Berlin Kunst

Interview with Feryel Atek

Feryel Atek is a figurative painter, and art therapist from Paris. She has been living and working in Berlin for 7 years now. Her main medium are her large-scale paintings and an abundant collection of more intimate, detailed drawings. Her work focuses on the symbolic and archetypal aspects of the human figure, the female representation, and autobiographical inner myths. She plays between dynamical, raw gestures and graphical lines.
Portrait, solo show in Gisela Kunstraum Berlin 2020
Portrait, solo show in Gisela Kunstraum Berlin 2020

What is your background? How does it inform your art?
I am a self-taught painter. The main origin of my vocation is perhaps the fact that I grew up in an artistic background in Paris where art was something natural, not forced. Drawing with appetite (as we say in French). I wanted to own my progress by following my individual movement. I was learning through my environment, my observations, willing to build an aesthetic that was my own. Before devoting myself totally to my artistic practice I studied philosophy in la Sorbonne, Paris, before leaving for Berlin. Berlin has been giving me the opportunity to work and develop my artistic process with bigger intensity.I went on being interested by anthropology, and the relationship of other cultures with art, at the same time I understood how much I was connecting with my inner self and unconscious through my practice and that art in general had a strong healing potential.

Cage ouverte, 70cmx 140cm  diptych acrylic and spray on canvas 2020
Cage ouverte, 70cmx 140cm diptych acrylic and spray on canvas 2020

So I began an art therapy formation combined with psychotherapy in parallel. I find it really satisfying because my experience as an artist feeds my understanding of art therapy, and in return art therapy deepens my understanding of my own work, and its symbolic dimension. I think I paint with generosity, with a strong will to share, I find this also in art therapy to give back power to people through artistic and creative practice. My work is about the human soul and condition catched in a moment, being an autodidact allows me to explore my style and express freely without expectations for aesthetical norms.

Who are your biggest influences?
In my childhood I fallen in love with the old masters, Caravaggio, Artemisia Gentileschi but also Schiele, Kokoschka, Goya, Hokusai,Bacon, Kahlo, the Surrealist. At the same time, I saw a lot of African art, art from other cultures and places, it was really appreciated in my family. I have amazigh, Berber roots from Algeria and I was really proud of the long artistic, and artisanal tradition of my ancestors from Africa. Today I would say, Jonas Burgert, Paula Rego, Jenny Saville, Aubrey Beardsleys and also filmmakers like Jorowdovski, and philosophers like Bergson or multidimensional thinkers like C.G Jung.

How do you work?
I produce as spontaneously as possible.I never sketch something in advance, or have a definite plan. I use the colors that call me or express what needs to be expressed at the moment. I often have an idea, a theme that I am into in the back of my mind, I try to let it flow through me and not to intellectualise too much or push it with expectations. It is how I tend to express myself with authenticity. I mainly use acrylic, spray, ink, oil sticks. Painting in a state where the subconscious takes over, I allow my chaotic process to transform onto the canvas in a sublime nature. It is the appearance of a sleeping memory, an impulse, idea finding its skin. I believe that this connects me to the collective unconscious. Same process for my detailed drawings, the lines are coming spontaneously.

What is most important to you in life?
Ada, my 5 year-old daughter. Painting, freedom of being, authenticity, to evolve, transform in permanence and commitment for things, causes I believe in.

Close up AWFE
Close up AWFE

Red or blue? Why?
Red, according to its archetypal signification, is the color of the fire, of the will, the inner freedom, the transformation, the self confidence, passion, intuition and creativity/Schöpfungskraft. Those are qualities I enjoy to have in my life and on the canvas.

What are you currently focusing on?
I am going deeper with the idea of building my own symbolic universe, the holy feminine, the question of the cultural heritage related to my roots and my connections with other folks from around the world, and the spiritual aspect of art, in its essence itself. Soon I would like to recreate a sanctuary with my paintings on the theme of the inner myth, and build an in situ project it.I’m also collaborating on a Tarot cards project. In parallel I want to explore more art therapy, and its empowerment potential. I want to grow also as an art therapist. I will start working with a group of children living aparts from their family, they will come to my atelier, and I hope we will do great work together, focusing on the process and not the result, and hopefully observe the healing power of art therapy.

Feryel Atek –