Thomas, the ‘crazy’ head

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Monday, July 28, 2014

“WHAT'S with the title?” Thomas Von Klettenberg was asked, for starters.

“Well, it’s sort of a joke; a parody; a twist of sarcasm; a game with identity,” Thomas quickly replied, displaying his quirky humor. And, as if searching his memory, he continued: “Or maybe it’s just me and my crazy, artsy alter ego. Why not?”

In case you are confused, this is about art—an explosion of colors, and the pastel “feel” of pop art reinvented. It has a dash of Filipino vibe and a network of happy thoughts.


Last July 17, Cebu had a peek inside the creative head of German digital pop artist Thomas, also known as Thomas Hackenberg. His witty debut exhibit in Asia, entitled “Trust Me – I’m Crazy,” was welcomed as a display of idiosyncrasies and adjectives—as how it was probably pushed in the first place.

The art gallery was converted into an animated environment filled with 28 digitally crafted pieces in large formats—which, in their fragility, exaggerated Thomas’ natural “positive craziness.”

As a backgrounder, Thomas, along with Ulrich Eichhorn, was co-founder of the Kunstschalter Art Group in Berlin in 1986. Back in Germany, he also showed his other facets—as a television presenter, comedian and actor.

Thomas flirts with digital mediums (iPad or iPhone and photo software programs) to brainstorm on and eventually produce his delicate, radiant art; carefully transporting each item (only once, which makes it unique) unto acrylic glass covered with an Alu-Dibond plate at the back. The result is a flamboyant collection of enlarged, comical creations dominated by head images to elaborate the whole “crazy” idea.

“An ‘invention’ I’ve been waiting to happen,” Thomas quipped.

The initiative was inspired by the influences of revered pop art contributor, David Hockney. But many of the works were made in the Philippines (in Cebu in particular), which, according to Thomas, reminds him so much of Mexico with all its joyful shades and reverie—orientations he grew up with.

“When I am here in Cebu, I feel like I’m traveling back to my childhood and I love that feeling. I’m at home,” Thomas said.

The first time he came to the Philippines was about 12 years ago. Asked on how things are going, the Deautsche artist was spurting out praises.

“There’s a powerful development of art in this country. I reckon a fantastic, friendly, expressive race powers this significant progress. Art is changing. In Cebu, for instance, there exists a mixture of traditional and modern takes of art.

Interesting! Much respect to the Philippines,” Thomas said, lauding how Filipinos can fight for something through art.

Not to reiterate the obvious but Thomas also executes these distinct local impressions in his latest works.

Memories are said to be like fingerprints on the soul. Thomas assembles these “fingerprints” into a personal construal of the world boxed in his artistic head.

“Trust Me – I’m Crazy” runs until Aug. 4 at the The Qube Gallery in Banilad, Cebu City. Trust Thomas; it’s a trippy, crazy ride of forms, textures and mood.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 29, 2014.


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