Contributed by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech / I initially resisted Instagram, dismissing it as a repository of selfies, sunsets, and celebrities, but, soured by Facebook and Twitter, I finally joined. Over the past four years I’ve come to appreciate IG for introducing me to a lot of terrific artists, many of whom never show their work in New York. “Hello Instagram” is a Two Coats column where I can share some of my favorites. In this installment I interview Angela Lane (@subterraneanthunder), an artist based in Berlin.
Giovanni Garcia-Fenech: First of all, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Angela Lane : I live in Berlin, Germany but was born and raised in the UK before moving to New Zealand. Drawing and painting have been with me for as long as I can remember, but receiving two gold stars and a tick for my cave buffalo when I was six probably marked something of a turning point. From there I learnt that if I illustrated my homework well enough, it didn’t matter if the written content wasn’t very good, I could at least get marks for trying. I studied and ended up lecturing in illustration at university for a while but left it behind to pursue what I do now.
GG-F: There’s something very interesting in the incongruence between the scale of your subjects versus the scale of your paintings. Why do you choose to paint so small?
AL: There’s something I enjoy about the absurdity of cramming massive natural (and unnatural) events into small spaces. But scale is a funny thing, for the most part I forget how small my paintings are until I step back and look at them in the context of the vast wall they are on. I’m not sure why but I’ve always tended to look beyond or behind the “main event” in both art and in life, getting sucked into the minutiae of the things going on in the distance. Netherlandish paintings from the 15th and 16th Centuries are a goldmine for background information, virtually each square inch has something new to say. So in this respect, I would say there is a very practical reason for me painting so small, I would likely never finish anything ‘“large.” Instead, I’d add and add and add…
GG-F: Are your paintings based on real places?
AL: Rarely do I base my paintings on real places, they tend to be montages of memories. There’s too much opportunity to go wrong if I try to represent the real. Often I start with something in mind and end up with a completely different painting, but it’s the surprise (for better or for worse) at the end that keeps me at it. Starting in one corner and finishing in another somehow seems to work for me, unless it’s a tondo. I’ve always admired the working method of Joachim Patinir – it is said that the vast and imposing rocky landscapes in his paintings were simply upscaled versions of the stones he kept on his table.
GG-F: One of the interesting things that happens with your Instagram is that where I would ordinarily have described your landscape paintings as realistic, the images of artworks and scientific illustrations you post made me start looking at your work very differently. I begin to see a visionary aspect to them, or at least an intense Romantic presence. Is that a fair assessment?
AL: I mentioned Netherlandish paintings just before, for me they’ve been a staple but the Romantics are a huge influence as well. I am lucky enough that here in Berlin at the Alte Nationalgalerie it’s possible to find yourself completely alone in a room full of Caspar David Friedrich paintings. There are plenty of other Romantic painters of course, but he will always be my go-to. His use of light and color, his draughtsmanship and originality, the emotional pull and melancholy is for me unsurpassed. But the way in which they all use natural elements to convey deeper meaning is hugely influential for me: they are in another sense, visionary. Visionaries are fascinating; that sense of conviction in belief which drives their work is remarkable and very often results in remarkable work. Agnes Pelton, Ithell Colquhoun, Hilma af Klint, and Emma Kunz all play a role in my work, as do Hieronymus Bosch, Simon Marmion, and William Blake. But there are other examples in the field of astronomy/meteorology (the Augsburger Wunderzeichenbuch for instance) and early geological studies which feel just as visionary to me and are just as much an inspiration. Ultimately it is the otherworldliness which ties them all together and which keeps me coming back.
GG-F: Can you share a couple of Instagram accounts that you would recommend?
AL: Instagram is my only entry into the world of social media, I’m relatively new on there but I like it. Recommendations… that’s tricky, there are a lot of accounts I really enjoy. If I have to whittle it down then I would say @fabiola.alondra, @somewhereintheether, and @spacestaysthesame are all accounts I find interesting for their variety of material spanning subject and time.
About the author: Giovanni Garcia-Fenech is a painter based in Queens. His writing has appeared at artnet, Artforum, Art in America, Hyperallergic, and Wired. His artwork has been exhibited throughout the United States, as well as in Iceland and Puerto Rico. You can follow him on Instagram at @giovannigfnyc.