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Interview: Dinah Kübeck's Shape Shifter

Interview: Dinah Kübeck's Shape Shifter

Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?

I‘ve always been creating things with my hands, for as long as I can remember. Over time I noticed two things: Firstly, that making art is how I discover and process the world around me; society, structures and human interaction. My other realization was that there is this immanent force inside me that needs to make art, that it needs to 'come out'. Funnily enough, both discoveries came after I started studying art. So I guess that on a subconscious level I have known this for longer.


What is your background? and how did it inform the focus of your creative exploration or the medium you're currently working with?

My background is in illustration and fine art, with a focus on painting. Further, I grew up and have lived in several countries and up until the age of 19 me and my family used to move a lot, almost every year. I believe that this intercultural upbringing and constant change of environment informed my way of and perspective on life greatly, which in turn then informed my art practice. I believe that part of my interest in structures and hierarchies comes from this as well.

Studio view

What ideas interested you in the beginning of your practice, which ideas have you continued to explore, and where have they led you?

When I started studying at art school, I was interested in hyperrealistic painting. This changed after two years or so, when I started to move away from hyperrealism. I began working much more abstract and explored new techniques besides ‚traditional’ painting, such as cutout, weaving and working with textiles in various ways. This then also 'activated' my interest in working with structures, contrasts and the grid as the purported structure of our lives.

Katharina Grosse's exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, 2020

Who were and are the biggest sources of your inspiration?

This usually changes over time, but the artists that stay with me consistently are Henri Matisse, Katharina Grosse and Gerhard Richter. They aren't necessarily sources of direct inspiration, but rather artists I keep coming back to because they and their work occupy me in various ways.


Where do you find inspiration?

Generally, I find inspiration from the world around me, in the broadest sense. There aren’t really particular sources (such as specific books or movies) I keep coming back to, instead I try to walk through life with open eyes and an open mind. Further, I believe that only a small part of the inspiration we get happens on an active level and that most of it seeps in subconsciously. 

Shape Shifter

Is there are a single work, project, or series that is pivotal in your current trajectory?

The shift to working with textiles in various forms (I only paint very little these days) has had a huge influence on my current trajectory. When working with textile materials, I am fascinated by the versatility and the possible contrasts. Textiles can appear both very soft and hard and rigid, they can take both flat and three-dimensional forms, and also many sizes. Because of the use of textiles in human history (clothing, living spaces, protection, etc.) they have something familiar and elemental and at the same time you can alienate this effect and add something new to it. I find this malleability very intriguing.

How did it begin? and how did it evolve?

It started with a course I took during my studies in Hamburg, held by Prof. Gabriele Basch. She introduced a very different way of working to me, which has influenced my art practice ever since. I moved away from figurative painting and from painting on canvas on a stretcher; I started to treat the canvas and painting in general much more freely.

Home Away From Home Away

What were important lessons in the process that you’ve carried forward with you?

Stay curious and be open, but don’t feel that you need to follow trajectories that others say you should follow. Listen to your inner voice and stay focused.

What are you working on now?

I’m about to start a new series where I will explore textiles in a different way than I've worked with before. I don't want to say much more than this at the moment, as I want to explore it more first.

If you could go back in time to the very beginning of your art practice and give your younger self a single piece of advice what would it be?

Stay focused and don't let the noise of the world distract you too much.

You Can't Always Get What You Want (1)

About the Artist

Based in Berlin, Germany

Dinah Kübeck is a visual artist working and living in Berlin, Germany. She grew up in Sweden and Germany, where she studied design, fine art and art history. After her Bachelor’s degree at HAW Hamburg and after an exchange semester at Parsons The New School For Design, she studied painting in the MFA program at MICA in Baltimore.

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