Artist of the Month May 2021
Andrea Sohler – Anarchy Art Photography
Place: Atelier Sohler, Theaterstraße 20, 90762 Fürth
The small-world phenomenon has struck again. And so finally, I’m sitting here once again in Atelier Sohler in Fürth (or “Färdd” – as the locals pronounce the city’s name). We met for the first time three years ago on a Sunday afternoon in December 2018. After I had been to the Fürth Christmas market with a friend, we visited Andrea in her studio. She spontaneously invited us to celebrate her birthday with her, her family, and a few friends. This interview is subjective, personal, and introspective and got me thinking a lot. Right from the beginning, the interview feels more like a string of “aha” moments which happens when meeting a like-minded person – maybe because we have more in common than I had expected. We both celebrate our birthdays in December which are just a few days apart, we both tend to be reflective people whilst at the same time maintaining a childlike joy for life. We have curious minds and an inexhaustible urge to explore, and we both have a strong philosophical and spiritual bent. And that’s not all: we have experienced the advantages and the disadvantages of being an outsider no matter where we are living, where we go, and what we do. In this interview, Andrea Sohler also shares her thoughts about creative challenges and about the many other hurdles in making the unlikeliest of all art forms.
1) Are you a night owl or an early bird?
Andrea Sohler: I used to definitely be a night owl – meanwhile I’m rather a late bird.
2) Where do you get your inspiration for your art from?
Andrea Sohler: I’m inspired by the world around me – and grounded in documentary photography, I collect impressions that amuse, confuse, or comfort me.
3) Do you have any artistic role models?
Andrea Sohler: Not really, but I feel the impact of classic artists, colleagues, professors, and humans.
4) Do you get angry about criticism?
Andrea Sohler: No! It instantly helps me to insist on MY way!
5) What are you proud of?
Andrea Sohler: Pride is quite unfamiliar to me – I’d prefer feeling grateful.
6) Where would you like to be exhibited once in your lifetime?
Andrea Sohler: I’m happy to be invited to places where I’ve lived for a while. So currently I’m fortunate to be often invited to venues in the Metropolitan region of Nuremberg.
7) What is your favourite place and your favourite part of town in Nuremberg?
Andrea Sohler: The neighbourhoods of my home and my studio – currently both in Fürth.
8) What do you always have at home in the fridge?
Andrea Sohler: Sour cream, bacon, dill.
9) What is your favourite dish?
Andrea Sohler: Káposztás kocka (small pasta squares mixed with white cabbage) with homemade noodles from Transylvania.
10) Who would you definitely not want to sit at a table with?
Andrea Sohler: With arrogant pricks.
11) What character traits do you appreciate or value in others?
Andrea Sohler: Humour, kind straightforwardness.
12) How do you relax?
Andrea Sohler: Sofa, friends, sleep, gardening, archery.
13) Where is your next trip going to be?
Andrea Sohler: Probably Cologne.
14) What dream do you want to fulfill yourself?
Andrea Sohler: No dreams here – longing for wide-awakeness.
15) Life is too short to…
Andrea Sohler: Life is now. And nothing else matters… need I say more?
Lydia: Dear Andrea, it was great to see you today after almost one year! This interview felt more like free-flowing conversation about everything under the sun. And thank you so much for letting me look at your early photo works.
Andrea Sohler: Nice talking to you as well, Lydia! Get back safely to Nuremberg and enjoy the ride home by bike.
Additional info about Andrea Sohler:
The Romanian-born artist has lived and worked in Nuremberg for many years; she moved to Fuerth in 2015 and, for the last three years, has a studio there. She comes from a family that is well-versed in art and became familiar with the fine arts at a very young age. Her grandfather, who was a painter, also portrayed his granddaughter before she left her hometown. She and her parents were part of the Hungarian-speaking minority in Romania, but decided to leave Szatmárnémeti (Transylvania, RO) in the 1970’s and start a new life in Germany. After graduating from high school twice, once in Canada and then again here in Bavaria, her parents sent her to Hungary. More precisely, to the University of Applied Arts in Budapest to study drawing and painting. Drawing not really being her thing, she discovered photography there and it was a perfect match, so to speak. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time and she was able to study under the Hungarian Artist, gifted photographer and Pulitzer Prize winner, Imre Benkö. With him as a teacher, her talent for documentary photography quickly became apparent. In her mid-thirties, she studied for a second time at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg from 2000 to 2006, where she was a Master pupil under Professor Ottmar Hörl. Andrea Sohler speaks several languages including Hungarian, English, French as well as a bit of Nürnbergerisch and Fürtherisch and has a diverse and international circle of friends. She recognizes and cherishes a certain tragic mentality in Franconians, who tend not to really appreciate themselves and often undersell themselves. The peace and quiet of Fürth in contrast to the bustling cities like Berlin, London or New York also suits her very well. She tends to work in seclusion and considers too much attention can be inhibiting or even overwhelming. Nevertheless, she would like to see more art-interested collectors, galleries and art dealers here in the Franonian region.
