2nd EDITION ART EMPIRE AWARD . TINA OELKER . CLAUDIA MÄCHLER . SABINA SAKOH
WE ARE PLEASED THAT YOU ARE PART OF OUR EXHIBITION „SECRETS“. IN OUR INTERVIEW WITH YOU, WE WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR WORK. WOULD YOU LIKE TO TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF?
_____HAVE YOU EVER HAD A CREATIVE BURNOUT?
No, I don’t know any creative burnout, it’s rather the case that I write down and sort out surplus ideas in order to concentrate on current works. I let the list of projects rest and observe what comes up again repeatedly in the course of the processes in order to then stabilise the priorities once more. A so-called burnout occurs from time to time on a physical level, so I consciously take rest periods, treat myself for a while, put my feet up and give myself over to leisure.
_____WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE AN ARTIST THESE DAYS?
Walking the path of the artist is not the same for every artist. The illusion of a well-functioning template into which the system tries to squeeze artists into has been around for a long time, longer than one would dare suspect. The traps are laid everywhere, because it seems too easy to suggest fame, success, security, and influence on willing creatives and thus capture them. A thirst for recognition, impatience, greed, compulsion, and other deficiencies then resonates and lead away from art rather than towards it. One could create a polarisation by observing the extremely different expectations of society. The image of the beggarly, deeply philosophical, and lonely artist who sacrifices even his physical well-being for art and intellectual freedom, unlike the clever and smart, socially, and commercially capable businessman, who knows how to generate a lot of money with less work, makes the middle seem unattractive. And it is precisely from the middle that the real arises, there is the source.
_____WHAT IS ART FOR YOU?
For me, art is perception, vibration, source, rhythm, frequency, timelessness, freedom and order. It is quasi the dimension that takes even time with it and redefines it. Art is the place where I truly breathe.
_____HAS YOUR STYLE CHANGED OVER THE YEARS? IN WHAT WAY?
My style has become clearer over the years. It is a constant sanding down of the shells, a becoming new and letting go again. During my journey up to here, I have gone through variations of my painting at a high pace, especially with my project „1000 Hares“, that one could hardly pin down my style. The motif itself subsequently became the name of my painting. It became a habit that people referred to my paintings as hare, regardless of whether it belonged to the series or not. For me, the occupation with a single motif was at the same time also the solution of it and with the daily hare # 1000 eight years ago also completed. During 30 years of painting, I noticed again and again that although I have an inner certainty of style, I had to practise, mature, and revise in order to make it clearly visible on the outside. For me, style is inseparable from lifestyle and mental attitude, and painting epitomises this. At the end of my 40s, I can safely say that it is now easier for many to recognize a genuine Oelker.
_____WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND? WHAT EXPERIENCE HAS INFLUENCED YOUR WORK THE MOST?
I was born in Hamm-Westphalia, just part of the Ruhr area. My parents were very young, had hardly any education and were quite overwhelmed with themselves and later with my younger sister who had cancer. My place of residence and school changed very often, I could hardly make friends in childhood. Dramas and extreme lapses were the external normality at that time. I found peace and security in drawing, in nature, with animals and with my grandfather. At 15, I found refuge in modern painting at night school and then in Portofino with an Italian avant-gardist. At the age of 20 I was drawn to NYC and in 1995 I settled in Hamburg. I can’t really say what has influenced my work the most. It’s all at once, perception, training, finding and protecting one’s centre, belonging, bonding, finding one’s own language, becoming and being a woman, psychological analysis and resolution of dramas, cognition, being itself.
_____WHAT DOES YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS LOOK LIKE?
My creative process is directly visible in the image itself. As it works retroactively and continuously for the viewer, gradually revealing itself to the depths, the picture itself can tell best what this process looks like and what it is really about. I know the level of art interpretation, of image analysis, and I have to say, I already had a clear aversion to schematic and cognitive explanations of images in the seventh school grade. My inner and intuitive conviction that a work of art must speak through itself, even without art-historical classification, comparisons, price tables, rankings, tables, institutions or prizes, has always challenged me to paint the pictures with this claim as well. From my point of view, the creative process is an ongoing phenomenon, sometimes it is a little lower, sometimes it is very high frequented. To get my own vibration into a high gear, sometimes a certain thought, a movement is enough, sometimes I turn the music up loud, indulge my body in grand gestures and then stretch the time. Maybe I just drink a hot chocolate. Because my sense of time is only slightly linked to the digital and social clock, I can hardly describe how I work in this respect, so it will probably remain my secret. Here is a video from 2012, 06:30 minutes, in which you can watch me at work: TINA OELKER / abstracts 2012
_____ARE THERE ANY OTHER NEW ELEMENTS IN YOUR VISUAL ART PRACTICE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH US, ANYTHING NEW THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE IN THE COMING PERIOD?
