Interview with artist Kari de Koenigswarter

Born in Mexico, Kari de Koenigswarter works in Edinburgh. Her art centres on land, sea and skyscapes, from the macro to the microscopic. Exploring the world through the medium of beeswax and raw pigments gives her an understanding of how it evolved. Aesthetica spoke to Kari to find out more about her work and future plans.

A: Firstly, where do you draw your inspiration from in your artwork?
Everything I see and feel feeds into my artwork, consciously and subconsciously.

A: You use beeswax and raw pigments as your focus materials, what is it about these mediums that you feel drawn to use for your artistic interpretation?
I spent my early years growing up in Mexico: a lot of the work I saw as a child was in the form of three dimensional carved stone tablets. I think this made a profound impression on me. I saw wax as a way of reproducing some of the same qualities but with a gentler/subtler way of working. Beeswax in particular attracted me for sensual reasons – it smells wonderful ( other waxes don’t ) and adding raw pigments enables me to produce my own colours and not have to rely on manufactured ones.

A: How do you go about creating your artwork with these materials? Where do you begin?
I made friends with a beekeeper, which allowed me to buy wax by the kilo – I buy twenty or so kilos at a time- I then break it up, melt it and add powdered pigments for colour. I then either brush the wax onto boards or layer up the wax into tablets, which I then scrape and sculpt with various metal tools. The work is quite laborious and requires a certain amount of physical strength, but I love the fight.

A: You focus largely on the complexities of nature, can you expand on this further? What made you want to explore this theme in your work?
I come from a family of entomologists and artists, and have also travelled a lot. I have spent a lot of time looking down microscopes observing and drawing the complexities of nature, and viewing our world from the windows of airplanes! The parallels are extraordinary.

A: You are now settled in Scotland but have lived in many places all over the world from a very young age. How have the cultures that you have encountered inspired you as an artist?
Observing the unfamiliar, brings a sharpness of focus which I am not sure I would have otherwise. I absorb new sights, sounds, smells and feelings, which are then translated into my work.

A: And lastly, what future projects have you got coming up?
I have had a run of solo shows in fairly quick succession, so I am now taking some time to build up a series of twenty large and small paintings in the same vein as Malachite – this will be my main focus into 2014.,

See Kari’s artwork in the current issue of Aesthetica out now

Images courtesy Kari de Koenigswarter