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Interview: Furusho von Puttkammer

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

1) Can you introduce yourself? Where are you from, and where did you go to school?

My name is Furusho von Puttkammer. I’m a painter, performance artist, curator, and music video director from New York City. For my undergraduate degree, I attended School of Visual Arts and majored in Fine Arts. I graduated in 2018.

Dear Gustave on view

2) Who are your favorite artists? Which teachers, friends, or members of family made a strong impact in your life and career as an artist?

a) My all-time favorite artist is Mark Rothko, though right now I’m looking at Antoine D’Agata. I basically love any artist that focuses on the fucked-up nature of human existence.

b) In terms of family, I’d have to give credit to my parents. I got my extrovert performative personality from my dad, while my mom encouraged me to pursue art by signing me up for art classes when I was younger and taking me to National Portfolio Day when I was deciding which college to attend.

c) My close friend/mentor Sabine Flach has been a huge influence on my life. She first pointed out the parallels within my work and German Expressionist film and has been a tremendous help on advising me on my practice. 3) Let’s start with your paintings first. What is “Dear Gustave” about? What are the influences that made an impact on this body of work? Is there any sort of influence from cartoons or Japanese anime in the appearance of the characters imposed on the Baroque period style of painting?

I made “Dear Gustave” while still in Undergrad. It’s a series of paintings based on the self portraits of the 19th Century French Romantic Realist painter Gustave Courbet. When first exposed to Courbet’s work, I developed a crush on him. The more I learned about his life, however, I realized what a total ass he was. He was the stereotypical arrogant male artist. He treated women like shit and thought he was the center of the universe. Meanwhile, I was at a point in my life where I was frustrated with my work and wondering how I could get my foot in the door as a professional artist. I decided to parody Courbet’s self portraits, at once both mocking his arrogance and inserting myself via avatar into the art history canon. My avatar -Anchovy- stemmed from my background in cartooning. Originally, I had applied to SVA as a Cartooning student. I switched my major to Fine Arts after my foundation year, but my cartoon background always stayed with me.

You Gotta Let Things Grow

4) How do you transition from “Dear Gustave” into “Sublime Connection?” What is “Sublime Connection” about? And how do you explain the change of subject matter and feeling from neoclassicism to horror and more aggressive and sexually explicit imagery?

a) Once I was done with the “Dear Gustave” series, I found myself not wanting to let go of my character Anchovy yet. I felt there was more to explore with the character. Anchovy became the focal point of “Sublime Connections,” a series that captures the sexual tension and violence of human to human interactions.

b) The change in imagery is a result of me inserting my own experiences and feelings into my paintings. “Dear Gustave” was me being cute. I was basically mouthing off to art history. “Sublime Connections” delves deeper into ​why ​ I felt the need to mouth off in the first place. I’m not a people person. My life has been a long series of misunderstandings and alienation. “Sublime Connections” was my attempt at connecting with people again, to try to share my feelings of discomfort and claustrophobia with the viewer. If the viewer could relate to these feelings I’m depicting, maybe they could relate to me. 5) Do you try to bring to life the characters in your paintings through your performances? What is the main difference between your paintings and your performances?

a) I’m not sure if my performances could be considered “bringing my characters to life,” since I hope my paintings accomplish that on their own. The goal of my performances is to make my work more accessible and relatable to viewers. My paintings are dark and violent, but my performances are absurdist and lighter. I hope that the combination of my performances and paintings help relay the ultimate message I’m trying to say through my work.

b) The main difference between my paintings and performances is the lack of sexuality in my performances.​ ​Performance Anchovy is a non-sexual being. You could read my practice as my paintings are how Anchovy interprets the world, whereas the performances are how Anchovy interacts with the world.

Quarantine Shuffle

6) Can you describe some of your performances? What are some of the characteristics of your performances - are they improvisational or planned, participatory or non-participatory?

My performances are more absurdist, highlighting the frustration and futility of everyday life. Anchovy tries to open a door she painted on to the wall, Anchovy tries to take a nap but can’t fall asleep, etc. The performances are usually loosely planned, with room for improvisation. Occasionally, Anchovy will interact with the audience. It all depends on what the performance needs in order to be successful. 7) Can you talk about your curatorial practice? What do you look for in organizing a show? What kind of message or style are you looking for?

I look for work that comes from a similar place of alienation and darkness. When I organize a show, I want to highlight artists that have a similar background as me. The style can vary, and added points if the work has a sense of humor, but the message is usually “this (work) is the result of being othered.”

Mama (Nipple Twist)

8) Which work do you consider to be your very best work in your life?

That would have to be “Mama (Nipple Twist)” from 2018. To this day, I haven’t made a work that tops the visceral reaction I get when looking at that piece. I’m not sure if I’ll ever sell it. To me, it perfectly encapsulates my views on absurdity, sexuality, familiar trauma, and broken innocence.

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