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Recently I met in person an artist whom I was following on Instagram. He is one of those rare photorealistic art creators I have come across in my lifetime. His body of works gave me the impression that he could be from a well-known art school. Instead, I came to know that he is a self-taught. He was consistently indulged in creating either paintings or sculpture for over last 25 years. After visiting his studio and viewing his original works I realised that he is nothing less than a formally educated or an accomplished artist.
Uwe Henn was born in Mainz (Germany) in 1965. He grew up in a bourgeois environment. Art had no meaning to his family. In early years of his life, he encountered art only in the form of two woodcuts and a stone mosaic, which his father had created during the six-months of stay in a sanatorium, when he was suffering from a life-threatening illness.
The art works created by his father in an uncertain time of his life, while thinking if he would survive the disease or not occupied the mind of Uwe and made him aware that man has the potential to do extraordinary things in life when he is faced with unexpected and unplanned painful situation in life. It made him realise that ‘art’ had to be something special, something valuable or higher, because it can give power to the people who are even terminally ill to make their last and most precious remaining time of life worthwhile.
At school Uwe always got the best feedback and recognition in the subject of "art education". In elementary school and later in high school he always noticed that his art works were given special attention from teachers and classmates. That made him happy and self-confident in this area, because he believed that he had a certain talent for art . His parents, however, did not take this seriously and dismissed it with the advice that one could not make a living with art as they believed people who did art were "crazy people."
However, when he was 30 years of age the artist in him started raising again. Once there was an occasion his two children were given a pastel crayon box as a gift. He used them and made a tiny painting of a Vampire for them. But his wife's grandmother thought that little painting was so beautiful and insisted on hanging it up on her wall. The grandmother's positive appreciation meant something special for Uwe because she was a talented, creative and cultured woman. She used to be an actress and ballet dancer at a renowned Berlin theatre, and she knew art appreciation very well. She encouraged and inspired him to re-activate his buried passion for creating something artistic with his own hands.
That lead to beginning of nurturing of an artist in him in a truest sense. Even though he could paint only after his work, he did everything to give himself a chance keep the artist in him alive as long as he could. Initially, he kept painting meaninglessly in every direction he could think of or comfortable with. But he was not satisfied, until he met an artist in an exhibition from whom he learnt to paint technically very well.
As the time passed by Uwe developed a great friendship with his art teacher, which exists even today. His teacher attached a great deal of importance to him learning about art history and the spirit of the times. After a few years of teaching, his teacher told Uwe that he could no longer teach him anything more. Instead, he advised him to visit art exhibitions that would bring out in him much further, deeper, creative personal self.
It is 25years now; Uwe continues to paint and sculpt channelling his own creative energy. Art had become a constant companion and he always seeks new challenges to express his view of art.
By Deviprasad C Rao
(Based on email conversation with Uwe,
exclusively for devamitra.com)
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