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the secret book – artist proof of concept

the secret book - artist proof of concept
the secret book – artist proof of concept

ARTSURPRISE is expanding its portfolio. Artist Books are now also available. The workflow was tested in the spring with an initial print run of 120 copies. „The secret book“ is a collection of paper fragments from the artist’s environment, a conceptual text on the subject of living communities, and a message to the art lover who can count themselves lucky to receive one of the few copies.

the secret book - workflow - cutting
the secret book – workflow – cutting

After printing, the stack was aligned and cut with the professional paper cutting machine.

the secret book - workflow - mounting
the secret book – workflow – mounting

Afterwards, the individual pages were mixed with the paper fragments.

the secret book - workflow - binding
the secret book – workflow – binding

Finally, three books were bound and pressed at a time. The provisional use of the clamps is to be replaced by work aids that are yet to be built.

the secret book - artist proof of concept
the secret book – artist proof of concept

The first copies were given a cover and then cut. The individual volumes measure 81 (h) x 51 (w) x 10 (d) mm. The first edition of 120 copies will be produced in the next few weeks.
Each book is unique! The compilation of the fragments between the text pages is always unique. The fragments depict the last few years in the CASAdelDRAGON environment. There are parts of graphics, texts, documentation and handwritten notes.

This makes each volume a carrier of contemporary history and is closely linked to the history of the ARTSURPRISE project and its protagonists.



The warm summer days of 2023 are passing. Several exhibitions are running, several exhibitions are planned and in preparation. ARTSURPRISE is a constant companion, in the exhibitions, in everyday life.

Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let’s everyone else decide, if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or they hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.

Andy Warhol, Artist

Whoever pulls one of the boxes out of a vending machine or buys them in a set from Saatchi does not automatically look behind the scenes. There are hours of preparation and follow-up that go well beyond the actual production of the art. Some colleagues shy away from this work. But they miss an important moment, the moment of contemplation in monotonous manual activity.


It not only relaxes, it also focuses. He creates a reality in which thoughts form, in a strong current, driven by the tactile sensation of folding this box, folding and readying the printed inserts, inserting the artwork, adding the business cards, locking the boxes and the affix labels.

There are days with 500 boxes.


What is noticed first is the mountain of work. Folding boxes is an easy, often very poorly paid, home job. Humans have often been, and still are, exploited in such menial activities. In some months there are around 1000 boxes, in others just a few. It’s probably averaged about 200 a month… for the past 12 years… every month.

The haptic experience in the work of wrapping is, so to speak, the creation of a commitment to the project, to the artist, to the work of art, to the circumstances of its creation. Something digs deep into the memory, often supported by the smell of fresh paint or the smell of olive wood.
It will certainly be a privilege to unpack these works of art later. It is certainly a joy when an expectation meets a real object, when art is discovered, when an accompanying text then creates a connection between the new owner and the maker of this work.


But it is also a privilege to pack these works of art. You’re the last person to see them all lying together as a series on a table, you’re the last person to pick them up, often for a long time. One is the bearer of the artist’s message. And it is only through this achievement that the magical moment of this art becomes possible.

In the assemblage, art celebrates the fact that the composition of the objects is often more than their sum. Sometimes that final moment before sealing is captured in a few photographs.
The Artsurprise boxes now go to over 100 locations: vending machine locations, museum shops, galleries. Some artists also sell their own art via the boxes directly at their exhibitions and fairs.


The box filled together on the packing table, so this is also the last moment of being together. How likely is it that a later collector will be able to put all the boxes in a series back together? What effort will this represent? How expensive will the last missing box be? At the moment at the packing table it’s all still speculation, but it’s also clear how the art market works. As always, it’s a matter of time.

The box has to be in the right place at the right time, in the hands of the person who temporarily holds one of the central positions in the art market. From then on there is no holding back. Now nothing is more difficult for many contemporary artists than to identify this person and then to reach them with their own message. Too many are in the way, too many have already worked out better positions. The path is rocky. And yet, those who work create reality. And reality is non-negotiable.


