DEBO’s Bold Creations

“The purpose of an artist is to create, educate, inspire and open up a world of fantasy to the viewer,” Sven ‘DEBO’ Bode believes. “Art shouldn’t be complicated; it should be enjoyable and communicative. Pure and real!” he says. His vibrant, abstract images take you into a contemplative state – a state of being where you may even “meditate [your] own mortality.”

It seems that he had discovered his purpose in life at an early age. At five years old, DEBO knew he had a calling when he stood in front of his kindergarten classmates and began creating artistic images on the blackboard. “To receive the undivided attention of my audience felt right,” he recalls. At this early age he realized he was up to something, he had a mission to create beautiful things for others to enjoy. Growing up in Germany, surrounded by its rich history, deep culture and quality education, he pursued his passion with his first art works: Black and white drawings on paper. At the age of fifteen, his art teacher and friends convinced him to display about twenty of his pieces in an exhibition in Hannover, his hometown. “They were mainly deep, somewhat dark, dreamlike drawings of people,” he told me. “Some were done with different pencil techniques, while others were time-consuming ink dot drawings.” These pieces caught the attention of critics who recognized the teen artist’s genius in his technique. He ended up selling most of his drawings at the exhibition.

Then, at seventeen, DEBO set out to discover the world. He first moved to Berlin where he began his university studies in engineering. His true passion, however, pushed him to also attend art workshops and classes at Berlin’s Academy of Arts. Always a frequent visitor to the city’s astounding art museums, he studied the great masters. And at the National Gallery, he had the opportunity to attend lectures by the world-renowned Modernist, Joseph Beuys. Although young DEBO had found artistic inspiration through Pablo Picasso’s, Salvador Dalí’s, Jackson Pollock’s and Marc Chagall’s works, it was Joseph Beuys who gave him the confidence to pursue his own style and display his pieces in galleries. Beuys (1921 – 1986) reinvented the avant-garde in Germany, with a fair bit of controversy on the side. According to MoMA, Beuys didn’t see a separation between art and society. In his last twenty years, he devoted his time “to both art and constant activism for socioeconomic reform.” Provocative artist, activist and professor of art, Beuys further sparked DEBO’s artistic talents. DEBO may not have used fat and felt (Beuys’s signature materials), but he spent years experimenting and exploring his own style. During this period he traveled around the world, visiting countries and cities in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and in the South Pacific. These experiences influenced his artistic phases.

But his moment of artistic epiphany occurred in 1993.

Can you merge the corporate with the creative? This question had always preoccupied DEBO’s mind, more so, when he was a successful business owner in the advertising industry. That’s why he created the alias “DEBO,” a play on the artist’s last name. He wished to set his creative identity apart from his corporate one.

“No one understands that a successful business mind can very well also be a very creative artistic one,” he said.

“It was a Saturday,” DEBO told me. “I was coming down the steps from my office’s building, ready to cross the street,” he remembers. There, ahead, walking toward him, he spotted His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama with his bodyguards. “The Dalai Lama was on a political visit to Berlin and may have wanted to discover the real people of the city,” he said. This chance encounter was about to have a profound impact on the artist. “I will say ‘Hello,’” he thought and tried. After the bodyguards made sure that he was of no threat to HH, the Dalai Lama, charismatic as always, ended up sitting down with DEBO by the steps of his office building. They chatted about life, spiritual moments and art. “He advised to create beauty from the heart and what is part of my inner self, to give enjoyable moments to the people,” the artist remembers. After their chat, DEBO was ready “to make the commitment to present to the world his message.” His new artistic persona was a fusion of the corporate and the creative. See, it was not only through art that he would “create.” Whether it is through fashion photography, industrial engineering, magazine publishing or painting, DEBO fulfills his passion.

He reinvented himself as an artist in 1994 with his Ethno series, acrylics on canvas. More than sixty large paintings were created over a period of time, some pieces reaching prices of over $20,000. Collectors are frequently asking for more releases from the artist.


“Travel widens your horizons, literally,” he told me. Taking in various cultures and sights, he played with global themes, putting his touch on each canvas. The Ethno series (paintings ranging from colorful simplistic figures to near expressionism-realism) defined the artist as the “missing link between pop art and cave drawings,” he says.

“Like life, we evolve and everything changes,” DEBO says about his different art phases. His abstract phase, consisting of impressive oil paintings on canvas, began in 2005. “Heart” (2006, 48” x 60”) is one of these large paintings. Although abstract, it looks as if you can feel and hear the organ pounding. Vivid, deep reds give it life and guide you through a world of emotion.

“Oil allows you to work in many layers, using massive material to create deep emotional textures,” DEBO said. “Oil is a very active medium. Characters evolve while painting, it’s intense and I can’t seem to work fast enough to see the result of my initial idea,” he told me. The artist uses pallet knifes, spatulas and custom made tools to bring the color on the canvas and to form movements, hidden figures and symbols – sometimes using sand or dirt to add more structure, texture. “Everything is allowed to create an imaginary journey,
a natural look [and feel],” he said.

His abstract heart painting, along with his goal to widen the access to original art, inspired his newest project. PopHeart® celebrates love and emotion. It’s mixed media on high-end 300g cold press art paper and each original is 18” x 24”. “Anyone can read the meaning,” DEBO says about his new series. Not only is its love theme universal, the heart series is original art that’s affordable. (Originals starting in the low $200s.)

The artist will donate a portion of every PopHeart® sale to a charity close to his heart. And it has already caught the eye of art aficionados who have asked for approximately fifty pieces to be displayed behind the front desk at an upcoming Shanghai hotel.

So which phases and which pieces are DEBO’s favorites?

“All of them,” he told me. It’s hard to part from his creations. Each painting means something different and special to the artist – “Each one is a part of me, my history, my heritage, my blood, my immortality.”

DEBO’s art has been exhibited in Berlin, Tel Aviv, London, Tokyo, L.A., Miami, Orlando, and Alys Beach, Florida. He now looks forward to Art Basel Miami Beach 2014 where he’ll exhibit his latest pieces. And he’s not only looking forward to more exhibitions, he’s also actively seeking gallery representation in the U.S. that match his vision.

Also, he has a wish, he wants to see Orlando’s art scene grow. Part of the DAD (Downtown Arts District of Orlando) board, he helps promote the arts through special projects. Established in 2000, DAD’s mission is to enhance art education, promote cultural tourism, and promote art venues and events in downtown Orlando. He wants to see more galleries, more outlets, so that Orlando can attract more artists and art lovers.

“In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson, and DEBO does just that. Staying true to his heart, his passions and emotions, he paints bold creations that spark the fantasy.

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