Painting Substrate

Art in a test of endurance

The German trompe l’oeil artist Steffen Jünemann paints large-format works on Evolon® that can withstand wind and weather for years. His art can be found in China, Dubai and Canada, but also in Münster, Thuringia and Wuppertal, Germany.

It is white, soft, lightweight and feels velvety to the touch. It is found in bed linen, cosmetic wipes and bathrobes. And ever since Steffen Jünemann from Münster, Germany, accidentally discovered Freudenberg's microfilament textile on the internet, it also serves as a canvas for paintings. The material is called Evolon®. Jünemann is a trompe l’oeil artist. “Trompe l’oeil” means literally “trick of the eye”. The 45-year-old creates paintings that simulate three-dimensionality through perspective. This technique has existed for over 1,000 years. The Italian painters Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci were masters of this art form. Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” is not only a milestone of Renaissance art, but also gives the viewer a spatial perspective, even though it is only a two-dimensional image.

Jünemann

Steffen Jünemann, trompe l’oeil artist, Münster, Germany.

 

But the special thing about Jünemann’s works is something else, and this is precisely where the qualities of Evolon® come into play. His paintings are often extremely large in area and are presented in public spaces, such as on walls and façades. This means that they are exposed to wind and weather. “When I first held Evolon® in my hands ten years ago, I was immediately impressed by the feel and texture of the material”, Jünnemann recalled.

The artist then subjected the material to some initial tests. How would Evolon® behave when he applied acrylic paint to it? What would happen to an image created on Evolon® when it gets hot? Or very wet? How tear-resistant is Evolon®? After just a few days, Jünemann had his answer: “This is my material, which will accompany me from now on.” The baptism of fire followed in 2008 with a large-scale work on Vancouver Island in Canada. It was a tribute to the Canadian artist Emily Carr, 7 meters by 17 meters, which drew together several of her works.

Painting
Painting

The artwork adorns the outside façade of the theater in Chemainus. That was ten years ago now and, according to Jünemann, the picture is still in perfect condition today. If, on the other hand, he were painting directly on concrete or plaster, there would be a risk that it would crumble over the years and the ravages of time would literally gnaw away at the artwork.

“Works painted on Evolon® not only last better, but also hold together the underlying plaster.”

Steffen Jünemann, trompe l’oeil artist, Münster, Germany.

The surface structure of the textile also causes a certain degree of anti-reflection. Jünemann explained: “This is especially important for the application of paint, because if the substrate is too smooth, for example a lacquered furniture panel, it is not ideal in terms of viewing the image, especially on sunny days.” He also finds that Evolon® is more dimensionally stable than any other substrate: “On the one hand, it can both absorb and release water without swelling, but it also has the flexibility I need when gluing.” As, for example, when he created his largest artwork to date: a 500-square-meter ornamental work, which was glued to the ceilings of the lobby and side corridors of the Kempinski Hotel in Dubai at a height of 13 to 20 meters.

Kampinski

Logistically, this has been his biggest and most challenging project so far, because it was also important to consider exactly where the sprinkler systems and smoke detectors would be, so that Jünemann could integrate them into his design in advance. In his 230-square-meter studio in Münster, he composed the work on 36 separate sheets of Evolon®.

Kampinski

He then sent each individual sheet to Dubai, numbered and securely packed in sewerage pipes(!) “During transport, parcels are often thrown down from a great height and then, after landing, lie around the airport at 50 degrees in the blazing sun”, he explained. 

Kampinski

Onsite, the then 37-year-old artist and his team began the task of gluing the sheets to the ceiling. That team included his 62-year-old father. Constantly bent over on a platform that left just one and a half meters of space between them and the ceiling, the team glued the 1.8 meter wide and 4 to 12 meter long sheets above their heads with millimeter precision – a task that took over five weeks to complete.

Kampinski

As Jünemann explained: “Anyone who has ever wallpapered a ceiling knows how exhausting it is. With a classic canvas, the weight would have made the task impossible. In contrast, because Evolon® is made from synthetic filaments, is very light.” Textile fabrics made from natural fibers are also unsuitable for extreme climates or outdoor areas, because the effects of moisture quickly cause them to become moldy or rot. 

Since 2007, the artist has been painting exclusively on “Evo 80,” as he calls it: the Evolon variant with a weight of 80 grams per square meter. This even includes the small-format images that hang in galleries and are not exposed to wind and weather. “Evolon® is my life insurance as a material. There is nothing else for me”, he concluded.

Find out more about the divers applications of Evolon®:
https://evolon.freudenberg-pm.com

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