Interview: Heikedine Günther
Luca Curci talks with Heikedine Günther, winner of the ARTIST OF THE MONTH – APRIL 2020.
Heikedine Günther is an abstract painter living in Basel and Stalden, Switzerland. Her leitmotif is the “core”, encompassing everything between microcosm and macrocosm. She expresses her research into the theme of the core in paintings between abstraction and natural forms. Working on this she has spent several years developing a unique style of multilayered painting in her remote studio in the Swiss alps. Günther was born in 1966 in rural Westphalia, Germany, and has always been fascinated by art. In 1982 she took part in Josph Beuys’ project at the documenta 7 in Kassel, which radically opened up Günther’s approach to what art can be. Afterwards she studied at the HFBK Hamburg in the classes of Franz Erhart Walter and Werner Büttner and also took a guest semester at Martin Kippenberger’s class in Kassel. Ever since then Günther has been studying classic art and got absolutely passionate for ottonian manuscripts and gold panel paintings. She is a book lover and collects primitive art and oceanic objects. Her own artistic practice benefits thereby from Günther’s broad knowledge of traditional old master’s techniques and her dedicated interest in poly-cultural symbols. In 2004 Günther took part in an Active Imagination after C.G. Jung and found in the search of an archetype her inner core. After that she painted her first core painting. Ever since this experience the idea of the core has been central in her art and she kept on developing and researching the different meanings and possibilities of this leitmotif. According to her research the core is an universal symbol, which can be found in any culture or religion. It combines in itself microcosmic and macrocosmic relations: the core is represented in every single biological cell of our bodies and at the same time it is the basic form of every planet of the cosmic system. This universal openness of meaning creates the possibility to connect with the core on a multitude of levels. For her research Heikedine Günther travels a lot in the believe that it is necessary to see a lot to train oneself to see the world properly. In between trips she returns to her quiet studio in the mountains of Switzerland to work on her art. She is a skilled painter and develops paintings off which she takes unique monotypes as individual artworks. She has also worked with sculpture, installation and textiles.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Heikedine Günther – Art is the elixir of my life. It allows me to express my experience, reflections about history, the environment and society in a creative way. When making art I get so absorbed that I forget space and time.
LC – What is your background ?
HG – At a young age I met the artist Joseph Beuys in 1982 at the Kassel Documenta 7. This led me to work together with him and his team on the “7000 oaks” project and was my dive into contemporary art. My creative ventures were then expanded by studying art in Hamburg at HFBK under Werner Büttner, Franz Erhard Walter and Martin Kippenberger. Besides that, for the last 20 years I have deeply explored western medieval manuscripts of the 9th till 16ths century. The color combinations of these book illustrations have heavily influenced my work and can be found in my paintings.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
HG – The essence of my work is the core. The core is representative of life, growth, potential. Everything starts out as an abstract core and transforms into something more concrete.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in the society?
HG – The artist is a reflector of society. The working of an artist can show all the nuances of our experience. So the artist shines a unique light on a theme that she demes important. As a function, this can lead both to reflection and change of direction or amplification and continuation of the values, norms and perceptions of our society.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
HG – As the core is present in everything I search inspiration with deep roots. This can be nature, but also thoughts of philosophy, mathematics or religion. From these constructs I try to draw analogies from their microcosms to the macrocosm and vice versa.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artwork?
HG – The most challenging part of my work is bringing the work to life so that it stands for itself. This is difficult as you cannot force it. When painting, I start with a layer of gold and add at minimum three more layers of oil paint. Sometimes I get lucky and the painting turns out great right away. Often I have to overpaint it to make it come to life. Thus, the coincidences during the process make it challenging as you never know when you are done.
LC – What is your creative process like?
HG – I arrived at the subject of my paintings in 2004 while doing an imagination after C. G. Jung. In it I saw my inner self core and from there I start painting figuratively but transitioned to minimal abstract paintings. Nowadays I look at something fundamental like nature or mathematics and try to reduce it down to the core in an abstract way.