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Katja Brinkmann is a German artist who is based between Berlin and Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia. She studied from 1986–92 at Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design under the concrete artist Paul-Uwe Dreyer, who was educated in Bauhaus teachings in Hannover between 1958–61. The influence of the colour theories devised by Bauhaus master Johannes Itten is discernable in both artists’ works. Brinkmann’s painting practice merges hard-edged, abstract, and densely spatial compositions with an idiosyncratic palette that is achieved through the mixture of synthetic acrylic colours. Her work also extends to larger public art projects, including carpets, billboards, facades and wall paintings. In these cases, the colour scheme is drawn from the specific location, where the radial angles of a colour wheel integrate with their immediate environment. Brinkmann merges art, design and life in public space, akin to Bauhaus principles of a socially integrated total art form.
From 2013 Brinkmann has travelled extensively in Mongolia, learning the cultural traditions and language, before securing a teaching post in 2017 at the Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture in Ulaanbaatar. Here she introduced Johannes Itten’s colour theories to the students, who were working in a strictly regulated curriculum based on socialist realism painting tradition, including influences from both European figuration and Mongolian religious art. Brinkmann’s teaching in Mongolia had the effect of expanding the local artist’s creative field:
The colour plates from Johannes Itten’s The Art of Colour were new, and very important for my lessons … The intention here is not for the teachings to become mainstream, rather that the students are empowered to have a broader scope of processes, techniques, tools, and perspectives so that they may forge their own voices.
This approach echoes the early Bauhaus diaspora that sparked new artistic exchanges internationally, in cities such as Tel Aviv and Chicago.