Christian Awe studied at the University of the Arts under Professor Georg Baselitz and was a master student of Daniel Richter. In addition to his artistic activities and national and international exhibitions, he is involved in numerous social and cultural projects in Germany, the Middle East and Africa. In April 2017, Christian Awe faced the interview IN|DEEDS.
Two sentences about your Vita.
I was born in Berlin (1978) – grew up in Berlin – live and work in Berlin and after my many art trips I always like to return to this city, which in my opinion is one of the most inspiring cities in the world.
What are you most worried about at the moment? what’s on your mind?
About the influence that art has or should have on society. In terms of my work, I am very busy with my new series of water paintings. Water as a metaphor for life, but also as a metaphor for the sea and the efforts that many thousands of refugees have to take to overcome it.
How did you come to art? Why art?
I grew up in the former GDR. After the fall, many youth organizations and sports clubs began to disband. So we started not to do sports anymore in the club, but in the streets of Berlin. Added to this was a kind of “graffiti tourism” from West to East Berlin. This brought me into contact with older sprayers from all over Europe. For me it was all very interesting and impressive, and so I came across the sport, from football to basketball, to graffiti and later to the fine arts. There is no alternative for me.
What makes you happy right now? What are you currently afraid?
Right now I enjoy the spring sun as often as possible – that’s where I live, it gives me strength and energy. Anxiety? – Creativity works better without fear.
What is your art? And can you share the intention of your art with us?
I think it’s the expressive color and dynamism of my pictures that I try to inspire people with. I invite the viewer to engage with them more closely and to always discover new things in them. My pictures are life-affirming and shaped by the complexity, the vibrancy and the vibe of the metropolises of this world. They work on canvas and paper as well as large-format outdoor murals.
How do you protect yourself from too much inspiration in this day and age?
I take my time off, where I have time for myself, just relax or play basketball. I go to selected exhibitions and good live concerts. And I also select the people with whom I surround myself and who have insight into my studio.
How do you assess the current development of the art market?
It is wonderful that art is taking on an ever greater significance in society. But in my opinion, we have exhausted just 10% of their potential.
Two sentences about your current project.
I’m working hard on my series of water paintings, a technique I’ve experimented for over two years. The pictures are quieter and less explosive than my previous work. Due to their three-dimensional effect, they seem almost photographically realistic, it is as if real drops of water wet the canvas.
What are your (next) goals?
I would like to make my new studio, which I just moved into, glow and open the school in Burkina Faso that I and my work have financed, a school for 120 teenagers on the border with Mali. It’s great to give something back about creativity; direct development work, so that people do not even come to the emergency to leave their home.
How much is planned in your work beforehand – how much is intuitive?
There are two different approaches: one has a strategy – it is similar to chess and very planned. Hard to imagine, but it is the controlled gesture, comparable to the painting by Hans Hartung – which many do not know – that the painting is based on drawing. The other approach is a free experiment. Painting is a language that lives from speaking and exploring in depth, which leads to a new way of finding images.
What is your work about?
My pictures reflect the pulse and dynamics of metropolises such as Berlin, New York or Ouagadougou. But it is also important to me to take up socio-political issues. That is why many of my paintings are about freedom, tolerance, courage, cosmopolitanism and a sense of cohesion. All topics that are also important in the current refugee situation.
Do you think that art has a social responsibility? And what do you think it can achieve?
That’s what’s upset me. I want to awaken and inspire people, I want to ask questions. Artists are often the first to do that because they are free and independent.
Which artists interested you?
For me personally, painting and sculpture are the heart of the heart. Meanwhile, there are many exciting contemporary African artists, with completely new ways of action to stimulate new viewing habits.
Do you have a creed – if so, what is it?
Find out what makes you happy and intensify this feeling. Art, color, ice cream and Michael Jordan meet it during the day …
Has your art changed over the years – and if so, how and why?
There are artists who preserve what they do and are strong in the intensification of repetition. I, on the other hand, try to keep evolving and reinventing myself. I am looking for something new in content, form and expression. Through such a playful experimental approach, for example, the technique of my water images emerged.
How far would you go? Are there any taboos?
Art deals with higher-level topics and does not act daily.
Which project would you like to realize?
Painting an iceberg to raise awareness of climate change.
What are the attributes of good art from your point of view?
It should be something new, unprecedented in content, expression, and form that touch people, raise questions, and have a wow effect.
What was the biggest challenge for you?
Make me independent of others and go my own way.
Do you listen to music while working? If yes, which?
Yes, always – everything that grooves and swings. In the best case, it is live music. A DJ during the painting would be great – I accept applications gladly. 😉
Is there an artist or a work of art in your life that influences you sustainably?
Various expressionists, especially the Brücke painter, the young Heckel and Schmidt-Rottluff, their increased expressive power, mixed with impulses of my hometown Berlin. I also found this with some Graffitimalern in the turning time.
Is one born as an artist? Or is an art study obligatory?
I think every person has the potential to be an artist. The question is whether to allow it, to dare and throw yourself into the sea of creativity without consideration.
Does Berlin influence your art? If yes, how?
Yes, in any case. The urban can be found in many of my pictures. Some would call me “loud” and a lot of action. But in the chaos there is also an order and universal truth.
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