Lena Göbel uses woodcutting, painting to recreate memories

We introduce in our newest feature the contemporary Austrian artist Lena Göbel. Lena uses the traditional technique of woodcutting to create incredible large artworks in combination with printing and painting.

Lena Göbel uses woodcutting, painting to recreate memories

who is lena goebel, human-animal beings ironically, humor, fables, mythology, ambiguous
Studio View | Upper Austria | Credits: Karin Hackl

Lena Göbels' childhood memories create brilliant artworks!

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.

transitioning abstract, urban motifs, contemporary art, sculpture, wood, modern, studio,
Series „Monolithic Baby!“ | 2020, ca.240x300cm | Printing block/woodblock

Dear Lena, thank you for accepting our invitation. Please shortly introduce yourself and tell us a bit about the main theme behind the work you shared with us for this feature. 

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. 

interview, mythological, mythical, female artist, abstraction, unique, original artworks, young
Series „Monolithic Baby!“ | 2021 | 150x120cm | Woodcut, paper, oil on canvas

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. 

art collectors, munchies art club online art magazine, feature, artist interview, studio,
In front of the work „Fünffaltigkeit“, 2019 | 300x400cm | Woodcut, paper, oil on canvas | Credits: Christian Ecker

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“. 

portrait of an artist, austria, vienna, austrian, motifs, contemporary artist
Series „Monolithic Baby!“ | 2021, 150x120cm | Woodcut, paper, oil on canvas

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. 

glass painting, reality, depicting, story, stories, reflection, collages, costumes, symbols,
Studio View, Upper Austria | Credits: Karin Hackl

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. 

human, animals, mirror, brancusi, base, signed, courtesy, pushing limits, wood, woodworker,
„Swamp Thing I" | 2021 | 150x120cm | Woodcut, paper, oil on canvas

You grew up in a household with both your parents artists. Was it obvious you would be an artist too? 

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. 

radical forms, carving, paint, viable contemporary material, sculpture, selection, makers,
Portrait „Lucretia, My Reflection“ | Credits: Karin Hackl

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.

emerging artists, handcrafted, artisan, abstract sculptures, sculptor, artwork, unique,
Studio View, Upper Austria, Credits: Karin Hackl

I read you started working with wood when you were still at school. How did that come about? 

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.

transitioning, abstract , urban motifs, contemporary art, sculpture, wood, modern, studio,
Series „Tell me there’s no other“ | 2022 | 210x146cm | Woodcut, paper, oil on canvas

You studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, under Gunter Damisch. What did you take away from those years? 

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. 

interview, mythological, mythical, female artist, abstraction, unique, original artworks
Lucretia My Reflection I | 2020 | 160x130cm | Woodcut, paper, oil on canvas

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
young art collectors, munchies art club online art magazine, feature, artist interview, studio
Studio View, Upper Austria | Credits: Karin Hackl

In 2018 you did a residency at the Galleri Svalbard, Svalbard/Spitzbergen. I had to check the map to learn that it is an Archipelago in northern Norway by the Arctic sea. Can you tell us a bit about your time there? 

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.

portrait of an artist, austria, vienna, austrian, motifs, glass painting, reality, depicting
„Fire Walk With Me I“ | 2021 | 180x200cm | Woodcut, paper, oil on canvas

What happened during the first intense quarantines, did you have the chance to work more intensely? 

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.

story, stories, reflection, collages, costumes, symbols, human, animals, mirror,
Exhibition view, Parallel Vienna 2020

Is it true that your series are named after songs?

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.

story, stories, reflection, collages, costumes, symbols, human, animals, mirror,
Studio View, Upper Austria | Credits: Karin Hackl

What are the top 5 songs on your playlist when you work now? 

„Then Comes Dudley“ by Jesus Lizard

„Someone Somewhere“ by Simple Minds, 

„I Can’t Escape Myself“ by The Sound

„Everywhere“ (Fleetwood Mac), 

„Always“ (Erasure)

homogenous, iron maiden, music, contemporary art, sculptural, academy of fine arts
Series „Mountainhail“ |2021 | 180x200cm | Woodcut, paper, oil on canvas

You have a large studio in the countryside. Do you also have a space in Vienna that you work in? How do you organize your working time? 

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.

artworks, inspirational, featured artist, emerging, austria, munchies art club, interview,
Studio View, Upper Austria | Credits: Karin Hackl

Can you take us a bit through the steps of creating an artwork? Is there a series in your head? Is it made of a theme and then develops from there? 

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. 

images, portrait studio, lucretia latin, mythology, me too, antiquated idea of ​​honor or shame
„Swamp Thing II“ | 2021 | 150x120cm | Woodcut, paper, oil on canvas

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.

makers, emerging artists, handcrafted, artisan, abstract sculptures, sculptor, artwork,
Studio View, Vienna

Do you have any rituals when you work?

No, not really.

It’s always a new situation.

I try to avoid routines, and therefore, maybe rituals as well. 

unique, contemporary art, sculptural, academy of fine arts, large artworks, modern,
Studio View, Upper Austria

The work you are sharing here is from the past two years, what are you working on now 2022? 

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.

inspirational, featured artist, emerging, austria, munchies art club, interview, images,
Portrait | Credits: Christian Ecker

In 2019, you had an exhibition with your mother, the artist Maria Moser at the Private Museum Angerlehner in Thalheim, Wels. What was that like? 

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.

portrait studio, lucretia latin, mythology, me too, antiquated idea of ​​honor or shame, symbol,
Exhibition view, Parallel Vienna 2020

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.

When you work, do you need to be alone or do you prefer working with others? 

I definitely prefer working alone.

today's society, man develop today, how does man deal with an animal, artistic practice,
Studio View, Vienna

How important is Instagram for you as an artist?

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.

Follow the artist on Instagram:

A big thank you to Lena for sharing with us and our viewers her story and her wonderful work

More on the artist:

Bio:


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

Prizes, scholarship, and residencies:

2020 Anton Faistauer Preis

2019 Residency MdbK Studio, Spinnerei Leipzig, Deutschland 

2018 Klemens Brosch Preis

2018 Residency Galleri Svalbard, Svalbard/Spitzbergen

2016 SilvrettAtelier

2007 Talent promotion bonus from the state of Upper Austria/Talentförderungsprämie des Landes Oberösterreich 

Art in public space:

2018 Design of the sanctuary and a church window in the parish church of Ampflwang in Hausruck

Diozöse Linz

Solo shows a selection:

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 

Group show a selection:

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