Updated: Aug 6
Frankfurt / Germany
Petra, you are a contemporary abstract/figuratve artist living in Frankfurt, Germany. Could you please tell us all about your journey into the art world (brief bio/history/ backstory)?
I discovered painting during my twenties studying law at that time. I realised I loved painting and being creative with colours, shapes and lines, letting myself drift deeply into the half-conscious worlds. Painting became more and more important in my life so, that after having finished my law studies, I decided to study fine arts.
For a long time, I was working as a lawyer and at the same time spending my free time painting in my home studio. I started taking part in exhibitions in the nineties. In 2015, I stopped working as a lawyer, started looking for a studio outside my home. Since then, I have spent my days in my studio enjoying this new life completely.
You are a part of the national association of professional artists (BBK) and the national association of professional female artists (GEDOK). What is your experience as a member of these two associations?
"BKK" is a professional, national network of visual artists, so it means a certain recognition of your work is necessary for being accepted. Being part of that network can help artists to find suitable spaces for exhibitions, partners for group exhibitions and will thus help to make your work known to a broader public. In my area in Germany in Frankfurt/M, there are about 300 artist members of BBK.
"GEDOK" is a national network as well but only open for women in the arts comprising visual artists but also writers, composers, performers etc. It is thus open for all female artists. In my region, about 35 women have been accepted as members. GEDOK is a more specialised group but for me personally also a more inspiring network. I love to be a part of a like-minded group where you can discuss your work.
I am also a part of the Frankfurt art association "Eulengasse" led by artists. This is a small association of about 30 member artists. We have regular meetings to gather ideas and organise cooperations, exhibitions and new forms of presenting artists. It is a very active association, so it's a pleasure to be a part of that.
How would you describe your art?
My art is charged with emotions, visions and memories in a figurative-abstract way with roots in abstract expressionism, but also in other traditions such as gestural painting and art informel. I work on paper as well as smaller canvasses - this being a more intimate work, more like sketching and building up a sort of visual diary. Mainly, I work on huge canvasses that give me more freedom of expression and space for movements of the brush.
Also, huge canvasses uniquely conjure the power of colours. I like my work to be intuitive, direct, intriguingly talking in the direct language of art to the subconscious of the viewer. So my painting develops at the moment. This needs preparation: before painting I try emptying myself of all concepts for the painting I am working at thus becoming empty for the gift of receiving. Every painting for me is a new start of trial and error, of finding something beautiful - or not coming to anything. For me, it needs a lot of courage to destroy, restart and find my true expression.
For the time being, I work with oil colours because I love their texture, naturalness and depth. Oil is a natural tool that has been used for centuries as a medium for colour pigments. Also, very often I like to choose the size of my canvas adapted to my needs (it is not the size which is offered prefabricated normally), choose my own raw linen, mount it on the wooden frame myself and then prepare the linen with Gesso for the first layers of paint. This process guarantees that the naturalness of the oil colours is not destroyed or spoiled by mechanically primed linen. The irregularities of handmade manual priming are unique and underline the naturalness of the colour.
You've exhibited your work both nationally and internationally. What was the most exciting thing that happened in your art career so far?
I find it difficult to define the most exciting moment in my career; I have had many. It is wonderful to get to know new people at an exhibition, discover new spaces and see my art displayed in a row on a beautiful wall: these are real highlights!
What or who inspires you the most?
My sources of inspiration are manyfold: it can be artists and their works, it can be simple situations in my everyday world. I am inspired by artists like Cy Twombly, Joan Mitchell, Marlene Dumas or Elisabeth Cummings.
Also, I did a four year's masterclass with the wonderful painter Leiko Ikemura inspiring me a lot. In addition, there is nature as a source of inspiration. This for instance has condensed in a cycle about our elements like air, water, soil. Also, I worked on a series on paper called "Introspection" or on a series called " Women, girls and I" with female abstract portraits in small formats.
But there are also inspiring situations in my everyday life that are simple, for instance, looking at a photo in a newspaper and seeing how it dissolves into something else, I see it becoming an abstract painting. This happens when I am permeable for all that happens around me and I love these moments when I feel deeply rooted in a universe of colours, shapes and lines.
What's the message behind your art?
I want to touch the viewer's inner life with subtlety and energy of an unknown kind revealing secret visions, emotions and memories. I want to communicate with the viewer's soul hoping it opens up to something new, to the subconscious universe within us, which exists without words and can be discovered by art. So, to wrap it all up I guess my message is: let art penetrate your being and help to decipher the language of your soul, celebrate freedom of expression, celebrate the moment and connect to your soul needs through art.
But there are also inspiring situations in my everyday life that are simple for instance, looking at a photo in a newspaper and seeing how it dissolves into something else, I see it becoming an abstract painting. This happens when I am permeable for all that happens around me, and I love these moments when I feel deeply rooted in a universe of colours, shapes and lines.
What does your art do for you?
My art sends me on a daily trip of self-exploration, self-awareness and development. For me, it's a daily challenge of accepting what is and comes to light, not criticising myself for it, but just going on - becoming soft and open and the perfect tool for the subconscious to express itself and unfold. Of course, there is crisis and doubt - but mostly, this is the sign of a step forward.
What are your dreams, plans and goals?
My dream would be to really know deep within that I am able to express everything I want to express with colour, shapes and lines, thus being connected to my visual language in every moment. I trust the rest will follow.
What is your advice to artists at the beginning of their art career?
If you have found your passion, just go on, even if it doesn't seem to make sense and even though there are so many talented artists around already. Don't accept rules, just go on and find your artistic voice and language - it will come.