June 2020

6 posts

You painted, drew and also sprayed a lot of graffiti in your youth and childhood, but at some point you stopped, why?

I don’t know exactly whether this can be tied to one thing or one reason. It was more likely that I was always outdoors a lot and with friends. As a teenager I tried out a lot of things, I really enjoyed inline skating and later skateboarding. There were just so many things that seemed interesting and that I wanted to try out, it seemed nonsensical to commit to something.
Then music became more and more important to me and I spent a lot of time studying all kinds of albums. When I was thirteen I bought my first record player and a mixer together with my big brother. Not much later, an AKAI MPC2000XL and other equipment was added and I mainly concentrated on experimenting with it and building beats. I always tagged and scribbled in between, but that wasn’t really important. For the moment the music had pulled me under its spell …

Then why did you start painting again recently?

To answer this question, I have to go back a bit. Some time after an untreated fracture of the nose bone in December 2015, a chronic inflammation developed in my sinuses, which was discovered very late, however, and had accordingly affected me. For months I had ear canal, middle ear and tonsil infections and after a while my immune system was completely down and I couldn’t do anything except sleep and read. That really hit me mentally, as I was naturally excluded from almost all social activities. Then I stumbled upon a blog for urban sketching by chance and found what people were doing there pretty cool. Shortly afterwards I got some pens got a small pad and a mini watercolor box and tried it myself and was immediately attached again. From then on, one thing resulted in the other and soon I didn’t do much other than painting and it seemed strangely natural to me that it should be like that.

“I painted for myself because it was good for me”

How much has art helped you to get well again?

Mmm, that’s a question that I can of course only answer very subjectively. I don’t know whether it helped me get physically healthy.
Spiritually she has definitely saved my life because during and after this, for me really bad phase in my life I had big problems with my situation.
Being so physically through in your late twenties is a pretty shitty feeling. After all, it took almost two years from the break to complete recovery after the operation, during which I was very limited.
That hits your psyche and nobody can really help you to change that, it has to come from yourself. And that’s exactly what painting did to me. I don’t know why, but it calmed me down and made me feel good. I have a very stressful habit of thinking a lot and that makes life quite stressful. This turns off completely when painting. And with every picture I painted, I felt a little better. In the beginning I didn’t show anyone the things that I had painted. I did this for myself because it was good for me. It was only later that I showed a few people what I was doing and then soon my friends on Facebook. The feedback was consistently positive and of course that gave me another boost of positivism.
Sounds strange, but anyone who has read the book “The Alchemist” should understand roughly what I mean.

What do you do when you paint a picture? Is there an optical idea first, or is it a feeling, a thought that you want to bring to the canvas?

Whether or not I have an idea in my head varies from time to time.
What is always the same is how I start painting:
I get up early, drink a glass of water, boil water and make myself a coffee in my French press. Then I put on the headphones and first listen to music and have a cup of coffee in peace. Meanwhile I prepare the paper or the canvas. Sometimes I do some skits to wake up.
Then it depends on whether I already have an idea or a sketch that I use as a guide, or whether I paint freely. When I paint freely, I choose colors and the rest arises – how should I put it – from the energy between me, the brush and the canvas. Kinetic energy also plays a role and music is also essential. Often the music determines the speed of movement and the mood of the picture. In combination with the music, it’s almost like meditation, or a slight intoxication, you get 100% involved. These are things that are very difficult to explain and I realize that this sounds strange to some people, but that’s the way it is … it’s all about the vibe!

“I have a very stressful habit of thinking a lot and that makes life pretty stressful. This turns off completely when painting. “

To what extent do your beginnings in street art still influence your paintings today?

First of all, I never had anything to do with what is now called street art! I was very interested in graffiti, I painted a lot and also sprayed a few times, but I was never the adrenaline type. That was too stressful for me. Otherwise, I still follow the graffiti scene. In addition, some of my greatest influences and therefore most important artists for me, such as Kaws, Fafi, DabsMyla, David Flores and Retna, are people who come from illegal graffiti and have become fine art artists. That’s why I would say that graffiti still influences me a lot today, even if it’s not what I do myself.

