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blog. 25.03.2016

blog. 25.03.2016

In his mixed-media collages, Misha Hollenbach juxtaposes the tranquility of Ikebana with the chaos of vandalism

Misha Hollenbach is a Melbourne-based artist, musician and one half of the duo behind lifestyle brand Perks and Mini (P.A.M.), known for its bold, avant-garde aesthetic. He’s also a mountain biker, a gardener, and a recorder of field sounds. To him, nature is an art form unto itself—the sounds of bees, birds and the wind are musical genres. Engaging with his surroundings is important to Hollenbach, who has used dead cactuses as canvases, as well as breezeblock walls. “The act, the experience, is maybe my favorite part of making and creating,” he says. “The work is a souvenir of the experience.”

In Flormal, a series of ink and collage pieces, Hollenbach juxtaposes the tranquility of Japanese Ikebana floral arrangements with the chaotic free-flowing energy of vandalism. Ikebana, a complex and deeply formal philosophy informing the arrangements of plants, is, in Hollenbach’s opinion, the perfect subject for his abstract and expressive scrawls. Opposites attract, he reasons in the following interview. His work does not disrupt the calculated serenity of the Ikebana; instead, it harmonizes the energy of the ancient art form.

What inspired you to make the Flormal series?
Ikebana is a very strict, formal art practice. It is highly considered, skilled, with a set of very clear rules. Juxtaposing this with the freedom and frivolity of abstract mark making doesn’t create a tension, but a harmony. It’s almost that the opposites attract, and bounce off each other. I like the harmony in chaos and vice versa.

Why did you want to disrupt the balance of the arrangements? Is it tied to graffiti in the sense that it shares a spirit of vandalism?
Vandalism is a form of creativity. It changes how something looks. It is a link with destruction, but I guess this is in the eye of the beholder. I like to think the act is very expressive, and beautiful. Beautiful in a transfer of energy, and a sense of abandon, freedom and anarchy; it’s not necessarily a negative act. Generally, graffiti is face value, it disrupts the façade, the integrity and whatever is de- or re-faced is still there. Smashing something changes it’s being, but again, the same ideas of the expressive act still apply. The scrawls over photos of Ikebana, although abstract and expressively free, still add, and help with, the harmony of the Ikebana. Stoic energy is given life somehow.

What do you think Ikebana master Reiko Kawamura would think about your works?
I think if she transferred my mark-making energy into plant form, this could be an interesting take on Ikebana. A new movement in Ikebana.

Read the full interview in Strange Plants II.