In keeping up with her surrounding, Katharina Höglinger creates a mix of realistic and unrealistic story-telling, shifting between her morning coffee and unexpected outcomes.
As a painter and drawer, Katharina Höglinger seeks to persistently avoid her comfort zones while finding herself stuck on developing one thing or a certain material. Yet her work continues to get interrupted by surprising obscure figures or ideas, shedding light on a different version of an »expected« story. She is averse to the idea of knowing the final image of a work of art and therefore her painting style moves quickly… so who knows where she will be in half a year.
What is it about your morning breakfast that motivates you to paint?
Haha, das wurde schon zu so einer beflügelten(sic) Geschichte und ist nur 50/50 wörtlich zu nehmen:
It’s pragmatic – it started when my daughter was younger and it was complicated to regulate my studio hours. So, my morning breakfast and time spent at my kitchen table is simply what motivated me to make work. To have these types of structures which enable me to lose myself in observations, thoughts, reading, procrastination and in some kind of chaos is important to me. Do you know the computer game Katamari? In this game, as a player, you roll the ball and collect things and at the same time you lose things, this potentially describes quite well how I work.
Back to your question, what »starting at the breakfast table« means to me: drawing while drinking my coffee and listening to the news, and through it’s repetition getting me closer to the concept of “the everyday” and it’s parameters. The moment the day starts we are dealing with concepts such as repetitions, routines and the ordinary and I am throwing it into a kind of smoothie blender and mixing it all up.
How do you engage with the »everyday« in your art?
I engage with the everyday on so many levels that whatever my answer is today, it won’t come close to what I might be feeling tomorrow or next week. It is also essential for me to note that the everyday is not equatable to the private I engage with the private as well; but it stays private.
My initial responses:
A) The primary reason for using so many things from my literal »everyday« is the lack of self-producing content. It’s maybe too basic but I love the idea that, as a painter, you want to paint and you therefore have to find things, forms, shapes, color palettes, grounds, formats and so on. Some painters (including myself) have this fear of the empty canvas, so my solution for this is to hold on to one thing and grab the next thing that triggers me. Through this form of daily practice, I can sort my thoughts and develop what eventually turns out to be a painting, a drawing or an object.
B) I like how combining the everyday with content and stories that are major, dangerous, exciting, etc. levels everything and illustrates both the meaning and the un-meaning of life.
Your work combines observations, imaginations and feelings all in one, what are the messages inherent in the different forms of story-telling you imbue within your art?
Yesterday: puhhh, this one is super difficult to answer. Not sure if I’m able to do it by myself. I’ll try it in a bit, but before I would like to share a quote from a text about my work by Hugo Canoilas and Maria Beatriz Marquilhas, which I am very pleased with:
[…] Between lightness and gravity, oscillating between the problems inherent to solving a painting and a personal narrative that overlaps any logic of painting tied to academic and historical problems, Höglinger’s work shares part of her world invested in the sensible. Sharing the sensible gains a personal clipping in the way it »simultaneously fixes the shared common and the exclusive parts«¹. In other words, the act of individuation only happens in the collective space created between her work and the public, in the shared quotidian with the whole, and at the same time, how she excludes herself – she marks her individuality, in the act of painting.[…]
Today, in the morning: again, I’m sitting with my coffee trying to answer this question. I just painted on a plate which I took from our kitchen shelf. I love the work, but I don’t think it’s beautiful. Some works are beautiful, aesthetically seen, and some are not (yet). There is even a very clear message written on it: it´s called »Cultural Worker« and it’s part of my series »KH collectables,« drawings on plates that I have been doing in irregular intervals since 2018. The collectables are quite cheap, and I make a point of writing the price, for example €60 to them in an Instagram post. Most of the time nobody asks for them online. I don’t know if people think it’s a critical comment or even a joke.
Two days ago I was watching a YouTube clip by Gregg Bordowitz, where he is in conversation with friends. He was talking to Vivienne Goldman and they were mentioning – it was just a side note – that they consider themselves »cultural workers« and since then, this term triggers me a lot. I make notes and drawings about it and hang out with it for a while, other thoughts come and join and at some point, I might move on. The messages then develop increasingly by themselves and can be read in various ways.
Seeing your work in your studio I am struck by the different media and formats. There seem to be contradictory aspects in your work between the lack of control and having it. What strategies do you use to respect and push your limits in your process of making?
Being contradictory is my engine. That is possibly more of a personal piece of information, but nevertheless relevant to my work. With my type of character – I have a bit of a chaotic mind – I am very easily distracted and interested in various things, which sometimes can be quite difficult to deal with. I have quite an ambiguous personality, with which I need to look at everything from every possible angle to come to a conclusion, solution, or an opinion. So at some point I decided to happily let go of the idea that there’s one right path I should choose and started to use this »condition« as a tool for my artistic practice.
Plus, I work a lot through my body. Switching off the conscious part and searching for something inside of me I can use to act, outside the idea of controlling my mind.
Recently you have been signed to Galerie Wonnerth Dejaco in Vienna. Has this marked a shift in your practice or led to new perspectives?
Whether there have been changes in my practice? I am not sure yet. It has only been exactly one year now since I began to work with Galerie Wonnerth Dejaco and this was definitely a step to somewhere else in my artist career.
Working with a gallery is still quite important for a lot of artists and it has been on my mind for a while too. When Galerie Wonnerth Dejaco approached me, I could already assume what I needed/expected from a gallery, as well as what could become an issue for me and the development of my painting practice. Personally and ideologically the gallery and I are on the same page, which was very significant to me.
Having to deal less with financial, organizational and promotional stuff is great, but practicing in the field of »the art market« brings a lot of challenges too. Before, I always used to have half of my income through side jobs, so I’m still growing into these new circumstances and I try to stay carefully connected to myself and the development of my artistic practice as best as I can.
Last thing, I see you have released limited editions of t-shirts, socks and other merchandise. How does this kind of production relate to your work? Do you consider it part of your creative development or body of work?
I absolutely do! When I made the first screen printed sweater in 2015, I was still very cautious in my way of communicating it as an art edition and I didn’t want to be one of those »merchandise artists. But after some time passed I felt more confident in pursuing these releases and what also helped was seeing other artists doing similar things. So when I was in the mood, running out of money, wanting to appropriate a current fashion trend or make collaborations with fashion designers and other artists, I went for it; allowing it to become a part of my practice.
Maybe it will fade out or maybe I will stick with it forever – let’s talk again in a few years…