Time to blossom

Achim Rippergers creative work is determined by the reference to the one origin, the emergence of everything, and the process of multiple unfolding that this initiates. Understanding, appreciating and visualizing this universal energy is the motivation for every sculpture. He draws lines in the block of wood with a chainsaw - as if drawing a sketch. With each piece, he searches for his own personal perfection.


"The transfer between the materials appeals to me."

Achim Ripperger

Artist und sculptor

Ripperger working on his first draft at Abtsee Castle.

"The choice of material also has a lot to do with my personal development: processing what I've experienced, coming to terms with life and deepening myself in phases."

Mr. Ripperger, your artistic path seems to have been shaped by a wide range of experiences in the art world. Can you tell us how your early years at the Academy of Visual Arts in Frankfurt influenced your later work?

An essential realization from this time is that an idea can only develop its power through its implementation in reality and then even grow beyond itself, become independent, so to speak. And having an objective view when evaluating works - including your own - is super important. As an artist, I start out with creative impulses that spring from my own mind and cannot be directly controlled; these are usually ideas for independent projects that I do primarily for myself and which then find their way to the public, collectors and galleries. And then, of course, there is the marketing side that I have to serve as an artist. Organizing exhibitions, finding curators, gallery owners and collectors, because at the end of the day I also want to bring my works to the people - and I was able to acquire this understanding of communication very well during my studies.

Your work spans various media and materials, from graphics to sculpture. How do you choose the medium for a particular project and what inspires you?

A big motivation is always the search for the perfect material and I try to create the transfer of different media. Curiosity and the idea of how a material will behave or even change in the respective work process drives me at least as much as the conceptual phase. And often the choice of the right material is purely functional: Does it have to be weather-resistant, should it age purposefully, or does weight play a role? Creating a deliberate break in the respective area of application is also exciting and important in order to break away from irrelevance. What does an object radiate that seems out of context? Does it arouse fascination, does it seem strange, does it contrast with its surroundings? The choice of material also has a lot to do with my personal development: coming to terms with what I have experienced, arriving in life and deepening myself at times. It helps me to deal with unfamiliar materials in order to develop further and to be in a state of flux.

"Right now, we need to value the European community more, with all the privileges and opportunities that it brings, see it as one country and stand up for it."

The finished Bloom sculpture made of aluminium at the Arnold plant in Friedrichsdorf.

Volunteer work plays an important role in your life, be it your commitment to the rainforest in Costa Rica or the art project "Truth Fighters". How do these experiences influence your artistic practice and your view of the role of art in society?

The Truth Fighters were started by Susanne Köhler in Frankfurt and for me are an honest, truthful cause that I just had to join; we draw murdered and imprisoned journalists from all over the world. Even though we often feel powerless in our regular everyday lives, we have created a virtual memorial that we can use to not only inform visitors intellectually, but also reach them emotionally. Perhaps with the exhibition of the portraits we are creating a place of appreciation: of the enormous courage, the public spirit and the will to educate of the "truth fighters" shown.

Your membership of Art Moves Europe and your contribution to the "European Sculpture Path" show a strong commitment to promoting the European art scene. What does it mean to you to be named a "European Artist" and what role do cultural diversity and collaboration play in your work? 

It is extremely important for me to stand up for freedom of expression, democracy and mutual respect: The foundations for living together as equals, regardless of gender or origin. I see it as our task to interpret our perception of Europe artistically; the basic idea of a tolerant, border-free community that sees itself as one big family and cooperates with each other. The European idea is still in its infancy and is still in the process of development. Right now we need to value the European community more, with all the privileges and opportunities it brings, to see it as one country and to stand up for it.

"My mind is often at its most active just before I go to bed or before I wake up in the morning and my creative flow of thoughts can hardly be stopped."

Your sculpture "Supernova" on the Honsell Bridge in Frankfurt shows a connection between art and urban space. How do you see the role of art in shaping and defining urban environments? 

As a "Frankfurt boy", I find it exciting to be able to set up a work like Supernova opposite the ECB at Mirek Macke's Kunstverein Familie Montez. In a city that is becoming ever more beautiful, taller and smoother on the outside and thus also tempting us to superficiality, I find it important to be able to place quaint, polarizing works like "Supernova". Architectural planning in a city is always also design and guidance, but sometimes also misguidance. That's why I consider it necessary to create art spaces in public spaces that themselves become part of the city, add a new facet, expand the sound of the city by one note. The Supernova stands for awareness, enlightenment and rootedness in times of confusion and distraction.

Can you give us an insight into your day-to-day work? How do your ideas come about and how do you develop them from conception to realization?

There are two parts that can be roughly distinguished: One part of me is the pure creative spirit, which simply creates without an official brief and allows itself to be guided completely freely. The biggest challenge for me in this case is not to stand in the way of this process by wanting to, to remain permeable, to surprise myself. The other part can take a very conceptual approach: What is the theme of the commission and how can I get the perfect fit of material and production process? Can my thoughts be consistently implemented from the first line in the sketchbook through to the surface finish and installation, or is it just a castle in the air? My mind is often at its most active just before I go to bed or in the phase before I wake up in the morning and my creative flow of thoughts can hardly be stopped - it is more of a challenge to filter the flood of ideas and write down strong core thoughts so that they don't get lost. Another interesting constitution is the "no mind state", in which - without any active effort - all previous ideas and thoughts that have already been created and networked in the subconscious remain dormant, but provide the necessary solution at the decisive moment. In the creative process, it is important to have the freedom to simply let an idea come out.

Achim Ripperger auf seinem Atelierplatz am Schloss Abtsee in Oberbayern.

"Philosophically speaking, reflection is ultimately the ability of our mind to understand and compare things in order to develop further - in this case, this means that my sculptures will not absorb the viewer's thoughts directly, but will reflect them back."

Finally, what are your future plans and projects? Are there any particular themes or techniques that you would like to explore in the future, and what goals have you set yourself as an artist?

At the moment, I feel that I am quite limited to a certain extent in terms of scalability with my previously preferred material, wood. That's why the digital transfer of previous or new works of art into 3D programs and the implementation in metal is very interesting for me. 3D metal printing opens up completely new possibilities and dimensions for me that a regular tree trunk cannot offer. The preliminary work in smaller dimensions is made possible and I can think serially, plan ahead and finally realize my works in much larger scales. Even though these two materials may seem extremely contrasting at first, I can definitely see parallels to my wood works; for example in the Victory sculpture, whose coloration is reminiscent of anodized metal. In addition, the possibilities and various degrees of metal surface finishing are fascinating and also important for weather resistance. I find the idea that the respective surroundings are reflected in my sculptures fascinating. Philosophically speaking, reflection is ultimately the ability of our mind to understand and compare things in order to develop further - in this case, this means that my sculptures will not directly absorb the viewer's thoughts, but reflect them back. Working in 3D metal printing will open up completely new worlds for me, great transitions from rough, matt textures to mirror-polished surfaces are possible, which will expand my artistic form of expression by an additional tone and I am already very much looking forward to the first results.

Mr. Ripperger, thank you very much for the open conversation and the insights into your work.

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