Michael Behrens was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1973. In 2003 he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts, Netherlands. The "creative Dutch influence" acquired through his studies can be felt in the conception and elaboration of his works. During his studies, Behrens initially focused on photography and painting, but later concentrated on abstract sculpture and continues to do so today. He founded his studio in Düsseldorf in 2006, where he still works and lives as an artist. Two years later, after his first solo exhibition in Paris, the Ernsting Foundation invited him to a joint exhibition. The characteristic dynamic shapes and structures as well as the challenging color combinations received international attention. Behrens' vision was and is "to create objects in which the energy of nature is visible and tangible." In this spirit, he has created five sculptural series of works to date, Underwater, Seaforms, Landscapes, Phoenix, and Evolution; with his sixth and most recent series of works, Touched by Nature, he remains true to his guiding principle, but now realizes it in large-scale photographic works. Since 2003, Behrens' works have been represented in over 300 solo and group exhibitions worldwide.
One foundation stone of Behrens’ career was to find the right studio an environment to handle specialized technical equipment, as a suitable power supply to install his furnaces. Behrens began to acquire a highly technical background, enabling him to run the studio independently but also to push the limits of material and usher in a new era of kiln-casted objects. Just as design and concept, all the main works are done in the studio in Düsseldorf in hundreds of hours of preparing, model, and mold making, working on the glass with different techniques, melting the objects, and finally, after a long annealing period, releasing the sculpture of the mold, and grinding the structure. A team of well-trained assistants allows one to create sculptures of a specific scale. The final touch of the object surface is given by the best-skilled grinders from the Czech Republic. The whole process of creating this kind of sculpture is time-consuming and demanding as impatience or deviations from the production process are not forgiven.
About the work
Michael Behrens plays with movement and balance in massive objects. Conceptually, the creative power of nature is in the foreground. The series of works Underwater and Seaforms embody his personal experiences above and under water. Deliberately random forms frame internal organic structures that seem frozen in motion. Matte and transparent surfaces alternate, creating a dynamic connection between inside and outside. In complete contrast, each object in the Phoenix series is opaque, and yet precisely because of the opacity, the connection to the outside is maintained. Color also plays no role in this series of works. Thus, the eye is drawn entirely to the contours and surfaces. In the Landscapes, the form is given by nature and represented abstractly in the wall panels, underpinned by structural elements on the multi-layered surface. With the Evolution series, Behrens returns to the interplay of outer and inner form, employing sculptural language to represent continuity and transience. With Touched by Nature, Behrens revisits his earlier passion for photography, creating color gradients that seem more painted than photographed in images of seemingly endless expanse. The works give the viewer room for their interpretation, and they get the impression of "falling into the picture."
Over the years, Michael Behrens has developed a distinct and characteristic style, becoming one of the most recognized German sculptors in his field. This is now complemented by his photographic works.
"In his Landscapes series, Behrens shifts his gaze from three-dimensions to two, looking at bodies of water from far above, and against the natural landscpae, rendering them in glass relief through castings of optical crystal. The flat works are abstract references to lakes, rivers, and oceans. These are high-altitude views, looking down from the edges of space, and the artist uses saatellite photography as his basis, adding coloration to set apart the water from the surrounding topography, adding silvering to the backing of these glass to bring them to life with light, the shimmer of the sandblasted textured surfaces a reference to the glittering of water. The result is a series of panels that are brought to life by their surrounding light and environment." Andrew Page, editor of Glass: The Urban Glass Art Quarterly, NYC, USA