Monday, May 28, 2007

Art Space Talk: Michael Kalki

I was introduced to the art of Michael Kalki while interviewing Jan Wentrup- owner of the Galerie Jan Wentrup (

Mr. Kalki is known for his expressive paintings that involve the relationships of individuals and their combined relationship to the world. Kalki's paintings reveal a world that is socially unconnected. Fragments of bodies and personalities collide within the context of dream-like landscapes. His work conveys a lack of interpersonal communication and the breakdown of society- a conflict between the human condition and the technology of the modern world.

Brian Sherwin: Michael, When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

Michael Kalki: I can’t remember when it wasn’t important.

BS: How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

MK: An artwork is "social" in the sense that it needs ( or it exists with...) the viewer, audience. And I think influences go in both ways, as the art reflects society and is part of public interest.

BS: Would you say that these fragmented forms are a reflection of how you view society?

MK: I would say that among other things my paintings have something to do with our life.

BS: So what is the meaning behind it- the fragmented figures? Can you go into further detail?

MK: Other things on my paitings are fragmented too. It has to do with what I want to show and what I don’t want to show. In such way as I paint a special expression of a face. And I’m only interested in this expression and not the whole figure. Distortion is one possibility of appearance and it’s a kind of exaggeration which leads to caricature There is no connection between the fragmented parts on the painting. It’s an encounter of fragments from various realities.

BS: Do you see contemporary society as fragmented... distorted.... as in we allow too many complications to occur in our daily lives?

MK: Yes and it’s beautiful.

BS: Is it your hope that people will see the imperfections of your figures- in their fragmented state- in order to reflect on their own lives?

MK: I don’t see imperfections in my paitings.

BS: In other words, are your paintings a message about 'finding identity'?
MK: It’s more about loosing identity than finding it. But of course I would appreciate it, if my work would have an impact in someone’s life.

BS: Are you influenced by Dada? The fragmented figures and dream-like landscapes remind me of some of the work created by German Dadaist.

MK: I like Max Ernst and John Heartfield.

BS: What other German artists or art movements have influenced your work?

MK: Cranach, Dürer, C.D. Friedrich, Holbein,

BS: On average, how long does it take you to create a piece?

MK: I can’t say, it’s always different.

BS: Can you share some more of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

MK: Art should be "beautiful" and make you think.

BS: What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?

MK: Every exhibition is important, but the first gallery show was of course a unique experience.

BS: Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

MK: No ritual, but Schnitzel and Kaiserschmarrn in one special restaurant close to my studio helps to get a good mood.

BS: Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist? What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

MK: I graduated at „Kunstakademie Düsseldorf", Germany in 98, and did postgraduate studies at „Central Academy of Fine Arts Beijing", China from 98 to 2000. The degree fom Düsseldorf helped me to get a grant for China and China was quite an adventure.

BS: Can you share any of the adventures you had while in China? How did that experience influence your art?

MK: It’s difficult to pick one. It influenced my life and therefore my art. I can’t say where those influences are obvious, there’s some of China in my subconscious. But when I send images of my work to my friends in Beijing they always say they would look like a chinese painting.

BS: Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

MK: I think it’s difficult to make a painting and I found that always challenging.

BS: If painting is difficult, what drives you to continue painting?

MK: I was discussing that with a friend recently and we came to the conclusion that now it’s just too late for another bright career, maybe.

BS: Where can we see more of your art?


BS: Any tips for other emerging artists?

MK: Stay focused!

BS: What can you tell our readers about the art scene in Berlin?

MK: Berlin is convenient for artists, because you still find affordable space to live and work and there is a kind of competition, because there’re so many artists from Germany and everywhere living here, and I think that’s good.

BS: I've been told that it is hard for German artists to gain exposure internationally and that it is nearly impossible to do unless the artist is represented by a gallery. Is this true?

MK: I wouldn’t say that it’s harder for German artists but it is complicated without a gallery.

BS: Has politics ever entered your art?

MK: Yes. For example I put the face of Lech Walesa- the polish leader of the Solidarnosc movement in the 80s which was the beginning of the end of the cold war- in one painting.

Mr. Kalki is a very talented painter. I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with him. I'd like to personally thank Jan Wentrup for introducing me to Mr. Kalki.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin


Anonymous said...

I sort of like the work. It is a bit loopy for its apparent seriousness.

Traveling Painter said...

I do like the work... he seemed a bit hard to interview ;-) but I can understand the concept of fragmented realities, like closing your eyes before you go to sleep and reviewing the day. it often comes in a chaotic slideshow of images, voices, mantras from all your lives- online, work, family, strangers. this is my first visit- i look forward to more interviews! good work :-)