KERSTIN KUNTZE DIDN’T GO LOOKING FOR IT. ‘THIS PASSION WAS ALWAYS THERE,’ SHE SAYS IN HER INTERVIEW.
As a kid, Kuntze painted virtually everything: walls, her bicycle, her shoes, paper, and skin. All of the desks at her school were a pristine white. Only one wasn’t. Hers. Escalating worlds, drawn with a pencil (as good girls do), and then painted to last forever with an Edding marker. Art was the most important subject for her and, already as a small kid, she knew she would never stop creating and shaping. ‘Art is something deeply personal and always reflects whoever gives it form. I’m a passionate creator, and I live for what I do. Pictures are my language,’ says Kuntze.
The face as communicative mirror of the human being.
Young Kuntze studied art and graphic design at the renowned Folkwang University of Arts in Essen. She’s still deeply grateful to this very day that she could study there. The famous drawer Professor Otto Näscher and advertisement icon Professor Vilim Vasata were her most important guides during this period. All graphic artists had to learn the basics of photography, so that’s what Kerstin Kuntze did too. She was particularly moved by a sentence by Otto Näscher: ‘Shaping her own development with joy.’ That was how she always was. Passion and joy are what drives her art. She had to pay for her studies as an illustrator and graphic assistant due to the untimely death of her father. After obtaining her degree as a designer with honours, she continued along this road. As Art Director, Kuntze often found the decision-making process frustrating. ‘A good idea was spoilt by having too many people working on it,’ she muses looking back. Since having her first baby, Kerstin Kuntze knew she wanted to be a mother and artist. ‘Three good children during the day for me to take care of, and art at night.’ Thanks to her children she got closer to digital photography. ‘It reminds me of my father and his polaroid camera. How many times did I borrow it, to enjoy that instant gratification of the act of creation. To take a picture of the world was suddenly so easy.’
Digital pictures involve a lot of processing until a representation can become unique. Something that moves other people, reels them in, and sometimes even instils fear. As an artist you should master a tool, so Kerstin learnt day in and day out. The photographer loved the experiment of creating art in so many new ways. Creation and destruction, a bevy of emotions ranging from joy, pain, passion to desire and many more, as well as a palette of colours from bright red to pitch black. This is how her art expressed itself. There are three big cycles she has been working on for some time: head – construct – water.
Already as a child, Kerstin Kuntze always preferred to draw heads at the start they were head footers, meaning head and stomach were painted as a whole. This hasn’t changed that much, as she believes faces are a concentrate of a person’s true essence. ‘The sensory organs with which we experience the world are found in the head. We can read the reaction of whoever is opposite us in their facial expressions. Expressions are congenital: facial expressions are direct, immediate, and understood by all people. The face as communicative mirror of the human being.’ Her heads are always a personal description of a feeling, even her self-portraits. ‘From the traditional white and black portraits to surreal excess, I try to find the best formal idea to use in my pictures. Sometimes I do so playfully until it develops, sometimes I take an already formed concept developed by a clear idea.’
Within this cycle there are also independent series such as Die Lust der Lippen where her mouth is celebrat-ed as a symbol of joy. Joy, passion, desire, sex are often the themes of her work. Sometimes hidden, sometimes quite open. Just like the colour red. A symbol representing the joy in living, filled with unbridled greed and wild desire. In the ‘construct’ series, the relation between man and architecture takes centre stage. The photographer creates a formal outline and then rebuilds it. Powerful colours and shapes strengthen the effect and help bring down walls.
Water’ has been a constant fixture in her work for more than five years now. The series WASSERLUST° / SWIMPOPLOVE° is all about finding joy in getting lost. As a passionate swimmer Kuntze swims at least 3 km every day and has swum more than 2.500 km in the last three years. What I love so much about swimming is the power of water flowing across my skin, an original, primal power that allows someone to experience life in all its energy and glory.
What I love so much about swimming is the power of water flowing across my skin, an original, primal power that allows.
Pictures reflect life: from ‘peaceful and quiet’ to ‘extremely strong’. They should involve and move the audience. Just like water moves me.’ Often these are quite normal subjects like breathing under water. Thanks to the pictorial moment of capturing a moment, this act turns into a real sensation. Maybe that’s exactly what Kerstin Kuntze loves so much and enchants the viewer, the magic of small moments and the infinity that can be found in a moment.