Maria Thurn und Taxis Bad hair day, 2019 Collages and watercolour on paper 31 x 23 cm
Maria Thurn und Taxis Bad hair day, 2019 Collages and watercolour on paper 31 x 23 cm

I clearly remember the first time I met Maria. It was during the 2017 Gallery Weekend in Berlin, at a collectors open house event that was also a matinee for a catalogue on Maria’s Waywards series.

I remember it so well because two distinct qualities and feelings stayed with me.

One was the wonderfully maladjusted and anarchistic feel of her Waywards series; the other, the complete opposite, was the calm presence of Maria within the buzz of a flat packed with artists, and with press and collectors around her. Some people have that certain soothing presence, like a calligraphy drawing.

But we also know that where there’s tranquillity, there’s also chaos and secrets –

which makes complete sense, plus it adds to the excitement when you look at her works.

It is this arc of suspense that gave me deep pleasure when I looked at her new works (especially the fire series) at Hypnagogia, her latest exhibition, namely at the private showroom of Siegfried Contemporary in Notting Hill.

Her “beings” often have a totem-like quality, something fine and dense but also chaotic, wild and well yes, intangible. They are unmistakably hers.

I love imagining them as creatures gathering around her when she is working in her studio.

Maria Thurn und Taxis In Memory of O’Keeffe, 2019 collages and watercolour on paper 20 x 20 cm

Which of these elements (space, air, fire, water, earth) would you choose in relation to your practice and/or yourself, and why?

Even though I think my element is one of fire, I identify much more with water as I love the mystery of it, how it grants life and is ever-changing.

Maria Thurn und Taxis at her London studio, 2019 photo credit: Hugo Wilson
Maria Thurn und Taxis at her London studio, 2019 photo credit: Hugo Wilson

I apply the same to my practice: even though I wish the viewer to reflect on certain themes, mystery is a huge component.

My characters have a life of their own and my medium shifts, depending on what I am trying to communicate.

Is there a particular person or situation that inspired you to become an artist? 

My process to become an artist was very organic, almost in a naturally selective way.

To be honest, I was contemplating the shift around the time when I met my husband about ten years ago. He was already a practicing, successful artist himself and very supportive of my work and my struggle with it.

Do you consider yourself spiritual and how does this feed into your work?

What a beautiful question, and yes I do.

I examine that a lot of my process stems from emotions I think are more in touch with the spirit than cognition.

In a documentary on Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese artist explains that she started collages when she first checked into a mental institution interested in art therapy. I found that intriguing as it seemed like a natural outlet or reaction that could satisfy the standards she had for her art, but also gave credit to the new environment she found herself in for inspiring her new work. 

You also started doing collages. Please tell us why and how in your view they differ from your watercolours and drawings. 

My watercolours and drawings are generally an extension of my collages.

The collages often start out as the source material.

What are you currently working on? And what you are looking forward to this year?

In my last show I started implementing drawing and collage together, and I would like to explore this further. I am also really looking forward to collaborating on a booth at Art Berlin for Ebensperger Rhomberg in September.

About Maria and Siegfried Contemporary

Header Photo: Maria Thurn und Taxis, Elephant, 2019, collages and watercolour on paper, 31 X 23 cm

Author: Esther Harrison