Words⎮art direction by Sven Ruhs, portrait photography by Max Kamps

Our interview took place a while ago, Maren. But I have it well in mind and I can also decipher my notes. Well, I had seen your pictures at the Café Brenner in Stuttgart, Germany. Somehow they remind me of Giorgio de Chirico, the Italian painter of the early 20th century, who founded the Pittura Metafisica, a forerunner of surrealism.

One of your pictures shows this black head or rather the contour, a shadow, the silhouette of a head. It is definitely not a wonderful-world-picture. Did sadness had a hand in this,dark moods that made you set the lines?

That actually characterizes almost all of your pictures. Even where just a little sun shines in, irony and sarcasm flares up. Mirth versus thoughtfulness? Reality or a fantasy world as antagonism? I missed to ask you more detailled about it. Contradiction often ignites those particular reflections of thoughts. Yours go the long way. Packages of thoughts tied up in emotions. That was my feeling watching the pictures.

The hands that are on the hairy forearms while waving, such as candlesticks or glove holders. Amputeed women’s hands like cactuses, with red-lacquered fingernails. Amputated from the rest of the body. Disregarded by others. But you look at them … distant, but before yo´ve rubbed your eyes bloody with those fingernails.

How’s that, Maren, when other people who you do not know and who do not know you, are trying to elicit a meaning, a message out of your work? Do you prefer those who draw closer timidly or those who interpret without regard to the risk that they are wrong? Can one go wrong at all? Your art is an art whose meaning is decrypting in the eye of the obsevers.

Your style? Graphically. Reduced. Just as the situations you present. The line tremble, because the thoughts tremble. You wanna give up puzzles and hide your intentions in the spartan surroundings of your motives. But like me, the viewer has the chance to become an explorer.

You told me, that the picture with the fish represents a relationship with your ancesters, who were fishermen living by the North Sea and to your grandfather, a co-founder of the DLRG (the German Life Savings Society) in 1913 and to your family´s house at the Neuharlingersiel territory, opposite the Island of Spiekerroog. You would have liked it being the other way around. Wishfull thinking.

Sometimes you prepare yourself before painting with sketches. Sometimes a picture is created in one go, sometimes you need breaks while painting, also longer breaks and by turning away from the painting affection arises again. Do you love your pictures? Do you find yourself in it again later when it hangs on a wall?

The birds are again protagonists of an ineffability. Signs of spring – of course, but in this case the ambience is not right and this was probably your intention.

You nod, as I wonder if the melancholy is an invisable color in your pictures, and you´re smiling at this thought, a finger narrow and vertical, like your alter ego in the picture. Tschilp could even mean anything, could be more than an unknown human language.

You´re not painting to belong somewhere, you´re not painting to get liked or to please anybody. Life is serious, cheerful is the art, they say. With you it’s the other way around, but that’s a good thing.

P.S. De Chirico in 1930 suddenly changed his style. He painted only boring stuff, so flowers and fruit bowls. The legend says that he tries to redeem his earlier works to burn them. Others say that after his banal images are no longer sold, he copied and backdated motives from the his successful Pittura Metafisica period.

P.P.S. Do you have a connection to Africa? It would be interesting to know what Africans would discover in your pictures. Would the difference be mentally? Clear or cloudy? Or influenced by the devide between rich and poor? When I´m back in Africa, I’ll try to find out.