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Marcus Weber: FetaFantaFatima

Trivial moments and the absurdity of daily life inspire the German artist

A kid with a Spongebob Squarepants backpack looks away while a tourist enthusiastically takes a picture of something in the opposite direction. Overgrown interlaced beards unite a long line of travelling men. A blue suited skeleton hovers below the ceiling, impaled by an artist's palette. These are some of the things present in Marcus Weber’s work, a cacophony of veiled women, trolley-carrying old ladies, giant ice creams, running dogs, plastic bags, surprised reading men and elephants that seem to cross that Dumbo-on-drugs scene with a Salvador Dalí painting.

I'm intrigued by moments and situations that seem trivial at first. Things I notice whille riding my bike or sitting in the U-Bahn, often so absurd, complicated and surprising that you could not make them up even if you tried

Now exploring the tension between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art with his new expo ‘FetaFantaFatima’ and defending the argument that such boundaries don’t exist, Weber describes the simplicity, bleakness and absurdity of daily life and the big city hustle in non-documentary, ambivalent and caricature-like narratives. The final result is reminiscent of both George Grosz and Ikea fabrics. Here, we speak to the German artist about comic strips and life in Berlin.

Dazed Digital: Tell us about yourself. Who are you? What are your likes and dislikes? What wakes you up in the morning? And how did you know you wanted to become an artist?
Marcus Weber:
That's what I call a subtle start... For the last month the reason I get up in the morning are the builders across the street. On the dot at 7am. That's German efficiency for you. Then I get all excited about gulping down several cups of coffee. Bizarrely enough, as far as I can think back I always wanted to become an artist. I studied at the Kunstakademie in Duesseldorf and have been living in Berlin since 2000.

DD: What inspires you?
Marcus Weber:
I'm intrigued by moments and situations that seem trivial at first. Things I notice whille riding my bike or sitting in the U-Bahn, often so absurd, complicated and surprising that you could not make them up even if you tried.

DD: What's the meaning of the title 'FetaFantaFatima'? What is the expo all about? And what does it say about the crossover between fine art and comic strip?
Marcus Weber:
The title is supposed to bring across the mood depicted in the paintings. My studio in Berlin is right in the middle of Kreuzberg on Kottbusser Tor. A cultural melting pot par excellence. Four years ago I decided to start painting what was happening in my immediate surroundings. At the beginning the paintings were far more documentary; lately I've started moving the scenery into more utopic, phantasy like realms.

The space that Dimitri (Founder of PALAGKAS Temporary) found on Church Street is very similar to the setting of my studio in Berlin, which leads to quite astounding interactions between picture and reality. As to the crossover between fine art and comic strip, that's a very complicated subject. You are questioning deeply founded hierarchies on both sides of the fence. The negative attitude, disrespect, ignorance and lack of knowledge by some members of the high-brow party towards the history of the comic strip is unbelievable.

DD: Did you have any favourite comics or heroes growing up?
Marcus Weber:
Oh God yeah. I was reading all the usual stuff when growing up, but I really started appreciating it in the late '90s, after George Herriman and his Graphic Novel 'Jimmy Corrigan'. Winsor McCay, Fletcher Hanks, Robert Crumb und Ron Regé are also some of my favourites.

DD: Which other artists have influenced your aesthetics?
Marcus Weber:
That's constantly evolving. I never get tired of James Ensor, Philip Guston, Manfred Kuttner, Lee Lozano, Peter Saul, Dieter Roth und Maria Lassnig. While in London last week I discovered a late painting by William Turner 'Sunrise with Seamonsters' which left me speechless...

DD: Berlin is celebrated for being a vibrant arts hub. What's it like to live in the city, and what are its best spots - and the ones to avoid?
Marcus Weber:
Ten years ago the art scene in Berlin was far more contained. Now it has spread all over the city and it seems to me that no one really knows what's where and when. Before, it was all happening in East, now it's moved to West Berlin.

DD: What's your point of view as an artist, and what do you want your work to transmit?
Marcus Weber:
Let me just use the phrase that no one can be that naive to believe that he can change the world with art. On the other hand the idea of a simply affirmative 'globaldecoretroart' is an absolute horror.

DD: What's next for you?
Marcus Weber:
I've produced an insert for an exhibition called 'The Happy Fainting of Painting' which has been put together by Gunter Reski and Hans Juergen Hafner. I'm really looking forward to that. And of course to the next four weeks which I will be spending in Patagonia.

Marcus Weber: ‘FetaFantaFatima’, until March 24, 2012 at PALAGKAS.temporary, 62 Church Street, St. John’s Wood, London NW8 8ET