An interview with artist Hartmut Kiewert
How humans and farm animals can co-exist within society, and the role our diet plays in this
Paintings by artist Hartmut Kiewert speak volumes. One can see the remaining ruins of an old factory farm in the distance, with chickens, pigs and cows roaming freely on the streets. In his paintings, intensive farming is history and so are animal-based products. Can this be a reality of the future or just a utopian dream?
We talked to Hartmut Kiewert, who explained why he is committed to the relationship between humans and animals and what he hopes to achieve.
When did you discover your passion for art and why is your focus on the human-animal relationship?
What inspires your creativity?
To what extent does the consumption of animal products play a role in your art?
In your series of pictures "ANIMAL Utopia" you give animals a new and different habitat, far away from intensive livestock farming. They live free on the streets, within houses, forests or parks - among us. Is this how the future will look like?
My painted scenarios are initially an attempt to irritate the observer. The fact that so-called "livestock" does not otherwise appear in our everyday world but are locked behind the doors of factory farms and slaughterhouses raises the question of why they are kept like that and killed for human consumption. Why don’t they walk among us on the streets instead? I am happy when I use these scenarios to stimulate utopian thoughts: Thinking about how our transport infrastructure would have to change so that animals, as well as humans could move around safely. I hope that my pictures will give a certain forecast into future scenarios without exactly defining them.
Farm animals are fascinating animals. Could you share a special experience you’ve had during your work, which was quite memorable?
Another experience was in May 2018. It was a very hot day and I was painting turkeys sitting in the shade. For the first time, I consciously perceived how a bird breathes. Sanctuaries are practically a kind of concrete utopia of a new human-animal relationship. It is always a wonderful experience to meet and get to know animals there.
Do you think that the entire earth’s population will eventually get by without animal products?
Please complete this sentence: "If I'm not painting, then ...."
...I am involved in a local animal activist group, in the Rhythms of Resistance Action Samba Band, do office and organizational work such as exhibition planning, updating my website, sending orders, helping my girlfriend in her organic garden and I'm also interested in different kinds of social criticism.
Where can interested people see your work?
Currently, and until the end of October 2019, some of my paintings can be seen at "The space between us/about nature" group exhibition in the Nietzsche Documentation Center in Nürnberg (Germany). Galerie KK in Essen showcased my paintings at the "At the Beginning of the Drawing” exhibition back in December 2018 and will be running until the end of February 2019. Alternatively, my paintings can be found at my gallery in Leipzig.