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Jill Conner, Art Critic/Writer, Curator, New York, NY
Elke Daemmrich won the Jill Conner Critic's Choice Award in the Manhattan Arts International New York
"Celebrate The Healing Power of ART" juried competition, 2013, for her copper engraving "Bees".
"Elke Daemmrich’s eloquent copper engraving “Bees” brings viewers up close to an evolving environmental
issue that is currently central to sustainability. Daemmrich presents these vibrant insects within a nest
of honeycomb and from multiple perspectives. The artist’s detailed renderings are so specific, layered
and mesmerizing that the lack of color becomes an afterthought. The circular rhythm of representation
keeps the eye moving throughout, examining bees up close and at a distance.
Elke Daemmrich’s utilization of mixed perspectives give rise to an awareness of a life so miniscule
yet profoundly significant. For Daemmrich, the truth is in the details."
(Jill Conner is founder of AS | ARTISTS STUDIOS. She is also the New York Editor of Whitehot Magazine,
Editor of On-Verge as well as a contributor to Afterimage, ArtUS, Art in America, Interview Magazine,
Performance Art Journal and Sculpture Magazine. She has provided editorial assistance to Dorothea Rockburne.)
Renée Phillips, Author, Curator and Director of Manhattan Arts International, New York, NY
Interview with Elke Daemmrich, July 15, 2013
Bold, Light-Filled Paintings and Engravings
Elke Daemmrich is one of the most accomplished artists I know. As an award-winning artist she has had more
than 75 solo exhibitions, including several in museums in Europe and the United States. Her life as an artist
seems to come right out of a romantic art history book. Born in Dresden, East Germany, she moved to the
southwest of France, near Toulouse in 1994. She bought a medieval house, the birthplace of an archbishop of
Albi, where she lives and works today. She works tirelessly creating art and taking care of her professional
responsibilities. In between traveling throughout Europe which preoccupies her busy exhibition schedule she
found time to answer a few questions. I am delighted to share information about this fascinating and celebrated
RP: Elke, when did you first become interested in art and why?
ED: Born in Dresden in East Germany the art museums in my hometown made a big impression on me. I think
it was very good for me to see original art in my early years, since I remember painting and drawing as a child.
RP: What event or experience has had the greatest impact on your artistic direction?
ED: In 1993 I was awarded a grant from the foundation Kulturfonds Berlin for my project "The Light of the South",
which gave me the opportunity to work 6 months in Lacoste, Provence, in the south of France. That changed my
art radically. I became fascinated with landscapes, light and energy. The conditions of life, nature and culture of
the Mediterranean Region became and remain the most important subjects in my art.
RP: Elke, I'm fascinated by how you go back and forth between creating large oil paintings on canvas and
engravings. Could you tell us what current art work or art project you are working on?
ED: At the moment I am preparing a solo exhibition for the Gallery of Contemporary Art in the Palais Bénédictine
in Fecamp, in Normandie, from October 5th, 2013 to January 5th, 2014. I am painting a series of new botanical
paintings for the exhibition. The goal is to use white like color. In the winter, when I will be in Germany, I will continue
making new etchings. I have lots of ideas.
RP: The upcoming solo exhibition sounds fantastic. And, I look forward to seeing your newest art work.
You've had so many important exhibitions. Is there one or more in particular that stands out in your memory?
ED: My solo exhibition in the Goya Museum in Castres, a french National Museum, in 1999. And recently my solo
show in the Museum Junge Kunst Frankfurt/Oder, Germany, from November 2012 to January 2013. I have never
seen my artwork exhibited better. It was an excellent professional work with excellent co-operation from the Director,
Dr. Brigitte Rieger-Jähner. We also had lots of fun working together.
RP: Who has been your greatest motivator and/or cheerleader for your career and why?
ED: There were many people who inspired me. First, I think of Jean-Louis Augé, Director of the Goya Museum
in Castres, who asked me to do a series of etchings in 1996. That lead me to my first copper engravings.
Second, I think about New York where I went in September, 1999. There I found the print version of Manhattan Arts
International magazine (September-October 1999). I have it in my hands as I write this commentary. In it I found
the announcement for your book “Success NOW! For Artists” and I bought it. Your advice helped me to accomplish
my most important professional goal. I think also on my art collectors in Ottawa, Canada, Nicole and Charles Jeffrey,
who pushed and motivated me all the time.
RP: Elke, thank you. I am so honored to know that my book "Success NOW! For Artists" played a role in
your career that way. I am very grateful that we have remained connected across the globe all these years.
Your career has grown in leaps and bounds. May I ask, how do you define success for yourself as an artist?
ED: I'm very happy to do what I do. Success for me is when my art goes it's own way; when things happen for my
art spontaneously without somebody playing a role which opens the door; when things happen like the following
example: To become a member of the Fondation Taylor in Paris, usually you need to have two mentors. The
committee accepted me and my art without this condition.
RP: Congratulations! Do you have any artist role models and if so, what have they taught you?
ED: Of course I am attracted by the work of Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo and Louise Bourgeois. But for a long
time I have been fascinated by the work of Max Ernst. The way he constructs/makes his art, his new technical
skills, to learn his art from his life experiences, his thirst for installations in new environments. (I know Seillan in
France very well). And last his charisma is extraordinary. He taught me that change can be very productive.
Living in different places can have a big impact on creation.
RP: Elke, please tell us about your upcoming exhibitions.
