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from FORBES Europa, Nr. 5 / 2019, p. 104
“One day, I would like to look back on my life and be able to say, ‘I affected New York artistically more than New York City affected me.” This is Austrian artist Camillo Stepanek’s answer to the question of what, in effect, he wants to achieve with his art.
It all began quite differently, however. In the beginning, New York City was just a dot on the map, Stepanek’s art only a dream that he had buried already in childhood. “In today’s society, we are made to believe that dreams don’t work. In addition, there were my parents’ expectations regarding my professional career. So I studied business management and entrepreneurship and even graduated with a Master’s degree – although I knew already after getting my Bachelor’s degree that I could no longer ignore that I was an artist.”
Stepanek explains that a short holiday in New York City convinced him to ‘rake up’ his dream. The city appeared to be more extreme than other cities, everybody was trying to come out on top, which leads to great tension. At the same time, however, there was so much creativity everywhere as well.
In New York, Stepanek took part in two art competitions and reached the finals in both. Back in Austria, he discovered (seemingly by coincidence) his very own artistic style: Pop Art Nouveau – a style that combines elements of pop art and art nouveau. “I was lying in my room, looking at the ceiling, and became fascinated with the magically vacillating lines that nature presented – the texture and grain of the wood.” These lines can be found in all his paintings so far. He accentuates them with composition gold and fills the spaces between with oil or acrylic.
By now, Stepanek’s paintings sell for amounts in the middle four- or five-digit range; 75 percent at gallery openings and some by commission. The next step is a gallery in New York City. “I think my paintings work so well in New York because New Yorkers have a strong desire for authenticity – and that’s what the lines in my paintings are about,” he says.
His first bigger exhibition, however, was not in New York, but at the Hyatt Hotel in Agadir, Morocco, together with other artists. With a car full of paintings he set out for a drive to Morocco that lasted several days. According to Stepanek, shipping companies refused to transport his works of art, particularly not to Africa.
His first solo exhibition was held at the catacombs of a church in New York’s Soho district. It was followed by a private showing at a penthouse on Madison Avenue.
Getting there was anything but easy, however. “At first it was incredibly difficult. I had no idea how to survive, and – from a financial point of view – I risked everything. In doing so, I had complete trust that my dream would carry me through. And it did!” says Stepanek.
As he moves on, he intends to refine his style and stay true to his fascination with those magical lines …