EM:16 Uta Feinstein

Uta's art is very focused, very skilled and very human. As we discuss how her art speaks of order and chaos, how good and bad bleed into one, I find myself at home in her work, as I think many will. Uta herself seems born to paint, her love for the craft shines through and her knowledge is extensive.

Have you felt much of a difference creating for a 'graduate show' as opposed to creating as a student?

Working independently on my own project feels similar to the student experience at the University of Nottingham, but a bit less directed and without assessment pressure. The time frame seems much tighter and challenging as I use the medium of paint which is a fairly slow process. This allows less time for experimentation or creating a final piece and can be a problem if things go wrong and paint has to dry before you can continue. We got an insight into a different studio environment and gallery situation. It helps confidence and that there are people out there interested in your work after graduation.

With the group name Pulse, how do you relate it to your work?

In my current project work the regular pulse and rhythm of the grid merges with the irregular flow of the net, they become intertwined - the regular and irregular aspects, in various states of tension. Or sudden external pulse disrupts the predictable, flowing rhythm.  The grid’s geometric structure and the less predictable line or melody-like flow of the net. I am interested in the building up of suspense between random, free flow, the net, and structure, predictability, the grid. Creating this rhythmic exchange between opposing elements and their suspension in a tempo­rary, precarious balance. There is a joint rhythm, underlying structure, but simultaneously it becomes disrupted by free flow and fragmentation and elements of mutual exchange or even inversion. This also questions simple dualistic juxtaposition, as the net is just a distorted grid. But in their elementary states, they have different physical and metaphorical qualities, they become opposites in many respects. However, they can transform into each other - their ambiguity is intriguing.

'Side Impact' (2016) Installation View.

'Side Impact' (2016) Installation View.

Tell us about your primary medium of painting and what got you into it?

I always enjoyed painting from childhood, we did a lot of pavement drawing with stones, clay. In the 70’s, finger paint was something new and in Germany lots of people have cellars so we had this window and we were allowed to finger paint against it and I always loved that. It was there for years. Painting has been always natural to me, I explored different mediums but I came back to painting. I love the whole history of it, the naturality of paint, just this pigment and you create something out of it.

And how did you get into using things like nets and grids in painting?

We all know practical uses of nets or grids and their metaphorical potential like interconnectedness, social nets… I confronted the geometric grid with the reality of its imperfect, distorted, organic ‘derivative’, the net, that diverges from the grid’s angular logic. I question ideals confronted with reality and its imperfections. I try to get people to question perception, ideals, illusion against reality. I explore forces pulling in different directions with tension and release reflecting various states of being. The scientifically–minded viewer may think of space distortion, dimensions, gravity, communication between distant particles, their effect on each other. Others will relate it to their own life experience, to inner /outer conflicts, dualities, emotive tensions and struggles.

Tell us a little about your project, what we’re going to see on Opening Night

I will show a couple of paintings, with some elements stepping outside the traditional canvas frame format. The inclusion of more tangible elements in surrounding space makes the works more physical. The images of flat squares suddenly becoming real, tangible 3D objects. I try to engage the viewer through a sense of tension between image and actual object. Wandering/floating squares move in indistinct space, but in an irregular, unpredictable way. I want to trigger an emotive, intellectual, physical response in the viewer; to relate the image to their own experience – what is out-of-rhythm here? What could it mean? Challenge expectation, perception – something unexpected happens; about uncertainties, tensions between antagonistic forces, physical and metaphorical – life events - conflicting emotions or desires.

I hope that my work can convey the sense of tension and uncertainty,  of being out-of-rhythm and viewers bringing their their own experiences. Personal tension, interrupted rhythm of life. My grid lines may look straight from far but show imperfections/inconsistencies from up close. This reveals actual physical tension - small interruptions to seemingly smooth lines, it is more about the concept of a grid than a literal, perfect version of it. Relating to the pulse of life, most situations are not ideal, we are not always in control of our situation, things happen.

Side Impact (2016) Angle View

Side Impact (2016) Angle View

What do you want to get out of the residency?

The residential offered me a chance to bridge the gap between graduation and professional practice, to meet other graduates and gain an insight into a local gallery and the supportive network there. What I also found appealing was the chance of having group crits and a ono-to-one session with a local artist and have access to the gallery’s light-flooded, spacious project space. It enabled me to discuss my work, ideas and incorporate issues arising from critical feedback and discussions into my paintings. The chance for a final show, to share the residency work with the public and interaction with the community in a workshop is exciting – to get feedback or have discussions, get to know new people interested in art.

How are you finding sharing a space?

We had to share limited space as students, so I am used to sharing space and not expanding too much. It’s a large, well-lit space and everyone arranged themselves with fellow graduates to share the space for larger displays. It was unproblematic and [we] enjoyed each other’s company and exchange of ideas or feedback. Having regularly shared space and worked alongside other students over the last years, it can help to make you feel less isolated than working at home on your own all the time. The practice after graduation can feel quite isolating - unless you can afford a studio space or your work gets accepted for lots of open exhibition etc.


Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery

Images courtesy of Uta-feinstein.com