Art as a vessel - a voyage into inner life
– an interview with Anna Lea Hucht
Anna-Lea Hucht was born in Bonn and lives in Berlin. Her works have been shown in solo exhibitions at Meyer Riegger, Berlin, Germany (2020); Galerie der Stadt Backnang, Germany (2019); Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2016); Museum Franz Gertsch, Germany (2011); Kunsthalle Mainz, Germany (2009); Horst-Janssen-Museum, Germany (Oldenburg, 2008) and Kunsthaus Essen, Germany (2008). The artist has been awarded multiple awards and grants such as Bonner Kunstpreis, Keramik-Förderpreis der Majolika-Stiftung, HAP-Grieshaber-Preis, Horst-Janssen-Grafikpreis, Cité Internationale des Arts, Rotary-Scholarship "Young Art in Essen" and Graduate Scholarship of the state of Baden-Württemberg.
Photo credits: Studio kela-mo for KubaParis
"The work 'Untitled' was finished a few months before the pandemic. I think in some ways it brings a prophetic reading to the piece, foreshadowing the experience and mood of lockdown."
Could you tell us about your artistic practice and how it has evolved over the years?
Over the years I have developed my very own technique to paint watercolours, consisting of partially layering colours to get different levels of density. Most of my watercolours are imaginary and developed out of preliminary drawings. Since I usually do not work from photographs - except for my still lifes - I make lots of sketches and drawings on tracing paper to map out different possibilities of layouts, positions and perspectives for the figures, objects and pattern in my compositions. The still lifes are mostly in black and white and are based on photographs from old books or that I took myself. In 2007 I also added to my practice sculptural works made from clay. Most of the ceramics I make are hand-built. Over the years I have experimented with different glazes such as craquelée and engobes.
How do your watercolours relate to your ceramics? Do you see them as interrelated mediums or separate practices?
The ceramics developed organically out of the watercolours as they were already part of the interiors and still lifes I painted as vases or vessels. I progressively started to get interested in studying and collecting ceramic objects. This made me want to learn the techniques to make ceramics myself. I see my ceramic works as interrelated with my watercolours - some ceramic works act like observers of the watercolours and some watercolours interact with the shades of the glazes. The ceramics also act as an extension in the physical space of the interiors depicted in the watercolours. For a solo exhibition last year, I installed a work made from ceramic tiles on the wall in which I etched a drawing. This allowed me to unite both mediums.
What does a typical day at your studio look like?
I usually continuously work on my watercolours and ceramics and often make sketches for new works or prepare materials for my ceramics. In between a lot of espressos, I also spend time doing research from books and the internet to find inspiration. My areas of interest are quite wide – ranging from Japanese craftsmanship, the concept of ‘Wabi-Sabi', Scandinavian design of the 1960s, Memphis design, the traditional ceramics of Maria Martinez and Lucy Martin Lewis from New Mexico, architecture and furniture of the Shakers movement, August Sander’s photography or reading biographies.
Could you tell us about ‘Untitled’? What is the genesis of this work?
I wanted to create a watercolour depicting the earth as a whole. Everything seems to be falling apart these days and my idea when creating the work was to depict the earth in its full beauty and at the same time to create an atmosphere of alienation from it. The lone figure can be seen as metaphor of the artist or writer in the studio, reflecting on the world. I inserted a millstone in the composition - an artefact which could have been brought from earth as a memento to another place. Interestingly, the work was finished a few months before the pandemic. I think in some ways it brings a prophetic reading to the piece, foreshadowing the experience and mood of lockdown.
Do you listen to anything when you work?
I sometimes listen to the news on the radio. I like discussions about current political topics as well as podcasts about fine art, philosophy, psychology and social issues. Sometimes I also listen to music radios such as the French channel FIP.
Anna Lea Hucht, Untitled, 2021View work
Der Blindensturz by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
If you could own any piece of art, what would it be?
Oh, it’s very difficult to say, but there are two that come to mind. The first one is Industriebauern by Georg Scholz (1920). I particularly like works where the interior constructs a narrative in relation to the characters depicted. At the time, this provocative painting deconstructed the romantic mythos of the farmer. The objects are carefully chosen, and everything has a meaning. I especially love the butter maker and the collaged elements. The second would be Der Blindensturz by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1568). The colours and the arrangements of the folds are incredible, and the composition is outstanding. I love how cinematic the scene looks. It depicts a tragic moment and yet hope is still present. It is a very humanistic work that shows humans as searchers.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I am working on a few watercolours with hairy plants and a group of ceramics in the form of eye globes - a bit like cyclops.