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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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),
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A big thank you to Lena for sharing with us and our viewers her story and her wonderful work
More on the artist:
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
The art association ROTOR in Graz shares with us to share with you the exhibition “Between the found and the constructed”. The show is the third part of the series titled “Beings and Creatures” which consists of four chapters.