The painter Birgit Sewekow in her atelier in conversation with the editor Marco Bodenstein from Bonn, Germany.
Question: You are a painter of colors. Where does this enchantment with colorful splendor and multiplicity of colors come from?
BS: Even 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 also applies 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 is something important: the encounter with art and culture in my childhood days. My parents stimulated this inspiration with early visits to museums. That in turn has developed my interest for an intensive dialogue 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, I still find my own artistic language.
Question: You have also used many of your travels abroad for the studies of art and culture. What impressions were especially deep for you?
BS: All of my travels abroad always had 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 world history.
In this day and age, more than ever before, great travel possibilities open up the doors to the places of our admiration. In Egypt, I was impressed by the Karnak and the Pyramids. In Mexico, we were impressed by the fascinating archeological finds, and the museum in Mexico City. Then again, in Syria, Mari and Ebla as well as a cruise down the Euphrates 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 the 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 better 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 declared in 1978 in the Museum Centre Pompidou in Paris: "Rooms without pictures are like men without souls". By that he meant: to the total culture of mankind must be included being surrounded by works of art that touch us in a positive way. How do you interpret this statement?
BS: This viewpoint also corresponds 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 recommended 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 ability to communicate in words is essential for a mutual understanding.
Copyright 2003 West-Art, Prometheus 90/2003