• ArtW

In conversation with Anna Kott

We heard from Anna Kott about her experience at Hauser & Wirth Residency, her strengthened process during COVID-19, and her favorite subject– bunnies.



To hear the audio version of the interview click here.


Marjorie Martay–


We are talking to Anna Kott, a wonderful painter and photographer who does amazing drawings. I actually met Anna through our connection with the Hauser Worth Artists in Residency Program. What was that experience like for you?




Mixed Media by Anna Kott


Anna Kott–


It was it was a big thing for me because before the residency I worked with various techniques– paintings, drawings, photography and print. I always saw all the techniques separately. So I was looking for a place where I could connect all these things, the disciplines, the techniques. So Somerset was really a perfect place. I get residency and my vision was to combine the techniques. But, it was a big experiment for me and at the beginning I wanted to just experience the life, the culture, the nature, the art and was interested in the history, the spirituality and all the connections–but it was very emotional for me. I was working like crazy. I was so hungry for all of the influences and the emotions. I wanted to see also results and it was a big challenge for me because it was really a test for my patience– to be patient.



Marjorie Martay–


Well it's such a beautiful place with the gardens that Oudolf did. I was so impressed. I thought it was magnificent.


Anna Kott–


Yes, the Somerset is a place of power. It's really a very, very special place. From my stay at Somerset, I brought drawings and a lot of photographs. So everything was done separately actually.


Drawings by Anna Kott


Marjorie Martay–


I was so delighted that I'm including her as an ArtW honoree and in "Women We Create" which are experiential journeys that I've created globally. The second one will be October, 2020 in Berlin. As an honoree, we will actually have a discussion with Anna in her studio. But what I wanted to know today, Anna, is how is the Corona virus affecting your work?



Mixed Media by Anna Kott


Anna Kott–


Yes, the Coronavirus came at a time when my projects were developing beautifully. The first information and reactions about the virus came during my travels and I managed to fly away from Israel and at the last moment, came to Poland– then at the last possibility to leave before the borders between Poland and Germany were closed, I was really happy that I was able to return to home in time. My exhibitions and workshops, they were planned and had to be cancelled. All my outside activities have drastically stopped and the quarantine time came. But actually, my thinking and activity has naturally taken a different course. My instinctually quick response made the empty gaps quickly fill. This time of break, this time of isolation, unexpectedly brings me new results. Ideas from last year which I had for years before appear now in a new light as if they were waiting for this moment of peace. I'm really lucky at the moment, because my seeds from the past start to blossom at the right time. It feels like I'm with springtime at the moment.



All work by Anna Kott



Marjorie Martay–


That's an amazing kind of feeling to have, isn't it?


Anna Kott–


Yes, absolutely. Because I feel so connected to nature in this difficult situation.


Marjorie Martay–


So in essence for you, the isolation has really worked to your advantage which is great.


All work by Anna Kott

Anna Kott–


I feel isolation for me is like a defying of gravity for me. The speed and pressure which I had in my life before, it's meaningless at the moment. It's totally time to rethink and to reflect– to reconnect and to reboot so that new dimensions become visible. I always saw the difficult times as an experience and dealing with something that is unpleasant and using chance for a transformation. This virus gives us the time to something to do what we are really missing before.


Marjorie Martay–


It was so interesting you say "giving us the time." I've even found that with myself– things that I wanted to think about, write about, paint about– I'm finding that I can do that as well. It's just amazing when you are focused in one place, how that can sometimes really enhance your creativity. Talking about creativity, I'm just curious, have you found being a kitchen another outlet for your creativity?


Anna Kott–


The kitchen has always been a place of experience, experiment and discovery for me. I made this movie for you and it was a big pleasure to work on. I used the first meal of the day for the movie and it was an innovative choice. The breakfast is a very special time for me because it's the first meal. I have my breakfast after my many activities– I'm running, meditating, then writing and after that, I'm coming to eat. It was great to take the right ingredients and connect them together. I used two grains– one ancient, one modern– took local fruit and one tropical fruit. I was thinking about structures and colors and perspectives to describe what I see and the color.


Video by Anna Kott


Marjorie Martay–


That's terrific. It's so interesting too that when we first met, I was so taken by your work. I was fortunate enough to be at your studio and we went through a lot of her wonderful work and she was beginning work on some of these wonderful drawings. She actually had done some drawings of these rabbits. What was so interesting about the rabbits, Anna, is that you actually named the rabbits, why did you end up doing that?


Anna Kott–


Yes, it's about the personal connections. Because the rabbits may come from people the people that are important to me and my development– I connect also the animal and the human level together.


Marjorie Martay–


Then we started talking about the idea of multiplicity. Where one starts and where one ends, what is whole and what is partial? Why don't you explain to us what your ideas are around that subject matter?


Video by Anna Kott


Anna Kott–


I start from the point of rabbit and the rabbit is, for me, it's doesn't matter which medium, which technique I use... it always involves understanding the basics of the rabbit behavior and dealing with objects and beings and actions or to move the behaviors other objects, beings, and actions. Because I'm working with different mediums, it's a beautiful connection because I can combine different the subject. The content– I can connect the technique. I can make interaction with people. It's amazing because I used to rub it like a experiment being, and I make also myself as an experiment at the same time. I am always going into new fields, which brings me a lot of innovation in my work.


