Artistic Encounters: Malene Bach
Malene Bach is a visual artist working with color in relation to light. Her work is built upon the notion that color itself is the ultimate material. From her home in Copenhagen, Denmark, she creates and envisions spaces that open up opportunities for people to experience something.
"For me, color is the life that penetrates matter. It is pleasurable and emotional, and in general, color sets everything in motion for me when I work".
Who is Malene Bach?
My name is Malene Bach, and I am a visual artist. I live in the Atelierhusene (literally "The Studio Houses"), also known as Kunstnerbyen ("The Artists' Town"), a terraced housing development built in the 1940s in Copenhagen, Denmark. This is where I live and work. I work with art within architecture, and I work with color—color in relation to light, color in relation to space, and color as a material in itself.
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by nature, light, spaces, sounds, and scents. But it is nature that inspires me the most. My work represents what surrounds me, and it is something that, in a way, has its own nature.
Why is self-expression so essential for an artist?
For me working as a visual artist is not about expressing myself. It is about creating an alternative space that opens up opportunities for people to experience something. It's something happening outside of me; it is not me I express. I look at and explore the world through my work. It is a form of communication between people.
Is it necessary to be born with a talent to paint and work with color, or can you develop your skills over time?
Working with color is about training your senses. You get better and better at it the more you work with it. I feel I have developed a "color-muscle." Maybe you also need talent, but I don't know anything about that. One must at least have an interest in it.
How do you approach working with color?
When I start a project, color often initiates it all. I analyze the surroundings and the context to understand where color makes sense and how it could make sense. The color must relate to the place. I often call it "site-specific color." With every new space, you have new conditions that require new solutions. When you have to do a project somewhere, you have to do it differently every single time.
How can you describe your work?
I try to work with color as a material, which means that instead of thinking about coloring as something you apply afterward to a material, I try to think of the color as the material itself. For example, pure color or pigments are the color-bearing substance used to color other materials. When working with color, I always think of it in relation to light because the color is dependent on it, and light affects color. Color cannot be seen without light.
Something that interests me a lot at the moment is translucency and transparency. Different color mixtures come through when you have semi-transparent colored materials overlapping. It's about the ever-changing light from morning to evening or depending on where you are on the planet. Light is never constant, and when you understand that it moves through the room, you will also experience the materials and colors change, creating dynamic spaces.