The Pictures Have to Go Out Into the World: Interview with Carolin Israel

Oct 8, 2018 9:11AM

Caroline Israel, student of Katharina Grosse and Tomma Abts, in conversation with art historian Ruth Polleit Riechert.

©Jennifer Rumbach /

Carolin Israel was born in Chemnitz, Germany, in 1990. She has completed her Master Degree in Art from Academy of Fine Art, Dresden in 2014. From 2015 to 2016, she studied with Professor Katharina Grosse and Professor Tomma Abts at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. In 2017, she worked in New York City and in 2018 in Columbia. She has received numerous grants and prizes, among them the Lucas Cranach Grant of the city of Wittenberg in 2014. Her works have been exhibited in Germany, Switzerland, England, and South America. Carolin Israel lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany.

RPR: Carolin, earlier this year you went to Colombia to study. Last year you visited New York. What role does travel play for your work?

CI: Travelling is incredibly valuable to my work. I have the feeling that I can stop time and experience as much in a few days as I otherwise experience in several weeks. My favourite part is having a project or exhibition on site to get in touch, get to know the culture, and reflect on my work in a new environment. In Colombia, I followed the impulse to pull my paintings on paper into the room and show installations for the first time. Back in the studio, I often feed on months of travel experiences

Carolin Israel
Aladin, 2018

Your style of painting is very complex, and every picture presents the beholder with a little riddle. There is always something new to discover. How does a picture come about?

I rarely work with references or sketches. If I initially work with a concrete idea, the picture quickly breaks away from the previously planned and diverges into the intuitive. Usually, however, a core idea or atmosphere permeates the entire painting process, which can take months or even years to take the picture to where I want it to be.

©Jennifer Rumbach /

Carolin Israel, Wenn es Raachermannel nabelt, 2018, ©Jennifer Rumbach /

How is your painting process? Do you have preferred materials and techniques?

At the moment I, like to use spray, airbrush, and running paint on paper, which has a very unique structure and rawness as a base. The material is very light and transportable, which is particularly suitable for exhibitions abroad.

What role does digitisation play in art and the art market for you?

I see that using Instagram, online magazines, or general digital art presentations, you can currently create an enormously broad platform and publicity. It may be a very visual and fast-paced attention that you get, but it is a way to be seen beyond your circle of acquaintances. It counters the exclusive network of relationships of the important figures in the art world with a more democratic system.

©Jennifer Rumbach /

What will we see from you in the near future?

I am looking forward to our residency planned this year with RPR ART in Mallorca. There, we will have an exhibition with other German artists showing the works that are created there. At the following show in Frankfurt, we will work together with Majorcan artists.

Do you have a favourite piece that you would never part with?

No. The pictures have to go out into the world.

Thank you for the interview, Carolin!

The interview was conducted by Dr Ruth Polleit Riechert of RPR ART. Selected works by Carolin Israel can be purchased at (