Dodo Newman is an established Hungarian painter, based in Germany, whose works have been exhibited throughout Europe, including in France, Germany, Italy and Hungary. She seeks to bring people together through art, harnessing her many experiences in different parts of the world to compose abstract pieces that capture the essence of togetherness. Her strong colors combinations and balance of space and light characterize her energetic, striking pieces.
Where did you grow up and how did it inform your art?
I was born in Hungary and my nationality is Hungarian, but when I was 2 years old I moved with my family to India, and that’s where I grew up. My whole childhood, up until the age of nine, is linked to this amazing and magical place. I believe my openness to difference, to the contrasts in human existence, the belief in love as a life-driving force, and the closeness to nature was formed in this land.
I had a very free childhood, full of joy and lots of colors in every sense, and these elements are part of my art even today, in the expression and intention underlying it all.
My next journeys took me first back to Hungary, where I experienced communism, which was an extreme contrast to the free, spiritual land of India. Following Hungary, my family and I moved to Iran, to yet another very different extreme part of our world, where I experienced how we humans can limit the life of ourselves and others, causing unnecessary suffering.
These different experiences deeply impacted not only the way I saw the world and its people, but also the way I formed my inner-self and my place within it as a reaction to these different experiences. Seeing the depth of different places in the world also gave me the drive to understand more about how and why they exist and why I am experiencing them, what meanings do they bring me and my place in the universe?
The basis of my life and path towards art became the understanding that we are actually all one-interconnected to each other as humans as well as to nature, our earth. I am continuously humbled in front of the many different ways in which life manifests itself, and this is what mainly influenced my artistic journey.
Was there a specific turning point in your life?
There were many turning points in my life. But perhaps the most transformative has been the one I lived right after my daughter was born. I went through a very difficult phase in my private life that led me to transform my view of myself as a woman, as a mother, and as an artist. All the things, that I thought were important in my life, fell apart in my life, causing struggle and pain in the beginning. However as I lived through this phase of deep struggle I realized what were the most important things in my life and found a renewed life force within me. This realization gradually transformed first me, and then the life around me.
I found new energies to create from the ashes and made use of what I already had within me. I started to create again.
My art changed as I stopped wanting to reproduce external things on the canvas and realized the life that I felt going through me. I wanted to express myself, my feelings, my depth, my emotions and the nature that I felt not what I saw.
The process of painting and creating itself became more relevant than what the exact outcome would be.
This transformation has changed also how I see my role as an artist. I see it as a gift I was given to express my inner and outer experiences.
Do you have any particularly artistic memories or moments of inspiration from your many travels and places you lived?
I love our world and the earth we are living on. The most amazing things I have found and find are in places where nature abounds, where people integrate nature with their living environments.
As a child I loved to be by the ocean and to watch the stars for hours. It inspires me to imagine our universe and the space. I find it just amazing to imagine that all that we see is perhaps not anymore there, that the stars we gaze at have long died before. I think about how our universe has been created and whether there are other universes, and other forms of life in other dimensions.
I still have this habit of wherever I go, travel to look at the sky and make photos of the clouds and trees, plants and flowers.
I also received many inspirations from people my life has crossed. I feel grateful to have learned from many different people, who have given me advises, teachings, life experiences, wisdom and love.
Where do you call ‘home’ now?
I grew up open to many different cultures, traditions, beliefs and ways of life. I got accustomed to seeing differences already at a very early age. In the beginning the many moves and travels caused me often sadness – although I could get accustomed to a new place very easily – because I experienced them as loosing friends, people I got to know and places I called home for a while.
This whole way of seeing home as linked to a place or people changed when my daughter was born. Through her, and a difficult period in my life, I realized that home is really what I have within me. No matter where I go in the world, with whom I meet or what my life conditions are, the home is the base of my being, from which I can create and build relationships, new beginnings, live in a healthy environment with a heart and soul that is in its place. That is my home and that is what I call happiness.
How has living in Berlin changed your artistic expression, if at all?
I had a vision to go to Berlin in 2008. I cannot explain why I had it, it was just a very strong calling that I had. My life turned in a way at one point that I made the change and moved to Berlin to fully immerse myself in creating.
At first, what changed me was that I was fully focusing on creating, I was surrounded by art from within and outside. Berlin is a city full of contrasts and also full of history but also renewal. One can feel this transformation in every part of it. This is what inspired me most and has been the base of my expression as well: to be able to create and transform from a place of disruption, to know that the potential to change is always there.
Berlin has been rebuilt and is an amazing symbol of how difference can mesh in a place where not so long ago people were persecuting, oppressing, and killing each other. This has shown me that there is always an opportunity to live life as we choose to live it: either in fear or in love.
Any must-visit art addresses you can recommend in Berlin / special places you came across so far around the world?
There are many places I could recommend, however, it is also very personal to define what is more special to me. For example, the part of Oberschöneweide in the east side of Berlin was where I had my very first studio in the city. This part of the Berlin was an industrial one with lots of factory buildings. Today, it is a mix of renovated factory buildings, art studios, parks and east block buildings. Here, one will find a mix of everything.
Regarding museums in Berlin, my favorite ones that reflect the past are the Pergamon Museum and the Jewish Museum. In contrast, the Sammlung Boros or the Hamburger Bahnhof showcase contemporary art, which are also truly worth experiencing. Nevertheless, there is always some new exhibition, new art event going on in Berlin, one will find something art related taking place during all seasons here.
Thinking back to my other travels, my most special places are the ones linked to special moments and people, like Madras in India, the street where I used to play with my Indian friends, or the park in Rome where I used to sit after my studies at university to sketch and daydreams.
There are still many places on my list that I aim to visit, to be inspired by the colorful diversity of our world.