Andrea Sohler works exclusively in the medium of photography. Like a stroller, she reads her surroundings with her eyes to satisfy her perpetual curiosity. People have disappeared from her work over the years, in part consciously, or perhaps even unconsciously. Instead, they now appear indirectly through their messages, legacies as well as the lost and forgotten things Andrea Sohler finds and documents in her wanderings throughout the world. Her philosophy: things and objects always find their way to her. Her work however, to a large extent reflects a piece of her own past, current life or mood. She is generally interested in all the things that we see everyday, but do not really perceive – whether indoors or in public space: It can be a splash of colour on a wall, a wood grain, the inconspicuous flow of light along the edge of a room, pillow folds, traces of water on the facade of a houseor around a broken street mirror, graffiti, puddles, stains, scratches. Recently, she has made increasing use of spontaneous or clumsy photographs combined with exploiting the technical weaknesses of digital cameras, such as those that can occur with a mobile phone. Sometimes it’s pure colour gradients without a recognizable object that move into the focus of the artist and can then become the actual image motif. For example the four-part series “Selfies” from 2017.
As a photographer, she works in a very unconventional way. Her pictures could be variously described as humorous, playful, or unorthodox. Whether analogue or digital, she is not bound to one technique and is not a strict advocate of analogue photography. She will often reach for her mobile phone camera, just as much a tool as any other and true to the motto: “The best camera is always the one you have with you” . “It can happen that a failed selfie becomes a motif because the camera was facing the wrong way,“ she says, “but I have learned that often things don’t turn out the way you expected them to”. On the other hand, Andrea Sohler attaches great importance to the choice of titles for her photos, and has done so from the very beginning. She has often been criticized for this, especially in the beginning, but she has stuck to her way. In her oeuvre there is no such thing as an untitled piece of work. As a rule, each series has a unique title, or heading and all images that are part of a specific series appear with a subtitle.
Andrea Sohler has been awarded several prizes for her work such as the Art Award of the City of Nuremberg (both received in 2012), Nominee: New York Photo Awards, Category Single Image – Fine Art (2008), Studio funding by the Free State of Bavaria (2007), 1st Prize Art on Building (2003) – new surgery in Würzburg (2003). So far, she has been exhibited, among other places, at: “Bambi!”, Kunstraum A.theke, Fuerth (2015), work show Auf AEG, Nuremberg (2016), “Himmel und Erde”, Galerie stein & heart, Nuremberg (2016), “»nűber«” Kunstverein Kohlenhof, Nuremberg (2017), “BEST OFF”, Auf AEG, Nuremberg (2017), “Na dosah 2.” , Kunstgalerie Pilsen/Czech Republic (2017), “WINTERKUNST”, Kulturort Badstraße 8, Fuerth (2018), “Progressiv II”, Kunstverein Amberg (2018), “Das Kleine Format”, Projektraum Hirtengasse BbK Nuremberg (2019), “Die Meister*innen des Kleinen Formats”, Galerie Bernsteinzimmer, Nuremberg (2019) and “Display No.1. Andrea Sohler – Selfie as a huhu”, kunst galerie fürth, Fuerth (03/2021 – still on until 20th June 2021).
Currently, she is offering a series of exhibitions in the window of her atelier “SCHAUfenster” with the kind support of the Cultural Office of the City of Fuerth, an idea that arose spontaneously during the lockdown.
More about Andrea Sohler:
Official website: www.andrea-sohler.de
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