Painting is the main component of my work, but things run in parallel: Drawing, photography, poetry, research and written reflection, conceptual projects, accompanying texts, spatial design, spontaneous performance and interaction with colleagues and guests. This year I was a guest artist at „Jazz and the City“ in Salzburg. Instead of painting, my late grandfather’s travel typewriter and my texts were used. Very spontaneous and agile, different interactions resulted. The improvisation with the musicians and with a speaker was intense, fields were opened that I know from painting. The collaboration was always at eye and heart level, visible, audible and perceptible in the interaction with the audience. The mutual motivation and communication with the colleagues during the creative process is new to me in this form, because unlike in the past, it was all about pure improvisation. Jazz! Around 2009 I worked with musicians and actors for the first time. To be honest, the theme of the hunt was in the foreground. Speakers and actors read my lyrical texts, musicians accompanied, I later staged the first social evenings, dared myself to read aloud in smaller groups and in 2020 summarised the contents in the book of hares and gods. The texts selected in it have since been openly recited by guests on almost every occasion, sometimes with, sometimes without musical accompaniment. In 2021, the integration of the visitors in the „Search Therapy Centre a.v.B.“ took a peak; my installation allowed the visitors to interact with each other completely freely, turning the space into a playground. In retrospect, I have the impression that a new level of social evenings can be established. The Sir Hotel, Hamburg booked me a few times to introduce guests to active seeing and art and the idea of the Masterclass has already taken shape. The question of a practical and playful approach to art is growing in my circle. How and whether I will combine social evenings with the idea of an art class, whether I might prefer to interact only with colleagues, how things will turn out, is also still a secret that I am trying to track down myself. For the time being, „25 Colours Stockholm“ remains a priority, the 240 x 400 cm format has been the largest I have ever painted to date, that’s where I’m continuing. During abstract painting, many questions are answered naturally and organically.
Happiness is when you don’t try to repeat it.
Index card/ These # 381
WE ARE PLEASED THAT YOU ARE PART OF OUR EXHIBITION „SECRETS“. IN OUR INTERVIEW WITH YOU, WE WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR WORK.
_____WOULD YOU LIKE TO TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR ARTISTIC CAREER?
My childhood was marked by a creative family, they painted, built, designed …
My passion for painting and sculpture was awakened early. I studied illustration at HAW-Hamburg with a focus on painting. For several years now I am a successful freelance artist.
_____WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?
Inspiration usually reaches me unexpectedly, it is a gathering of emotions and faces that I come across and which need to be painted.
_____WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN CREATING YOUR ARTWORK?
The big challenge in my work is to prevent something from feeling too easy for me, to already know at the start what the painting will look like in the end.
So, the goal is to constantly be questioning and trying not to stand still.
_____HAS YOUR STYLE CHANGED OVER THE YEARS? IN WHAT WAY?
My style is constantly evolving. There must be a large share of willingness to take risks and also room for coincidences to which I can react. The risk-taking can also destroy what has already been achieved in the painting, but it often brings rewarding results.
_____DO YOUR ARTWORKS FOCUS ON A PARTICULAR THEME?
Yes, my paintings deal with the theme of portraiture, more specifically with the clash between realism and abstraction and a balance of both states in my paintings.
_____HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU SEE A WORK COMPLETED?
The finished work is less important to me than the process of creating it. Euphoria spreads for a short time. It only lasts for a short time, and then the curiosity and the desire for the next creative process begins again …
WE ARE HAPPY THAT YOU ARE PART OF OUR EXHIBITION „SECRETS“. IN OUR INTERVIEW WITH YOU, WE WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR WORK.
_____WOULD YOU LIKE TO TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR ARTISTIC JOURNEY?
I studied art at the Munich Art Academy with Hans Baschang. Today I can count myself among the most important figurative artists of my generation, alongside Tim Eitel, Neo Rauch, Matthias Weischer and many others and my work is represented internationally in numerous exhibitions, project spaces, biennials and art collections. I became known beyond the art scene when the German Foreign Minister at the time Guido Westerwelle had my painting „February“ hung up in his office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I live and work in Munich and Berlin.
_____WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE AN ARTIST THESE DAYS?
Not easy, but you nonverbally incessantly follow an inner, categorical imperative and want to survive with what you’re doing.
_____WHAT THEMES DO YOU PURSUE IN ART? WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SUBJECT, IF THERE IS ONE?
The answer to my works never lies in the aesthetic, but in a new language. All art arises from the fact that the artist is unsure of the world. This world does not fit him, he does not fit into it, he feels foreign, he believes he does not belong. He tries to understand it all for once, he tries to order the world for himself to find the truth. It does not help the artist himself to paint. The uncertainty does not dissolve. Later in life one realizes there is no answer and there never has been. There will always be ‚All quiet on the western front‘ (Movie 2022). But there is also hope and fearlessness in my works to change what is on our planet for good.
