Image Malique Instagram 

Interview by SGBA | Released 12.10.2021

Never planing instead surrendering to the madness.

Recording of a conversation about the view and way of life of Malique, a young Heidelberg painter.

“What have I got, 80 years or so? Otherwise I will tell my children bitterly:

“No, you should rather learn something practical.

At the end of life, you’ll always be the asshole who says, “yeah, fuck”….” – Malique 

He speaks of a choice. Art is subjective but what about the artist? Is the act of choosing to be something and to practice that being illusory? Is the life of an artist an object as the art itself or a subjective individual way of life? For Malique it is freedom, even taking responsibility for oneself and the time you get as a human being on this planet.

He wants to find a healthy heart as an artist and as a human being.

I want to describe Malique as a young thinker who is sure of his cause. Not going into battle but seeking solutions to realize his idea of life for himself while facing reality, whether defeat or triumph.

Whether this happens in Heidelberg or somewhere else. Vision is a vision…

I deliberately give our conversation a platform and a naked profile, because openness and authenticity are willingly received. I like his point of view, and the sense it inherits.

Whether I, you, or our neighbor join in the same understanding is not part of this article. What is important are the circumstances ideas are born as an individual or for a piece of art and the motives behind the drive people have to pursue their dream and satisfy their (life) appetite.

Painting, perhaps the only pure chance towards himself to reflect, escape, discharge. To continuously answer the question about who he wants to be, what he presents in life, how he feels, experiences, sees. Painting is an attempt to express, for which words are (still) missing, for which society may even respond too critically, and (still) has too little understanding.

A chat within three components.

Image SGBA

Image Malique Instagram 

Part 1: “Being an Artist is like playing a role” – Malique

M: It’s like playing a role now

S: What do you mean?

M: Being an artist is like playing a role. I’m playing a role right now, too. I’m Malique, who has to explain his things here.

S: Here it originates. Must?? You don’t have to do anything.

M: One already expects something.

S: Who expects that?

M: Maybe I, too. Maybe I have already lost myself in it.

S. In the role of the artist?

M: Yes. It’s all just a show anyway.

S: What does it mean to be an artist at your young age?

M: Being an artist is the most beautiful thing. You can try everything and shit on it, there are no more rules. Art is a ticket to paradise.

S: What is paradise?

M: Not having to stress. Not being ashamed of walking around at noon with a beer in your hand. After all, that’s my own business. I’m an artist, that’s legitimate, and if I know that, then I don’t care if other people know that. As long as I can earn my living with it. Right now it’s not like that. I’m still hanging out in Heidelberg and not making any money off of it, working in gastronomy. I want to work towards not having to plan my whole life around what’s going to happen the next day.

S: So you do seem at base here. Home. Heidelberg.

M: Yes, it’s a comfort zone. It doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s further similar to only learning from disasters as a human being.

S: I can tell you a thing or two about that.

M: It’s like that. And if everything stays the same here all the time, in the provincial idyll, then you don’t develop further. Unless you make your presence hell by saying “it’s so bad to be here and to see the same faces” then it’s more an inner development thing. At some point you have to break out.

S: Would you describe yourself as a very reflective personality?

M: Not at all!

S: But?

M: I do think about things, but they are mostly unimportant things.

S: Was it clear for you to make art? Or how did it evolve? Did you think “fuck it, I just want to do something that lets me break out? Free from certain social constraints” or what was the trigger?

Image by SGBA

M: I had the desire to paint. That became my language. Sometimes words are not satisfactorily. I also like design and aesthetics. I want to have a lot to do with that in my world, just like a chef wants to be surrounded by good food all his life. I just enjoy painting and it fulfills me, so I don’t see why I should bother with anything else…What have I got, 80 years or so? Otherwise I will tell my children bitterly: “No, you should rather learn something practical. At the end of life, you’ll always be the asshole who says, “yeah, fuck”….

S: Is that a fear you could fail?

