Ah!! Love to have Ina Gerken's gorgeous paintings on the site, brimming with hue, texture, and gestural movement. Below we chat about the directness of painting and how she works differently with different scales of painting. More info at the links following our Q&A!
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First, I'd love if you'd tell me just a bit about yourself! You just earned a Masters from the Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf; are you from Dusseldorf originally? What has your art education been like, formally or informally?
I grew up in a village in the southwest of Germany. First, I studied arts at Kunsthochschule Mainz under Winfried Virnich. There I had a classically and philosophically-minded education in painting. After I passed the first state examination in 2013, I decided to continue my studies in Dusseldorf. I found myself in the class of Katharina Grosse, where I received a different, sometimes unpredictable, education that really helped me to immerse myself deeper into my own work and painting process.
What first interested you in painting?
I actually cannot remember what first interested me in painting. When I was a child, I was always surrounded by large-scale abstract oil paintings painted by my uncle, that hung in my childhood home. I think I was always inspired by these paintings and excited about working with colour.
Your work is quite abstract and colorful, often large-scale. Can you describe more about your practice?
I like to work either large scale or very small. With the large paintings I work on the floor, walking on the painting while working on it. It is like standing and acting in a field, and it is very body-related. With the small paintings it is different; more close and intimate.
What is your favorite thing about your medium?
My favourite thing about painting is the directness. That every little trace you leave changes the whole appearance of the painting. I feel like I am in a dialogue with the painting; it is a direct counterpart.
What is your process like? How do you get started on a piece? Do you work intuitively, or do you plan much in advance?
When I start painting, I try to delete all images of painting I have in mind. I have no plan in advance and work very intuitively. The only thing that has to be well prepared is my working space and my material. The space must be all tidied up and the material ready to use.
What is your studio space like?
I share a studio with another artist in a studio building in Reisholz, a district of Dusseldorf. It is not that big, but it is bright, with high ceilings and a heater. I really like to work there.
If you find yourself in a creative rut, what do you do?
I tidy up my studio space, and I search for new materials and techniques to work with.
Is there anything that you find particularly challenging or daunting about pursuing art seriously, especially as an artist just leaving the university setting?
I grew up in quite conservative conditions. After graduating it was kind of hard for me to deal with the uncertainty that comes up with being an artist. But I think you can get used to it.
How do you define "success?"
“Success“ is the ability to go to the studio every day and to have the opportunity to show your work to others.
What do you consider the most rewarding part of making art?
The most rewarding part of making art is being free in what you do. To be free to decide anew every day, without anyone telling you what to do.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or other projects?
I have an upcoming solo show in a project gallery in Milan in the middle of January. I just won a project grant award with which I will finance a catalogue of my work together with a friend of mine, who is a designer. I will start this project this Spring.
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