IN THE STUDIO WITH Christian Böhmer
URBAN NATION had the great honor to welcome the Cologne street artist Christian Böhmer in Berlin at the end of March. His trademarks are pictures and paintings of people, who carry a paperbag on the head. The paper bag is on the one hand a simple mask, but on the other hand an abstract means of constructing a uniformity that makes the individual part of an indefinable mass.
We met the artist while working for the URBAN NATION Community Wall project. So, If you want to know how Christian Böhmer came up with the idea of the paper bag and in which situations he likes to pull one over his head, then you should read on!
Originally from / now living in?
Originally I come from a small town close to Mainz. I moved to Cologne ten years ago. Because there is a much larger and heterogeneous art scene than in my hometown and here I also have my studio in the beautiful district of Ehrenfeld.
Christian Böhmer in the…
I have always drawn. In the mid-1990s, like many teenagers, I started with some simple graffiti, traveling the streets at night and tagging the walls of houses. At that time there was one of the largest graffiti halls in Wiesbaden on the former slaughterhouse. There I spent many many hours, because it had several advantages: it was legal, you had time for your paintings and you did not have to do your job illegally in the night and in a hurry. For two or three years I continued to paint graffiti there and then started with the first characters, which I then painted on canvas.
Currently I drive double tracked. I have a regular job in an interior design office, which is the financial basis for my art. After work I go to my atelier the Atelierzentrum Ehrenfeld, where i paint or shoot from about 4 pm till midnight.
Of course, in a few years, my vision is to be 100% dedicated to my art and able to live from it.
Favourite material & why?
Crayons on paper! My pictures are very detailed and therefore I just need a very delicate instrument to be able to reproduce even the smallest details.
Favourite own work?
Every work represents a very unique idea and is usually linked to a very individual story. So, that is a tough one!
But my first pencil sketch is something very special for me. It has never been exhibited and is really very simple. At that time I drew a girl with a paper bag on her head and this drawing was retrospectively the initial spark for my current work. Because before I painted a lot, but without a central element with such a huge recognition value.
Favourite artist or work from another artist?
There are countless artists that inspire me and I’m afraid, if I name some of them, that I’ll forget somebody. But in any case Gustav Klimt from the past and Erik Jones from the present, whose mix of realism and abstraction inspires me a lot. Herakut and Maya Hayuk are also pretty cool.
The models I work with. I work regularly with the same six to eight models. Frequently we lock in into my atelier for several days and shoot . Mostly I have a rough idea or a few pictures in my head before we start. But the real inspiration for my works is after the photo shooting, when I look at the pictures and the idea becomes a motif for my artwork.
One wish for free – what would you wish for?
What truly annoys me is inequity based on skin color, gender, background or other characteristics. Therefore, I wish for equity and justice for all people!
In which situations would you like to put a paper bag on your head?
In some stressful situations, such a paper bag would be very helpful. But to be honest! There have been a couple of interviews in the past where I would had much appreciated to have a paper bag!
Pop, Punk or Electro?
Blues, Funk and Soul!
Legal vs illegal?
Both have their eligibility. Illegal work offers the greatest possible freedom to develop freely.
Inside or outside?
Today I would have preferred to be indoors. But basically I like to work outside.
What is the reason for your participation @ URBAN NATION?
Yasha from URBAN NATION became aware of my work, contacted me via Instagram and asked me if I would like to come to Berlin. I think it’s a really great project and I also have the opportunity to get in contact with great artists. In addition, I like Berlin, every time I am flashed by the drive and the impulses this city gives me.
What is the story behind your work for URBAN NATION?
The motif is from my last photoshoot. I received a photo from URBAN NATION in advance of the community wall that I paint. I looked at the facts and then went through my photos. I wanted a picture that fills the entire surface of the wall provided and at the same time represents a mix of realism and abstraction.