Interview: Heike-Angela Baltruweit
Luca Curci talks with Heike-Angela Baltruweit during Venice International Art Fair 2020 and Fragmented Identities, second appointment of BORDERS Art Fair 2020 at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space
Since 2015 I have been working as an artistic photographer, initially alongside my job as a multi-project manager. Since March 2019 I have been a freelance gallery owner and photographer. I am also represented by the galleries popstreet.shop, neunion, Marziart and Artsy.
I am looking for abstract compositions in my surroundings to capture them photographically. The objects and situations are neither changed, arranged nor manually illuminated, nor are they subsequently edited on the computer, even the detail is identical to the shot. All pictures are ‘Pure Photography’. I see my surroundings as a ‘natural exhibition space’. I find works of art on the pavement, on building walls, in the water and in factory buildings. These works of art are fixations of the moment and therefore difficult to reproduce. A different angle of view, a changed incidence of light, and the colours, bizarrely changed forms have disappeared. The compositions of my photographs evoke associations with fine art or graphics. They show that many forms and representation techniques invented by artists can also be found photographically in the real world. Reflections of people on a plastic tarpaulin evoke associations with scraped pictures by Gerhard Richter; reflections in water are reminded of swimming pool pictures by David Hockney. The ‘natural exhibition space’ that I perceive is in principle visible to everyone. Nevertheless, it remains hidden to most people, because the everyday motifs found in reality are not immediately recognizable. Shapes and colours are in the foreground of the abstract compositions. My aim is to encourage viewers to deal with their own perception through my photographs, to discover the familiar, to allow room for interpretation and associations with their own history and to discover ‘works of art’ in their own environment.
Luca – What is art for you?
Heike Baltruweit – At first I am not interested in the fact that what I do is art, but it is only under the art aspect that the pictures get an appropriate context. For me, among other things, what Paul Klee says about art is true: “Art does not show the visible but makes visible”. As a photographer, I see in my environment more or less finished compositions. These could be pictures with interesting colour or material structures, as if painted in weathered house walls or as if collaged in reflections in window panes. The pictorial nature of their appearance is detached from the actual objects and their condition. I capture the cut-out with my camera and show the works of art exactly as I have found and perceived them, neither processed nor arranged or artificially illuminated or altered in any way.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
HB – I am interested in the interaction between art and media. I extend my paintings with Augmented Reality to show what I see, how I see it and with which works of other artists I associate my artworks. The work “Picture 2”, for example, is reminding me of the figured scraped pictures by Gerhard Richter and “Colour reflection 1” is reminiscent of paintings by Francis Bacon. What is particularly interesting for me, is that certain, often very artificial, style techniques in painting or individual artists have a visual counterpart in the real world, without any painterly action.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
HB – I often receive feedback from viewers of my pictures, that they certainly would not have noticed the motifs of my pictures in their natural environment themselves, but that they are now aware of the aesthetic quality of these reality extracts. For example, they only see a transparent plane in front of a restaurant and not the different levels that are connected to the plane: The background, the other side of the street and the people who are distortedly reflected in it.
LC – Do visitors’ suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
HB – Absolutely. My paintings are complex. You need some time to get to grips with them. Visitors who get involved are stimulated and tell stories that connect them to my pictures. The pictures are recognized as independent objects that not only refer to something outside of them but are themselves aesthetic objects. “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” by Magritte not only refers to the fact that a painted picture of a pipe is not a pipe itself, but also that a picture is an independent object, even without the external reference.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
HB – Colour and material structures, abstract and concrete picture motifs, collage and décollage, artistic themes, stylistic devices and techniques, all this I find confusingly similar to painting or graphics in the real environment as photo motifs. My way of photography is, among other things, a confrontation with contemporary art – not manually but instead visually comprehensible. Furthermore, my pictures are actually always the captured marks of the actions of people and nature on or mirrored through objects. As an example: black dust sticks to the glue of a pulled down political poster and at the same time becomes the food of intensely green algae, pointedly accompanied by an apostrophe-like red rest-of a sprayed tag.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? In which way did it inspire you?
HB – While the city benefited from the lack of tourists, the opening in THE ROOM, which I attended, was very reduced due to Corona. But I found the interaction of art, space and people very harmonious and very inspiring atmospherically.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
HB – All my exhibited photographs play with the boundaries between the object and the space surrounding it. The boundaries are removed and the elements merge into a new composition. Undiscovered art is made visible. Visitors are invited to widen their view and this leads not only to a broader, but to an altogether new perspective of the world.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
HB – The variety of participation opportunities for artists in such attractive art venues worldwide is impressive. The platform is clearly laid out and makes you want more.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
HB – I was a little worried whether an event could bring any joy at all in times of the hard conditions of Corona. These worries turned out to be groundless. The whole event was very well organized and the registration procedures went really smoothly.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
HB – I have enjoyed working with ITSLIQUID very much. No question remained unanswered. The answer often came within a very short time. I felt very well taken care of by Giulia Tassi and was pleased to meet Luca Curci and his team personally. Many thanks for the great experience and the warm welcome in Venice.