AN INTERVIEW WITH ARTIST MARIE VARTENBERG

Art Copy is pleased to welcome Marie Vartenberg for an interview with an artist with an astonishing imagination.  She discusses the alternative world that she creates, how her art operates in a world gone mad, her inner need to be creative, and more.  In a recent article, Salon magazine asserted that in an era of uncertainty, art is humanity’s most powerful weapon against apathy.  Marie also stirs her audiences creativity by leading them into unchartered territory within their own imaginative selfs.  Please join me in welcoming an artist with a remarkable vision, style, wit, and who is never, ever, boring.

"Donaldine Crump," by Marie Vartenberg. Oil on canvas, 39" x 47", 100 x 120 cm. This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.
“Donaldine Crump,” by Marie Vartenberg. Oil on canvas, 39″ x 47″, 100 x 120 cm. This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.
"Hairy Strontanoids," by Marie Vartenberg. Acrylic, Spray paint on canvas, 70" x 63", 180 x 160 cm. This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.
“Hairy Strontanoids,” by Marie Vartenberg. Acrylic, Spray paint on canvas, 70″ x 63″, 180 x 160 cm. This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.

In his commentary of the artist’s work, Gery Van Tendeloo says:

She records, visualizes and critiques the global society and the world by creating highly personal beings, metaphors for humans, and a step further than humanoids, baptized ‘strontanoids.’  She creates disorder, chaos in a way, inviting the viewers to ask questions using their own imagination — like a subcutaneous injection — it really doesn’t hurt, but you feel it.  In her idiosyncratic content, she avoids any morality and messages.

Marie Vartenberg lives and works in  Antwerp Belgium.

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Art Copy:  Welcome to artcopyblog.com Marie Vartenberg.  Would you like to introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?

Marie Vartenberg:  I create from an inner need, this is the best way I can express myself.  I would describe my creative process as very impulsive.  Direct from my mind to hand, immediately.  I never have a problem with finding subjects, my head is always full of stories, characters, etc.  I like to work with.  If we talk about painting the moment itself, I develop the painting to what I really like.  When I’m not satisfied, I paint it over the same day, until I’m satisfied.

I work with metaphors — my ghost-animals-beings resemble contemporary society, also the behavior of humans to each other.  I name my beings “strontanoids” derived from humanoids, with the addition of the shitty behavior we now see all around us.  Creating a non-existent world from humanity, or society has no message at all.  I don’t want to give people a message, I record what I feel around myself.

I believe that the best art doesn’t give a particular message, but that creating another world with other agents that tease the imagination in new directions.  Even the transformations of icons in our Western society, In Hillary Mice, Donaldine Crump, and other of my paintings, urge the viewer to think past the icon itself.

AC:  You don’t have to look far for ideas?

MV:  I don’t search.  These ideas come automatically to my brain every day.  I think it is due to the impact of a daily life mixed with my emotions.

"6908177," by Marie Vartenberg. Acrylic on canvas, 24" x 31", 60 x 80 cm. This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.
“6908177,” by Marie Vartenberg. Acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 31″, 60 x 80 cm. This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.
"6916177," by Marie Vartenberg. Acrylic on canvas, 39" x 47", 100 x 120 cm, This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.
“6916177,” by Marie Vartenberg. Acrylic on canvas, 39″ x 47″, 100 x 120 cm, This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.

AC:  It’s intriguing when an artist urges their audience to see in a different way, I think.  In the last century, we saw the power of the imagination realized in Einstein’s inventions with him guided by creative discovery rather than artificial intelligence.  I’m curious to see the results of the current advocacy of creativity suggested by observers like Salon cited above. For me, I’m curious if it will lead to a contemporary Renaissance, or if the market will be flooded with mediocre art or any number of things that are presently hard to predict.  Do you feel that your art reflects your personality?

MV:  Definitely.  There is no other way – I create in full balance with myself, in full contact — what is in is out.

"Hillary Mice 2," by Marie Vartenberg. Oil on canvas, 39" x 47", 100 x 120 cm. This
“Hillary Mice 2,” by Marie Vartenberg. Oil on canvas, 39″ x 47″, 100 x 120 cm. This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.
“Hillary Mice 19,” by Marie Vartenberg. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 51″ x 59″, 130 x 150 cm. This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.

AC:  What do you feel are some of the most inspiring things happening at present?

MV:  We are living in a particular time, unfortunately not in a positive way with so many current wars and conflicts.  I don’t believe in inspiration, but rather what is going on around us.  It has a huge impact on us whether we want it or not.

Even when center is dark, there is still hope, Acrylic on canvas, 51" x 59" , 130 x 150 cm
“Even when center is dark, there is still hope,” by Marie Vartenberg. Acrylic on canvas, 51″ x 59″ , 130 x 150 cm. This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.
Strontanoids Limbs I, by Marie Vartenberg. Acrylic on canvas, 51" x 59", 130 x 150 cm. This photograph is courtesy
“Strontanoids Limbs I,” by Marie Vartenberg. Acrylic on canvas, 51″ x 59″, 130 x 150 cm. This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.

AC: What’s the last art object that you purchased?

MV:  Several pieces from the installation, Jesus Had A Sister Production by Canadian artist Dana Wyse.

 AC: It’s interesting, for me, that you’ve collected from another artist who recognizes the absurdity everywhere around us.  While that style nods to strong graphic design and is amusingly kitschy, you express yourself with fine art painting.
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What was the last show that you saw and how did you like it?
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MV:  Carsten Holler’s Video retrospective with Two Lightmachines.  It was an interesting show.  His audiovisual work often focuses on scientific and sociological experiments with animals and people.  Experiments, involving for example,  birds, monkeys, children, friends, and tests with psychoactive ingredients provide the subject for several of his videos.
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"Who Is Afraid of Machines," by Marie Vartenberg. Acrylic and collage on canvas, 24" x 31", 60 x 80 cm. This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.
“Who Is Afraid of Machines,” by Marie Vartenberg. Acrylic and collage on canvas, 24″ x 31″, 60 x 80 cm. This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.
Society Loves You Sometimes, Acrylic on canvas, 39" x 27", 100 x 70 cm,
“Society Loves You Sometimes,” by Marie Vartenberg. Acrylic on canvas, 39″ x 27″, 100 x 70 cm, This photograph is courtesy of Marie Vartenberg.
AC:  What is your favorite viewer response to your art?
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MV:  There is no favorite response.  Every reaction is important to me.  When people try to describe what they see in my paintings, I’m surprised every time!  Silence is also significant.  And simply — “I love it!” also.
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AC:  What is your favorite city for seeing art?
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MV:  New York and Brussels
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AC:  Thank you, Marie!
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