Lotte Wieringa’s expressive, abstract paintings first caught our eye on Instagram earlier this year, with one of our studio team noting: “It’s like the canvas has a relationship with her subconscious”. We were then lucky enough, at the tail end of summer, to catch Lotte for an interview whilst she was on a visit to Berlin from Rotterdam. And so, on the balcony of her makeshift studio, over a pot of tea we discussed why Lotte made the leap from sculpture to painting, how it impacted her broader practice, and just generally what different ideas and concepts have been occupying her mind lately.
We first talked of how Lotte found painting.
“Creative practices of all sorts always interested me, but I never knew how to make a living out of them… When I graduated from my studies I had some small sculptures I’d made and I felt like I wanted to go back to doing something with my hands. I studied as a teacher, but I never felt one hundred percent while studying that — that’s why I got an atelier.”
“I shared the atelier with someone who was doing painting while I did my sculpture-making and a bit of drawing. It was amazing to watch her work on these big canvases. It triggered me to try it myself and I immediately enjoyed it. However, in the beginning, I only started with oil sticks — still just drawing — but then I felt that they were holding me back so I decided to move on to paint. That was a little over a year ago.”
I was curious what kind of significance this discovery of painting offered her broader artistic practice.
“After I found painting, things moved pretty quick. It also felt very right — which was something I’d never experienced before with any of the things I tried. And those were many: I’d tried silkscreen printing, sewing, welding, jewellery-making, wood, ceramics. It took me a long time to come to painting.”
Lotte’s time spent sharing an atelier with the painter seemed to have left a defining impression on her. We explored this further.
“I feel very lucky that I had the chance to share the space with her. She just wasn’t holding back with her movements; she was really playing. That’s what attracted me so much. It was all play.”
“You can move around, you don’t plan too much ahead, you just respond in the moment on what you’re doing, and then slowly, gradually, you build the image up. It feels very free.”
After so fluidly exploring so many different disciplines, it seemed strange that it took Lotte so long to arrive at painting. I wondered why.
“In my head I always had these negative thoughts towards paintbrushes. You have to reload all the time and so you can’t work in a continuous flow. That’s why I was first initially interested in drawing techniques, working with oil sticks and crayons. But then after a while, a feeling was growing that they were holding me back in some ways. The visual imagery that was evolving became too strict. Too rigid. My painter friend Eelke recommended I try to paint after all. This was when another layer of reality opened up to me: everything switched and somehow came together fairly quick. Funny how wrong I was with my assumption on paintbrushes — I love them! They are my magic wands.”
I was curious what concepts and ideas have been occupying her mind lately, and how they find their way into her work.
“I’ve had this fascination for a long time with the idea of glitches; what they can communicate or play with. A lot of my visual imagery is inspired by this… How we perceive our reality can change completely over time. Unrecognizably. For example, if we lived two thousand years ago we’d believe that thunder was created by the Gods in the sky — but we live today, so we believe something completely different. If how we perceive the world has changed so drastically from the past, why can’t it change again? Perhaps logical science bringing us metaphysical places — things one can't grasp now — might be a daily reality someday. Things that seem so solid on the first glimpse, are actually not. In a visual way, I feel that the glitch communicates this idea.”
“Because although a glitch is something like a movement — it also stops something. For example, when it happens on your computer, the glitch basically says ‘No’ to the system. That’s an idea I really like because I think in a lot of ways I want to say ‘No’ to the system that’s running now in our world. The politicians are so stiff in a lot of ways. They hold on so tight to the things that have been built, but some of these dynamics don’t work anymore — it all could use a bit more movement there. Or less fear of some metamorphoses.”
What do your paintings mean to you? And what do you hope they mean to others? I ask, as a parting question.
“I guess they’re very optimistic. They’re also in touch with the idea of transcendence. When I describe my work, I hope to be in touch with this idea of creating a movement in the hearts and minds of people — like, what music can do but in a visual way. It sounds so cliche, but I think that’s the energy we need more of… The desire to keep things as they are can be very comforting, but yeah, I don’t think we should be afraid of change. Change will come anyway, and letting go of things is a life lesson we can learn a lot from.”
Thank you to Lotte. You can find her links below.
Words by Ewan Waddell.