M: No, somehow not, what is there to fail? Except that you don’t use these 80 years as I said, which is a pity. You also have the right to do anything you feel like doing. It’s not about living up to your family’s expectations all the time. Paying bills is of course important and can’t be done without, but just find a healthy middle, that you can do your shit without losing yourself in this role of the taxpayer.

S: And what are your dreams and goals at the moment?

M: Now my goal is first to move to a sound city with a scene, with people whom I can connect and bond with. I then plan on having a studio, a place where I can paint. Even if that means living on very little money for a few years, the main thing is to paint. Be radical, really give myself over to madness.

S: What is madness for you?

M: A rhythm in which you can do nothing else. A kind of trance where you move and don’t think anymore. And maybe it’s good to get into such a phase to develop my form of language and my way of working. I would’t say that I have painted much in my life. My hands are kind of tied here.

S: What does that mean, your hands are tied?

M: I grew up in Heidelberg. All my school friends are still here. We slip back into this pattern of being 16 where we start drinking throughout the weekend, sometimes starting on Wednesday with our folks, having fun, and being in ecstasy. In the end, it’s nothing more than repression and escape.

S: How and when do you create?

M: I thought about that recently. The periods where I’m just in ecstasy, “partying” with people. I need that time to unload. That is when I create best. The producing and creating come afterward, when I’m hungover. When I have a feeling of inner peace and don’t think about the could’ve/ should’ve/would’ve. Only dealing with odds and messing around. What I just mentioned is sinking into a trance. It should feel like meditating because it is also a kind of meditation, painting. And only then does the inside come out, what has been building up over the days.

S: Does a piece unfold over some time let’s say throughout the phase and you start with a sketch and rescaling that on a canvas? 

M: From my experience, sketches don’t make sense beforehand, just because of the measurement scale. That didn’t satisfy me either, first a sketch, then on the canvas, paint and done. I lacked a bit of spontaneity. Meanwhile, I make an unpolished sketch on canvas, paint on it and see what comes out. That is usually something different.

Images by SGBA

PART 2: Finding your form

S: Have you learned this workflow at University?

M: I studied communication design but not painting. After my first studies, I applied for Art School but got rejected six times.

S: Oh really? Where did you apply?

M: Four times in Vienna, one time in Leipzig, and Berlin. The latest application is for Offenbach. That is still open.

S: How do you think the institutions select their students?

M: Not sure. It seems arbitrary to me.

S: You are then an autodidactic painter?

M: It’s all self-taught if you like. It is more about trying things and thoughts out rather than going into museums and talk about art.

S: Why don’t you like to go to museums and talk about art? 

M: Well, art from personalities and people I know is a different narrative. I often leave exhibitions disappointed instead of inspired – especially – in the field of contemporary art. Talking about art as well is not my favorite thing to do. Art is a shit business, a show business.

S: Interesting impression, how did you come to those insights?

M: I admit it is a bit subjective and not entirely justified. I sometimes deliver a thought a bit polemic, what I mean are these highly advertised shows in big cities that disappoint me.

Now comes the counterargument: “Art is subjective” while my question to that argument is: “Who exactly decides what good art is?” That’s just always this same problem. The vicious hub of the art society, at least in contemporary art. The focus is no longer on efficiency, purpose, but expressionism, or whatnot, form, language. In the end, it’s not even about art. Only about the marketing of art and about the artist and what he talks about his “shit”. And that’s a shame, but on the other hand, how else are you going to market art? Someone has to decide what is good and what is bad, what is important, what is unimportant. In the meantime, you are simply over it because nothing extraordinary comes anymore, everything Was already.

S: How would you market your art? As an independent artist would you want to or have to take care of it yourself no?

M: Right. Well, I play the role of the artist, creating as his job and that is also my goal. I want to earn money with art. If you do it long enough and stay on top of your game I am sure it is possible. You’d probably need skills in speaking well about your work and selling your stuff. There’s a bunch of talented people out there doing cool super stuff, the problem is that they are not marketers or sellers. And that’s all art is about.

