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How They See #44 with Izabel Angerer: "I had to learn to be patient"

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How They See

March 19 · Issue #44 · View online

How They See will allow you to meet artists from all over the globe and understand their perception of art.

Published irregularly.


Hello fellow readers!
I am back after quite a long slumber with a new publication in How They See. I barely recently realised that 9 months has passed since I published the last issue. Time flies they say, and indeed it is true. Especially when life happens and priorities needs to be changes.
How They See would be continued just not in a regular basis. From now on I plan to publish spontaneously and mix interviews with my own writing.
Today though, I would like to introduce to you Izabel Angerer, an abstract artist from Antwerp. I recall that her works grabbed my attention because of unique approach to pattern and texture. At first glance most of the her works are a static image, but when being looked at fro longer time they start to live their own lives. They start to move and present their dynamic side.
You can find more about Izabel on her website or Instagram.
Originally, I made the interview with Izabel last year in July 2021.

All of your works I have seen are on paper. What is the most challenging part of working with this medium?
I have worked on paper all my life with a little detour in painting and experimenting with different printing techniques on stone or copper. I always loved the directness of paper, its generosity and its availability.
No long preparations are required, it is ready when I am and offers me freedom and support. 
On top of that, it has the perfect feel for my drawings.
Even though this material is supportive and perfect for my practice, it does not do the job entirely. My work aims to enhance it, make it more complex and try to transform it from a blank sheet to a substantial work. 
Paper is never really considered as valuable as let’s say canvas or stone: It is seen as a preparational tool, a sketch for a bigger real work. 
That aspect makes it even more attractive to me because it reveals more of the journey than of the destination. 
A white sheet of paper has something very rudimentary and by working on it with my pens, pencils or pins, I aim to create complexity and depth, literally by layering two or more drawings on top of each other and metaphorically by repeating the same little actions over and over again in a nearly meditative way.
The biggest challenge, not only on this medium but in general, is to create something true to yourself. 
Cry me a river, Izabel Angerer
Cry me a river, Izabel Angerer
How was the pierced paper concept born? I must say I was surprised by it and by such a creative transformation of the grid concept.
It started when I decided to use needles to hang a drawing on the wall, accepting that it will leave holes in the paper.
I did not mind the holes and started contemplating the idea of damage and defaults. So I wanted to try out the opposite: More holes than paper.
It is interesting that you see them as a transformation of the grid concept. I never saw it that way, but in a way, it makes sense if you see the grid as an underlying structure.
I discovered that by piercing the paper, it gains relief and transforms into something like an abstract space. So I started playing with it. The way the drawings evolved was quite stunning for me. I discovered a way to create vibrant units by placing tiny holes in close proximity to each other.
The closer they are one to another the more organic and vibrant the result.
What do you think about the grid concept at all? It is pretty simple but at the same very difficult to master, stand out and avoid comparison
I started working with grids at a time where a lot of artists also used them in their work. Like a wave that caught me as well.
It is a very simple concept and yet there are so many variations and interpretations that can hardly be compared.
A grid is a very strong system but, as you say, it has to be mastered and I think it is much more interesting as a tool than purely by itself.
I don’t construct my work in a technical way nor do I plan in detail how it is supposed to look in the end, but I often start with an underlying structure and then, sooner or later, I leave the system behind and start wandering around.
I use elements like dots, stripes, holes, etc. of this given structure and repeat them countless times in order to create the abstract spaces I talked about before.
The development of a drawing is very much an interplay between structure and disturbance and the grid plays an important part in it.
I must also admit that you are the second person I am talking to who has decided to use gold in their work. For me it is a bold move as I see this medium as hard to harness and 
Gold can be tricky. I love its metallic shine and touch but I cannot deny the challenge. It’s ornamental and decorative and has the ability to turn your work into a greeting card in no time, and I don’t want to be put in that corner. I needed to break it down to a more modest appearance.
Now I mostly use it as a background, a layer under my work instead of an accent.
But I do love its preciousness. It took me many attempts to find a good way to integrate it into my work.
