Ingo Baumgarten
paintings photo-works texts CV current FAQ

Why do I paint?

I started painting during childhood. During my studies I developed techniques and pursued concepts that could realize my ideas and intentions in a satisfying manner.

How do I choose my subjects?

All my subjects come from direct experience.

I actively look for places, situations and objects from everyday life that typify contemporary life. This could include a successful (or failed) design, or a related functionality.

Why do I not simply photograph my subjects?

Photography is a technical means of reproduction, its possibilities and limits are defined by the technique and equipment. Painting too has its limits, but here they are human, personal, depending on the skills and ambitions of the painter. Personally, painting provides a better medium for formulating an individual point of view.

What role do photos play in my work?

Some subjects I am interested in are first fixed in my sketch book; later in the studio I concentrate on the specific aspect that sparked my interest before progressing to the stage of painting, through composition and color sketches. I can sometimes use photographs to fix certain technical details, or as an aid for remembering elements I could not sketch, but normally they are not a base for my paintings

How precise are the representations of my subjects?

I try to deal with the objects I select in a rather free manner, adjusting the proportions and colors to the general composition of the painting, which is essential in conveying my message. Details I find unimportant or annoying I discard. The colors are chosen according to my memory of the subject and the intended atmosphere of the painting. I aim to achieve not a perfect representation but a personal interpretation.

What relationship do I have to my subjects?

Mostly I have an ambivalent relation towards the subject matter. I try to avoid either condemnation or glorification of the things I show, aiming to present things from a certain distance giving space for ironical reflection.

What is my message, what am I trying to achieve?

I have no clear defined message. Certainly I am interested in commenting, often ironically, on banal aspects of everyday life by representing them as art objects. I am more interested in demonstrating my individual view of the world around me, and I would consider my work as a painter successful if it enables the spectator to adopt a more complex and altered perception of his surrounding afterwards.

Why there are never any figures in my paintings?

Human figures represented in paintings become very easily an element of identification or of mediation of its content (for example in the work of Caspar David Friederich). With my paintings I try to present an unmediated confrontation of the spectator with the subject, with the things as I have seen them.

Why the paintings have generally "no title", but a rather precise definition of a location?

The paintings have generally no titles because the subjects are intended to be "typical and in a way exchangeablel". The description and statement of location in brackets provides a manner of naming the work, and gives a little information about the place which gave me the inspiration. Naming those banal places might convey the idea that the subject is just one special expression of the general condition.

Whom do I admire?

I prefer not to address other contemporary artists. I am fascinated by the techniques of some old masters, and within more recent art-history I would connect my work to the "New Objectiveness" of the 1920ties or the "Magical Realists". On a conceptual level I feel close to some photographers of the Düsseldorf "Becher School", whose images focus with high intensity upon the unspectacular and usual aspects of everyday life. (the early works of Ruff, Struth, Höfer etc.)

Had my teachers been important to me?

Not especially.

When did I start working in my current manner?

About 1990-1991. The underlying impulse of my work, the representation of my own experience, of course goes back further.

Have I ever worked in different ways?

During my studies I experimented with such other approaches as surrealism and abstraction. Obviously I use different techniques in works using different media,(for example in those combining photographywith written comments) but the basic concept of those works is the same as for the paintings.

Why concentrate on painting and sometimes photography?

Photography is suggesting objectivity. Painting contains more subjectivity. According to those connotations I select the technique for the theme I want to deal with. But in both cases I want to convey my individual view.


Three Years I had lived in Japan, why did I go there?

During my studies I underwent some important experiences abroad, in France and in England. I enjoyed discovering and understanding different local cultures and perceiving the divergences to my own cultural origins.

I became curious about staying for a little longer in a country with a total different culture, but with a comparable level of development of civilisation. Some first contacts and the opportunity of obtaining a scholarship led to my decision to go to Japan.

Is there a special interest for the Japanese art?

My main interest in Japan is based on the mixture of the modern industrial (western) and of traditional Japanese structures; especially as they are manifest in the everyday life. As well as my general interest for the country and its culture, I was also interested in understanding and appreciating the traditional Japanese forms of art (wood print (Ukiyoe), Japanese painting (Nihonga). However, I never felt attracted to learn or to imitate those techniques and styles

Did the stay in Japan influenced the development of my work?

In Japan I worked with Japanese subject matter. So on this level a Japanese aesthetic slipped into my work. But my technical and conceptual approach was the one I had developed years before in Europe. There was no conscious adoption of techniques or aesthetics.


Since when exists my interest for Korea?

My interest for the country, its people and their culture aroused the first time in 1993, when I visited Korea with a study-trip.

Since 2008, I live and work in in Seoul, Korea. My general approach here is similar to that before in Japan; in Korea I am especially interested in the cultural fusion of Western Modern and traditional Korean / Asian elements in the current Korean civilization.

Korean Architecture

I became very interested in the Korean architecture of residential houses of the 1970th until the 1990th, which show as many references to Korean traditions as to Western modernity. The often play- and joyful fusion of ideas, styles and material expresses the idea to unite traditions and modernity in harmony; -- an ideology, which has apparently failed, since those buildings are hardly appreciated any more, and they are replaced by new constructions, which show no traces of Korean tradition. My exhibition "Jutaek, Korean Houses" (2013 in Eugean Gallery, Seoul) had a special focus on architectural motives of that period.

However, since those buildings are disappearing quickly in the cityscape, my focus is moving on to other phenomena of the every-day live, which I see to be significant for the HERE and NOW of the Korean culture.