Sandro Kopp is a famous contemporary visual artist who predominantly has Skype as the central subject of his artwork. He combines the primitive technique of oil painting with a dominant modern technology—Skype—to deliver his visual masterpieces. Currently residing in Nairn in the Northern region of Scotland, his series are essentially motivated by his nomadic lifestyle as well as the distortions that occur because of bad internet connections. Kopp’s inspirations vary from masterful impressionist Vincent Van Gogh to contemporary painters and photographers like John Currin, David Hockey and Ryan McGinley. His paintings have been exhibited across the world and mainly involve his family, friends and partner Tilda Swinton in the portraits. Apart from painting, Kopp has played small roles in films like ‘Julia’, captured still photographs for various films and also contributed to other divisions of the film industry.
Figurative artist, Sandro Kopp had a very clear vision from early childhood that art was his future. He knows no other job other than painting as he began drawing when he was merely two years old. Kopp’s first exhibition was put on at the Skill Institute, a local tertiary learning facility in Germany, when he was seven years old. Though his parents separated early on, his ambition to be an artist was always encouraged which helped him pursue a career in art. Living out of a suitcase, Kopp has a mobile studio in his bag which he puts to use when inspiration strikes. His choice of painting Skype portraits with live sitting as a medium emerges from this wandering lifestyle.
Sandro Kopp’s distinctive creations constantly aim at presenting new technology using the old fashioned technique of oil painting. Painting Skype portraits since 2009, Kopp has found his own inimitable path, something which is not being explored specifically by any other contemporary artist. The idea of painting of figures actually emerged during a Skype conversation with his close friend and jeweler, Waris Ahluwalia, the man who played guard in Wes Anderson’s ‘Darjeeling Limited’.
Initially, the project began by painting Ahluwalia purely for fun but the results led to the artist realizing the exclusivity of the whole Skype process. Kopp began working on his series ‘Not a Still Frame (Hybrid)’ in April 2010 where his partner, Tilda Swinton, was shooting for a film while he was sitting in a room capturing people on canvas via Skype. His abstract style of figurative painting is evident through his broad brush strokes, the visual distortions and the enhancement of pixilation visible in the portraits. His 2012 show ‘There You Are’, at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York also had paintings of well-known personalities like Haider Ackerman, Ryan McGinley, and Waris Ahluwalia who were painted during a multiple hour sitting via Skype.
Sandro Kopp’s first solo show at Otto Zoo, Milan (2014) titled ‘Son Qui’ explored two works ‘The New Me’ and ‘You Are There’. One was a self-reflection painted several times over a period of one month and the other was a series of nudes posed by friends and family via Skype. Though Kopp has retained the larger focus on Skype, her constantly progresses and tries to bring something innovative with each of his series.
In his show ‘Feedbackloop’ in 2015 he represented his focus on Skype in its current context and re-painted figures through slow Wi-Fi till they were entirely abstract. His most recent show in Paris, ‘Take Time’ which was exhibited in 2016 displayed a new collection of portraits featuring his partner and actor, Tilda Swinton, himself and his entourage. The series was a collection of 13 years of work and unlike his earlier Skype portraits it had people painted in live sittings against spare backgrounds. Kopp’s style of art is a constant blend of the old and the new hence making it unique, natural yet innovative and classic as compared to his counterparts. He continues to explore figurative paintings but each time in an altered and newer fashion.
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Sandro Kopp was born on February 14, 1978 in Heidelberg, Germany. His architect father, Hermann Kopp, and his lecturer mother, Kayla, parted ways when he was a young kid. Kopp grew up in a village in Germany with his New Zealander mother who always encouraged his drawing and painting skills. Apart from his mother, he was also encouraged by his art teacher who helped him with his first ever solo exhibition.
Sandro Kopp graduated as Abitur (From University-Preparatory School in Germany) in 1998 with majors in Fine Arts and English. Later in 2000, he shifted to Wellington, New Zealand, where he studied and taught at an art school for a year before moving to Nairn, Scotland permanently. Since 2004, he has been in a relationship with Academy Award winning actress, Tilda Swinton, who is also his muse.