BERLIN. GERMANY. FEBRUARY 18, 2021.
My name is Elke Foltz, I’m 30 years old and I was born in France, in the suburbs of Paris. I’ve been living in Berlin for 5 years now. Trust your instinct!
Tell us your story, how did you come to painting?
Painting came quite naturally to me, but it developed step by step. After graduating in graphic design, I decided to work as an illustrator. At that time, my drawing was already defined by an idea that was guided by colours. It’s in Berlin that I took the time to connect to my true self and to explore my creativity in the direction of abstraction. I found in this process a great freedom of creation. Nonetheless, drawing remains my first love and I continue to enjoy, from time to time, to make colour and drawing meet again.
How would you define your current painting?
My painting is a search for balance in a constant chaos. For the past two years, I have oriented my work on a series of paintings that focuses on the theme of harmony and renewal through abstraction. I am exploring this by means of colours, shapes and fragments of canvases that I collect from my previous works. While my approach to painting has generally been based on intuition, the incorporation of collage brings into the creative process a deeper kind of work centred on composition and reflection. My painting shows my vision of life. Each shape, line and colour on the canvas cannot live without the other. All the elements aim to be in harmony and in perpetual renewal in spite of the prevailing disorder.
Tell us about your style and technique. Any secret that can be told?
My work is colourful, circular and pulsing with life. I use multiple media such as ink, acrylic, oil paint and pastels. I like to combine them in order to obtain the colours and effects that each material has to offer. I don’t know if it’s a secret, but I’ve learned that it’s important to trust the process. While I am painting, I am always facing that decisive moment where my choices on the canvas can totally ruin the composition. But it is important to learn to surpass this uncomfortable moment and let go. For me, this is often the moment where the magic happens.
How do you usually start your paintings? With a sketch, a draft or is it just an improvisation?
I usually start my painting with a vague notion of the composition but a quite precise idea of the first colour I want to apply to the canvas. My work can be guided by an emotion, a memory or simply by a colour that I’ve seen somewhere. I only use my sketchbook to draw very quickly, especially when I have an idea in mind that I can’t realize directly. Before starting to paint, I look at the blank canvas and project my idea through my mind’s eye onto it.
What are your motivation forces? And the artists who have been and are an influence for you?
My main motivation is to know that my art can talk to someone and bring a positive energy. Especially if a person feels like they don’t belong out there. The lack of diversity and inclusivity in galleries and big institutions gives me the motivation to continue on my way. As a mixed race woman artist it’s important to me to take part in a change. Of course, creating is also a very personal commitment.
For me the privilege is to have a somewhere where I can feel truly free to be transparent and honest without fear. It also helps me to take distance from and understand the world we live in. I think that art in general can offer so many different perspectives and interpretations of life, I find it beautiful and important to be able to express and to share it!
So many artists have influenced or are still influencing my art such as as the Senegalese painter Ndoye Douts, the illustrator Brecht Evens, the street artist Kashink, the painters Helen Frankenthaler and Jean-Michel Basquiat, more recently the choreograph Yoann Bourgeois and the writer Toni Morrison and many more.
What can you tell us about your studio, what kind of place is it?
My studio is where I live. I have a large living room in which I have been able to create two distinct spaces. One cozy and one for work. It’s a nice room, quite peaceful with big white walls, and a pleasant light especially in the summer.
When I need to take a fresh look at my work in progress, I usually hide my previous paintings and move my canvases to another corner of the room. Somehow that helps me be more creative. I hope that in the future I will be able to have a studio outside my apartment, but for now I am grateful to have enough space to work at home.
What is art for you?
Art is essential!.