Tique | art paper asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Femmy Otten.
Lives in The seaside in The Hague, The Netherlands
How do you describe your own art practice?
I draw, paint, sculpt and create installations and performances. These disciplines are very much connected. In my search for versatility, I creates hybrid figures with features that defy the modernist tradition and allude to other cultures and histories but which are contemporary at the same time. I fuse different temporalities and common beliefs about love, gender and life.
It is the desire for freedom – the freedom to think and move through times, cultures, identities, genders, genres, disciplines and materials.
I do not want to take the liberty of defining an identity, but rather of losing one – and becoming plural. Today I am a woman, a man yesterday, and tomorrow a young girl. ‘and one and indivisible’. The overflow from one sex into the other not only points to the fluidity of our identity, but also to the fact that the other, the ‘stranger’, dwells in us.
What was your first experience with art?
I am 12 years old.
Greece, it’s warm, I’m standing in front of a sculpture, the charioteer of Delphi.
I’m looking at his feet, imagining how his ankles transform into his legs under his clothes.
My eyes are following his proportions, his torso and then, his mouth. I try to feel the plasticity of the forms and all of a sudden the tears run over my cheeks. I am ashamed and suppose that nobody had seen it until the Greek guard comes to me and take my hand, he brings me to the sculpture and gestures me to step over the robe. He brings my hand towards the feet of the sculpture so I can touch them. Those feet, those cold bronze feet of this ancient sculpture, and the warm hands of the Greek guard. This is how everything started.
What is your greatest source of inspiration?
The forces of the irrational.
Where time has lost its relevance,
Where gesture is there to last
bringing everything together I love
The elemental passions
The darkness of the soul
And Beauty at the moment she disappears
When the colors lost their names.
What do you need in order to create your work?
It is a state of mind and not a state of thinking. The visual thinking consists of sudden illuminations, it is beyond thinking.
As an artist, you have to be able to reach all the layers of your mind.
I will never forget the miserable parts, as well as I won’t forget the pleasures. It is my profession to remember how life is, not only the best parts, but the whole of it. An artist carries the whole experience.
The smell of wood when I carve it.
I need to fall in Love all the time.
I chase the moments when you know that everything comes together,
I need to dance.
And I believe art is healing.
It is behind the roses that we have to look.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m full of images, images that I’ve lost, images about everything I see and misses.
I’m working on a wooden sculpture, my hands are tired from carving but my heart is full of it.
The starting point of the new works is the sea, water, the fluidity of time, space, identity and sexuality. As long as I can remember, I was fascinated by water, and especially the sea. Since a few years I have been researching the history of seascapes and the role of the sea in today’s Europe. The water you grow up with is the water in which you drown, the water under a grey sky, the water in the eyes of my daughter.
I live nearby the sea.
What work or artist has most recently surprised you?
The work of Sven ‘t Jolle and the work of Alexander Tovborg.
All works are courtesy of galerie Fons Welters and Femmy Otten.