Enno Uhde

„I try to find the principle of freedom, which is the highest good, in the appearance of an image.“

Enno Uhde was born in Wiesbaden in 1948. He lives and works in Karlsruhe. Enno is a poly-artist who studied music and opera singing at the Wiesbaden Conservatory. Prior to that he studied German language and literature, political science and philosophy at the University of Frankfurt. Under his direction, countless stage and television productions, etc., as well as various projects in the visual arts have been created in the last twenty years under his direction.

We wanted to get a deeper insight into sources of inspiration and working methods and asked some questions:

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When did you start working as an artist?

My artistry has two beginnings. The first one happened at the age of 4, with my parents. I didn´t like the way they had furbished apartment and I tried to redesign it all the time. The second beginning was not to work as an artist, but to understand the world as an artist.

Since my uncle was president of the state parliament of Hesse, I was extremely lucky to be able to go to the Hessisches Staatstheater 3 to 4 times a week at the age of 5. The great amazement was given by the fact that the curtain rose and behind it was a strange picture and music came from a ditch that was not clearly defined. That was the defining thing, and the result was that at the age of 12 I could memorize the entire - I mean that seriously - Wagner. Later I also began to like Schubert songs. That´s why I know 90 operas by heart and 600 art songs, and most of the music literature is known to me. At that time the connection „picture - music - empty space“ came up.

Who and what inspires you?

The great inspirations in art is the suffering in the world. In Parsifal, for example, this is expressed very beautifully. Knowing through pity as a simple fool. Because you only become aware when you look, when you see, when you see in the world at all. Then you can also turn over a work and represent it without seeing. Without understanding that nothing works at all and it remains pure surface. Design is only surface, art is sub-surface

Which materials do you work with and why?

My ´material´ is writing. Scripture is the shadow of the spirit.

My life is an insane inner life and what comes out is actually a thought. The thought cannot only be represented somehow in a picture, in a surface, in a colour, but always has a content. Just like mathematics, where you have to define formulas and numbers somehow, the real thought has its fame by being visualized or written.

All my pictures carry text - and that´s what connects them. I do this out of the deep knowledge that what I want to express cannot only be expressed with colour: writing has to be part of it. Without writing, nothing works for me.

Do you want to say something with your art?

With these extremes I try to understand the cohesion of the world in its deepest form. I have to necessarily express this in writing. I have no other option: I have to write it down. That is a compulsion. This is not only because I find it nice or whatever. I read, I understand something and then I have to write it down. But not in a book. My ability to express myself does not lie in writing novels, I cannot do that.

Art is about dying, about death, and about the themes that ordinary people push aside. These are condensed in art. Whether it is love, the problem of love, the problem of death, the problem of power or the problem of claim. These are actually the things that art somehow expresses. Or the course of time: that you get the feeling that there is such a thing as time at all. That time is unchangeable as soon as it is over and you have to live with it. That´s what art does.

I don´t want to show the badness of this world, I stand on the side of beauty. I exclusively consecrate my life to beauty. I don´t paint those pictures that make a negative explanation of the world. There are already enough destroyed bomb landscapes.

Why did you start working as an artist?

I didn´t want to become an artist. You can´t study art or directing - impossible. Anyone who thinks they can do that is completely wrong. Afterwards, in the course of a lifetime, that´s an expression that arises because you can´t express yourself any other way. And because one is not understood differently either. Being and becoming an artist is not a learning process, but an inner process that pushes itself outward.

With regard to me it is like that: What I can build is what I have learned, without having to learn it: music, pictures, opera. Music is one thing and pictures the other, but actually it is the same medal you are looking at. It looks like that from the front, like that from the back, but it´s the same piece. You can never talk about art, about that.

How did you come upon the opera?

That was thanks to my uncle, through him I had the opportunity! I was the mascot of the theatre. The box closers knew me and no matter who was in one of `my` boxes - I was let in. I watched the operas kneeling. I didn´t go into any operettas, I had the pure connection to Wagner, that was real closeness for me. When the curtain opened and I heard Tristan in the foreplay, I could really live and immerse myself in it. The problem that many have with Wagner was nothing to me. Because I understood him. I really understood the leftist Wagner, however the rightist is another story.

Why do you use writing?

I use writing because it implies a perfectly understandable statement, because in spoken sentence the spirit disappears. But scripture remains. The writing on an original work is different from the writing in a book. It is something very special in a work of art.

A sentence such as ´Man is born equal and free and remains so´ written in a book is of course a life commitment with which we work. But it is particularly concise because it is so lonely and so right in a work that is unique. The uniqueness of this thinking combined with the uniqueness of an image. This is the sufficient reason to do something like this.

You can read a picture or you can feel it. The picture brings emotions, like music, but the writing brings the mind.

What are your goals?

I try to convince people of the beauty of art. Art beauty - is freedom in appearance. I try to find the principle of freedom, which is the highest good, in the appearance of an image. As Newton already said: you have to stand on the shoulders of giants so that you can see further.

What would you like to work on next?

I have plans, but what happens to those plans is another story. One plan could be that I now deal with ´70 Jahre Bundesrepublik´, because I have experienced it: From the beginning until now I was and I still am part of the Bundesrepublik. In this respect, I am convinced that I have the legitimacy to think about it - because I have understood it, from culture until the political dimension. I have seen them all come and go. I find it very interesting to translate that into a work of art.

What is important to you?

The most important thing in life is a reasonable living together and a humanization of society. It´s always about not splitting, but actually finding communicative solutions. That is why parliamentarianism or discussions in the family, in the social environment and in larger groups is necessary. Not shooting at each other, but talking! Pictures are often a great opportunity for communication.


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