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U L T U R E
Magazine, March 2002
A well-traveled, multi-talented artist
by Rachel Chiou
Mertsch is one of Taichung's few professional foreign
artists. He specializes in abstract painting, but is also
an accomplished woodworker. Since 1995, he and his wife
have traveled to and lived in many countries around the
world, lending real meaning to the term freelance artist.
Recently, Compass Managing Editor Cheryl Robbins met with
Uwe in his Taichung home. The following is an excerpt
from that interview.
Can you tell me about your background? Where are you
from? And, how did you start your career as a freelance
U: I am originally from Muenster,
Germany, a small city of about 200,000 people. From
the time I was a child, I liked to draw and paint.
I completed my higher education at the University
of Art in Germany/Dusseldorf, where I specialized
in painting, architecture and design. When you study
art, you need to learn the techniques first, then
decide what you will specialize in. Finally, I found
that I liked abstract painting the best.
Where does the inspiration for your work come from?
U: Sometimes it comes from my
emotions, my heart and sometimes from my soul.
C: What brought you to Taiwan?
How long have you been here and how do you like it?
U: I came here with my wife.
She was offered a teaching job in Taichung's German
school. We have been here about one year. I like it
very much. I have lived in many countries, but it
feels good here.
Do you feel that your art has been well received in
U: Yes, the people here are
very open. My last exhibition in October of last year
was very successful. I was very surprised that the
local people liked it so much.
Has your time in Taiwan, influenced your art?
U:From an artistic point of
view, I like the Chinese characters and ink. In Taiwan,
I have seen many Chinese ink exhibitions, such as
those at the cultural center. Then I thought that
I would like to try it. It is inexpensive and easy
to work with. So, it is only in Taiwan that I started
doing ink and water paintings. I hope this year to
organize a large Chinese ink and water exhibition,
but I need to find the support and a suitable place
to be able to do this.
What about your interest in woodworking? How did that
U: Furniture is something that is
necessary for daily life. Since 1995, my wife and I have
lived in a number of different countries like Peru, Ecuador,
Nigeria, Mexico, Pakistan, and the US. In each of these
countries, I made and sold furniture. From the scrap pieces
of wood, I make wood carvings. When I see a leftover piece
of wood, I pick it up and start whittling. Then, a shape
or a figure comes out as I continue to refine my carving.
I would like to make art from wood, but it is too heavy
to be practical, so I just make small carvings, like statues.
C: How is it that you have lived in so many places?
U: This started when my wife and
I were younger. We wanted to experience the world, to
learn about other countries. Traveling on a holiday and
living in a foreign country are two different things.
It is easy to travel. Just eat and drink and sightsee.
Adjusting to everyday life in a foreign country is not
as easy, but it is the only way to really experience a