Maren Simon was born in Hannover, Germany, studied Applied Cultural Sciences in Lüneburg and Pavia (Italy) and, after several years as a cultural manager and trend researcher, has been working as an independent artist since 2012. She lives in Hamburg – the hometown of Daniel Richter, the Elbphilharmonie and a strange dish called “Labskaus.” While Maren is mostly known for her subtle paintings on paper, her artistic focus, output and inspiration go far beyond that; read on to discover it all…
Good morning, Maren! What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
1. I have a cup of coffee. 2. I unwind with some meditation (preferably with some subtle background music from Olafur Arnalds or Hauschka, which I thoroughly recommend) 3. I hop on my bike, which takes me to the studio. It’s great to live in a city like Hamburg because it’s so bikeable (unless you don’t like rain, which we have a lot of!)
What inspires you to create every day?
Most of the time, my work starts with stuff that has simply come my way: photos I took, things I saw or experienced, music, pictures, anything that impacted me in a certain way and anything charged with tension. Recently I photographed some patterns that I had observed one night near a beach in Sri Lanka. The other day it was the song “My Queen Is Anna Julia Cooper“ by Sons of Kemet which triggered something in me and led to a painting. From small, spontaneous discoveries like this I begin creating, and I never know where the process may take me; the possibilities are completely open. There is no specific intention when I begin each work; I then shape the path I find myself on.
What does your work space look like?
My work space is a former workshop turned into an artists’ loft in Hamburg- Neustadt, which I share with other artists. It’s a great place to work, and a perfect place to have fun, too.
Describe the core of your technique or style.
A friend once compared my work with that of a natural scientist, who wanders into the world and returns home with strange things they stumbled across during their explorations in remote parts of the planet. This analogy is right and wrong at the same time, as I’m indeed inspired by natural and/or artificial patterns or phenomenons. My series “Biomorph,” for example, resembles biological phenomena such as bacteria or amoebae; “Wunderkammer“ refers to the collections that aristocrats used to pile up in their castles. But in contrast to a naturalist, my pictures are blended versions of observations and fantasy, which are also thoroughly affected by fortuity and the creative process itself. With that in mind, it’s always surprising to hear what people see in my pictures. I love that.
What is the current focus of your work?
At the moment I’m working on a smooth, almost technical paper, using mainly ink and acrylic, thereby examining the process of painting itself: how do the colours correlate, what happens when I interfere the with the drying process…
Are there any particular artists who inspire you?
Sure there are. To name just a few: Marina Abramovic for her utter consequence, Alice Neel for her spiritual approach, Marguerite Duras and Miriam Cahn for their incredibly delicate yet strong work, Eduardo Chillida for his amazing sense of proportion and beautiful forms, some abstract expressionists for their powerful dynamic expression, Sigmar Polke for his unusual use of material… to be continued!
What are your top 3 studio essentials?
I have just two: Music (at present especially Bon Iver and The Tallest Man on Earth). And a relaxed but focused state of mind (which is sometimes really hard to achieve).
How do you know or decide when an artwork is finished?
It might sound a bit awkward, but I guess I simply know. If there’s nothing to add, it feels right, and the artwork seems ready to stand on its own.
What do you like to do to unwind after a day’s work?
I’ll do some sport, cook something with friends. Pay a visit to galleries and exhibitions and see what others are doing (there’s a vivid although not too big art scene in Hamburg). And whenever possible: Travel. That’s of course something I can’t do after work, but try to do as often as possible.
What’s your overall favorite aspect of the creative process?
It’s the unique feeling of being able to bring something totally new into the world, something you couldn’t have thought of or imagined before. I guess it’s what a real inventor feels like. It’s not at all something I encounter every day, but if and when I do, I know I’m lucky.
Do you have a motto to close with?
Every eye creates its own beauty.