ED: I am very happy because I have 5 solo exhibitions scheduled during the next 12 months (the titles have yet
to be determined), namely:
1.) October 5th to January 5th, 2014 in the Gallery of Contemporary Art in the Palais Bénédictine in Fecamp,
in Normandie, France - a very nice exhibition space of more than 200 m2;
2.) January 24th to March 29th, 2014 in the Gallery am blauen Wunder, Dresden;
3.) February 5th to March 12th, 2014 in the Gallery 100 in Berlin;
4.) April 6th to July 13th, 2014, a solo exhibition showing my copper engravings in the Museum Otto Schäfer
Schweinfurt combined with, at the same time;
5.) a solo exhibition showing my paintings in the Gallery of the Kunstverein Schweinfurt, Germany.
RP: Looking at the rich movement and complexity of both your paintings and your engravings makes me
wonder if you have any favorite music to listen to while you create?
ED: In my studio in France I often work with the window wide open. So while I’m working I can hear the cries
of the swifts which live in the walls of my house and the songs of cicadas and crickets. When the window is
closed colors also can be music. When I’m traveling in my car I listen to different kinds of music, very eclectic :
from The Beatles to Frank Zappa and from Beethoven to Schostakovitsch.
RP: Now I understand what might have inspired the magnificent engraving titled "Bees" which won two
Manhattan Arts International awards. What advice can you offer a first time art buyer?
ED: I think that the important question is: “Can I live a long time with this artwork” ? Some of my collectors
have my art in their bedrooms, waking each day with it. They tell me that with time they discover new things
RP: Why do you believe it is important to live with original art?
ED: It is important to buy original artwork because it is for the whole of your life. It isn't a car or a kitchen...
that has a limited life. In original artwork the individual can find himself and grow with it during his lifetime.
RP: What is the greatest challenge you have overcome during your career?
ED: For 10 years I have lived only from selling my artwork and from the fees I receive from Galleries for
exhibiting my work. That was my greatest challenge.
RP: Elke, how do you manage your time to be most productive and nourish your creativity?
ED: Normally there is always a time for creating art and after for making exhibitions or making contacts, which
includes traveling. At times it’s funny, like being in a big kitchen, mixing all things together: painting, responding
to e- mails, writing contracts for the next projects, writing this interview…
About what nourishes my creativity...Going into nature is for me the most important thing. I like to go on the
littorals on the Mediterranean coast. Or simply going into my garden in Tournecoupe to have a look at the
plants and insects…. Sometimes political events have an impact on my paintings, like September 11th, 2001
or Fukushima and the accident of the Costa Concordia on my etchings.
RP: You have achieved so success in a competitive field. That can only be achieved as a result
of your talent and efforts. What advice do you offer to an emerging artist ?
ED: I would like to answer with a citation from Laurie Notaro: "If you really believe in what you're doing,
work hard, take nothing personally and if something blocks one route, find another. Never give up."
Interview on Renée Phillips blog
Fred Noiret, Director of Eqart
Text of the catalogue "La femme cachée" exhibition in the Gallery Eqart,
Marciac, France, from 3 May to 8 Juin 2013 (translated by Véronique Lees)
The hidden Woman
As she undoubtedly thought that our old world was too dreary, Elke Daemmrich
has become an explorer and paints worlds to match her thirst for adventures.
Her Universe, which may appear at first to set humans against nature and to be
accessible to her only, proves nevertheless irresistible. To rush in without boldness
is to take the risk of seeing and understanding nothing. The only way to approach
Elke Daemmrich's art is to dive in. Head first, eyes wide open.
Well then? Yes, you were not mistaken: it stings, it cuts, it's full of plants and
insects, and even the seabed is unforgiving, despite its astonishing light. Yes,
here you are indeed, caught up in a storm of shapes and colours which are so
amazingly choreographed, a poor little being devoid of antennas to guide you
and of paws to hang on with! Rocked by currents of electric blues, tossed in this
amazing kaleidoscope, did you not see this superb and delicate flower which
is gesturing to you and is offering you a moment of respite in the hollow of its
belly ? Suspicious, you think you can see, floating in the narrow spaces of its
petals, the sweet scent of the carnivorous trap. So go and dazzle your eyes on
the anemones impossible reds and discover all of a sudden this intrepid swimmer
who is rusching with a stiff elegance towards his starfish. Here he is, can you see
him ? And what about this powerful bull which is moviong forward to bump into
your face, those motionless wasps among which you have to walk... You are no
longer scared ? Freed at last of their dull shell, your eyes are about to discover the
Hidden Woman. And her tears.
If, in Elke Daemmrich's paintings, colour bursts so vividly that it drowns our senses
and saturates our vision, it is however cleverly ordered through a rigorous and
rich composing. Such care given to the construction becomes even more obvious
when the artist tackles etching. Be it with strong water, a dry point or a needle,
the line is sharp, precise and the abundance of shapes is pushed to the extreme,
colours having given way to numerous lines patiently set down in the depth of the
copper-plate. The energy, which we can feel is substantial in this artist and which
gushes forth with such strength in her beautiful painting, never weakens during
this true exercise in patience which is etching.
In her paintings as well as in her etchings, through themes as varied as bullfighting,
botany or the current hot topics, Elke brings together strength and sensuality with
a talent which endorses an experience for all the senses.
Copyright by Elke Daemmrich