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26th Open Studio Days: Bonn artists open up their work spaces at the weekend

26th Open Studio Days : Bonn artists open up their work spaces at the weekend

Painters and photographers opened their studios to visitors in the old town at the weekend. For many, it was a good opportunity to present themselves in times of coronavirus.

Many different artists work in Bonn's old town and for the 26th Open Studio Days, painters, photographers and illustrators once again opened their work spaces to visitors for the weekend. It was therefore not only the sunny weather that attracted many art lovers to the Old Town.

A wide range of creativity can be found in the Kunstbrennerei, where 14 artists share the two floors of the former distillery. Tobias Stutz (37) has his studio in the basement, where the artist exhibited his oil paintings at the weekend. One of the works showed a two-dimensional room, from the window of which, the viewer could look out over a calm sea and light that fell through the window cast the room into shadows. In the series "House at the Sea", Stutz works with a traditional technique that is meant to simulate three-dimensionality. "The trompe-l'œil, or eye illusion technique, dates from the Renaissance and was used a lot in church ceilings at the time to give them a deeper space," said Stutz. In his work, Stutz now transfers the technique of illusion into the urban. "To do this, I sawed wooden planks, so that the picture format already gives a 3D effect". The illusion worked, because the viewers clearly got the feeling of standing in an empty room and looking out at the sea.

"I am fascinated by the graphic and pictorial elements. These two qualities, which are very complementary, are strongest in architecture," said Stutz, who was born in Nuremberg. The contrast between organic elements such as landscape and water, and the sharp lines and edges of architecture is particularly interesting. Stutz has been working full-time as an artist since 2013 and his work can be found in Berlin, Vienna and Munich. "When cooperations with galleries started and I was able to achieve success at international fairs, I realised that I could take the risk," said Stutz. His parents supported him in his decision, and the artist from Bonn explains that it is possible to live from art alone. "It's like any self-employment; there are highs and lows, but if you really want to and learn to deal with setbacks, it can work out. As a visual artist, you don't get rich, but in return, you save yourself expensive hobbies. "I feel most comfortable in my studio. That is my passion", says the painter.

Stutz also receives support from his two sons, whom he often takes with him to the studio. Stutz has rented the Kunstbrennerei together with three other artists and they share the rooms for working. The artist was impressed by the large number of visitors at the weekend. "It's great, we've been participating in the open studio days for five years and the Kunstbrennerei has become a permanent institution in Bonn," said Stutz. The name actually continues an old tradition, because instead of schnapps, artists today distil art, said Stutz.

Studio Days represent an opportunity for the artists

Co-organiser Martha Gimenez-Thömmes, who has her "Galeria Galeano" at Wolfstraße 47, was also pleased about the large number of visitors. For thirty years, she has been giving artists a platform in the old town. The Open Studio Days are therefore always something "very special" for the Bonn-based artist, because that is when the public comes into the studios and all the artists show their works together. "The art in the old town is very diverse. From sculptures to oil painting and graphics, there is a wide variety of art forms," says the owner.


Formerly a Schnapps distillery; today a base for artists

The Kunstbrennerei is located at Kölnstraße 139 and is an old brick factory building, which was built in 1890. Schnapps was originally distilled here and Konrad Adenauer is said to have been one of the customers. After its closure, the factory was home to all kinds of different trades: a barometer factory, then a gallery, and in the last 20 years, an antique furniture restorer was based there. Today, 14 artists share the rooms. Painters, sculptors, architects and event organisers work here on two floors.

The opening of the studios is also very important from an existential point of view, she emphasised: "Due to the coronavirus Pandemic, almost all events have been cancelled in the last few months. The fact that we can now open and visitors can also buy works of art is a great help to the artists". One problem though, is rising rents. "Many artists can no longer afford a studio in the old town on their own," warned Gimenez-Thömmes. Therefore, artists usually share working spaces with others or use their own apartment for work. A good network is therefore crucial in the industry. "If anyone would like to get in touch with an artist, they are welcome to contact us at Café de Arte," says Gimenez-Thömmes.

(Original text, Niklas Schröder; translation John Chandler)