Persona May, 26th 2022 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 366 - Birgitt Busz

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 366 – Birgitt Busz
Birgitt Busz makes fascinating and colorful work, in which numerous transformations of people into animals and animals into people take place. She makes drawings, collages, paintings and installations. In them she takes the viewer along in her doubts, ideas and associations.

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On a Tuesday in March I visit her in her studio in Amsterdam’s Staatsliedenbuurt. I hear jazz music – Jimmy Scott – and look around me. On the wall immediately to the right hangs a beautiful balloon drawing. The balloons – in the colors yellow, orange and red – hang over a motley crew of characters, some leaning more towards the human and others more towards the animal. So there is a sheep-like type, a dog-like type, Japanese-like manga children. A surprised human face peeks through a zipper at the dog’s chest. It is reminiscent of the surrealism of Hieronymus Bosch!
All the figures look surprised at the world. “Why are we partying?” they seem to think.

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Drawing on photos
On the same wall I see a photo of the cocker spaniel, which was mentioned earlier when I interviewed Harrie Blommesteijn. Harrie is Birgitt’s husband. I saw drawings of carnivalesque figures at Harrie’s gas station photos in the gas station expo in the WM Gallery in Amsterdam a few months ago and the drawings turned out to be by Birgitt.
She has done it more, drawing on his pictures. One is on my left. They are intriguing combinations, the vagueness of the photos together with the cartoonish drawings form a surprising image. It is an example of the way in which she researches materials and techniques.

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Going beyond borders
Birgitt Busz was born in Berlin and grew up in the time when the city was a western island in the GDR, the German Democratic Republic. She couldn’t cross the city limits. In 1961 the Berlin Wall was built which ran right through the city. That gave a feeling of distress. “The city was divided into East and West, in capitalism and communism, in right and wrong. It was a political playing field, a playing field between America and Eastern Europe. You couldn’t get out, at least: not from the East. The boundaries were recognizable and you could only cross them in your mind.”
She decided to move from Germany to the Netherlands. That took some time getting used to. Because although the Netherlands and Germany are close to each other, they are different cultures.

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The island of Ttigrib
On a table to the right are large drawing sheets with drawings in black and white, sometimes some color and collages, and here and there short texts, with which entire stories are told. All those stories stem from a concept, the island of Ttigrib. Ideas about modern life, myths and legends come to life there. There are also several futuristic trips to see. “traveling to the island of Ttigrib” is the full title with the subtitle “an Ocean of Lemonade or the Trouble with living in Times of Fulfilled Utopias”. This refers to the French philosopher Fourier who thought that if the ideal society was realized, the ocean would no longer contain salt water, but lemonade.

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She devised this mystical island where no power struggles are waged, but beauty is created and where there is thought. An island for artists and philosophers. But even on such an island, human fallibility can germinate.

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Famous people at the bar
The island can be seen not only on the large drawing sheets, but also on the smaller colorful paintings and in a booklet ‘Isle of Ttigrib’. Turn the letters of the name around and Birgitt appears. The booklet features black and white drawings of the island’s abundant flora and fauna. People live on the island, they are philosophers and artists with their children. Tourists are allowed to visit the island for a day. They go to the ‘Hanging Gardens of Minte’ where the delicious ingredients for the ‘Molecular Kitchen’ come from, which they later enjoy with a good glass of Viognier. In the middle of the island is a high mountain and there is also a large waterfall. There is a subterranean city where ghosts reside. At the harbor there are hidden spaces, where you sometimes meet famous people at the bar such as Duchamp, Max Ernst, Frida Kahlo, Rousseau and who knows: the mistress of a famous philosopher.

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The dark side
The concept of the island is so comprehensive that Birgitt can express all her ideas in it. It’s not all roses and moonshine on the island. Dangerous people/animals or animals/people can be seen on various paintings and drawings. There is often an ominous atmosphere. The dark side of life – an essential component of the work – can be seen in a painting of a dragon-like purple creature and heads of monsters under a radiant sun. The ominous is also reflected in the collection of glass bell jars with genetically manipulated animals on the island. She made an extensive installation that has been exhibited in its entirety in several galleries.

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Birgitt is very interested in philosophy. She regularly meets with a reading club with artists and philosophers in which books by philosophers such as Nietzsche, Sloterdijk, Thijs Lijster and Arnold Heumakers are discussed. In her work she is further inspired by artists such as Murakami, David Hockney, Caspar David Friedrich, Luc Tuymans and Peter Doig.

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Creative director
Birgitt Busz started out as an abstract painter in the 1990s. In the 1970s, she had studied at the Hanover Art Academy and then spent five years teaching art and visual communication at a gymnasium. In the late 1970s she moved to Amsterdam and started working for various American advertising agencies. She has been both art director and creative director. “I diligently learned Dutch, but everyone spoke English at those advertising agencies.”
At the end of the 1990s she became independent and chose the free arts. “I was looking for my theme, my concept. The theme had to include all of life, from birth to death.”
Since then she has had several exhibitions, solo and group exhibitions, also abroad, for example in California, where she goes regularly. Much of her inspiration comes from her travels. This is how the special series ‘It never rains in California’ was created, with the colorful landscape there as the theme. Birgitt also has a sharp view of developments in the world, resulting in series such as ‘Panic in Paradise’ and ‘Love Hurts’.
1) children, 2) hanging garden 2, 3) philosophers 2, 4) an ocean of lemonade, 5) übermahlung #2, 6) ode to Klimt, 7) when Van Gogh still had both ears, 8) the last waterhole, 9) Let’s Party 50×70 cm, 10) Birgitt Busz

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