Artists talking to Artists ZWEI – Leda Bourgogne & Laura Langer

We’re told it can be quite painful for artists to explain their work to someone else. Unless that someone else is another artist and a friend. Then, the discussion can be lush, relaxed and pleasant. That’s the kind of conversation KubaParis would like you to have access to. We’re therefore happy to introduce our new series, “Artists talking to Artists”. This time,Leda Bourgogne chose to speak to Laura Langer. for the next interview, Langer will choose a conversation partner of her own, hence creating a chain of interlinked interviews.

Fallen Street Light, photographic transfer, oil, marker and paper on cavas, 110 x 160 cm, 2017 Courtesy of the artist

Heart, installation view, Galerie Italy, Frankfurt am Main, 2017 Courtesy of the artist

Hi Laura. I’ve known your work for seven years now. You’ve been almost exclusively working in painting, why did you choose this medium? What keeps you looking for solutions there?

I guess it was not a deliberate choice, it must be the language that I feel most comfortable with.
I like that you mention solutions here. I think most of the time painting is causing more problems than it is offering solutions to anything, due to its auto-referentiality. But I am not particularly interested in that discourse per se. I try to erase references and work in a comfortable way dealing with my own discourse. That’s complicated enough to do. The feeling of wanting to have control over the painting comes up and sometimes that can take it too close to make it stiff.

That’s funny, because I see a playfulness and lightness in your work, which I appreciate a lot. But I guess we always think we’re more stiff than we seem. Maybe that stiffness is telling of the pressure one feels, but also about how serious the business of art-making can present itself at times.

I find it impossible to engage in the “playfulness” of painting or that “freedom” that painting used to be associated with. I believe the real pressure comes from painting itself and it’s a heavy package, like a big polizei figure Amelie von Wulffen pictured it perfectly with Goya’s ghost in her comic book “At the cool table”. Goya guiding and judging her, commenting on her, almost a bully. There is always a Goya-polizei looming in the back, and then the art business just tags along. All the ghosts. And sure, there is pressure because it’s “serious business”, but in the end we are working in something that we like, aren’t we? We tend to forget that.

I love how the titles of your paintings often work like mini-poems. “Kingdom Of Gravity” for instance; or “What Decomposes Is Nature”. They add another layer to the image. Can you tell me more about that?

Titles can do what a painting cannot and vice versa. It is like the lyrics and the melody of a song. The titles play in a different poetic than the painting poetics, adding information or opening up an aspect that the painting is only suggesting. Or they can sometimes drive the attention in a completely different direction than what the work immediately suggests. Or they can be descriptive and leave you trapped in what you are actually seeing. I like that game, I don’t see why not to use it.

I find the combination of photographic prints on the canvas and the paint very interesting, especially when there’s a sort of injured surface, where the print is badly scratched away, and then painted over. Is it a kind of cyclic love/hatred relationship to the surface of the painting, can you relate to that at all?

Definitely love and hate. The transfer process -transferring a photographic image into the canvas- started as a sort of solution for including my photographic imagery into my paintings. For me photography has always been a way of cutting images out of reality, taking advantage of the immediacy that the machine provides. It is a way of stealing that what catches my attention from the world in a fraction of a second.
It is in the act of painting where I can overextend this urgency and immediacy. I guess what interests me about photography is the suspicious immateriality of the medium, which I then negotiate with my own colors, with my own time and my own materials on the canvas, destroying and violating the picture and at the same time re-activating its materiality, re-animating the image.

Why do you leave the print like that? It reminds me of someone that had a sunburn and is shedding their skin, or when posters or wallpapers have been teared away, by time or the weather. It’s almost as if the photographic transfer functions as an alibi for the subsequent act of destruction.

Yes, Yes, there is something like that. I like how the painting becomes an object or is objectified.
It’s nice how you think of the process as an alibi for the act of destruction. There is of course a pleasure in the act of destroying the paper, and what better than pleasure driving you to make things. Or again to destroy things.

Yes I agree. We once did a collaboration, I wrote a poem for you which is called “clichee”, inspired by a painting of yours titled “Heart”. Can you tell me more about that painting?

Yes, that painting is almost a one-to-one scale representation of the actual heart of a blue whale which is at Frankfurt’s Natural History Museum. It’s probably the largest heart that one can find in nature, the heart of the biggest mammal. But this heart, surgically removed from a body once alive, is on display. All these artificial colors! A heart always belongs to a body.
I showed this painting at Galerie Italy, which at the time was based in Frankfurt (currently in Brussels). The gallery was literally a small wooden mezzanine inside a huge industrial loft. The painting was alone inside this tiny room to activate the gallery space as a body. An almost Frankensteinian moment of magic.
Your poem added the romantic aspect of the heart, which is not visible in the painting itself. That is what I meant when I was talking about the titles, how they activate another dimension of a work. I guess this also applies to our collaboration, or any moment in which text and image share something or are getting next level together. It is not what the painting shows and it’s not what the poem tells, it is what is in between. The conversation between the two of them.

Leda Bourgogne
„Shadow Of A Doubt“, 2018
Fabric booster, latex, zipper, acrylic, tape on fabric
190 x 140 x 2,7 cm
Courtesy BQ, Berlin
Photo: Roman März, Berlin​

Laura Langer is an artist who lives and works in Frankfurt. Her upcoming solo show at Piper Keys, London will open on the 21st of September 2018.

Leda Bourgogne is an artist who lives and works in Berlin. Her upcoming duo show with Ida Ekblad at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Brunswick will open on the 7th of September 2018.