What interested you most about participating in the Rolex Arts Initiative?
The unique possibility of working together with a person like David Hockney. I know that he has never had students, so it is very exciting to start a mentor relationship with him, for both of us it is a new experience and I am looking forward to starting.
Have you ever had a mentor before?
I had a teacher in art school, but he wasn’t really a mentor to me. He didn’t really influence me. The influence of Neo Rauch – now a leading artist – as assistant of Arno Rink in the academy where I studied wasn’t too deep, because he left the school a year after having started. He is someone I admire deeply, but he is not a mentor.
What do you hope to get out of this collaboration?
I have no idea of what will come out of this relationship. I don’t have a clear vision. Up till now I have shared conversations with David Hockney in which he has talked about art. He is a great teacher, he can change my way of seeing with his great enthusiasm, which is really exciting. I hope to visit him in his studio and perhaps there will be a chance to work together or see him working. I’m sure you can feel a lot of energy when he works.
So far, what is the best part of being a Rolex protégé?
The trip to Paris together with David Hockney. It was really impressive. We visited four exhibitions in two days, the Chinese scroll paintings in the Grand Palais, the Picasso Museum, Miró in the Centre Pompidou and the Egyptian section in the Louvre. A perfect programme! It was amazing to see connecting lines between these four exhibitions. Seeing a sculpture of a goat in the Louvre and the Picasso Museum led to the following conclusion: Picasso must have seen this Egyptian goat, they were very similar. That was great!
What was your first impression when your mentor interviewed you during the selection process?
When I entered his room I saw many books and paintings all around, and I thought that he must know so many things about art. The conversation was really natural. He was very friendly. First we tried to figure out our interests, what we had in common. We found out that we had the same interest in space. And we discussed the question of what painting is compared with other media and also how it goes further than photography. Very quickly I had this feeling that I had known him for a long time.
How is your work similar to or different from your mentor’s?
What is different is our approach, the way we paint. When I start a painting I don’t know what will come out, what the result will be, while David Hockney knows from the beginning exactly what he wants to paint, what he wants to achieve. In his watercolour paintings, for example, he isn’t allowed to make a mistake, you cannot overpaint it. My paintings are made of mistakes, there are many layers in each painting, many pictures are built up to produce one final picture. As I mentioned before, the similarity is the interest in space, the use of pattern and the way we try to express time with help from painting.
Do you think that David Hockney’s guidance will change your approach to painting?
I expect that my work will change. But I don’t know how. I think that as a painter you have to be expressive and it is important to be in motion. Throughout his life David Hockney has been extremely flexible, led only by what interested him. I wish to change my way of working from time to time, but at present I don’t know in which way.