The ARTSURPRISE project brought together and distributed over 30,000 unique works of art in the first 12 years. It has reached every continent. It has captured art from all sorts of contemporary currents, bringing them all together under one simple, social, sustainable idea. Over 1000 boxes have been stolen over the years, from public museums, from galleries, from warehouses. Nobody knows what happened to this art. They are probably waiting for the right time to bring them back to the art market. Yet it is not so far. But the clock is ticking.


In August 2023, box number 31,000 will be packed and shipped. With this box, the scope of the site will grow and new features will be added, especially those that will make it easier for collectors to safely assemble their own collection. These art lovers will then very carefully open the boxes and bring the works of art back into the light of day. And that closes a circle that begins at a packing table in CASAdelDRAGON in eastern Spain. And a new circle begins that public life of the work of art as an expression of a way of life and an expression of an appreciation for contemporary art.

Contemporary bookkeeping

From the beginning, the art genre literature was intended for the social art project ARTSURPRISE. Literature is a central component of contemporary art. Literature also cross-overs many areas of contemporary art, often paving the way between visual and performing arts.


In June 2023, the first two booklets were published in the format 8 by 5 centimeters in the art genre COMIC. Booklets in the art genres LITERATURE and OBJECTS (artist books) are also expected in the near future.

„At the art museum“ is a humorous examination of the communication between man and woman. The scene is a contemporary art museum. The displayed works speak for themselves, the two visitors about it, maybe also with each other.
The language is greatly reduced, as is the setting. In contrast to this are the exhibited works (all of them pictorial references to real contemporary art in the context of CASAdelDRAGON, an artist residence in eastern Spain), colorful, lush, central, eye-catching. That is why the sparse dialogue develops. The depth lies in the notion about what is not said.
S.Cape also plays with the layers of reality. The reader of the booklet looks into an exhibition space through the eyes of an imaginary viewer and observes the protagonists as they deal with an object of contemporary art. The readers own perception converts to the perception of the perception of others.


The visual languages overlap. There is the comic as an art form, there is the image of a contemporary work of art. S.CAPE curates, and the connection develops into a puzzle.

When we were offered the first volume by the media-shy artist in 2022, I had no other choice. That was exactly the right topic for Artsurprise. A condition for publication was publication under a pseudonym. I agreed and asked about this. S.CAPE was the answer.

The author is a friend of the house, a welcome guest in the exhibitions and very interested in visiting the artists present in the CASAdelDRAGON at their workplaces. He’s a real (!) philanthropist, occasionally buying works by the artists on display, and doesn’t really have an ego to pay too much attention to. He is modest and steps back behind his message, which is: celebrate contemporary art, then you celebrate culture.
The question of permission to use scans and copies of the original artworks digitally was answered in the affirmative, but hardly any attention was paid to it. But then the colleagues realized this art multiplication. Now I am asked again and again by colleagues: Am I there too? Did he also use something from me?

S.CAPE is a contemporary, one who enjoys spending time with the artists around this Artist Residence CASAdelDRAGON. I can’t imagine anything better than bringing this important form of creative expression – books – to life in the social art project ARTSURPRISE with his amazing works
(Juan Petry, Founder of ARTSURPRISE).“

You are an author and have a book suggestion, you are an artist and have an idea for an artist book edition, then download The contemporary Bookkeeping (PDF, 3MB). We look forward to your suggestions.

TVG in 50 seconds

TGV in 50 seconds – a social art project from 2010 – and still alive in artsurprise

This is the story about a social experiment, about 36 people in a room inside of a Cologne gallery space, about an international film festival, success and swarm intelligence and it is a story about passion and love.

tgv in 50 sec - it section - Cologne 2012
tgv in 50 sec – it section – Cologne 2012

In 2011 we started the project ARTSURPRISE. In 2012 it was still a challenge to show new artists samples of possible artworks.

Especially the condition to work out 100 (nowadays 120 pieces) multiples for one series was hard for some to cover.

