Anne Wölk is an internationally acclaimed artist with an extraordinary fascination for life on other planets and the beauty of our earth. With her skill as a painter she'll take you along in her imagination and show you images you'll dream about. Anne recently won the Honorable Mention, chosen by the curator of our partner The Arts Gallery, so it's time to get to know this rising star. Read all about her background, her art and where she's going.
2021 - Artourney Art Awards Honorable Mention
2019 - Finalist, International Artist Juried Competition, Art Revolution - Taipei
2017 - 9th ArtSlant Prize - Nominated - New York
2013 - Category Award, Art Takes Paris- Kategorie Preis- New York
2021 - The Sky has no surface / Online Exhibition - London
2021 - Questions to heaven / Czong Institute for Contemporary Art - South Korea
2020 - The Future we want / Palais des Nations - Geneva
2020 - XS small artworks / Alfa Gallery - Miami
Who is Anne and what does she do?
I was born and raised in former East Germany and I’m a figurative painter whose artistic work stands in the tradition of realistic contemporary artists Vija Celmins and Russel Crotty. Committed to an attitude of reskilling, this landscape painter uses traditional methods and materials.
I develop my compositions from a perspective of observations of the sky and paints a wide variety of light phenomena. My painting process is an artistic translation of terms such as glow and shine into a visual language. For that reason, I work on an unusual and finely nuanced palette of blue shades. The colour spectrum of the light in her paintings astonishes viewers and takes them away to a world of romance and silence.
In this context, my subject matter speaks of the imagery of futuristic science and astronomy, which we have only become familiar with from the advances of satellites, cameras, and computer-generated images. By layering content from these diverse sources, I create a fantastical interpretation of nature, in which the simultaneity of Romanticism and Utopia becomes perceptible.
What is your background?
Being an artist always had great value in my family. Even as a little girl, I did colour pencil drawings with my grandfather. He was incredibly good at drawing men's heads. His family came originally from East Prussian Königsberg, modern-day Kaliningrad. He knew a lot about the East's landscapes, with its birch trees and the Baltic region's coastal formations. While living in East Germany, I regularly studied artworks from Polish landscape painters. I still love the paintings Moose Fighting with Wolves by Julian Fałat (1853–1929), The Old Town Square in Warsaw at Night 1892 by Józef Pankiewicz (1866–1940), and Courtship by Wacław Szymanowski (1859–1930).
At the age of 13, I visited an open house exhibition at the Burg Giebichenstein Art Academy in Halle for the first time in my life. I immediately fell in love with the old castle ruins and the rose garden in the middle of the castle courtyard. It appeared to me like an ivory tower in a kind of nutshell compared to a grey and often hectic urban world.
At that time, I already decided to study art. The moment I turned 16 years old, I tried to apply to art school and was immediately accepted into the painting class of Ute Pleuger.
After three years of studying in this sheltered environment, I felt the need to see a little more of the art world. I moved to the University of Fine Arts Berlin-Weissensee and the Chelsea College of Fine Art and Design, London.
In 2006, I found my first gallery representation in Berlin and exhibited at my first Art Fair called Contemporary Istanbul. On this occasion, Can Elgiz purchased one of my large-scale paintings into the Elgiz Museum collection.
From this point on, I expanded my exhibition activity at an international level, with various group shows in the USA, Great Britain, Spain, Denmark, Slovenia, Turkey, and many other countries.
What does art mean to you?
My paintings predominantly show night sky sceneries with deep and open galaxies. By quoting space telescope images and digital photography resources, I test the margins between art and reality.
With my motives, I try to close the photographic information gaps, like digital error glitches. Simultaneously, I sample landscape compositions in a collage technique to envision a future that's not here yet.
For me, the process of painting is nothing destructive anymore. Instead, I experience myself as a creator of atmospheres and universes.
I understand the profession of a visual artist as something which brings new thinking and generosity to the world. Therefore I try to be someone who does human work that changes another life for the better.
That includes becoming an innovator in my artistic field of landscape painting. I wish to present discoveries that the audience might have missed. For instance, I replace the deep light of the old masters with screen colours from backlit screen surfaces and attempt to carry the classic themes of the landscapes into the present and future.
What do you think art means to people in general? What is the importance of art in the world?
In my opinion, my paintings have value and bring joy to others. At the same time, I am convinced that my landscape pieces are not for everybody. That means my futuristic mountain scenes are for people who experience themselves as visionaries and future enthusiasts.
