I love to play with illusions.”
Paul Zimmerman in conversation with Daniela Pahle
Paul Zimmerman: What’s your background?
Daniela Pahle: I grew up in Austria surrounded by the colors of nature formed by mountains and snow. A country of art places and history. I love traveling around the world and exploring many other ways of living. I learned glassmaking and glass design in the West Midlands in Great Britain- attended art classes and studied art at university in Linz, a town in my home country. Some years ago, I learned the art of “light painting” by Raymond Martinez – an photography artist living in France. As a summary of all fields I am interested in — I am also painting on bodies for twenty years. This art is fascinating since bodypainting makes art alive as a direct connection to people and their lives.
PZ: How did you become interest in art?
DP: Looking back to the roots of my interests in art, I used to be inspired by my grandpa who was an autodidact woodcarver. Since my childhood on, I always loved painting and drawing or creating objects with my hands. There was always a deep connection to me and an artistic expression inside me. I never could imagine doing something different in my life. It was clear to me – I need to become an artist. It is a feeling of being complete with myself when I can do art.
PZ: Figure seems to be a major inspiration for you. Why is it important?
DP: I am inspired by the expression of faces and figures- not the one to one reproduction of an image- more the story inside or behind a person. Emotions in colors and shapes. I can remember a sentence — that I have heard in literature lesson in school: “the soul is a wide landscape“. I knew that is the key to all of my works. I want to express this landscape of inside each of us. Your “outside landscape „is a reflection of yourself- the difference of outside and inside is fading away.
PZ: What is your artistic process? How do you create your paintings?
DP: I’m a collector of images and emotions. I first get into an emotion and start to spread colors on the canvas – as an emotional background. Often the structures which did appear on the canvas speak already a language and I can see a painting growing in my inner eye. I use more and more my footage of my Bodypainting models and photo art and recreate a new work out of layers of different images. I love to paint with the light and with my brush on canvas, which means I mix photo art and painting methods. Sometimes I paint on my photo artwork- sometimes I simply let photos appear like being painted.
PZ: Do you have any particular goal in mind when your start a new piece?
DP: I love to play with illusions – to vanish reality into fantasies. There is always a drop of reality into imagination. Imagination creates a new reality in our mind. That is how I love to work. Photography appearing like paintings – is it a piece of reality or a painted art piece? Is there an absolute truth in life? Is what we see not only our self anyway? I want the audience to create their own truth when the look at my pictures.
PZ: How do you know when the painting is finished?
DP: I know that a painting or artwork is finished when it stops talking to me. I always have the feeling when i look for longer at my work there is something etching or missing. When this feeling stops – that can take also a year – than its finished form me.
PZ: How has your practice changed over time?
DP: Over the years, I explored many artistic Styles and methods which I start to combine now. It is not only painting – but also mixing medias – I also love more and more doing performance and using music. I knew project is sound pictures and working with different artists together- creating a new work together. (steel objects and art, digital artists)
PZ: How would you describe your artistic style?
DP: My artistic style is influenced by surrealism, expressionism, and romantic and in a way photorealism. I call my photo art paintings -“digiArt” – paintings. One of my great heroes in art is Frida Kahlo. A woman of power who did go her own way- expressing what she feels in her own style.
PZ: What inspires you?
DP: I find inspiration in nature – music (blues, rock’n’roll, the Rolling Stones, Alice Cooper, ambient music…) and love. I love travelling since it opens your senses for the unknown. Sometimes also, movies can inspire me.
PZ: How does the pandemic influence your work and sensibility?
DP: During the “lock down” time in Austria, I had to stay for many weeks alone in my house- a kind of golden cage. No friends, no painting studio, no traveling except to get some food, police controlling the borders and towns. A surreal movie I started to live in. My connection to the world was internet – and guitar playing. I started a daily pic project where I painted a little picture of my daily mood. I think new art will appear as response to all more powerful in creation – and deeper in emotion. When reality becomes unreal itself – what can art do better than give life a new face.