Tag Archives: Maastricht

Palazzo Bembo, exhibition Anima Mundi – Rituals, Venice, Art by Corina Karstenberg

6 Nov

Keep on dreaming. Keep on creating.

13 Oct

Opening Questions:

  1. What is your name and surname?

Corina Karstenberg

  • Where are you from?

Maastricht, The Netherlands

In-depth Questions:

  1. What made you choose this career path?

I am a cultural historian with a background in the restoration of objects. My work as a restorer at the African Museum in Tervuren (Brussels) has influenced my life enormously. In 1991 I started to work in this museum when I was just 23 years old. At that age I knew almost nothing about history due to my practical background as a cabinetmaker, upholsterer and restorer of wood. By doing research on the ethnographic objects that I worked with I discovered the cruelty of the colonization of Congo by King Leopold II of Belgium. I became morally conflicted by this knowledge and was convinced I would have blood on my hands if I continued this work. Therefore, I decided to quit my job at the museum. After this experience, I wanted to understand what happened to the people who were colonized and how this could have happened. I started with a bachelor in Religion Studies at the Radboud University followed by a Master in the History of Europe as a colonizer worldwide. In 1999/2000 I wrote my master thesis at the University of Swansea in Wales with a focus on the development of gender categories with a special interest in the new category Transgenderism. During my studies, I started to make portraits that often are related to history and injustice. My first portrait I made 27 years ago, of a woman murdered by the Khmer Rouge. I gave it the telling title: Potential Refugee, as she had not the chance to flee her country.

  • Who are your biggest artistic influencers?

Pablo Picasso

On a young age (13 years) at secondary school our teacher of drawing shared paintings of Picasso and asked us to choose one of them and copy this. I still can remember I draw an abstract colorful face. Very surreal with the colors purple, pink and blue, I loved it. Another quality of Picasso is that he can make with one line a strong expression. My drawing of the Kenyan girl I made some years ago made me think of this. During the years I started to make abstract or surreal portraits, that made me think of Picasso. To be honest I don’t know how to call this type of work. I always think that’s something to figure out for art historians. I just make art. It just happens when I am creating. It is not that I think on forehand I want to make a surreal painting or portrait. Sometimes I am surprised by myself.

Amadeo Modigliani

Many years ago I was visiting my friend Alice for a week in Paris with whom I studied in Swansea (Wales). When she was working I just wandered around with no plan. Then I saw a long queue waiting for something. It reminded me when I just started at the Art Academy in Brussels to study restoration of wood and polychromy. I didn’t know a lot about art. When we went to visit an exhibition of Gauguin at that time in Paris (1989), there was a long queue waiting to see the exhibition. For me it was the first time I visited Paris and I thought immediately: “Oh no, I am not going to spend my time waiting in a queue!” So I went on my own wandering around in Paris. That moment in Paris, so many years later, seeing this queue made me think of the queue waiting for Gauguin’s exhibition. So this time I thought: “Let’s join the queue I have the time on my side and money in my pocket.” It happened to be an exhibition of Amedeo Modigliani. I liked his portraits and was surprised how small they were. Some people compare my work with the portraits of Modigliani. So I guess he has influenced me a lot.

Kazimir Malevich

During my study in Brussels we went regular to visit exhibitions in museums in different countries. One day we went to an exhibition in Dusseldorf in Germany where I saw the famous painting Black Square of Kazimir Malevich. But what I really liked from him are his paintings of the farmers working on the field, colorful and abstract work. I love it, every time again I can enjoy this work. I made some drawings with charcoal that reminds me of this work but I don’t know where they are. I am sure one day I will do something seriously with this style.

  • Tell me about your favorite medium?

I love to work with pastel. It is easy to use and I love the structure. The broad scale of colors gives me the chance to play with techniques and try new approaches. Another important reason is that it is easy to carry with me when I travel. Now in Namibia I have also pastel with me and some paper to draw on.

  • What is the goal/ purpose of your work?

The portraits that I make are influenced by the places people are born and the impact of artificial elements of our planet. Diversity is key in my art. The portraits are not only about their personal circumstances of life but also about the place where they are born but, and how traces of the past become visible in their lives and influence their choices. I see my art as a friendly way to share stories about human kind in a colorful way. Stories that sometimes can be painful but are necessary to be told. My hope is that many people pass my work whether this be in a gallery or on twitter or Instagram. The title says a lot about what you can expect and for the ones who are really interested they can read about the hidden histories that I express by symbolism on my website where I am still working on.

  • How do you manage your work life balance as an artist?

