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Meet Tim Bengel! A young German artist who has found love in sand and gold. Driven by a curiosity for art that began as early as nine years and fueled by the determination to try something different, Bengel set out to turn away from the confines of conventional art. Many artists paint with watercolor or oil, but Bengel tried a range of different techniques before he discovered three key ingredients; black sand, white sand, and gold.

He developed his method of using these materials between 2014 and 2015, and all of a sudden became a YouTube sensation by sharing his unique art videos. Bengel creates everything from architectural views and portraits to expansive city skylines, and his pieces have been well-received so to speak.

With over 330K followers on Instagram, half-a-million fans on Facebook, and his videos receiving millions of views across social media, Bengel has quickly become a worldwide sensation, more than any other artist in his age group.

Personal background

Tim Bengel was born and raised in Stuttgart, Germany, where he also lives and works. The 27-year-old attended the elite University of Tübingen where he studied art history and philosophy. He was inspired from a young age on trips to the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and claims to do art because he could never do a normal job. Bengel would then go on to try and imitate the abstract works he saw at the museum, and that’s when he realized his interest in art.

In his early beginnings, Bengel realized that art emerges from a combination and creating something new. Staying true to his passion for art. He won his first art competition at the school he attended, at the age of 18. His large-format collage, crafted from coins, beat all watercolor paintings and pencil drawings. From that victory, Bengel realized he could be successful by doing things differently, thus the slogan on his website – “I want to do things differently”.

After graduating from high school, Bengel tried a couple of paths in different fields including fashion, health management, art history, and philosophy. He performed incredibly well in these fields and was always among the best students. But unlike most people who feel satisfied by being top of the class, Bengel found it boring, and he set out for a real challenge – practical art – the only thing that’s never boring, at least according to him.

Of sand, gold, and glue

Tim Bengel artwork New York

Bengel’s artistic process is complex and no one on earth yet has managed to imitate his style. We can share the little we know, though.

It starts with the choice of motif. For Bengel, any non-religious, non-party and non-ideological image is a potential option. He finds templates on the internet, newspapers or while traveling. With the help of his computer and his hand, Bengel transforms the motif into a minimalistic, distinct and striking white-black-gold image.

Tim Bengel working with gold leaf

He then fills black and white sand onto a sticky canvass. An important tool for this process is an X-ACTO knife, which he uses to carefully move the sand into place. The magic unfolds when he lifts the canvas for the un-glued sand and gold to fall off, revealing an intricate image for the eyes to behold. This style takes a lot of time and requires a great deal of patience, but the end product is incredibly striking.

Tim Bengel close up of artwork

Exhibitions and works

From Stuttgart to Munich in his home country to Asian cities including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur, as well as New York City, Bengel has been involved in major exhibitions both as a solo artist and group projects.

He made his first major exhibition in New York in September 2017 at the HG Contemporary Gallery. The title of this solo project was “Monuments” and featured works including the “My American Dream”, “Versailles Monuments”, “Brooklyn Bridge”, “Tribute to Andy Warhol”, and “Guggenheim”. In this exhibition, Tim said he intended to bring life into something lifeless and to display it in a thrilling style.

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Philippe Hoerle-Guggenheim, founder and owner of HG Contemporary Gallery said at the time:

“We are so pleased to have the privilege to work with extraordinarily talented artist, Tim Bengel. We seek out the best and most promising artists in the world, so the comparisons to Banksy, Basquiat, and Keith Haring are quite remarkable and well deserved.”

Bengel later said his journey to the U.S was such inspirational. He loved the majestic architecture in New York and San Francisco. Apart from exhibiting his work at the HG Contemporary Gallery, he also visited the Facebook Headquarters and the people he met all along showed him that every dream can become true. Bengel said “The American Dream”, in particular, is a huge inspiration and his case, a young boy from Germany exhibiting his artistry in New York.

He has also had a chance to show his work to Presidents, Royals and Ministers in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand.

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Just last month, Bengel pulled a surprise by creating a striking installation in Berlin made of flowers and tombstones. The masterpiece appeared overnight on the property of Factory Berlin during Berlin Art Week. People have called it #FlowerSkullCemetery and Graves of Our Generation. A look from above shows a large, red skull printed on the ground with a white border and white grids cutting through it. However, this artwork was made from a combination of red and white heater shrubs, which were planted around white marble gravestones. Bengel and his team of fifteen assistants installed this impressive piece at night.

A closer look at the gravestones reveals messages that talk about life in the 21st century. The epitaphs manifest the realities of a world filled with an obsession for social media, such as “Follow me”, global concerns like climate change and the emptiness of consumerism.

Other epitaphs speak of regrets, with an example being “I should have kissed her”, while some speak of a sense of satisfaction like “I spent my life with people I loved”.

Perhaps the epitaph that Bengel finds most troubling is one that says, “I was afraid to create”. He actually reflects on his fear during the time he was planning to create the installation. Nevertheless, the artwork is out there to see and should serve as a lesson for one to conquer whatever is holding them back from chasing their dream.

We leave it there for now and if you can, don’t miss Bengel’s next visit to HG Contemporary, New York, where he will be showcasing “I was present” starting 10th October to 11th November, 2019.

For regular updates, follow Tim Bengel on Instagram.