Anne Wölk (1982, Jena/Germany) was born and raised in former East Germany. She is a figurative painter whose artistic work stands in the tradition of realistic contemporary artists Vija Celmins and Russel Crotty. Committed to an attitude of reskilling, Wölk uses traditional methods and materials.
Her paintings predominantly show us night sky scenes with deep and open galaxies. By quoting Spacetelescope images and digital photography resources, Anne Wölk tests the margins between art and reality.
Parts of Wölk’s family came originally from East Prussian Königsberg, modern-day Kaliningrad. Through their cultural roots and characteristics, the artist sees herself as a wanderer between different worlds of Eastern and Western culture. During her childhood, she often came into contact with paintings by Baltic and Russian landscape painters.
With her ongoing exhibition activity in the USA and her extensive exchange of ideas with American artists, Wölk’s fantastical landscapes are characterized by a multicultural character and show German, Baltic, Russian, and American elements.
In 2006, the young artist entered the international art world at the Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair, when the collector Can Elgiz bought one of her large-scale paintings for the Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art in Istanbul. Her painting Doggirl was shown in several thematic group exhibitions next to famous artists Cindy Sherman, Tracy Emin, and Sarah Morris.
Later on, Anne Wölk received an MFA from the School of Art and Design Berlin and was a BFA student at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London.
After graduating from art school in 2009, the painter became known for beautiful large-scale landscape paintings and was selected and shortlisted for several international competitions and scholarships.
Her awards include the national Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes scholarship; the Alpine Fellowship grant at Aldourie Castle, Scotland, UK; a residency at Bodensee Art Fund; and an artist-in-residence grant in Goriska Brda, Slovenia, awarded by the German Embassy, Ljubljana. She has exhibited at international institutions, including the Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art, Istanbul, Turkey; the CICA Art Museum South Korea; the Zeiss-Planetarium Berlin, Germany; the Accra Goethe-Institut Ghana; and the Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republik.
Wölk has exhibited her work alongside artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Johannes Wohnseifer, Azade Köker, and Stephan Balkenhol. In 2011, she was selected for the Edition S 36 of DSV Kunst Kontor, Stuttgart. The Edition S 36 was a compilation of contemporary artworks, including paintings of Jonathan Meese and Tim Eitel.
She has exhibited and sold on the international art market, including the Swab Art Fair Barcelona in Spain; Viennafair in Vienna, Austria; KIAF Seoul in South Korea; and Contemporary Istanbul in Turkey.
Wölk has since shown her work in private gallery shows, including Galería Luis Adelantado, Valencia, Spain; Arebyte Gallery, London, UK; Galerie Wolfsen, Aalborg, Denmark; Pantocrator Gallery, Shanghai, China; Alfa Gallery Miami, USA; and The Residence Gallery, London, UK.
In October 2013, Anne Wölk won the Category Award for the ArtPrize competition ‘Art Takes Paris’, judged by directors from The Andy Warhol Museum in New York, Lisson Gallery, and the Marianne Boesky Gallery. In 2017, Wölk was announced as the Showcase Juried Winner in the painting category of the 9th Artslant Prize. Her painting ‘Virtual light’ was selected by a jury consisting of Natalia Zuluaga (Artistic Director of ArtCenter/ South Florida), Nathaniel Hitchcock (co-organizer of the Bass Museum of Art) and Malose Malahela (co-founder of Keleketa! Library). Two years later, the painter participated in the finalists’ exhibition of the art competition Art Revolution in Taipei, Taiwan.
Wölk currently lives and works in Berlin.
Nebulae, which are formed from interstellar clouds of dust, hydrogen, and helium, are a great source of inspiration for me. They are symbols of aesthetic contemplation – of pure and true beauty in nature.
As a child, I saw countless simulations of stellar skies and demonstrations of planetary runs at 360-degree shows at the planetarium in my hometown Jena. Jena was the center for laser and optics technology in the former GDR. These formative experiences continually influenced my interest in science fiction and space travel.
The subject matter of my paintings speaks through the imagery of futuristic science and technology, which we have only become familiar with because of the advances in satellites, cameras, cinematography, and computer-generated images. As a citizen of the society of digital culture, I alter astrophotographic pictures and photos from the Hubble Space Telescope and integrate them into my motifs and my personal painting cosmos.
I layer content from these diverse sources in a fantastic interpretation of nature in which the simultaneity of Romanticism and Utopia becomes perceptible.
In this context, my work explores the relationship between art and science.
As a millennial artist, I also continually remix elements of popular culture and painting history in the form of the artistically analogous acts of appropriation and collaging. In this sense, the process of layering, e.g., outer space images with quotations from German Romanticism and Photorealism, is what mainly characterises my painting composition strategy.
Dreamlike artificial light floats in the picture space leads into the emptiness of a virtual vacuum. Starry night skies, modified by photoshop filters, are in contrast to a rainbow colour scale.
Besides my nocturnal landscapes, I combine pop-sci-fi visual references, such as space stations or LED light beams. My conceptional use of lighted colours is what makes my representational artworks very contemporary. By creating space with flowing colour gradients and sampling methods, I want to reclose photographic aberrations, digital information gaps, and compression artefacts caused by the technical limitations of telescopic observations and mechanical photography.
I try to translate with human warmth, the beauty and grandeur of the cold, empty, and hostile universe on painted canvas. For that reason, I intend to preserve the Millenium worldview visions for future generations.