piece and to be confronted with the participants. As an illustrator one mostly communicates via email or on the phone and only rarely sitting down at a table with the people involved. The theatre cooperation continued, and I concluded it by designing a poster series.

Rieke Harmsen conducted the interview.

Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet-Redaktion
June 2013

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