At this point in time, I received an invitation to take part in a film festival in southern France. I had always wanted to make an animated film. Now there was the opportunity to put three projects into practice at the same time.
Firstly, the task was clearly defined, to produce a film of a maximum of one minute in length, in memory of the Lumiere brothers, the first filmmakers on this planet.
Secondly, I wanted to use the intelligence of the swarm in a social experiment to make a good contribution to this film festival.
Thirdly, it should give me the opportunity to show my colleagues how, on the one hand, one can produce truly unique art and, on the other hand, formulate an adequate offer for the art market by producing multiples.

TGV in 50 sec - backstage preparations - Cologne 2012
TGV in 50 sec – backstage preparations – Cologne 2012

So 36 friends and acquaintances were invited to a Cologne art gallery. The Kulturbunker Mülheim had kindly made the premises available to me exclusively for a week. Before that I had created the scenery and all the figures in the artist residence CASAdelDRAGON. After two days, the stage design, lighting and props were ready. Camera, software, data backup programs, backups, everything was wired and tested.

The invited guests had no idea what I would ask of them, the production of a short film, without instructions, in complete self-organization. Only the cameraman, my friend Peter Schmitz, as a dedicated photographer and IT technician, was familiar with the hardware and software.
The group had to fill: director, assistant, light, technology, animators (responsible for a limited number of characters each) as well as a documentary team (interviews, film, photography).
The roles were distributed and work began. On the first day of shooting, 5 seconds were shot, the next 45 followed in the next three days.

TGV in 50 sec - main stage - Cologne 2012
TGV in 50 sec – main stage – Cologne 2012

A great seriousness spread. It was clear to everyone that there was no going back and, above all, no repetition. Dealing with the characters on stage was unique and one of a kind.

Errors in the movement could not be corrected, there was only one shot!

A routine was established, only the directly active people were close to the set. As soon as a job was completed, the person would step back into the second row and wait for their next assignment.

The director gave the signal for the „take“, a photo. Then everything started all over again.

TGV in 50 sec - Action - Cologne 2012
TGV in 50 sec – Action – Cologne 2012

The first film on this planet was about a train entering the station of a French city. From a technical point of view, it was therefore necessary to implement how a train would enter a station at a given speed and then slow down and finally come to a standstill.

As expected, the passengers would start to look for the boarding positions on the platform when entering the station that would be advantageous for them.

The special role of the animators for the train was flanked by the special role of the „locomotive driver“ who was allowed to put the finishing touches to the simulated braking process as far as the accurate positioning of the train segments was concerned.

TGV - in 50 sec - stage - Cologne 2012
TGV – in 50 sec – stage – Cologne 2012

Slowly everyone involved became aware of the extent of this project. At the same time, a team spirit set in that made all of us forgetting the time.

After a few hours, other interested people came along, had the current state of affairs and the implementation explained to them and were ready to familiarize themselves.

The team even organized and recruited the replacement of individuals who could no longer work on the set.

Meanwhile, my job in the background was to monitor the data backup, serve the drinks and be available for interviews and discussions.

TGV in 50 sec - train stop - Cologne 2012
TGV in 50 sec – train stop – Cologne 2012

When the train stopped, the animators had to be redeployed as it would now be a matter of realizing the boarding and alighting of the passengers.

Each animator had to move a limited number of characters and memorize their positions. Mistakes to non-own figures, forgotten further movement, tipping over of several figures, all that would have been a mistake that could not be erased from the video.

Of course there was great relief when „everything was in the box after 4 days“.

The first week (preparation and shooting) was followed by another week of post-production (film editing, soundtrack).
Another week later, all participants were invited to the location of the recording to celebrate the premiere.

After an introductory speech and a few excerpts from the event documentation, the lights in the projection room went out, Totenstimme.

Everyone was spellbound for a short minute of film that passed like an eternity, realizing that you yourself had just become part of something much bigger, forever.
Then there was unbridled joy, applause. Hug. And a little melancholy in parting.

Then the scene was dismantled, the figures were collected. And a new story began…
All objects were not coincidentally 8 x 5 x 1.6 cm. This size was exactly the maximum size available for art in the ARTSURPRISE box.

