Larger Than Life Kaleidoscope Art
With stunning designs and intricate patterns, the impressive kaleidoscope installations from artist Suzan Drummen can seem overwhelming at first. Suzan, a Dutch artist, has created larger-than-life kaleidoscope patterns by intricately hand laying crystals, glass, and other stone materials. From public spaces in Hong Kong to galleries all across Europe, she’s created installations for unique places across the world.
Suzan elaborated on the inspiration behind her installations, how she challenges a viewer’s visual perception and the unique ways she plays with space and design.
What were the initial themes you wanted to explore with your kaleidoscope art installations?
The process by which viewer’s first experience art fascinates me! Working gem-by-gem and stone-by-stone, the installations slowly and organically evolve into finished works that attract the eye of the viewer from a distance with a clearly ordered and patterned design. Upon closer inspection, the fine details dazzle and overwhelm the viewer with complex detail and stimuli, thus challenging and intensifying the viewer’s visual perception and experience. That moment, of being able to take it all in or not, is a theme explored, time and time again.
Your work often plays with the eye and visual perception. Can you elaborate more on why this is a concept you enjoy exploring?
When you see a space in a convex lens, your eye will see this space differently. However, with many convex lenses together (as in my installations), the space becomes staggering. The reflections can no longer be ‘read’ by the eyes. Automatically, the eyes focus differently in an attempt to see the whole piece. I am constantly studying this moment of simultaneously grasping and not grasping. This material helps me accomplish this.
And the materials for each piece are never fixed to the floor?
In the installations, I can experiment and play with perishable materials. The installations are very vulnerable and can easily be destroyed. Visitors are always surprised when they see that every element is placed loosely on the floor and they become even more eager to ‘penetrate’ their eyes even longer on all the little details.
You’ve created many commissions in public spaces, like in Hong Kong for example. What are the inspirations and challenges that come with working in public spaces?
For many years following my paintings, I did a lot of work on commission, for public buildings like hospitals, schools, and company buildings. Commissions often restrict creativity to a certain extent due to a client’s requirements and the surrounding setting, but this also allows for new inspiration. I had come to see how space works and how I could manipulate it.
A work can change a walking direction: you can direct the view upwards, you can double the space of a room with mirrors, you can refine a monumental space with painted details and give it back its human scale. By stressing some architectural elements and making sensually stimulating combinations, I can intervene in the urban space.
Is there a certain feeling or idea you seek to evoke from viewers of your work?
I am aware of the tension between decoration and meaningful image, but the more I study this, the more the two become interwoven. The one does not seem to be able to exist without the other. I value the aesthetic experience of looking and feeling and an increasing responsiveness to beauty, even if this excludes any purpose.
Anything you’re working on now?
Right now, I am very exited as I am working on a new project in my studio. A lot of assistants are involved, and it is going to be even more complex and colorful than past installations. It would be great if I could show it in New York!
For more information about the artist Suzan Drummen and her work, please visit: www.suzandrummen.nl