An Interview with Artist Ute Rathmann

Berlin artist Ute Rathmann is internationally revered for her drawings of the human form. Inspired by classic artists such as Edgar Degas, Gustav Klimt and Francisco Goya, Rathmann uses life models to explore the human body and its relationship to clothes, costume and fabric. As a selection of Rathmann’s work has just been added to the URBANARA art range, we caught up with Ute to chat about her background and inspirations.

You create your artwork from a home studio in Berlin. Does this location inform your art, and if so, how?

Berlin is an exciting city and I really enjoy living here. I studied in Berlin and over the years have developed my personal style here. Plus, the special atmosphere of the city has of course contributed, along with the many other artists I have met and collaborated closely with.

Many of your works appear textural, evoking a sense of haute couture illustration. What role does texture, colour and pattern have in your work?

Clothing plays an extremely important role in my artistic work. I am a trained menswear tailor, having studied fashion design at Weissensee School of Art. But it took me several years before I realised that fashion, or rather clothing, costume and disguise, all make up the artistic motif that I try to capture in drawing. Fabrics, colours and patterns particularly fascinate me when they are associated with the human body. Ultimately, the clothed man is always the source of my inspiration.

You count the "old masters" such as Klimt, Schiele, Toulouse-Lautrec and Goya among your sources of inspiration. Who and / or what else Influences your work - more specifically, your latest works featured in the URBANARA collection?

All the work that is featured in my URBANARA collection was directly inspired by life models. I have always been influenced by the organic forms of the human body. For example, the beauty of the lines of a hand or randomness of drapery or colour tones and contrasts.

As a working artist, what does a typical day look like for you?

I work three to four days a week as a lecturer in fashion design and on the other days I work in my studio at home. It is quite dependent on daylight though - In the summer I can draw for longer but in winter only up to around 3 p.m., after which the lighting conditions aren’t right. It can be quite frustrating as I’m sometimes forced to abort my work. I always work on several things at once as I often have to wait until something is dried. During intense phases of work, I go into hiding and don’t meet friends or even answer the phone! I need to able to concentrate and so can get quite irritated with distractions. Though I also have week-long phases when I do little to no artistic work at all.

When you create an artwork, what is it you want the viewer to feel upon looking at your work?

Most importantly for me, though unfortunately it is difficult to achieve, is that my work gives off something that generates feelings of fascination in the viewer. My art should inspire the viewer but also leave enough space for their own imagination. I want to create beauty that resonates with other people and that they derive enjoyment from.

What do you look for when It comes to choosing art for your own home?

I actually don’t have much hanging on my walls at home, just a few of my own pieces and an amazing illustration that my former professor Christine Perthen did, shortly before her death. She was an important person to me and has influenced me a lot.