On the Studio
I think I dream, as every artist often does, of the perfect studio. The place outside of the noisy world, the place to be alone with your crap art, the place with the changing day light, with the huge ceilings, where you can wander around and think and listen to your favorite music. Listen to Rakhmaninov, to Rammstein or the Art of Noise. That perfect place should be somewhat hidden with only a few chosen people and friends that know where it is. They can come by without any notification and bring a bottle of wine as a rule. Those were the times in East Germany, when phone land lines were mostly broken and cell phones not yet invented. You would stop by the studio of your friend, teacher, or master, wondering if he might be there, and if he would be free for a nice afternoon talk. If he wasn’t there you’d leave a postcard as a message at the closed door, and maybe after a few weeks, you’d get a postcard back as an answer or not.
I still plan to build the perfect studio for myself, because most studios are really not very perfect: too small, often too dark, too expensive happens as well, bad neighbors, bad smells or just a place with a bad karma. Now, half a year ago by chance, I started to rent a nice space that is right in the center of Tbilisi in Georgia. I look down from the studio’s windows to the entrance of the National Bank. I don’t think the banksters down there have any need for art, and I can not imagine what the banksters would make of me watching them from my studio up here. It is very noisy most of the day because of an important crossroad below, and it is difficult to bear the hot temperatures. I do my best paintings in a cold studio at Wintertimes. I try not to drink Alcohol, but tea.
I share the 4 or 5 rooms with another artist who is living there, Nugzari Natenadze. He has a free, pure, and poor life in that studio. He borrows my paint and brushes sometimes, which I hate, but he is laughing at this life and he loves me and my works. One time he brought two kilos of bacon fat from his village in Western Georgia to eat, and after a while, it started to rot and made the whole space unbearable to me. I got so sick from that smell that I could not work there anymore for a while.
A good studio should have a good light. Most artists prefer Northern light as the one that is the smoothest and less changing during the daytime. Often that wish for perfect light is a pure luxury, and the situation needs to be improved somehow. Light is central to color and form, and a bad light can be the reason for a bad work. Not always. Even worse is a light too bright, like a full Summer sun light, which can kill every mood for painting.
My “best” studios often had been those places where I was living and working together, and by far the best, was the Villa Marie in Dresden at the foot of the Blue Wonder Bridge over the river Elbe. More important than the light, the heating, or the size of the space is for me an inspiring view from the windows. When looking out of my window from that studio I saw young women on their horses galloping over the meadows along the Elbe. One day I called to the most beautiful rider. She was tall with long hair and she had a quick wit. She came to my studio to model, and over a glass of sweet wine, I painted her classy profile.
A good studio of course must have a big comfortable sofa for the models and it must be in general a beautiful space to make us happy. Only a free and happy heart can make a good work, don’t you think so? When I was poor and young, 25 years ago, I dreamed of an ATM in my studio that would spit out 25 bucks a day to keep the money problems from my painting day. But those poor days were also lucky days and I get nostalgic when my fingers glide over the paint drubbles of my early works.
I have a small office, located on a so-called Italian balcony in Old Tbilisi. I can see from the balcony eight old Georgian and Armenian churches. Some of them had been destroyed by Tamerlane in the 14th century, and then twice more in the next century. In my so-called ‘office‘ I do my daily Email and Computer “Art” work, I optimize my images, make digital collages, animated gif’s, upload to Youtube and follow the newest creations in the world of the Internet. I am actually in this space more often, than in my studio, so I also paint here, or rearrange works of my collection on my walls. I get many good ideas for my art here, but the realization in paint is on another page.
I think from time to time it is important to make an exhausting work session of 2 – 3 days straight in the studio. I haven’t done that in a while, and I miss it; completely ignoring time and space, being just a slave of your art, sleeping in a dirty corner or on your sofa, getting hungry and ignoring it. And making some really huge steps forward in your art, attacking the Unknown, the Hinterland, the real Niemandsland. Also to get loose, to throw away your vanities, fears, and the arty fuck ghosts, to let your inner freedom join your best talent and vision.
Then your friends coming by, joking and bringing you back to reality.
Keeping your independance with a studio is probably even much more essential. If you’re lucky to have your own family they can really give the artist lots of love and support, but a family also takes time away … and energy and faith. They pull you back to the real life and money track. The studio allows me to be alone or to invite models and keep a distance between art and life.
Back in Georgia again in 2010, I tend to think that the studio space is less important, making many of my best works sometimes under the free sky in open air. The studio is usually where the artist makes his work. Another good place is this open balcony in Eastern Georgia, happily looking out at the ripe wine grapes.
With a Mediterranean climate there is often not a need for a studio, as long as you have a way to transport your various paints and canvases from one place to the other. We often drive from the capital Tbilisi to various places in the country side. Here you see us working in our Eastern Georgia hide out, at the Art Villa Pona Khechili’s balcony. There is almost no way to spend any money, again a good situation to get hungry for art.
Shall we paint a landscape, or from our inner landscape ? The world – our studio ?
This post was edited by Henri. “On my studios” – the unedited original version is online here: http://heinerbuhr.de/on-my-studios.htm
Hans is an artist, theorist and painter living in Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia. For more information about Hans you can check in at the Art Club Caucasus, Heiner Blogspot, or on Facebook. Hans also has published a new book about his work entitled The Horse Thief from Sayat-Nova-Street.