Volkmar Ernst Painter

Volkmar ERNST was born on September 2nd, 1959 in southern Germany near Reutlingen where he grew up and lived until 1984:

« My father was a printer and a typesetter and brought home all kinds of art books and art catalogs he had printed. My main interest as a child was drawing and painting. So it is no wonder that, contrary to the exultant mood of the « German economic wonder » of the sixties and seventies, I was only attracted by anything that touched contemporary art.

In our neighborhood lived an artist named 'HAP Grieshaber'. He was famous for his modern wood prints (New Figuration) and for the innovative 'Bernsteinschool' art school he had worked for in southern Germany after the Second World War. His work represented a Modern Art which unified tradition with the necessity of a profound transformation of western culture and the human being after World War II. His influence was of inestimable value in my artistic evolution.

Other contemporary influences include artists such as Gudrun Krueger, who became famous for her monumental modern sculptures, and Paul Jauch, who was a fabulous draughtsman. My mother knew him very well. As a young girl she had worked in his house as a housekeeper.

I remember even now that I had consciously decided to become an artist when I was about eight years old and I drew and painted intensively. »

After training as a book binder and philosophy studies, Ernst studied visual art (painting, sculpture, printing techniques) and art therapy at Hochschule für Kunst im Sozialen, Ottersberg/Bremen, Germany, from 1985 – 1989:

« I was mainly interested in the 'process' of artistic creation and the influence of it on human consciousness, and also in reform educational movements (Heinrich Jacoby, Rudolf Steiner, Jean Gebser) and schools like the 'Bauhaus'. This led me to an intense artistic and spiritual 'discussion' with the artists of the 'Abstract Expressionism' movement including Pollock, Vedova, W. Baumeister, Toby, WOLS, Tapies, Hartung, Soulages, Sonderborg and others, such as Rothko, Giacommetti, Zao Wou Ki, Anselm Kiefer. As a result of this 'exchange' I created two different series of large sized oil paintings (180x160cm) entitled « 1989 » and «  11 days through the desert ».

In 1990 he also started to work as an art therapist in various social aid structures in Germany:

« I worked in my own studio with adolescents who lived in a foster home.

Later I created a studio for art therapy in a large psychiatric hospital in Hadamar near Frankfurt/Main. There I worked with people who suffered from psychotic episodes, people who were suicidal, women who suffered from anorexia and bulimia, junkies who came mostly from Frankfurt as well as alcoholics. I remember having created a 3 to 9 meter copy of Edward Hopper's ‘Nighthawks’ with a group of alcoholic men for their theatre play. I suggested they replace the faces of the original painting with their own. And coincidentally there was a big exhibition of Edward Hopper's work in a museum in Essen (Germany). We went there as a group to see the original ‘Night hawks’ !. »

« Parallel to that I continued to experiment with different aspects of art such as performance, contemporary dance and music improvisation with the saxophone, mainly in Frankfurt/Main (Germany). »

In 1998 Ernst married a french/german woman. They decided to move to France where they live since 1999. Ernst continued his work as an artist and art therapist. He worked especially with young delinquents who came from all over France, as well as with children. 

The change to France sparked a new artistic direction which resulted in new series of portraits called ‘icons’ (‘icons I’ to ‘icons X’ ):

« The portrait has always fascinated me. The challenge for me is to put it in a contemporary context and include all the aspects that concern human beings and life in general. Sometimes I am stunned by the beauty of the human being, even when he is suffering – this shock can be paralyzing – as can be suffering itself as well. Not surprisingly one way not to fall into this trap of paralysis is to express oneself, especially through art. »

Since the end of 2005 Ernst has again worked on more informal and abstract series including:

‘BAD ART’, (acrylic/mixed, 130x120cm)

‘Landscapes or the dark night of the Soul’, (acrylic/mixed, 86x60cm, 2005-06)

‘The Zone’, (150x120cm, acrylic/mixte, 120x100cm, 2006-07)

‘2008’, (mixed technique/oil on canvas)

‘Tribute to Gil Scott-Heron’, (150x120cm, oil on canvas, 2008-09)

‘Journal français 2011’ (‘French diary 2011’, 150x120cm, oil on canvas) ‘Dunkelzone’ (‘Dark Zone’, 200x190cm, oil on canvas, 2012-13).

Since November 2014 Ernst and his wife live in Occhiatana, Corsica. He has his art-studio in Ville di Paraso.

Major individual exhibitions

1994: - Paintings, sculpture et photographies, Gallery Altes Zollamt Limburg, Germany

1997: - « Catharsis et Cathexis », Sainte Catherine Church,

Frankfurt/Main, Allemagne

2000: - Chapelle Sainte Croix, Angles-sur-l’Anglin, France

2002: - Galerie Chrämai, Anduze, France

- Parada Gallery, Prescott, Arizona, U.S.A.

2003: - Galerie du Théâtre, Le Mans, France

2004: - Second prize from the Conseil Régional at 7th Biennale du Haut-Poitou

2005: - 'Parcours', Carroi des Arts, Montlouis-sur-Loire, France

- International artist venture at Hajos/Hongry, invited from Conseil Général du département de la Vienne, Poitiers, France

2006: - Retrospective, Château d'Harcourt, Chauvigny, France

- Galerie Rivaud, Poitiers, France

2007: - Galerie 39A, Limoges, France

- Rétrospective, Galerie de l'Excellence », La Roche Posay, France

2008: - 9thBiennale of Haut-Poitou et Clain

- Honoured with an invitation to the Biennale of Bourges, France

2009: - MCL Le Local à Poitiers, France

2012: - Galerie de l'Excellence, La Roche-Posay, France

2013: - IAE/University of Poitiers, France

2014: - Galerie Kunststube A4, Zug, Switzerland

- « White Project » au MCL Le Local, Poitiers, Fance

2015: - Retrospective Hôtel de Ville, Ile Rousse, Corsica, France

- Artprotagonist 2015, Padova, Italy

2016: - Hôtel de Ville, Ile Rousse, Corsica, France


- Salon des Artistes Français, 2004

- Salon d'Automne, 2004

- Salon Réalités Nouvelles 2014, 2015

- Salon Réalités Nouvelles « Hors les murs », Guoyi Art Museum, Peking, China November 2014


Public collections

- Artothèque de l'Ecole d'Arts Plastiques, Châtellerault

- Conseil Régional Poitiers, France

- University Poitiers, France

- International Artist Symposium Hajos, Albert Alföldi, Hungary