It is difficult and a struggle for a lot of years. All these years I had many jobs to pay my materials and organizing exhibitions or taking part, next to paying my rent and other obligations everybody has to deal with. Therefore, it took sometimes years before I finish paintings just because I hadn’t the time or the energy for it and was distracted by the struggle of daily life. I still have paintings that I have started years ago that I need to finish. I know they are good and I know I will finish them as I have experienced this before.

I never had an atelier I always painted in my studio where I lived in and recently, since two years, in the living room of my apartment with a separate bedroom. So now I don’t need to sleep in the smell of oil paint anymore. Sometimes I had nice work but often terrible ones. I find it difficult to fit in with groups and be social even I can be very open to people, but I need my time to be alone. In certain types of organizations, I can’t work because I am too critical about their approach which gives a lot of stress.

All this has limited my time I can spent on making art. Till now I was never financial supported by a foundation. With a little bit of luck this could possible change soon. As my work was recently discovered by the Art Hup Itsliquid in Venice, Italy. I have participated at three exhibitions in Venice at Palazo Bembo. Now my work is for a year in a gallery in Rome and next year I will participate at an exhibition in Florence. When I asked the Modriaan Foundation (a famous and large foundation in The Netherlands for artists) for financial support they advised me to write an application because they thought after hearing my story I could receive a bourse for several years. If they accept this application, I can work for two or three years only on art starting next year in 2023.

  • What is your preferred time of day to work on your art?

I prefer to work during the day, with day light.

  • Where do you find inspiration?

My main source of inspiration is Twitter. For me, it is a huge library of thoughts and opinions from, and about, the past and the present. I follow writers, artists, average people, thinkers, doers, scientists, women, men, LGBTI, people with a broad range of political ideas, as well as libraries and journalists.

  • How do you think art is important to society?

Art is a way that can influence society in a positive way. It can be critical on what is going on in a society and make people aware of this. The artist looks with a different eye. It can make people think about things they maybe never thought of before.

Without politics it can be a joy to watch and give people a good feeling because of the quality of work, the colors, forms and impressions. It is a nice way of relaxing in free time to visit a gallery or a museum and forget your daily trouble.

  • How do you view/ handle constructive criticism towards you work?

I always listen to what people have to say about my work whomever they are. Whether they are a serious art criticaster, or artist itself, an art lover or the average passenger who often says they have no clue about art but they like it or not. I listen and think about it, but at the end I will always follow my own vision and do it the way I want.

  1. Has your art style changed overtime?

My art has developed itself during the years. It has a typical style people start to recognize and since a few years a surreal style has appeared.

Closing Question:

  1. Lastly, what advice do you have for an upcoming artist/ guide to a successful art career?

One of my first paintings I made when I was in my early twenties was thrown away by the father of a friend, she could paint very well. We made it nearby her parents’ house in nature with lots of green and a small stream. I remember I went crazy by all the colors green and I knew it was bad. But after some months I was curious about how bad it was, just to see it again and learn from it. Than my friend told me her father had thrown away. I was really disappointed. Back then I never had expected I would have developed myself in the way I did and that my art would be in Brussels, London, Venice, Rome and Florence. I continued doing it because I liked it, without thinking about selling or have the chance to show it at galleries and (hopefully) one day in museums.

So my advice to you is: Keep on dreaming. Keep on creating. Even your work can be sometimes very bad. Don’t give up. Most important is that you like what you are doing.

Keep on practicing and you will find your way. People will have opinions about your work. Listen to it, think of it and go your own way. I think being successful is especially in staying close to what you want and not thinking of public or galleries. Use social media to present your work to the public, make your own website (I started with the free version of WordPress) follow other artist and be inspired by daily life.

Here is a link to my old website. When you scroll back to the beginning you can see how I have developed myself https://donadulcinea.wordpress.com/tag/corina-karstenberg/

Good Luck and Lots of Inspiration.

Corina Karstenberg

The interview was done by the art student Lischen on 12 September 2022 Keetmanshoop/Windhoek – Namibia

Henriette Tirman

13 Oct

Drawing made by Corina Karstenberg © Maastricht 2021

Andres Rojas

4 Oct

Corina Karstenberg © Maastricht 2022

Elisa y Marcela

10 Aug

Drawing made by Corina Karstenberg © Maastricht 2022

Dreams without a Guideline

24 May
Made by Corina Karstenberg © Maastricht 2022

Rima Staines, the artist.

5 May

Pastel drawing made by Corina Karstenberg © Maastricht 2022

Who said the sky isn’t green?

