October 7 - October 28, 2023
Saturday, October 7, 6pm-9pm
“The Ninth Wave: The Journey of a Self-Taught Artist”
The future artist was born in a faraway place “beyond the Arctic Circle,” far from big galleries and art institutions. As a child, she showed an insatiable curiosity for the wider world. She was fascinated by the complex relationship between man and nature. Without formal art training, she began early to record her impressions in sketches.
During her school years, the young woman continued to pursue her passion for art in secret. With limited resources, she took advantage of every opportunity to express herself artistically. Through picture books and studying the great masters, she began to refine her techniques and develop her own style. This period of self-discovery shaped her artistic identity. At a very early age, Gulia discovered Ivan Aivazovsky’s painting, the title of which, “The Ninth Wave,” is an old nautical term for a particularly high, threatening mass of water. Survivors of a shipwreck have taken refuge in small groups on a part of the wreck, the mast, while someone with a white rag beckons invisible helpers. This existentially threatening theme characterizes Gulia Groenke’s artistic work to this day: from natural forces such as forest fires to man-made catastrophes.
Experimentation and Exploration
The urge to evolve led the artist to try different styles, media and techniques. From abstract painting to sculpture to papier-mâché, she dared to experiment.
The Essence of Art
With each new challenge, the artist became more deeply involved with the meaning behind her work. Her art became a mirror of her innermost thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Through the process of creative expression, she found her voice and also a way to connect with others.
Role Models and Examples
This self-taught artist’s story is a tribute to the power of passion and determination. Through her dedication to art, she has proven that education and formal training are not always the only paths to success. Her journey reminds us that art thrives not only in academies, but also in the hearts and hands of people who have the courage to plot their own path. In Berlin, she came into contact with the international art scene, and she has also been deeply involved with her role models, such as Edward and Nancy Kienholz, Brian Maguire, and Sharon Kopriva.
Experience of Nature and Breakthrough
Moving to Idaho and visiting the national parks, such as Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Zion led to the final artistic breakthrough and thematic focus on the confrontation between man and nature. A series of works with landscapes were created, but also very personal works dedicated to family history.
This biography tells the story of a remarkable woman whose self- taught approach to art overcame barriers, even without an academy, to bring her creative vision to the world.
From my point of view, the interaction between man and nature is ambivalent, we interfere with nature by cultivating it, tilling it, and even interfering with its nature - genetics. Nature also influences our life and survival through natural disasters.
Consequently, my artistic work explores this complex relationship between man and nature. This agonistic relationship, characterized by admiration and exploitation, awe and ignorance, is at the core of my creative reflection. Through my work, I aim to highlight the tension and interplay between human intervention in nature and nature as an independent, vital organism.
In a world where technological advancement and economic interests are at the forefront, it is crucial to focus on the deep connection between humans and nature. My artwork is intended to raise awareness of this connection and to question the multifaceted effects of our actions on the natural environment.
Through the medium of painting, I aim to invite the viewer into a dialogue about the ambivalent nature of this relationship. My work explores the beauty and fragility of nature, as well as the brutality that nature inflicts on humans, and that humans often unthinkingly inflict on nature. I play with contrasts - light and shadow, order and chaos, life and decay - to reflect the complex emotions and thoughts that this relationship evokes.
My artistic practice involves gathering and using natural materials and found objects from my Idaho surroundings to create a direct connection to the environment. This results in works that not only convey aesthetic values but are also intended to encourage the viewer to reflect on their own feelings and views of the human-nature relationship. My works tell a particular story - a story of vulnerability, fragility, but also of potential and restoration.
At a time when ecological challenges are becoming increasingly urgent, I hope my art can help foster a deeper critical questioning, appreciation, and mindfulness of nature. By depicting the ambivalence between humans and nature, I hope to encourage viewers to become aware of how our behavior affects the environment, while creating space for a deeper connection with nature.