For more of Pawlok’s art work and images from the Viva, Cuba! series that is available for sale – scroll below.
World renowned Artist Werner Pawlok is best known for his art and fashion photography. Born and bred in Germany, he has travelled extensively for his work and was recently in Singapore for a debut appearance, alongside the grand opening of Lumas Gallery, Singapore with the theme – “Viva, Cuba!”.
The team at intersection.sg speaks to him about his series of artworks, “Cuba – Expired”.
For your Cuban art exhibition, you photographed the disappearing homes of Castro’s Cuba. Why Cuba and how did you chance upon this opportunity?
The whole thing started in 2004, because I had a chance to do a fashion shoot. We had to search for locations to prepare for the shoot . I was the first Western photographer who did a series in East Berlin, shooting for Helmut Lang and Weiner magazine. I drove with my producer and stumbled upon these desolated houses.
This is how the story starts – When I walked in, a “movie” starts to play in my head. The houses were hauntingly beautiful – with the hanging chandeliers, beautiful tiled floors, damp streaked walls, and crumbling plaster. These were icons of luxury – and if you can just imagine the characters that used to occupy those room and peeling paint. However, if you can just imagine the characters that used to live there, that would be interesting. I can see the people walking and this is when some inspiration hits me – these are the stories living in my head and I had to make it come alive.
Any notable techniques used on your photographs?
The colours are very vivid. It is very simple, I use the freedom like a painter when I work on my pictures. I like painting too. There are no filters.
Would you describe your style of work, especially for the Cuban series as melancholic?
Yes and no. It is like a dream. It is really the atmosphere that hits me when I walk into the room, so it gets personal. I am not like an architect photographer. I feel more like an artist who can really reflect on my feelings and then paint my pictures – maybe that is what you feel when you look at these pictures. It is a kind of melancholy because it will be all gone. Now, from the past – everything is from the past. People have lived a life which has been lived before.
Would you say that your art work has a recurring theme of making the past come back to life?
Yes, it is like lives that were lived before.
Given your nationality, would you say that you have a German trademark or streak in your work?
My work is different as compared to the typical German artist – I don’t spend as much time, or to put it in exact explanation, I do not go through every detail, nook and cranny to make my picture perfect. My style of art is to capture the mood in the moment – and I will pick the right moments for this. This can also depend on the time of when the photo is taken, the angle and the types of equipment used. The typical german will keep trying it – but for me, I am more spontaneous. Even for portaits, I just do it when the feeling comes.
Alright. We’ve talked about your expansion into Cuba. How different is it going into the global market in terms of marketing, reach and logistics?
Well, as you know I am an artist of the LUMAS gallery. LUMAS is present in over 40 countries and we have a worldwide network. This allows me to have shows in different countries at the same time and I am lucky to be supported by an excellent marketing team to showcase my prints and presentation. Besides that, I have been in photography for my entire life and I like to explore different themes. For example, I photographed Leigh Bowery, an Australian artist in 1988. He has since passed away in 1992 due to Aids. A few years ago, his work started to become more prominent and was discovered for his talent and personality. Since then, I have so many requests from museums and art galleries on the portraits that I have taken of him – such as the ones in the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and the Kunsthalle in Vienna, and so on.
Do you foresee any immediate challenges? What is your schedule like at the moment.
There are many things happening at the same time. At the moment, I’m working on a huge book on my work in Cuba, which comes out by the end of the summer. It has 320 pages and this will make it an unusual size. Immediate plans are for an exhivition on a Cuban series in Havana next spring. We have a fantastic exhibition space that we are working on at the moment. There will also be a trip to Oman to do some location search for a new series in May. In general, I am always open for anything new. Trying to keep my time and plans very open.
What can art collectors expect from you?
A lot! There are different series that I am working on at the same time. I have yet to finish my series, entitled “Views – Faces of Literature” yet. So, there will be more portraits coming up. I started working on a series of flower photography, which needs more promises more pictures to come. There are many other projects in conceptual phase but I will speak about it when it is debuted.
What have you learned from shooting your own work from different countries and partnering with various galleries across the globe?
Art has become very connected, internationally and it is so important to stay tuned! LUMAS is a good partner for these ambitions.
The Lumas Gallery first opened at Berlin’s famous Hackescher Market in 2004. Amongst its 40 locations worldwide, its newest addition is located at the heart of Orchard’s shopping belt in Paragon. Werner’s works and other cuban collections are for sale. Other famous artists under Lumas’s portfolio includes Edward Steichen – a well-known photographer of the 20th century, Gottfried Salzmann – famous for his cityscapes and Dada and Surrealist Man Ray. If you are lucky enough, catch a steal of Damien Hirst’s limited art editions. To find out more, click here.
Art pieces from the Viva Cuba – All available for sale: