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JOACHIM WILBERS: ARTISTRY FIRST

Joachim Wilbers is a digital artist who lives in the Netherlands.  His work is very cool, hip and slick http://joachimartist.net63.net/.  In short, it’s utterly contemporary.  However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have soul.  Joachim is a very serious guy with serious views about art and what it means to be a true artist. http://www.gallerystic.com/artist-joachim-wilbers-en.html

MICHAEL: Hey Joachim, You're definitely a versatile artist. Much of your work has a multi-layered, multi-dimensional quality that greatly focuses on female figures. What's the inspiration behind your work?

JOACHIM: Yes Michael, my interests are broad. They’re not only visual art, but also writing, music, multimedia, internet, etc. The female body always had my special attention. Why? It's just since I can remember. I have fascination for the smooth and sensual. It translates in my visuals, but also in writing or composing. I think it is because I deeply believe that the main goal of our being is still biological, in spite of how far we came in matters of technical skills as human beings. In fact, we are still driven by that one thing, multiplying and copying ourselves.  We give through what we all feel as most important, our ego, and since a man needs a woman to do so, I guess that's where the fascination comes from. The fact that we go on and on in spite of how many individuals we already are, in spite of the fact that it will mean destroying our own kind in the end, we can't stop ourselves from the biological ticking.

MICHAEL: That's true. I love that series of liquid prints on your website. What's the inspiration behind those?

JOACHIM: Women, of course. No, I developed a new set of filters which can be used with Adobe CS5, not only Photoshop or Illustrator, but all applications. I had to experiment with it and that's how the first Liquids evolved, after which I decided to do a series to see how far I could stretch the possibilities. It wasn’t only female shapes, but also landscapes or ornaments. Most of the works are built from scratch; layer after layer just picking a color on the first one and developing from there. For the first experiments, I used photos of course because I wanted to discover the possibilities and see the results. I was still fine tuning in that stage. Art is a matter of combinations of techniques on one side and inspiration (possibilities) on the other; working the sounds, forms or words until reaching the result that I'm looking for. I never create art by "accident," but always look for what I want to express. Even when the imagination is a strong and interesting piece, but if it's not what I want to say, I don't consider it as art. That's where the fine border between art and design lays to my opinion.

MICHAEL: Does it matter to you whether people always "get" your message or can they have their own interpretation of your work?

JOACHIM: Art is always free as an expression, but also in interpretation. To me, it's the most free way of communication; no boundaries. If people tell me that they just love to watch it, it's ok. If they hate it, as well! My opinion or expression is not general. It is the way I look at things and if others agree with me, I don't give a damn. I’ve changed a lot during my life. I’ve lived for example, among Native Americans in South Dakota - late 70's, early 80's - and my work was strongly inspired by that. I traveled a lot which you always find back in my expressions. In fact, working with female forms, however, was always recognizable in my work. It is only very dominant during the last couple of years.  Maybe this is because I grow older - not wiser - and this type of expression is a longing for what was. Who knows. There were periods in my life when my art was a great commercial success (winning prizes, lots of sales etc.), but strangely enough, whenever this happened, I changed the way of working until the success happens again. To me, it is as if I always look for the controversy, but more or less by accident. I don't plan it. Too much praise drives me automatically in another direction. However - and this is the strangest part - I want to live from my art, but I destroy that possibility as soon as it happens.

MICHAEL: What I'm hearing you say is that you disagree with the commodification of art which ultimately pigeonholes artists and creates expectations geared toward essentially creating the same successful work of art over and over again. In other words, creating a formula designed to extend success, no?

JOACHIM: Well Michael, I'm not disagreeing, everyone has to choose for him or herself, but I don't see any value in it. Just repeating yourself until you die. Neither do I see the fun; what's exciting in repetition? I can imagine that people do so. Especially in this age where commercial success is highly valued. Quality has become equal to the amount of money you're able to make or measure to the amount of people who have heard your name. Branding is the big game and is becoming more and more a challenge since the Internet evolves and spreads.

MICHAEL: Indeed.

JOACHIM: To my opinion, commercialization is a killer of creativity. Everyone is copying everybody and in order to get the needed attention for branding, they search in the fields of larger, bigger, more extreme, etc., instead of discovering new fields. I know that I generalize now, but the problem is (certainly in the long run) that these over-killers get the attention they look for. Life has become a chain of hypes and art follows instead of vice versa. Art slowly dies into design if the young generation of artists is not careful. There are a lot of initiatives on the Internet; art-sites filled with designer commodities. This will become regressive in the long term if no-one is interested anymore in artistic investigation, but everyone just hunts for money, status and brand.

MICHAEL: Indeed. That's what the whole world is about now, isn't it? It's a shallow existence. How do you find meaning and infuse it into your own work? What's your process?

JOACHIM: I do what I do and always did. Becoming older however smoothens the fight, maybe unfortunately … less involvement in “what's going on.” In the past for example (until about 2000), I was an active member of Mail-Art; artists around the world who were in contact by mail. It's still alive and active and I'm still in touch with many of them, but my participation is near to nothing at the moment. It is as if I'm asking myself, “What is art all about?”

MICHAEL: Priorities change.

JOACHIM: I still write a lot, but mainly I investigate the possibilities of  digital media. However, I was one of the first artists involved on the Internet & multimedia - even before it was called the Internet - it is still a young possibility to express, just in its first and restricted phase. At one side, it fascinates while I have the feeling on the other hand that it is a too easy medium. Something can look already quite professional with a few mouse clicks. It's worth it to investigate and to experiment because it IS new and therefore still developing, but I have to admit that it often disappoints after working some days in row and concluding that it evolves too fast and easy in a kind of production that has more to do with software and techniques than artistic expression. But as I said, it's young, and so when this feeling appears I quit and start all over. One day, I will get underneath it and experience the same satisfaction as I always found doing something completely artistic and new.

MICHAEL: Finally Joachim, What role do you think contemporary art plays in the world and why should people even care?

JOACHIM: Art will be always because people express themselves. This is from all times and contemporary art is just the expression of a certain time frame. The role it has is about explanation, but it’s also historical. It’s explanation in the sense of an individual who can translate its time to a broader audience and historic as an explanation afterwards or a re-interpretation if you like. Why people should care? They just do, because it's impossible to not interact in the time you live in. Their reaction can be negative, but that is also a way of showing concern and quality. As long as there will be humans there will be art, simply because it always was. It's one of those things that makes us human!

MICHAEL: Yes, it does indeed. Thanks Joachim.  Cool work.

Check out Joachim Wilbers at http://joachimartist.net63.net/ or http://www.gallerystic.com/artist-joachim-wilbers-en.html.



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