We recently collaborated with Lisbon based painter Daniela Krtsch for her exposition 'Facing Youth', at Porta 14 Exhibition room in Lisbon 2018. Last December, we stopped by her studio to say hello, and talk about herself, her work, Elementum’s shirt dress and fashion.
Text & photography Yoád David Luxembourg
Who was the girl that would become Daniela Krtsch?
I was born in Göttingen, then, a little university town in Germany. We lived very close to nature, really on the corner of the street between the city and a big forest. My parents divorced when I was 6 and my mother left me lot of Liberty. And so, very early on I spent my afternoons in the woods in the nature, playing with the neighborhood children, mostly. There were some city streets of course, and we did a lot of things by bikes, but I was mainly in the nature, and yet still close to home.
What was your favourite subject in school?
I always liked art and music, but I think I liked every subject when the teacher was inspiring. I really love the subject through the teacher. So, as long as you learn something if you learn it from somebody who's really inspiring in teaching I think it makes you connect more the subject.
What you were hoping to become in your youth?
A hairdresser. Well, I really liked to cut hair. So I cut the hair from all my colleagues in the fifth grade and all my family and so I thought - I want to be a hairdresser.
What key inner qualities do you think have helped you develop?
I think it was curiosity. Curiosity for things, for peoples, for different cultures. I started to travel with my father when I was very young, later after High-school I traveled more far, sometimes even alone. I wanted to discover new people, new countries, new languages. Also, I am very much disciplined and this is important for me as an artist. It is important because I have my daily work in my studio and it is easier to do it when you have discipline, when you persevere. So, I think I believe that when I want to do things I really try to to do it. It's a belief, it's believing that I can do it, that I will see things through. It is also a kind of in confidence. That when I start something I want to finish it.
Where lie the roots for your inspirations?
My inspiration can come from everywhere. It can be a book I read, it can be a person I meet. It can be an image I saw, or even a dream I had. It varies a lot. Sometimes, immediately I want to turn it into work, and sometimes it needs to rest a little and it come out in another time of my life when it makes more sense.
When did you become a painter?
I started to paint consciously, that is to really paint, when I was about 11-12. I painted a lot and my mother saw that, so she signed me up to studio classes with an artist who taught all kind of painting and drawing techniques. I started to work every week with drawing and painting since then.
What has been the best moment in your career so far?
I think that I feel very appreciated and recognized as an artist, when people contact me and reach out to me because they really like my work. That can be a personal moment or a collaboration with different artistic areas.
What has been the best lesson in your career so far?
I learned that as an artist you have to believe in your work. Independently of the tendencies of art to be shown and independently if people are interested in your work or not you need to be very much loyal and faithful to yourself and your work. You have to trust it and continue working because that is what makes you create. Sometimes it can be frustrating to see that the grass is greener on the other side. But despite what is happening You must remain true to yourself and maintain that trust. don’t give up on your own journey. What you do only comes out when you work.
Where do you prefer to paint?
Well, I prefer to paint during the daylight, I use the daylight. I cannot really well work with artificial light. I work mostly standing with my canvas on the wall, and I need a place near the window. So I prefer also - not dark countries, I prefer sunny countries.
Can you describe how your art feels?
I feel my art and my paintings are about imagination - they are about fragments of narratives which are between the real and the imaginary. They are like unfinished moments. And I think the emotion people probably feel is suspense.
What can you tell about the role of colors in your work?
My palette of colors has changed over the years. It has been quite colorful and then in turned more dark. It changed also with the subjects of my work. When I talk about a memory and the past I use a more darker background and when it is more a present work it has lighter backgrounds. But color is very very important and I work with all kinds of paints. It has to do with what I want, where I aim to. Color is a medium with which I talk about the subject in my paintings and it stays a medium in my work.
Where did you and the Elementum’s shirt dress meet?
The shirt dress was very interesting for this painting, because as a spectator, as a viewer, you can not really define where does it come from, or what it supposed to be. It is very neutral, but then it has the back and the front that you can use in a versatile way. It is exactly what I want to communicate with it and with that person which I chose for the painting.
I used the shirt dress for a site specific exhibition for small place where I wanted to create another dimension with the painting. I want to have an ambiguity, therefore I chose a person and clothes for that person which were free from gender, age, time, etc. Ambiguous; but also that we could not connect the painting with a moment in which it takes place, a context, or the purpose.
Because I was planning to do the image with these kind of clothes, I thought Daniela will have the right clothes for it. Daniela’s work is based on a variety of possibilities to use clothes in several ways. I had already seen clothes that you can wear from both sides and then I think she told me about this new Item she designed. When I saw it I thought it is exactly what I want.
Can you describe the Shirt Dress in keywords?
Versatility, and of course in my work- ambiguity. Daniela’s work has this flexibility, everything must be flexible, and flexible in way that it must fit the person. It does not constrain the person indirectly, it does not put them in a style. But it fits to the person as they live their life.
In the painting, what is the relationship between the person and the shirt?
This work was a collaboration between the photographer Duarte Amaral Netto, whose work I like very much; Daniela Pais which is a fashion designer, for her clothes - Elementum; my friend Fatima Belo, an actress, who modeled for the painting; and me, a painter, who finally painted this situation. And this is really nice, because we have here a collaboration of four people working with art, and I get to use that combination to make this painting, this exhibition.
For the person which I matched the shirt with, I wanted to have somebody where you could not tell what is their age and gender, or who could assume any gender, any age. The person in the painting is an actress like that. She is 50 years old, and she has this look, especially from the back, that you cannot define, that could become a man or woman, young or old, which is exactly what I wanted. For me this person had a lot to do with the shirt, which also you could not define where it belongs to, where does it come from, why it is dressed like that, but that could become many things or meanings.
Can you describe your relationship with clothes?
Personally I really like clothes, but in recent years I find that clothes have to be special but also really comfortable. Because I work a lot every day and I have children, it is very very important for me to feel comfortable. When I was younger I were things that I liked but that were not really comfortable, but these days I give myself the luxury to wear things that are nice and comfortable and special. I think this dress is exactly an item that I would choose to wear. I think it is good for women who have taste for fashion, who are conscious about themselves and want to be comfortable at the same time. And want to look special also, because it is a special piece.
As artist, Clothes are like color, are like a medium to me. I can say that I do the scenography for my paintings. I build situations and take photos from which I then work. So when I do these scenarios, and when I have people in them, then clothes are very important. Like it was in this case. This relationship between clothes and my art depends on what narrative I am creating. So, the clothes of course have a big role to play. I use mainly people in my work, and people are not painted naked, most of the times. So in the moment or situation that I create, people have to be dressed and the dressing is very significant. It give the spectator hints about what the painting is about, where is it, what kind of person is in it, what century are we in. You can do a lot with the clothes. You can give a lot of contexts with the clothes.
What about clothes and art in general?
I do not know if I can give a general vision of it. I think it depends on what you work with. From my perspective, people who do cloths are also doing art, nowadays people are working in different areas that in a way all these areas and fields are touching each other.