_____WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS IN THE INTERACTION BETWEEN THE VIEWER AND YOUR ART?
Mirror Mirror on the wall …
_____WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE ARTIST IN SOCIETY? AND CONTEMPORARY ART?
Important. We can’t do without artists. If art is restricted, censored, persecuted, it is not a democratic society based on humanistic maxims and, by the way, for me it is not a society worth living in and it MUST be changed.
_____CAN YOU TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT THE ARTWORKS IN OUR EXHIBITION?
In a nutshell: titles of the last series are Levitation, GreenRevolution, StopWar
_____WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
The process of creating is not controlled. I am in a different language in a different world during the process of creating. Everything happens intuitively. I work so long on a face, on the postures of the protagonists, on atmospheric rearrangements until I know: now I have captured what I could not have expressed otherwise, not with language, gestures or whatever.
More about my creative process and my background can be found here in my YouTube video: SABINA SAKOH aka Tatumm
1st EDITION ART EMPIRE AWARD . JASON ENGELBART
_____COULD YOU TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW YOU BEGAN CREATING ART?
My artistic talent was already recognized and encouraged in my childhood and youth. Therefore, right after graduating from school, it was clear that I would follow this vocation and study at the academy ALSTERDAMM – SCHOOL OF VISUAL ARTS & DESIGN in Hamburg, Germany. In the following years, after successfully graduating from the academy, my professional focus was initially on design. Soon after I founded my own agency for design and advertising and built it up into a successful business. It was at the age of fifty that I once again asked myself the „question of sense“ and shortly afterwards I revealed to my meanwhile three business partners my plan to leave the company to devote myself entirely to an individual career as a visual artist. With this decision, I laid the foundation for my current success as an artist. And looking back, I can say that I always chose the exact right path for myself at the right time. This fact alone fills me with gratitude and joy.
_____WHAT DOES YOUR ART AIM TO SAY TO ITS VIEWERS?
I like to call my abstract works emotional peacemaker because they invite the viewer to withdraw from reality for a moment to devote himself to the unconscious – simply to pause for a moment in order to trace his own sacred peace of mind and to dwell in the now. All too often, our everyday life is characterized by the pursuit of the next everyday goals, the race against time and inner restlessness. Here lies my artistic approach, by bringing awareness to the viewer of my art that there is a higher goal for our life on earth and which I would like to describe with such terms as mindfulness, gratitude, peacefulness, and meaningfulness. Because all of this is laid out and retrievable deep in our soul and is only covered up by the hectic noise of everyday life. So let us create the space to reflect on these qualities of our self.
_____CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE PROCESS OF CREATING YOUR WORK? WHAT IS YOUR DAILY ROUTINE WHEN WORKING?
I start the day with a short meditation of gratitude. Afterwards, I am enriched with positive energy for my respective daily tasks. These can be answering interview questions like right now ;-), preparing Instagram posts for the week, organizing a current exhibition, meetings with gallerists and of course working on a new artwork. Sources of inspiration for my artistic work are books about the art epochs of the Baroque and the Renaissance as well as, of course, the internet with its diverse informative offers.
While working on a piece, I am emotionally deeply immersed, in absolute silence and concentration on the now. As soon as my thoughts drift off into the past or future, I stop the process to bring myself back into the present balance. That sounds very difficult? – It is. However, this form of concentration is the only way for me to consciously follow an emotional wave and let it flow into a work.
_____WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENT IN YOUR ART?
Stylistically, my digital abstract neo paintings are based on Baroque and Renaissance masterpieces. The trigger for my abstract-baroque series of works was a visit to the Würzburg Residenz in Germany. Overwhelmed by the opulent ceiling frescoes by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Antonio Giuseppe Bossi and Johannes Zick inside the Baroque castle, a deep desire arose in me to mirror this splendor of spirituality in the form of an abstract translation into the present. I closed my eyes while looking at the exuberant works on the walls and ceilings, except for a narrow slit of vision, until the figurativeness of the paintings dissolved into abstraction. Thus, the foundation stone for my work cycle THE JOY OF BEING was laid.
Driven by my search for the perfect moment, the moment of perfect love, the divine, I trace these values especially in the masterpieces of the baroque art epoch. Using my characteristic digital painting technique, developed over the years, I abstract selected original baroque works by superimposing picture levels, blurring, overpainting, and re-composing them. In the work process, my very own flowing structures and pictorial rhythms emerge, while the original color composition remains largely untouched. In sum, color and form transform into a single aesthetic-abstract event that is experienced on a purely emotional level as a holy moment.
_____IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ROLE DOES THE ARTIST HAVE IN SOCIETY?
In my view, cultural producers are an important link between politics, social development and cross-border, international exchange. With their work, they make an intercultural contribution in the form of innovative thought-provoking impulses, socio-political visions and socio-critical contents. Against this background, they bear a comprehensive responsibility for the cultural development of a society.
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