Mounting gold leaf on paper and then piercing carbon paper through it leaves traces of colour on its shiny surface and has brought me some very fine results.
Current, Izabel Angerer
Current, Izabel Angerer
Could you please tell me about your artistic process?
My works are grounded in repetition, imagined as ‘long walks without a pre-determined goal’ where every step taken leads to a different result than the sum of these steps. It’s not only a work of construction, however, it’s also the result of observations and search of traces. They are everywhere and even if I don’t translate them in a literal way, they are a great source of inspiration. 
Let’s take a desire path for example, which you find a lot on lawns: someone has decided to take a shortcut which didn’t leave much of an impression in the grass, but when many others do the same it leaves a trace and turns into a path which redefines the ground. This is a very literal example, but there are so many more, like bronze sculptures that were touched at the same spot so often that these spots become polished and shiny, and so on.
Those traces are evidence of repetitive small actions.
And so I built up each drawing by layering minute, precise marks. Small dots, lines or punched holes are similar yet distinctive in shape and colour, placed in close proximity forming a vibrating unit.
At first glance, the result suggests to be a still image, but captivating the gaze, reveals a dynamic and noisy tremor.
What is the most challenging part of it?
The most challenging part is the danger of falling into a routine. Even if I carry out the very same action many, many times, like making a dot or piercing a hole it must never turn into a factory-like act.  
There is a logical consequence resulting from every previous step. Even if I talk about getting carried away I actually never give up control.
Without a focused mind, my artistic process leads to something hollow and meaningless.
The line between substantial and superficial is sometimes very thin and many times I found myself in dangerous proximity to the wrong side of that line.
What lockdowns and the current situation has changed to you from an artistic perspective?
During the lockdown, many activities stopped, like events, travels and art fairs, and all of a sudden there was so much extra time that I had to spend all by myself in the studio.
I don’t think I ever worked so much on my art as during this last year. On one side very luxurious, because I got so much more done and could finally close open cases, but on the other side it was a lonely and uninspiring period, and the need to show to the world what I have made has grown enormously. 
If there is one good thing coming out from this period then it is the rediscovery of hunger.
But a hunger for a high percentage (not sure about the use of ‘percentage’ here, are you referring to quality?) and not high quantity. 
The distraction of fast consumption like goods, travel, etc. is temporarily replaced by a strong need to be touched. It may be wishful thinking from my side, but it seems to me that people spend more time in front of an artwork than before. I am somewhat surprised and touched to see how many people make an effort to experience art in real life again.
Adverse to logic, Izabel Angerer
Adverse to logic, Izabel Angerer
During your journey to art, what did you find the most challenging and what helped you to overcome those obstacle(s)?
I had to learn to be patient. 
By nature, I’m not very patient but I have to allow myself to develop slowly because it happens to be my way of growing. It took a long time to find the real me in my work (ongoing), and I’m glad that I never gave up. There is so much comparison: so much better, younger, more interesting in art and so much pressure, frustration and fear around it.
But also, so many similarities: It helped once I accepted that there is not one thing I can do which hasn’t been done by other artists before. I am not an inventor, but I learned that I have something to add, making it authentic and genuine. 
Finding yourself is sometimes very hard- not only for artists.
If you had to choose one work of art that got stuck with you permanently, what would it be? 
There are so many artworks tattooed in my head and many personal Gurus. The strongest ones among them are the ones that remind me why I am here, doing what I am doing. And often it is not because of a similarity with my works but because of their choice and determination to be an artist.
One of them is certainly Francis Bacon. So different to me in all aspects but so true to himself. This may sound clichéd but whenever I doubt myself, I recall the goosebumps I got a while ago in Paris where I saw his retrospective. That keeps me going every time.
Can you give some advice to any self-taught artist or designer?
The art schools and the actual art world have changed so much. The advice that helped me is likely of no use anymore. It is hard to imagine that at the time I started my studies, there was no social media, not even a decent internet connection. Young artists are more in control of their careers in every aspect, from production to promotion. I could learn a lot from them.
The only advice I can give is borrowed from Ernest Hemmingway: “You must be prepared to work always without applause.”
What is your favourite colour?
Dark blue. Like Midnight-Kobalt-Indigo blue, with a tiny hint of purple.
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