What do you love about acrylic painting?

Perhaps that they can be processed well and the colors are very intense, but dry relatively quickly and I can continue to work relatively quickly ?! I’m really impatient and when I’m in the flow, I don’t want to wait forever until I can continue working, otherwise it can happen that I lose the idea or can no longer really build on it.
However, I also use other techniques that I also enjoy. But so far, acrylic suits my way of working best. In between it is also refreshing to use watercolor or pencil.

You recently sold your first painting. How did that feel?

That was a strange moment. Most of all, of course, I was happy and a little proud, but I was also quite surprised that someone would be willing to pay money for something I did.
Quite unreal, when you consider that two months before I dipped a brush in acrylic paint for the first time and suddenly a stranger buys one of my pictures on Facebook.
And that went on more or less throughout 2017. Well, I would say! Made me feel good and also encouraged me to create my own artist page on Facebook and Instagram. Because you mustn’t forget that it takes a lot of effort to present what you create, where you put a lot of time and work, to completely strangers! You open your soul a bit and that can end up disgusting. But so far I’ve only got love from people. Fortunately, because as Tech N9ne puts it so appropriately: Understand this: I’m an artist, and I’m sensitive about my shit;)

What are your plans for the future? Do you only want to work as an artist, or do you want to resume your previous work as a cook or audio engineer?

That is a question that I try to answer anew every day. Of course it would be a dream to be able to make a living from art and that would certainly improve my quality of life significantly, but that is probably not that easy.
I also don’t have a real plan of how the art world works and I still can’t get a realistic picture of how feasible it is to finance a life from it. At the moment I am on a good compromise with a job in which I earn relatively well for relatively little work, do not have to worry about food and rent and have enough time and money for art, whether painting, making music, museums visit, or buy illustrated books. While the job is terrible in itself, it enables me to lead my life in a way that I can be productive and creative. If the circumstances change so that I can only earn a living with art, or with something that has to do with art, I will use this opportunity immediately and would be very happy with it. Until then i think
I already took an important step in this direction last December when I was with the nice guys in “Somewhere” in Lichtstr. in Ehrenfeld had a small slot at the exhibition “Art Expanded” 

Visit an exhibition, experience contemporary art by well-known artists and newcomers and purchase your favorite pieces immediately afterwards. This is made possible by the largest exhibition organized by artists in Germany. The show under the title “THE GREAT ART EXHIBITION NRW Düsseldorf” opened on June 29th in the Düsseldorf Art Palace and Ehrenhof and can be seen for five weeks (until August 4th). Due to the enormous interest last year with 15,000 visitors in four weeks, the show was extended by a week and will take place for the first time in the summer months and also on the outdoor area.

This year, works by 121 artists , selected by a jury from 700 applications, can be seen. Including the well-known photographer Boris Becker, who was awarded this year’s Art Prize for Artists for his impressive photographic work. The young sculptor Philipp Röcker receives the sponsorship award 2019. The exhibition is organized and carried out by the Association for the Organization of Art Exhibitions.

Works from the fields of painting, photography, graphics, sculpture, installation and video will be presented. In addition to the selected artists, students from the Düsseldorf Art Academy, class Gostner, also show. The very young artists are also involved: Pupils from cooperating schools in Düsseldorf take part (vocational college Lore-Lorentz-Schule and Matthias-Claudius-Grundschule).

the big pictures

DIE GROSSE is considered a unique platform for the exchange of artists, art lovers and buyers. It is not only organized by artists, there are also artist tours offered and the works of art can be purchased directly without the mediation of a gallery. Under the title “The Small Format”, works are presented that are priced up to max. 450 euros can be purchased and taken directly home. As a special edition for DIE BIG, four different motifs by Boris Becker from the series “Fakes”, “Constructions”, “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Artefacts” are offered as art prints.

In addition to the exhibition, the DONNERHALL events take place on Thursdays in cooperation with tanzhaus nrw. The kick-off is Reut Semesh with the Tanzgarde Düsseldorf (4 July, 7 p.m.). In the following weeks the collective Zoo shows the “Scutum Studies” a performance (July 11th, July 18th, 7pm). On Sundays at 11.55 a.m., matinee events with sound and dance performances enrich the visit to the exhibition (July 7th, Zo-On Slows; July 14th, MYEYE WHITE; July 21st, Sisterloops; July 28th, heirloom).

