Artist Interviews 2021

Annina Roescheisen  
By Johnny Otto

My first impression of your work is that you love astronomy and weaving your work together with organic principles. It is like looking at a galaxy or a topographical map of the universe...a certain obsession with mathematics, perhaps. How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?

I would describe my work to someone who has never seen it as: a lens on a colorful palette that lets the spectator delve into the freedom of their emotions, uncovering shapes and things that are usually invisible to us. I make the intangible world emotionally visible.

My work is connected to the invisible realm, with all that we cannot see but feel. I am very much interested in quantum physics and how frequencies or magnetic waves are constantly being received and emitted. Hence, every object, every plant, every human, every art piece, etc. is in constant co-creation with our own magnetic field. I try to make the invisible visible and reconnect our emotional body and sensitivity through color and frequency.

Thus, the reference to the cosmos and mathematics is very appropriate. Giving the invisible a visible form on canvas or any other medium like paper, video or photography is a core theme in my practice. My inspirations drawn from the medieval arts, iconography and alchemy are combined with interdisciplinary research in music, philosophy, and literature.

The study of the aesthetics/ impact of colors: how the dual mechanism of color influences and continuously penetrates our emotional bodies is fundamental to my work. A color can always affect two opposite emotional poles. For instance, red symbolizes as much death or blood as it stands for life, earth, or love. Depending on how color is applied and the emotional state that the viewer is in, the experience of an art piece can be completely different for everyone.

Your grandfather was notable German artist Ernst Moritz Geyger who is perhaps best known for his sculpture of an Archer similar to Apollo, the god of archery, music and dance, truth, prophecy and healing. Did you grow up thinking that you'd take after him in the arts or how did you come to be interested in painting and drawing?

My grandfather is indeed best known for his sculpture of an Archer. My father has a few pieces of him in his house, but we never really talked about him until two years ago, when I discovered a box at his house filled with drawings, sketches, pictures, letters, and some etchings. I was very moved to learn all of this and to realize that I was not only one in my family who had chosen the artistic route.

My own path to becoming an artist was not that straightforward. I finished my Master’s in History of Art and Philosophy, specialized in old manuscripts and medieval art, and moved to Paris after my studies. I worked at an auction house, several galleries, as a curator on various charity projects, and for three years for other artists.

To be honest – I had been searching for an inner call for years. I promised myself in high school that I would seek for that call for as long as was necessary until I finally found the one thing that made my heart beat. And after several years, I did. Renaud Bergonzo, a French gallerist, played a significant role in my life during that time. He saw the artist in me way before I dared to see it. He was a key figure who helped me tremendously when I began my career in 2012/2013. I am and always will be eternally thankful to him. 

You currently have three shows going on, is that correct? Or your work is being shown at three locations at once? Can you tell me about the work in these shows and where those are located and the challenges of having more than one exhibit at once?

From October to December, I have been exhibiting my work in three major shows. I displayed my work with my gallery Waterhouse & Dodd (New York / London) at the Miami Art Fair. I also held a solo show at the Athenessa Gallery in Los Angeles until a week ago, and another solo exhibition at Boogie Wall gallery in London that is on until December 20.

It was a challenge for me production wise because all my works are labor intensive. For several months, I felt like I was running a physical, mental, and artistic marathon — with no time to think/ponder, which was great. The works exhibited were different, so the process in creation was also different.

In Miami and London mainly paintings out of a series entitled “Vibrational Strings” were shown. These paintings deal with frequencies and quantum physics and fields, posed with 9 layers (of what?) using feather and ink onto an Aluminum canvas. Across each layer thousands of lines float on the canvas, creating paintings that go beyond it. Sound and magnetic waves have been conceptualized as infinitely small but immeasurably effective throughout our existence, like emotional waves, whereby individuals act as emitting and receiving poles, sensitive to various, unique frequencies and fields that ultimately connect us to one another.

