Carolin Kölsch: Harmonic Spheres

Carolin Kölsch’s practice is full of circular forms and intuitive processes. She is inexplicably drawn to working with circles. To her they are ‘harmonic’. Having no edges, they are the perfect shape and a form she keeps returning to. Carolin developed this fascination in 2012 whilst studying at art school. During a drawing trip to the south of France she had to work within certain parameters, one of which was to not draw anything too beautiful. She struggled with this as she saw so much beauty in her immediate environment. In response to this frustration she started using charcoal to draw the rings of tree stumps. Focusing on holes within the natural world, she began extracting circular forms from her surroundings.

‘I’ve felt like an alien all my life’

These small studies led to her larger scale paintings of black holes on canvas. She is interested in how the spheres are suggestive of planets and the solar system. The dark circles she created in her work could simultaneously be small holes within nature and vast black holes within space. Her experiments with reflective black paint played with this planetary element in particular. Depending on where you viewed the work from, the surface shifted in the light, forming a celestial orb.

Carolin has an ongoing interest in ideas around utopian worlds. This is informed by her studies in sociology, economics and politics. She contemplates better ways of living and alternative communities and societies. Her series Utopius Supernova, 2013-2017 is an exploration of this. The planetary circle within the painting is a depiction of her building her own world, a place called Utopius Supernova.

Carolin is rediscovering her love of painting.

Growing up in her conservative hometown of Siegen she always felt her ideas and interests where at odds with most of her surroundings. This especially impacted the way she valued her own creative process. Whilst studying art at university her tutors discouraged anything too beautiful or decorative. She felt frustrated with both of these environments and approaches to creativity. Working with circles and large canvas pieces marked the beginning of a new era and a way back into painting for her.

photos by PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program

This has also been shaped by the time she spent as resident artist on a cruise ship. On board the ship, the structure of continuously making work helped develop her practice. One element of this residency was the ‘show painting’ she did. This involved her easel being set up under a spotlight and accompanied by a pianist. During these events, her painting and process had a very literal audience. Although a lot of her work during this time was figurative, circles began making their recurring appearance. 

Carolin works through her emotions on the canvas

For Carolin her practice is a form of meditation and self therapy. Her work is an embodiment of her emotions and feelings about situations, having a strong relationship to her physical and mental health. Through the process of making she develops both the painting and her sense of self. She sees the paintings as glimpses or insights into her own soul. Recently she brought together lots of her old work to document. This process highlighted all the black holes and the dark and heavy atmosphere within the work. Noticing this prompted a phase of transformation. Whilst reflecting on personal history she began painting over old work, reshaping it into something new. This was a real moment of letting go and marked a shift in herself.


Carolin’s practice becomes a space for meditation 

Carolin’s approach to making work is also changing, becoming lighter and more fluid. This has involved introducing brighter colours to flow across the canvas. She experiments with very immediate and intuitive processes, like pouring paint from the top of a ladder. By letting go of predetermined outcomes she is less focused on the result and more on the process of development. She has been working to reach a point where she can easily access a state of ‘flow’. In these instances she is immersed in a meditative process where the paint, canvas and herself merge into one fluid state.

For the upcoming exhibition at Alte Handelsschule, Carolin is thinking of making her own ‘big soft illusion’ involving soft circles. She has also been exploring ways to develop her paintings into digital prints that incorporate short pieces of text. These might also make an appearance in the show or in some way feed back into her paintings.


To see more of Carolin’s work, visit her website and instagram.

  Big Soft Illusion

Vernissage: Sat 14 Nov, 7PM-10PM

Performance: TBA

Open: Sun 15 Nov, Thurs 19 – Sun 22 Nov 12 noon – 4PM

Alte Handelsschule Geisserstr 75

Flat Time Experience

Vernissage: Fri 18 Dec, 7PM-10PM

Performance: TBA

Open: Sat 19 Dec – Mon 21 Dec 12 noon – 4PM

PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program Franz-Flemming-Str 9