Of course, there are “those” who do all the work just for themselves and don’t release anything, but that’s just a rough life somewhere.

S: It’s also always the question for whom do you make your art? Who do you make your art for?

M: I don’t do it for anyone, I just do it. I don’t want to call it instinct but everybody has his affinities in life. Some like to paint, some like to sing, some like to calculate. Why that is, I don’t know if it’s so important to question. I don’t need the clarification behind it, I just need the feeling of fulfillment. I don’t want to make myself crazy with any thoughts about that.

Part 3: The art of reflection

S: Do you have any role models? I wonder where your style comes from.

M: I am a big fan of the art of Francis Bacon. The triptych with the models is the last thing I painted. I realized that I was copying him…

S: So would you say you paint after his ideas and try to find yourself in that?

M: It had happened unconsciously. By accident. I like his work very much, that has burned itself into my memory and go onto the canvas while painting. I agree with his artistic interpretation and formation of that.

I got a book as a gift with the art of Frances Bacon. When I looked at that, I saw my stuff and that got me thinking. I’ve also had a period of ecstasy lately which has led me to my latest work “Homage to Death”. I think this is a new beginning for me now. I don’t know if I am satisfied with it though.

S: I would interpret Death with black. Why is yours white and green?

M: It was just a feeling, a pictorial feeling, which I then painted on canvas. I had a quiet idea in my head and then I started to paint the idea that came out of that thought.

S: And how would you sell it? Imagine we are in a gallery and you have to sell it to me, advertise it….

M: We have here the “Homage to Death”. You would immediately think, “Oh, death is something sad” but not for me! For me death is just a new chapter and so on … But then I would wear something different. A crazy haircut, sunglasses, drink something before for a loose tongue. With that outline you can say anything, you just have to emphasize it right and the thing is sold.

I learned that in the restaurant business. You can sell people any shit, you just have to sell it right. I can’t do that now, it has to happen on the spot at the right moment, you have to fool people. Art is just bullshit, complete bullshit. But that is ultimately unimportant to me. It’s only about me being happy with it and earning money with it. It’s not about doing something good for the art world, something important for the scene. This is my lifestyle and what I want to do carefree all my life. The problem is the market. 

S: What are your experiences with the market?

M: I have recently had an online exhibition and in the summer two years ago I had an exhibition in a gallery, but I have not sold anything.

S: How much do you sell your pictures for?

M: For the triptychs I would ask about 2000 euros, because I love the things. The three parts are important to me and that’s why I wouldn’t give them away for a few hunnies. It’s just not decoration. I mean that is suffering over the years, failures and successes. I have suffered for it. I give people not only a painted canvas but I give people a piece of me, history of me and work without end. That’s why I don’t want to say, yes you get for three hundred or so, it’s just not worth it to me. I’d rather prefer to keep the things. Another thing is this talking about “you’re so talented and stuff”… well, it’s all work. You just have to love the stuff and muster up enough to work for it, diligence. Work, work, work and then at some point you realize you just need the necessary interest and the necessary power and the necessary relaxation, especially in the creative scene. With musicians, with writers, painters, always the same. Talent is the same as genius. I don’t know if it exists, there is good timing.

S: Tell me about the triptych.

M: I saw the movie “Neon Demon” and this is a scene from it. The whole movie was quite dark and that one scene was totally kinky, the movie kind of was too. I saw this one scene and had to photograph it and used that as a red thread. I like the colors, the composition of the image, the big room is interesting. I took that as a source of inspiration and made something out of it.

S: Why don’t you send that to the art school?

M: Yeah I’ll do that for the next one…

S: You know a lot of artists were rejected at the beginning and the cool thing to have such a thick skin and clear vision from the beginning.

M: Yes, every rejection has actually strengthened me. It seems as if art has to be elitist. Because art has become so overloaded and a lifestyle and has no depth anymore. I don’t want to slip into some existing market but into a scene with people whose works I respect, a community that shares similar views, actually like a company.

… a few month after this conversation Malique got into art school!

Find Malique on Instagram

Image SGBA