5. Oktober 2019
It is the second day of the exhibition Hoftexplosion 5 while Kasi and I are making an interview. We are standing outside the hall where he is working on his mural. The weather is pretty fresh, windy and a little rainy. I met Kasi the first time at the Hoftexplosion 4 last year and this year I grabbed the opportunity b< the hand. I want to interview a wide variety of people for the blog. He is a really funny and nice artist. I think his extremely gaudy, colorful work is just incredibly cool. They are expressive. They are alive. During the interview, I asked him about his artist name, intention, and inspiration. It took me a while to prepare this interview for you, but here it is. Now I hope you enjoy getting to know this artist better!
You are Kasi & call yourself Kasi.is.muss as an artist. Tell me something about you: How old are you? Where are you coming from? What took you to Hof?
Also icSo I’m 31, originally from Thuringia and moved here because of my wife. She works at the theater. We moved from Hamburg to Hof. It was also crucial whether you could do something here in the city or not. It soon became clear that there was a bit of something going on artistically in Hof.
What does your artist name mean? How did you come up with it?
Where does Kasi come from? My name is Karsten, everyone called me Kasimir in football, but it was too long. At some point it just became Kasi and my friends all called me that. I found that as a sprayer name quite pleasant, because Kasi is short – 4 very likeable letters. Kasi.is.muss is the brand. When I designed business cards for me with a buddy, we came up with it.
We considered that there was an ending for all social media names and then talked about different art styles such as Dadaism and other things. My buddy said in between „But a Kasi is a must“. Of course we wrote it with double s to emphasize the pun. The whole thing was a snap idea, so to speak, and I kept it that way.
Many friends still call me Kasi and I don’t have to pretend to be that way – you are perceived as a friend and artist. I always introduce myself as Kasi. Somehow it doesn’t make a difference for me.
But that somehow fits the image. It is short, concise and simply nice and relaxed. As everyone knows, snap ideas are always the best!
What kind of art are you making? So, you are a sprayer, but what is the intention in your pictures and what do you want to bring the viewer closer?
The current art that I make has developed rather through frustration. I used to paint abstract things: still lifes, acrylic painting and watercolors like you do. And at some point I did more abstract things. A big topic was „People are colorful“. A statement against racism. That was around 2012 and was very well received. Somehow I lost the thread and rather painted commissioned works such as portraits or city skylines.
Then the moment came. I looked at my pictures and thought: „Yeah, no one realizes that it’s mine.“ Of course I was super frustrated, said I don’t want to do this anymore and thought about new motives. It was important to me to do something that moves people. I wanted to stick to portraits and I noticed that there are very few pictures of older people who grimace.
Yes, that’s right – like the big one that you painted on the inside of the wall last year, right?
It is also a first emotion. That was going in that direction, but I didn’t want to overdo it yet. There was more of a haven of peace in the room. Old people tell so much, their wrinkles and everything – I find that exciting. I wanted to go back to the colorful one. The person I am painting here is European.
You can already play with people’s ethnic backgrounds, but for the viewer it should be simply colorful in the first place. So everyone can feel addressed. It’s a mishmash of graffiti, a bit of photo realism and my own style. Each of the artists in the hall has their own style and I think that’s exactly the art – to find it. That’s how my current art developed. I don’t know what I’ll do in three years. Maybe there will be new influences or I’ll just do something completely different – for example calligraphy.
I know that, for me there is also a colorful mix of things that came about one after the other. You develop somehow and even if the style changes in between, you have some recognition value.
True – as long as this recognition value stays in it. I can’t make a real sketch here on the wall, just choose a rough motif beforehand. Most of it comes from my head, even though I have a few styles in the background. I then lay my motif over it. There is a kind of routine and yet the picture changes every time. If someone does come and paint the same thing again, it may be time to do something new.
For example, just change the colors? Although there are also colors with me, for example, that I can’t handle.
The topic with the colors are also a bit a thing I know. Basically, I find turquoise, orange and pink very appealing. But it’s true, there are also colors with which I find it difficult. For example, I usually only use red as an accent.
