The year and short time before spring has sprung, I traveled to Barcelona, Spain. For four weeks, as part of BMurals Micro Residency Program in Barcelona, I shared a large studio space in the Nau Bostik with two Catalan artists named Mateu Targa and Berni Puig.
My personal goal of this one-month artist residency was to prepare the upcoming duo exhibition with the Spanish artist Kenor presented by Fousion Gallery and at the same time to move freely and very far away from my usual everyday life and to be inspired by everything new in order to further develop my artistic practice with new ideas. This is actually much easier when you are on the road. The way to work at home is always the same at some point and you start to look not so closely anymore. It helps to go new ways, to get new impressions again, and then to take a closer look again. For this reason, the commitment to the residency was more than convenient.
During my first week my friend Larissa Fuhrmann accompanied me and we spent the evenings with long walks through the city. On the second day, on the way to the dog beach, we walked past a building whose architecture really impressed me. It must be said that Barcelona’s cityscape is mainly characterized by Art Nouveau houses and the design of Gaudi. I had expected that the many round areas of the city, the architecture and the art in the streets would completely catch up with me. Until I saw this building on the way to the beach, adorned by white lines, and I thought to myself: line; now it’s time to discover the line. This had already been announced in the studio in recent months, but now it was clear. If not now, then when?!
Far away from home, I am much braver and it feels more “allowed” to try new things. After all, residencies are there for this purpose: to test something and then evaluate whether it was a good idea. So I had nothing to lose.
Meanwhile, the white line has been discovered and back in the studio she became my companion on the way to the upcoming canvases. Finding a new design element for yourself always feels great. As if my painterly components were just waiting to be picked up by the line and ensnared or accompanied. For me, a vibrational space between painting and line has emerged, which creates a certain tension. Larissa wrote the following in a text about my residency time:
(…)Her impulsive way of creating art lives from an ever-changing input and oscillation of her mind. Spring colors and moods from Barcelona are transformed into brush strokes and paint splashes. While the spectator can quickly identify the olive green and bright orange that is oh-so common in the Catalonian capital, the different layers of the abstract painting show a deeper inside into the artists’ mind and emotional cosmos. Her work shows a possible relationship between more traditional painting techniques and urban art. With influences as diverse as the shape of a palm tree leaf at the side of the road, a mosaic at Park Güell or a color combination on an advertisement board, new combinations are generated from both mundane and transcendant dialogues. As personal impressions of her Spanish surroundingsbecome visible on canvas through diligent and repetitive practice, the viewer is left with a feeling of curiosity for the world around them. Julia Benz shows how everything we see can be transformed creatively and inspire artistic creation.
For the second time Spanish artists Berni Puig and Mateu Targa are in a residency program together. This time instead of working parallel they decided to collaborate and share canvases overcoming their signature styles and ego. As an abstract painter Berni Puig has developed his own specific painting style in the past 15 years but will experiment with figurative painting during his time with Mateu Targa in Barcelona. Based on seemingly trivial moments they bring emotionally loaded snapshots on canvas. Through their conversations and a structured approach people and their backgrounds come to life with every brush stroke. The viewers get to experience the moments that move the artists and might become more attentive to their surroundings in the future.(…)
So the days flew by and thanks to the unusually bad weather, it was extremely easy for me to spend a lot of time in the studio. I’m really deeply immersed; there wasn’t much else for some time.
My personal highlight during the residency was painting a large canvas (5 m x 2.50 m) together with the artist Kenor in an unknown location in Tarragona, about an hour from Barcelona. We only had a few hours to paint them and create a finished picture. I asked Kenor, “And, how do we do that now?” He replied, “Let’s not talk to each other while we paint this picture. We communicate with each other through and through the image.” Loud music and the smell of paella filled the space around us.
We didn’t know each other before. You never know how such a collaborative painting will go and whether it fits with the other artist. The hours during the painting were “magical” and full of energy for Kenor and me. What unites us both is intuitive working: we always paint without a sketch, without a sophisticated concept. IMPULSIVE INTUITION – that’s what our upcoming exhibition was all about. The impulse is our constant companion, which requires a great deal of trust in one’s own intuition. Without that, it doesn’t work.
The end of the residency and my stay in Spain was celebrated with the vernissage of our exhibition. My paintings have remained in Barcelona; all the ones I painted there. What I take with me are my experiences and memories of many moments and encounters with people and other artists. The exhibition can be seen at the Fousion Gallery until 7 May. I am happy to have a part of me living there now. You can request a list of works with the finished canvases from our exhibition by e-mail here: email@example.com
The main things I took away from my time in Barcelona are the energy and that I got moving again. Not only physically, but also in my work. Out of stagnation towards many new ideas and perhaps a little more courage. Full of anticipation and with new energy, I am now concentrating on the upcoming projects and exhibitions back in the Heidelberg studio. On May 13, my next solo exhibition entitled “Oscillation” opens at the Galerie Köppe Contemporary in Berlin. You will receive more information about the exhibition in my next newsletter. You can subscribe here.