Born in Munich, Germany, Tania Welz has lived and worked in Rome for over 20 years. Welz‘s highly imaginative abstract artworks are born with the idea that in every material, even a crude one, there is a divine spark, a creative potential. She uses contrasting materials such as recycled jute and precious fabrics and through tearing, rebuilding, padding and burning Tania creates different motifs and structures to almost sculptural effect. Then she enriches them with silk brocade and precious metals by inserting 12k gold and silver – reminiscent of ancient alchemical scientific studies. And, just as the alchemic process, aims at transforming everything into gold! Tania Welz with her artwork gives a strong message to the viewers – the contrast of textures and fabrics symbolically represent the social and cultural conflicts in today’s society. Her solo exhibition ‘Luce della materia’ curated by Gianfranco Valleriani is possible to see in Rome at the Palazzo Naiadi, The Dedica Anthology, until September.
You grew up in Munich — how did you end up in Rome?
After I have finished my apprenticeship at a TV music channel in Germany, I felt a strong desire to move to Italy. When I was offered a job at an American/Arab satellite TV station in Rome, I didn’t hesitate for a second.
What originally made you want to become an artist?
It was a gradual evolution. While I was working for TV, I understood that this would never completely satisfy my creative urge. So, I started concurrently to experiment with a lot of different materials, remembering my strong passion for fabrics in my adolescence. At the age of fifteen, I was designing my wardrobe and running around with the most original costumes. Funny enough, my favorite dress was made of potato sacks with hand-stitched embroidery of pearls on top – not too far away from my preferred material today which is recycled burlap.
How would you describe your artistic approach?
My approach has always been very instinctive. I feel drawn to some inner imagery, that triggers some kind of excitement strong enough to keep me chained to the artwork for days, nights, sometimes weeks or months. It is then when the work starts to reveal its meaning while I am working on it. It is like I am learning something about myself along the process, but it is not solely limited to something personal, very often I elaborate answers to questions that concern all of us. We live in this world all together and therefore we have the same set of questions and face its subsequent challenges.
What techniques do you enjoy working the most?
I have explored and developed a lot of techniques, pioneering the strangest combination of materials. I develop my techniques according to its purpose. Many times, I explored totally new techniques, but what still keeps me fascinating is the technique of ‘dripping’ different materials onto a surface and … setting my materials on fire! I love to play with fire!
Tell us more about your creative process…
I sketch out a certain path where I want to take the artwork but at a certain point I step back and let the work suggest how to continue. This is the most beautiful part of the process, but also the most difficult one because our loud, demanding and hectic world is always omnipresent whether I like it or not.
Your work is distinctive for the way you use different materials. How do you choose the material that you work with?
I have huge stocks of different fabrics, that I pull out when I start to work on new artwork. But it became more and more evident with time, that the stronger the contrast of the materials, the more powerful the work.
What is the favorite artwork that you’ve produced so far and why?
My favorite artwork is always the last one, because it is the most evolved. But despite this, I am still very much in love with ‘And then comes the sun.’ It was ‘born’ through some strong inner imagery that I just had to follow and it still fascinates me, because it has never totally revealed its inner secrets.
And Then Comes The Sun, 2012; recycled jute, velvet, silk, velour
What kind of message do you want to send when people view your artwork?
Hope! We live in very chaotic and violent times, and it is very easy to want to throw everything away and give up! But we can transform our lives into some beautiful creation of ours and I believe that this is what we should do and what we are here for…
What motivates you to continue to create?
A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
John Keats (English poet 1795 – 1821)
Chaosmos/Echoes of no mind 2018; jute, latex, real gold leaf (12 karat, alloy with silver)
How did your artistic approach change over the years?
Maybe I became more structured and more efficient over the years. I used to spend a lot of time on details that were not so important. Now I try to be more efficient with my time.
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome as an artist?
The decision to dedicate all my time and efforts solely to my art. It was a tremendous battle inside of me that continued for months and months.
Who are the artists that most influenced your work?
I couldn’t say that I have been influenced by a certain artist. It is more an affinity. Of course, I feel very close to Alberto Burri or Antoni Tapies. But then I am a huge fan of Pat Steir, El Anatsui, Angel Otero, Mark Bradford. I recently discovered the late Trevor Bell, and he left me speechless! There are lots and lots of really great artists out there…
Chaosmos/Dance of the atoms into life II; linen, latex, real gold leaf (12 karat, alloy with silver)
How would you describe Rome’s art scene of today?
I am a bit of a loner, who tends to spend most of her time in the studio, mixing different liquids and elaborating new ideas for different artistic projects. When I emerge, my focus is more for on the international scene. Being German, but also having lived in London for some time, my background is very international and when I found Artrooms and Le Dame Art Gallery, it was the perfect match. Rome is incredibly beautiful and inspiring, but at a certain point I need an international breeze ruffling my hair…
What are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work?
I am very much fascinated by alchemical processes and the traces they have left in history. Porcelain, for example, has been a by-product in the search for gold. An alchemist at the Saxon court, Johann Friedrich Böttger, saved his life by providing his “employer” at least “white gold”, thus porcelain. The alchemist’s research to bring out of every poor material it’s inherent precious ‘quinta essentia’ (the gold) inspires me tremendously. It is a great picture for our inner preciousness that we need to bring to light…
Quinta Essentia No 6/Nigredo I – 2019; burned and recycled burlap from India, natural resin, real gold leaf
What are you passionate about besides your work?
I love to sing! I even took classes to become an opera singer…
What kind of impact do you hope to make in the art world?
Ideally, I would love to have the possibility to work on projects that are large scale formats, so if I had the chance to work for a foundation or a museum, that would be a great achievement. But I would also love to collaborate with some fashion brand! There are so many possibilities when you are working with fabrics, it’s a vital and multi-faceted material that almost has no limits.
Vukota Brajovic and Vesna Filipovic for Fashionela