KUBAPARIS the UP-AND-COMING SERIES. Eric Mangen
Visiting Luxembourg you meet all kinds of passionate people working in the art scene - a small country with huge potential and committed residents pushing exciting projects while supporting each other. KUBAPARIS met one of Luxembourgs creative jack-of-all-trades, Eric Mangen, artist and owner of the beautiful countryside residency Farmlands. His residency serves as a calm yet central location for fellow artists like David Hanes to join Eric in a productive process surrounded by trees, cows, horses, dogs and a very cuddly orange cat called Pommes-Cerise. A place so uncommon it directly attracted our attention so of course we wanted to know more about it as well as about Erics life as an artist in Luxembourg and his overall future plans.
CH Hi Eric, thanks for inviting me to join you at this beautiful venue. It seems to be a very special, peaceful place to live and work. How did this project get started and why?
EM Well, Luxembourg surely is less exotic than London or Berlin but we have an amazing talent to push things forward though we are still struggling a bit to step into the international limelight. A lot of artists from Luxembourg are living abroad in bigger cities or are traveling to various residencies outside the country because there are not enough options to host artists and offer a good space to work, so I created basically what was missing. Instead of leaving this country to work abroad myself I realised that I’m able to do things on my own over here, so I started the residency program. I am lucky to live on this beautiful farm belonging to my family which I could modify in the way I needed it to create a beautiful home for my family as well as a great place to work in an extended studio building. My overall goal was to get more exchange with other artists, more talking about the art itself, about experiences in the art world we all share and different perspectives. Or in a nutshell: interaction with like-minded people and valuable exchange you won’t just find on your doorstep (till now;). So in 2019 I decided to invite artist friends over to spent some time together working and interacting. The Farmlands residency is 7 km away from the city centre but yet it feels like being in the middle of nowhere. Living on this big family-run farm, I was lucky enough to be able to built myself a spacious studio over the years. My family (wife & 2 kids) is living in a house with a guest-room, so the invited artists are actually staying with us - one of the reasons why it is an „invitation-only“ residency. Most of the residency programs we know from abroad last between 3, 6 or 12 months, so as a parent with family responsibilities I always felt those programs were excluding a lot of people with restricted travel possibilities which is the main reason our program is only 3-4 weeks long. In the beginning of the residency, the focus was mainly on collaborative works - somewhat like a jam-session. That resulted in some more production oriented adventures, while our last residency slot was more research based.
CH So who was your last resident and how did this go?
EM The most recent resident was David Hanes, a Canadian-American painter. I met him trough a friend when we were in Berlin for the Gallery Weekend in spring 2022. I went to visit David’s studio the following day and we somehow immediately connected. We met again during my show in Berlin last summer and then I decided to invite David to Luxembourg. Together we chose November because our Luxembourg Art Week happens around that time, plus I had my solo-show at Valerius Gallery. Luxembourg Art Week is a big thing here for our local art scene. It maximizes possibilities for a good exchange and also you are of course just having a good time together when the art circus is in town.;) Upon his arrival David was inspired by the flora and fauna surrounding the farm, as his current work topics are landscape paintings and still life. A couple of days later, David and I came to the conclusion that he should concentrate on small format pastel or watercolor drawings rather than producing bigger oil-paintings. We exchanged a lot to narrow down how David’s time here could be the most efficient for him once he was actually confronted with his new environment.
CH What are your future plans for the residency?
EM We are learning by doing. As an artist myself I’m trying to implement my own expectations of how a residency should and could be. Every time we learn a lot, every human, every artist is very different. And that’s a good thing. So far we always had an open studio session at the end of every stay as an occasion for the artist to expose her/his work to the local crowd. It is a chance to catch up with all the people the artist met during the stay at Farmlands, a very organic way to leave a lasting impression and to engage with a different public. We would like to develop these shows into a more unique and personal experience and to motivate the artists to show their works in another, more individual context than doing the usual show with their galleries or at art fairs. During the last sequel we tried to provide a serious documentation of the artists stay and his work. We are currently working on a publication project regrouping David Hanes work over a year of travel. These kind of things motivate us and are projects we would like to realize together with the residents in order to create the best possible experience for everyone involved.
CH What can you tell us about the Luxembourg art scene in general?
EM It’s like the country itself - nice and compact, but vibrant. The cultural infrastructures are relatively young and art isn’t a main focus in Luxembourg, but recently there is a lot happening. The local galleries along with the cultural ministry and the Luxembourg Art Week are doing an amazing job at putting Luxembourg on the map. Our country isn’t really known in the world for its art, but I believe we can change this. Step by step.