Christine Leins studied philosophy and fine arts at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and received solid training in representational drawing from Cornelia Hesse-Honegger.
Since then, she has devoted herself to drawing with her inherent themes of structure, light, layering, condensation, transparency, line, and point.
In this conversation from January 2019, we learn more about her approach and attitude towards drawing.
Christine, since when have you been drawing and what drives you?
Drawing has fascinated me since I could hold a pencil. It has also accompanied me ever since. I've spent a large part of my life drawing, actually since I was in kindergarten (laughs). I enjoy being able to observe how drawing has transformed and taken on its own evolution over time. Dealing with drawing makes me optimistic and happy. There I am in my element. Like a fish in water - as the saying goes.
The drawing is there, but it is not mine. It is a gift, teacher, friend, companion. My life time and the drawing flow together. The drawing fills my time, almost daily.
A Chinese proverb says: A bird sings not because it knows the answer, but because it has a song. Drawing, in this sense, has a song. It is melody, rhythm, liveliness. A bird sings even when it is not heard.
Where do your drawings originate?
The environment is not so important. I can draw almost anywhere. Actually I don't need a studio, a small table would be enough for me. I like the uncomplicatedness and immediacy of drawing, which does not require any great aids.
How can we imagine your working process?
I need a white sheet and pen, brush, pen, with which the finest movements of the hand can be transmitted, like a seismograph. The creative force makes the hand vibrate. I trust it. The drawing gives itself to me and I give myself to the drawing. When the drawing is finished, it lets me know this and I put the pencils aside. "The beautiful is what you don't want to change" says Simone Weil. Sometimes it takes hours, sometimes weeks to complete a sheet like this.
Is drawing laborious for you?
No, the drawing flows. I don't have to "do" it. She is to me a founder of joie de vivre. I enter into a voluntary relationship with it, which I have chosen myself. Drawing is something very intimate for me. It needs time, silence and sensitivity. Drawing is reliable. Always unique. I do not make the drawing, I would like to say, life makes the drawing. I can not demand the drawing, it grows. I do not censor the drawing, I let it run, flow, jump, dance - whatever it is up to.
Can your drawings be described as écriture automatique?
No. Drawing needs regularity, freedom and lightness. The drawing does not reflect my emotional state, it is autonomous. Nor does it come into being under a trance, hypnosis or the influence of drugs. I mean, by means of the écriture automatique other "spirits were called" than the creative force, which lets my drawings develop. But it is true: the drawing grows when the images I have made of it break. Drawing means to me the letting go of expectations, ideas and claims of ownership. Drawing is the opposite of usefulness. Drawing is rather a trace of beauty in the world.
Is drawing an escape from reality for you?
No, drawing is a form of doing and being active. The creative force behind it only becomes visible in the completion of drawing. The drawing that emerges in this way bears enigmatic features, it remains a miracle for me.
In which tradition do you see your drawings?
Quite simply: in the tradition of all those who, without self-interest, set a drawing instrument in motion.
With which four artists would you have liked to share a studio?
With Agnes Martin, Emma Kunz, Guo Fengyi, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, I would have liked to be friends, because I think they were in contact with this creative force, found their sources in it.
Do women draw differently than men?
Often women try to draw like men. A difficult question: what is typical? Women, artists, are more ready to receive, to be guided by their intuition, have a sense that the soul also needs nourishment and find out what nourishment this could be. Women have always had, think of the muses of antiquity, a special relationship to beauty and show a loving and preserving attitude towards all living things.
In practical life, these qualities are gladly appreciated, but as traits or approaches to one's own life, they tend to be ignored or even smiled at. Transferred to the art world, or rather to the art market, the powerful gesture is often held in much higher esteem than the quieter tones. Female artists have so far tended to be successful to the extent that they do not distinguish themselves from the art of their male colleagues. Here's a provocative quote from Romano Guardini: "The world is perishing from the masculine, literally."
Which way did your drawing go?
