November 2007, Florian Heinke

November 2007,  Florian Heinke
Florian Heinke, Love & Death, mixed media courtesy the artist

The legend about blackpop or the horseless cowboy
- a dialogue

Florian Heinke is the new “it-girl” of the Frankfurt art scene. Still a fine arts student at the Städelschule, he already had a break through. He is with the art gallery “PSM”/Berlin. I met him for an interview about his latest work, a trilogy called blackpop:
I. No height, II. Cut past and III. No return.

He is a big guy -lets say butch- short, shaved hair, tattoos pretty much everywhere as far as I can tell, scares and rough big hands with paint on them. He is wearing blue jeans and a dirty wife beater drenched by his own sweat, leaving yellow disgusting stains. He seems to be a freaking chain smoker. I would have to lie to say this is not a sexy look. But he is the cliché of himself; it’s so lame it makes me puke. But sex sells and sex sells and not to forget sex simply sells.

SJ: As you can see I started off with a very strong image, my first impression of maybe the most important piece of the artist Florian Heinke, yourself. Where do you see the border between your work and your private life?

FH: That’s difficult. Obviously it is two different things, but I like to see myself as a living legend. The scars, the tattoos, that’s the dialogue between my body and me. My life left some traces upon my body; I left some trace on my body. That’s the private me. The paintings and poems are also me, the public me. With each artistic process I try to cross borders, which the private Heinke couldn’t possibly cross. So my artwork is an exaggeration of myself. But the two lives are connected, each step, each pain I experience myself in private merges into a piece of art. Nothing makes my experiences more holy, then fixing it on canvas. I even exploited the experience of a suicidal attempt for the sake of art.

So are the experience of pain and your force to paint inseparably connected? Is it a necessary symbiosis to be able to create? Resuming this: happiness and satisfaction would be the deathbed of your work. So I guess you will always provoke negative emotions, yes?

FH: Yes, this is how I started. The force to paint was nurtured by the famous German “Weltschmerz”. But I had to learn it is ONLY a job. My paintings become more and more conceptual. It is very difficult and exhausting to repudiate every thing beautiful in your life. But I am still and I always was a very extreme guy, not only for arts sake, it’s simply my personality to live life excessively. But my life became much clearer and straightforward since my art grew more conceptual. I would say, compared to when I started to paint, my art became almost sharp.

The media creates an image of a patriarchal, woman hating, self-loving character, your pictures speak a language of the romantic, lonely rider with hurt feelings and a strong belief in real love. Are you Mr. Tough guy with a soft spot?

FH: I am a fallen angel; I struggle with both. I am a cynic but the child Florian is still there. The canvas embraces both. The motives are the intact world, the paradise maybe even utopia. The poems and text, which you can find within each artwork, are the incarnation of my broken, the cynic and harsh self. I want a proud, respectful woman behind me. Fidelity is my most precious belief that is my art.

SJ: I found your paintings nearly sacred at points; you use a lot of religious symbols. Would you consider yourself a believer?

FH: I believe in my family, where I can gain respect, collect advice and be myself. My family is my religion. I used to sign my paintings with “NO MORE FRIENDS JUST FAMILY”

SJ: So what are those Holy Marie-look-alikes, angel wings and haloes all about?

FH: This started really early on, the use of those symbols; I painted pictures of the holy whore. Each woman who disappointed me was painted as the holy whore. It merges from the idea that life is black and white and you can divide into good and evil. The halos obviously stand for purity and benevolence, while the cut of angle wings stand for immorality and wickedness. I don’t use them because they are religious symbols, but rather because they are strong and easy to understand.

SJ: The women in your paintings are most of the time subservient, with tender features and cut of angel wings. Are you a full-blooded macho?

The women love it (laughs). Most of the time it fuses out of a close, tender and playful relationship. If I act like a macho it is only and exceptionally a game that I am playing. Deep down I truly respect women, their strength. Based on this I am able to allow a little bit of macho-ism (laughs again). By the way, one of my latest paintings depicts a woman leading me on a leash. But yes, my works often play with sado-masochistic themes.

SJ: What is inspiring to you?

FH: Love –it is as simple as that.

SJ: Are you on the hunt for the ideal woman? -In real life as well as in your art works?

FH: Indeed I was. It was like a search for the Holy Grail. But I got more relaxed; I can just float and wait until the perfect moment arises. I painted a lot of beautiful woman already, but there is only one that might come close to the perfect woman. She is the reason for the trilogy. I lost her again though. She is the woman with the leash (revering to the latest painting). She is the first and only woman I depicted in a dominant and not a subservient way.

SJ: Fidelity, Proud, Respect, it all sounds very archaic and rather like conservative forces.

FH: Those are my values and beliefs. They might seem ancient, but I don’t feel misplaced. I grow more tolerant with each work process. I felt like a foreigner for a long time and went through a lot of different cleansing processes but I hold on to my values. I tolerate people who are different but the more I think about it the more important they become.

SJ: You started of with series of oil on canvas paintings, looking very Basquiat like. Wild, busy, colourful paintings with notes scribbled all over them. Then you turned to black and white and cleaner images. With the trilogy you stripped your technique again, down to only black paint on canvas and bold writing. Tell me about this process.

FH: The first painting series happened. It was a painting process. All of the paintings were more or less accidents, in a good way. But the more conceptual I worked, the more I stripped my technique. At the beginning it took time to paint, now it takes time to create an image in my head. The painting process now is pretty much quick and easy. With my first series I went on a search while painting. When I start painting now, I know exactly what the painting will look like in the end. It isn’t important whether it looks “good”, the content is important.

SJ: well ok thanx Mr. Heinke.

FH: JAAA, whatever. My pleasure.
whitehot gallery images, click a thumbnail.

Susanne Jakob

Susanne Jakob is a writer in Berlin.

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