Interview: Sabrina Meissner
Luca Curci talks with Sabrina Meissner during Venice International Art Fair 2020 and FRAGMENTED IDENTITIES, second appointment of BORDERS Art Fair 2020 at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Sabrina Meissner grew up in North Africa and Southern Germany and is a Munich-based contemporary artist. Sabrina is fascinated by the tension between security, order, rebellion and freedom, chaos and structures. She has developed her own distinctive style which make her abstract portraits very recognizable and attractive for collectors. A strong use of contrasts and helmet-like hair in abstracted architectural and neo-surreal settings are the main distinctive features. In December 2019, one of her paintings was chosen and shown as part of a digital group exhibition at Art Basel Miami. In 2020, her work was awarded the “Review Me” art prize. Her works are hanging in private collections in Germany and the United States.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Sabrina Meissner – To me, art means freedom. The freedom to be able to do what I want to do. The freedom to express what I am feeling. There is this urge in me to express myself and tell my story. Art gives me this freedom and I hope I can inspire and touch others with it.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
SM – My artworks are a blend between abstraction and figurative. I paint abstract female portraits and place them into abstract urban environments. I transform the figures into some sort of “out-of-this-world creatures” through the boldness of their helmet-like hair and strong facial lines. The true character of the portrayed face is never revealed – while they are some form of indirect self-portraits, they are never an actual portrait of me… I guess.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
SM – My life is my inspiration. In order to do so I use black a lot because it makes the colours stand out – and at the same time, strong black lines represent the boundaries we are all facing in our everyday lives. they represent boundaries set by some elites to which you either belong – if you play by their rules – or not.
LC – What is your creative process like?
SM – The ideas and concepts for my artworks just evolve in my head and appear usually right before I fall asleep – I usually let them sink in for a while before I execute them. In most cases I draw the key lines with roller pen on canvas, and then finalise the work with acrylics. I put all my emotions in my artworks and I find the more I “feel” while painting, the stronger the final result. I use ballpoint pens a lot and I apply the acrylic colour almost like watercolour – this gives the works the necessary depth. My technique in combination with strong colours and contrasts creates powerful works of almost genderless figures that embody both strength and vulnerability.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
SM – My works are my rebellion – a rebellion against a system that has been around for so long that we are all so used to it that we don’t even notice the inherent imbalance. Deep inside we do feel however that something is “not quite right”. Whether this is gender inequality or discrimination for other reasons – my artworks want to explore this feeling. In light of this, my art is open to everyone, meaning that everyone can find their emotions and their own personal rebellion in my paintings.
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?
SM – The balance between freedom and security are a key theme in my works. The surroundings my figures are placed in are inspired by office buildings, train stations, airports – structures I spent a lot of time in during my professional career and that represent both rules and boundaries, but at the same time mean security. It is this balance – or tension – that fascinates me.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
SM – The theme of the festival is very universal yet modern – the hybridization between identities and settings in contemporary times has always been a theme for artists, and always will be. It is one of the recurring concepts and questions of humanity. I am very happy to be part of this show.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
SM – I really enjoyed working with everyone at ITSLIQUID GROUP, especially with Giulia and Luca! They are doing an amazing job in getting everything all up and running – especially in these awkward times.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
SM – Definitely! It is an amazing opportunity to show your works together with other artists in cultural centers such as Venice. It is very important to get your art out there where it is seen. Art is very personal but putting it out there is very important. It helps you grow as an artist and as an individual. I think we will be seeing more and more art. At least that’s what I hope.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
SM – Yes, very much so! I hope we get to work together again in the future!