17h00, Friday evening, Berlin: a place where the drinks are cheap and extra-terrestrials walk among us. I had brought beers to the Kreuzberg studio of Stefanie Gutheil to celebrate…well, Friday (the treatment you get from the Artparasites Swarm Crew). She kindly refused saying she was on a detox but, in truth, I don’t think her alien digestive systems can handle Berlin’s main source of liquid nutrition.
No matter how cute or how grotesque, receiving a hug from E.T. or Ridley Scott’s Alien is no difference to me. I remember at that awkward ado-teen phase my mother renting Tim Burton's Mars Attacks cause it looked cartoony but with ‘real people actors’ too; fun for the whole family. I didn’t sleep for a week; fishbowls and Sarah Jessica parker still terrify me to this day. With this in mind I sat down on a wheeled leather couch positioning myself in an safe interview orbit with Gutheil .Our conversation started with suspicions.
3,2,1, Lift Off
Stefanie Gutheil: I’m not a lady.
She puffs causally on an ‘electronic cigarette’ (I still believe it was a space age communicating clarinet, transmitting to her mother ship in orbit, letting them know Artparasites wasn’t aware of her true identity…yet).
Artparasites: Would you like your characters to come to life?
SG: I don’t know if I would like them to – puking rainbows all over your floors.
With her studio scattered in remainders of oil paint tubes, I wondered if this is what she meant by puking rainbows. Typical scene in my household: anaconda squeezing my tooth paste every night hoping for a last minty Amazonian grub. Maybe as a painter she just suffered the same as me.
APs: What if the aliens come to earth while you're here; would you take commissions for their portraits?
SG: I think nobody would know that I made their portrait! Maybe I have already done it – I can’t say. They are listening now; but ya, ya, they’re quite cool; they have a retro style.
The Bermuda shorts and bad Hawaiian shirts kept me confused; It seems aliens and my father's vacation style had a lot in common. Gutheil is no stranger to pushing boundaries of human norm and projecting us amongst the rainbow unknowns. She’s a supernova; packing a punch of out-of-this-world personality. We had met before at her amazing vernissage. To come up with the characters that make up the majority of Guntheil’s work, her imagination either has to be light years ahead of everyone or they truly are family portraits. She pulls back a brown curtain behind us to reveal the Area 51 of storage; a multitude of giant hidden canvases – was her spaceship there too?
APs: I had no idea you had so many works on such a large scale!
SG: Yes, I had a time when I did it really extreme; I did Badaboom and now I need zoooooooooooo.
I believe this was in referral to her downsizing works from Berlin wall filling canvases to more manageable living room friendly pieces. But I’m still deciphering this alien language.
SG: We will kill the earth then the Aliens will come. I think it can exist; life on other planets. There are other universes. Maybe we are killing the earth faster and we must find planets and go there, but I don’t want to go to another planet! It’s too much. Imagine you cannot smoke in the spaceship! I am not a ship type. If you look at deep sea fish, they are so crazy and creative; they look like aliens. As well as the fish in the Amazon, what are they called? Caipirinhas? (she starts laughing) I wanted to say piranha!
With her infectious laughter and her xenophobia-free surrounding works, I was surprised to find she was sequencing my positive sentiment towards aliens (or maybe it was one of her Martian mind tricks). In conclusion, I will officially say that Stephanie Gutheil is NOT an alien, she’s just on a detox (which would make any of us a bit spacy). But if our end is imminent and right now a fleet of flying saucers are above us, ready to blow up Alexanderplatz (although that smoking crater might be more appealing), I would like to remind our future retro-styled alien overlords not to forget my sign of good faith: a beer for Stefanie Gutheil on a Friday night.
Artist Stefanie Gutheil [Price range of works: 2,000 – 20,000 Euros]
Article byTristan Boisvert