Artist of the Month April 2021
Date: 26/03/2021 Place: Oehlert’s studio Auf AEG
Muggenhoferstr. 135, Haus 74
It’s a quiet, sunny Friday afternoon and I’m on the grounds of Auf AEG to meet Andreas Oehlert in his studio, which he will have to leave by the End of June 2021. So far, I have known him and his art from exhibitions at the Neues Museum and the Oechsner Galerie, but today, we finally met in person. The day of our meeting is somewhat solemn and melancholy at the same time. Solemn because the artist has just finished his latest work, which is still hanging on the wall of his studio in a very virgin state. The mood is a bit wistful as well, not only because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic but because it is the end of March and galleries as well as museums and private showrooms are still closed. Like art itself, the artist’s studio is always a reflection of the spirit of the times as well as the current mood of the artist himself. There is a farewell mood and spirit of optimism.
Lydia: Hello Andreas Oehlert, it’s so nice that I can come and visit you here at Auf AEG.
Andreas Oehlert: Yes, indeed it’s nice to be able to welcome you, especially because I just happened to finish a new work of art today. Lydia: Wonderful. Before I get totally lost in your art, I would like to ask you my interview questions.
Andreas Oehlert: Well then, let’s start.
- Are you a night owl or an early bird?
Andreas Oehlert: Early bird or early riser. As a rule, I am at my studio by 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. at the latest because I need daylight to work.
- Where do you get your inspiration for your art from?
Andreas Oehlert: By almost everything that surrounds me. That being all kinds of objects and things I see or own, as well as nature, the visible or invisible, and by encounters and exchanges with other people. But I am also strongly influenced by my own feelings and moods.
- Do you have any artistic role models?
Andreas Oehlert: That is a tricky question. Actually, I don’t have any role models in this sense. I know and could name an incredible number of artists that I admire and whom I find great and awe-inspiring. But only to name a few of them as role models, to be honest, would be difficult for me because, in my opinion, there are so many great artists and we only knew a few of them. And those are mostly artists who have already earned a certain status and name.
- Do you get angry about criticism?
Andreas Oehlert: I believe that generally, criticism is crucial and can be especially beneficial if it is justified and well-founded or understandable because one is often blind to certain things. The ability to accept criticism may, therefore, always depend on the given point in time. It is perhaps more important how and when criticism is expressed. So, I personally find it rather inappropriate to express criticism at an exhibition opening because that is a very special moment. One is particularly vulnerable. I myself expect that criticism will be held back at such an event, and I do that myself.
- What are you proud of?
Andreas Oehlert: Proud may be the wrong word and I would avoid saying I am proud of this or that, but I am incredibly grateful and fortunate about the fact that I can still make art and also can make a living from it. That was not always the case, especially at the beginning of my creative career. I hope it stays that way.
- Where would you like to be exhibited once in your lifetime?Andreas Oehlert: That is also a hard one. In my opinion, there are an infinite number of great museums and places where I would like to exhibit one day. However, if I think about the question a little longer, then I would love to show my work at the Kunsthaus Bregenz (the Bregenz Art House). Mainly because it is a museum that I like to visit myself and where I’ve seen a lot of great exhibitions. I would never say no if they asked me to display my work.
- What is your favourite place and your favourite part of town in Nuremberg?
Andreas Oehlert: My favourite place is our large garden that belongs to our garden shed in Fürth. It is a place of relaxation and rest for me.
- What is your favourite dish?
Andreas Oehlert: Zwetschgenknödel (Plum dumplings) as a reminiscence to the part of my Silesian family roots. There is also a nice anecdote about this dish. When I spent my time in Cracow at the Academy’s partner university in 1992, they were an important part of my diet. Nowadays, I like to make these sweet dumplings myself; about once or twice a year whenever plums are in season.
- What do you always have at home in the fridge?
Andreas Oehlert: A bottle of white wine.
- Who would you definitely not want to sit at a table with?
Andreas Oehlert: Fascists and homophobic people.
- What character traits do you appreciate or value in others?
Andreas Oehlert: Impartiality and fair-mindedness is a character trait that I appreciate very much.
- How do you relax?
Andreas Oehlert: With a glass of well-chilled white wine.
- Where is your next trip going to be?
Andreas Oehlert: A hut-to-hut hiking holiday in the mountains. Maybe somewhere in the Alps. When such a vacation – or to put in other words, when “normal” travel resumes (after COVID-19).
- What dream do you want to fulfil yourself?
Andreas Oehlert: Another good but difficult question. To be honest, I don’t have anything like a big lifelong dream that I want to fulfil.
Intermediate question by Lydia: So, you are nearly perfectly happy?Andreas Oehlert: Yes, you could say so. But I have a big wish. Health not only for me but also for all the people who are awfully close to me.
