Inside the Studio

Ute Laum

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
My works are very much inspired by nature. I live in a very thinly populated area on the German Baltic Sea coast which is characterized by very special lighting conditions and bizarre vegetation formations. However, the developing process of my work is becoming increasingly important for me.

Mostly, I start without having a fixed plan but allow each picture to develop and take shape. During the painting process I turn the stretcher frame again and again to another side until I get a feeling for the development of the picture. I have always been fascinated by the way the human eye and brain work together. This cooperation enables the viewer to extend lines beyond the canvas and his brain tries to find explanations for these image planes and perspectives. It is this human habit that I like to take into account and play with in my works.

In order to avoid any simple interpretations at this point, I like to cause minor irritations, such as with the choice of the picture title. All in all, for me the creation of each picture seems to be a little adventure with an uncertain outcome.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
A former art teacher gave me the best advice. He said more or less: “Be authentic! Don’t let yourself be influenced by public taste. Most people desire serene and peaceful pictures that match the furnishings. This should never be a criterion for your work. Do what you have to do!”

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I always work with music because it puts me in the right mood and atmosphere. Depending on the project it can be calm and contemplative, or just the contrary, but it always has something to do with jazz. At the moment I really enjoy listening to Iiro Rantala, Tingvall Trio, or Ketil Björnstad.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
I love the mature sculptures by Giacometti. If I could choose, I would like to live with L’homme, qui marche. Giacometti’s works are reduced to a minimum, and reveal in a simple and touching way what we humans are: vulnerable creatures whose task is to not let go, and keep going.

Who are your favorite writers?
Reading is very important to me. I like German and American contemporary literature the best. My favourite authors are Peter Stamm, Hans ­Josef Ortheil, John Ford, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Munroe, and Donna Tart.