Anna Slobodnik Explores Non-Art Objects with Light Patterns and Pastel Colours

this interview happened during summer 2021 via Zoom

words:  Costina Mocanu 

Light patterns and pastel colours for lyrical compositions. The Berlin-based artist Anna Slobodnik delivers her colourful visual language through lively oil canvas inviting the viewer to a profound optical experience 

Whether it is painting, or collage, patterns and ornaments are recurring themes in Slobodnik’s works. There is an emotional undertone to much of what she creates, whereby her pattern paintings on paper and canvas explore the timeless nature of spatial constructs and concepts. “I came to work with ornaments and patterns” shares the artist “as they give a wide range of motive possibilities, while also referring to everyday interior objects and questioning their existence as non-art objects.” Using painting and collage as an outlet to make sense of the folkloristic floral and textile motives, the artist demonstrates how these are a vital part of our present cultural moment and how they became an inherited part of the space. 

Anna Slobodnik, Zyklus Teppiche, 2020. Photograph: © Costina Mocanu, 2021.

“I think that one of the reasons I started to be interested in patterns and ornaments is my background in Eastern Europe – Russia – and the high number of patterns one is confronted with there every day. But that was only the trigger. The motives I use have no concrete references, they are all made up, but of course they are subconsciously influenced by the things I look at in exhibitions and during travels.” With her personal process of depicting, cropping, and reframing common ornaments, Slobodnik has created a recognizable body of work synonym with the feminine aesthetic and manual labour. 

“Creation of art is a choice of living your life. I can’t live my life without it.” 

Talking in terms of colours, the artist’s palette is growing slowly and organically “they [the colours] came to me one by one; I am still not at the end with them”. Starting with blue – King Blue, Sky Blue, and Marine Blue – the colour has been paired into a tender candy contrast with pink. However, in contrast with what one may expect, the viewer perceives them as independent and abstract. The newest one used by the artist is green. “At the moment I can only create this with the colours you see, but this process is still developing” says Slobodnik.

Anna Slobodnik, Raute, 2016, exhibited at Heidelberger Kunstverein, 2021. Courtesy of the Artist.

With the Heidelberger Kunstverein’s ‘WERK.STOFF – Price for Painting Nomination’ exhibition (2021), supported by Andreas Felger Kulturstiftung the artist presented six of the artist’s separated but interrelated bodies of work: three complementary lithographs ‘Raute’ (2016), six iconic ‘Zyklus Papiere’ (2018-2020), composed by five watercolours and one pastel), three monumental and bicolored collages, respectively in green, red, and blue in combination with white recalling bathroom spaces titled as ‘Zyklus Fliesen’ (2019), the twenty-pieces-flowery-composition of ‘Blumenfries’ (2020), and four magnificient canvas, the ‘Zyklus Teppiche’ (2020). Although they all differ from each other, each artwork is a vibrant visual pattern of colour interplay and harmonious finishes. “Filtered through my subconsciousness and triggered by my search, patterns, images, colours and compositions find their way onto the paper and canvas and begin to live a life on their own. These I plow through, looking for density, balance and light” explains a statement from her portfolio. “The pattern” explains she “is a metaphor and reference of the woman’s role as producer and a manifestation of cultural identity.” 

On the left side: Anna Slobodnik, Blumenfries, 2020; On the right side: Anna Slobodnik, Zyklus Papiere, 2018-2020. Courtesy of the Artist.

When talking about plans for the rest of year, Slobodnik confesses: “I am actually part of the Goldrausch-Künstlerinnen Projekt, a great project which aims to provide female artist with a network of fellow women artists and resources. The program goes until the end of the year and at this moment I am working on a small catalogue which we realise as a part of this and there will be an exhibition starting in November, too. There are further things to come, but I can’t talk about them yet as nothing is completely fixed.”

Anna Slobodnik, Zyklus Papiere, detail, 2018-2020. © Costina Mocanu, 2021.

Intriguing and dynamic, her art production goes beyond analogue pictorial patterns. “I would like to have the possibility to exhibit my video works more often, so that I could try out different ways of presenting them.” Printmaking is also of her interest. 

Anna Slobodnik. Courtesy of the Artist.