Katrine Kabel sits down with Erik Sommer to talk about Gauguin, painting on her carpet, combinations of colors, and not making perfect art.
(ES) Describe your work for us.
(KK) I would describe it as explorational. Mostly within myself. Oh, and crummy.
Tell us a bit about your background. Where did you grow up?
I am from a small town in Denmark. I lived with my mom, my brother and our 3 cats. We always stayed in close contact with my grandparents; we used to meet at least twice a week. They sort of helped raise me and my brother. I still see them as often as possible.
Where do you live and work now?
I moved to Aarhus, DK, when I turned 18, two years ago. I started school twice, but dropped out both times. Now I paint on the carpet of my apartment.
How do you think this has influenced your work?
I have always had a lot of time to myself, which resulted in me painting. I liked being alone and it definitely still shows. I had a studio for a while, but found I prefer the comfort of my own home.
Do you remember any artists as a child that captured your attention?
I remember this big framed poster of two naked women in the entry of our living room. I always liked that one. I later found out it is Paul Gauguin’s “Aha Oe Feii?”, which translates to “Are You Jealous?”. I think my mom still has it somewhere.
You previously talked about how you stopped trying to make the perfect painting. Can you elaborate on this?
I just found out I like crude and crummy art. Painting was different for me then, my style has changed a lot. I used to work towards perfection – when I was around 15 or so. I am 20 now, and I am still trying to improve on my style, technique and composition, but I am not focused on making anything perfect.
What role does text play in your work?
Text is very important to me – it looks nice. I often feel like something is missing if I leave it out. I see written language and painting as two different art forms and I like mixing the two to get the best of both worlds.
What about your working technique? Walk us through how you start and then develop a piece.
I like working in small steps when I first start the painting. I kind of figure out where I am going along the way. Once I get going though, I can spend hours and hours hyper-focusing on a painting, thanks to my autism. I then reach a point where I feel it is finished. I can’t really explain that part.
Do you prefer working on paper or canvas?
I prefer canvas, that way I can go bigger.
Finally, what is your favorite color?
I like combinations of colors, but if I had to pick one right now I would say brown.