19 Apr

The troubadour sings her song in the Theater aan het Vrijthof in front of a full house with adults. It is a song about drawing, about lines and the colouring within or perhaps outside the lines. It’s about dreaming and daring to dream. And about the colours that children use regardless of the unwritten rules about this, where the leaves are usually green and the sky is blue. It is mainly about how it seems to be necessary ought to, but it does not have to. Her fantasy is like an untamed horse running around in grand dreams.

Never alone again

Lisa, talking loudly with her friend Karima, cycles through the streets of Maastricht, where she recently started studying. She tells enthusiastically about the troubadour she heard singing yesterday and talks about how she has recognized the story from her own life. Suddenly the sound drops out. She nearly falls because a delivery person almost cycles her over in his haste. Out of sheer fright and by keeping her balance with all her might, she swings back and forth. Fortunately, she manages not to fall. Only her cell phone came loose from her headset and fell out of her jacket pocket and ended up somewhere on the street. Gosh, just now it is raining cats and dogs. It has suddenly turned gray and dark due to the clouds that have gathered together at lightning speed. The streets glow with raindrops that are falling en masse from the sky. Lisa puts her bicycle on the sidewalk and looks around calmly. She is wet anyway, a raindrop more or less does not matter anymore. As far as she is concerned, the next mobile phone may be more colourfull and not gray which is hardly noticeable on the ground due to the rain and the dark sky. A young man approaches and sees that she is looking for something. He bends down and picks up an object from a pool of water and asks: Maybe this is what you are looking for? In his hand is her mobile phone with quite a crack in the screen. “Yesssss, yes, thank you!!! Oh how glad I am that you found my cell phone. My life is a disaster without it. I need this to survive”, she rattles happily. The boy laughs and asks her name. “My name is Lisa.” She immediately asks: “What is your name?” “Colin”, the boy says and looks at her kindly. For a moment all is quiet. They stand looking at each other in the pouring rain as if time stood still. “Shall we meet again?” Colin asks her. “This unexpected encounter must have a reason, coincidence does not exist, my mother always says.” “Around the corner I have my atelier, near the old fire station, in the street of Marres the house of contemporary culture. Do you know this area?”

A message from Malala

Lisa has just come home from her adventure with the fallen cell phone and the surprising encounter with Colin. Standing in her living room still dripping because of the rain; she is thoroughly wet. Lisa takes a towel from the bathroom to dry her hair. Then quickly switch on the laptop to send Karima a message because she will be worried. It is not like her to just disconnect their phone call without saying goodbye and then not be heard from again. Because of the pool of water wherein the mobile phone has fallen, it doesn’t work anymore. Luckily Lisa has enough rice at home to put her cell phone in. If all goes well, the rice will absorb the moisture and with some luck she can use it again. The crack in the screen is okay, as long as the phone works, otherwise she will need to buy a new one. Well, she has no money to buy another one at this moment. Let’s hope for the best. The laptop has started up. The first thing Lisa sees when she opens her outlook is an e-mail from Malala. How nice! It has been a long time since they wrote each other. But no, first sending a message to Karima, then take a hot shower and put on the lovely lilac terry cloth tracksuit. With a hot chocolate in her hands Lisa starts to read the e-mail of Malala.

Singapore – The Invictus, the invincible

Thanks to Karima Lisa got to know Malala. It is a special story to tell. But first, briefly, how their lives came together. They first met when they were infants. Their parents worked in Singapore for a number of years. Lisa was four years old when she moved there. Her parents soon found an international school that suited: The Invictus, which means invincible. A message of hope for her future. Not only was this a good school, it was also a very pleasant environment and the students were nice. The architecture of the school was simple and graceful, in a beautiful green setting with a clear blue sky. A white wooden building with black frames, which was well maintained, surrounded by palm trees that frame the building like a green heaven with graceful pillars. This is where Lisa first met Karima. She was her age and they sat side by side in the classroom. It remained that way until their 18th year, during the years they became friends of the heart. Karima’s parents had come to live in Singapore from Malaysia. This is the country where Karima was born and their family have lived for many generations. Karima was raised trilingual. Sometimes she speaks a kind of pidgin when she’s angry or happy. That is so funny to hear, in moments like that we are really cracked up with laughter. Lisa speaks three languages fluently: Dutch, English and German. English because English was the main language at the international school; German because her mother is German and Dutch because her father is Dutch. For some years they even learned Chinese, Mandarin to be precisely, together. Anyway, I digress. What matters now is how Lisa got to know Malala.

