Monday, July 26, 2010
HEIKO MULLER INTERVIEW
Heiko is great. Really great. So great he makes you want to get your paints out and try harder. I first saw his work at the time I was putting together the first issue of Good vs Evil. I was looking at a lot of artists pages and then I found Heiko's. I was drawn in by his mixture of high art and landscapes with these playful and comic elements. Truly surreal and fun. Anyway, after contacting him to be involved in the first Good vs Evil I also found he was a straight up nice guy as well. You can see he loves what he does and is passionate about the work he produces.
Anyway, here is a short interview I conducted with Heiko. If you want to see more of Heiko go say hello HERE
1) So if we begin at the beginning. How did you get started in art?
I grew up with two elder brothers (9 and 15 years older) who both liked to paint and draw. Both were Dalí fans and aimed at similar effects in their works. They displayed an incredible patience doing that, and in the end they came up with pictures that put quite an impression on their little brother. I wanted to do that too, and so, when I was about seven, I started painting and drawing myself, very closely following my brothers' footsteps and those of their idols. Both my brothers stopped painting at some stage. I didn't. Although I once came close.
2) How would you describe your art to those who haven't seen it?
If someone asks me that at a party, I always tend to spout some kind of nonsense or commonplaces, like "I'm painting animals and landscapes". Usually I'm embarrassed right afterwards and attempt to save the situation by calling up my flickr page on the cell phone to show a few examples. I'm really having trouble finding a description that applies to all of my paintings.
That's why I'd prefer to quote Colin Johnson here, who once said of one of my pictures: "Like a Bob Ross painting gone horribly wrong!"
3) What are /were your influences?
As I mentioned above, I started studying the surrealists at a rather early age, but I've also always been fascinated with the Old Masters. That interest waned a bit during my art school days, during which I called Cy Twombly and Mike Kelley my favourites. I must also add my friends Till Gerhard and Henning Kles to the list. Till allowed me to work in his studio for a year. He used to work in the daytime while I showed up the evenings, so that we met only rarely. Still it was an enormous inspiration to watch his paintings taking shape. Till, Henning and I will exhibit together in November. This will be our third three-man-show.
4) I see in your art lots of references to nature. What is your relationship with nature?
I love nature. I like to climb hills and look down into valleys. I like the sea. I like forests. What captures me most of all are those rare fleeting moments you encounter in nature: spotting a clearing from the darkness of the forest, a sunlit landscape with a very dark rain front behind it, but also a short glimpse of a roe deer in the woods.There's this split second when the animal freezes and catches your eye. I always want this moment to last for a very long time (which it won't of course), as it exudes a very special kind of atmosphere, which is impossible to capture in a photograph. This is exactly what I want to pin down in a painting. Of course, it isn't really doable, but getting as close to it as possible is what's driving me.
5) What's your preferred medium?
That would be oil. I like painting on canvas but wood and paper have their merits too.
Three years ago I noticed that I can't handle acrylics anymore. I was asked to participate in a large group show in LA and the deadline was so close that I didn't stand a chance to finish an oil painting. So I picked up acrylics again after so many years, only to despair of them. Then I decided to make a virtue of my lack of skills and started scrawling to my heart's content. That turned out to be fun, so I started a new series of paintings. Take a look at the Gangland paintings as an example. I then transferred that experience back to oil paintings. You can see what came of it for example in "Untitled (Mad Bear)".
6) What I also like about you is that you submit to so many art zines and magazines. Do you think zines have helped your art career?
Absolutely. To be honest, I don't think they helped me to a great deal more or catch a gallerist's attention. I do think however that submitting to zines boosted my confidence quite a bit, and I consider confidence as essential for painting good pictures.
7) Besides Good vs Evil obviously what are other art magazines that you like?
I happen to like those magazines better that are made by a small group or even one single art-loving person alone. Good vs Evil is a good example for that. The Color-Ink-Book by the Brothers Washburn from LA is great, too; and so is La Cruda by Nacho Simal from Spain. Of German magazines, I particularly like Low Magazine and GRIMM. My favourite glossy is EMPTY by Design is Kinky from Australia. I'd also have to add Cafe Royal Books here. And the list goes on and on...
8) What is going on with this Welcome to Omsk thing?
If I only had an idea. This is really crazy stuff. It seems a couple of Russians (apparently from Saint Petersburg) decided to declare Winged Doom, a figure I created some years ago, the mascot of Omsk. Within Russia, the city appears to be prominently known for drug abuse and violence, so at first I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. Then somehow the thing took a life on its own. More and more people began to create new, often highly elaborate works based on my painting and would then post them on a message board. I started collecting them, but now I have over 300 and lost track. And as soon as I think that interest is waning, I find a new site where more pictures are posted. There are even two videos on YouTube now showing three blokes on some manga convention, running around dressed up as my character. Just type in "Winged Doom". I'm still having mixed feelings about that, although I probably should feel flattered. For a short period I was even mentioned in the Wikipedia entry on Omsk. Of course, that was deleted after a short while.
9) What things are you working on/ shows coming up/books coming out etc?
In the next couple of days I'll send nine new pictures to group shows in Milan (Galleria Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea) and New York (Bold Hype Gallery). For November, I'm planning an exhibition with my friends Henning Kles and Till Gerhard at Feinkunst Krüger. I still wasn't able to start painting for it, though. December will see the fifth installment of Don't Wake Daddy. That's a group show featuring artists from all over the world, which I curate once a year. In March I'll take part in another group show in Malmö and at the end of next year I'll have another single show at the Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco. So there's quite a bit of schedule ahead of me.
10) Finally, what for you is Good and what is Evil?
Good: Captain Sisko
Evil: Captain Janeway