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This week we connected Céline Manz to Nicola Arthen and Nicola to Céline. They answered each others questions about their plants and art by Hans Holbein the Younger.

Gradients or monochrome?

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Monochromes, transcendence. They can be totalizing, too, or claim neutrality (one leads to the other). Think of white galleries or the aching colors of some delivery companies. I rather enjoy the rhythm of different colors and marvel at the gradients of glowing metal, fading light or all the skin-tones in this world.

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How many plants do you have (studio or flat or combined)?

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Funny, I planted a tree recently on the terrain where my studio is, which is – of course – temporary. I am curious to see whether it will grow to be ten years old.

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In the typical London townhouse that I currently live in, there is an old garden with herbs, a rose or two – colors all year long.

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Favorite music to work to?

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I am the person that will click any platforms’ “listen again” playlist. My workflow improves by listening to things on repeat. Last year, I made a mix for friends from those songs and own field recordings, which I play whenever I don’t have internet (and obviously grew tired of it). It’s called “ While Working 2018 ”.

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Nicola Arthen- work

Nicola Arthen, ‘DOBBY’ (2019)

What is the first work of art you recall having seen, ever?

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I’m not sure about the actual first one, but the one that stood out since a very young age is ‘The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb’ by Hans Holbein the Younger, which is on permanent display at the Museum of Art in Basel  – where I grew up.

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It scared me when I was small, but I also felt strongly fascinated about it; the green-ish skin, the rotting flesh, the strangely distorted limbs – but most of all that expression on his face! To this day I’m quite taken by how eerie it is, all these centuries after it was painted.

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When you don’t know what your next work or project will be yet, what do you tend to do – in the studio, at home or elsewhere – to find out?

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I’m often working on several ideas at the same time, and so there is seldom a moment where I don’t know at all what the next project will be. As my work is research-based, I often have too much material that I can’t include in just one work, so it regularly happens that one work emerges quite fluidly out of the previous one.

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Have you ever shown a work outside of a context where it was clearly decipherable as a work of art and, if so, did something interesting happen because of it?

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Participating in We Are Public’s 2018 exhibition ‘ FREE ART NOW ‘, where works by several artists were displayed on advertising banners all over Amsterdam, was really exciting. It’s important for the cultural fabric of a society that art is accessible to the public as a whole. Initiatives like this are particularly important in countries where museums don’t offer free entrances for their permanent collections.

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Hopefully more projects like this will take place in the future.

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Celine Manz - work

Céline Manz, from the catalogue of ‘ Fold; Simulationisms – Limited Edition’ (2019)  Courtesy of the artist.


Tekst: These interviews are part of an ongoing series of short interviews between Unfair artists, originally published through our mailings. Check the overview to read the other interviews  or subscribe to our mailing list through the button below: