At Anke Punt’s exhibits in Carvoeiro, mixed media combines acrylic with natural objects to inspire creativity in others
Looking at her confident brushstrokes, composition, and execution of textures and colour that make up her mixed-media paintings, it’s hard to imagine artist Anke Punt, at the age of 44, crying over a piece of paper and exclaiming, “I cannot draw!”
A full-time student at the Art Academy London, she was in a crisis of discovery. Later she’d admit, “I’ve lost my style”. Years on, the embodiment of light and energy, Anke says the course pushed her to explore different media and challenge herself, a practice she continues today.
“Every day, I’m thinking about my work or I go for a walk because when you do, you’re collecting things that will end up in your paintings.” In her case, these collections make it onto the canvas in her latest series, which is characterised by abstract backgrounds and figures made of shells and stones.
Originally from Dusseldorf, Germany, and with a masters’ in Reiki and Karuna, it was Anke’s peripatetic lifestyle that led her to become a fine artist. Due to her husband’s work, the couple has lived in England, Syria, Russia and, for now, Kuwait.
In Kuwait at the time we spoke, Anke explained how regular uprooting and starting over prompted her to seek a skill she could take with her, one she could practice irrespective of the culture she was living in. Art was the answer. And so, upon moving to the island of Sakhalinsk in eastern Russia, Anke trained at the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Artist Union. Here, she found expression as a fine artist and secured a certificate of recognition when the time came for her to leave.
This training and certificate enabled her entrance to the Art Academy London, which brought her to that fateful night. In the rest of the course that followed, Anke discovered her preferred medium and style. It didn’t include stones – that would have to wait till later.
Instead, it was her work as a teacher that brought pebbles and shells to Anke’s canvas. “[It started] at the beginning of this year (2019) in Kuwait, thinking how to teach texture, colour, shape and create a joyful workshop. This was when I began collecting shells, stones, wood.”
Motivated to inspire people to express their creativity, the artist realised how using found materials liberates students from the fear of not being able to draw and got their creative juices flowing. Invited to exhibit in Kuwait, Anke had to decline. She would have to wait until Portugal for this thread in her tapestry of work to find its public.
It began while staying in their house in the Algarve and working to make it into a home. “Having space for a studio gave me the opportunity to start my Portuguese collection of natural materials.” These materials complete her recent series, which came about as Anke set herself a challenge: “I try something new every time. I said, ‘You should stick to a series.” The Algarve’s coastline was her inspiration. Her studies of Rembrandt’s limited colour palette made her mindful of her own colour choices. “I was looking at the impression and for the colours that inspired me. For the sea and the sky, I went to the blues.”
With her series complete, Anke looked for opportunities to exhibit her work as well as for a means to dive into the local community. “You come in as an expat, but I never wanted to be an expat. I want to be part of the culture, so I said, ‘What can I do?’” Her work was her way in. “I said to them, ‘You need my work.’”
It wasn’t long until Carvoeiro Plaza Hotel was hanging her series. However, having originally envisioned just four paintings in the series, Anke was challenged to produce an additional four to complete the reverse of the pillars on which the work hung.
With only a week to prepare these additional pieces, Anke looked to the rough terrain of the coastline and hilly inland, which she delivers in textured, earthy tones. She also fought hard to maintain an artist’s fresh approach to the work and to avoid feeling like a production line. The effect is a series that draws together the meeting of earth and sky, of high and grounding energies.
One can’t help but be struck by the energy that encompasses even the three-dimensional stone figures, realised in tender moments of reaching or touch. The striking backgrounds have elicited compliments from those who have seen them. In return, Anke hopes those who see her work become inspired to re-consider found objects and emboldened to explore their creativity. For herself, the series changed her relationship to the area – no longer a tourist, she is now a local.
Paintings by Anke Punt are currently on display at Fine & Country Carvoeiro, Carvoeiro Clube de Ténis and Vale de Milho Golf.
By Anna Loewy