Mrs Wobst, I `d like to know how your paintings develop. Is there always a concrete idea before starting? That means is your image complete in your mind or are you also guided by chance?
That varies. Sometimes I have a concrete idea of the image in mind as it was i.e. the case with 'Complicity`: I begin with a rough sketch. After that I design the details more exactly and experiment with them, enlarging, minimizing, shifting them so that it finally comes to a more exact sketch of the picture as a whole. This is added to an already prepared ground in the process of which it can be altered again if necessary.
In other cases I start without a concrete idea and let myself be guided by the preparation of the ground. 'Telepathy' can serve as an example for this procedure. Looking at the random results of grounding on the canvas and turning it 90 degrees around and around I'll finally find one or more ideas for a picture. This process resembles that of the Rorschachtest. Associations from different sources are coming together from things I have experienced, felt, read or dreamt... These ideas don't arrive by chance but are already subconsciously there.
A superficial viewer could think your images are presenting dreams...
That wouldn't be correct. I'm not painting dreamworlds but my reality , composed by all I experience, see, feel, hear, read and dream- as already said before.
There are variants of many of your paintings, often created within a distance of some years...
This has different motivations. Maybe that a theme is inwardly still developing so that I paint variants as to the contents, see i.e. "The moment of shapeshifting" and "The magician's downfall" or "Desire" and "Role shifting".
But mostly it is the atmosphere of a painting that still does not fit in with what I had in mind before. Then I try to alter forms ond colours, leave out or add something...
So the painting has to be as exact as possible for yourself not first of all for the viewer?
At the moment when it is right for me in all its respects as to form and contents it is also in line with the observer.
It is the same with quality literature and art - here in contrast to light fiction and decorative art which also have their legitimation - that always try to capture the essence of man and attempt to get at it as close as possible. That means the most adequate way to express it has to be found.
You want to find out more about man by your paintings. As to my mind one realizes that you "put in scene" as well actions as emotions . Are your paintings stage?
So one could say. For almost thirty years I have put on stage one or two theatre plays a year with the 12th grade at a German high school, mostly classical German authors of the 20th century and Shakespearean plays.
Naturally this long and intense occupation has also influenced my paintings. Mimics, gestures, constellation of the characters and their position in space reflect the great old human themes: Life, love and death. In this sense my images are a stage for man.
Sometimes I like to quote Shakespeare in this context. In "As you like it" Melancholy Monsieur Jacques says: "All the world `s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players; / They have their exits and their entrances; / And one man in his time plays many parts..."
In your paintings sometimes a female figure appears with the same bearing and gesture as in "Catching dreams", "Searching traces" and "La Strada". Striving forward she `s throwing back her arms which almost resemble wings... Can you say something about this? Do you perhaps present yourself in this character?
Generally speaking all the figures in my pictures if male or female contain something of myself, or of other persons I know from my life, from literature, from dreams. They are always "complex" protagonists representing something I know very well.
This figure you are asking about is a human being taking off for the future, she is on her way. As in paintings there can't be any succession this woman is always on her way, that's her eternal presence. At the same time she is also looking back to the past. Besides, she seems to have wings and could fly into a totally different space that can no longer be described by traditional time/space categories. In her net she is catching dreams and memories.
In "La strada" she is accompanied by the energy and strength of bears and the winged ease of a bird. With this small attendance she is moving to the next circus performance...
Now I have tried an analysis myself although my paintings actually invite the viewer to invent his own scenario. He should be able to allow associations as far as his own life is concerned. My images are open for more than one interpretation.
Considering your work one sooner or later arrives at the theme time/space. Which part does the theme "time" play in your paintings?
It has an important role. Already two of my Staatsarbeiten dealt with this theme : "The concept of time in the Joseph Novels by Thomas Mann" and "The view of time in the novels `Mrs Dalloway' and `To the lighthouse' by Virginia Woolf".
Many of my paintings have man's relationship to time as their central theme: "End of desert time" presents the change from a time of barrenness to a time of fertility.
"Courageous departure" depicts a man whose eyes are focused on the way he is decided to go although he knows about mortality.
"At the slightest breeze" shows the process of change from one situation to the next one.
"The end is the beginning, seen from the other side" accentuates the aspect of eternity.
"The unimportance of time on the clock" reflects man's desire that times of happiness might last for ever.
"Robbing the plant of immortality" shows Gilgamesh who must accept that he cannot conquer death.
All in all these images show that for me man is the central point where time and eternity are flowing together.
Let's finally ask for future ideas. What are you going to paint next? Are there any ideas?
Probably I'll work on a series with the title "Cosmic Rhythm".
Experiences of two journeys in the last two years to Sedona and Santa Fe, and my intense occupation with ethnological books about Northamerican Indian shamans and shamans from the Amazonian forest in Peru will contribute to this series. It is their totally different "inner room" and view of life, compared to ours, that's fascinating me.
(Translation: Ulla Wobst)