Let’s just see what happens

Art Gallery

Avinasho presents her new Wimmelbilder.*

* Wimmelbild is a German expression for a highly detailed picture, mostly used in children’s books. They are teeming with characters (humans and animals) engrossed in various activities, all at the same time, taking the reader on a journey of deeper and deeper discovery.

heute mal ein Wimmelbild
Kleine Katharsis
Wimmelbild No 2
Wimmelbild No 3 Stadt der Frauen
Wimmelbild No 4
Wimmelbild No 5
Wimmelbild No 6 Frieden für die Ukraine
Wimmelbild Ukraine
Wimmelbild No 8
Wimmelbild No 9
Wimmelbild No 10
Wimmerlbild No 15
Wimmelbild No 16

Painting wimmelbilder is a highly spiritual matter.


Because it is the perfect here-and-now exercise. Nothing is laid down in advance, certainly nothing is pre-drawn. On the foam boards I could not even erase anything. I cannot correct, nor afterwards think ‘I should have known better’ and change it. I’m too lazy, or too old, to first work out a concept in my head. I simply no longer have the patience or the time for any of that.

A wimmelbild is born late at night. I throw some paint, preferably ink – it shines nicely and doesn’t spread – onto the foam board. Using a brush or straight from the bottle. It will dry overnight. Next morning I look at it and feel what comes up. Of course, over the years I have accumulated an array of toys I can fall back onto: brushes, pens, stamps, papers and, last but not least, my ‘inspiration folder’. (Whenever I find something somewhere I spontaneously like I make a screenshot and keep it in this folder on my PC.) And that’s where the chaos is: it’s full to the brim and is completely unorganised, which means that I can’t find anything there if I wanted to. So here, too, chance plays its part.

To begin: I start from any of the corners. And I ‘work’ on it, with my toys, only as long as I feel like it, not a minute longer! To want to finish something or ‘let’s see a result today’ doesn’t work. By pushing you only insult your good spirits; inspiration doesn’t like to be pulled by its ears.

Then it’s better, in the meantime, to browse a bit in art books or make a cup of coffee. My favourite coffee-table book, which has been with me since I was born (it belonged to my mother and I inherited it – and I never let it go) is the one with the dry, quirky line drawings of Saul Steinberg. Paul Klee is also one of my favourites, as is the graffiti artist Harald Naegeli, the ‘Sprayer of Zurich’ as he is called.

During the pandemic I became inspired by the London Drawing School. During that time there were zoom drawing courses in madhubani, an original Indian technique to put life on paper. In general, the pandemic has given me much time and space to work with pens, colours, brushes and fineliners in an open and completely new way, without expectations…

Back to our wimmelbild: it’s created piece by piece, following the mood of the day. Sometimes I find a corner really awful and think it’s fucked up. But thinking doesn’t help at all in this case, just keep going, and always, really always it will turn out that is was fine just as it was. Creativity and ideas unfold when I am relaxed and take my time. Each time I am amazed to see what happens. I am not a channeller, yet when I paint I have the feeling that something from the cosmos wants to come through me onto the paper.

Since I have been working with this kind of ‘playing with chance/intuition’, I have come across artists who have recently begun to work in exactly the same way: a director who has actors and camera ready on set and doesn’t know yet what will happen, and an author who starts writing without an idea about how her book will unfold… (both are women – is that a coincidence?)

My dream is to give a creativity workshop, without a concept or preparation. And just see what happens….

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Avinasho (Susanne Elten) is a retired graphic designer, a writer and painter, based in Munich. www.susanne-maria-elten.de

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