Ms. Augstburger, as an artist you work a lot with the coloring agent gouache. How does gouache painting differ from working with acrylic, watercolor or oil paint?

At first glance, the gouache paint looks just like oil or acrylic when fresh from the tube. But watercolor comes closest to it when it comes to processing. It is a mixture of pigments, chalk and a rubber glue binder
(gummi arbicum), which is processed with water. Gouache can be applied thinly with watercolors. But I use it with several layers of paint to cover it, and small areas can also be painted over with white. You don’t have to wait, as is the case with oil painting. But this also has the disadvantage that you hardly have time for seamless color transitions.

What is special about gouache painting for you?

Gouache painting is as if made for me, at least in the way I use brush and paint. I am a tinkerer through and through and love to solve tricky tasks. It gives me a lot of pleasure when the white painting pad is in front of me and I can finally project my creative thoughts onto it. The mostly accurate brushwork and the constant balancing of the individual parts require a lot of patience, which I am happy to invest. Turning a sheet of white paper into a colorful storyteller fascinates me again and again. And only the gouache colors give me the color effect I want.

You put your art under the motto “Bunt auf Bunt”. What do you want to express with it and are there also colors that you do not like to use or that do not go well together?

The fact that I chose “Bunt auf Bunt” for my first exhibition had several influences. I stayed with this motto because the backgrounds of my pictures are just as colorful as the objects in the foreground. In addition, this motto gives me even more freedom in my creativity. I choose the colors emotionally, they are mostly clear and strong. Pastel tones don’t have enough power for me. I don’t know whether it’s my intuition or the gouache color itself, I rarely have the feeling that the chosen colors do not go together.

You have now been active as an artist for around 30 years. How has your style changed since then?

I refined my painting style, which developed from the property of this quick-drying paint, in the technique. Although the forms have become livelier and more accurate, the complete works, in contrast to the earlier works, are more like patchwork. With the strong color scheme, I am no longer so hesitant. But I think that bigger changes come with the different topics. I’ve got used to painting twelve works on one topic. When I move on to a new series, a new desire to experiment has developed, which naturally affects the work.

In addition to your work as an artist, you have a “normal” job: What do you do for a living and why did you start painting?

I work in the public service, I am released from work as an administrative clerk and there I carry out the office of person of trust for the severely disabled. I have painted since my early childhood – without any notable talent. But I was always fascinated by what was possible in paintings. Until I started to paint pictures at a young age, which I managed surprisingly well. But I was full of imagination, so I wanted to create my own works and worked on them.

What kind of tip would you give beginners to paint?

I would advise beginners to paint to try many techniques. But when you’ve found something that suits you very well, you should stick with it and perfect it.

Where do you see yourself and your art in the future?

Now I see myself as an artist who is high time to make her art known. I leave my view of the future open, because I have already reached an age where you hope that your health will not play tricks on you.

You have learned the basics and techniques of glass blowing for three years. When did you decide to break with traditional glass blowing and become an artist?

The trigger was a change in my school. I had completed my 3 years at the Kosta School of Glass, where I only focused on technology, and switched to a design school on Bornholm, where the focus was on the result. I had resolved to be very open to the other approach to the craft that the school in Bornholm would offer me. In the beginning it was difficult for me to let go of my perfectionism and my fascination for classic glass blowing. But when I got there, when I understood what it meant to rediscover a material, there was no going back. I’ve always been curious about what’s possible with glass, and I think it was a very natural development for me. I always want to go one step further and I love to discover new things. That is probably also the reason

“Glass is a material that is still partially undiscovered”

Maria Bang Espersen

 

Why is glass such a fascinating material for you?

First, it is fascinating and challenging to work with glass in the molten state. I love the challenges that constant technical progress enables.

