BerlinMarlen Letetzki: Be a Body
FeldbuschWiesnerRudolph present “BE A BODY”, the gallery’s second solo exhibition of the young painter MARLEN LETETZKI (born 1990 in Weimar).
After her first solo show “Soft Lucidity” (2018) and her graduation from the UdK Berlin with the professors Christine Streuli, Pia Fries and Gregory Cumins (2017), the artist shows in Berlin a new progressive as well as diverse series of works of paintings on aluminum and paper.
At the same time, the artist has already received significant recognition and support for her freelance artistic work with the Dorothea Konwiarz Foundation Scholarship (2020) and the Master Student Award (2017).
Get in the mood for the new series of works of “BE A BODY” with our studio talk with MARLEN LETETZKI!
Dear Marlen, there is currently no way around this question, and so I would also like to ask you: how did the preparations for your second larger solo exhibition turn out for you under the currently given professional and private restrictions? And how do you perceive the mood in your personal environment in the art and creative scene?
ML: I am very grateful that I have so far been largely spared any negative repercussions and that my daily work routine has hardly changed. I am aware that this is a privilege and I am very happy that we can realize the exhibition. I have the impression that precisely because so many have been affected in very different ways – some barely, others quite badly existentially – solidarity and reason have become even more important. I hope that we will all be patient and considerate in facing the challenges of the coming months or years.
The exhibition title “Be A Body” promises/ evokes ….
ML: The title speaks about the exhibition on several levels. It refers to a fundamental issue in painting, namely how a surface can give the appearance of showing spatially expansive things. ‘Be A Body’ is not only meant as a call to my paintings, but also to myself and others. I think the reference to body or Leib (in phenomenological terminology) can contribute to an awareness of perception. I feel very connected to the tradition that understands painting as a preoccupation with visibility.
The phenomenology you mentioned understands the body as an organ of cognition to expand perception into new dimensions. With the release from the material world and from the real body, the human consciousness enters, for example, into the digital matrix. So also your new picture motives seem like virtual representatives from another world…
ML: I’m working a lot with 3D graphics software right now. It has become a valuable tool with which I model forms and bodies in what are actually sculptural processes. I can virtually calculate what something will look like if, for example, I have assigned certain material properties to a pictorial object and staged it in a specific lighting situation. What I find particularly interesting about this is that it can follow the laws of the physical world, but it doesn’t have to. In this way, it functions like the visualization of possibilities, which I subsequently translate painterly.
Again and again you play with motifs or gestures taken from reality, which you translate in a highly abstracted way into your pictorial reality. For example, you see the fragile leaves of a flower or a fleeting drawing left with the index finger. Also art-historical motif quotations often from grave figures of antiquity or the 19th century appear. Why did you choose these motifs for your canon of images?
ML: I don’t limit myself to one subject or theme, I find the world far too rich for that. I like it when strange things meet and form a unity. It’s also about a mixture of feelings or associations and how and why something is interpreted in one way or another. But I think the biggest driver is my curiosity. The anticipated idea of an image is always different than the real image.
How do the abstracted and art historical motif quotations link to your previously digitally generated pictorial objects?
ML: I am still fascinated by the fact that color can take on two functions, either it shows itself, that is, the aesthetic qualities of the material, or the color becomes invisible, so to speak, and reveals a representation. I find the juxtaposition exciting when the image begins to oscillate between material and illusion.
You focus strongly on the painting technique. And you still like to try out new things. What difference does the artistic work make for you, either on the aluminum painting surface or on the paper?
ML: The materials decide a lot. The aluminum ‘canvases’ have proven to be optimal for my painting style. They are hard, smooth, dimensionally stable and have sharp edges. On the one hand, this allows me to work with pressure. On the other hand, there are no disturbing structures that interfere with the appearance of the paint application. I use paper primarily for watercolor. This has been my new passion for about a year. Watercolor is unforgiving in a beautiful way. Compared to oil paint, all the marks are visible. Nothing can be hidden or painted over. This way of painting demands a completely different kind of concentration and precision.
One notices in your painting an intense reflection on the medium. You also studied philosophy for a few semesters. What inspires you?
ML: Studying philosophy has changed my way of thinking more than anything else. Which in turn influences my artistic work and how I reflect on it. For a while, for example, I was more intensively involved with the connection between neuroscience and philosophy of mind. What I took away from this was that our mental processes are so complicated that it seems naïve to me to want to understand them. I try to trust my intuition and appreciate unanswered questions as such. I have this attitude towards my work as well. I believe that we have so many sources, even unconsciously, that influence our judgments and decisions.
Thank you very much, Marlen, for the interview.
Courtesy of the artist and FeldbuschWiesnerRudolph, Berlin