Gul Makai, the cornflower

Every week at school Lisa and Karima read the weblog of Gul Makai. She is a young writer of 11 years old who wrote on a BBC website about what she experienced as a young girl in Pakistan under the reign of the Taliban. Lisa and Karima were both in the same age as Gul and found it very interesting to read about her life and to talk about it in class. They talked about what it is like if you are not allowed to go to school because you are a girl but when you would like to go. The girl wrote under a pseudonym, Gul was not her real name because it was too dangerous. Than someone found out who she was and tried to kill her, to literally silence her. Fortunately, the attack failed. The real name of Gul was Malala Yousafzai, who was seriously injured but miraculously survived. After a long recovery and many operations in England, she set up the Malala Fund as a thanks for her “new” life. With this fund, Malala is committed to enable every girl and child in the world to go to school. Karima contracted Malala years ago to ask if she could help her with anything. An impulsive action with a small chance of success, which was surprisingly warmly embraced by Malala. Since that moment Karima has been working for the Malala Fund for several years now. While visiting Karima in London some years ago, Lisa first met Malala. It was a nice meeting with a lot of sympathy for each other, and a natural click as you can have with a soul mate. Understanding each other without many words, and sometimes even getting the giggles without knowing why. In recent years they have mainly skyped, unfortunately, because there was no opportunity to see each other. That is how they became good friends.

Malala writes that she is currently setting up an art project that gives young artists all over the world the opportunity to work for a better world by promoting human rights, with the main theme: the right to education. The project is about the importance receiving education for every child. Worldwide she will organize exhibitions with local artists, on a voluntary basis, in collaboration with students of all ages from as many schools as possible. Preferably with the entire local community involved. An idealistic approach. Lisa immediately thinks of Colin who told her less than an hour that he has a studio and is an artist. She sends him quickly an e-mail to make an appointment. Who knows, it might be something for him, if it ties in with what Malala has in mind. Luckily he gave her his e-mail address. Very handy now that her cell phone is not working. The appointment is made quickly. She can come by at the weekend.

Who said the sky isn’t green?

On the stroke of 3 pm, Lisa is standing in front of the entrance to the fire department canteen on the Capucijnenstraat. Colin opens the door and walks up the stairs ahead of her. It’s an old building with soft yellow shiny tiles on the walls that were used a lot in the 1970s. It is apparent that it used to be a fire station. There still is the pole through the floor that fire fighters used to get down quickly when there was a fire. In this place and at this moment it looks more like a work of art from a bygone era, a time machine that you enter and you no longer know yourself in. Colin’s studio is the complete opposite of the outside world she just walked around. As soon as one opens the door, a world full of colour comes into view. It is a decent space with a lot of daylight. Faces are watching you from all sides. Some happy, some sad, some reflective with an endless expression staring into the distance. It is a diverse group of (painted) people of all ages and from several cultural backgrounds. This can be seen in the objects used in the paintings, but also the skin colour can give an indication whether the shape of the face betrays a story from a distant past with a rich history.

Colin says that he records stories he encounters along the way in his life, together with a rough sketch with a pencil or charcoal in his sketchbook of what he has in mind. He regularly addresses passers-by whom he would like to paint or that he may take a picture of them to make a portrait of later. Some women and men even spontaneously offer to pose for him. He had to get used to that, because he actually prefers to be alone when working on his paintings. If possible, he also asks three questions to each of them: Who are your father and mother? What is your favourite colour? and Which object symbolizes you? Based on the answers, he paints the portrait and incorporates the symbolism and colour that emerged from the answers. Then Lisa sees a small painting with a green sky hanging crookedly on the wall somewhere in the corner, just visible behind the coat rack. “Oh”, says Lisa in surprise as she looks at the small portrait. “Isn’t that Malala Yousafzai?” “Indeed”, Colin says with a big smile on his face. “I made this painting just after she was seriously injured by the attack by the Taliban and at the time it was not even sure if she would survive the attack.” “I have great admiration for her”, he says enthusiastically. The courage and enthusiasm she has to dedicate herself to others at the risk of her own life. How she, to put it visually, has risen like a phoenix, after all those heavy operations she has undergone. The title of the painting is: Who said the sky isn’t green?

“How did you get that title?” Lisa asks impressed. Years ago I heard a troubadour sing a song in the streets of Amsterdam, to be precise in the Jordaan. It is about how children are free to colour as they wish, but also how as they get older, everything has to be coloured within the lines and to use the right colours, such as the leaves are green and the sky is blue. The title symbolizes daring to dream, be creative and be brave. Lisa is speechless and knows nothing more to say.

Written by Corina Karstenberg in Maastricht © 2021

B. Traven, writer

26 Mar
Made by Corina Karstenberg © 2021 Maastricht

Simone Weil

22 Mar
Made by Corina Karstenberg © 2021 Maastricht
%d bloggers like this: