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Pictures have to go out into the world - Ruth Polleit Riechert in Conversation with Carolin Israel

Since her residency stay in Bogota, Columbia, earlier this year (see previous post), Carolin Israel has incorporated a lot of new aspects into her work. Time to visit the artist in her studio.

Carolin was born in Chemnitz, Germany, in 1990. She has completed her Master Degree in Art from Academy of Fine Art, Dresden in 2014. From 2015 to 2016, she studied with Professor Katharina Grosse and Professor Tomma Abts at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. In 2017, she worked in New York City. She has received numerous grants and prizes, among them the Lucas Cranach Grant of the city of Wittenberg in 2014. Carolin Israel lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Can you remember when you first dabbled with art as a child?

The first work of art that I consciously perceived and to which I have so far given the most thoughts in my life is “The Poor Poet” by Karl Spitzweg. A copy of the picture hung in my great-grandmother’s unheated, dark sleeping chamber. When I was there for a visit, the gloomy, melancholic mood of the picture had a magical allure. I imagined – probably a thousand times – how the poet flicks the umbrella that just hovers above him by the wall, not firmly attached, upwards. From that point of view, the image captures the moment before the fall. When I think about it, this tipping moment of a potential movement – something that still fascinates me in my work to this day.

 
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Earlier this year you went to Colombia to study. Last year you visited New York. What role does travel play for your work?

Travelling is incredibly valuable to my work. I have the feeling that I can stop time and experience as much in a few days as I otherwise experience in several weeks. My favourite part is having a project or exhibition on site to get in touch, get to know the culture, and reflect on my work in a new environment. In Colombia, I followed the impulse to pull my paintings on paper into the room and show installations for the first time. Back in the studio, I often feed on months of travel experiences.

Do you deal with nature in your work?

My work visually reflects my engagement with the organic environment, plants, animals, ocean, and landscape. Nature is an essential and valuable resource for me, not just for my art. I try to live as consciously as possible, to protect nature, and to use it carefully. This applies to recreation, nutrition, or locomotion. Whenever possible, I prefer to take the bus and train rather than flying, and I rent a car instead of owning one. I think we all need to learn to give up materiality and comfort to preserve this world as it is.

Which projects and ideas are you currently working on?

At the end of the year, the debut album of the band “Collector” will be released. For its cover, I have designed a painting in tune with the music. Their atmospheric-surreal sounds amazing have many parallels to my pictures. I’m looking forward to the release on December 7th in “objekt klein a” in Dresden.

Your style of painting is very complex, and every picture presents the beholder with a little riddle. There is always something new to discover. How does a picture come about?

I rarely work with references or sketches. If I initially work with a concrete idea, the picture quickly breaks away from the previously planned and diverges into the intuitive. Usually, however, a core idea or atmosphere permeates the entire painting process, which can take months or even years to take the picture to where I want it to be.

This year, your work has become “lighter”. How is your painting process? Do you have preferred materials and techniques?

At the moment I, like to use spray, airbrush, and running paint on paper, which has a very unique structure and rawness as a base. The material is very light and transportable, which is particularly suitable for exhibitions abroad.

 
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Are there different phases in your work that you can identify in retrospect?

After years of studies from the nude, it was a massive step to leave the figurative behind and devote myself to my own colour world and imagination without references.

Personally, I’m interested in whether you notice a difference in perception as a woman in art? Or is it ultimately only about quality?

It’s all about quality. But also if it’s about quantity, we’re fine. There are 3.85 billion women and 3.78 billion men on earth.

 
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Do you collect art?

Yes. In fact, I do not like to surround myself with my own work at home but rather with those of friends and colleagues like Eric Keller, Pauline Stopp, and Theresa Weber. Beyond that, I own graphics by Christine Ebersbach, Walter Herzog, and Thomas Scheibitz.

What role does digitisation play in art and the art market for you?

I see that using Instagram, online magazines, or general digital art presentations, you can currently create an enormously broad platform and publicity. It may be a very visual and fast-paced attention that you get, but it is a way to be seen beyond your circle of acquaintances. It counters the exclusive network of relationships of the important figures in the art world with a more democratic system.

 
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What will we see from you in the near future?

I am looking forward to our residency planned this year with RPR ART in Mallorca. There, we will have an exhibition with other German artists showing the works that are created there. At the following show in Frankfurt, we will work together with Majorcan artists.

Do you have a favourite piece that you would never part with?

No. The pictures have to go out into the world.

Thank you for the interview, Carolin!

The interview was conducted by Dr. Ruth Polleit Riechert of RPR ART. Selected works by Carolin Israel can be purchased at www.rpr-art.com.

Interview: Ruth Polleit Riechert
Production: Christoph Blank
Photos: Jennifer Rumbach