German artist Angela Dalinger creates a world where fear, humor, and the grotesque mingle together in an unimaginable harmony. All of her work has that can't-look-away quality that gives you feelings you've never quite felt before (but definitely want to keep feeling). Here, we're taking a peek inside Angela's home studio in the countryside, where she lives, works, and dreams up her incredibly unique brand of creative expression.
I've always been a big fan of your work because you've got this ability to present complex, bold, and humorous concepts with this pure childlike nature of your illustrations, there is a tension there, how did you come upon your unique style?
Thanks a lot! Actually, it took a while to develop my style to the way it is today. I have always tried to never copy anyone and while I have studied illustration, I've tried a lot of different things like collages or more realistic stuff. My style of painting developed after I was finished studying; I was happy to have all my time for the things and projects I really wanted to do. I have always liked Naive Art and its authenticity, so I tried to find my very own naivete. I stopped about painting with the correct anatomy or perspective, which can make painting more joyful. To me, what makes a good painting is that it's created for creation itself and expressing oneself not trying to make some arty, good-looking image with no individuality.
A lot of the more bold or edgy pieces feel so honest and confident. Do you feel that way in your day to day life or are you more comfortable expressing your views through your work?
I'm not a confident person at all, but in some ways I can be compulsively honest by being honest with myself more than telling my opinions about other people right into their face. But I do like to let that out in my paintings. There are just a lot of double-faced people out there.
Several themes stand out to me from your work, including relationships, isolation, failure, and sexism. How much do you pull from personal experience?
Well, you can learn a lot from personal failure and grief has always been an inspiration for me. In fact, think there is no better one, besides maybe love. But that would make less interesting paintings for my taste.
I love the scenes you set inside these intimate spaces: bedrooms, living rooms, etc. Do you have a narrative in mind for what's happening or do you like that it's open to people's interpretation?
I have my own narration and interpretation, but I also like to leave it open for others. For me, the best result of a work would be if it makes people think about the characters and what have might brought them into this situation.
Some of your work shows women in compromising situations (pooping in the bathtub!) what are your thoughts on women in art and femininity?
I wouldn't consider myself as a feminist and I like to see myself as a human other than as a woman. Man or woman, you're either this or that, I'd rather be somewhere in-between, being absolutely hetero-sexual. The reason why I sometimes put women (and men) in these situations is that I'm really annoyed by these picture-perfect people that you pass by everywhere in the media. I'm trying to even it out a bit.
Every artist progresses over time, how much do you connect with your earlier work?
Sometimes I can't even connect with the work I did a week ago. I don't like the flower drawing at all, that I did about three years ago. I think it's just decorative nonsense.
Are you still working on Werewurf comics?
Yes, the Werewurf. I still like the character. It's a combination of the words "were" and "maulwurf", which is the german word for mole. I haven't worked on the comics for a while now, but I still want to make a book with these comics. I've got maybe half of one done now.
How do you feel when you put on a show? Do you enjoy engaging with people who come to see your work? Does it exhaust you? Does it make you nervous?
Yes, I'm always nervous and shy. I never know what to say if people are giving me compliments. Mostly I'm getting really drunk. However, what is really great, is that it gives me the opportunity to visit foreign countries and see how the people live there. I often sleep at the gallery owners home. I have been to Spain four times now and I really like the people there. They are so different from the people in Germany which is really refreshing. Portugal is also great.
How much of your time is spent on client work, vs. working on your paintings, vs. selling your work?
I don't have many clients and mostly I'm too lazy and unwilling to paint what others want me to. I feel like exhausted by it before even asked. But what I do like to do is record covers, that was always a dream of mine. I spend the most time working on my personal works, selling them doesn't take as much time.
I read somewhere that you prefer living outside of the noise of the city, can you describe what your average day looks like at home?
I really enjoy living in the village, it's calm and quiet although there is not so much to do here except spending your time at home and doing what comes to your mind. I have to say, it's usually spending too much time on my computer. Sometimes I go for a walk with my cats or read in the garden. I like listening to music, watching movies, and playing a bit of basketball. The evening and night is for painting. I am a night person and I bet there are people in this town that have never seen me in the five years I've lived here.
I think it's great to see the progress of a painting, because every artist works differently. It's also good to get response when you're insecure about what you're working on.
A lot of doing art is a longing to connect with others or being understood, what do you hope people experience when they look at your work?
Opening their mind to another view, over-thinking things you thought you understood, being irritated, interested.
What do you tap into for inspiration? Music, nature, friends, books etc.
I like watching and reading about true crime. Also books, music or dreams can be inspirational for me. But mostly it comes just from my mind, while thinking about things I've experienced...peoples strange behavior. Very often I start paintings spontaneously and just let it flow.
Photos by Marie Hochhaus.
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