valentin's abc

written by Elisabeth Felson




Atelier. A home away from home. A shelter. It was acquired in 2012 from a guy named Alexander. Alexander didn’t want to sell his workshop, but Valentin asked and asked and asked. Valentin needed this space to shelter his work, Alexander sensed it and he finally sold it to him.

Years earlier, while a student, Valentin had walked past this workshop. He had thought that it would be a dream to be able to work in a space like this. At the time, it was rented by a painter. It was Peter who brought Valentin back to this same workshop in a beautiful loop of fate, making this dream come true.

Valentin made the atelier a space of harmony and comfort. He ripped it all off. Even the roof was destroyed. In 2016, the studio was born, no longer an artist in his shell, but a place for collaboration, with assistants and architects. ‘When I work with people around me, there are higher expectations’Valentin says.

Nowadays, the atelier has high ceilings to shelter tall pieces, a smaller room with a desk and a shelf of books, a large kitchen to enjoy friendly meals, and an outdoor space. A quiet water pond re ecting the sky with a tall ceramic sculpture made by Valentin’s father.




Born near Basel in Germany, in an old farm. Born in a family of 5 children, born the second, after the joyful Jonas. The family lived independently from urban tumult, growing vegetables, keeping horses, and living a peaceful life. Valentin’s father was a ceramic artist and passed the need for creation as the most basic need in life to all of his children. The family grew up with strong family values and a need to express themselves through art.

Before Valentin was born, the family was about to move to Japan. Japan is where he should have been born. Valentin’s family has always kept a love for Japanese culture. Valentin keeps on returning there in search for... (this sentence will be completed later in Valentin’s life).




Cartesian. Valentin never thought of himself as Cartesian. But he is very much Cartesian, and not only because he is German.

So why is Valentin Cartesian?

- he admits nothing without questioning it;
- he analyses logically every part of a problem; - he builds from simplicity to complexity;
- he makes sure no aspect is forgotten.

To know more, look up Rene Descartes in Wikipedia. You can do this yourself.




Disenchantement, discontentment, dissatisfaction, dismay, disquiet, disillusionment, the list can be endlessly continued. The d-letter is a state of mind Valentin is often in. However, after toying with the impossibility of being content in this world, Valentin preferred the word DANGER.




Emotions. There is ‘motion’ in ‘emotions’.




Forest. When Valentin was a child he had a long walk through the forest. Alone amongst the stillness and the tallness of the trees, he wasn’t frightened. In the woods he found repose from others. Now Valentin lives at the edge of a forest.




Gardening. Valentin often thought he could become a gardener because of the peacefulness of this physical work. When he was a child he loved to collect plants and leaves. Later he found rest in open spaces. ‘Gardening is a state of mind, as you might say that music is.’




Homesick. To be homesick is being lost and endlessly looking for a safe place. It is like being a wolf of the Steppes “that has lost its way and strayed into the towns and the life of the herd”, carrying around his shy loneliness, his savagery, his restlessness, his homesickness, his homelessness (Hermann Hesse).

The famous writer Hermann Hesse exchanged an abundant correspondence with Valentin’s great great grandfather.




I. It is difficult for most people to be themselves, a true self different from others. Yet Valentin naturally keeps his distances from all other creative works and arts. He seeks his own thoughts as purely as possible and away from others’ creative influences. He nourishes himself from nature and music and walks through the forest.




Japan. is an island country in East Asia. It is also a powerful myth in the Loellmann family. It has influenced Valentin’s work by its minimalist aesthetic all along.




Kitchens are the most social places in a house. Where people spend most of the time. ‘When I was building the Atelier, I started by the kitchen’ Valentin says. ‘Kitchens are a center point of life and time’.




Lines. Lines such as the ‘l’ printed on this page don’t exist in Valentin’s work.




Manual work is essential for Valentin. It channels his energy and drives him to create. Valentin doesn’t draw. He tackles the materials straight away with hammer, saw and fire.




Noodles are Valentin’s favorite food. What if noodles weren’t a comfort food but the opposite?‘Thinking about noodles that boil eternally but are never done is a sad, sad thing’ (Haruki Murakami).




Other. “Hell is other people.” This is the nal sentence of the play No Exit (Huis Clos) which Sartre wrote in 1943. Valentin wasn’t born.




Piano. “The piano ain’t got no wrong notes” says Thelonious Monk. Valentin practices hard.




Quickness. ‘Things are never fast enough’ Valentin says. ‘I feel I am always short of time. There are new things I wish to do, but time passes too quickly. I am constantly in this paradox of wanting to go faster while the work I do demands time.’




Risk. ‘I am a risk-taker. Whether it is in skateboarding, in climbing or in my working with toxic materials. I take risks when trying to achieve something. I never use materials as I should, I don’t obey the rules’.




Steppenwolf. Valentin is a Steppenwolf, but he doesn’t know it. Read the book, Valentin!




Thank you is something Valentin finds hard to say. Valentin you should practice every day: ‘thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you...’




Undeterred “When someone truly needs something, he finds it. It isn’t luck that finds it, but he himself. His own desire and need lead him to it’ (Hermann Hesse)




Vulnerability. ‘When I step out of my atelier, a place of work and friendship, I feel very vulnerable.’“Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams” (W B Yeats).




Wabi-sabi: beauty is imperfection, impermanence & incompleteness. The Japanese philosophy advocates detachment from material things; objects gain when rusting and cracking and weathering. The palette of colors is made of shades of black, grey, rust and brown. There are no straight lines or symmetry... wabi-sabi is elegance and austerity.




X The modern tradition of using X to represent an unknown was introduced by René Descartes in La Géométrie (1637). As a result of its use in algebra, X is often used to represent unknowns in other circumstances.




Yearning. A longing for home, a longing for safety, maybe simultaneously a fear and an appetite to discover the world.




Zeit. “For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.” (Herman Hesse). Somewhat to build oneself is to build against one’s time (Zeit) which is what Valentin is doing with his work.