Anna Kuen: “[‘hɪnn.dɐm bəɐg brənnt͡s ]” #4

Anna Kuen

Artwork’s Title: “[‘hɪnn.dɐm bəɐg brənnt͡s ]” #4

Materials Used: Acrylics, oil, oilstick, graphite on canvas

Studio Based: Berlin

Anna Kuen, “[‘hɪnndɐm bəɐg bʀənnt͡s]” #4, 2020, acrylics, oil, oilstick, graphite on canvas, 150cm x 180cm, Photo: Yotam Schwartz

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

The topic of a new series usually comes up in the process, while I am painting the first one or two paintings. I do very rough sketches in a sketch book. I also write. I keep a diary of thoughts, poems, single sentences – sometimes only one word – always before I start painting. It is a ritual for me to start my work in the studio or also in between the painting process. 

How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?

Which are yours ?

How did you come up with this new painting idea of “[‘hɪnn.dɐm bəɐg brənnt͡s ]? Is there any story behind this work?

This work is the 4th painting of a series called “[‘hɪnn.dɐm bəɐg brənnt͡s ]” . The title is a quote from the ballade  „ Der Feuerreiter” . When I started the series I suddenly had the chorus version of this ballade stuck in my mind. It is a very strong and powerful choir piece. I write all the titles of my paintings in phonetic language, because I like the idea of just having the sound of words rather than an exact meaning. It gives the viewer freedom in what they see and feel when they look at my paintings. Words and titles can be very strong and maybe even limiting. I prefer a more intuitive approach to my artwork.

Are you only interested in abstraction or do you feel that you can be equally engaged with figurative works?

I am not only interested in abstraction. I come from a figurative painting background and the way I paint now is very much connected to a figurative reality. I get my inspiration from structures in nature, from memories of scenery or a certain feeling. The fractured way of how I structure my paintings is a metaphor for how I think. It is layers and fractures and bits and pieces which form a landscape of my mind and how I see the world.

Do specific artworks have been created by random experiments in your studio or do you always come up with a particular concept or narrative in the very beginning?

This definitely happens and I rarely have a concrete plan. Sometimes I have a rough idea about what it will be ( and it never is in the end ) and sometimes I try to let go and just see what happens. There is a power in these moments and I can’t force them. I like the directness of these experiments. I also do works on paper which I usually just see as experiments of forms and colors and I can develop a catalogue of my language. In moments where I am stuck it sometimes helps to look at these works and get an idea of how to use certain patterns or textures in another painting.

Is there any particular theme that utterly triggers you to engage your art with?

I guess it is the very basic questions of being human. Questions being discussed in mythology and all sorts of tales and philosophical ways humankind tries to make sense of itself. Narrowed down we all ask the same questions and try to make sense of existence.

Large or small scale canvases dilemma; are there any kind of standards that drive you to decide which surface length is better fitted for your final painting visualisations?

At one point I decided to mostly paint on 1,50 x 1,80 m canvases, it is a format I like a lot. Apart from this I paint on very small canvases and whatever I find in my studio. I like this contrast too. Everything in the middle feels kind of half-way to me.

What would be the best way to exhibit your work?

I like to give my works an unusual environment, not just a white cube situation. Sometimes I take a painting outside of my studio and put it in the backyard where my studio is located or almost on the streets, to figure out if it works on more than a white wall. I am testing my paintings. And I find the idea of not having a white cube situation interesting.

Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?

I try to not look at many artworks during the painting process or if it would not be in the field of painting. It is dangerous because one subconsciously starts copying instead of having your own way.

Recently I have been researching and reading a lot about the female artists in American Expressionism.

Do you ever wonder if additional work was needed, when an artwork’s making process is finished?

Not really. I usually dream of an unfinished painting before it will be finished and then I know. It is a feeling. I just know when it is done, in fact I know when anything additional would destroy it.

What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?

I have a small studio in Berlin, it is located in the backyard of a normal house. It is very quiet and hidden away and I am by myself there. I really like this place, it has good energy.

What do your mum and dad think about your art?

I think they like it. They have some of my work in their home and have always been very supporting.

Which are your plans for the near future?

I’m finishing quite a huge project I’ve been working on for a while, more soon 🙂

Additional Images

Anna Kuen, “[‘hɪnndɐm bəɐg bʀənnt͡s]” #1, 2020, acrylics, oil, oilstick, graphite on canvas, 150cm x 180cm, Photo: Yotam Schwartz
Anna Kuen, “[ˌpʁoˈmeːtɔɪ̯s]” #1, 2019, acrylics, oil, oilstick, graphite on canvas, 150 cm x 180 cm, Photo: Yotam Schwartz
Anna Kuen in her studio, Photo: Yotam Schwartz
Anna Kuen, “[‘hɪnndɐm bəɐg bʀənnt͡s]” #3, 2020, acrylics, oil, oilstick, graphite on canvas 150cm x 180cm, Photo: Yotam Schwartz


All images courtesy of the artist & Yotam Schwartz

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.