Incredibly with such a limited palette of colours, German street artist Dome has proven himself to be one of the most versatile names in the European scene, developing a style that has come to be recognised worldwide.
Christian Kramer comes from Karlsruhe, a city on the border between France and Germany in the country's south-west. Fascinated from a young age by the art he was witnessing in the streets, Dome was quick to pick up a can and try his hand at the abstract figures he was so deeply captivated by.
The figures that feature in most of his artworks are like mannequins that have been patched together. Their composition is deeply narrative-driven, their perceived flexibility translates into a malleability that lends itself to a thorough appreciation of animation and movement.
You can almost imagine Dome sat atop the wall with strings in his hands making his characters dance across the facade. He has developed a particular technique to create his works that he refers to as a 'limb construction kit'. This 'kit' consists of individually drawn body parts that the artist is able to piece together into figures that best capture the desired feeling of a particular piece.
This process of creation is referred to as his 'modular construction system' and it affords him the freedom to explore all the possibilities of form, figure, narrative and structure. It's in the role of an orchestral conductor or movie director that Dome seems most at ease. He is like Dr. Frankenstein working away in a laboratory with paper limbs fluttering all around his desk stitching body-parts together to realise his unique vision.
The process begins with this vision and is developed through the application of the limb through his 'kit'. When it's all there in front of him, he can easily reconfigure the picture until it's just right. From there he will commit it to a wall or to a page. Beyond the strange figures, he uses other objects as part of the surrealist compositions.
Where the characters can vaguely be recognised as actors in his film, the objects can certainly be understood as the mise-en-scene. Having this 'cut-up' technique, similar to the work of literature developed by the Dadaists, his images meander between meaning and sentiment with subtle shifts. The slight can become very dramatic. It's an experimental process that will eventually yield the results he is after.
The influence of surrealism reverberates through all of his exploratory artworks. Morality and humanness are two themes that his figures help us to probe. Not alive, yet not dead, they wander restlessly through semi-apocalyptic landscapes that bring to mind thoughts of purgatory. The monochromatic colourways make them seem like old movies, photographs or dreams. Yet to be there, walking amongst them, may seem closer to a nightmare.
Laden with mysterious symbolism, the images require time to be decoded. In the vein of surrealism, it is difficult to know how literally each object is intended. A result of requiring interpretation is that we are able to engage with his images in a similar way to the way he creates them. We can imbue things with our own meanings and associations, playing around with the story and either understanding his, or creating our own.
This gives Dome's work the substantial power that it has. The open-endedness gives it a pathway to interact with each individual in a personal manner. His technique to get us to this stage is innovative and interesting. He is the puppet-master of a strange universe that is baring its teeth to the world through his walls and beckoning us in to explore. It's a wonderland of hypnotic monochromatic tales that say something different to everyone. They're a challenge that most people will be willing to accept. It's a world that most people would like to get to know.
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