Annegret Soltau tears an image to shreds only to sew life back into its fragments. Perhaps a Dr. Frankenstein of the art world, she stitches together the bits and pieces of different images to create one that is full of new meanings with stories woven in the seams, the result being – often horrifying – a mutation or even mutilation of the originals.
Born in Germany, Soltau lived a childhood deprived of art, culture and even leisure; whilst other children were out being children, reading and playing, she was on her farm collecting hay or picking berries. But she herself admits that this isolation is part of what shaped her and helped her find her creative voice. As she tells us in her biographical portrait, “this allowed me to reach out and find things that I otherwise would not have found.”
In her art, Soltau reflects on the different processes that have taken place throughout her life, family being an integral theme. In her collection Father Search her identity is replaced with pieces of records and dossiers involved in her search for a man she never knew. In contrast, Generative and Motherhood show a closeness between herself and her loved ones; strong relationships are one of the positive experiences that she has carried with her from childhood. The first is a series of nudes featuring herself, her daughter, her mother and grandmother, all rearranged into four crude beings, sharing parts of each other. The second shows her relationship with her children.
Soltau is less interested in the process of destruction than in the outcome: the finished piece that renews the old in an entirely different light. To her, it is important to express truth in her work; showing herself and her imperfections to the world is a road to acceptance of the self.