“A new beginning is only possible together.”
Paul Zimmerman in conversation with Birgit Günther
Paul Zimmerman: Your paint landscapes, people, flowers and abstractions. How do you select your subjects?
Birgit Günther: I am a woman who is strongly influenced by nature and people. I go for a walk, like to observe my surroundings, discover something new every day and I am very impressed by the diversity that I see. Nature offers a wide range of colors, each season has its own colors. These colors are inspiration for my paintings. People and their peculiarities and behaviors let my imagination blossom. If a topic fascinates me, I try to render it realistic or abstract in different facets and perspectives.
PZ: What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
BG: The biggest challenge in my work for me is the decision how I can abstract what I see, but how the intended motive can be guessed by the viewer. It’s important to me that the viewer can play his or her own thoughts and let emotions run free. I want to pass on my joie de vivre to the viewer.
PZ: What is your artistic process? How do you create your paintings?
BG: In my paintings I want to experiment, create tensions and overlays. Different techniques, layers and materials are used to implement my ideas about the work. Again and again I look at my abstract paintings from a distance, rotate them and decide very late which is the right and for me coherent view. This is of course not possible with specific motifs, but these works are also turned upside down in order to be able to assess the color areas and the composition independently of the motif. My head becomes free of the motif.
PZ: How do you know when the piece is finished?
BG: My gut feeling tells me whether a painting is finished. I put it on the easel for a long time and keep looking at it. The painting speaks to me by making me feel good when looking at it.
If I don’t have this feeling yet, the picture isn’t finished. It can take some time until I know why this is and what is still missing. If I feel happy, the picture is finished.
PZ: Have your practice changed over time?
BG: My work has become freer over time. I was able to let go of a lot from the past and process it in my art. The feeling that everything is possible is evident.
PZ: What is art for you?
BG: For me, art is the expression of myself. It enables me to pass on my joie de vivre to others and to feel free. I can let my emotions run free without coercion or pressure from others. I decide what to paint and how to do it. It gives me great security and satisfaction.
PZ: How would you describe yourself as an artist?
BG: As an artist, I take the liberty of trying everything out and playing with colors. Colors reflect my joy de vivre and fill me with joy and life activity. I allow myself to be guided and inspired by my surroundings. Interesting details fascinate me and I try to fathom and represent them. I’m open to new things and reflect on myself.
PZ: Which artists are you most influenced by?
BG: I am impressed by artists who experiment in their work, go unusual ways, use colors and light and alienate motifs. The unusual language of colors and shapes from Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, the dramatic use of colors in William Turner or the abstraction in Lyonel Feininger impress me again and again. I get inspiration at exhibitions and museum visits from current artists but also from the old masters.
PZ: What are you working on now?
BG: At the moment I am working intensively on nature and its beauty. The different forms of landscapes – water, rocks, caves, meadows etc. are the basis for my abstract works. To present them in new, free and creative areas and forms is a recurring cycle.A second topic is how people interact with one another. I try to present social life in an abstract form.
PZ: How does the pandemic influence your work and sensibility?
BG: The pandemic makes me sad because social life is severely restricted. Visits to exhibitions, museums and events are currently not possible, and there is no personal exchange with friends and colleagues. I therefore try to playfully depict people’s social life in color in abstract pictures. People meet, go for a walk, drink coffee or talk to each other. With the colors I want to put joy and hope in the foreground here too. A new beginning is only possible together.