He Paints Where the Gasteig Sendling is Being Created: An Interview with Benjy Barnhart
Your pictures appear very direct and in-the-moment, yet they often have a distinct spatial depth and colour. How do you go about creating them?
Yes, I want my pictures to convey a scene as if perceived by an onlooker because I want to communicate certain personal or visual experiences. That’s why my pictures portray situations and places that I have seen with my own eyes. To capture them, I often take a few photos and, if time allows, make sketches. I am inundated with pictures that I have accumulated. Usually, it takes me some time to realise where I want to go with each picture. The paintings must ultimately be more than just the reproduction of a scene. I temper the light and colours to create the atmosphere I have in mind.
What is important to you when choosing your subjects? What appeals to you?
This is difficult to answer, because there are many things that might appeal to me. But I do have a special passion for space and people within space, and with light and movement. Often, I am interested in a certain mood that I myself have felt.
How long have you been working in your Sendling studio and how has the site changed since then?
I have been here in HP8 since 2011 and for years nothing changed on the site. Its users simply went about their work and it was uneventful. I always liked the way the site was a bit off the beaten track and the unassuming work ethic. Now with the arrival of the Gasteig Interim, a new phase is dawning and many changes are coming. Right now, we have a noisy construction site in front of us. But I am trying to use these new impulses for my work by painting my view of the construction site every day and reacting to the changes pictorially.
You have been active in the Munich fringe scene for a long time. How has the cultural landscape changed in your eyes and what do you wish for the future?
This example right here shows how little free space is left in the city. Fortunately, creative solutions were found to accommodate the Gasteig buildings here next to some of the HP8 users. But not without losses: many had to find new, more expensive premises elsewhere. There is simply not enough affordable space for creatives in the city. That’s why many artists have joined forces under the »#EXIST Raum für Kunst in München« [space for art in Munich, ed.] initiative. It is important that the major cultural institutions also support the fringe and subcultures.
Looking out of your window in a year and a half’s time, after the interim Gasteig has opened its doors, what would you like to see?
I hope that there will be space and the will for creative cooperation. There will be much potential for cooperation between the Gasteig and HP8, because artists, musicians, actors and creative people are already present on the site. It will strengthen the neighbourhood if the Gasteig can integrate this potential into its programme. This could result in an exciting coexistence in a new creative quarter.
Interview: Benedikt Feiten