【Leo Gallery | Online Showroom】Lost and Found: Doris Ernst Solo Exhibition Interview II

Leo Gallery
Apr 12, 2020 7:15AM

Lost and Found

Leo Gallery Online Showroom | Doris Ernst Solo Exhibition

Artist Interview II

Doris Ernst

Born in Germany 1966, she currently lives in Shanghai and Berlin with her family. She is a self-taught artist. Her instincts and creativity come from her experience of living, traveling and working in different areas such as New York, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Ethiopia, New Delhi and Japan. These different cultures, people, societies, diverse artistic forms, and her friendship with artists from many countries have all affected her. Doris also held several exhibitions in Shanghai.

This exhibition selected Doris Ernst's nearly 40 works from 2017 to 2019 to open the first online exhibition of Leo Gallery in 2020, We invited artists to analysis the idea behind each collection.

Trying to see clearly 1+2, Nothing is ever clear and Hazy

All these paintings deal with the fact that it is hard to live in today’s world.

I remember very vividly the moment when my 13-year-old daughter was lying in her bed one evening when I cam e to say good night and she was crying. She was at the point in her young life when she realized that the world “out there” was different from the world of her childhood. She did not want to take of her pinkish girly glasses that would allow to see the world of a girl with no responsibilities, no consequences and her parents being there for her and taking charge whenever something went wrong. At that moment, I wanted to cry wish her and tell her that I would also wake up lots of mornings wanting to go back under my covers and not having face this world out there.

Trying to see clearly 1, Acrylic on canvas, 100x100cm, 2018

We are brought up in a system of certain values, certain believes in societies that have certain rules and laws. There is supposed to be a moral conduct, ethics, red lines that should not be crossed. There is logic and there are rational solutions. But – and that is a very big BUT life is not like that. It is unpredictable, people can be unreliable and even mean. Life can be cruel.

So how do you explain this to your 13 year old daughter if you don´t understand it yourself?

In our day and age, we think we can find solutions to everything on the internet. But we are all different. Situatiosn and circumstances differ. Life can not be calculated like a formular. Life is complex and not rational. This is because we are human. We are all individuals. We make mistakes, we have moods. We are all different.

Trying to see clearly 1, Acrylic on canvas, 100x100cm, 2018

But we all have to interact because we live together work together, are neighbors we come froem the same country we live on the one planet that we have.

We have to live together. So there will be misunderstandings, misjudgements, we are doomed to make wrong decisions because there is no certainty.

So how do see manage to see more clearly, how do we find our way through the haze. We have to be bold, confident and take charge.

Trying to see clearly 2, Acrylic on canvas, 100x120cm, 2019

Most of my paintings start with stripes. Each line is different like individuals or like moments, circumstances. However my lines are applied in in orderly fashion. There is a structure, a pattern. However in some cases this order almost completely disappears behind a layer of paint, a haze. We can no longer see clearly. The outlines of the stripes are gone. The painting is blurry.

In a fog you can lose your orientation quiet easily and get lost. However, there can be clearings and you can find your way again.

How do you explain a world to a 13-year-old girl if you don´t understand it yourself? You look for the clearings, you make decisions, you try to be confident, you stand tall and you hide you doubts.

In some days, you sound more convincing then on others. So, in some paintings you see more outlines then in others.

Trying to see clearly 2, Acrylic on canvas, 100x120cm, 2019

Red and Blue

The paintings Red and Blue are part of a color-series I started.

My art is mostly stimulated by feelings and emotions or by memories.

The underlying pattern of stripes drives from thoughts about repetition and regularity as well as individuality. In the case of the color-series I did not want to reflect upon deep meanings, philosophical questions but memories and images that I attribute with this particular color.

Red, Acrylic and printing ink on canvas, 100x100cm, 2019

When I enter my studio, I try to leave the “outside World behind”, all the responsibilities, the burdens. I try to take a break like other people do when they meditate.

In my art, I transform what comes to my mind in these moments of emptiness of the brain. Sometimes it can be dark heavy clouds full of deep meanings but sometimes I can enjoy the lightness of an imaginary clear sky.

Blue, Acrylic and printing ink on canvas, 100x100cm 2020

Applying the stripes in variations of each color was like a wonderful excursion into memories attributed with the colors. On top of the stripes that are regular and not in complete chaos I put another layer of red or blue and then I used my matching printing ink to highlight the pattern and the outline and uniqueness of each stripe and memory.

