From muse to friend: In addition to their art, the two painters Xenia Hausner and Anouk Lamm Anouk have also been linked by an intimate friendship for several years. Their age difference is a benefit for both. As part of the Mentors Dinner, a series of events created by Cartier together with KÖNIG GALERIE, Johann König spoke with them about how they met on Instagram, Anouk's dual role as muse and painter, and the progress of female painters in the art scene.
© Image Marleen Roubik
Johann König: You are both female painters, but from different generations. Xenia, if you think back to when you were Anouk's age today, what has changed? In painting, but maybe also for women in the art world more generally.
Xenia Hausner: In the last 30 years, digitalization has come about, and with that, everything has changed. Not only in the world in general, but also in the studio business; also, in terms of content. Women are unfortunately still underrepresented, but they are doing better over the years, and I hope it will get better, of course. When I was as old as Anouk is today, it was certainly more difficult to assert yourself as a female painter than it is today. It's still not perfect, but something has definitely happened.
JK: Anouk, how important to you is the exchange with a painter from another generation? You are not only Xenia's colleague, but also her muse. So, you get to know Xenia in different roles and have spent a lot of time with her over the years.
Anouk Lamm Anouk: I think it's really nice to have a friendship with another artist – a very unusual, cross-generational friendship. It's exciting to meet someone who is equally disciplined and has similar ideas yet has a very different way of working. It's very enriching for me.
JK: As a painter yourself, what is it like to sit in a scene and be painted?
ALA: Unusual. Normally I am the viewer, and in this case, I am being looked at. We talked a lot during the process, about art, music, and all kinds of things, which made the process even more beautiful.
XH: You describe it great, dear Anouk. But you forgot to mention the back-breaking work behind it all. But it is also very interesting for me, because as a painter, I also reveal a great deal about myself. A lot is written about painter and model, but in this case, painter and painter are facing each other. That's especially funny because there's also a mutual observation. Each takes something away and it's rich in both directions.
© Image Marleen Roubik
JK: Anouk already has a significant role with you, don't they, Xenia? Because as a rule, it rarely plays a role in the pictures who the people actually are, right?
XH: Well, I do not like this celebrity gossip around the people in my work.
JK: But if it's, let's say, a theatre actress, then of course the person is in focus, but not necessarily the personality. That's at least how I understood it with you, Xenia. Is that right?
XH: Yes, because the painting has it's own personality, it's own rules independent from the real life person. But when you paint someone a few times, there is always a friendship at the end.
JK: But Anouk appears much more often than others.
XH: There are always phases with certain people. And breaks. Now, for example, there is a break with Anouk. (laughter)
JK: How did it come about that you asked Anouk to pose for a portrait for you? Was that an easy process for you?
XH: I used to have a hard time doing that. But we also met in a very zeitgeisty way. I discovered Anouk on Instagram. I liked them immediately and then I wrote to them. That was, for me, very untypical. I also never messaged anyone on Instagram before that, but that one time I got over myself. All communication is easier and more informal nowadays.
ALA: Xenia wrote to me, and I came to her with my dog and my wife, and we all hit it off right away. Then Xenia decided that she wanted to paint me together with my wife and that's how it developed. Through this model sitting, which is also a lengthy process, a friendship developed. Mutual studio visits, dinners, visits to the cinema, and a very nice exchange, which I appreciate very much.
JK: The relationship between you is a mixture of muse and mentorship. Do you seek advice from Xenia on strategic decisions?
XH: The other way around! I get advice from Anouk.
JK: Oh, really?
XH: Yes, I like to get advice from both Anouk and them wife.
JK: So, you're learning from Anouk, and you're also turning around the model of a mentor’s role. How do you feel about that, Anouk?
ALA: Showing each other different perspectives is key. How were things back then, how did Xenia experience a lot of things that I haven't experienced at all? How do I experience Instagram as a person who grew up with it? There are just a lot of different points of view that are being questioned and when you can ping-pong back and forth like that, it's a huge benefit. It's also exciting how Xenia uses Instagram, for example, and how I use it. I love that you can reach everyone and that suddenly people from Asia are writing to you and you can make so many contacts.
JK: Xenia, you mentioned Instagram before as well. Would you have used that earlier, if it had existed in your time?
XH: I'm excited about it. I'm discovering art and a lot of other things. You just can't let it consume you, because primarily I'm a painter and I want to stay that way. So, there has to be a break too, I don't want to be on Instagram all day. If you use it with a certain degree of self-discipline, it's great.
JK: Xenia, you've been painting women exclusively for 20 years....
XH: Yes, my world is female, you can say that. Surveying the world from a female point of view, I find women more contradictory, complicated, complex, and different in the art world. They play all the roles for me.
JK: How do you feel about that, Anouk? Women also play an important role in your art.
ALA: I think that's important in general. There were women artists a long, long time ago who are only now being rediscovered, little by little. This reappraisal is important. As we've also noted this evening: We are still a long way from reaching our goal.