Persona August, 11th 2022 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 376 - Tom Schenk

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 376 – Tom Schenk
In Pulchri I saw impressive paintings of houses. The houses were located in a landscape and some houses had taken over the colors of the landscape. There were houses that had become detached from the earth, others had overturned. The color blue was often seen in various shades.

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The house, usually two or three stories, stood all by itself, as if the house was up against the world. Incidentally, there were not only houses to be seen, but also flowers, plants and landscapes.

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A house for the soul
The title of the exhibition was ‘A house for the soul’. The maker of the works, Tom Schenk, was happy to explain his work in more detail. It’s about the spirit, the spirit, the soul, he says. He approaches it through the house. After having painted such a house approximately 150 times, he determined that it was each time a self-portrait of that moment.

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“The atmosphere and the color changes. The soul also goes through phases and continues to observe how things are unfolding. I also paint landscapes, especially river landscapes. It is always the silence, the emptiness and the space that fascinates me. It is inspired space.”

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It’s about introspection. “I have been meditating since I was 15. But it goes a step further than self-reflection. When you meditate all thoughts disappear, the ego disappears. That is why the theme of the soul interests me. That is why many houses, but also trees, are mirrored. The house / tree as a metaphor of the soul. Where does the soul feel at home?”

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Key work
Does he have a key work and if so, what work is that? He has such a work: Das blaue Haus. There are many blue houses, as I could see in the exhibition. “The first time I painted Das blaue Haus was in 2014. Then followed Das Blaue Haus II, III, the Blaue Haus am Wasser etc.. All those blue houses are mirrored. It all started in the Münchner Kammerspiele. We shared the canteen with a Kneipe, which was called ‘Das blaue Haus’. I found that name very inspiring: simple house, lonely house, Blue Mood.”

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Set designer
Tom Schenk is a successful set designer. After a short dance career, he retrained to become a set designer. He initially designed for ballet and collaborated with leading choreographers such as Jiri Kylian and William Forsythe. But shortly afterwards he worked for all the major Dutch theater companies and then for several theaters outside the Netherlands, including Schaubühne Berlin, Münchner Kammerspiele, Bayrisches Staatsschauspiel München, Volkstheater Wien, Renaissancetheater Berlin and many other European theater and opera companies.

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With director Yoshi Oida he designed a growing number of opera productions in France, England, Austria, Italy, Czech Republic, Canada, Sweden, Finland and Japan. His recent operatic contributions include Death in Venice (Aldeburgh Festival, Bregenz Festival, Prague National Opera, Opéra National de Lyon and Canadian Opera Company Toronto), Don Giovanni (Paris).
Why was he so often asked to participate in these productions? It turns out that it is not so much the fact that he makes an incomparable interpretation of the sets, but his ability to work well together in a team. “It is much nicer to make a production with four / five people. Everyone, the director, the lighting designer, comes into everyone’s field. You are constantly working as a team.” This year he will go to Bordeaux, Tokyo and New York.

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What is his experience of art life?
“It’s a wonderful life. I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I’m really glad I chose this one. I have always been able to live off it.”

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Finally, what is his philosophy?
“The first thing I exclude when I work is thinking. Thinking only hinders, works against. I have to make it happen. A famous director once said, “Tom reads the piece, tears it up, burns it, forgets it, and then he starts working.” When I paint it’s about: what does the paint, the canvas, want? If I’m too much in my head, the work fails. Because I can’t stop in time. Or I wasn’t alert enough. It comes down to being alert and stepping back to pass judgment.”
Images: 1 – 6) houses / landscapes, 7) Das blaue Haus 1, 8 – 9) houses, 10) Tom Schenk 

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