My clients often build lifelong relationships with works of art. Some of my collectors told me that my paintings are growing with their lives. Nevertheless, deeper layers of understanding are necessary. Why does buying contemporary art, in general, bring pleasure to collectors? Often, producing art means producing luxury items. I have to admit that not everybody in the world can afford art or needs art to live a good and satisfying life. Visual art is essential for artists and their like-minded peers.
The painting process helps me to calm down. Over the years, I have learned how to relax from the stressful outside world during the creation process.
How do you work?
I work with one assistant in my studio. She helps me to realise and put into practice more extensive projects. Currently, I am planning to create 10 to 15 works of art in the future. With her help, I can confidently fill larger exhibition spaces, and my assistant helps me keep track of each piece's progress. For more extraordinary projects, sometimes friends help me with technical advice. Recently, I was given a motor with which one moves disco balls. Thanks to my friend's dedication and inventiveness, I can now set my planetary spheres in rotation in the exhibition room.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Many of my works show the world at night. People have felt touched by the magic of the stars at all times and in all cultures. My landscape motives represent an attempt to translate the longing to travel to the stars into the painting's specific language.
I am fascinated by science fiction stories about space travel and cyberspace. Involved in the society of digital culture, I alter film stills and photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope and integrate them into my compositions and personal painting cosmos. During my childhood, I saw a seemingly infinite number of simulations of stellar skies and demonstrations of planetary runs at 360-degree shows at the planetarium in my hometown of Jena. Jena was the centre for laser and optics technology in the former GDR. This formative experience continually influenced my fascination with science fiction and space travel. Picturing the future can be absorbing. Since the start of the technological age, science fiction has acted as a reflection of the public's hopes and anxieties about the future.
My main interest is space travel and in the search for life on other planets and moons outside our solar system. As a child, I found the astronomers' results extremely unsatisfying concerning the search for potentially habitable worlds in our universe. That's why I became interested in science fiction novels: I had a deep longing for more.
During the 1980s, scientists could not prove the existence of planets in other star systems. The first exoplanets were discovered as early as the 1980s, but at that time, they were either classified as brown dwarfs (HD 114762 b) or temporarily discarded due to the still-inadequate measurement accuracy.
In 1992, three planets outside the solar system orbiting the pulsar PSR 1257 + 12 could be confirmed.
Which artist or artwork inspires you most? (what kind of art do you have at your own home?)
I live with two drawings by my Dutch colleague, Witte Wartena, and four paintings from my dear friend, Mitja Ficko, from Slovenia.
Name 3 artists you would like to be compared to
Vija Celmins, Russel Crotty, Angela Bulloch
What do you hope to achieve in your art career?
I am building my art career with the vision of having a vibrant artwork production in my bright and beautiful artist studio. As a creative person, full of energy and love, I am sharing my passion with others to spark joy in their hearts. Using my art as a way of sharing values and beliefs with others feeds my heart. I aim to become a well-known professional artist and do the best work I can. In my envisioned future, I get regularly invited to take part in museum-quality shows in international institutions. Five international galleries represent my art and regularly sell my works at art fairs in Europe and the States.
What do you like and dislike about the artworld?
Artists are winners if they belong to a small circle of winning art; in German, this is called 'Siegerkunst.' Their market value is dealt with in the magazine Capital, like the stock exchange prices. Winning art costs a lot and is part of the 'by invitation only system.' That means a small group of artists plays the 'art game' like chess. Move by move, they pull strings and buy press, curators, and texts from art historians and experts to create their legacy. They build relationships with galleries and collectors, who enhance the career process on a large scale. At the same time, they beat their competitors and destroy their access to art fairs like Art Basel. By doing so, they erase their competitor's network. It is visible in supposedly professional contexts, in art institutions and beyond, in outdoor and indoor public spaces, academia, and other educational situations.
As you already understand, I wouldn't say I like the matrix happening behind the scene in the art world. But, if artists are not naive and work in good faith, they will have a chance to make informed decisions to flourish in their careers on a true and authentic level. The online art market is growing fast and offers artists a loyal audience besides that found at dinner parties and openings. For instance, since November 2020, I have sold five artworks with the Singulart Gallery, Paris. This global online gallery works towards more democracy in the art world. I think it should be a community goal of all artist to build an artworld, which offers more access to buyers and artists.
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