artist / participant
April 14 – 18, 2021
3-A Gallery, CICA Museum
Anne Wölk. Questions for heaven Solo Show
How many stars are there in the Milky Way? If you look at the white band in the night sky with a telescope, you can see that it consists of countless stars. Astronomers have calculated that there are between 100 and 200 billion stars. However, nobody can give a more precise number because the Milky Way is huge. From the earth, the Milky Way appears like a milky brushstroke over the firmament. When looking at the blue night sky every evening, Berlin painter Anne Wölk asks herself many questions. The universe is reluctant to reveal deeper insights into its nature, but with excessive and collective research across nations and disciplines, a diverse understanding can be gained.
For many years, Wölk has been fascinated by science fiction stories about space travel and cyberspace. Involved in the society of digital culture, the artist alters film stills, as well as photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope, and integrates them into her motifs and personal cosmos paintings. During her childhood, Wölk saw an infinite number of simulations of stellar skies and demonstrations of planetary runs at 360-degree shows at the planetarium in her hometown Jena. Jena was the centre for laser and optics technology in the former GDR. This formative experience continually influenced her interest in space travel.
In her solo exhibition at the CICA Museum, Wölk will present her artwork series Planet Spheres and Starscapes.
The idea behind the painted celestial globes originates from astronomical research on exoplanets, which is driven by the search for extrasolar worlds. As a child, Wölk saw night skies’ simulations and detailed presentations of gas planets such as Saturn and Jupiter at the planetarium. Her sky landscapes are painted on spheres of different sizes and hang freely from the ceiling. The three-dimensional paintings are characterised by the use of a slow, precise working method and are made with acrylic paint on styrofoam. The objects embody a fictional and poetic interpretation of possible extraterrestrial worlds, carrying the ideal of romanticism. The starting point for the spheres are astrophotographs from space telescopes. Inspired by viable future colonies on rocky planets, the works refer to the question of whether there is ‘life beyond earth’ and ask, ‘What could colonies look like on other worlds?’
Anne Wölk works in the tradition of the contemporary artists Vija Celmins and Russel Crotty, but she also feels a strong commitment to the Dutch Baroque painter Aert van der Neer, whose speciality was landscapes in winter and at night. Like the old master, Wölk succeeds in painting the facets of light with a sure eye. Her paintings show the glow of the stars in the nightly darkness as a moment of calm. Her wintry scenes convince with the painterly ability to tell a variety of shades of blue in the smallest nuances and to merge them with the vaporwave aesthetics of the early 2010s art movement.
Dreamlike artificial light is floating in the picture space and leads into the emptiness of a virtual vacuum. Starry night skies, modified by photoshop filters, are in contrast to a rainbow colour scale.
Besides, Wölk’s nocturnal landscapes combine pop-sci-fi visual references, such as space stations or LED light beams. Her exclusive conceptional use of enlighted colours is what makes her artwork very contemporary. By creating space with flowing colour gradients and sampling methods, the artist tries to reclose photographic aberrations, digital information gaps, and compression artefacts caused by the technical limitations of telescopic observations and mechanical photography.
The Starscapes series comprises night landscapes with fascinating and mysterious light atmospheres. The motifs came from the tradition of landscape painting of the 17th century when Dutch painters examined night light phenomena in many ways. Although Anne Wölk takes on the precision and painterly compactness of the old masters, she uses film stills from popular science fiction movies as a contemporary template. The painter lets mountain landscapes shine brightly against dark starry skies and magically draws the viewer’s gaze into their depths. A digital glow effect in the horizon line references the excessive screen light of the present day. The classic deep light of traditional oil painting is distorted and expanded by an LED light. The dark shade ‘indanthrene blue’ is omnipresent in the artist’s firmaments. The deep, wide night blue of the sky envelops and quietly warms the viewer in an artistic embrace.
Anne Wölk (1982, Jena/Germany) was born and raised in former East Germany. She is a figurative painter whose artistic work stands in the tradition of realistic contemporary artists Vija Celmins and Russel Crotty. Committed to an attitude of reskilling, Wölk uses traditional methods and materials. Her paintings predominantly show us night sky scenes with deep and open galaxies. By quoting Spacetelescope images and digital photography resources, Anne Wölk tests the margins between art and reality.
Parts of Wölk’s family came originally from East Prussian Königsberg, modern-day Kaliningrad. Through their cultural roots and characteristics, the artist sees herself as a wanderer between different worlds of Eastern and Western culture. During her childhood, she often came into contact with paintings by Baltic and Russian landscape painters. With her ongoing exhibition activity in the USA and her extensive exchange of ideas with American artists, Wölk’s fantastical landscapes are characterized by a multicultural character and show German, Baltic, Russian, and American elements.
In 2006, the young artist entered the international art world at the Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair, when the collector Can Elgiz bought one of her large-scale paintings for the Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art in Istanbul. Her painting Doggirl was shown in several thematic group exhibitions next to famous artists Cindy Sherman, Tracy Emin, and Sarah Morris.
Later on, Anne Wölk received an MFA from the School of Art and Design Berlin and was a BFA student at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. After graduating from art school in 2009, the painter became known for beautiful large-scale landscape paintings and was selected and shortlisted for several international competitions and scholarships.
Her awards include the national Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes scholarship; the Alpine Fellowship grant at Aldourie Castle, Scotland, UK; a residency at Bodensee Art Fund; and an artist-in-residence grant in Goriska Brda, Slovenia, awarded by the German Embassy, Ljubljana. She has exhibited at international institutions, including the Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art, Istanbul, Turkey; the CICA Art Museum South Korea; the Zeiss-Planetarium Berlin, Germany; the Accra Goethe-Institut Ghana; and the Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republik.
Wölk has exhibited her work alongside artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Johannes Wohnseifer, Azade Köker, and Stephan Balkenhol. In 2011, she was selected for the Edition S 36 of DSV Kunst Kontor, Stuttgart.
The Edition S 36 was a compilation of contemporary artworks, including paintings of Jonathan Meese and Tim Eitel.
She has exhibited and sold on the international art market, including the Swab Art Fair Barcelona in Spain; Viennafair in Vienna, Austria; KIAF Seoul in South Korea; and Contemporary Istanbul in Turkey.
Wölk has since shown her work in private gallery shows, including Galería Luis Adelantado, Valencia, Spain; Arebyte Gallery, London, UK; Galerie Wolfsen, Aalborg, Denmark; Pantocrator Gallery, Shanghai, China; Alfa Gallery Miami, USA; and The Residence Gallery, London, UK.
In October 2013, Anne Wölk won the Category Award for the ArtPrize competition ‘Art Takes Paris’, judged by directors from The Andy Warhol Museum in New York, Lisson Gallery, and the Marianne Boesky Gallery. In 2017, Wölk was announced as the Showcase Juried Winner in the painting category of the 9th Artslant Prize. Her painting ‘Virtual light’ was selected by a jury consisting of Natalia Zuluaga (Artistic Director of ArtCenter/ South Florida), Nathaniel Hitchcock (co-organizer of the Bass Museum of Art) and Malose Malahela (co-founder of Keleketa! Library). Two years later, the painter participated in the finalists’ exhibition of the art competition Art Revolution in Taipei, Taiwan.
Recently, Anne Wölk takes part in the contest exhibition The Future we want (2020) at Palais des Nations Geneva. Her paintings represent the competition idea of the Permanent Mission of Germany.
Woelk currently lives and works in Berlin.