Lena Göbel creates incredible artworks using the traditional technique of woodcutting.
Lena Göbel uses her carvings to create artworks combining a printing and painting technic that she developed.
Her work immerses the viewer into partly colored as well as color-reduced worlds filled with fantasy creatures.
With her work the artist interprets her perception of everyday culture in a fun and thought provoking way.
I’m an Austrian artist and I grew up in a village in Upper Austria.
Raised by two artists - my parents - in a 400-year-old house with an old „Wirtshaus“ (a typical Austrian Tavern) which was run by my grandmother.
In a side building, there was a locksmithery belonging to my grandfather, which is now part of my studio.
There have been many influences which shaped me.
My childhood took place between the world of art and a very down-to-earth lifestyle with „Frühshoppen“ (morning pints), making „Most“ (cider) and chopping wood for the next winter season.
I reflect these childhood memories in my work, it’s topics and materiality.
After school I went to Vienna and studied at the Academy of fine Arts at the class of Gunter Damisch, „Graphics and printmaking techniques“.
After that, I went to Berlin for 5 years and worked there with a colleague in a very nice studio.
Since 2014, I’m back in Austria and switch between my home village and Vienna.
My main focus is since over 20 years on woodcut.
I work unconventionally with that technique because I don't produce any editions.
Each work is unique.
I print the woodcut on paper and afterwards I stick them collage-like on canvas.
In addition, I work in large formats and therefore I had and still have the need not to regard the wooden printing blocks as a lost form after the print but ascribe a sculptural meaning to them.
They are sculptures by themselves and at the same time part of the entire process.
In my topics, very often animals appear.
Mostly in the form of mixed creatures wearing very old and traditional clothes.
Ambiguity resides within. The motive shouldn’t be recognizable at first sight.
For me, it was not obvious at all.
It was quite the opposite.
I grew up with art and took this surrounding as standard and natural when I was a small child.
Of course, I loved this freedom, atmosphere and the fact that both of my parents were working at home.
But I never considered being an artist is a profession or job.
After seeing woodcuts by Anselm Kiefer at the Tate Modern at the age of 15, that technique really impressed me and started working on it.
I was drawing, painting and also did etchings before, but woodcut was the medium of my personal expression, especially within this artist household.
Maybe unconsciously also because none of my parents ever worked on that medium. I discovered it for me.
The years at the academy have been very impressive and amazing, even if characterized by insecurity.
Gunter Damisch was a wonderful professor and an outstanding person.
He could see the individuality of each student.
Maybe I took away from these years that authenticity and the own personality in artwork are essentially…and of course two important quotes:
„Anything goes“ and „Your problem is your opportunity“ -Gunter Damisch
I’m fascinated by glaciers and extinct areas.
This I shared with my father.
After he died, I took that residency also as a chance to work off his death.
Working in a kind of lonesome area surrounded by a wonderful landscape is a great possibility to really focus on work.
During the first lockdowns, I worked concentrated and focused.
I stayed in Upper Austria in my family home.
It was very calm, and I enjoyed the fact that I couldn’t meet anyone.
I guess it felt a bit like my residence in Svalbard/Spitzbergen…but with green trees.
It’s true that I name sometimes works after songs which I listened to while working. „Lucretia My Reflection“ by Sisters of Mercy was my absolute favorite one during the first lockdown.
Actually, the whole discography by the band, but this song influenced me the most.
It created a work cycle followed by an exhibition with that title.
„Then Comes Dudley“ by Jesus Lizard
„Someone Somewhere“ by Simple Minds,
„I Can’t Escape Myself“ by The Sound
„Everywhere“ (Fleetwood Mac),
I have a studio in the countryside and one in Vienna.
It took i’s time, but now I’m able to work almost equally effectively in both places.
Although I have much more stuff and material in the countryside.
It’s easier to get the wood I’m working with in Upper Austria.
