Interview with Merav Leibküchler
Merav Leibküchler is a contemporary artist based in Berlin, Germany. I discovered her paintings for the first time at an exhibition at the UDK in Berlin. After researching her online, I was astounded by the impressive range of artistic fields that she covers. In an interview with Velártez, I interviewed Merav on the topic of her early life and creative evolution and raised the question as to whether art is a joke in the present day.
Velártez: Merav, you were born in Israel in a town around 11⁄2 hours from Tel-Aviv. How do you reflect now on your childhood?
Merav: I grew up in the northern part of Israel. It’s lovely there – very silent, with a lot of nature. I had a wonderful, relaxed childhood with the freedom to do whatever I want.
Velártez: When did you move to Germany?
Merav: 2011, after staying in Brussels for one year. During my time in High School, I thought it would be interesting to move to Europe sometime. I wanted to explore the World and open and challenge my mind. As I am half German, moving to Europe was always something that I knew I
would like to do; and so, I am here in Berlin.
Velártez: You enrolled for study at the Matte Asher School for the Performing Arts. How did you come to that decision?
Merav: After serving in the line of Military duty, I moved to Tel-Aviv where I worked for a technology company. Fortunately, I realized before too long that I did not want to pursue a career behind the desk. At this turning point, I discovered dance and began dancing every day: Jazz, Ballet, Contemporary – all styles that the studio was offering. Then one day, I just quit my job.
Velártez: Was there a pivotal moment in your life when you decided to become an artist?
Merav: Yes. When I started with choreography, exploring my own creative work. That’s how I first developed my artistic creativity.
Velártez: You are very versatile with your work – showcasing paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, and performances. There does not seem to be any photographic field that you do not cover. How would you describe your art?
Merav: So, I am a painter and multi-media artist. I like to explore the unknown. My art covers topics about the Universe, Zeitgeist, Sciences, and Philosophy. I have some key questions, which I consider through my art creation: … what is ‘our mind’? … How does everything fit together… what does ‘nothing’ look like?
Velártez: Are any of your works influenced by the ‘digital world’?
Merav: Yes. I have actually started to make my own musical compositions. So for each painting, sculpture or performance, there can be an original sound accompaniment. For one of my multi-media works ‘Quantum Reality’ I recorded and used digital sound.
Velártez: What is your daily working routine?
Merav: Normally before going to sleep, I write a list of goals for the next day so that when I have a work and action plan for the day. Usually, I use mornings for business-related work and afternoons or evenings for new creation. I am particularly inspired over the winter, and actually, I often find that the works that were most challenging to complete, sell first.
Velártez: What is it that inspires you most?
Merav: I would say, philosophy. I have always questioned reality and been fascinated by the Universe. I really enjoy reading about and researching Astronomy, spirituality, and Philosophy.
Velártez: Can you describe the development of your paintings from your early work to your latest?
Merav: When I started painting, I had no idea how my work would look once finished. I was very focused on bringing my emotions and inner sensitivity onto the canvas. My first series of work was very spontaneous and created around this idea of inner exploration. Following this, I developed my technique by adding more elements and dimensions into my work, with gradually increasing awareness and decisions, whether conscious or not.
Velártez: How do you decide when to stop painting and present the work as finished?
Merav: Good question. Usually, I have a sense of fulfillment when I see that the painting has the feeling that I intended to put onto the canvas. I have a rather strong gut feeling or intuition that leads me to make the final touches and know when to stop. There are times when I don’t have an instinctive stopping point or continuous flow, so when that happens, I leave the painting for some time and return to it after a while.
Velártez: What can we expect from you in the future?
Merav: I plan to work on larger-scale paintings and incorporate technology into my artworks. It would be an exciting development to see my paintings projected as holograms. I’m very interested in combining all the elements of my art with the technology that our modern world has to offer. I have some ideas, which could actually challenge todays’ technology. I imagine a lot of exciting works to come! … So be prepared! (laughing).
Velártez: Which styles, movements, and artists inspire you the most?
Merav: I wouldn’t say that there is one single or specific movement that inspires me; I try to keep an open mind in order to stay creative and to develop as an artist. It can even, at times, block my creative process if I focus too much attention on one particular idea. Of course, I love to admire the work of other artists and chose to follow my own vision directed by my personal experiences.
Velártez: Let me ask it differently then… can you name 3 artists whose work you would choose to display in your apartment?
Merav: The first names that come to mind would be…Dalì, Louise Bourgeois, and Frida Kahlo. I just love their artwork!
Velártez: Let’s move onto a different angle now: artists are said to be very self-centered and narcissists. How much do you love yourself?
Merav: True! (laughing). Of course, I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, the stereotype is actually part true! I can be self-centered at times but I really do try to be as considerate as I can be, even though the challenging times! I would say that I am quite balanced in general life, although when I am heavily in the creation process, I am incredibly focused and I would say self-centered at those times.
Velártez: Can I ask! Do you need drugs to be creative?!
Merav: No! I suppose that I am lucky in that I can work with a rush of adrenaline to feed the process and acceleration in rushing moments of inspiration! In fact, alcohol and other drugs are unproductive to my work, and even make me sleepy!
Velártez: The reality of art is that 75% of all artists in the World make less than $10.000 a year through their artwork. On the other hand, there are a handful of artists who make millions and millions. Jeff Koons is selling a Balloon Dog for over 45 million USD. Or Piero Manzoni, producing 90 cans, each filled with 30 grams of his feces, that today get sold at auctions at prices above $200.000. The question is: is art a joke?!
Merav: Sometimes! But this is the same as with money. If one person believes that it has a value and that you can place a price on it, that’s what it will be worth. For a balloon dog to be worth $ 45 million, or a can of feces being worth a lot more than gold, I think this would be indeed a costly joke. If you compare it to money its an even a bigger joke because most of the money in the World is online and existing as a digital count… so I can understand the need to replace money with something meaningful like artworks: something unique and special.