Second, it is a material that is still partially undiscovered. In contrast to clay, for example, glass has only been part of a studio movement since the 1960s. Before that it was only relevant in factory production. That means there is still so much to learn. Glass can still surprise us and reveal new aspects of itself. One example is my 2012 project called Craftformation. Here I use compressed air to explode glass, which turns it into superfine glass threads.

Thirdly, it is a material that, due to its transparency, offers space for many metaphors and thus differs from any other material. Glass has great artistic potential.

I found a very inspiring quote on your website: “Transparency is such a mess – it means both; that you look right through it and that something is clear. Please don’t look through it. Welcome to the present. ” (2017) Do you see glass as a symbol for our modern life? If yes why?

I don’t see glass as a metaphor for modern life, but I think it has the potential. Also, I find it fascinating that transparency and clarity are words that are used metaphorically in contradicting ways. To see things clearly means to know something, but at the same time transparency means invisibility, and therefore it becomes something that cannot be seen or is not known. I use this conceptual framework in some of my work.

“For me, art has become a political tool with so much potential.”

Many of your sculptures have political messages. For example, in the “National Costume” project you address questionable political decisions by the Danish government on refugee issues. Is your art often inspired by political events? 

Yes it will. I think it is important to be culturally and politically concerned with what is happening. Danish politics has been going in the wrong direction for some time, and that’s why I just can’t help but get involved in this discourse.

maria bang espersen national costume

National Costume

The bad treatment of foreigners, including refugees, by the Danish government seems to me just cruel. It is a discourse that we should never forget and that needs to be constantly addressed. Just because I’m an artist doesn’t mean I can’t act. For me, art has become a political tool with so much potential.

Do you see yourself as a political artist?

I do. I even consider the less obvious glasswork to be political. They are political in a different way than “National Costume”, for example, but I don’t think any act is entirely outside of politics. All we do is exchange with the world in which it exists. My abstract glass sculptures are gently political; they question conventions and traditional ideas about what glass is and can be, simply by offering an alternative. They try to push our limits and open our eyes to the possibility that things can always be different. My work seems to say, “There is always another way” and that fits very well into a larger political discussion of norms and traditions.

Maria Bang Espersen

Soon your work will be exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum London, one of the world’s leading art museums. How does that feel to you?

According to a friend of mine who was there recently, my art is already on display at the V&A. This recording makes me overly happy and honored that the museum decided to purchase two pieces from the Soft Series. It’s exciting to know that they will continue to be part of this collection and will be available for generations to come. The recognition at this level is breathtaking to me and I really appreciate it.

From November 14th to 17th, 2019, your work will be shown at the Affordable Art Fair in Hamburg. How important are art fairs for you as an artist?

Art fairs are important because of the large number of visitors and because of “unexpected” visitors. Individual galleries often have audiences of their own, but an art fair expands the group of people you reach. I always enjoy sharing my work with a new audience and making new buyers and admirers.

“Never think that your work is not good enough.”

What do you think is the most important skill to become a famous artist other than creating wonderful and inspiring works of art? 

I don’t know if I’m the right person to answer this question, but I’ll make a few notes on what has been important to me over the years of making glass sculptures.

An artist has to be really good at a lot of things, not just design. That is often difficult. In the beginning I applied for everything I could find. This often takes a long time, but it seems to be necessary in order to make one’s art known in the beginning. In addition, it is important to have good photos of the artwork, and it is often useful to be able to write and network well. The most important piece of advice I can give to others is to keep believing in yourself and not get discouraged by anything. Never think that your work is not good enough, just apply for anything. You never know when you will suddenly get an opportunity or a prize that you never thought would have been possible.

Maria Bang Espersen

On your homepage you write: “At the beginning the picture is empty, at the end it is empty. In between I painted. ” Where does your fascination for “the void” come from?

Sometimes that was a conscious decision during my painting studies. I grew up in the country and was very connected to nature. When I then studied in Vienna, I felt the need not to add something to the general flood of information and images in the form of painting. So I went the way inwards, of contemplation and silence. It was a constant search for what was left when there were no thoughts, concepts, ideas, ideas … etc. there are more. I have the following formulation: “What I allow myself to encounter a viewer with the power of a painting is the little that remains when everything is left out that leads somewhere.” Similar to a meditation I sat in front of the blank canvas until I saw the emptiness of the canvas.

margit hartnagel

What does emptiness mean to you? Is it death or a new beginning and the beginning of life?

