Vera Portatadino in conversation with Lilla Von Puttkamer
Lilla Von Puttkamer, Beatrix, 2018, egg tempera on canvas, courtesy the artist
Vera Portatadino: Why did you choose to paint?
Lilla Von Puttkamer: Painting is for me a special way of thinking. You see the world in colours, emotions, and atmospheres. It is possible to play with dimensions of time and space and make things smaller and bigger.
My pictures are snapshots of my immediate surroundings and tell stories of inexplicable things. The focus is on humans with their passions and entanglements, which manifest themselves in intermediate states and ambiguities. Shadow worlds, projections and memories elude pure logical explanations in a playful way. The pictures invite you to look into a dream mirror, a reflection of the half-conscious and unconscious. States between waking and dreaming, as well as alternation between reality and fiction, glide into each other.
Lilla Von Puttkamer, Asleep, Installation view at Yellow, 2018, courtesy Yellow
VP: When we met in Berlin, you showed Luca De Angelis and myself some big paintings depicting group of small people in Hungarian traditional dresses and you told us about your origins. Your most recent work still deals with clothes and bodies. I can see how identity is a central theme of yours. Can you tell us more about it?
LVP: The pictures you saw with Luca are from the series “Migration”. I was interested in the interaction of groups. You can see how people relate and are in resonance to each other. Some like to stay closer, others need more distance. If we do not understand ourselves as individuals in demarcation to the others, parts of the personality are simply reaction to the environment. I think identity is also something not fixed. We are constantly changing.
Lilla Von Puttkamer, Asleep, 2018, Installation view at Yellow, courtesy Yellow
VP: For the title of your solo show at Yellow you chose “Asleep” to suggest that sleep is actually extremely positive today, in such an efficient society. Do you want to explain why you think so and why you chose to paint people’s clothes abandoned on a chair?
LVP: In my new series “Asleep” I wanted to paint portraits of people – mostly women – without showing them. Actually it is about sleep and insomnia. My focus is on the gesture when you get rid of your clothes. You are giving up and loosing control. Sleep is something very fascinating. It is like a little death. The paintings are very sensual and show the texture and templates off different fabrics. Seeing them you can imagine the character of the person. Some women leave their clothes on the chair for the whole week, others are very accurate and find for every piece its own place. Others like to wear clothes from their friends.
Lilla Von Puttkamer, Adelheid, 2018, egg tempera on paper, 30 x 21 cm, courtesy the artist
VP: The chair is also a recurrent image in your work. Does it have any particular meaning for you?
LVP: I have early works where you can see chairs that act like people, standing in an audience hall. I was interested to shift the view from the stage to the empty chairs waiting for something, expecting. I called them Pause. The objects in my pictures are often like persons and the empty chairs function as the beginning of the story.
Lilla Von Puttkamer, Albrecth, 2018, egg tempera on canvas, 130 x 100 cm, courtesy Yellow
VP: As an artist, what is your perception of Berlin today?
LVP: I always loved that Berlin gives you so much space and freedom. At the moment it is changing and prices go up. So niches are disappearing and it is getting more normal and boring. But still I like to come back and cannot imagine to live in another city.
Lilla Von Puttkamer, Obdachloser, 2018, egg tempera on paper, 21 x 30 cm, courtesy the artist
VP: If I ask you about Italian painting, what do you think of?
LVP: Italian painting has a big history and it must be not so easy for contemporary artists how to continue. In spring I saw the Sistine Chapel of Michelangelo in Roma, because I was invited to an exhibition in the Accademia d´Ungheria. It was beautiful. So much beauty is also a heavy thing to carry. Talking about Italians, I really like the writer Luigi Pirandello and I used some of his titles for my paintings.