Art & Culture

A conversation with artist Pascal Möhlmann

M: Hi Pascal.

P: Hey Madison.

M:I know [like we talked about], It's super hard to talk about yourself and tell your story. I’d have a hard time myself in a lot of ways, but all the writing I’ve been working on for my site has been good practice for me and it’s gotten a bit easier. It’s a good way to learn about yourself in a lot of ways too.

P: Never too old, haha. 

 M: So, maybe you can tell me a little bit about your unique subjects and how what you’re creating and sharing in your work is different from other artists—because in my opinion, it certainly is. I think you have a really unique vision and It’s what’s really been intriguing to me. How did you develop your personal style that is so clear in every piece? What was your “ah-ha!” moment in your journey as an artist, where you really discovered who you were as a creator. Feel free to a moment to think about it.

P: Thanks!

Actually, there have been several of those moments. The first, probably most significant of them may have been when I was about halfway my 6(!!) years in art school. Coming to realize that neither abstract nor conceptual art is doing it for me (even though clearly that’s what’s expected of a young artist) and that I’'ve had this kind of secret love for old masters – for, let’s call it, real painting. Not necessarily in a nostalgic fashion, but as a means of expression. From that moment on (must have been 1991) I began to paint from observation, aiming for a realistic illusion but in driven, brush-strokey way. I was never into photorealism.

Another important moment has been only a couple of years ago, when former fashion designer, now painter Daniel Herman and I founded our own art-movement, "Neue Schoenheit" (New Beauty). We both felt the need for a long time already to officially state our aversion and disdain for the modern and post-modern approach to art, where ugliness, cynicism and shock are being cultivated. Where, about a century after Marcel Duchamps'’ urinal, everything’s still turned into Pop-art for the sake of intellectual stimulant (something that, unfortunately, only few have the wits for anyway). 

We felt (and feel) that it’s enough already with all the cynicism. That to focus on beauty, be it very much in the eye of the beholder, of course, and to speak through solid painting- and draughtsmanship, is enough challenge for any skilled artist to fill about 200 lifetimes.

This founding of Neue Schoenheit has changed my work like doing what I’ve done for about 20 years already, but changed to a higher gear. I’m still painting portraits, bodies and still lifes but I’m much more focussed doing it. 

M:Do you remember your first piece that you made that was significant to your overall body of work?

P: Perhaps "BangBang" (2006), or better even "Sonntag" (2007). 

M: In terms of the classic "whats your inspiration" question, I know it’s very vague and broad but maybe there is something specific that you saw as a young artist, or something within that made your style become your signature that you can tell me about.

P: Very basic- The works of other artists. Such as Rubens, Van Dyck (my idol), Caravaggio, Schiele, Vélàzquez, Singer-Sargent, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Lawrence, El Greco, Titian and David.

M: I Love Egon Schiele, one of my favorites. I can absolutely see how that's an influence of yours. Are there any special or significant tools/materials you use to create your works?

P: I always paint in "Alla Prima"  technique: wet in wet paint. Using as little color as possible and mixing from there, both on my palette and on the canvas itself. In addition I try to work with one brush at a time, whenever possible. This isn’t some kind of obsessive compulsive disorder, but all methods to develop the subtlest variety of color nuances. A semi-controlled way of having  "coincidence" play a part.

M: Tell me a little bit about the process of painting faces, specifically for the “Gallery of Idiots”. 

P: Regarding the "Gallery of Idiots", in 2006 I’'ve started to work with the clock as well. Having people sit for me with their faces in a cramp pushed me to paint as fast as possible in order to not have my sitters suffering for too long (the average is about 45 minutes). Meaning I have to discriminate what’s really essential in what’s in front of me and try to be to the point. This results in rather crude and rudimentary paintings, but highly instructional to me. And with a charm of their own, I like to think. For real, it wasn't’t initially to become a series. just and exercise for me, to get loose.

See more of Pascal's work on his instagram, here.