I was hoping that when other people look at the paintings of the series they would come up with their own images as to what they attribute with the color. I was hoping the painting could take them away from the reality and allow them a similar lightness when looking at the painting as I experienced while creating it. I liked the idea that the painting could stimulate viewers to go on their own imaginary memory trip.

Dancing and stripes – the beginning

The painting Dancing and stripes are from my very beginnings in 2014/2015.

I had just decided that the brush was not for me. Using a brush to me meant you needed to know what wat you were going to paint. A clear vision of the final work. An intention. But I like the idea of exploring. I like the unknown and surprise.

When I found the spatulas/scrapers in the hard ware store I immediately liked them. Not only because they came from the hardware store and had this touch of real live and not the feeling of fancy artist equipment from the expensive and exclusive art supply stores in Germany.

I liked the straightness. There was no bending, twisting, curves.

Dancing, Acrylic on canvas, 80x80cm, 2015

The very first idea that came to mind was that I wanted to let those wonderful straight line dance over the canvas. And that is what I did. I dipped my spatula in the white paint and kind of let it walk across the black canvas in different places. I was happy with the result because there was even a certain melody that it expressed a bit like notes for music.

That was the very beginning.

After that I experimented with the spatula to see what you could do with it. I loved the stripes that you could produce with it especially because you never know what you get. And you cannot plan or completely control it. The result looks different depending on the amount of paint the sticks to the spatula, the angle and the pressure you put on it when applying the paint on the canvas.

This was the beauty of it. It was like live where you never know what to expect on the next day even when you try to plan carefully. It was like humans we all look different although our general composition is the same. By applying different layers of different colored strips on top of one another I discovered that you could get a whole other impression. If I used white as the last color on an originally white canvas I could also negate some of my previous actions. Which was a wonderful concept if applied on human action in general.

When I started I was playing around a lot to learn about my material but at the same time I understood more about myself and why these things happened on my canvasses and what they meant to me. I did not start with a fixed concept in mind. My progress in art was a progress in getting to know myself and to organise my own thought.

Stripes 1, Acrylic on canvas, 100x100cm, 2016

Leo Gallery dialog Artist

LG: What is the origin of the colors and shapes in your paintings? Where does it come from? Is it the abstraction in your mind or the concrete shadows in the cities?

Doris: Thinking of the colours and shapes in my paintings I must admit that they are very intuitive.

They just somehow happen. But looking at them after I finish a work actually makes me understand where they come from it is like looking into my soul.

I love black. But black for me does not necessarily have a negative, dark and sinister connotation. Growing up in the 1980s in a quite catholic, conservative and suburban surrounding in rural Germany made me rebel against the norms by listening to punk and new wave music and wearing black clothes. Black is so clear and pure like there are no real shades of it and if you mix it basically stays black.

I also love the straight lines and forms of Bauhaus. It gives me a feeling of clarity, efficiency, it is very organized, rational and there is a logic to it. I love if you find this quality in the architecture of a city or the map of Manhattan for example or in clothing or for example in Swedish design. sometimes find that buildings, sculptures or clothes with lots of ornaments, unnecessary/fuzzy features make me nervous and distracting.

The repetitiveness of shapes in my paintings has a meditative aspect not only when I apply the paint but also while looking at it you can find a structure or sometimes a scratched grid. There is the order in the chaos. The lines are applied by spatula-so they are always straight. The colours are applied one after the other, so they do not mix.

Hidden truth, Acrylic and printing ink on canvas, 120x120cm, 2019

LG: What is the relationship between traveling and art in your opinion?

Doris: In order to experience something new I love to use all my senses. Today I can “travel” to almost every country in the world by just clicking with my fingertip on my computer or phone. But webcams, reading and looking at photos is not the same as the real immersion into a new world.

To me personally however it is often not the big highlights and most popular sight of countries and cities that I find most attractive me most when I travel. YesWell o.k., almost to my surprise touching the marble of Taj Mahal felt actually more stimulating than I thought (even being surrounded by hundreds of people) but the real stimulation comes from experiencing the everyday normal life in a place you visit. Driving with my wonderful talkative Indian taxi driver, listening to his Sigh prayer music and seeing a new world pass by (and smelling it through the open windows in the hot air of India) brought up a ton of thoughts. Travelling stirs up emotions and that is what inspires me to new art works.

Travelling also means leaving your routine and comfort zone behind. It has a feeling of embarking to something new, let yourself be surprised and feeling free and loose, leaving behind the burdens and responsibilities that limit our thoughts. Feeling free from all the “must do” things in order to also free the mind. Once you let go of the “normality” that’s when creativity has more room.

Happy days, Acrylic on canvas, 100x120cm, 2019

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