Seona Sommer talks to us about her art, answering 10 questions, using the 5 W’s
(Who, What, Where, When, Why).
Who are you?
I am a self-taught contemporary portrait artist from Germany based in Cologne. My portraits promote humanity & diversity and offer fascinating insights into people’s souls. After earning my Master’s degree, I worked as a German language instructor in Oakland, California, and Puebla, Mexico. In 2000, after four years abroad, I returned to Germany and began painting in 2004.
My works have been exhibited throughout Germany, in several European countries and in Taiwan. They have also been featured in international online exhibitions and published in international art magazines such as Hyperrealist Magazine, The Guide Artists and The Fine Art Connoisseur. I have received two People’s Choice Awards in international exhibitions (2019, 2021) and am a member of [KUN:ST] Stuttgart International e.V.
Who are your favourite artists?
I have a few favorite artworks from old and newer masters, like Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and Gerhard Richter’s “Reader”. But honestly, I am more interested in contemporary painters, no matter what stage they are at in their careers. Some of my favorites are Rasha Alem, Ester Curini, Vira Yakymchuk, Tana Gaxiola, Ute Milotich and Sabine Losacker to name a few. There are many more!
What themes does your art focus on?
People and their stories, their faces and feelings are my greatest inspiration. Through my art I am a strong advocate of humanity and diversity.
With my art I want to break down boundaries and transcend distances. I explore the diversity of different cultures and individual characters as well as the emotions of individuals – worries and joys, fears and hopes, sorrows and happiness, passions and ambitions. By capturing everything I perceive, I try to focus on the similarities rather than the differences.
I consider myself a global citizen with a strong interest in international collaboration and I have built a small network with professional photographers in Germany, India, Tanzania and Dubai. Social engagement is very important to me and with I support a charity project that helps children in Tanzania to finance their school education. Most of my life I have been involved in community projects. To now combine this with my art is deeply satisfying for me. It gives my art a new meaning. As a portrait artist, I want to give something back to people because it gives me so much pleasure to paint them.
What is your hallmark as an artist?
People who like my art tell me that they are fascinated by the eyes of the figures depicted and deeply touched by the emotional atmosphere of the painting.
What music or other audio do you listen to while you work?
I don’t have any specific music I listen to. It could be anything really, from world music to pop to Latin rock or meditative music. What is more interesting is that I often listen to the same album or playlist over and over again until at some point the spell is broken and I need to find another album or playlist for the next weeks or even months.
When did you decide that art was part of you and your life?
I started making art quite late at the age of 35. It wasn‘t a decision. It kind of hit me and then it was there. It came as a logical consequence after many years of immersing myself in all kinds of environments, living in different cultures, and exploring diverse social communities as well as lifestyles. All these experiences needed to be materialized and now form the basis for my art.
Where do you work on your artwork?
I have a home studio under the roof of our house and like to feel kind of secluded up there. I have different work stations ready to use as I am always very impatient when I enter my studio and do not want to waste too much time before dipping the brush into the paint.
Where would you like to see your artworks exhibited?
Of all the art museums, the MEAM in Barcelona is my favorite. However, as I am interested in humanity and diversity, I would also very much appreciate the opportunity to exhibit in institutions or events of non-profit associations/organizations with the same focus.
Why do you make art?
Art is my bridge into the world. It is as important as breathing to me.
Why do you think art is important in our society?
On an emotional level, art conveys messages without words on a deeper level. It reaches people directly in their hearts. And on a political level, art has always challenged the existing status quo and systems, often offering stunningly simple alternatives. In both ways, art can help people understand something better, answer or even raise questions, and perhaps even trigger changes in a person’s life – it offers a different approach to experiencing oneself.
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