To celebrate the opening of POCKO Berlin, we exhibited and interviewed two of our Berlin based artists. Below you can learn about each artist’s appreciation of the city – what attracted them to Berlin, and how they feel it enhances their creativity.
Michela has now been living in Berlin for four years, but prior to her move she had constantly travelled to the city, completely fascinated by it. Her first visit was over ten years ago and she remembers a feeling of something magical in its strong sense of freedom.
Berlin helped me to realise my dreams, I will never be able to express my gratitude for the amazing people I have met here and the opportunity to have my studio at Künstlerhaus Bethanien – my safe space.
Michela Picchi is an Italian cross-disciplinary artist who produces creative ideas for magazines and brands. She draws inspiration from collage and other visual stimuli to create her distinctive, refined artwork. When asked about how her interests and lifestyle reflect her work, Michela implied that her artistic vision is constantly influenced by what she learns in abstract ways. She said that from an early age she has had a variety of disparate interests. After obtaining a BA in Political Science and Economical Studies, Michela was hungry to find a path on which she could truly express herself. She really developed upon her art, constantly absorbing artist blogs and exhibitions whilst also subconsciously applying that which she learned from her studies. This combination of contrasting visual and intellectual influences perhaps contributes to the seemingly effortless sophistication of Michela’s body of work.
Seeing the versatile multidisciplinary artist you are today, it is hard to believe that you were ever new to your craft. Your distinctive style is unmistakable across each of your chosen mediums yet each adds a unique layer to your artistic identity. With which discipline did you begin and what do you like most about each discipline? Do you have a secret favourite?
I started producing art when I was 15. At that time I was creating black and white collages on canvases, cutting out pages of magazines. For me everything is visual experimentation which is why I love to create with different mediums. For example, for my solo show in Milan – “STARS” curated by Rossella Farinotti at Banca Sistema on February 2017 – I produced eight unique hanging wall tapestries.
I am now also working on some ceramic pieces. I don’t have a secret preference for a particular medium, but I definitely prefer hand-crafted methods (whether it’s a drawing, a painting, or a ceramic) to digital ones. I really loved painting my biggest wall in America – around 47 metres long and 6 and a half high. I wish I could paint more walls.
I have read that you tend to pick a song to listen to on repeat whilst creating each of your works. Has an emotional/intellectual response to a song ever dramatically changed the direction of one of your artworks?
Yes, sometimes it’s a song and sometimes more. In the end it is like choosing a soundtrack for my artworks. On an emotional level it is like bounding the two things, the artwork and the song, more than one changing the other. It’s about the feelings.
Martina is newer to the Berlin style of life having relocated only 5 months ago. However, even after such a short amount of time she says she feels incredibly comfortable there.
I still can’t put my finger on what it is that makes Berlin work so well for me. The creative industry feels more concentrated here and thus more approachable. One feels somewhat less anonymous!
Martina Paukova is a Slovakian illustrator now living in Berlin. She studied politics in Slovakia before relocating to London to study graphic design and illustration. Martina’s aesthetic is immediately unique yet familiar. Her work explores the monotony of daily modern life by portraying her lanky, sharp outlined characters carrying out recognisable, contemporary rituals. On considering how her background affects her work, Martina is certain that it has had a large effect, but is still trying to figure out how.
I feel I suffer from a certain post-communist soberness despite having lived in Western Europe for almost a decade’, noting that ‘illustration is a rescue of sorts.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of your work is your playful use of perspective. Tell me a little about how such use of perspective has resulted in the unique visual feasts we now equate with your work.
I’ve been flattening heavily for some time now, it helps me to bring a certain order to the image. I actually remember how it all started! About 3 years ago, I saw a picture by Italian illustrator Cristóbal Schmal which portrayed a busy scene filled with people sitting at a table. The top of this table was completely flattened, messing with the perspective in order to show its surface. I liked it and began playing around with the same concept. Since then I’ve been flattening whatever could be flattened.
What really works for me is the contrast that I get between reduced backgrounds and the organic elements that I add later. The flattened space also creates a nice stage for my characters and their full-bodied awkwardness. This results in the removal of a certain spatial hierarchy so one can fully focus on the people and their activities in the picture.
Technology references are omnipresent in your work and technology appears intrinsically linked to your portrayal of the mundane. Your work seems to satirically forefront our modern dependence on devices, yet modern technology is so important to the creation of your work. Tell me a little about your relationship with technology and its significance in your illustrations.
Haha, there is such a technology overload around that it has become the ‘new mundane’! But yes, technology has always been present in my work one way or another. I use it and I draw it, one can’t escape it. I am also a big fan of the orderly geometrical shapes that it comes in.
Martina and Michela have known each other for a few years now. In February 2015, Spanish clothing company Pull&Bear, commissioned four artists to each paint a Volkswagen van for their summer campaign – Martina and Michela were two of those artists. As Martina says of those early days of their friendship, ‘we just clicked!’
Michela on Martina: ‘I love the way she created her own distinctive style, her colour palettes and, above all, the way she balances her compositions. I’m so excited to see our colourful works in the same room again to see how they interact after 3 years!’
Martina on Michela: ‘She is alive and honest, a force of nature! And such is her work – alive and kicking, yet graphical and well planned out. I am very curious to see our works on neighbouring walls – mine controlled and geometrical, Michela’s active and outgoing. Let’s see what happens!’