I am only interested in making art if it is a challenge. It needs to hold excitement, attract my curiosity and usually refers to a theme or question that will reveal itself once the work/series is completed.
I often envision ideas, or see myself painting in the stage between sleep and awakening. Memories are stringed together, flying by; huge spaces evolve, but foremost: there is color.
Lately, I combine my work with my love for poetry. My favorite poet Yannis Ritsos and his expressive, erotic poems are finding their way back into my imagery. In my teens his poems lived on my body, now they are burned into my paintings and monotypes.
It is a fiery transition, in fast forward mode.
I paint and print in wax, because the process embodies vulnerability, my stepping stone for progress and evolution.
Birgit Huttemann-Holz, 2017
Seeking a Lost Eden
I am exploring our desire for a lost Eden. In our fast changing world the infinite splendor of the natural process of entropy and decay becomes a metaphor for the continuum: A fallen world, but free to overcome form and purpose. It is just a state of transition, of change, of evolution.
Fail has a dual nature of its own. It is at once a leap forward and a fall downward, one that can only be made by free human beings. The motivation for such a leap is triggered by curiosity and/or anxiety about the future and about being a human itself.
I always wanted to make paintings that told stories and suggested things, but more in a metaphorical sense - the mirror image of memory or fantasy.
I work with wax and I find myself hunting down the beauty of accidents and entropy.
Unlike oil paint, encaustic cannot be blended. I apply it in layers to achieve a similar optical mix and depth and I use Sgraffitto to reveal what was there just a moment ago, only to come up with a new image. In the process a lot of mistakes happen that cannot be foreseen, but lead to surprising solutions, yet often cannot be replicated. I paint in wax, because the painting process embodies failure, the vulnerability of progress and evolution. I leap and fail, but when I succeed I transcend tragedy and see the genesis of beauty and the ephemeral.
Birgit Huttemann-Holz, 2015
Between Heaven and Earth
I use fire and razorblades to attack and challenge my paintings, pushing me to the limits of my abilities. Where creativity and failure dance, I approach the truth.
Wax and powdered dry pigments have been the consistent medium in my paintings. Encaustic tends to be very visceral, luminous, and deep.
I address the unspeakable and the unthinkable. The ruthless violence in Syria, threats of a nuclear war, or my constant struggle to grasp the horrors of the Holocaust. The dialog with the devil leaves me speechless, but initiates the urge to address the horror. Art becomes a translator, a vehicle for the impossible that points beyond limitations, revealing repetitions, patterns in history and in our cultural and spiritual evolution.
I am always thankful for beauty. I long for beauty. I know these moments are ephemeral. There is an infinite splendor in the natural processes of entropy and decay. The most sublime include the moment of total destruction, catastrophe, and death. When I succeed I transcend tragedy and see the genesis of beauty and the ephemeral.
Birgit Huttemann-Holz, 2013
On Gender, Myths, and Landscapes
I understand my paintings as modern icons of the feminine.
Although the primary role of the icon is to bring the viewer into relationship with the depicted figure rather than tell stories about him or her, I aim to achieve both in the form of opening a dialogue. In my female portraits "Inscapes" I look for imagery that derives symbols from mythology, nature and spirituality.
As an artist I neither accept myth or religion as a historical fact, nor reject it as useless. I move between those two extreme poles to explore history and its trends, trying to understand and communicate its meanings for today. Therefore, these Inscapes aim to make a political, religious and cultural statement.
My landscape paintings are designed to pose as a metaphor for society's need of refuge. Their main thrust is to act as a place of sanctuary and as a place of retreat where one can reflect, separate themselves and achieve contemplation.
As every artist visits his or her places of childhood, I too am very influenced by my European roots, earliest memories and experiences with art and nature. My parents took me to the Acropolis when I was 5 years old; I admired the Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna, Italy at age 9. I remember standing at the Lion Gate at Mycenae visualizing Cassandra and her tragic fate, as a teenager. It seems as if I am revisiting the places of my childhood, my European roots. All the great places I have been, the archetypical figures of myths and religions are finding their way back into my images, leading the way to trace the primary patterns in humanity’s cultural and spiritual evolution.
I paint with hot liquid beeswax, pigments and fire. My process of painting begins with composing paint from pigment and wax, giving me the joy to truly create the “right” consistency of paint in terms of hues and transparency.
This ancient raw painting technique constantly copes with loss and restoration, reflecting the themes of my imagery. For me the beauty of an encaustic painting lies in its uniquely transparent layers that are catching the light. The painting comes to life from within, giving way to luminous and lush colors that are sealed in a jade-like surface.
Birgit Huttemann-Holz, 2011