Interview: Magdalena Maatkare
Luca Curci talks with Magdalena Maatkare during Venice International Art Fair 2020 at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello in Venice.
Magdalena Maatkare is a german artist based in Berlin and raised up in several cultures: Germany – France – and West Africa (Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso).
“I am a thread waving into the texture of the universe. My thread is light-source/light-wave channelling energy, vibrating with other energetic waves. Creating resonance. Universe is build up by light and darkness. Bodies are charged positive and negative. I am working with light. Light-waves. Light-braking. Braking into the textiles, which I bring a-life to new units through my hands. Lightening works vibrating in colours with light-resonance. My atelier is a space where I receive visions from a higher dimension, where I can connect with this parallel world, behind human visible capacities. I hear what the invisible is revealing me. In my creative process this magic can free itself, and in a playful way transforming into the visible world. Living Creatures become alive.” [M.M.]
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Magdalena Maatkare – In 2008 I was going for my first time to West-Africa as a volunteer in Ivory Coast. I was fascinated by textiles named “waxprint”, the usual fabric of West-African traditional clothing having a huge and important impact in daily life and non-verbal communication for West-African identities and cultures. Textiles are for me cultural symbols – mostly visible in clothes. Waxprint textiles are not only a cultural narrative through the cultural transfer from Indonesia to Africa to Europe and back to Africa but also through the meaningful patterns. Today they are understood from West African people as a part of their identity. During my stay, I ordered for both friends and family costumes made with waxprint-textiles by the local tailors. After finishing, the tailors gave me the left-overs from the fabrication of the clothes. In a shamanic initiation I was been told that this would be my material for my artistic career! Also in this times, my first textile collage was an assemblage in my diary… After my studies at the Sorbonne in Paris and the Master degree at the ENS in Lyon I went once again on an eight month trip to West-Africa, from Senegal to Guinea, to Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso in order to experience the local art and dance communities. In the artist residence in Mbour, near Dakar, Senegal, I started to create my first series: “Cultural Scenes in West-Africa in African fabric” which marked the very beginning of my career: the works had been exhibited later in the Goethe Institute in Dakar, as in Lyon and Berlin. I found my very specific artistic process: I create intuitively with innumerable textile particles new cultural textile units. A reference on my work has been the pre-first world-war-movement “Blaue Reiter” marked by August Macke, Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Robert Delaunay – where the colors and geometric forms influenced me during my studies. In addition to that, Hilma af Klint was inspiring me with her way creating artworks through her special spiritual connection to higher dimensions. I feel close to her working process, because through almost the same artistic process my works are becoming creatures lightening up transcendental experiences.
LC – Which subjects are you working on?
MM – The subjects are first influenced by my trips to West-Africa where I worked with the cultural elements of the countries having visited in West-Africa (Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso), as also the natural and animal sphere. The subject of the mythical creature ‘phoenix’ marks the first big creative theme in my art-career: the (re-)creation of a colour explosion of light from nothing but ash and decrease. For further exhibitions I developed the subject about masks, masquerade and faces. Also inspired from Picasso’s sculptures and abstract faces, himself influenced by his years in Africa (ex. in the “Demoiselles d’Avignon”) leaded me to question the concept of ‘Persona’ (lat. mask): depending on cultural, social and urban situations humans wearing masks for different goals or habits. Visions and dreams were a huge exhibitions subject. I am working with colours because each colour has the power to transmit energy – a special light wave which can produce a healing effect on the onlooker. My artistic gift is that I am transforming negative into positive energies through the work with light. The light-waves are coming through the different colours on the textiles in my art-pieces. As people referring my artwork “Nuits en Couleur” (2020) to Gustav Klimt, I would like to mention him as one of my inspirations of working with light. I think the task of our humanity today is to connect once again to our inner light, as Adolf Huxley said: “It is dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly, child lightly. There are quicksands all about you sucking at your feet trying to suck you down info fear and self-pity and despair. So throw away your baggage and go forward. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.” The latest subject are spirals influenced by Van Gogh and Hundertwasser. I am asking about the nature of a straight line (which does not exist in my artwork) and if a chronically exponential process is really existing: it revealed in my work that all organic development pronounces itself in the form of a Spiral. Only the time axe is vertical and straight – and installed by systematic human rationalism. On this series, both the different layers of textiles are the expression of this spiral as also the spiral itself is represented in some of the artworks: this double spiral is referring to the inner beginning of our life: the double helix.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
MM – The most challenging part was in the past often the fact of fixing the textiles on the canvas. After a long research of the perfect clue, I understood that there is not one special glue for these very special textiles, but a combination of many of them. Some of them I can only use when they have the right temperature, too hot or too cold could damage the results.