So the prop and all the animated figures went into the black box and began their journey to the fans and collectors of Artsurprise, to those who heard about it later and would have loved to have been there, to those who like films, who like trains , to those who want to understand and experience what contemporary social sculpture means, how it works and what it can do.
A few objects can be purchased in the Sassen Gallery (Germany) or DeSouza (England) or in the CASAdelDRAGON (Spain).

If you’re lucky, you can still get one of these boxes from one of the machines, and with it you get one of the originals from the set, a one-off, real „ARTSURPRISE“.

And it’s the story of a great love. She was there and she will read these lines and she will know that she is meant now. She had written history right into the heart and the pen is still there to continue writing.

Art of Business – the evolutionary in (AI)rt

This is a story of Art and this is a story of AI. In Artsurprise we want to experience new contemporary color palettes to paint. Canvas is shifting to screen. Tempera is shifting to AI. This will of course redefine the creator and the process of creating. How does the contemporary artist position himself when the AI slowly slides between hand and palette. What does it mean for the art market when AI creates unique pieces on the assembly line. Where is there room for the producer, the retailer, the market?

There’s a lot of talk about art these days. But what is art, really?

ARTSURPRISE - the art of business - Monopol Tarragona Spain
ARTSURPRISE – the art of business – Monopol Tarragona Spain

Is it the big paintings that sell for millions of dollars at auction? Is it the quirky pieces that line the walls of hip galleries? Is it the stuff you see hanging in your dentist’s office waiting room?

In short, art is anything that someone creates with the intention of expressing themselves. And while some people may scoff at the idea of dentist office art being on par with a Monet or a Picasso, the truth is that all art is valuable – both emotionally and financially.

Just take a look at the contemporary art market. In recent years, prices for top-tier artists like Warhol, Beuys, and Haring have gone through the roof. In fact, Haring’s „Untitled (Boxer)“ recently sold for $62.1 million at Christie’s, making it one of the most expensive works by a Contemporary artist ever sold at auction.

But it’s not just blue-chip artists who are experiencing a boom in value. The entire Contemporary art market is red hot right now, with new records being set left and right. In 2020 alone, global sales of Contemporary art totaled $13.6 billion – an all-time high.

So, why exactly is Contemporary art so popular? Well, there are a few reasons…

For one, Contemporary art is seen as a more accessible investment than traditional assets like stocks and real estate. It’s also incredibly easy to store and transport, which makes it an ideal way to diversify one’s portfolio.

ARTSURPRISE - the art of business - CASAdelDRAGON - Spain
ARTSURPRISE – the art of business – CASAdelDRAGON – Spain

But perhaps the biggest reason for Contemporary art’s popularity is its ability to shock, surprise, and provoke thought. In a world that feels increasingly chaotic and uncertain, Contemporary art provides a much-needed escape – even if only for a little while.

So, whether you’re looking to invest in the next big thing or simply surround yourself with beautiful things, remember that Contemporary art is always worth considering. Convincing story:

Art has always been a passion of mine. As a young man, I would visit art museums with my family and be awestruck by the beauty and creativity of the paintings and sculptures. I knew then that I wanted to be involved in the art world somehow.

I started my career as an art dealer in Europe, and I quickly realized that the contemporary art market was booming. I was seeing more and more interest in contemporary art, and I knew that this was where the future of the art world was headed.

ARTSURPRISE - the art of business - CASAdelDRAGON - Spain
ARTSURPRISE – the art of business – CASAdelDRAGON – Spain

I decided to start my own contemporary art gallery, and I called it CASAdelDRAGON. I wanted to create a place where people could come to discover new and exciting artists, and I wanted to make contemporary art more accessible to everyone. After a few years i started the european art project ARTSURPRISE. More than 30.000 artworks on stock or sold, we we expand the space for art production, participation and perception.

Since opening my gallery, I’ve been thrilled to see the response from the community. People are really embracing contemporary art, and I think it’s because they can see that it’s not just something for rich people or art snobs. Contemporary art is for everyone, and it’s something that can truly enrich our lives.

ARTSURPRISE - the art of business - CASAdelDRAGON - Spain
ARTSURPRISE – the art of business – CASAdelDRAGON – Spain

I’m so proud to be able to share my love of contemporary art with all of you, and I hope that you’ll continue to support ARTSURPRISE in the years to come. Thanks for everything!

