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Interview: Michael Luther

Die große Liebe, Triptychon 270x175cm, - Oil on Canvas 2001

Michael Luther was born in 1964 in Bad Saulgau in Germany.
He studied at the HDK, Hochschule der Künste (now UDK) in Berlin.
His most recent paintings were shown at Art Seasons 2004 in Mallorca.

You took part in Art Seasons in Mallorca, together with Fabrizio Plessi, Baselitz, Andrés Serano, Yoshitomo Nara and many others. The mission of the event was to bring together established artists and unknown but promising talent like yourself. What did you expect from Art Seasons?

I hoped it would be a good forum to exhibit my work and the chance to show it to a receptive audience.

Collectors were already snapping up your work at the opening of the event. Tell us some more about it.
I showed several pieces at Art Seasons, Mallorca 2004. The first two pictures I showed at the opening, one in large, the other in medium-sized format, were sold immediately.

I find your work very ironic - a seemingly photographic reproduction of paint. Can you explain your technique and its aim?
I don’t aim to be ironic in my work. It wasn’t intentional. Nevertheless, there is an element of irony in the work. I wanted to break through the pathos that underlies painting: The pictures are often vast and creating them is often a monumental process. The topics or subject of the paintings, on the other hand, are often rather banal.

You have been considered as a representative of Photo Realism.
Photo Realism, a recent off-shoot of Pop-Art, tries to re-create the appearance of the everyday world. The photorealist builds his picture on the photograph itself, it is his reality. Do you deliberately aim to reproduce objective reality or to depict surrealist landscapes of other realities?

I think that painting is based far more on motives than on themes.
The topic of painting is painting itself. No matter what the subject, when I look at a lot of my pictures – and those of others artists as well- I always see a kind of self-portrait. I wouldn’t call the reality in my pictures surreal. It’s more a personal and emotional reality.

Do you consider yourself a conceptual or an intuitive artist?
Either or. I create the masters for my pictures (small landscapes of colour, created from paint squeezed from tubes) intuitively, from instinct. When I choose the final copy, I generally have something specific in mind.

What influences your choice and combination of colours?
It depends on what I want to do. If I want to paint a picture about man, I use extreme close-ups with, for example, a lot of red or pink tones to portray ‘skin’ and ‘flesh’, as can be seen in Die große Liebe (2001), whereas a picture with vast, sprawling surfaces in, for example, predominantly blue or green tones such as Little Landscape (2004) , brings the countryside to mind.

Your work reminds me of Damien Hirst 's Spin paintings. Is there any artist or artistic movement that has inspired you?
I’ve drawn my inspiration from painters who use colour as subject-matter for their pictures, whose pictures revolve around the use of colour: Matisse, Soutine, deStael, Thibaud, Scully and others.

Do you try to challenge painting today?
No, I think it’s more the other way round.

What kind of reaction do you expect from people when they see your work?
I don’t expect any particular reaction, but obviously I’m happy if I get one. A few of the visitors to Art Seasons said that they felt my paintings had touched them directly.

What is important for you right now in your career?
What is really important for me now is to collaborate with a good gallery - a gallery which will represent my pictures with the same intensity I felt when I painted them.

Interview: Marzia Belvisi
Translation: Rebekah Smith

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