Briefly describe the work you do.
I have been painting with acrylics on plywood for several years. The painting’s outer shape and edge had begun to interest me and moving from paper to wood allowed me to explore this aspect more substantially. The boards are first cut to size with no other concern than the achievement of an interesting single shape which may be more or less irregular. The painting process begins, after careful consideration of this shape, with an opening move; each further decision is then made in response to the outcome of the previous one. I do not make preparatory drawings as such; the elements of my paintings are based on personal visual memory and are sometimes developed through sketching.
It is important that the painting is a step ahead of me. This creates the space needed to stay agile and responsive in the process – not to plan and lead but to put one foot after the other, be watchful and recognise opportunities as they emerge. The finished painting can never be anticipated at the outset; when successful, it achieves a certain level of incomprehensibility without being wholly inaccessible. The aim is something that appears simple but might not be that easily grasped.
At what point in your life did you want to become an artist?
My initial impulse was to say at 18, when I decided to move to England for a couple of years and thought I might as well do some studies while I was abroad, So I applied to take Fine Art, History of Art and Italian at University near London. At the time I thought of this as a temporary move, something transitional. I never meant to complete a degree; the plan was to return to Berlin and study Architecture or Design or perhaps become a cabinet maker. I’m not sure when exactly I finally felt I was an artist and would always be one. But it was much later, a few years after completing my BA, in my late twenties, when I had been living in London for a while. I decided to give up my studio and stopped painting for a bit to check whether I had just been carrying on for the sake of it… That was an important test and significant turning point. I became serious about my work then.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I can’t say I had a particularly cultured upbringing but I had always enjoyed drawing and making things as a child, as early as I can remember, and I think my mother encouraged that ( it was probably the only time I was quiet). It isn’t immediately obvious from my background, why I became an artist. It might have been a matter of wanting something different, something I had caught a glimpse of in the copious amounts of books I devoured when I was younger. I think that my understanding and appreciation of the visual arts really developed rather late and slowly. Though I could engage with painting intellectually and appreciated them aesthetically, I didn’t truly “get it” until I was floored by the Philip Guston show at the Royal Academy in 2004. That was my eye opener and from there on I started to really see art and make connections everywhere: Richard Tuttle, Raoul De Keyser, Phyllida Barlow, Graham Sutherland, Helen Frankenthaler… well that list is long of course.
What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?
I am not concerned with concepts in my work.
We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?
The intensity and personal challenge of painting – I am 100% responsible for everything that goes on in my studio. It’s the most self-involved activity I indulge in – endlessly engaging, immediate, fresh and exciting. Just keeps on giving. And then there are these moments of pure giddy joy when I have put the final touch to a painting, step away and realise it’s good – that it really works and is entirely its own.
What artists living or non-living influence your work?
There are many artists I greatly admire and whose work means a lot to me. But while they certainly give me confidence, inspire and fire my ambition to continuously improve my practice , I can’t say that they influence my work. I can only follow my own trajectory. The only other artists who actually influence me are my peers who come to visit my studio and who I can talk to about my paintings. Their generous and honest engagement and criticism are immensely encouraging and help me to push my work further.
When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?
I see exhibitions of course. Also read a lot (novels, non-fiction, poetry, art books, magazines), love the theatre, all kinds of music and I try to get out into the countryside as much as I can. I cycle, run or swim every day.
Katrin Mäurich was born in Berlin and moved to the UK in 1999 where she gained a BA in Fine Art from Reading University in 2003. Katrin has been living in London for the last ten years. Apart from exhibiting her paintings regularly, she has also been the founder and organiser of series’ of artist talks and art salon events.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.