The idea for a new work is created in the head. Usually, a rough draft follows.
Then I transfer this to the wood. In many cases, I still change something in the process of carving.
Then follows a test print.
Here, too, I am still relatively free in the implementation, because changes are possible.
Then I collage it on canvas and afterwards I start painting.
But the sequence can also be completely different. It is very important to me being flexible during the whole process.
In contrast to the woodcut, which limits me in my spontaneity by its material nature, painting allows me any freedom.
The initial idea often diverges strongly to the final result.
Moving between the limitations of spontaneity by woodcut, and the freedom of painting.
No, not really.
It’s always a new situation.
I try to avoid routines, and therefore, maybe rituals as well.
I will go on with my work as usual and try to improve, hope that there will be a development being visible within my art.
At the moment, I’m also experimenting with molding and sculpture again.
The next opening will be on May 15th in Nürnberg and I’m also working on a show which opens in October at the Gallery 422 in Gmunden, together with the artist Max Bernhard.
This exhibition was a very personal experience.
Honestly, I always rejected exhibiting with my parents.
I have always been careful to go my own way, apart from the art of my parents.
It’s not easy to find your individual personality.
You are compared very quickly, and I never wanted to be compared to my parents’ art.
But this can not be prevented, anyway.
When we got the offer to do this exhibition, we both were first skeptical but after a while we understood that - besides of our art - it’s such a great personal chance for us to work together on this show.
It would have been a big shame if we missed this experience.
I definitely prefer working alone.
I used to avoid social media for a long time and started with Instagram quite late.
I like to be by myself in my studio instead of running to every opening and doing network „outside“.
For this reason, I decided to get an Instagram Account.
It is a good possibility to show my work and stay in contact, although I’m stuck in the countryside and not leaving my studio.
A big thank you to Lena for sharing with us and our viewers her story and her wonderful work
Born 1983 in Ried i. I., Österreich
2003 - 2008 Academy of fine Art, Vienna under Prof. Gunter Damisch
2008 - 2013 Lived and worked in Berlin
since 2014 lives and works in Vienna and Upper Austria
2020 Anton Faistauer Preis
2019 Residency MdbK Studio, Spinnerei Leipzig, Deutschland
2018 Klemens Brosch Preis
2018 Residency Galleri Svalbard, Svalbard/Spitzbergen
2007 Talent promotion bonus from the state of Upper Austria/Talentförderungsprämie des Landes Oberösterreich
2018 Design of the sanctuary and a church window in the parish church of Ampflwang in Hausruck
2021 Lucretia, My Reflection, Museumspavillon, Salzburg
2021 gtogether with Erich Steininger, Grafikkabinett Steininger, Rapottenstein
2020 Parallel Vienna, Gallery Statement, Galerie 422
2020 Der Tümpel von Zwickledt, Kubinhaus, Wernstein am Inn
2019 2 Captains - 1 Mission, Museum Angerlehner, Thalheim bei Wels
2018 dunkler ex machina, Galerie in der Schmiede, Pasching / Linz
2017 O.T., Galerie Gerersdorfer, Wien
2017 radikal - anders, Schloß Lamberg, Steyr
2016 Hechte trachten Dirndl dichte, Atterseehalle, Attersee am Attersee
2015 Observation Schnurrbert, Galerie 422, Gmunden
2014 Meine erste Goldhaube, Galerie Gerersdorfer, Wien
2022 Black is the loneliest colour, Kunstverein Eisenstadt
2021 Apeiron - Why Austrinas Now?, The Lithuanian National Museum of Art, Litauen/ Vilnius
2020 Faistauer Preis 2020, Traklhaus, Salzburg
2019 Preise und Talente 2019, Linz
2017 Ausstellung der Teilnehmer des SilvrettAteliers 2016, Künstlerhaus Bregenz
2016 Paper Work III, Galerie Gerersdorfer, Wien
A big thank you to Lena for sharing with us to share with you!