“My artworks are the essence of what I am…”
Paul Zimmerman in conversation with Carmen Rieger (Iris)
Paul Zimmerman: How did you get interested in art?
Carmen Rieger: Drawing was present within my life ever since my childhood. I spent a lot of time in nature, in my grandparents’ village. I was, most of all, drawn to water, in all its forms of existence and manifestation. I enjoyed drawing the outline of small pools of water after it rained… Fascinated, with my finger, I would follow the raindrops trickle down my window and I would then draw scenes and fantastic characters inspired by the rain’s dance.Thus began an adventure that influenced my entire existence.
PZ: What is Fluidism?
CR: Everything flows. Fluidity belongs to the human being by our biological composition, and by the composition of our society in which we are immersed. All we have to do is let ourselves be carried away by the flow of eternal becoming. My drawings and paintings are inspired by the liquid aggregate state of water, giving me the greatest freedom to create without wholly destroying its form and initial character. The shapes and features of all living bodies are continuously changing and I had the idea to only draw the liquid part of the bodies. An elephant is transformed into new elephant through a complex ensemble of colours and organic shapes, without losing the idea of the elephant. A person’s character and inner life can be recognised in a portrait; a bird remains a bird without losing the character and idea of flight.
Fluidism is a concept through which I express my artistic creed in works of art, inspired by the existence of a complex substance of outstanding properties and qualities – WATER.
WATER is a unique and indestructible substance. WATER is the basis of life, growth and change. WATER has the ability to regenerate continually. WATER is comforting and soothing.
WATER shows understanding and sensitivity.
WATER is an accomplished artist.
WATER is the most important element on the planet, can be found in 70% of our earth and in the same proportion in the bodies of humans, animals and plants – sometimes even in a larger quantity.
I have chosen to use the seven colours of the rainbow and the shades obtained by combining them in all of my artworks.
PZ: What is your artistic process? How do you create your work?
CR: I always start a sketch with the thing I want to draw, and then I change it multiple times until I reach a point where I feel like I’ve said everything and I am very happy with the end result. In the case of a portrait, for instance, each line needs be in a very precise spot. Any change to the base lines, however small, might completely ruin the expression of the person in the portrait.
The next step is transferring the sketch (usually done in A4 format) to a very large canvas. This step is crucial in its importance and extremely complicated. Any slight variation, when scaling up the drawing, might distort it, change it and completely ruin a portrait. Every detail needs to be drawn with utmost precision.
The last step is applying the colours. I use acrylics that I apply with the help of a brush, between tape of varying widths, lengths and shapes. The colour is the element that offers visual unity and harmony. To me, colours are states of happiness that bring a portrait to life.
PZ: Do you have any particular goal in mind when you start a new piece?
CR: When I start a new portrait, for instance, I try to convey a character trait, to capture a feeling, an emotion, something special that may give one the feeling they can “talk” to the person in the portrait, that their presence can be felt. These are the goals I seek to achieve each time I start a new project.
PZ: How do you know when a piece is finished?
CR: I simply feel when a work is done. I reach an inner agreement with myself, I feel I need to stop, that I have reached my goal. This, I believe, is that “inner voice” that controls one and in which I trust completely, without fearing even for a moment that I would make a mistake. I know that if I continue and I don’t stop when I should, I can destroy the entire work.
PZ: Has your practice changed over time?
CR: From the simple drawings of my childhood to my complex works in the now, the difference is enormous. I know that this new style has always been a part of me, but I have not been aware of it until very late. It has grown with me and we have matured together. I have always been fascinated by the organic form that fluids take in their movement on different surfaces. I used these organic forms, for the first time in a complex and advanced composition, in the summer of 2018. From that moment on, I understood the worth and meaning of so many years of observation and experimentation with fluids. From that moment on, I started drawing in a new, original style and I created a concept that I called “Fluidism”.
PZ: Which artists are you most influenced by?
CR: There are many artists that I admire, that have created iconic artistic movements, artists with strong personalities. I do not wish to write a list with my favourite artists, but merely a quote by Pablo Picasso. “When we discovered Cubism, we did not have the aim of discovering Cubism. We only wanted to express what was in us…” (Pablo Picasso)
PZ: How would you define yourself as an artist?
CR: Daily contact with fluids, for years on end, has influenced my artistic development and has brought me to that moment of becoming aware of something I have always carried with me – Fluidism. The “awakening” happened, I managed to make my “inner voice” heard through original artworks bearing a brand new style based upon an original concept. Now I truly consider myself an artist. My artworks are the essence of what I am, what I feel and what I live.
PZ: What are you working on now?
CR: Right now I am working on a Lady Diana portrait. It pays homage to “The Queen of people’s hearts”. A woman of incredible inner strength and outstanding beauty and elegance. What I wish to emphasise the most about this portrait is the expressiveness of her eyes. I wish to capture that powerful light in her eyes, touched by shyness, which gives her face a unique sort of beauty.
PZ: How does the pandemic influence your work and sensibility?
CR: The pandemic has completely changed people’s rhythm and quality of life throughout the entire world. We have battled isolation, disease, the loss of loved ones, psychological and physical trauma – a horrible moment in the history of humanity. The intense emotions during this period (my mother’s death) have enlightened me spiritually, have given me depth of mind for the understanding of life. To me, this has been a time and an experience that showed me how fleeting everything is, and which are the true values that are worth fighting for and that must be primordial in our life. I have spent a lot of time in isolation/lockdown and art has been my saviour both emotionally and mentally.