contemporary art / history of art

Angela Hampel

Born in 1956 in Räckelwitz (Germany, at this time GDR), Angela Hampel trained as forestry worker and driver. During two years of work in this profession, she additionally frequented the evening class from the Dresden Hochschule für Bildende Künste (HfBK – Academy of Fine Arts) in Bautzen. From 1977 to 1982, she studied painting and graphics in Dresden with Prof Jutta Damme and Dietmar Büttner. Subsequently she became freelance artist in the same town. In the year of her first solo exhibition, 1984, she started to work in the ceramic workshop Wilfriede Maaß in Dresden and Berlin. Steadily solo shows and participations followed worldwide.

Inter alia, the artist was in 1985 represented at the Biennale in Sao Paulo and participated in the travelling exhibition “Künstlerinnen der DDR” (Female artists of the GDR), with stations in Stuttgart, Bremen and Paris. Further exhibitions followed in both parts of Germany, and in 1988, her works were shown at the Venice Biennale. In 1989, Angela Hampel was co-founder of the Dresdner Sezession ’89, a women artists’ association, which was the first of its kind in Saxony. Ever since, she continued her exhibition activities. She received several awards and grants and her oeuvre is represented in more than thirty public and private collections.

At the beginning of her career, Angela Hampel read Christa Wolf’s novel “Kassandra”, which inspired her to a series of graphic comments of the text. For her, it was an encouragement and stimulation to identify herself as woman and female artist. Moreover, it was the starting point for the still lasting research for her female roots and her roots in this world.* From this engagement with the character of “Kassandra” resulted a longstanding friendship with Christa and Gerhard Wolf. Her works also reflected the analysis of the real situation of women in art. Despite the apparent gender equality in the GDR, which was inter alia formally ensured by equal payment, the inequality was evident in the appointment of key positions – such as chairs at the Academy or the East German Artists Union (Verband Bildender Künstler, VBK). Consequently, she dunned the inequality of genders, for example at the X. Congress of the VBK, 1988 in Berlin.

Artistically, the engagement with “Kassandra” guided her to approach other literary texts and characters of mythology, literature and society, for example the “Penthesilea” by Heinrich von Kleist. She works with contemporary authors and subjoins her text interpretations to their publications (for example Elke ErbUwe KolbeKerstin Hensel und Roza Domascyna). For exhibitions, installations, performances and sculptures in the public space, she cooperates with other visual artists (such as Steffen Fischer und Gudrun Trendafilov). A significant focus in Angela Hampel’s work is – besides drawing and different types of graphic prints – painting. Often, the questioned subject is the female position in relationships. Hereby, the rapport with other women is also thematised as the one with men. Frequently, her personages are androgynous. These connections are sometimes conflictual, sometimes harmonious and tender. Beyond that, she questions our existence and the hereof-resulting responsibility. Frequently animals such as the wildcat, the snake or the bull are represented. These protagonists could refer to mythological themes, but could as well be an expression of the artist’s love for animals and nature in general. Besides, she was for several years an enthusiastic mountaineer.

In her engagement with mythological figures, the bull and the Minotaur are recurring characters. One example is the painting “Europe and the Bull” from 2019/20, which is our artwork of the month in September 2021. Furthermore, frequently appearing female legendary figures from mythology and the Bible are MedeaSaloméJudithLilith or the just mentioned Europe. All these creations have in common that Angela Hampel reinterprets the stories. In her visual vocabulary, she renounces to decorative accessories and focuses directly the represented personages. Her artistic language is expressive. In painting, she uses bright colours, mostly the three primary colours yellow, red and blue with a special affection for red. For her mostly white or light-ground graphic prints and drawings, she contrasts black with red highlights. This underlines the emotional aspects of her works.

Most recently, Angela Hampel had three solo exhibitions in 2020 in Schloβ Rheinsberg, in the Gallery Klinger/Liegau-Augustusbad and Dresden. Additionally, she contributed to group shows in 2019/20 inter alia in Berlin and Düsseldorf, which showed significant positions of art in the GDR. This autumn some of her graphic prints will be on view in the exhibition “Ursache und Wirkung- Grafik in der DDR aus der Sammlung Nowoisky” (Cause and Effect – Graphic Prints in the GDR from the Collection Nowoisky) in the Municipal Museums Zittau (2 October 2021 – January 2022).

Angela Hampel lives and works in Dresden.


Artwork of the Month / September 2021