The early representational works were attached to the world of things. Under the binoculars, meticulous studies of broken fly bodies and other insects were created. Since 1994 I developed my technique of dot glaze, which became the characteristic feature of almost all work phases. The still lifes created since 1999 are replaced from 2004 by FarbLichtFlächen, palm-sized. Since 2008 I draw "Inner Pictures", formed from point and line rhythms, initially still restrained in their colorfulness. In 2011, the Angermuseum Erfurt dedicated a solo exhibition and a catalog book ("Drawing the Beginning") to this ink pen period. Years of withdrawn drawing followed. The drawing, however, flowed without interruption.
In this seclusion you have continuously developed your graphic work, the colored drawing, organic forms, the line and currently again the dot glaze were themes of recent years.
That's right, drawing has continued on its path. In the process, the spectrum of her techniques has broadened: works in colored pencil or egg tempera, for example, were added, as well as the mixed technique took a large space. Individual drawings are now also created on larger formats of up to 9 m in length. In recent years, the dot glaze again came more to the fore, with the variations of the tonal values of a color formed a central theme. In retrospect, the drawing takes a spiral course over the years. Thus it returns again and again to themes treated in the past and encounters them anew on a different level, as it were.
And after this long time you have again felt the desire to show your drawings. What does this step mean to you?
I am very happy to have found in you, Fenna, an "eye friend" who has the courage to bring the sheets back to the light and to the viewer. In 2007 I had my first exhibition ever in Munich in the gallery Susanne Albrecht. For 12 years I lived and drew in Gröbenzell near Munich. Now leaves find their way back to Munich. That is very nice for me!
What greeting would you like to give the group exhibition on the way?
"Always keep something beautiful in your heart in difficult times" (Blaise Pascal).
Thank you very much, dear Christine!
|1969||born in Kaiserslautern|
|1990-1970||Studies of Philosophy and Liberal Arts at the University/ School of Arts Mainz|
|1996||Scholarship of the University of Mainz|
|1997||Diploma degree in drawing|
|seit 1997||freelance working in Tübingen|
|2012||Galerie Vero Linzmeier, Berlin|
|2011||Angermuseum Erfurt (Katalog)|
|2009||Städtische Galerie Weingarten|
|2008||Saarländisches Künstlerhaus, Saarbrücken (Katalog)|
|2007||Galerie Susanne Albrecht, München|
|2014||Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern: „Die schönsten Zeichnungen“|
|2014||Kornhausgalerie Weingarten: „2002-2014“ (Fotografie und Malerei)|
|2013||Galerie der Künstler München: „München zeichnet“|
|2011||Städtische Galerie Fürth: „Soul Train“|
|2010||Städtische Galerie Offenburg: „Die fabelhafte Welt der Zeichnung“ (Boolet)|
|2009||Pinakothek der Moderne: „Die Gegenwart der Linie“ (Katalog)|
|2008||Haus der Kunst München: „Große Kunstausstellung 2008“ (Katalog)|
|Work in public collections|
|Kupferstichkabinett Staatliche Museen zu Berlin|
|Kupferstich-Kabinett Staatl. Kunstsammlungen Dresden|
|Museum Kunst Palast Düsseldorf|
|Museum für Neue Kunst Freiburg|
|Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe|
|Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München|
|Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg|
|Kupferstichkabinett der Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Wien|
Saarländisches Künstlerhaus (Hrsg.); 2008: „Christine Leins: Arbeiten auf Papier“.
Große Kunstausstellung Haus der Kunst München (Hrsg.); 2008: Katalog zur Ausstellung.
Semff, Michael & Strobl, Andreas; 2009: Die Gegenwart der Linie.
Städtische Galerie Offenburg (Hrsg.); 2010: Die fabelhafte Welt der Zeichnung.
Wolfram Morath-Vogel, Hellen Adkins; 2010: "Den Anfang zeichnen: Christine Leins - Arbeiten auf Papier", Katalog zur Ausstellung im Angermuseum Erfurt.