My name is Lilly Pelz. I am an artist and a student at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.
I was born in Bergisch Gladbach and I’m painting and sketching ever since I could hold a brush.
Before I started studying at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, I visited an artschool in Bergisch Gladbach. Visiting this artschool really helped me getting prepared for the Academy and I realized just there what my talents and interests are when it comes to art and painting. I’m studying at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf since 2017 and during my time there I realised, especially in 2023, that my way of putting my thoughts and feelings into my work is 3-dimensional. I started to do Installations instead of paintings with materials that really interest and influence me, partly on a day to day basis. All of my works have a backround. I always express feelings, wishes, dreams and experiences in it. In the progress of my career it became more and more clear what I actually have to say and which topics really awaken my interest.
Here is a short timeline of my progress in the past years:
Until now my art mainly contained painting and sketching, but lately I got more and more interested in doing Installations, photographs and maybe even some film projects.
Back in the days though, when I was in art school and preparing for the academy I realized, that I like sketching and painting realistic portraits, or bodyparts of the human body. I started doing this by using photographs of people of the jazz culture as reference, which where also the main part of my application folder for Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and some other art universitys.
I’m still fascinated by the human body, my style did change though over the last few years.
When my studies at the academy started, I simply was interested in figure and nude drawing. You can visit a course there every week, which I did several times to improve my painting skills.
After a while though, I realized that I was more interested in the story behind the people on my canvas, than simply painting for the worth of skills.
Since 2018 I’m in the class of Andreas Schulze.
During the years I have spent there so far, I emphasized people with a transgender backround, androgynous-looking people, and homosexual couples to shine a light on them and their stories.
I think that artists always put a part of themselves into a work of art. So by painting these people, there was always also a story about myself behind it. By painting people with a transgender-backround, I could feel the lonelyness that they probably often feel by realising that their body is not in harmony with their identity. By painting couples, there was a wish of being in a stable relationship, and feeling safe and secure.
Last works and upcoming projects
People in my inner circle luckily always talk very openly about mental Illness and inner conflicts.
Out of personal experience and through the contact with my fellow students, I know that people who work in creative fields often struggly with things like that. I also know, that it’s not always easy to put in words what exactly is going on inside you, so I tried to put these feelings in my paintings.
The outcome where rather dark and sad works, with people in them, who sid in empty rooms or in front of a blank backround.
I also did a few selfportraits in this series.
Lately I didn’t paint at all, instead I was way more interested in doing installations and photographs.
“I carry you”
For this work I had to spend a lot of time in the forest, which is just around the corner of my house. Since I have a dog, this is what I do a lot in my freetime, which I love.
2022 was a really tough year for me and i started seeing a new therapist. I moved to the place I live in now at the end of 2021 and I noticed that the forest and the time I spend in it really had a positive effect on my mental health.
Everything that I went through the last year I left in the forest and it sucked it up like a sponge. After every therapy session I went for a walk and just then started to realize what I learned minutes before.
When I was out for a walk with my dog the other day, I saw a piece of tree bark, that fell off a dead tree hanging over another tree trunk, that had fallen over. There are a lot of dead trees in the woods around here, because of a bark beetle plague.
For me, this piece of bark immediatly appeared as a piece of textile and I couldn‘t help but picture it hanging on my clothes rail. After putting more and more thought into it, a little story popped up in my head, using the bark as a blanked, a shower curtain, a towel and different pieces of clothing.
I also did an installation using a mattress, a tree stump, a few tree trunks, moist leaves, a lamp, a book and my reading glasses to create a little cozy space. I wanted to take a bit of forest into my home and then create a room where you feel like living in the woods, but not in a creepy, uncomfortable way. The little lamp does the trick here, because you get a feeling of safety and cosyness, which was exactly what I wanted to create with this work.
“hands made for kindnesses”
This work is inspired by a quote from a book I read recently:
„He puts his hands on the table and folds them. His nails are short and clean. Hands made for kidnesses. Petting cats and peeling carrots, feeling your forehead for feaver. I realise I still picture those hands feeling my forehead, should it ever need checking for fever.“
Jenny mustard – okay days
What I like especially about this phrase is the word „kindnesses“. You normally simply would say „kindness“, but by picking the word in it’s plural form, you rather think of many little acts of kindness, not kindness as a characteristic.
The Author points this out by adding a enumeration of things that come to mind when thinking about these acts, that basically show, that you simply can not be a bad person, if you do things like these. I thought about this a lot and about things and acts of kindness, that come to my mind. Like when you go through the forest and see these little blue beetles lying on their backs, kicking their legs, unable to get back up again. But you take a moment of your time to stop and flip them around. Or catching spiders to put them outside safely. Or pointing at a woodpecker when you hear one and your eyes finally find it. Or when you simply touch someone in the gentlest, most tender kind of way.
When I was in Art school as a painter, the first thing I brought to paper was a hand. My own hand to be specific. I simply took it as a reference at first and later on made it the primary topic of my artistic work. It’s funny, how years later this theme comes back to my mind.
I now use hands as a translation of feelings, Love, in particular and skin, in more than one way. Skin is basically a border between what is inside you, your deepest secrets, your wishes, your fears, your thoughts, your heart and everything that is so very delicate and fragile and not always easy to be shown. But skin also is the necessity to feel anything at all. Being touched by the right person in the right way can make you feel all sensations of your body at once. But letting someone inside you can be hurtful, and scary. So when we get hurt once or twice in our lives, we tend to close up, only letting people touch our surface.
I found myself going through a phase of meeting a lot of people and realising, that I get bored very easily by this behaviour of not showing too much of ourselves. You never really get to know a person and only talk about things that, in the end don’t really say anything about the person in front of you. You only move around in a safe space.
I realised, that in my head I always picture myself digging, literally, in peoples chests, trying to open them up somehow. I also realised that, when people I know do this, metaphorically to me, I tend to close up even more. In my work I tryed somehow to visualize this process of digging, trying to get under someone’s skin by simply ripping it apart.
Love is about trust and patience. Love is about being tender, even if you are scared of getting hurt. It’s about making yourself vulnerable. About opening yourself up and about waiting. Not everyone is walking in the same pace as you are. Some people take a little longer to let you in. But you can love them and you can notice all their personal, little acts of kindness, that make them so very amiable.
Notes on Material and technique:
Materials: Plaster, Wax, Latex, oil paint, beetles, spiders, feathers, birds egg
I only used dead insects for my work, because I don’t want any creatures suffering for my art.
The beetles I found in the forest, because sadly these where the ones that already have been stepped on. One oft he spiders I found lying underneath my desk and the other in my bedroom. I never kill spiders that live in my apartment. Most of the time I just leave them where they spin their webs, because they catch other insects like fruit flies and such.
The feathers and the birds egg I found in the forest I live nearby to.
So even though this work has a cruel look to it, it is actually about quite the opposite.