- Life is too short to …
Andreas Oehlert: … to be afraid.
Lydia: Many thanks for this. It was a delight to meet you and to be able to visit you here in your studio Auf AEG. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you that the new studio space will work out. And I hope that we will see each other again this year, ideally at a vernissage.
Andreas Oehlert: It was my pleasure and yes, I hope so too!
Additional info about Andreas Oehlert:
Andreas Oehlert was born in 1966 in Fürth, Germany and has been living there for many years with his partner. From 1990 until 1997 he studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg and has been a master class student of Rolf-Gunter Dienst. Furthermore, he has spent one year at the Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, where he gained an MA with Distinction. In addition, several stays abroad took him to Krakow and Paris. He also likes to go to Berlin, among other places, on a regular basis to get some new inspiration.
For an artist he is extremely disciplined, almost bureaucratic on the one hand (he works almost always at fixed office hours from 9 to 5) and on the other hand, incredibly experimental and intuitive. He does not allow himself to be defined in his artistic work either. Drawings, sculptural works, art in construction (Kunst am Bau), installations, photographs or showcases – all of this is part of his artistic work.
In his drawings he creates grid structures, mazes or ornaments with water colours or sometimes ink on simple white sheets of paper. When he starts a new work, everything is open and only the colours are well chosen in advance. In addition, the sheet is hung up because the artist likes to work standing up. Many drawings remind us of patterns as those created by lava lamps. The later works are rather exceptionally clean and graphic. What immediately catches your eye is that all drawings are meticulously painted so that one could often falsely assume that they are screen prints. These works have titles like “Hans” and “Ingeborg”, “Christian” or “Tonio” and suggest that they are referring to people from the artist’s life.
Regarding his photographic work, he has developed a kind of series called “Staybeauty”. Over the last 14 years, decorative things and objects are staged here at irregular intervals. Oehlert mainly selects porcelain or glass figures, which he found on the Web or from visiting flea markets, second hand or antique stores. He combines these finds then with other pieces like e.g. artificial flowers or a fox tail. And so, absurd opposites come into existence, which brings a subtle and absurd aesthetic experience into being. These arrangements are always presented on the same stage, which consists of shiny black acrylic glass as a background and surface, which also allows him to play with its numerous reflections. That being said, the shots are always taken by photographer Annette Kradisch.
Describing Oehlert’s art is not easy. He is an extremely versatile artist, who breaks up formalistic as well as genre boundaries. In addition to his drawings, he deals intensively with staged photography and sculptural works. You could describe his work and in particular his paintings as very precise, simple, and highly structured. The general principle seems to be “less is more”. The special thing about him is that he practices quality instead of quantity and has done so for many years and very, very consistently. His own formula for success seems to make himself rare in the art scene instead of being omnipresent.
Quite simply summarized, Oehlert art works, and in particular his drawings, have a lot to do with time, literally with a lot of time. Larger drawings can easily take up six to eight weeks until they are completed. It seems like his work is intended to be a kind of a blueprint that compels the viewer to take a kind of a meditative pause from our hectic daily life and the fast–paced digital world. Whether in his room-filling works or on a small scale, his art is always of the highest aesthetic sophistication, always surprising with new perspectives and sensory impressions. It seems like he is exploring spatial situations over and over again, which allows time and space to be experienced in a new manner and reflects the conditions of being in a wide variety of different ways.
He has received several prizes and awards such as the Bavarian Award for the advancement of young artists and the Art Award of the City of Nuremberg (both received in 2000), the Artists-in-Residence, Cite International des Arts Paris (2004/2005), Art Award of the District of Central Franconia (2010) and Cultural Award of the City of Fürth (2014) as well as the Otto-Grau-Kulturpreis (2018). And so far, he has been exhibited among other places at: “lichten” (09/2020), “MY LONELY DAYS ARE GONE” (12/2018 – 01/2019), Oechsner Galerie, Nuremberg (2020); 5. Biennale der Zeichnung, Kunstmuseum Erlangen (13/1 – 17/2/2019), work show Auf AEG, Nuremberg (10/ 2019); “red/flow”, Art in Architecture, Translational Research Center, University Clinic Erlangen (2018); “Bei Anruf Hit” (11/2016 – 09/2017), Neues Museum, Nuremberg; “Liaison” (20/02 – 27/03/2016), Kunst Galerie Fürth; Kunstmuseum Erlangen (2012), Kunstverein Kohlenhof , Nuremberg (2009); Neues Museum, Nuremberg (2010/ 2007), “Ortung III” – Kunstbiennale Schwabach (2003).
More about Andreas Oehlert:
Official website: http://www.andreas-oehlert.de
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