I presented a painting series called “Dragons” at Athenessa Gallery in Los Angeles. The exhibition was entitled “The Red Twine of Flying Dragons”. This series and exhibition call into life the existence of dragons, that is until this day ambiguous. Until today, dragons have engaged a plurality of meanings, driven by stories, geographies, and manifold traditions – while they symbolize luck throughout Asia, they often hold negative connotations in European folklore. After having studied the “Physiologus”, dated to the 2nd century AD, the encyclopedic volume is a collection of allegorical descriptions of animals, birds, and fantastic creatures (beasts); with each comes a tale, bestowing each being with a moral and symbolic quality. Originally passed on by oral traditions, the later manuscripts were often given lavish illustrations: as their given behavior permeated into their visual attributes, animals took on a fantastical essence and entered a myth populated by phoenixes, unicorns, and dragons. This series of paintings calls the dragons into reality. I am moving beyond the questioning of the dragon’s existence, and past that at times positive, and others negative nature conferred to dragons and expressed instead their inherent power, one akin to that of emotions. 

I love to find out whatever types of activities inspire Artists, so can you share something that inspires you and is perhaps not in the artistic realm?

Silence inspires me. I love to sit in silence, and I love to walk in nature, very grounding and simple things. I often feel that those moments are indirect inspirations: as my head calms and I make new space for new ideas – I feel these calm, silent moments are a metaphase before the step of new creations. Sometimes you can't grasp the inspirations you receive — sometimes it's just a basic emotion that inspires you, and you try to create a shape for that feeling.

You were born in Germany, is that right? Where do you call home now or are you constantly on the move? And which city gives you the most inspiration?

I was born in Germany. My father was born in Bucharest and came to Germany as a young boy and my mom is from Slovenia. So, I have never really felt very German. There is a German part of me and there is a Gypsy part of me. I don’t feel at home in any city. The forest is where I feel most at home. The cities that inspire me are New York, Lisbon and Paris and I hope I can discover Seoul soon. 

What current artists inspire you and would you want to collaborate with or at the very least ask them about their process?

An artist that I love is musician and producer Brian Eno. I would love to collaborate one day with him for either a sound installation or a video piece. I often listen to a composition he made entitled “Thursday Afternoon Session”. A magnetic, “wavey”, delicate composition that reminds me of all the things we can’t see or hear, but we feel the halftones as if we felt the texture of a painting without seeing the layers behind it.

I also love to know about how Artists create their work and not just why, so can you discuss your technique a bit? What medium do you use? Are there any special things that you do that might surprise someone?

When it comes to paintings and drawings I only work on the floor. All video and photographic pieces are conceptualized over months, sometimes years of writing, scouting, filming, editing, music and installation work. In drawings and paintings my process is more direct. I work mainly with feather and ink, as well as color mixtures that I have elaborated and researched over the course of several months. The feather is a very fine and thin “tool” – hence the work is meticulous in time and takes concentration. The dragon paintings underlie another technique: the tints are blended and made up of diverse elements and pigments. Each of the dragon paintings begin with two colors, leaving the rest of the palette to raw intuition. It’s like a journey that starts within me and continues on the canvas. Each dragon painting is produced in a unique session that takes up to 26 consecutive hours. In those sessions I feel entering an altered state of physical and spiritual self. 

You've donated works to various charities for auction, is that right? Can you tell me how important you feel it is for Artists to give to their community and which projects move you?

I remember helping my mom collect tons of clothes for charity during the former Yugoslav war. We also took care of a family from Saravejo at the time. I think donating goes beyond being an artist. It’s a human trait. While living in Paris, I was the godmother of a French charity that works with autistic children. It was an amazing chapter in my life as it made me understand that simply by giving time and attention, I could give something to those kids that made them feel happy. They gave me the gift of authenticity and pure love and, moreover, an understanding of what they needed - which was just having someone there who could listen to them, give them attention, and spend time with them. They didn’t care about who you were or what you did. It’s cliché, but sometimes we forget how much the love or a smile from a stranger can make our day so much better.

It’s the heartfelt intention that you put into your attention that makes all the difference.

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