Only when something is empty can it be refilled. In the emptiness there is the potential from which everything, the fullness, becomes possible. Facing the observer with a precise blurring of an empty center of the picture gives him the opportunity to “focus” himself and thus fill the center with himself.

“At some point the void was filled with an abundance of possibilities again”

For ten years you have been busy creating “empty pictures”. How did the development towards your current pictures go?

My painterly development began with the decision to limit myself to the colors black, white and gray and to use dots as a form. This resulted in shimmering point images as a primal chaos of tiny particles. More and more spatiality developed through overlays until the points were covered by horizontal stripes, which divided the picture more and more into a top and bottom. This space in between developed increasingly dense but also lighter. At some point this cleared space of potentiality, the emptiness, had to be filled again with an abundance of possibilities. For me that meant, after years of withdrawal and avoidance of gestures, to allow everything again. The courage to be fully alive. This step was extremely difficult for me. On the one hand I was looking for this moment for so long and then there were seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Nelson Mandela said in his inaugural address:“Everyone is destined to shine! Our deepest fear is not that we are insufficient, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond what is measurable ” . Initially, colored dots emerged hesitantly in the empty center of the picture, increasingly the whole picture was superimposed until they became independent and pulsed. This is my current process right now.

 

margit hartnagel

You write: “I understand each of my pictures as an attempt towards the“ ultimate picture ””. Could you explain what an ultimate image is for you?

I suspect a picture behind all pictures, the origin, original and from which everything, all pictures arise. An image that creates all images in the viewer. Perhaps such a picture cannot be painted at all, but it is about the approach and the “correct” distance.

Your picture series often consist of many similar pictures. Do you sell your pictures individually or only in certain arrangements or installations?

My pictures are approximations to a main theme. This creates variations that are often summarized in a series or belong to a cycle. The repetitions condense, circle the topic until it changes. Each picture should be able to stand for itself, but the dialogue with the other pictures enriches the individual. I sell both single pictures and series.

 

margit hartnagel

Where do you see yourself and your art in the future?

In painting, it gives me great pleasure to allow myself to do everything again after a long abstinence and asceticism. I like to be surprised where this process is leading me.
In the past few years I’ve been invited to a number of art in architecture projects. The challenge of dealing with real spaces, places and functions made my art a direct part of life. In the future I would like to shift my focus even more, besides painting.
My last spatial art project for the new institute building of the school for social professions in Ravensburg will be presented in the next issue of Entree 

 

margit hartnagel

In your works of art you work with found objects and materials from all over the world. According to a newspaper report, they have already used sand from 169 countries in their pictures. How did this passion start?

As a child, I spent a lot of time in nature. Leaves, water, stones or small finds … have always been something magical for me. The sea and the sand were my constant companions in the years that followed. In my first exhibition in 2003 I chose the theme “Sea and more”. I found the idea of ​​throwing real sand from my vacation onto the fresh paint where the beach was painted, very exciting. The beach therefore had something very lively and reminded me of my last vacation.

World clock

How important is travel to your art and inspiration? Are travel and wanderlust also subjects of your pictures?

Yes, traveling for me includes “being on the move”, like the Rhine, the river where I was born. For me, making new people or discovering involves an adventurous tension. In these trips I always find special materials such as stone dust from an old Parlazzo in Venice from the 13th century or lava sand from Italy. I find them, collect them, and they inspire me when I start a blank canvas. And, I love the subject of “time”. In my pictures you will find small pieces of old clocks almost everywhere in them. The time seems precious to me, especially to fill it with important people, wonderful countries or new discoveries. I found out through family research that my grandfathers also loved traveling.

“The materials of the earth are colorful”

Can you tell the difference between sand from the Caribbean and sand from the Mediterranean? Is there a country with – from an artistic point of view – particularly interesting earth, or interesting sand or stones?

