“It’s just following an instinct…”

Paul Zimmerman in conversation with Michael Mutschler


Paul Zimmerman: You are a multimedia artist working in the disciplines of painting and sculpture. Which medium do you prefer?

Michael Mutschler: Oh, that is hard to say. It changes. I’ve always had phases. But I would say, painting has the lead, ceramic is following.

PZ: How did you develop interest in art?

MM: Actually, art is the story of my life. My father, also an artist and teacher, took me to many museums around Europe and gave me lessons since I was a child. I grew up in an all-about-art-household. So, the story of finding my own art is also a story of emancipation. I am a child of post-war Germany where we lived in a septic surrounding, at home, at school, in public: Any kind of affection, dedication, passion was suspicious. Expressionism and somehow surrealism have been the most important influences when I started at the art academy in Stuttgart late 1960s. The visual language of expressionism allowed me to express myself completely. The use of colours, strong, bold lines and compositional refinement were for me the logical development of the classical pictorial world, which I had to (or was allowed to) learn by heart during my childhood (or as I think today). Surrealistic elements, which correspond to my sometimes somewhat sarcastic nature, have taken the sharpness out of some pictures.

PZ: What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

MM: Spontaneity. There is a big chance that things go wrong because I missed the point to stop creating. Spontaneous art can die fast.

PZ: What is your artistic process? How do you create your works?

My pictures implement spontaneous gestures, impulses. I have always tried to translate emotional moods into pictures. Sometimes I only start with drawing a face or body and the actual theme is evolving by painting.

PZ: Do you have any particular goal in mind when your start a new piece?

MM: Sometimes I have a topic in mind, something emotional, something political … sometimes it’s just following an instinct.

PZ: How would you describe your style?

MM: Spontaneous expressionism. I see myself in the tradition of the expressionists but am also influenced by Joseph Beuys as an social artist and psychologists like C.G. Jung.

PZ: What is art for you?

MM: They way I express my thinking.

PZ: Have your practice changed over time?

MM: Sure, in 50 years from my time as a student till now, a lot has changed in terms of style and topics. And I think, it still does change a little. But my mature silver art – the steady and daily practice sind 2014/15 – shows rather gradual changes then big shifts.

PZ: Which artists are you most influenced by?
MM: Beckmann, Pollock, Dix, Beuys.

PZ: How does the pandemic influence your work and sensibility?

MM: The pandemic caused by corona is like a panopticon of all themes which I have been working on formany years. It’s a phase of strong feelings for each of us: Angst and solitude, suspicious against each other and other desperate feelings. But also a phase of dreaming. A very intense time for me!


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