MARIE PETER-TOLTZ | INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:
Q. How did your passion for art begin taking shape for you—at home, school, a mentor, and other artists who inspired you or a personal experience that started the fermenting process?
A. Art has always been in my life. Saul Bellow said, a writer is a reader who is moved to emulation. Art making in any medium is directly related to the historical references of the medium itself, being, in my case, primarily, the history of painting. The tradition of painting cannot be separated from the act of painting today. Therefore, the history is carried out when one paints. My admiration for what painting is in relation to human kind and human history is the very reason why I paint in the first place. I started ‘making’ art ‘professionally’ later in life, understanding it from an art historical perspective. I studied art history in Vienna and Madrid and then a few years later, living in Sydney, I got my first studio.
Q. How would you describe your artwork, in terms of materials or mediums? Has it changed or evolved since formal training and what are your goals for it?
A.My paintings explore inter-personal narratives in relationship with historical paintings, mythology and archetypal psychology. Humans started to paint 20 000 years ago, if we think of the Paleolithic paintings made in the Grottes de Lascaux. The challenge, for me today, is to find new ways to re-invent and rediscover the medium. How one can explains this inherent desire to draw or paint? This Hegelian search for the Absolute is the concern for why painting today. Painting is to search for the magical, the exceptional using very simple tools, such as paint on canvas or pencil on paper. My goals haven’t changed since I took formal training. The goal is the work.
Q. How important is a personal style to you as an artist or does your work reflect larger social and cultural issues?
A. Painting in itself is a political act. I think it intrinsically reflects the larger social and cultural issues. Lately, I have been studying how Greek Mythology is still very potent and universally recognized as a metaphor for human experience and emotion.
Q. Has being a woman affected your work and others’ perception of it?
A. Making art is undoubtedly about presenting oneself into the world, although I would hope that my work is not only defined by the fact that is was made by a woman that it would rather go beyond the system of gender binary hierarchy. I am concern with the human experience, transforming it with visual metaphors. I look at art and artists because I am drawn to their Work, their gender is only secondary and does not define its quality or strength, something is extraordinary or it is not. I want to separate myself from these stereotypes and generalizations. I am more interested in the different archetypal mechanisms that define us all rather than in gender separation. Each and everyone’s experience is different, and varied of course. Ultimately, I think that being empathetic, whether as a man or a woman, seems to be more relevant to understand one another’s work than the traditional schismatic opposition of genders.
Q. How do you feel about being part of a woman’s art organization?
A. I am grateful for this award and do feel that being part of a woman’s art organization is important. As much as I don’t want to be separated and/or qualified as a ‘woman artist’, and yes I would rather just be designated as an artist, I am also aware of the reality of the Art World. Artists, who are women are still extremely under-represented today. The women artists, the artists of color, the artists from the LGBT community, artists from the ‘minorities’ are not being seen as much as they should. This has nothing to do with the excellence of their work or their dedication to their art. There is a real injustice in the art world in 2016. My hope would be that organizations, such as NAWA, is and will change mentalities so that tomorrow’s art world will offer more diversity to the public’s eyes.