Mixed-media artist Angelika Arendt spends her time merging her two preferred creative interests: textile design and fine art. Working in sculpture and drawing out of her Berlin studio, Arendt creates organic forms that seem to grow through each tactile form and line. Arendt studied Textile Design at Reutlingen University, graduating from the State Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe where she received the title of a master-class student. In the following interview, we discussed how she received the esteemed 2014 Berlin Hyp Prize, platforms for female artists, her latest works, and her current exhibition at Haus am Lützowplatz in Berlin.
Thanks for taking some time out for us, Angelika. We’d love to hear a little about you. Where is your studio and where are you from?
Sure! I don’t have a studio at the moment and I work at home. This is possible because my works have a manageable size. I live in Berlin since almost eight years and before that I completed two study paths in Southern Germany (textile design and fine arts). Originally I come from the area of Stuttgart.
Let’s dive right into your work. Where did these ideas begin? Do you have an idea of what the end result will be or do you watch it appear at your fingertips without an endpoint in mind?
Each drawing is entirely unique to me. The only thing that is really common to all of them is the way they grow from within themselves. With a very few pieces, there are specific models—as with “Babel,” for example. The story of the Tower of Babel impresses me for a number of reasons. On the one hand, it represents the attempt on the part of humans to become equal to God. This aspiration would seem, still, to be altogether contemporary. On the other hand, I have concerned myself greatly with the other well-known representations of the theme by important artists. Thus, the layout for my drawing is based upon the portrayal from the sixteenth-century works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The meticulousness with which I drafted the building further underscores, I hope, its monumentality, along with the sheer egregiousness of the desire on the part of humans to be equal to God. That piece nearly brought me to the brink of being plagued with the Babylonian ‘confusion of tongues’ myself. It took me a total of four months to complete the drawing.
Tell us a little about your artistic background, what were your first influences to be creative and eventually become a full time artist?
I think my first influence was of course my parents, passing on craftsmanship and a sense of aesthetics to me. My studies in the area of Textile Design equipped me with a range of fundamental principles that have remained quite helpful over the course of my artistic development. At the same time I learned a great deal about textures, colors and patterns. Those experiences in particular are reflected in my work in terms of handling surfaces and materials.
What is life like in your studio? What sort of hours do you spend in there, and do you enjoy music or podcasts or silence while you create?
In my home, where I work, it’s very comfortable. I listen to audio books during work often, depending on how much concentration the work needs. Often I listen to crime thrillers. Basically everything the Berlin public libraries provide.
You have two exhibitions this time of year. Where are those and what sort of work do you have in each?
In the exhibition in Berlin Hyp I’m showing three different media: drawings, glass sculptures, and modeling clay sculptures. I was the Awardee of the Berlin Hyp Prize 2014, which allowed me to be featured in the ongoing exhibition “Angelika Arendt – Drawing and Sculpture.” This is being held at Berlin Hyp · Budapester Straße 1 · 10787 Berlin from February 13 to August 14, 2015.
The exhibition at the Haus am Lützowplatz is be a group exhibition featuring four female artists: Angelika Arendt, Alexandra Baumgartner, Fides Becker, Anna Lehmann-Brauns. I’m presenting my work in an installation of smaller drawings in a separate room. The exhibit is called “Gegen den Tag“, featuring works by Angelika Arendt, Alexandra Baumgartner, Fides Becker, Anna Lehmann-Brauns at Haus am Lützowplatz · Lützowplatz 9 · 10785 Berlin.
What is the Berlin Hyp prize? How were you chosen, what is the criteria and how did this challenge you or provide you inspiration or freedoms?
The Berlin Hyp Prize is awarded by the POSITIONS art fair. The first POSITIONS / BERLIN showcased 52 international exhibitors, presenting emerging and established artists. In cooperation with the art fair the Berlin Hyp Bank awarded two artists that will be presented in a solo show. I’m one of the prize-winners and Gallery C&K unterwegs represented me in the art fair. I didn’t know such a prize is going to be awarded and I was very surprised when I got the news.
Do you find that all-female exhibitions are more in demand these days, and do you feel that feminist interests are being addressed, promoted, and handled as well as they could be?
To be honest, I haven’t given much thought about if they are more in demand nowadays. In my eyes it depends on the work and not whether that work is produced by a man or a woman. Of course, there are still prejudices or pigeonholes applying to the respective sex, but seen from a historic point of view equal rights of men and women are still in their infancy.
Does the modern female artist have the voice or foundation from which to be best heard in today’s art market?
The market itself doesn’t really concern me. In the art market the art work functions like a stock. This is the matter of the galleries, art dealers, and collectors. I concentrate myself on the art. Together with Magret Eicher, a befriended artist, I organize regular female artist meetings here in Berlin. We meet every two months to exchange news and experiences. It’s a lot of fun having so many brilliant and creative women together in one spot. Meanwhile we invite about 30 female artists. We meet in a cafe or restaurant and gather around a large table. Whoever has time shows up — it’s a casual getting together.
As we part ways for the time being, are there any different mediums or challenges that you would like to tackle for your future works?
I started with something new a couple of weeks ago: etching. The developing process is completely different from drawing where you can see the result immediately. To begin with, I want to find out if the medium of etching really suits me. There are so many possibilities with this technique. It’s a whole new world for me and I’m still very curious what I can learn in the process.