Petra Ehrnsperger

„It’s this inner need – to bring things that move me into an artistic form“

Works in Mainz and lives in Eltville/Rheingau. Her studio in the middle of an artist's and creative oasis in Mainz Finthen gives Petra the space for her untiring creative urge. Her work lives with as well as through the texts and contexts that inspire her. Poems, stories and other poetry sparks her inspiration for special compositions.

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

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What did you do before you became an artist?

I studied communication design but discovered art during my studies. I focused on painting, drawing and scripture. After my studies I worked as a freelance designer but painted every free minute.

When did you start being an artist?

That was a longer way. At first I was self-employed and had to earn money, it was all about existence. But the development was: away from commissioned work to free, artistic work. In 1993, after the first exhibitions, it slowly became clear to me: I'm actually an artist.

Who and what inspires you?

I am inspired by many things, I go through life with open eyes and am very curious. I am also inspired by other art forms, and of course by other artists. When I see a good exhibition, something happens, something touches me. Music and literature also inspire me. I often work with texts, and when I read exciting poetry, I immediately have images in my head. With me it all goes into each other. Certain music brings me into a creative flow in my studio.

Which materials do you work with and why?

I have worked with acrylics from the beginning. I like acrylics because it suits my way of painting very well. It is a very fast technique, I work a lot with gestures, with lines, that needs a fast medium. Acrylic paint simply has this property, it dries relatively quickly. That suits me very well. For some time now I have also been working with printing techniques, which is where oil paint comes into play. But only as an additive over an acrylic background. Sometimes I also mix varnish and oil paint with acrylic paint for special effects.

What are your favorite techniques?

I clearly define myself as a painter, but I am strongly influenced by drawing and line. It is the central element indeed. I work rather linear, gestural, combined with colored surfaces. My colourfulness is rather reduced. I often work with collages to achieve complex surfaces. I usually combine printing techniques, painting, collage, drawing to a unit, but the line is always in the foreground.

Where do you work?

I work in Mainz-Finthen on the Layenhof. This is a very special area, a former military area, relatively unknown and remote, in the middle of nature. It is a place with a special energy, with a certain morbid charm and old buildings. There is a private airfield here - in the Tower Café you can have a great break and watch the planes. That's something that inspires me a lot.

How and what are you working on?

I am currently working on my new work group "Between Space". There I would like to focus again on these universal themes like time, transience, this diffuse that is not tangible. These nuances, between black and white. The things that happen in the world that you can't immediately classify anywhere. The mystery. I circle around this complex of themes again and again in my art.

What do you want to say with your art?

I am interested in the universal themes of being human. The primary themes are fears, divisions, desires, hopes, life paths. Experiences, encounters or events that occupy people in my environment. I try to bring these central questions and things into an artistic form. But it is also about the questions: "What moves people? How do people deal with each other?" Topics such as honesty, openness, conversations. In my last series "Wege" I dealt with the topic "Lebenswege".

What are your goals?

In my art, I'm always interested in further development. I can't always do the same thing that works well, it gets boring. It is important for me to find new topics, to further develop new techniques and to integrate them into my way of working, to try out new materials. Some time ago I discovered Plexiglas as a wonderfully flexible painting surface. Or even printing, which is far from exhausted. I'm sure there's still a lot that's possible.

What do you want to achieve in 5 years?

In 5 years I would like to be even better known on the art market! Of course I would also like to continue to be present in good exhibitions and art fairs, such as "Art Karlsruhe". And a further gallery representation, which would promote me even more and take me further, would of course also be very desirable.


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