Anne Wölk is 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 painting cosmos.
In 2004, Anne Wölk came to Berlin to study at the University of Fine Arts Berlin-Weissensee. As a student of Katharina Grosse, she enjoyed the purest idea of the painting process – the synchronicity of acting and thinking. Through her studies she naturally came into contact with multicultural artistic concepts.
After graduating, Wölk decided to stay in Berlin to get involved in an international art community. “Early on, I felt drawn to the German capital for its reputation as a location for contemporary art, and I liked its gallery centers in Berlin-Mitte and Kreuzberg. Over the years, Berlin became more and more one of the world’s most sought-after art places. The cheap rents for flats and studios pushed the development of the city, as well. The thing I like most about Berlin is its unique Eastern European flair. The urban lifestyle has significantly influenced my artistic development and language.”
Since living in Berlin-Mitte, Wölk attended an infinite number of exhibitions in private and public institutions, as well as in museums and art associations. The artworks she experienced there came from all over the world. “The opportunity to live in the center of the international art world has widened my horizon and influenced my way of thinking. Mainly, I love the diversity of the Berlin art scene, and I regularly do studio visits with friends, colleagues, and curators.”
Wölk’s work is influenced by German and Russia elements. “My Grandfather came from East Prussian Königsberg, modern-day Kaliningrad. After World War II, he was banned from his Home City for his entire lifetime. He spoke Russian fluently and told endless stories about Kaliningrad and the great displacement. I remember him as an ambitious draftsman. In early childhood, he affected me with his drawings and portraits, which were full of Baltic Romanticism and melancholy. During my childhood, I often came into contact with paintings by East European and Russian landscape painters. His Refugee Traumata still influences the cosmos of my paintings.
Although I belong to a different time and generation, the Baltic melancholy has inscribed itself into my artworks, like a different melody.
Through my cultural roots, I experience myself as a part of two different worlds, having both Eastern and Western cultural influences.
Russian elements and approaches were also included in my compositions when dealing with the futuristic designs of the Bauhaus-related VKhUTEMAS movement. In general, I adore the union of artistic and technical vision of the Russian Avant-Garde. In 2015, a comprehensive and extensive exhibition was held at the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin. Next to the historical background information of Russian Avant-Garde Futurism, I saw many detailed architectural drawings of future city ideas and space colonies.
Next to historical art influences, many international futuristic and utopian novels have strongly influenced my painting motifs and artistic research.
As a teenager, I have read science fiction novels, such as Return from the Stars by Stanisław Lem and Roadside Picnic by the brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky . Since then, I have read tons of science fiction novels with completely different cultural backgrounds. For that reason, I have a vast collection of books, which I have built upon the two first novels I have mentioned previously.”
"It fascinates me to think about past generations of painters, architects, and writers in the former zone of Soviet influence and their limitations concerning traveling"
Wölk’s work is touching on the concepts of travel, including space travel, something that has deep roots in the cultural divide that existed before the fall of the Berlin wall.
“It fascinates me to think about past generations of painters, architects, and writers in the former zone of Soviet influence and their limitations concerning traveling.
The planetarium in my hometown of Jena was one of the rare places where dreaming about traveling (to the stars) was allowed and not restricted. The simulations of stellar skies and demonstrations of planetary runs at 360-degree shows were the town’s main attractions and an integral part of kindergarten and school trips.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, there have been tons of novels, TV series, and movies that thematize the traumata, especially due to the travel restrictions, of the former GDR population. As products of pop culture, these themes are the substrate of different approaches and perceptions of the events.
Some integrate pop comedy elements like the movie Goodbye, Lenin (2003) by Wolfgang Becker, or focus on aspects of collective traumata like the drama The Lives of Others (2006) by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. It is a cultural substrate between Ostalgie and Stasi surveillance caused by GDR arbitrariness.
I very often think of my mother, who is full of anger to this day when she talks about her experience visiting family members in West Germany. The government did not allow her to take me with her to make sure she had a reason to return to the GDR. Her own country treated her like a criminal and gave her a constant feeling of vulnerability. That is why my mother taught me early on what it means to be free to travel wherever you want and what opportunities this freedom opens up. She always supported my efforts to pursue an international career.
In addition, I would like to say that particularly Berlin has an immense history of painting, like Neue Sachlichkeit in early 1920. Nevertheless, modern-day influential contemporary art galleries and museum institutions show concept art and support sculptures and installations predominantly. I love figurative painting, and I never doubted its endless possibilities for future artist generations. Sometimes, it seems hard to find serious exhibition venues to show my work in Berlin. That is the main reason why I started to travel with my paintings to other countries and cultures to find like-minded artists and collectors for my narrative context.
For example, in the winter of 2006, I took my first steps in the art world when a Berlin-based gallery showed two of my artworks at the Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair. On this occasion, the collector Can Elgiz bought one of my large scale paintings for the Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art in Istanbul. It was one of these rare lucky moments during an artist’s career. It happened when I was a completely unknown 24-year-old student from a little-recognized East German art college with no degree at the time. The purchased painting was shown in several thematic group exhibitions next to famous artists Cindy Sherman, Tracey Emin, and Sarah Morris. Later on, a museum assistant told me that the museum staff and curator simply liked the figuration and paint handling of the artwork. That was the main reason they had included it in various art shows.”
These days Wölk is busy preparing for her upcoming solo exhibition at the CICA Art Museum in South Korea which will open on December 2, 2020. Additionally, Pantocrator Gallery in Berlin, Germany, will present some of her recent paintings at Swab Art Fair in Barcelona, Spain, in early October 2020. She has ongoing projects including online exhibitions, such as the Engravist Printmaking Bienal in Istanbul, Turkey, and Booth 07, which is curated by Alfa Gallery in Miami, in Florida, US.