Campsite for art: painting workshops in Frankfurt: art, children, climate change

PPandemic, war, climate change: there is no shortage of crises and their effects are manifold. What effect do they have on art, its social value and its public presentation? And what do they do with children and young people who are directly affected by school closures or forced flight? Dirk Baumanns was guided by these questions when he conceived his project “Art from crises”. The impetus was given by the “Cultural Awakening” funding program of the Crespo Foundation and the Municipal Culture Office. Since September 3, the Baumanns have been inviting people to Frankfurt’s Kaiserplatz, where a tent serves as “a kind of pop-up art school for refugees, gallery and charity auction house”.

The painter and artist, who already addressed environmental disasters during his studies at the Design University Offenbach, is among other things showing a selection of his paintings there. At first glance they look like originals, but they are incredibly well done canvas prints. “I have no problem trying new things,” he says. He describes the presentation of his works as prints as an experiment. “I actually really like to provoke,” he says with a smile. A few years ago, he caused a stir when he displayed his “Mona Greta”, a picture of environmental activist Greta Thunberg based on Leonardo’s painting, during several Fridays for the Future demonstrations. The movement suited his artistic focus, he recalls. Meanwhile, Fridays for Future has gone very quiet.

Workshops “as free as possible”

Baumanns has since applied the artistic process he tried on the graceful “Mona Greta” to other works. His reinterpretation of Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” shows a desiccated, fire-ravaged, dry landscape. The artist, born in 1980, also took a bold and updated approach to Munch’s “Schrei” and Tischbein’s “Goethe in the Roman Campagna.”

However, Baumann’s tent project is not just about a pandemic-compatible presentation of his art outside of institutions shaken by dwindling audiences and the need to save. At the heart of “Art from crises” are free painting workshops that take place Tuesdays to Sundays from 14:00 to 18:00 and are aimed at vulnerable children, young people and refugees up to the age of eighteen. “Other crises that we have now evolve from climate change,” he says. He wanted to reach the children and young people who were affected by them. In the workshops, they could formulate “dreams and wishes for the future as well as criticism of the current leading politicians”. The workshops must be “as free as possible”, he emphasizes: “I usually give a helping hand.” The works of the young participants are presented in the tent. The project will end on October 2nd with a benefit auction organized by Baumanns in collaboration with the “Mary’s Meals” charity. He hopes that the workshops will have a strengthening effect on children and young people. But he also generally sees his project as a space for contacts and meetings. In the face of so many crises, it is important to put a sign of “peace and joy”.

Art from crises Until October 2, Kaiserplatz, Frankfurt. Information at www.dirkbaumanns.com.

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