Why did you become a sprayer and what fascinates you about it?
Why spraying – that’s a good question. Back then I started spraying in college with a buddy and was influenced by one or two artists in Gotha who painted amazing pictures. They were more technical. I also painted from an early age. There was never such a break and at some point a good friend and I started graffiti. We pushed each other, everything legally, of course, because in Gotha there were legal areas where you could paint. Because I was so affectionate from the start, I followed it. There were these walls and it was just cool.
Back then my problem was that I couldn’t afford it. There was never this point of contact on the Internet and you could only use the expensive colors from the hardware store. They didn’t even cover properly, which meant that a little bit of fun with the cost factor was lost. But for me I continued to do it, doing a lot of sketches and a lot of works on canvas. When I was in Hamburg, I also met a lot of people who made space available. Then I thought how cool it would be to do something on a big wall. Here in Hof I got the opportunity. For example at the Rockwerk.
The willingness was there in Hof right from the start. Many people feel like it. Because of the Rockwerk, because of the restaurant „season“ and there are another 2-3 companies where I can spray something soon. For me it is nice and easy to do something visible again for a larger crowd. As an artist you want to be noticed and the wall is simply the biggest medium. I think Hamburg was another such factor for me, because I dealt with it there again. The medium of art and graffiti in urban areas is very important to me. I have more fun selling ten pictures that are dusting somewhere in a closet.
What does art mean for you personally?
Almost too much sometimes. I personally already noticed that for me it is a very important and blatant way of life. After eight hours at work, I can come home and paint another five hours. Somehow I have such an inner drive. For me it is really relaxation that others often do not perceive. Even clients often don’t know what else is involved, that’s the same with the partner. When I surf the Internet and look for pictures, it is like I am not doing anything to others.
Of course it would also be a dream for me to work as an artist and to earn money with it. On the other hand, I think it’s a good thing. You have distance and are not dependent on it. Still, I have fun with it. I would not want to make a living from it, if you are realistic, then it is too big for this division. It is a very big part of my life and there are also conflicts.
I think there are many who cannot understand something like that if you only paint for a whole weekend. For example, with a partner, it just has to fit. It is also important that you don’t get any stones in the way. I’ve been talking to a sprayer for the past few days. He told me that one or two relationships broke down. Then you realize that graffiti – or art – means more to you and that it’s a great way of life.
Which artists do inspire you?
Many street art and graffiti artists, but also Gerhardt Richter. I don’t know how to describe it like because I don’t orientate myself to other artists. Of course I look at things and then think of „blatant motive and elaboration“, but more than inspiration for myself. To me, inspiration often sounds as if you are oriented towards someone. I follow a lot, but I don’t pay close attention to it.
Inspiring is also about motivating. I find it exciting that you see pictures and think „that’s awesome, I want to get there“. Because the graffiti and art scene is so big, I find it difficult to always stay up to date with the current trend. That changes so quickly. I take a look around and then it comes of its own accord. I just soak it up. That’s how I get motivated.
In the beginning there was Sokar Uno, who came from Thuringia, but currently he is not painting that big anymore. He motivated me in the beginning because he had his own style and choice of motifs. But I really don’t really orient myself to other artists. Somehow there is such a drive.
Something like the Hoftexplosion here is also very exciting and inspiring because you can experience the art directly. I love going to exhibitions, traveling to cities and watching festivals like that. There is just the feeling. Every artist has his own intention of how he wants to do something. It is important to me to present colorful things to my surroundings and to make life more colorful.
I would be very happy if vacant areas and vacant lots are filled with bright colors. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a motif, it can also be speckled like the background. I would simply wish there were more areas. I am interested in the contact with the artists and being allowed to. When people say „You can do that, just think about something“.
Kasi – thanks for this interview! It’s nice that I was able to learn more about you and your art. I am pleased that my readers can get to know you a little bit.
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Künstlerinterview mit Valle Kunterbunt