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Subtle Complexity: Artwork by Dirk Stewen

An artwork composed of a series of abstracted imagesUntitled, inkjet prints, ink on paper, vintage paper, fabric, steel needles

Dirk Stewen lives and works in Hamburg, Germany, creating ethereal works on paper that utilize a variety of media and techniques. His abstract works on paper exhibit subtle complexity while utilizing a desaturated colour palette.


Stewen often incorporates photographs and embroidery or thread into his works. The photographs tend to be either obscured or faded, so the imagery they offer is in keeping with the overall abstract aesthetic. The threads, sometimes hanging across the surface of a work and sometimes woven into it, provide an extra element of tactility that also serves to draw the eye around the work.


An abstract artwork with pastel blue tonesUntitled, Hamburg, inkjet print, gouache, paper streamer, silver foil, white confetti, thread and tape on paper

Occasionally Stewen incorporates washed-out, pastel colours into his artworks, often in the form of very light blue tones. Sometimes these are simple blocks of colour while other times they represent silhouetted objects that fade into the background of a work. These colours contrasted with the slight yellowed tone of the antique paper the artist favours makes for a beautifully light contrast. 


An artwork with  two images printed on vintage paperUntitled (Linksrum), ink and cotton on paper, inkjet print, vintage paper

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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