I created a picture with the title “Sand of this Earth”. I spread the map of the world with texture flour. Then I let 69 types of sand “trickle” into the land where it belongs. Before I poured pigment water in white over it, my card was colored! There is red, black, gray, brown or almost white sand. It is the small particles of granite, brick, coral or shells in the sand types that make this sand unique. The sea has crushed all the materials at the site and made sand out of them. Even within a country there are different colors, grains or additional materials. This also applies to the earth. Rolandseck is a former volcanic crater. The earth is very dark. In Gran Canaria you can see at least 5 different colors of earth: deep red, clay red, almost black, brown, curry-colored.

Where did your last trip lead you and what did you take with you?

My last trip was a trip to different regions of Italy. My favorite place remains Venice and there a craftsman gave me an old brick from a palace that was being renovated. In the research it was a house from the 13th century. One finds rust finds, one does not look for them. I always have a few small bags with me and when I find something I wrap it up and label it. I was with my daughter in the Arena di Verona, where I was able to take a piece of stone from the old wall with me.

In addition to my travels, I know a couple who are friends and who travel all over the world in the pension. For years they have also left me small, labeled bags on my doorstep.annette

Do you already have an idea how to process the found objects in a picture?

Not always. When I find and collect it, the material that I find appeals to me at that moment. When I start with a picture, a specific topic or memory is often the beginning. Then I fetch the “box” with the collected item from this special place. For example, in Faro near Ilha Diserta I met an old fisherman who is the only one living on the island. 3 small fishermen’s houses make up his entire house. I spent a whole day there with my daughter, he cooked for us and talked about his life. I carried the small souvenirs home and in memory of this extraordinary fisherman with his 3 houses I structured the canvas with 3 square papers and in blue. This is exactly where the finds belonged and made sense and the right place for me.

The finds are archived with me and are waiting to be determined. When I immerse myself in a picture, I combine my passion for Venice with the old plaster stone dust or brick dust in a filler. But a rust bar from Grado also fits in and when I incorporate a piece of poetry from my grandfather I suddenly find the old leather strap from my grandfather’s ancient suitcase exciting. Often, materials come together in a picture that I have not planned beforehand, but rather put into it intuitively and passionately. You can compare it to the art of cooking. The ingredients of a great sauce are often not the same but experimentally passionate.

 

Casa Verde

Since 2014 she has also been working as a sculptor. How difficult was it to learn this craft again and where did the motivation come from?

Stones were exciting for me as a child. Pebbles that are collected like hand flatterers and disappear into the jacket pocket were always there. During a painting course on the Wildkogel in Austria at an altitude of 2500 meters, I watched the stone cutters and spontaneously booked a course in the same year. Carving my first stone was difficult at first because I didn’t know what to shape. The sculptor told me to trust my feelings and use a chisel and hammer to knock away what I think had to go. Then an exciting day began, on which I hardly spoke but chopped off this stone for hours. At the end of the course, I noticed that I structure my pictures. Sculpture is just the opposite. Here I tend to mine the material. But in the end the water connects them both. The final touches are when sculpting underwater and pigmented water flows over my canvases. But to get closer to the material stone and to work a stone from all sides was incredibly exciting.

In the end I collected my stone dust and thought… .this comes full circle. What I cut down there, I can collect and build on a picture again. I knew then that sculpting was also part of my art.

 

Search for clues

“For me, traveling includes being on the move”

What kind of tips would you give newcomers to sculpture?

Everyone in my class did something different. I think above all you should trust your feelings. No matter what you want to do, you should try that. If you love the representational, working on structure, form and proportion is just as important as it is with the abstract artist who relies on his feelings or his imagination. One should also try different types of stones. Some very hard stones such as marble are knocked off with other tools and very soft, almost soapy stones such as soapstone offer easy access.

Do you already have an idea where your next trip is going?

Yes. Every year for my birthday in January I try to celebrate it in Venice. I don’t need big parties or celebrations, I just love the color of the sky in Venice in January, the water buses “vaporettis” and the Italian food. This ancient city has stood still in time and has to be rediscovered for me again and again. You can find many places without many tourists and you can fully indulge yourself in the magic and magic of this exceptional city … and of course, as always, I have small bags in my handbag.

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