After reading this post, you may be wondering what this has to do with AI. The answer is: a lot. This text is not written by „me“, it is generated by AI, except for the green lines.
ARTSURPRISE uses the know-how from merchandise management and logistics to give contemporary art new impetus. AI is fact. AI will also change the art market, regardless of traditional role models. ARTSURPRISE is in the course of this, are you too?

The art of logistics

artsurprise repackaging - the artsurprise vending machine close to one of the most important museums in cologne
artsurprise repackaging – the artsurprise vending machine close to one of the most important museums in cologne

What do the box numbers 3321, 5128, 6615 and 17003 have in common? Why did these boxes have to be reassembled and new labels printed with the old serial numbers? This is the story of hope and loss, of robbery, of informatics and the need to repackage one-of-a-kind art.

When we started ARTSURPRISE in 2011, the declared goal was to break new ground in art production, art mediation and distribution. Many years before, FLUXUS artists had used cigarette vending machines in art events. But they were always snapshots, singular actions and no workflow could emerge. Now, after more than 10 years, we are about to complete box number 30,000.

The development of logistics, in particular the investment in the creation of an own merchandise management system adapted to the needs of an art business, was foreseeable from the start. The need to build a workflow for repackaging was not so obvious.

artsurprise - repackaging - award 2014
artsurprise – repackaging – award 2014

In 2014, the ARTSURPRISE project was recognized as an innovative project in Bonn. The exhibition made the Kreissparkasse Köln aware of the project and we were invited to set up one of our art vending machines in the Neumarkt Passage in Cologne, right next to the elevator to the Käthe Kollwitz Museum.

An offer like this is very important for a project like ours. More than three hundred artists are now involved in the project. For many artists in the Orient, in Latin America or in low-income areas of Europe, the income from this project is vital. We could rightly assume that this new location would be attractive, attention-grabbing and helpful for the economy of our project.

In 2015 we installed the first Artsurprise machine at our location in downtown Cologne. In 2018 we had to replace the machine. At over 800 euros, the new (used) machine was one of our most expensive purchases. Not counting the conversion of the machine, transport and service, we were able to generate around 70% of this sum in the following time. But sure, this income was paid out to the participating artists without any deductions. They should not bear the risk of this loss. The damage remained with the initiator of this project.

The attention of visitors of the museum and of the shopping mall was very high. We received many mails and also inquiries from gallery owners who noticed the project in the passage. All of this gave us hope that the location would continue to develop well.

Unfortunately, the machine was stolen by two thieves on a sunny shopping day in 2019. The two criminals dragged the machine on foot through the city center from Neumarkt almost to the cathedral. Their action was recorded by numerous surveillance cameras and smartphones by passers-by.

The comment from the police commissioner: „I have never had such a well-documented theft in my career!“

artsurprise - repackaging - securing protocol 2019
artsurprise – repackaging – securing protocol 2019

The machine was secured and the thieves were identified. Still, it was a total loss. The machine had suffered greatly from attempts to break into it. It was no longer usable. In addition, the boxes in the shafts had suffered greatly, too. Some had to be destroyed because the art they contained was damaged.

artsurprise - repackaging - damaged boxes 2022
artsurprise – repackaging – damaged boxes 2022

At that moment, the question arose what to do with the remaining damaged boxes, which contained untouched artworks. In order to put the art back on the market, the art had to be repackaged. With the new packaging, it was also necessary to subsequently print out the selected labels again.

artsurprise - repackaging - coding 2020
artsurprise – repackaging – coding 2020

Boxes from the Artsurprise project are unique. It wasn’t actually intended to reprint a label. Technically, it was not even possible to assign serial numbers twice in the workflow. The art in the box is unique, also the box as part of the overall work of art. In this case, however, it made sense to make the remaining works of art salable again. The proprietary merchandise management system has been expanded to include a function (rePrint Label).