Besides, if I am interrupted in my creative process it is challenging to restart. After having the vision of the structure of the work, I am working on canvas with the textiles in a sort of cocoon or vacuum in which the colours are coming from themselves. If I am starting to think rationally, when I am maybe interrupted by someone coming into my studio, I will be unable to continue. The flow and irrational state of mind are necessary to me for creating my artworks because my studio is a space where I receive visions from a higher dimension, where I can connect with this invisible parallel world. In my creative process this magic can free itself, and in a playful way transforming into the visible world.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in the society? And contemporary art?
MM – I think that we as young artists are able to write history, to change through our expression in our art a mind’s thought, a concept of humanity or a thought-structure, which could lead human beings to a better, more peaceful and healthier world. The German term “Heilig” – “Saint”, contains the terminus “Heil” which means healing. Healing is the green lightening pillar of my work. Healing is maybe the most essential need in our actual society – especially in times of crisis where fear is leading the world. I would like to invite people to hear their own invisible voice, to re-connect with their unconsciousness for inner peace and freedom. The inner voice leads to our healing. Through the process of waving ethereal matter into the material world, my works have also the potential of being mediums and resources for healing. When the onlooker is watching the artwork he can feel the colour – light-waves to wake up.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
MM – My style changed from a very figurative style in the beginning of my artistic career to abstract artworks. Furthermore, the most recent pieces I created are mostly in relief. It shows another quality of fabrics – and another ‘text’- ‘ile’: the work is becoming a double 3-D-effect on the onlooker through the surface and the composition. After exhibitions in the international art scene with my very own technique of waxprint textile collage from 2016 on (Dakar, Lyon, Paris, Berlin, Venice etc.) I started in 2019 to create a performance and installation which are shown also during my exhibitions. The performance is called TEXTILEALIVE; and in my last solo-show in March 2020 I created a dream-Installation.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
MM – I think the theme of the festival is well chosen in times of crisis. When inside and outside troubles as the fear of the sickness or the fear of losing liberty are confusing our mind and soul every day, it is important to ask about the relationship between body (-mind) and space, identities and their hybridisation in social and cultural society. It is very interesting in this times in which kind of expression the (sub-)consciousness of the represented artists is reflecting the actuality and so exciting to dive into this complexes labyrinths of the relation of body and space, as also mind and soul, to ask about how we should change in future for example in communicating with other people, or how transforming our own personal or social borders in order to continue to gain a good life on this planet.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
MM – My artwork is linked to the question about cultural identities: for me ‘fabric’ or ‘textile’ is a symbol of culture itself. Furthermore, with my painting “Watching you” 2020, made during the Covid-19-lockdown in April 2020, I think I am focusing the festivals theme. I – the German artist – am using the textiles from West-Africa producing an artistic expression that we all are living in the same planet, we are connected to each other, if we want or not, but we also get more and more transparent through the measures taken by the crisis, which invited me to reflect the questions such as, which aliments you should eat or which job you are doing, where you want to live, how can you feel free and joyful in times of crisis and which people are really important to you?
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
MM – ITSLIQUID is a great platform for meeting international curators, developing international contacts to galleries, as also to establish an exchange with artists from the entire world. This is really helpful because having a good network is a need in an artist’s career.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
MM – Yes, it is the opportunity to be represented in foreign countries, to be exhibited in spaces you will not attend as an artist on your own. Besides, another advantage is that artists will get in contact with the partner associations and art fairs of ITSLIQUID GROUP that could help the artist for future exhibitions. ITSLIQUID Group shows a great organisation willing to help artists to promote their artwork which is always the best support you could imagine as an artist.