What does the ideal artist’s studio look like? How much time does an artist spend there? Is it a sacred place? This week in 'The Artist’s studio' series: Carla Klein, whose solo exhibition is currently on view at Annet Gelink Gallery.
Do you visit your studio every day?
I go to my studio almost every day, but sometimes– when I'm looking for images and thinking about how ideas should be combined with images in a painting – it’s better not to go. Then the idea isn’t fully developed yet and I can’t properly transfer it to canvas. I want the picture to be clear in front of me allowing me to process it accurately so that I have a good foundation to build on. This means that sometimes I am working in the darkroom or on the computer. This usually takes place in phases as I collect and process many images in one go. Once I have the good workable prints and/or photos, I start painting. I usually do that too per series, because working in series is also part of the work process.
What time do you leave for your studio, and how: on foot, by bicycle, public transport or car?
After I have taken my daughter to school, I usually head to my studio by bike. That's ten a minute bike ride, nice and close by, and right through a beautiful part of Rotterdam, along the Heemraadsingel or Mathenesserlaan.
Do you hold on to certain rituals in your studio? Music or silence?
I often have the radio on in my studio. I work in a studio with mostly skylights and few windows to the outside. The radio ensures that I still feel connected to what is happening outside, a kind of window, so to speak. When I really need to concentrate, however, or when things are very exciting, it's nice to put on music to let me get carried away in a flow. I often listen to Nick Cave and Modest Mouse, preferably music I know well.
How important is light to you?
Light is really important. I’ve had skylights installed in my studio, and I mainly paint with daylight. The trouble with paint is that it changes with the different types of light; I cannot combine daylight and artificial light in a single painting, so I choose to work with daylight only. I also notice that mixing paint, getting the right colour combinations and playing with transparencies of paint and canvas works much better when the light is nice and bright.
What does your work process look like? Do you work everywhere and all the time or does work only commence the moment you enter your studio?
I'm always looking at images and their environments, taking pictures, arranging and thinking about how things can be combined. It's not even a conscious process, it always continues in the background and pops up when it’s triggered by something, although I can't say what that is exactly. Very often I come across situations that I have previously judged as interesting, and I look at them again with a new look. My work is always a combination of being somewhere and looking at something, and sometimes looking at familiar places for a second time. What is the change in that, or what other things stand out because of the familiarity, how you stand in a place. and how you record, remember and process that and what its value is.
How much time do you spend on average per day in your studio?
About five hours, I think. Sometimes more, sometimes less. When you're painting, you need a certain level of concentration. It's really about doing just the right things, and if you go on too long, the result can be that everything – the whole painting – turns to mud. Keeping your distance and stopping on time is at least as important as continuing. It also requires a lot of time to look and think about what and where something still needs to be done, and what effect that has not only on the image but also on the entire canvas. But sometimes you just have to do something, let it happen and get out of the studio quickly, let things take their course. The next you can assess what exactly happened with a fresh pair of eyes and decide whether that is desirable or whether gives the whole scene a different direction.
Is your studio a sacred place?
In the sense that no one is allowed to enter and everything is devoted to art? No, I see the studio as a workplace, where everything can be done. It should have a good open atmosphere. When I am working on a painting, I prefer to keep that painting to myself. I enjoy working on it in silence and making my own decisions. The moment someone sees it, I see it in a different light and the painting is transferred to the outside world. And there will be other rules that actually do not yet apply to the condition of the work.
Do you receive visits there; collectors, curators or fellow artists?
Yes, definitely, preferably when something is finished and I want to show it. I also send photos of paintings when they are finished to artist friends and my gallerists. Annet Gelink regularly visits, but with my other gallery – Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York – that is bit more difficult. The moment I send something out, I usually know that I am satisfied with it and that I can send it out into the world :) The rest of the time I mainly see my studio as a workplace where I can work undisturbed.
Now that I have just had a new website made – by Marco Douma, (www.carlaklein.studio) – it feels like my studio is online, instead of just my place of work, which is nice, because the studio becomes a kind of frame of reference, a common thread.
What is the most beautiful studio you have ever seen?
At the moment, I really wouldn’t know. Sometimes you walk past a building that catches your eye, or a place somewhere, in the desert for example, which makes you think: I would like a studio here. My studio, however, which is located in the centre of town – near the water, very spacious and easily accessible – also works very well I must say.
What does the ideal studio look like?eruit?
I think modernist buildings are beautiful: lots of light, sleek and clear, combined with wild nature – that sounds like something to me.