Interviews | September 7, 2022 |

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Image courtesy of Ulrike Gamst

Interview: Ulrike Gamst
Luca Curci
talks with Ulrike Gamst during the 15th Edition of VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2022, at Palazzo Bembo.

Ulrike Gamst uses terms of sculpture to develop her colour-based paintings. After her studies of sculpture, she had to adapt her art to her life and painting became a possibility to continue creating and opened a whole new world of colour. Fascinated equally by the transparency and material of the colours in paintings of old masters and the huge canvases of American artists in abstract expressionism, having been formed as a sculptor, she understood the canvas as an object in the space of a gallery or a museum. These objects are always related to the size of the viewer.

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Image courtesy of Ulrike Gamst

“I was always fascinated by the consistency of color in the work of the old masters, the way they build up a color in hundreds of layers, creating an illuminated depth instead of simply mixing a color. So I learned to work with egg tempera and realized soon, that I am creating objects of color, like I was working on sculptures in the eighties – adding layers. I began to use the size of a door, 200×80 cm, to create an object of human size. Usually, a landscape is horizontal, not vertical, but the person who is contemplating a landscape is in a vertical position. I am using this paradox with the unusual size, which is nevertheless opening on a landscape like a door or a window. I use 3 rectangles, to show the division of the landscape into 3 parts. The ground, the sky and the horizon or the zone between the ground and the sky, which must not always be a line. My first three big abstracts were based on the exploration of the primary colors, red, blue and yellow.”

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Image courtesy of Ulrike Gamst

Luca Curci – What are your thoughts while you paint? Do you have any habits or ritual while you work?
Ulrike Gamst –
I don’t have habits or rituals. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I need it absolutely calm. I don’t think in words while I’m painting. It is rather a special kind of concentration on colours, forms and composition. Sometimes I use photographs, sometimes I paint
from memories, or from observation, but sometimes I just react directly to what happens on the canvas. Often I paint to stop thinking about daily troubles, to get in distance to everyday life.

LC – Which subject are you working on?
UG –
I am now working on colour, since 2021 especially on blue. I began to paint primary colours, exploring their possibilities, but I kind of couldn’t stop with the colour blue. I got so many associations and ideas, so many visions of possible combinations of blue, that I would love to paint about twenty of my big blue canvases, the size of a door. There is blue in the sky, the ocean, the swimming pool – and the sky and the water are colours you can see, but you can’t touch them. They can change every minute, depending on the weather and time. In fact, all colours depend on the light, they become grey at night and so on, but for the colour blue it is much more obvious for me. I work with big canvases, of human size, to make the canvas equal to the spectator, to give the colour the same importance, and the same space. I see my canvases as objects, like sculptures. I can see them on a wall, but also on the ground or vertical in space.

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Image courtesy of Ulrike Gamst

LC – How is your creative process?
UG –
I am collecting information about the subject, that inspires me. For my blue canvases, the ideas come from a sky I see for example in the morning or while I am riding in my car, or just whenever I have the time to look for longer at the sky. Somehow the colour of the sky touches me deeply. It is a very complex colour, there are different shades near the horizon and other ones far away from the horizon. My creative process is an interrelationship between my painting, my first basic inspiration and my studies and observations of the subject. By painting blue, I became more and more sensitive to the different shades of blue in my everyday life. So my studies deepen my observation and then again my painting becomes more sophisticated. Then I realize, I need more information and I intensified my studies. By realizing the different shades of blue depending on seasons, weather and time, I began to take about 100 photographs while I travelled between my home in Brussels and my working place in Germany. During every travel I stopped 2 times and took at least 3 photographs, even when they seemed to be the same color. Just to be able to find out and clarify the different types of blue, that interest me most. Obviously, I am fascinated by the paintings of Mark Rothko and there was also a time, when I studied his work, just to become clear in where and why I use elements of his work, and where I don’t. For my inspiration of the swimming pool, I was collecting photographs from the internet, studied David Hockney (obviously) and then made sketches with aquarell and I became a regular visitor of the swimming pool in the neighbourhood. So it is always a process that becomes more and more complex. The swimming pool works are still developing and not ready to show yet.

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Image courtesy of Ulrike Gamst

LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instictive
UG –
It is an instinctive process than becomes more and more reasoned. Something initially inspires me. It can be a memory, a dream, a thought or observation. Now it is rather colors. I have also a lot of ideas, I don’t continue to work on. So this instinctive moment needs to be so important, that I begin and can’t stop to question, to search, to collect, to get everything in order. I did for example 2 small sketches of Gandhi while this war in Ukraine developed, thinking about war and peace, but dropped it for now. Maybe it will become important again one day. During the process of working on blue, I studied also the ocean, working on my photographs and on artists I admire, like Richter or Hockney. But I realized that I want to concentrate on the sky, maybe leading later again to water, ocean and swimming pools.

LC – How do you feel, when you see your work completed?
UG –
I feel complete too. Something from inside of me got outside. Now, I can see it and touch it, it became real. The questioning stopped and became an object.

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Image courtesy of Ulrike Gamst

LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the exhibition?
UG –
Yes, I agree that ideas are kind of floating, like liquid. I like the name because of its connection to color, and mixing colors. The theme of the exhibition seemed to fit perfectly with my work – a relationship between abstraction and boundaries. I associated the boundaries of the canvas and the liquid of colour with the theme. Art should be a way to connect with other people sharing the same ideas but also offer new points of view and expand the horizon, the boundaries of our thinking.

LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in the exhibition?
UG –
In the exhibition, I have three blue paintings. Blue 1 became very different from my work on primary colors with red and yellow. The associations with the sky and the ocean were so strong, that they became quite figurative. so I tried again to work abstract with the color blue. Blue 2 was closer to the original inspiration of finding the essence of a color by exploring the possibilities to mix different shades of blue. In Blue 3 and 4 I concentrated on my associations with the ocean and the sky. I experimented with different ways to put color on the canvas – contrasting liquid and opaque. Blue 4 is the concentration on a summer sky, so full of light, that the sky seems to be white. Light shining through clouds in dazzling backlight.

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Image courtesy of Ulrike Gamst

LC – Did you enjoy working with us?
UG –
It was definitely very exciting.

LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID Group?
UG –
ITSLIQUID Group organizes exhibitions and offers an opportunity to get seen by other people, to publish your work professionally, and to get in contact with other artists. form all over the world. The places they offer are really high-quality locations. Palazzo Bembo in Venice was just gorgeous. It was such an experience to see my work at this wonderful place. I still can’t believe it.

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Image courtesy of Ulrike Gamst

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