1920s Weimar Berlin inspired art: an interview with Alana Richards on her exhibition ‘Morphium’

The 1920s Weimar Berlin inspired art exhibition ‘MORPHIUM: Hallucinations of a Kabarett‘ by Alana Richards will open to the public in Berlin Schöneberg on the 23rd February 2018. This series of oil paintings is inspired by the show Kabarett der Namenlosen, written and directed by Le Pustra.

As anticipation grows, we’ve met with painter Alana Richards to talk about her upcoming exhibition.

Weimar Berlin 1920s art by Alana Richards: Morphium

1920s Berlin and the Weimar Republic: oil paintings by Alana Richards in her Berlin studio.

VBG: How and why did you decide to make this exhibition? Was there a particular moment you can pinpoint when you decided you were going to paint these characters?

AR: I thought of the idea after I saw Kabarett der Namenlosen for the first time. I have always had a fascination with Weimar Berlin and thought it would be a great opportunity to explore it through these characters. I also loved the colours and the style of the show, and I found it an unmissable chance to paint such an eclectic group of people.

VBG: What were the biggest challenges in creating this series?

AR: In creating the series there were of course many challenges, One of the biggest was that each and every character had to be represented… but creating my paintings is not always a smooth process. I had to paint some of the characters three or four times before I was mildly satisfied.
The biggest challenge overall was making the video for the crowdfunder. I found it very difficult to talk to the camera. But I also learned so much from this: how to write a script and how to develop ideas for videos; I had never done this before. I’m not sure if I’d like to repeat it though!

1920s Weimar Berlin inspired art exhibition 'MORPHIUM: Hallucinations of a Kabarett' by Alana Richards

1920s Berlin and the Weimar Republic: detail of an oil painting by Alana Richards

 

VBG: Let’s talk about Berlin, how do you feel it influences your work?

AR: I was interviewed quite a few years ago about Berlin influencing my work and I said that it didn’t influence my work at all. I said that I would be making this work regardless of where I was. Only now I realise how wrong I was. Berlin has had a huge influence on what I do, especially at the beginning.. Berlin gave me huge spaces for little money, and I started painting much bigger as a result of this. Meeting the multitude of artists in the same boat as me during my time here has also been inspiring, in one way or another. Also learning about the history of the city while being here has influenced my work so much, I have learned a lot whilst living in Berlin and my style has definitely developed because of what I experienced here.

VBG: Are there any places in particular where you go and find inspiration?

AR: In Berlin, the Gemäldegalerie is always my place to find inspiration. I go quite a few times per year. Its permanent collection is what attracts me the most, as it is beautiful and houses so many of the great masters. But there is also something about the peacefulness of the place. You can be alone in a room with a Caravaggio: this, to me, is really magical.

 

1920s Weimar Berlin inspired art exhibition 'MORPHIUM: Hallucinations of a Kabarett' by Alana Richards

Portrait of Alana Richards by Matthew Coleman Photography

VBG: You have lived in Paris and Berlin: both are hubs of creativity in the European and worldwide art scene,  now and in the past. What are their differences from your experience?

AR: I love Paris so much but it is such a tough city to live in. Berlin can  also be tough but in a different way. As an artist you can have a much higher standard of living in Berlin and of course you have so much more space. Although Berlin is a great city to create work, I have found the business side of things not so great here. It was much easier for me to sell work regularly in Paris and I found more of an genuine excitement for figurative painting in Paris that I think is somewhat lacking in the contemporary art scene in Berlin.

VBG: What can we expect from the exhibition opening?

AR: The opening night, I promise you, will be fun! Doors open at 18h,  Le Pustra and me will be there to answer questions. I am showing paintings as well as photographs and for the first time installation and video. The idea is to merge theatre production and figurative painting. There will be two exciting performances by cast members Bridge Markland and ReveRso. I have also organised complimentary absinthe (thanks to the Absinth Depot) to get everyone in the mood! I would also like to encourage people to dress up!

MORPHIUM : Hallucinations of a Kabarett

23rd Feb – 6th March

The Ballery, Nollendorfsrasse 11-12, 10777, Berlin

Vernissage : Friday the 23rd Feb, 18h-22h

Opening times : Mon – Fri 16h – 19h

Sat 12h – 17h

https://www.facebook.com/TheMorphiumArtExhibition/

TIP: to learn more about Le Pustra and his Kabarett der Namenlosen you can read our interview with him.

1920s Weimar Berlin inspired art exhibition 'MORPHIUM: Hallucinations of a Kabarett' by Alana Richards

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