an interview with jutta haeckel…

something like a long-distance, digital studio visit…

Todd Hosfelt:  the process in which you work is related to print making, but seems to me to be unique in painting,  would you explain it?

Jutta Haeckel:  I developed the way I work by moving, step by step, away from the painting processes that I was taught in art school.  Even though I’ve never worked as a print maker, some aspects of my painting method are related to the techniques of say, lithography.  The application of color and the construction of the image  is built-up through many separate layers, one on top of the other, with pauses to let each layer dry.  In some areas of my paintings these overlaying colors add up to finally form an image in a tonality that I can´t achieve by mixing colors from the tube.

In other, unpainted areas, an image will be defined by the borders and edges of these colors.  I’ll leave these areas unpainted.  These “openings” or “holes” in the painted ground form silhouettes of images.

Interestingly, these silhouettes often appear to be the foreground imagery of a painting, even though they were “left unpainted“ in the very beginning of the process.

TH:  there’s always a tug-of-war in your work between flatness and three dimensional space, can you tell me about that tension?

JH:    The construction of space and perspective, the impossibility of three-dimensional space in a flat picture plane — these are the things that interest me.  I like creating space that is incomprehensible.  Space that moves fluidly and allows the viewer to discover unexpected vistas and perspectives where the flatness opens up into deep space.

The viewer’s point-of-view is ambiguous. These could be views from a distance — maybe from an airplane or even from space.  But equally possible, they are a tangle of details, viewed up close.

Taken as a whole, all the viewpoints and levels come together and distant views and perspectives move through and behind the scenery, creating a sense of space and time that is constantly in flux.  To me, this fluidity has parallels to electronic media that seem to allow us to be omnipresent, connected to anyone at anytime and anywhere.

TH:  is it different for you to work on paper than on canvas?

JH:  Whether I am painting paper or on canvas, I follow a similar strategy and use exactly  the same “ingredients”  — the same types of paints and brushes.   But different painting grounds lead to different results.  The same colors will have a  different appearance on paper and on canvas. Their surface and their tonality will differ.   But I like that.  It’s what inspires me to the next step.

Working on paper does seem to allow me to react more spontaneously to the questions each new layer of paint poses.   Working on canvas gives me a wider range of technical possibilities, allowing me to elaborate more details and subtleties.
I don´t prefer one or the other.   Adapting my methods leads me to variation.

TH:  how many pieces are you working on at a time?  if you’re working on more than one at a time how do they influence each other?
JH:  Most of the time I work on one painting at a time.  I need to focus on each in a painting without forgetting the steps I’ve already made.  Some of these steps will uncover their effect and meaning in a composition only at the very end of the painting process.

Occasionally I work on a second painting while i’m waiting for a layer to dry.   In that case, some of the ideas, findings or colors from the first painting might impact the second painting.

TH:  what have you been looking at that influences your current work?

JH:  I don´t feel that my recent work was influenced by any particular event, experience or artwork.  I’ve always been interested in artists like Piet Mondrian or Paul Klee and their understanding of the spiritual in art.   I also feel a connection to Jackson Pollock or the German Artist Wols (Alfred Ottos Wolfgang Schulze).   Even though the gestural aspect of their work differs from my approach, there are similarities in style and effect.    I identify with the way they began their work intuitively and tried to explore their subconscious, creating opportunities for the unexpected.

jutta haeckel’s exhibition, “out of alignment” will be on view at our new york gallery from the 20th of september to the 29th of october.