OPEN DOOR CONVERSATIONS WITH DINA DRESSEN
I’m 25 years old, I’m an artist on my own since four years now. I graduated from art school here in Maastricht four years ago and I actually, immediately started getting a studio and making my own works.
So I switched so many places, I really saw a lot of places in Maastricht. But I really loved this one; this is the most beautiful studio I had, ever. (laughs) So I’m really happy about that. I continued with exhibitions, residencies, and projects. I also studied in Breda, in Brabant, so I have a little network still there; my exhibitions are also there sometimes, so it switches a little bit. My exhibitions are mostly in the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium at the moment.
On studying art
I was pretty young when I decided; I was 17. Because then it was the moment to still go study and I was always into art and of course, I was like: ‘Ok, is this my destination?’ I thought: ‘Ok yes, I’m gonna do it.’ And I started at the Academy in Breda and it was the best choice actually, I never regretted it. I was always like, ‘Ok, this is my thing to do,’ and I loved everything about it.
After a year in Breda, we had to decide, you know what you have to do: photography, fine arts, or design, and for me it was always fine arts. I always loved making my own works, making my own decisions, not making anything anyone tells me to. Actually it developed very natural from that point and I started with photography in the art school, a lot, so analog photography, black and white mostly. And that’s where it all (her style) developed from I guess.
And that’s where it all (her style) developed from I guess. Because I was a lot in the darkroom, you know, and that’s maybe also where the black color got me. Umm and this developing from the water and I think that’s where it all started, where it is now. It’s completely different but also kind of the same. Because the works also arise from a fluid substance…
That’s also a thing that actually came back, this plastic foil, I always continued working with it. Back then I was watching a lot of ‘Dexter’ and all of the sudden, I started working with plastic foil (film) and I never stopped. I don’t know, it would be funny if that would be the reason. But when I started working with it, these were really my main things, black ink, cotton paper, and plastic foil.
My newest works are actually, that one in the back. It also refers a little bit back to photography, it’s actually just ink on paper but I worked with a technique that I developed, also with plastic foil…
So first I work on the foil and then I print it, it sounds really complicated but in end the materials that are left over are just ink and paper lets say and it’s nothing printed by a machine, it’s made by me but I like the think line between – what is it like, is it a photograph? Is it a painting?
I also did these ones, they are the series that I started, actually, in the Art Academy and I’m still doing. These are the “absorption pieces”, and now I have 60 or 70 of them and these are developed from the ink bath. I make the drawings inside the water. These are some of them. They are always different; every piece is also always unique. I never have anything that can, you know, that you can ever make again in the same way.
On using the color Black
I just think it’s beautiful. I like to say that. I know a lot of artists hate to say that. But, yeah, I found a lot of beauty to it and purity, and depth. Actually I never even tried to work with colors after I started this, this is already for maybe seven years now – no colors? I don’t know, it’s just really natural for me to not work with colors. So, the only thing that sometimes comes back is you know, is the color of the materials…It’s not really white (the color) but it’s the farthest I go, let’s say.
Also, all the pieces have two sides; you always have a backside where I don’t see what’s happening. There is always a part that I don’t have the control on. This is what I made (showing one side) and this is what the material made itself. There is always a little bit of play between those, having no control over the materials.
I get a lot of information from nature. You know, the big gestures from nature. That really inspires me because it’s beyond of what we humans can do, actually. And that’s what I find impressive so when I look for inspiration, I just go out and look at all the textures.
I have dreams, maybe, also. Sometimes when I’m not able to sleep, I imagine a black hole in your mind, it’s so hard to do because you always have a picture in your head. When you are in such a deep mind, you just imagine being in a big black hole, that’s also sometimes this mindset that can inspire.
My parents are both German but I really grew up in the Netherlands, when I was three weeks old or something, we moved. I grew up in a boring town (laughs). So when I was 17 I was like, “ I’m going to study art, bye.” I always was a little different, being busy with art. I don’t think my childhood did anything to you know, that you can now see back on my works.
For now I’m going to stay in Maastricht, because I really like my studio, I’m also in a gallery (called Cesart, near Hae) here so that’s nice. I’m also would like to exhibit more in Belgium, in Liege. They have a really nice art scene so I’m trying to get in.
On her schedule
I just love making things. That’s actually what I do most of the time. I’m really an artist who makes a lot. And also when I’m not making anything, I don’t have a good day, when I’m not really productive. When I’m not producing anything, there are also no new ideas. For me the new ideas develop from just doing things here. So if I’m not here or not making anything, I never have a set of ideas, so, “now I’m going to do this” or “now I’m going to buy these materials and make this”. It just develops from being here and making things.
On deciding when something is “done”
For me, it’s really quick actually. Because it doesn’t feel right for me because they are all made, you know, with so many natural processes that you don’t want to do anything after, you know, make it more perfecet. I never do, when I made something and you have the picture let’s say, most of the art is based on natural processes and I don’t want to, you know… You would see if I would do anything about it still after. You would see that I…I don’t know, I don’t know how to say. I don’t want to add something to make it better. It’s just what it is, it is what it is when it’s done.
I also like that it’s so big (the water pool). Sometimes I make really small works, but then you always see the big surface and the reflection.
On her studio
I just like that it is actually a school building, that you can feel that earlier on, that this was used for such a different aim, so that’s so funny because now you can imagine the kids walking in and seeing this like…ok.
And I just love the windows, I mean, this wall is perfect because you have light from both sides and yeah, it’s really perfect to make works. In the afternoon the sun comes in and it’s just beautiful. And I also try to have everything in one color, so…like even the box I don’t like if they have colors, I just want to have everything in the same vibe you know?
…I really want it to be like a working space where I do stuff.
When not creating art
I love to watch movies; I love movies, dark movies. My favorite is Eraserhead, from David Lynch. It’s fucked up weird but I LOVE it. I once tried watching it with my boyfriend and he was like, “You’re a sicko”. (laughs) But yeah, that’s actually my favorite movie, just actually because of the looks; every scene is just so beautiful.
I recommend it, watching it for the things you see, it’s black and white and it’s really dark, let’s say, but on a really beautiful level.