With the new function, the labels could be reprinted.

artsurprise - repackaging - renewed boxes 2022
artsurprise – repackaging – renewed boxes 2022

If ARTSURPRISE were a for-profit company, this would certainly be the end of the story. But ARTSURPRISE is different. ARTSURPRISE is a social sculpture. It focuses on the long-term well-being of the artists involved, and it wants to innovatively stimulate the art market and expand it with a new form of art. That’s why we don’t give up.

Especially in these times it is important to promote culture. Right now it is important to show artists perspectives. Right now it is important to encourage and face the new challenges of this time. So the story continues.

artsurprise repackaging - some prototypes
artsurprise repackaging – some prototypes

We will write to the owners of the Neumarktpassage, we will talk to those responsible for the Käthe-Kollwitz Museum. We would like to set up a new machine in the Neumarkt-Passage. We will report here how it goes on.

If you would like to support us with this project, you can easily help us. In order to finance a new (used) machine, we exclusively offer four ARTSURPSE COLLECTORS SETs with 25 boxes.

Write a email to o f f i c e (at) a r t s u r p r i s e . e u with the subject „collectors set 25 repack“ and you will receive a personal offer.

Each set will receive one of the boxes that survived what is probably the biggest art robbery in the Neumarktpassage in Cologne till now.

ARTSURPRISE - Collectors Set 25 Boxes mixed
ARTSURPRISE – Collectors Set 25 Boxes mixed

Edgar Brons is one of the hidden champions in the german comic art scene over the last 50 years. As a multi-discipline author, drawer, photographer and painter he likes to play with all kinds of materials and themes. One of the most important values of his character is his fine and deep humor, in which he is even able to smile about himself: Edgar Brons – Breeze – 2011

Norbert Weise published his series Cut outs in the early years of ARTSURPRISE. His art is special, storytelling and even the little pieces of bigger works are full of humans, stories, dynamics: Norbert Weise – Cut Outs

Sonia Eva Domench lives and work in Valencia. He work was shifting step by step fromm objects to drawings and paintings. The ARTSURPRISE series smiling faces are well-known and a few works are still awailable. Nobody uses them for social network profiles, they are no avatars for anybody. They are not limited in definitions. Nobody labels them or puts them under a headline: student, snob, customer,… Nobody can tie them to customer loyalty systems like credit cards or customer cards. These smiling faces are not restrained by group memberships, they are not limited to closed social networks. They can jump through all groups: Sonia Eva Domenech – Drawings – No ID

Sonja Blattner is known for her stilt houses. Drawn, painted, as an object, these buildings appear again and again in her work and address the house as a place of residence, as possession, as property, and remind of the countless open questions regarding real estate in East Germany. But Blattner also has a very special eye for animals, which sometimes populate her works. Cats attract her in a special way. With a light yet sure stroke, she captures the liveliness and a bit the arrogance of these beings. Cats have accompanied humans for many centuries and, unlike dogs, have always retained their own independence. The power of these self-contained beings literally jumps out at you from Blattner’s work: Sonia Blattner – Paintings – 2013

Portrait : Jo Pellenz – from farmer to gardener

Artsurprise - Jo Pellenz in the Ermita de Sant Sebastia - Cervera del Maestre | Photo Jochen Seelhammer
Artsurprise – Jo Pellenz in the Ermita de Sant Sebastia – Cervera del Maestre | Photo Jochen Seelhammer

Jo Pellenz is an exceptional artist. Pellenz is an artist, teacher, social worker, role model. He works internationally and is still deeply rooted in his city. In 2008 he worked nearly 2 month for his installation in the old Ermita de Sant Sebastia in Cervera del Maestre, Castellon, Spain.

Artsurprise - Jo Pellenz in the Ermita de Sant Sebastia - Cervera del Maestre | Photo Jochen Seelhammer
Artsurprise – Jo Pellenz in the Ermita de Sant Sebastia – Cervera del Maestre | Photo Jochen Seelhammer

As a donation to the village, the inhabitants and the CASAdelDRAGON he worked out one paper sculpture for each citizen of the village.

