Meeting with Mona Ardeleanu
For her exhibition « My body is your canvas » at the Oneiro gallery, her first in France, Mona Ardeleanu invites the viewer to draw on his imagination to interpret her fantasy creatures, kinds of hybrid bodies composed of accessories, fabrics and other recognizable shapes. With these paintings, drawings and watercolors, this german artist who lives and works in Stuttgart, invites us to discover a world that is both abstract, figurative, surreal and old masterly. Enticing !
Mona, Could you tell me what is your background?
It was always obvious that I would be artist one day, especially painter. Since I was little, there were no alternatives. I started directly after school at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart with Alexander Roob. I studied also at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe with Franz Ackermann and between 2008 and 2009 I spent a year at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna with Daniel Richter. In 2009, I went to the Akademie der Bildenden Künste München with Karin Kneffel. I graduated in 2010. I was searching for more input with different teachers because I chose a graphics specialisation in my main class in Stuttgart and this is where I graduated at the end. I’m coming from graffiti and comics. They are my very very first roots so I decided to go to a class for graphics with a comics and sketchs teacher named Alexander Roob. But It was obvious that I would paint, this is where I feel completely comfortable in. I tried a lot of others things during my studies like experimentation with sounds or installations. I went with different teachers to get different influences. Painting is a lot of me. Since I started painting, I try to paint every day.
What are your sources of inspiration?
I think a little bit of everything. Nature, some art and design inspire me day by day but I believe that at the end your inspiration is an agglomeration of your memories and things you have seen or you have been influenced by. I think that my paintings are not so easy to put in one corner. They are going in different directions. Hilma af Klint is one of the artist who inspired me a lot. She is swedish and died in 1944. Her paintings were amongst the first abstract art. She painted a lot of segmented circles and spectrum of highly painted colours kind of esoteric in the background. She invented a visual representation of complex spiritual ideas. I like when art is connected to main thing and when it is a big field of thinking.
How is the project “My surface is your canvas” which shows a set of your works at the Oneiro gallery, born? Why did you choose this title?
It’s the first time that I’m showing in an art gallery a set of my paintings that are from different years of creation, precisely they are from the last three years. Usually, I work with a group of paintings over months or years. This is the first time that I don’t have a complete work group that I’m showing for an exhibition. This time I have to find something that put everything together. « My surface is your canvas » is a little bit like an invitation for the observer but it doesn’t define what I’m painting. I never define what I’m painting. The interpretation is always open. Sometime, people are asking to me : « You know the painting with the butterfly and I often answered which one?
It’s an invitation to see or to feel your innermost self. My paintings are a connection to a personality, to your memories. May be you will have a connexion with your grandmother’s clothes for example. When you look at my paintings, if you use your intuition, you will get to the point.
This exhibition is my first one in Paris. Ekaterina, the director of the gallery, saw my paintings on the internet and she thought she had to visit me in Stuttgart because she really enjoyed my works. So, we met at my studio 5 months ago. This is why also I’m showing here old pieces because we were thinking time was too short. Nevertheless, we are showing here some watercolors from the last month and weeks. They are brand new. This exhibition is like an overview of my works.
“Abstract”, “Figurative”, “Surreal”or “Old Masterly”, many terms are used to describe your paintings. From your point of view, which one comes closest to your works?
All and none of them because of course there is some abstract in my works because the things on my paintings don’t really exist. It’s something figurative as well. It’s surreal as well because it’s not really real, it’s something strange. It is also old masterly because of the way I use technique. Everything fits a little bit and does not too but this is what I want. It’s important for me not to stay in one corner.
Can you describe some of the paintings, drawings or watercolors presented to the gallery?
I am going to choose my favorite one from this exhibition. It’s from a series painted especially for an exhibition in the Kunstmuseum in Stuttgart. It was a great exhibition because it was a solo one in one of the biggest museum in Stuttgart. The name of my paintings are always a name with a number, because I work in series. « Zwirbel III » is a name that doesn’t exist. Actually, the titles of my paintings are like my « bodies ». There are mostly aninvention that might remind you something but that doesn’t exist. It’s like a layering game. I’m playing with the viewer because I’m showing him something he already knows. The background becomes part of the body and the body becomes part of the background. You never get it. This is something I really like about this paintings.
The first canvas, when you enter in the gallery, is called« Falter II ». I’m often asked if I first build these bodies and then paint them after. First of all, I paint the big ground for a while, and then I paint the composition on the background. It’s like modeling them on the canvas. They get a structure, they get a shape that is just made for the building. I could’nt say to you how long it takes because I mostly paint three to five paintings at the same time. I’m painting in a very fine layers and they have to dry. I mostly paint several paintings at the same time. Because of course, they are influenced by each others. For me, painting is to be able to do something in the unreal world of this media. A painter is a kind of god infront of his canvas, he doesn’t have to follow physics or whatever. I can build things that don’t exist in reality. They can just exist on the painting.
Can you explain why you call the shapes on your canvas “bodies”?
I call the forms on my canvas « bodies » because I need a word to talk about my paintings.
What is your ritual when you paint?
I often begin with dark grey colour and I turn my canvas around. Actually, I choose colours and patterns at the end. It’s really like modeling something in reality but it’s just on the canvas. When I begin to paint I mostly don’t know how the result will be. Sometimes, I turn them around because it’s good and because I can move forward step by step and take it off again.
The three things you don't know yet...
What is your last artistic crush?
our years ago in Stuttgart, I saw the exhibition « eating the beard» devoted to the belgian painter Michaël Borremans. It took me somewhere. I didn't understand why people were so enthusiastic regarding his paintings but now I know.
If you had to choose a famous painting of which you would be the author, which one would you choose?
« The temple series » of the swedish painter Hilma af Klint.
What is your next project?
My next project will be a solo exhibition in my main gallery in Berlin named Wagner + Partner at the beginning of the next year. I just started to work on it. May be, it will be a double exhibition with a photographer but we aren’t that sure for the moment. This is the special situation for me because often I bring my paintings still wet to the gallery. I have to be structured because I don’t have so much time left.
The exhibition My body is your canvas can be seen until november 7th 2015 at galerie Oneiro, 7 rue du Perche 75003, Paris