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Maren Wellendorf



Album Andalusia, Maren Wellendorf

Extract from the speech by Maren Wellendorf at the opening of the exhibition at the Kunstverein Reinfeld (Hamburg, Germany), March 2002

  ... In the recent years I have painted mainly landscapes of Andalusia, because the forms and colours, the light change throughout the year and the times of the day, the incredibly diverse spanish landscapes are not letting me go. When I return after a tour through the Andalusian hinterland and then lying in bed trying to recall my impressions, I often notice being alarmed that all the things which brought me wonder and linger faded again.”

If I want to describe with words, what has touched me so much, I lack the linguistic means for it.
So I first tried to capture with the camera my impressions, thereby preserving them and also to show them to others.
What a disappointment when I picked up in anticipation the developed photos. These small photos do not even roughly reflect what I saw and felt. So I tried, with a slightly larger format than a photo, to capture my memories with oil or acrylic paints.

And I try, e.g. to maintain the typical forms of the landscape. But I change the real landscape, too, for the composition of a painted image it is subject to its laws. Therefore you can’t even say that a landscape is composed badly, maybe just because the mountain ridges run very parallel – in a painting this is different.

I also try to maintain the typical landscape colour, but also here the use of colour is subject to its laws. The so impressive, almost dark blue Andalusian sky: painted this way the landscape can seem cold and unreal. The strong green tones do not interfere in the real landscape, but in a painted image this can happen. When I paint the harvested fields with strong red and yellow paint, if I exaggerate colours, I can simultaneously transmit warmth or heat.

Therefore, I create through my paintings, new landscapes from living and seeing, that firstly just belong to me.

Whilst composing and painting, I know for myself more and more why I was attracted by these landscapes, I gain clarity about my ambivalent feelings. Since there are, on one hand, the joy of the painter of shapes and colours, on the other hand, even the affright over precipices, on the hostile environment and the recognition of our own insignificance. Painting is always self-awareness and self-knowledge. You learn the change of your own emotional world, by exposing yourself to unfamiliar environments or situations.

My pictures represent more than they actually show: When I first saw a procession of the Semana Santa, I was a little bit scared about the reaction that took place inside of me- you can say I physically felt -. As an atheist it was inexplicable to me why I experienced shivers running down the spine when I saw the penitents, with their pointed hats and the muffled drums and fanfare - almost like a cry. There is something in everything, what may be called spiritual sense, in any case such feelings are not to explain with the ratio only, and they are not part of the ordinary everyday experience. This process has nothing to do with bare charm or sentimentality. So when I paint a picture of a procession, I would like to find a composition of colours that make this ambivalence of the world of feelings visible: for me during the work, and if succeed, for others while viewing the images.

This mixture of fear and the desire to get to know you profoundly is something that drives me, even in landscape painting.

The painting of a landscape may not be smooth, balanced, therefore being purely decorative, but it is a reflection partly of unconscious momentary sensations. When I am enthusiastic about the folded mountains near Almeria, the realization comes very fast that these folds were formed by erosion, by wind, weather and deforestation. Even the most primitive retained forms are under threat by economic development, building new highway routes.

While I feel in a moment lifted and comforted by the grandeur of the landscape , a little bit later I am worried, that I know that nothing is unchangeable – neither me nor the landscape. And yet these grand natures still exist, even if we are not here anymore. I find that very comforting because it helps to accept the insignificance of the individual.
I communicated myself through my paintings and hope that a viewer can benefit from my individual point of view ...