Artsurprise - Jo Pellenz in the Ermita de Sant Sebastia - Cervera del Maestre | Photo Jochen Seelhammer
Artsurprise – Jo Pellenz in the Ermita de Sant Sebastia – Cervera del Maestre | Photo Jochen Seelhammer

His friend Juan Petry was invited to give an introduction to his installation in the gallery 68 eleven in Cologne (2009).

Jo Pellenz – Düsseldorf – 2008 – installation – stilwerk | Photo Juan Petry

In the sense of the German artist Beuys, Pellenz is a social sculpture by himself. He strives to unite art and science and calls for creative participation in society through art. In my laudatory speech, I would like to go into precisely these social aspects of this artist’s art. That is why this speech is entitled „Jo Pellenz – from farmer to gardener“.

I’ll start with the farmer: Pellenz comes from a Moselan winegrowing family and in his youth learned the hard trade of winegrowing that shaped him. Instead of Moselle romance and wine bliss, the drudgery was in tune with nature.

artsurprise - Jo Pellenz - behind his studio in Cologne - 2007 | Photo Juan Petry
Jo Pellenz – Düsseldorf – 2008 – installation – stilwerk | Photo Juan Petry

Please ask yourself: what energy does a person have to muster to plant a new vine, who knows that he will experience the most productive time of this vine – if at all – as an old elderly person. What strength does a person need in this steep location to work most of the time for the next generation and the one after that. What will drives one to create something whose reward may be far in the future, if there is any at all. What kind of people are those who devote themselves to such a vision?
The imagination to do the right thing, to keep doing it – possibly with pain – the inner security to be on the right path, to set goals, to give things meaning. That drives these people.
Jo Pellenz certainly drew his strength from the yield of the vines that his ancestors planted and tended for him. He who is one with his vineyard has this power. „Creating a space for yourself and others in which a free, self-determined life is possible for yourself and those who follow…“ – I’ll come back to that later.

artsurprise - Jo Pellenz - behind his studio in Cologne - 2007 | Photo Juan Petry
artsurprise – Jo Pellenz – behind his studio in Cologne – 2007 | Photo Juan Petry

In Pellenz’s CV I can find various professions: acoustician – social worker – model builder … and others are not even listed, but they have influenced this artist in one way or another. I could have given this speech the title, from food to luxury food. And that applies here between the 200 figures of this installation in the Cologne gallery 68elf, just as it applies to all professions from winegrowers to artists: working on and for enjoyment.

At the beginning I was reminded of Beuys and his social sculpture. The social worker is not that far. But when I think of Pellenz, how he strides through the room in a small Spanish church, wide-eyed, walks through this room in big strides and understands and already creates his installation in his thoughts, then I know that someone is taking a big step in the art is on the way. Someone wants to open up spaces, change perspectives, move something. Art should move people, physically and emotionally. Pellenz moves and others.

But that is not an end in itself. If you walk right now through this installation, if you talk to one another, freely express your opinion – also about this speech – you are the followers, who walk through this garden of Kepo, just like the guests in Epicurus‘ garden, invited to a place where free thinking and speaking grows and thrives, just like Jo Pellenz did in his vineyard among the vines of his ancestors.

Jo Pellenz - Ermita de Sant Sebastia - 2008 - Cervera del Maestre - Castellon - Spain
Jo Pellenz – Ermita de Sant Sebastia – 2008 – Cervera del Maestre – Castellon – Spain

Art creates space here. room for you. You are the installation, it is your garden. Make something of it. Talk, discuss. Draw strength from this kepos that Pellenz has dedicated and left to you – without any agreed consideration.
And don’t call me a crisis today! Do you think a vintner thinks of phylloxera when he plants a vine?

„Creating a space for oneself and others, in which a free, self-determined life for oneself and those who follow…“ here I am again… Just as Beuys wanted art to move people, Epicurus wanted his garden to move Movement is a stage on which people can meet in freedom and equality. In Epicurus‘ time, art and science were still arts, united. Now many are longing for this unity again, and Beuys correctly assumed that we can also achieve this with and through art if it reaches out to people again.

