Christine Streuli - Why I Paint
Exploring the creative processes of tomorrow's artists today - as featured in Vitamin P3
It's difficult at times to understand where Christine Streuli’s paintings begin or end. Their expansion outside the canvas, to drip onto the floor or climb the wall, puts them in a place where they're more at home with the idea of installation, defying the convention of the frame and aligning them with the work of those artists who successfully proved that paintings can take possession of and dominate the exhibiting space, rather than be dominated by it.
Defined by a dynamic chromatic intensity, with pattern-like repetition of different motives and a vast array of techniques, from stencils to hairbrushes and spray cans, Streuli’s paintings can be a little attention seeking but they are not a bid for supremacy. Just like billboards, they are majestic and flashy, carrying with them a deep awareness of the history of the medium and a consequent desire to say something new through the rearrangement of its existing elements.
As she has explained, ‘My favourite moment is when the studio doesn’t help me anymore, when my sketches don’t help me and I’m out on my own.’ Here, the Vitamin P3-featured painter tells us what interests, inspires and spurs her on.
Who are you? I am an artist grappling with, and engaged in, painting, currently based in Berlin. For some days now ambivalence and inconclusiveness have dominated but simultaneously this blurry and pulsative desire to accomplish freedom, lightness and lucidity have also been on my mind.
How do you get this stuff out? My tendency towards ambivalence and openness constantly require me to make decisions. All those decisions provoke new questions and new ambivalence. So I am afraid this stuff finally never gets out, it’s constantly changing and fooling me but it enables my work. So I just go to my studio and act. I try to do something and I try to observe and reflect on myself and what happens while I am doing things. Surprisingly there is always something new to discover and claim after so many years!
How does it fit together? In retrospect it’s very pleasant to see how everything fits together - although it never was, or is, my motivation to make things fit together. I love dialectic. I try to remember and keep experiences but I am longing for the absolute present and the future. I am not working on ‘togetherness’ in a retrospective way. I am working on a ‘here and now’, I think.
What brought you to this point? I think the constant search and awareness of who I am and how I function and finding out in what actual moments I feel lucid, well and authentic in my skin. It sounds too simple but I find it very challenging to recognize and to take advantage of those short moments in life. And I am more then happy about these encounters running through my work.
Can you control it? Wouldn't it be more coherent to define an artist’s work as a work in progress? To find a back door through which we can wander away from control and surveillance whenever we think we have it?
Have you ever destroyed one of your paintings? Oh yes of course. After a certain time a few of them were just not interesting to me anymore. I am not a clinging, clutching person towards my paintings. It’s good to let go from time to time - in all kinds of situations.
What’s next for you, and what’s next for painting? I am happy to spend summer and autumn here in Berlin at my studio. The City is quite empty and calm during these months. So I really enjoy my everyday life going to the studio. Currently I am intensely working on a brand new group of middle and large- scale paintings. I call them ‘War Paintings’. In autumn and winter I will show some of them in a number of shows here in Berlin and next year I will be very excited and pleased to show my newest works at the Museum in Sydney. And meanwhile as I know myself very well I will worry that my work wont be seen enough - just to return to your previous question about my mind in constant ambivalence, stress and alertness!
Vitamin P3 New Perspectives In Painting is the third in an ongoing series that began with Vitamin P in 2002 and Vitamin P2 in 2011. For each book, distinguished critics, curators, museum directors and other contemporary art experts are invited to nominate artists who have made significant and innovative contributions to painting. The series in general, and Vitamin P3 in particular, is probably the best way to become an instant expert on tomorrrow's painting stars today.
Find out more about Vitamin P3 New Perspectives In Painting here. Check back for another Why I Paint interview with a Vitamin P3-featured artist tomorrow. And if you're quick, you can snap up works by many of the other painters featured in Vitamin P3 at Artspace - the best place to buy the world's best contemporary art. Finally, be sure to check out more of Christine Streuli's work at Galerie Mark Mueller.