Indo-French artist Patricia Petapermal and German-Korean artist Tatjana Lee work together in a shared studio in Munich, where they each start work on a canvas before later exchanging them for the other to finish. As a result, and through constant collaboration during the creative process, particularly powerful images emerge. In their works, Petapermal and Lee focus on problem areas of society, thereby opening up new intercultural perspectives and promoting diversity. We spoke with both artists to learn more about their collaboration and the impact their cultural backgrounds have had on their art.
How do you work together? What does your shared process entail?
At the beginning of a series, we determine a format and color selections. Each artist then paints her canvas. Often we write, drip or paint big shapes, and snapshots of our life situations play a role here. Interestingly, we often choose the same techniques independently. After that, the canvases are exchanged.
In the structures established by the other painter, we search for forms that we want to develop further. A creative seed is planted in the image, which will develop the work not only figuratively, but also spiritually. Each of us remains free to paint as we like. This second elaboration goes much further than the first one, so the following exchange of the canvas hurts a bit. By this stage, you really want to be the one who continues painting the image.
It’s exciting to see what each of us has given to the picture. Then, we discuss thought processes and ideas on how it could be finished. Ultimately, everyone decides for themselves how much is overpainted and what will be preserved. This constructive destruction develops a powerful dynamic that one artist alone could not bring to the work.
How did the two of you meet?
Patricia: Tatjana originally came to me to help find her identity in the art world. Then, as in every relationship, we needed time to find a common thread. It was important to take time to grow together. When we began painting alongside each other, we spontaneously started swapping our canvases. One thing led to another, and as you can see in the result, it was a good decision that ultimately gave our pictures a stronger power.
Tatjana: At the beginning of my artistic education, Patricia was my mentor. After a short time we started working on joint projects. From picture discussions and fair visits to joint exhibitions, we moved on to painting together. We found that this type of collaboration creates unique, powerful works. Soon we will create a joint “Kunst am Bau” (architectural art) project.
How does your cultural background influence your art?
Tatjana: It’s hard to say. I am the way I am because of my German-Korean background; for me, it’s normal. I call myself a “normal” German, but in the course of life small differences are noticeable. For example, when I’m asked “Where do you come from?” my answer: “from Pfaffenhofen” is usually rejected, often countered with “no, where do you really come from?” No one wants to accept that I grew up in Bavaria and was born in Munich. So I was basically forced to deal with my own identity. I am more aware of the place I occupy in this world and how I stand out in relation to my fellow man.
Patricia: I think similarly to Tatjana; I am what I am! When I say, “I’m from Paris,” I often get astonished reactions: “Ah? I didn’t think … ” then I always answer: “Ah yes, one part of me is Parisian; the other is from India.” In situations like this we realize both the luck and the challenge of having a multicultural background.
Do you want your art to influence people? If yes, how?
We focus on problem areas of society. We offer captivating pictures with soul, in return we demand self-reflection from the observers. Through this process, we hope to open up new intercultural perspectives, broadening the horizon and promoting diversity.
Do you have certain rituals that you perform before you work together on a piece of art?
We drive together in the car to the studio and talk about the pictures and projects.
And how do you prepare for a joint work project? How do you decide what your next project is?
We don’t really decide. The world does it for us! We reflect on topics that happen to be moving us at the time. Through our close cooperation and discussions, similar focuses arise.
Have there been any major problems in your cooperation? Or is the process generally harmonious?
Patricia: Our cooperation is harmonious; I appreciate Tatjana as a person as well as an artist. It is a gift of life for me.
Tatjana: Actually, we’re both individualists, so it’s all the more surprising that we complement each other perfectly. We find lots in common both professionally and privately. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Patricia, are there any idiosyncrasies that Tatjana shows during the artistic process? And Tatjana, any that Patricia has?
Patricia: It has become a normal process for Tatjana to come to my canvas and offer up her feedback. I do the same. In life, one should opt for a concrete path. We decided on a common path and it was the right one.
Tatjana: Sometimes we turn the canvases away from each other to surprise ourselves. We also tease each other with provocative comments. We paint at the same time and that’s good, because you are distracted from the development on your own canvas.
How do you see yourself established in the current art scene? How are you being accepted as a female duo? Have you had any negative experiences?
What is now an everyday collaboration for us is often admired from the outside. In the current art scene, it seems there’s some rather fierce competition among artists, but our style is very unique. We’re getting more and more attention all the time – as this interview goes to show! So thanks for the support!
What’s your favorite place in the world? And what memories do you associate with it?
Patricia: We represent the possibilities and experiences of an intercultural life. I think my favorite place is just where I am.
Tatjana: I can only agree with Patricia. I connect my favorite place with the people I love, and that can be anywhere.