BBG is back for another round...this time we bring you super talent all the way from Germany, mega-talented Heiko Müller. With an intriguing narrative and a deft display of hand skills these works pack a mighty punch. Nature’s losing war against man is a common theme but with Heiko Müller it is presented in a fresh, for-our-times light. Hop in here and enjoy these sweet paintings....
INTERVIEWED by Jason Kauzlarich
First off, where are you located and what is your studio/workspace like?
I live in a small town close to Hamburg in the north of Germany. My studio is a small and rather basic room in the basement underneath my house. Nothing I’m really proud to show to visitors, but the good thing about it is that I’m always close to my family. Days however I’m working in my small agency in Hamburg, which I’m running together with my best friends.
So do you have any formal training in art, like schooling or some classes or did you just pick it up? And is it your profession or just something you do in your free time?
I have indeed studied illustration and graduated in communication design. Nonetheless I would describe myself as a screen designer when it comes to my profession. I only find the time for drawing on weekends or sometimes nights. However art has continuously grown more important to me in the last years.
I am noticing a huge comparison to Hieronymus Bosch, like the style in characters and some of the colors used. Am I correct in assuming he is an influence? And who are some of your influences and why?
Bosch is definitely an influence. It’s his almost limitless creativity that impresses me hugely. On top of that he seems to have been highly courageous for his times. I wouldn’t dare try some of his motifs even today. There are however some artists of his era that I even more interesting. One of them is Petrus Christus. His excellently skilful portraits contain a very subtle horror. It is generated by a very dense atmosphere that creates a kind of claustrophobic feel. Also the faces seem strangely distant, almost as if the people were on drugs. All in all this adds up to a world which seems even stranger to me than the one invented by Bosch. Needless to say, it’s a big inspiration to me.
Your painting "Giant Bear" is pretty savvy, I dig it a lot. At first glance it's just a bear head and some creatures under it but then I start really looking at it and there are all sorts of awesome things going on; like the forest fire on the bear's head, the sketches of different monsters/creatures throughout the piece, weird lil wobbly things coming out of the cloud, etc. So what is the story behind that painting?
As long as I can remember I feel close to nature and to animals. I hardly can picture anything more beautiful than strolling through a forest, looking for animals or strange plants. You can picture that I’m depressed at how nature is being destroyed. These worries apparently made their way into the picture. To be honest, I can only speculate about this myself, as most of my motifs come develop rather intuitively. I don’t follow an intricate concept but rather trust my feelings.
I have noticed that many of your pieces have a recurring character, the wooden reaper. What is the deal with the wooden reaper? Is he just something you think looks really eat or is there some actual meaning behind him?
Both things really. Actually the character was inspired by a joke. A friend asked me what I would give my son as a birthday present und suspected I had a log of wood in mind. I was immediately reminded of the Log Lady from Twin Peaks and started to draw a number of pictures with characters who treated a log like a baby or a pet. I got back to that motif once in a while and the log gradually turned into the Wooden Reaper. In a way, to me the Wooden Reaper is the Grim Reaper of the forest. I noticed your paintings are small in size. Is there a particular reason you paint small scale?
There are a number of reasons. My studio is very small and my technique is a rather tiring since I need to apply quite a bit of pressure on my pens to achieve the proper covering power. This means my right index finger starts to hurt after about 90 minutes. Finally I like to focus on one spot.
What things in life influence your artwork?
Recently I drew most of my inspiration from the surrounding landscape: the woods on my front door, the wild willows, dunes and the sea. I want to capture the emotions that are triggered by these landscapes. I mix all of that with memories, and now and then also my son’s creative ideas seep into my work. -END