Portrait of a Paintress from Paris to Berlin: Feryel Atek

Feryel Atek

Can you describe the main components of the aesthetics you have been constructing through your painting? What kinds of artistic, cultural, and social inputs have fed your style so far?

I  like to create an organic body of colors and shapes animated through dynamical, impulsive movements and more graphical, fine gestures. This body of textures, forms, and lines always end up evolving on its own, so that I become the tool of an energy that drives me. I think rhythm and vibration are a big component of my aesthetic, but also symbolic representation plays more a role in my work. From a young age, I wanted to create an aesthetic of my own, I had the conviction that it would bring me paradoxically closer to a certain form of universality. I really enjoy giving a form to an emotion, creating an archetype that is called by my unconscious. I like using the human figure as a recurrent pattern, muster because I think it has an endless source of expressivity. 

When I recall the origin of my style, I think first of my familial background, both of my parents are figurative painters. I spent my childhood visiting ateliers and squats in the late 90s, in Paris they were passionate about all forms of figurative representation from the Christ on the cross, to Enki Bilal’s comics, Japanese mangas, Asian and African masks and marionettes. I was really touched by this and already as a child started to build my own style, mostly graphical.

 I also have Amazigh roots, also called Berber by Europeans, an ancient indigenous folk present on all the North African territory that had an influence on my visual vocabulary.

Philosophy, anthropology, and more recently art therapy also have a strong influence on my style, the human condition and the plurality of her interpretation fascinates me as much as all kinds of spiritual and mythological representations that have been existing. 

How would you describe the aesthetic relationship between Berlin, painting, and yourself?

I came to Berlin over 7 years ago. The energy and the aesthetic of the city were so different and refreshing from my hometown Paris, where the architectural heritage of the last centuries wasn’t destroyed by the war like in Berlin. Berlin with its newborn urban landscapes gave me a lot of inner freedom and stimulation to create. The open spaces, the charm of the industrial raw architecture meeting the plentifulness of green areas and the light of the East.

 Berlin also gave me the physical space to paint on a larger scale. And of course, the Berlin scene with her variety of eccentric personalities chasing freedom of being and expression inspired me to fully embrace my individuality. Berlin is also the city where I gave birth and transformed as a woman, becoming a mother empowered my work and desire to go deeper in my painting practice.

Which painters do you think played important roles in the formation of your artist identity? Which art movements have had a significant impact on your art?

It all started with the old masters, I met in museums of all over Europe in my childhood observing Caravaggio, Da Vinci, Artemisia Gentileschi but also Schiele, Kokoschka, Goya, Hokusai, Bacon, Kahlo, Ousmane Sow, Bilal, the Surrealist all of those that invocated the human soul and condition with an innovative form transcending time and space. Also, art from other cultures and places had a big influence on my artistic construction.