THE DEED | DAS WERK: Fiona Ackerman

Canadian-born painter Fiona Ackerman, who lives and works in Vancouver, talks about the central message of her artistic work during her interview.

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Fiona Ackerman, Under Garden, 2019, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 162,5 x 101,5 cm

Please describe the core theme and the central message of your work.

Metamorphosis: The Cosmic Tiger is a series of paintings and a video that explores the cocoon-like experience of being in transition between two states. Rather than focus on the before and after of metamorphosis, I was moved to examine the middle, the transformational pause that for me has come to define living in a prolonged Covid-19 limbo. As the pandemic pushes on, my pre-pandemic-self slips further away, my post pandemic outlook is difficult to predict.

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Fiona Ackerman, The Cosmic Tiger, 2021, Acrylic on Canvas, 120 x 140 cm

My art practice is rooted in painting. For this project I was curious to see what would happen when the parameters of painting were stretched by exploring new media, and passing through the hands of other another artists. I invited NY musician Arjan Miranda to collaborate, and together we created a 6 minute video/music piece titled I Am Strange On The Inside. The paintings in the exhibition and the video were created simultaneously, where clips of video were used to inspire painting, and the painting progress was brought back into the video. No piece of this exhibition is wholly one thing, each are a part of the other. While all the painting was done in my Vancouver studio, and the music was produced in Arjan’s Brooklyn studio, the video is a metamorphic expression of both. Throughout the creation, I considered what metamorphosis meant for Kafka, for Nietzsche, what it might be to live between two states as with the Zhuangzi Butterfly Dream, or the Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment. I read with admiration about Maria Sibylla Merian, the 17c scientific illustrator who first documented the process of metamorphosis, and of R.A. Wilson’s cosmic metamorphosis of consciousness.

The journey, with Arjan, has been unpredictable, cathartic, surprising, personal, challenging, natural, and wholly satisfying. Life is not on hold, there is only the here and now. With this exhibition, we mark the moment.

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Fiona Ackerman, Painting for Maria Sibylla Merian, 2019, Acrylic on Canvas, 122 x 128,6 cm

Introduce us to the work that, in your view, exemplifies or best embodies the message of your work.

Attached are a few paintings related to my exhibition “Metamorphosis: The Cosmic Tiger” at Galerie Kremers Berlin (April 29 – July 3 2021). Under Garden was inspired by my interest in historical botanical illustration. Painting for Maria Sibylla Merian is dedicated to the 17th century scientific illustrator who first documented the process of metamorphosis. The Dream refers to the Zhuangzi Butterfly Dream and is an example where the collaborative video piece in the exhibition was brought into the paintings. The Cosmic Tiger is the exhibition title piece and embodies both my interest in formal abstraction and the pleasure in weaving together a conceptual framework. 

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Fiona Ackerman, The Dream, 2021, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 76,4 x 91,3 cm

What is the aim of your art, your work, what is it supposed to achieve in the viewer?

The aim of my art is for me to experience the creative process. I hope that I am able to relay my ideas and conclusions about what I’m exploring to the viewer, but ultimately if the work sparks something quite different in the viewer, I consider that as additional value. We can share in an experience, even when we experience it differently.

THE DEED | DAS WERK is a complementary and separately presented part of THE INTERVIEW IN|DEEDS with Fiona Ackerman.

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