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Painting Is an Act of Creation

Conversation of Birgit Sewekow with Marco Bodenstein


Painter Birgit Sewekow with her painting "Summer Dream". The magnificance of colors and the joy of life in the works of the painter are her unmistakeable trademarks. In the background can be seen the bronze portrait of the artist, which was created by the sculptor Kurt Arentz

Foto Copyright Marco-VG, Bonn


Question: You are a painter of colors. From where comes this enchantment with colorful splendor and multiplicity of colors?

BS: Already as a child I was enchanted by the multiplicity of colors and the beauty of Nature. At that time the color ranked above the object. In the course of time, I saw in colors -- for example, in paintings -- the depiction of feelings and assessments of objects in their totality. Today I transform this directly into my own pictures. For this reason, for instance landscapes and buildings, but also faces receive their own color values.


Question: Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali, being questioned about their own inspirations, almost identically said that what they painted was already present in their inner imagination. From where do you get the inspiration for the artistic transformation of a depiction from Nature and from the world around us?

BS: That applies also to me. To some extent, "pictures" ripen within me over the years. When the time comes, I bring them out, so to speak, in an act of creation on the canvas. The inspiration is fed by my observations of life all around me, from my own life circumstances as well as by travels in many countries of the world and the pursuit of their cultures. In addition to that comes something important: the encounter with art and culture already in my childhood days. My parents have stimulated this with early visits to museums. From that in turn has developed my interest for an intensive dialog with painting and sculpture, as well as with architecture.


Question: What is painting for you: the transformation of a dream, the realization of an inner vision, the preservation of a memory, the continuation of the Western cultural heritage, or something else.....?

BS: Painting is the depiction of my feelings about the beauties of Nature beyond all transience. Painting is for me thus an act of creation, in which experiences are put in their proper perspective. Even though as a painter I relate to Impressionism and Expressionism, still I find my own artistic language.


Question: You have used many of your travels abroad also for the studies of art and culture. What impressions were for you especially deep?

BS: All my travels abroad had always a cultural alignment. Visits to museums, churches, temples, mosques, and other places of interest belonged to it. The ventures with my husband and my daughter I found especially pleasing, because the joint search of cultures of mankind makes us even more aware of the world history.

In this day and age, the great travel possibilities open up more than ever before the doors to the places of our admiration. In Egypt, they were for me Karnak and the Pyramids. In Mexico, I was impressed by the fascinating archeological finds, and by the museum in Mexico City. Then again, in Syria, Mari and Ebla as well as a cruise down the Euphrat were for me an impressive encounter with the high culture of the Middle East, and its great influence on other cultural developments.

In Uzbekistan, one is conscious of the spreading out of cultural and scientific contributions of the past as far as the West, and especially to India. And India is downright, from the slopes of the Himalayas to the southern tip in the direction of Ceylon, its own continent of cultures and religions.

The traces of cultures and of mankind continue in Cambodia, among others with the unique temple complex of Angkor. It belongs to the greatest impressions in all my travels outside Europe.

I consider these experiences and impressions very important, in order to still better to grasp and value the great cultural accomplishments in Europe -- from antiquity until now -- and above, all the Christian Western culture


Question: The sculptor Arno Breker has declared in 1978 in the Museum Centre Pompidou in Paris: "Rooms without pictures are like men without souls". By that he meant that to the total culture of mankind belongs also being surrounded by works of art that touch us in a positive way. How do you interpret this statement?

BS: This viewpoint corresponds also to my own sentiment. I still remember it well: already as a child, I had pictures hanging in my bedroom. Also photographs or art prints, for example the 'Pieta' by Michelangelo, as well as a print of a wonderful woodcarving of a Madonna by Tilman Riemenschneider. And we have continued this in the same way with my daughter. One could never imagine our house without pictures. And that should be recommend to all.


Question: To what degree do impressions from your childhood and youth -- like music, museum visits, theater, reading -- continue to affect you today?

BS: To a great extent! I continue the tradition of museum and concert visits with my family. My reading has been focused for some years now on art and culture. Still today I remember the wonderful concert visits, which I made as a young girl with my mother. Bad weather on Sundays was often used for visits to museums. Such experiences cannot be taken away from one. They continue to work positively for a lifetime.


Question: Do you feel that it is thanks to your parents that you have your musical sentimentality and good taste?

SB: To a high degree, and with great thankfulness!


Question: What life experiences would you like to pass on to parents and to the young generation in our Media and Computer Age?

BS: Children should learn to play a musical instrument, to draw and to paint. In addition, boys and girls should regularly visit exhibitions. It is important to learn foreign languages. The possibility to be able to communicate in words is essential for a mutual understanding.



Copyright 2003 West-Art, Prometheus 88/2003


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Copyright 2003 West-Art

PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin for Art, Politics and Science.

Nr. 88, Summer 2003