5 questions to the artist SeiLeise
Tim Ossege, known as Cologne graphic and reverse graffiti artist SeiLeise, has created a testament to his home city at the Lindner Hotel City Plaza. Each of the six themed floors is dedicated to a Cologne partner. The end result is a tour illustrating Cologne’s attitude to life: From Cologne Cathedral, the Chocolate Museum and Cologne Zoo to the Cologne Tourist Board, 4711 Original Eua de Cologne and Cologne Carnival, guests experience the city on the banks of the Rhine. QR codes provide additional information.
What lies behind your artistic name SeiLeise (which translates as “Be Quiet”) and how much of SeiLeise is now in the Lindner Hotel City Plaza?
My roots lie in graffiti, which is where the pseudonym came from. As a street artist, I am in the grey area between legality and illegality. Away from the art I am rather quiet and reserved. There is a great sense of Cologne in the concepts of the individual themed floors, but one of the best-known SeiLeise motifs is permanently included in the Lindner Hotel City Plaza in the form of the “moon girl”. The moon girl is not only found in various districts of Cologne but also on the streets of many other major cities. There I use stencil art so that it is like a poster on the wall, which can be removed again at any time.
Which themed floors are there and do you have a favourite?
The first floor shows Holy Cologne, and here I have focused on the myths and legends surrounding Cologne Cathedral, all in a deliberately comic style. After all, I have no wish to compete with the grand masters. Standing as godparent for the second floor is the Chocolate Museum. Here the focus is on the history of chocolate and the museum itself. Cologne Zoo with its animal inhabitants ranging from orang-utans to flamingos and rhinos has moved into the corridors of the third floor. I probably identify best with the fourth floor which has the theme of #UrbanCGN, and was created together with the Cologne Tourist Board. That’s the theme where I feel most at home. There, I applied structural plaster to simulate a bare concrete wall and then, of course, I used spray cans. The fifth floor is devoted to the traditional brand of 4711 Original Eau de Cologne and on the top floor it is the Cologne carnival that is celebrated, with the Carnival Prince throwing caramel sweets to the guests as they exit the lift.
Can you give us an insight into the design process of the themed floors at the Lindner Hotel City Plaza?
At the beginning of the concept, there was a meeting with the various Cologne partners to define the topics and to make it more tangible for me. After that, I sat down at my computer, developed ideas and created the first scribbles. With the large acrylic paintings, I projected the drafts onto the walls of the individual floors before painting them. In addition to acrylic paint and brush, structural plaster and spray can, on the chocolate floor I worked for the first time with rust paint. This is a paint that contains a lot of iron, which is processed in the second step with an emulsifier that starts to turn the iron rusty. It’s an exciting technique in which the result can be seen after only one to two days.
What is special for you about the project?
As a native of Cologne, I found the collaboration with the Cologne partners really exciting. Without their insights and content-related impulses, the project would not have been feasible in this form. For example, the Festival Committee of the Cologne Carnival opened their archive and showed us the motto floats. And they even let us use 150 drafts of the floats, which now create a carnival procession from a bird's eye perspective. It would be exciting to add to these in the next few years by creating new designs, thus taking the project one step further. It was also great that, in contrast to other commissions, I had a very free hand in the conception and implementation and was even able to try out new techniques.
And what is next for you?
For over a year, my focus was mainly on the implementation of the Cologne themes. Now I am looking forward to completely doing my own thing again, disappearing into my studio for a while and preparing a solo exhibition.