We join the team in the Berlin neighbourhood of Moabit. The neighbourhood has not yet undergone the gentrification that is seen in many places in the centre of Berlin, and it holds an attraction for artists, who are still coming here in large numbers to live and work.
Thus it was in this part of Berlin ignored by tourists, which oscillates between yesterday and today, that we met Alexandra Wolframm.
Alexandra‘s studio overlooks a park where we sat down to have a coffee. Proof, if any was needed, of the relationship that the artist maintains with her environment and the nature surrounding her.
Alexandra studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome but she was somewhat disappointed by the lack of open-mindedness and the overly academic approach to teaching. Nonetheless she had an important encounter with a professor of video art and multimedia who lavished her with advice that would influence her artistic path:
I don’t care what technique you use, as long as you work at something that suits you!
It was at that moment that she started to try other medium, such as sculpture:
What I like is to work the material with my hands, to shape it, form it and paint it...
Alexandra was always fascinated by the landscape painters of the 19th century. She thus first questioned how to address landscape painting from a contemporary point of view, how to reinterpret an artistic tradition firmly anchored in history.
The idea for the Cloud Project came to her while looking through the window over the port of Westhafen, the largest commercial port of Berlin.
It was cloudy; there were very beautiful clouds with a magnificent colour, a bit like over the docks in London...
She then realised that these clouds were in fact formed by smoke escaping from a factory. Thus the idea sprouted to work on the manipulation of nature by man and the awareness of this in society.
Alexandra then presented to us Klingenberg, an immense diptych named for the geographic coordinates of the factory responsible for forming the cloud. The aesthetic approach along with the technical mastery give a stunning poetic dimension to this painting. The artist’s work raises a question about our perception of the natural environment where reality is modified by human interference.
In contemporary art, and mainly in conceptual art, you often need an enormous amount of information in order to understand the work...
On the contrary, the artist seeks to elicit an emotion from the spectator by means of aestheticism in order to deliver a message.
Into the Wild
Like Alexandra, Germans maintain a particular relationship with nature that to some extent forms their way of life.
In fact, Germany offers a very contrasting image of a densely populated country where true nature is rare since it is most often profoundly transformed, but where particularly significant efforts have been deployed to preserve the spaces and landscapes that are considered interesting.
Thus it is often just a few steps from her home that Alexandra finds her inspiration.
I don't travel in order to find new ideas. There is enough inspiration in Germany on your doorstep or just a few steps from here.
Talking about her inspirations, we ask her about exhibits that have had an effect on her.
Alexandra spontaneously cites the retrospective of the work of Meret Oppenheim (Berlin, 2013). As well as the indispensable Gerhard Richter, whose work she was able to admire at exhibits in London and Berlin. The artist also spoke to us about an exhibit dedicated to the Belgian visual artist Hans Op De Beeck.
I believe he is a great artist who has managed to preserve Belgian art history, particularly that of the Belgian surrealists, and to reinterpret it in a contemporary manner by using new techniques such as multimedia.
In order for a project to develop at its best, Alexandra feels it is necessary to work on several at the same time.
I have to be able to put a project aside in order to take the time to think about it, to let it incubate and to come back to it later...
This summer she went on vacation in Italy and to the Baltic Sea, where she found some small stones on the beach. She then had the idea to reproduce them on a large scale by sculpting them in ceramics and then painting the details with watercolour.
I found the idea interesting to represent stone, a symbol of strength in our collective awareness, in a delicate and fragile manner.
Alexandra is successful in the challenge of creating contemporary landscape painting. She successfully reinterprets the codes of a movement that is deeply anchored in the history of art. The aestheticism of her work, the emotions and the poetry that it emits, carry a strong message which, if we don’t pay attention, could one day be fatal for us.