Painter. Video 

Christian Awe. Home is where the art is.

A wild interview with the 33-years old painter Christian Awe in which we jump down towers, climb a skyscraper and hide in a dilapidated swimming pool. Welcome to a story that is not only the story of an artist but about finding ones mission in life by letting things go.

Christian Awe: From street art in Lichtenberg to the white cube

It is -4 C outside and Christian Awe is dashing around in an abandoned swimming pool right around the corner of the former STASI building in Berlin-Lichtenberg. The water in the pool is knee high and it must feel ice cold underneath Christian Awe’s wet jeans. But he takes it as a sport, performing with his spray can and alternating towards our photographer Chloé and Rogier’s video camera. A pro. As for me, I am fully concentrating on the windows of the buildings across the street. It feels as though we are being observed by former STASI eyes already dialing 110 to report a graffiti attack in the pool.

But nothing happens.

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This particular pool is one of many spots where, a couple of years ago, Christian Awe used to hang out with his graffiti guys to turn grey into color. Another spot is the roof of a skyscraper, where they would meet and party from time to time. It offers an incredible view over Lichtenberg and Berlin. Many of these places that deeply influenced him and his art are gone today – torn down, abandoned, replaced – but his studio remains.

My past, this city and landscape, East and the West have gone through profound changes.
But being home in Lichtenberg gives me the time to be creative. If I am here, I am here.

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Berlin-Lichtenberg is the place Christian Awe grew up and it is where he still creates his art that is exhibited and sold around the globe. His studio is located in an area of Berlin that some might associate with the land of tristesse. But from Christian Awe’s perspective, Lichtenberg is home, and home is where the art is.

Today Christian Awe’s creativity has developed into modern abstract expressionism, catapulting his work into the art world around the globe. His colorful paintings, spread on linen in enormous sizes, are shown at fairs like Art Cologne, Art Dubai, Kiaf in Seoul and in galleries worldwide.

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Christian Awe’s art family

Christian Awe always was and still is a very grounded person, sticking to his roots, although he is literally overflowing with energy, of which his blazing paintings are the best testimonials. The artist lives and works with a whole art family around him, sharing a sense of community that makes his studio feel like a buzzing home. Even 69-year old Hanna is regularly showing up at his place. Christian Awe calls her graffiti-grandma. For over four decades now, she is closely surveying developments of the Berlin art scene and has one of the largest street art collections in Berlin.

Many of my old friends still see me as the basketball player I used to be.

The artist is still strongly connected to his childhood buddies. At his yearly studio party, friends from his skateboarding and hip-hop times mingle with collectors, politicians, critics and fellow artists. An incredible mix of people.

Christian Awe

Christian Awe: First love art – first stop: sports

Christian Awe is a gemini, that might explain why he has a heart and talent for more than one thing in life. Art was his first love but a professional belief he put in sports. Being a passionate basketball player, he first enrolled to study sports.

But for a while, a nagging question would wake him from his sleep:

What is the one thing I want to do first when I wake up in the morning? What is my passion?
I felt the need to create really amazing paintings. I began to paint more and more, longer and longer. Sharing this passion and drive with friends, we would paint all day and night.

Christian Awe

So he started art school at UDK Berlin in Georg Baselitz’ and then Daniel Richter’s class. In the beginning, Christian Awe’s works were much more figural drawings which would later transition into his colorful large format abstract paintings.

You can consider my paintings as a sort of diary. I insert reference of the things that are happening in my life. I know right from the beginning what I want to create but in my vision I allow a certain part of coincidence.

And that was how creating art developed into not only an episode in his life, but the glue that holds everything together and makes him stay close to himself.

If one project doesn’t fulfill my standards, I take a jump and concentrate on a new vision. I am still very curious and open to learn everyday.

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Christian Awe: Art driven projects around the world but one mission

Nora Gatewood is Christian Awe’s studio and project manager and if you wonder why a 33-years old artist already needs one, let me tell you this has nothing to do with attitude. Christian Awe is involved in such a plethora of art and art related projects that you wonder how he is able to fulfill them all without loosing his attentive and caring attitude that he offers to everyone who crosses his way.

Just to name a few: Last year he taught at Princeton University, he brought the show Edge of Arabia to Berlin to support the contemporary Arab art scene, he initiated an artist in residence program in Berlin to host four international artists per year and with his art he helped raise a six figure donation for pediatric stroke victims. Christian Awe continually holds workshops with kids in different parts of the world to motivate them in their artistic expression. This year he will work on a performance with the youth ballet of the city of Perm in Russia, and will travel to Baghdad, Iraq as a member of the educational initiative “The Young Mesopotamians” to support the next generation of Iraqi artists. All the while, he of course continues to exhibit his works internationally. Currently he is preparing for exhibitions in Paris and in Vienna to open in April and May 2012.

Art has the power to make an impact in people’s life – I want to connect with people, I want to make an impact and I want to make people feel an “AWE” about themselves.

Well, you do.

Christian Awe

Christian Awe: Current Exhibition in Berlin

Christian Awe “Resurrecting Color”
February 18 – March 17 2012
Tue – Fri  1–6 pm, Sat 12–4 pm
Fahnemann Projects, Fasanenstr. 61, 10719 Berlin

Photos: Chloé Richard
Video: Rogier Postma 

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