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Bringing Color to Doha Fire Station Museum | Interview with German Artist Tomislav from Quintessenz

Known for their use of bold colors and contrasting elements, the multidisciplinary artist duo QUINTESSENZ leaves their mark on the world, one mural at a time.



Known for their use of bold colors and contrasting elements, the multidisciplinary artist duo — Quintessenz — leaves their mark on the world, one mural at a time.
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Gone are the good ol’ gray concrete walls of Doha FireStation Museum.
Germany hosted 2017’s Year of Culture program — an initiative by Qatar Museums with the aim to promote “mutual understanding, recognition, and appreciation between countries" — and brought two German artists Kera and Tomislav, one-half of artist duo Quintessenz, to bring color to the then-achromatic museum.

I met Tomislav at Cafe #999 on his last day in Qatar, who has expressed his fondness of the city's very low crime rate and said that Doha is “literally the safest city in the world” as he didn’t feel the need to be extremely cautious of his belongings like he would in other cities. In fact, he was able to leave his camera among other personal belongings in his working station whilst on a lunch break — something he would never dare do elsewhere — and found them right where he left them.

"I think there’s a 99.9% chance your valuables would still be there when you forget it in a bar or a cafe [here in Qatar]. And I would really like to see that all over the world, where people don't steal. People don't kill. People are just generally nice to each other."

Life is exciting when there's contrast. When everything's perfectly balanced, it gets boring.



Tomislav is one-half of the Germany-based artist duo, Quintessenz. Known for their use of bold colors and contrasting elements, the multidisciplinary artist duo leaves their mark on the world, one mural at a time.

I look at murals as a bridge that connects everyone (whether an art lover or not) with art. Street art is ingrained to our daily experience, naturally so that you would not even think of its value, unless it no longer exists or you've simply lived before it has been decorated. Even if you don't stop to appreciate the newly-pained walls, the way murals naturally harmonize with their surroundings gives the area a lot of soul and emotion. So I asked Tomislav about his inspiration behind his creation.
“There's no meaning, no big story behind it. I focused more on the composition; the beauty of colors; the contrast between the gray concrete and bright colors, the round and 90-degree edges; the clean gradient composition and watercolor-like ones that look quite dirty.

Life is exciting when there's contrast. When everything's perfectly balanced, it gets boring.”

Tomislav took most of the inspiration from the architecture of Doha Fire Station Museum, which he describes as “very cubistic, with a lot of 90-degree angles.” The inspiration for the black, curvy elements in his mural occurred to him when he saw the windows of the museum, with yellow half-round sun shade that resembles a curved roof of its own.

“I really liked this accent as it doesn't appear very often. I took these shapes as an inspiration and included them as black elements in the mural to bring contrast to a very straight architecture.”
Murals take more time, effort, and well, paint throughout the whole process compared to a standard-sized canvas. So I was interested and asked him, “why would you choose to make art out of public walls?”

“A mural is not like a canvas that you can carry around or sell. The wall will always offer different surface conditions, which you won’t get on a standard canvas. It takes time to get used to that size even if you're creating murals for almost 20 years.

It's literally like a big blank sheet of paper since we don’t use a sketch before we start working on the mural. That’s why it is very important for us as artists to develop spontaneity and site-specific execution.

But the thing is, our work stays there probably for years and years. It’s nice to be able to spread our style around the world.”
Aside from graffiti, Quintessenz also creates installations, exhibitions, paintings on canvases, and settings for films.

“I can't imagine myself doing anything else in my life anymore,” Tomislav said. “In the beginning, it’s always been a pain in the ass to be an artist. If you really wanted to be an artist, you need both time and money. So I had to work a day job to earn money and pay my rent, whilst still leaving some time for my passion.

I guess, I’ve always wanted to create art. It was never about earning money or impressing someone,” Tomislav said. “It’s about getting creative, and being able to do what we’ve always wanted to do in the first place.”

As an artist with the sole mission to satisfy his sense of getting creative, I wanted to know how he wants the audience to react to his mural in Qatar.





He sighed, and said:

“This is always the question… Of course, I’m glad when people like it. But I also really like it when people don't like our work because they can't handle what they see. Both sides are very interesting for me as an artist.

I don't expect more than that actually when I create something like this. I love it when people are either enjoying it, or simply walking by it because they have better things to do. After all this wall is not the center of the world.”



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QUINTESSENZ

Together, the Hanover and Berlin-based artists Thomas Granseuer und Tomislav Topic constitute Quintessenz. Starting out as students at the University of applied Science and Arts in Hildesheim, they developed a unique an unmistakeable signature style. With roots in both grafitti-culture and chromatics, Quintessenz combine painting, moving image, and installation.
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