Dirk Stewen is a German-born artist living in Hamburg. He works primarily with paper, using a rich and varied investigation of applications and modes of art making that includes photography, drawing, assemblage, collage, and embroidery. His materials are often found, carefully acquired, or borrowed from his own repository of made and collected images. Infused with a poet’s touch for what is left unsaid or unexplained, Stewen’s work includes watercolors that are often painted on a specific pre-printed paper stock—loose pages from a particular antiquated French art publication, the paper pale and faded with time. The tipped-in plates have been ripped out; however, the formal, printed titles from the previous volume are left to comment ambiguously or tellingly on what is depicted. Large multi-paneled collages, celestial in feeling, feature cut out and applied dots on a swirling dark field made with exposed photopaper doused with black ink. The small applied circular forms have been hand-sewn onto the paper, with their excess threads cascading down from the picture, crisscrossing the surface, looping or dangling, and moving slightly as you walk by. Process, pattern, color, space, time, and memory play equal roles in the making of Stewen’s work. Stewen’s art is unabashedly beautiful and personal. In dialogue with his own history as well as art that has come before, the works in their particular and mysterious sequences and juxtapositions are manifestations of pure feeling.
Stewen studied at the Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg, and had a solo exhibition at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco in 2008. A publication entitled While You Were Out, which covers a broad range of Stewen’s oeuvre, was published by Walter Koenig in 2009.