Armin Baumgarten works and lives in Düsseldorf. His creative oasis is a small old building studio in the middle of an urban creative centre. His works have an effect that goes far beyond the picture. With layers he creates a three-dimensional experience for the viewer. Great positive feedback, especially in recent years, has significantly increased the value of his oeuvre. Full of energy and drive, Armin is looking forward to a successful and exciting future.
We wanted to get a deeper insight into sources of inspiration and working methods and asked some questions:
When did you start working as an artist?
For as long as I can remember, I have been doing something creative. Consequently, at a very young age, I was given the nickname ‘the artist’. Finally, my actual starting point was when I was about 12/14 years old.
Who and what inspires you?
I have always been mesmerised by layers and layering processes. However, I have been equally fascinated by everything that evolves and has evolved over any period of time. Once I started using oil paint, I became aware that I was in a process of continuity. This is when I began to reflect on paintings of other artists and the history of art. I became more observant, resuming the role of a contemporary standing on the outside, having a rather neutral relationship to his surroundings.
What materials do you work with and why?
I work with oil paint because of its haptic and sensorial features. These unique characteristics allow me to work with layers and over long periods of time. As a result, my paintings have a very distinct surface, a kind of landscape. These uneven textures are key features and important characteristics of my paintings.
Once I feel that nothing else can be contributed to the painting and that the painting ‘has come to live’, I stop painting. However, I am well aware that with my method of working, a picture is never really finished.
My work is guided by themes and an evolution can be observed from having started with the head and then moving on to half-figure and figure. When I started to work on the figure, the full body, I also started to work with sculptures. I wanted to connect the figure with a surface, basically ‘ground’ it.
I use plaster to build my sculptures. It has similar characteristics to the oil paint, allowing me to build a form quickly while also model and work around it until the material eventually dries. Sculptures and painting are of equal value to me. The sculpturing leads to new ideas for paintings and vice versa.
Which values are important to you?
I see myself with my painting and sculpture in continuity with the values of the Christian humanistic Occident and its iconography. Basically, everything I do emerges from it and carries it on into an unknown future. So I am not interested in destroying or dissolving the past, but in rediscovering the good aspects and adding them to the whole.
What are your goals?
I would like to deepen, intensify and thematically expand my painting. At the moment I am occupied with the figure in the landscape. I integrate the figure into nature and imagine that a kind of Arcadia is created there.
Why did you start working as an artist?
This question never really occurred to me. It rather felt as something that was always part of my identity. Even while studying I knew that I would always paint, I did not consider any other techniques. It was as if the spiritual world has emerged from the materials I have been working with.
Is there something or someone who influences you?
While working through the history of art, I came across the New Objectivity and then also discovered my interest in sculptures and architecture. I have always perceived myself as an observer. As someone who does not stand within a world, but looks at it from outside, from a different perspective. However, without being isolated from the world, but with a certain distance that gives me the necessary freedom and an open perspective. This can perhaps be compared to an art classroom, a shielded, free world, just as I have one in me.
Are there colours and shapes that you prefer?
Pure, intense colours are my thing. Painting is about the vitalization process, about the charging process of the picture. However, I do not mind either if slightly messy patches arise on a painting. This is just part of it.
Where do you work?
I work in an old building with a high ceiling. This is very important so that I can paint 2.50 m. I don't really need a huge room, just some space to have a certain distance to the picture, so that I can imagine it in a larger room. When working I like to use upside down binoculars, so I create the optical depth effect of a room.
Do you want to say something with your art?
I invent my own world at work. An archaic, wild world that might remind you of ancient times and primeval states, but at the same time is also present. This validity of actually incompatible opposites is something that occupies me behind the thing. On the one hand, I want a very creative, a haptic-sensuously perceptible image. On the other hand, I want the image to be something imaginative and to stimulate the viewer´s imagination to his own perceptions and points of view.
Painting, as I imagine it, is a very living, sensual, vital principle, which makes us aware of our own existence but also allows us to communicate it. Through art, people can communicate with each other over incredibly long periods of time.