Prussian palaces and the art of the street – The artist Julia Theek

05.06.2008, Tagesspiegel/PNN
The artist Julia Theek is currently present in two places. Pictures of her now completed airbrush cycle “Prussian Palaces” can be seen in the exhibition “Prussian Spring II” of the Sehmsdorf Gallery and in the Villa of the MBS.
Theek’s way of using the airbrush technique, an “art of the street,” for her paintings is unusual. She brings fascinating architectural views into new, contemporary forms of design. The granddaughter of Potsdam painter Paul August and a native of Potsdam says ambiguously of herself: “I learned to walk in Sanssouci Park. There at the buildings in the park, my grandfather gave me the pleasure of getting to know architecture in detail with a pencil and setting accents on paper.” He opened her eyes, taught his perspective. Listening to her, the grandfatherly influence on her life’s path to art clearly crystallizes. Paul August was one of the few painters commissioned by Potsdam’s city government after the war to paint the city’s ruins. He turned his back on Potsdam’s center when the palace was demolished and turned increasingly to Sanssouci. “He always vehemently defended the uniqueness of this northern German baroque building,” Julia Theek recalls. Now the palace is being rebuilt. Understandably, she became involved in the publication of the 2008 charity art calendar to benefit the restoration of the Minerva figure in Potsdam’s City Palace. Her donation painting “The Peace Offering” was auctioned off for 1700 euros.

When the artist, born in 1966, talks about her work, she radiates a dazzling energy. Mixed media with acrylic and airbrushed inks are her trademark. “I don’t come from the graffiti scene, but the technique excited me. That had also appealed to her, at the time with “the tough motorcycle guys in leather gear in a Neuköllner Hinterhofbude” airbrush technique with spray epitols eklären. Similar to the woodcut, a separate filigree stencil must be cut for each color. From the10 – 15 part stencil sets can then be sprayed up to six different works.
Julia Theek has been exhibiting since 1988, including in 1992 at “37 Räume” in Berlin’s Auguststraße, an exhibition that has since become part of recent art history. Since the mid-90s, she has increasingly turned to film. She has produced cultural documentaries, music videos and art films. She likes to combine her works with art historical themes. The latest picture under the title “Luise – Bilderbogen update 2008” is currently her favorite work and can be seen in the Sehmsdorf Gallery. As a model she studied many contemporary portraits of Luise. Above all, she took her cue from the death mask. “My depiction is a very contemporary interpretation of Luise as a romantic woman, as an opponent of Napoleon, and finally as a matured queen,” the artist said.

She designed an art book for the “Prussian Palaces” series. The palaces she depicted are not to be found in reality, have long since been torn down or were never built. Incidentally, the only “Prussian Palace” actually so named stood in Cairo. Her chosen Reichstag design á la Antonio Gaudi was never built. And Oranienburg Palace she painted as a chemical factory where aniline dyes and stearin candles were once developed.
Ute Kaupke