Marjorie Martay–


Well, I was so impressed. It felt like the drawing started as if they were almost juror like drawings. Then, I saw this transition that you took from that as you started moving in this multiplicity area and adding and moving them together. Then, the splendid photographs started and then you did paintings from that. It was an amazing evolution of this work from a singular rabbit, but you had come up with a number of singular rabbits and then you put them together.


Marjorie Martay–


I thought that was brilliant. You also had an opportunity– New York Foundation of Arts is doing an auction to help artists during this very difficult time. We actually have eight pieces of Anna's photographs that will be on auction. You can find the link here. Anna, talk to me a little about "Life on the River." What's that project about?


Photography by Anna Kott ("Life on The River" Series)


Anna Kott–


"Life on The River" is a project which is a bridge between Berlin Schöneberg Tempelhof where I live and work and Nahariya, it's a city in north Israel– these cities are sister cities, twin cities since the late sixties. This project started a few weeks after after my Somerset residency when I visited Israel in Nahariya just for a short time. After this, I started to collect some pictures, information, and had the idea to connect the cities. I found the connections between them through the river that runs through the center of each. But, what's interesting is the river in Nahariya, it's the small river, but it has a big influence for the light. Here in Berlin the equation is completely the opposite; we have a big river actually– of course it's important– but it's not as important as in Nahariya. I see also the river like a Kaiser, and Kaiser is denomic and changing like a river. A river encounters one place, but also between different places. So I would like to focus on different meanings of water and river in different cultures.


Marjorie Martay–


I know you're going to use photography. Are you use any other medium in this particular project?


Anna Kott–


At the moment, I was just in Nahariya and took many pictures. I will also make some drawings and paintings.


Marjorie Martay–


One of the other areas that I was so impressed with is the work that you're doing with the "Circle of Being" which is a combination of body, mind and spirit. Why don't you talk about that project and what you are planning to do with it–how important movement is for you and I sense sort of an authentic being the way you're bringing space and time together.


Anna Kott–


"Circle of Being" is a program where I developed the potential and rebalanced the state between body, mind, and soul. At the moment, it looks like a newsletter. I write and bring my experiences together, but behind them I also develop some art, creativity, and beauty. Creative learning and just have conversations and taking action with people. It's kind of a view into the process and I give the possibility to people to be a part of the process also. At the moment it's like I have two new methods which I get through the development of the rabbits and some new workshops I have planned with this and to create new products. It's like an organic body of work.


Mixed Media by Anna Kott

Marjorie Martay–


It's great. The fact that you're doing a newsletter as well and sharing what you're working on and what you're thinking about. You do it every month. I love it. I think it's wonderful and very creative. In that creativity, what are the projects that you're working on?


Anna Kott–


At the moment, I am working with the Museum of European Culture in Berlin. I am a a part of an adult education program around the subject matter of fashion, which is really interesting for me. I also work with musicians and young sportsman.


Marjorie Martay–


You've also done a project with Diptyque if I'm not mistaken?


Anna Kott–


Yes I have a project with Diptych. It's a beautiful corporation because I'm really impressed with this company– how they started and how it has developed for years and how the people developed the candles and everything else. They got a new point of view for the taste of smell.


Photograph of Anna Kott


Marjorie Martay–


Well, you know, it's one of my favorite places. We have a beautiful mall here close by. Of course everything is closed right now. But, I always loved to go into the Diptyque store. I find the smells, the fragrances, the beautiful candles. It's wonderful. Wonderful. That's a very exciting collaborative operation for you. I'm delighted for you that you're working with them as a company. I'd like to talk about the wonderful world of your paintings and one of the things that I've seen when I was in your studio was this real idea of movement to be part of that process... that you actually paint in movement. Talk a little about that. It quite unusual I think. Yes, when we paint, we do move our hands, but you literally move your whole body and I don't know how to explain it, but maybe you can explain it better.


Photograph of Anna Kott in process


Anna Kott–


Tthe whole painting process it's really important for me from the preparation on. When I started painting, it's not only about the idea, it's also about my body. At the moment I just use some techniques to move my body and jump like a rabbit or dance like a rabbit. I making some exercises and get in the moment when I'm really high, happy and relaxed and I start to paint. It's so interesting how the painting start to be, how I started to see my own body from the top, from down, from up– it's also like to translate it into the technique and using the lines, using the surfaces and using the colors... At the moment, I really love not only the shapes and the figures, but it's also about the colors. I'm working on a very, very special technique, which I call a hologram. It's a kind of a very special way of applying ink color. It's a play with transparency–it's a kind of connection to Renaissance and the future.


Marjorie Martay–


That's interesting. Well, that's probably why you're calling it hologram because that it is very much a wonderful new way to express oneself. There are a number of companies who are actually working in that whole area and a lot of artists now are adapting it. So I think that's an interesting connection that you made. I just have to say to you that after hearing you, I'm sitting in my living room and I'm actually smiling. It is very uplifting and it just shows how an artist– given we're all in isolation right now and we're all dealing with a lot of emotions. But, you seem to been able to tap into this and really be very productive and very creative– using it to your advantage. I'm very happy for you. I'd like to say thank you for this and I only wish you the best. Your future is going to be filled with only good things!.


Video by Anna Kott

Please explore Anna Kott's website to see all of her work: https://www.annakott.com/


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