Drawing You Into A Trap

"The parents take Hansel and Gretel to the woods and say goodbye. I think this is the fear of every human being: to be without any help." — Sabine Banovic

In her studio in Berlin, artist Sabine Banovic bravely leads the way through the labyrinth that her artwork entails. Bold lines of menacing black; watermarked ink slowly bleeds on the canvas like a raven’s mirror. She reminds me that she has walked down this path before but it is not quite how she remembers it. "I work from memories; I never take photos or look at anything—it’s not perfectly correct, there are mistakes." Perhaps this is why I get lost looking at her work.

Just a walk in the woods for Sabine Bannovic. Photo: Chris Phillips

We begin to argue as it seems Banovic in only leading me deeper into the forest her artwork conjures in me. "Sometimes we work against each other but we have to work together to get to the goal." Are our goals the same? Does Banovic want to ever leave? “It does end, my work," she reassures me, "I frame it in a traditional form. But if I didn’t, perhaps it could go on forever." 

Artist Sabine Banovic: pointing towards safety or demise? Photo: Chris Phillips

The work is so complex and thick; my emotion more present than my thoughts. But why is it so dark? She simply replies, "Colors are very complex. That is my work; we think in black and white, things are contrasted greatly. I believe though that our emotions are in color." As our journey continues, I begin to hear in my head the sound of hued music and, without thinking, I start walking towards it. Banovic calls out to me but doesn’t follow. "Music is too emotional; the influence too strong," she says. The only external sound she allows while drawing? Radio voices. Because sometimes it can get just a little too quiet.

Can't see the forest for the trees? Artwork by Sabine Banovic. Photo: Chris Phillips

Suddenly, starting deeply at her work, everything turns into dead silence and I feel hopeless, but then Bannovic speaks the most crucial and saving words: ‘‘We all see a different path, a different escape. I leave things open, interpreted to their own narration – whether it be created or destroyed." I am blinded by white light. Banovic couldn’t be my savoir, I was the compass. With that thought I am back in her 3rd floor studio, over-looking a parking lot and dead still office buildings on Storkowerstraße; surrounded by her framed art, not lost in the woods of liquid ink.

Sabine Banovic is on the right path. Photo: Chris Phillips

In the end, it was simple to get out as I was never truly lost – I only thought I was. Emotion bewildered me with the complexity of its colors. As I finally leave her studio, she asks me, “Can you see the person jumping?" My reply: "I don’t, I only saw a forest."

Article by Tristan Boisvert