Home Magazine Get to Know Ulrich Panzer

Questions and answers with the German artist Ulrich Panzer. Discover his greatest inspirations and life experiences that developed into his well-known and signature artworks.

Related articles:Watch your Thoughts, they will become your Art25 years of innovations, discoveries, and support for emerging artists: Art Paris described by the director Guillaume PiensInvestigating human identity: Gloria Marco Munuera answers our questions. 


Kooness: How did your previous series "spheres" influenced your current group of circular paintings?

Ulrich Panzer: I almost zoomed in on the individual spheres to explore further possibilities, especially colour since the spheres series was predominantly in the range between black and white.

2. Can you tell us more about your interest in the synesthetic perception of sound and musical chords and how it has inspired your work?

UP: Since early childhood I was aware of interrelations between sound and colour, sound and architectural space etc. They have always influenced my musical and artistic practice. Later I discovered that there are underlying natural laws that can be described in mathematical and physical terms. Harmonics, Cymatics and Colour Theory all describe universal structures of vibration, which we perceive as light, colour, sound and energy. In this sense the universe is reflected within us. Musicians, philosophers, composers and painters have been aware of this long before the current scientific descriptions.

3. What are some observations of light in nature and colors of minerals and seashells that have influenced your current paintings?

UP: The richness of colours, the transparency, the endless variety of hues of minerals, all as a result of a crystallization process, is enticingly beautiful. The fact that all these crystals grow in complete darkness is worth contemplating.
What fascinates me about seashells is that a relatively amorphous living being creates in contrast such distinct shapes as their habitation. In many shells you can find logarithmic spirals and like the circular paintings you have expansion and movement towards a centre simultaneously.

UNTITLED (16-22-6), single piece by Ulrich Panzer

Kooness: How do your paintings develop a life of their own during the process of adding layer by layer of color and pigments?

UP: Many paintings start with a vague idea of a colour combination or a musical chord, that I would like to “see”. It is similar to throwing a stone into a pond and then observing the ripples and numerous rings.
For me painting is always a process of discovery. I want to move beyond what I already know and have done previously. I oftentimes come to a point where a work seems to take over and determines the direction in which to move. I simply need to listen, become very attentive and surrender to the process of creation.

Kooness: What led you to study Colour, Sound, and Architecture in Asian Cultures, and how did it shape your artistic practice?
UP: The Occident has a long tradition of concepts and philosophical ideas about light and sound ; Platon’s idea of the “Harmony of the Spheres”, Pythagoras’ musical/mathematical findings through his experiments on the monochord, the geometry of Gothic cathedrals, sometimes called “Music in Stone” are only a few examples.
Throughout the centuries there have been composers and painters who have investigated the connections between sound, colour, even scent, such as Gesualdo, Alexander Skrajabin, Oliver Messiaen, Wassili Kandinsky, Paul Klee, just to name a few; some of them were syesthetes. Even Vincent van Gogh took some piano lessons when he discovered similarities between musical scales and the ray of colours.
When I went to India in 1990 it was obvious that I would look for something similar there.
I found it in the concept of “rasa” (aesthetic theory), in the hindu and buddhist temple architecture and the ragas of Indian music. Numerous references about Light and Sound as the fundamental elements of creation can be found in ancient scriptures, such as the Upanishads.

Kooness: Can you share a bit about your experience living in Tibet and how it impacted your work?

UP: My journey into the Himalayas were the fulfillment of a childhood dream. I had read numerous books about the “roof of the world” and I was determined to travel there myself one day. I was specifically fascinated by the tibetan culture, the tantric traditions, the mountain people and of course by the overwhelming mountain scenery. I cannot say if and how my work is influenced by my experiences there, but one can definitely draw parallels between my work, tantric painting and tibetan thangkas.I surely have an affinity to art that is not solely based on aesthetic concepts but has a broader spiritual context.

UNTITLED (18-64-1), single piece by Ulrich Panzer.

Kooness: What are some healing aspects of color, sound, and architectural space that you have explored in your workshops and lectures?

UP: I am convinced that the treatment with frequencies will play a much bigger role in future medicine. The focus of my workshops though was less on healing but on the direct experience of colour, sound and space as well as the inquiry of our perception. Still, many people have reported a consistent inner harmonization as a result of the work, a new connection to the inner and the outer world and various healing processes; physically, mentally and emotionally. This is a very broad and intriguing topic which I cannot sum up in a few sentences. It is definitely worth having a separate discourse.

Kooness: Can you talk about your experience exhibiting light and sound installations, and how do they relate to your paintings and other works?

UP: The installations were an opportunity to combine several disciplines in one medium. In a 3- dimensional environment where people can pass through I could include my experiences with sound and colour and test how they effect an audience. They were stations for a future project that wants to bring art and science together in an architectural space. It is an idea which I have been working on for many years.

Kooness: How has your German heritage and your current residence in Canada influenced your artistic practice?

UP: I am deeply rooted in the German and European culture and familiar with much of its music, literature, painting, philosophy, cooking etc. The influences on my work are manifold and I find it hard to identify them myself. In fact I rarely think about it. The topic eventually comes up in conversations or when I get feedback from others who describe my work or myself as “distinctly European”or my way of thinking as ”German”.
I have very unique memories of the Canadian Landscape in different parts of the country. I spend much time in nature, often by myself. The serenity of my studio, the silence and seclusion over long periods of time, especially during the past few years has led to more intense concentration, greater inventiveness and a new depth in my work.

Kooness: What can viewers expect to experience when they view your paintings, and what do you hope they take away from the experience?

UP: When I paint I leave concepts and theoretical context behind; I work from intuition as best as I can. The paintings are not for educational exercises, they are not intended to hypnotize or “do” anything. They are simply there in their presence as an invitation, like a portal one can enter. Any expectation or agenda from my side should be irrelevant. The viewer who engages in a dialogue with the paintings can trust whatever happens and might experience and discover something very unique and personal.
I am very often surprised when people talk about their encounter with my work.


Cover image: (16-41-6) Installation at SOPA Gallery Kelowna, BC acrylic, ink & pigments on aluminum

Written by Kooness

Stay Tuned on Kooness Art Magazine for more exciting news from the art world.