Jo Pellenz - CASAdelDRAGON - 2008 - Cervera del Maestre - Castellon - Spain
Jo Pellenz – CASAdelDRAGON – 2008 – Cervera del Maestre – Castellon – Spain | Photo: Jochen Seelhammer

Pellenz helps build many gardens, Heilandart, Usefulart and others are also designed by him. And with this will to design, Pellenz completes the development from farmer to gardener. A garden of the future combines yield (food, science) with aesthetics (enjoyment, art).
There are such slick phrases in the art world: The artist works with space. Sometimes it was perhaps more the space that worked with the artist. I like it a little more concrete: Jo Pellenz gives us space. Thinking, acting … we have to do that ourselves.

343 BC – Epicurus, son of a farmer and teacher, is born on Samos in Greece.
1959 AD – Jo Pellenz is carried to the vineyard for the first time by his sisters. They show him his first garden. This is how history begins. Wonderful.

Series in Artsurprise:

arteLOcura – Open call for Photography

be part of the art - open call arteCOcura
be part of the art – open call arteCOcura

arteLOcura is a play on words, depending on how you emphasize it, it means „the crazy art“ or „the healing art“. In these times, contemporary art will have important socio-political tasks and challenges: documentation (for historical processing), clarification, accompaniment, moderation, pacification, motivation.

This is an OPEN CALL for photo artists. The tender is worldwide. Every artist (minimum age 18 years) with a personal professional website or represented by an art trading platform (saatchi or similar) can participate. You can take part with at least 1 and a maximum of 10 original photos (only JPEG, resolution 120> 300 dpi, file size 5> 7 MB).
DEADLINE: artwork number 120 or 30.01.2022 – 12am CET

Your work should be based on these challenges and make them pictorial in terms of contemporary photo art and history. More

ARTSURPRISE published first NFTs

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Buy your first ARTSURPRISE NFT now!

Artsurprise publishes the first Non Fungible Token (NFT) on the Etherium blockchain. This opens up new possibilities for all participating artists and for our collectors and art lovers.

On the one hand, Artsurprise can thus reach new agile customers in the global ecosystem of crypto currencies. On the other hand, we offer all participating artists in this social art project a new distribution channel. It is important to promote contemporary art – especially in these times – and to draw attention to it.

Have a look on mintable and get your first artsurprise NFT.

Behind the scene


Behind the scenes The last 24 months have been very productive for the ARTSURPRISE project. On the one hand, other artists have shown an interest in the project and have in some cases already provided work samples; on the other hand, established artists have published new series. In addition, works that had already been submitted were registered and inventoried and finally published and distributed to the first locations.
For the initiator Juan Petry it was time again to continue his collage project Masterpieces of a Pilgrim. This series is based on paper collages that accompany the life of a concept artist: tears from newspapers, correspondence, documentaries, business records.


Assumptra Arasa Altimira is a Catalan artist. She currently lives secluded in a monastery and dedicates herself to the study of ancient scriptures nd the history of the monastery and the Monserrat region. Nevertheless, she completed a second edition of her Mediterranean Goddesses series for Artsurprise.

Woman standing in a line-Elena-Ploetz-2021
Woman standing in a line-Elena-Ploetz-2021

The Russian artist Elena Plötz (Petrovna Lasovskaya) has published another series in the drawing section: Women waiting in a row in front of the ladies‘ room.
The exceptionally talented draftsman has a keen eye for the hilarious in everyday life. She confidently captures this humor in her drawings in just a few sure lines.


Juan Petry travels regularly to Romania and takes part in social art and cultural projects. In Ciocanesti near Buckarest he offered a literature workshop for girls only as part of a summer school. The chronically underfunded private initiative APEAL, an association for the promotion of young people in the Dromboviza region, had a sponsor who dropped out shortly before the workshop began. Petry financed the course and stay for the young people and collected small drawings by the young authors. These were made in preparation for the poetry, rhyme and theme lessons. After 3 years, the 120 works are now published in ARTSURPRISE. The proceeds finance the extracurricular training and set an example: where there is a will, there is a way.

Creatives from Lithuania, Slovakia, Russia, Germany, Romania and other countries have contributed and published well over 2000 new works. In the ARTSURPRISE project, these people are all connected in a large social sculpture, together with those who will be happy about one of these works of art.