18 Aug Noah Becker
Say it loud!
Photos: Markus Schwer
Berlin. Commissioned by Meet Pablo – totally unsuspecting of what is going to await me in “baketown“, an off-space in Berlin-Schöneberg – I find myself face to face with Noah Becker, a creative wizard. Whether it is music, fashion, interior design, films or even painting – he is everywhere. Today, my objective is to learn something about his painting which started here in his studio and which helped him through a difficult time.
But when I enter the hall, I realise that baketown is not an artist’s studio in the classic sense. Rather, the location reminds me of a club on the morning after the party. There is a chilled bustle when Noah welcomes me cheerfully, explaining the current situation with “Sorry, we have a gig tonight. That’s why it is a bit chaotic at the moment.”
I have a look around. The mix of shabby chic furniture, piled up cases of empty trend label bottles, a mixing control desk and art as such creates a rather special atmosphere. But it is the sound of an electronic beat starting up, which charges this atmosphere and intensifies my feeling of having ended up in a parallel universe. His office is also supposed to be somewhere here, I ask.
There are more rooms upstairs. The open gallery in the back behind the mixing desk leads to them. I am busy restoring the rooms one by one. Down here I work with a fixed team of people. We do all sorts of things: Music, videos, organising parties. One room I use only for painting. Shall we just go and have a look?
No sooner said than done!
Noah: What is the best way to do this now? Most of my paintings are not mounted. To be able to show you something, I better make some space and then unroll the paintings on the floor. [Some busy and slightly chaotic rearranging takes place.]
The paintings are large-scale, colour-intensive and have very diverse motives. For instance, I can see a painting showing convoluted architecture, containing the call “Say it loud” in Graffiti font, another one shows a colourful field of flowers, another one a wild, abstract explosion of colour. Despite the diversity, there is a common style. The exception is the field of flowers. “What was the inspiration for this”, I ask him.
Noah: Lenny Kravitz had invited me to Brazil to do paintings for his home. I mentally prepared myself for Brazil with this motive.
Is it correct that you have just finished a video for him?
Noah: Yes, that’s correct. Yesterday it got its last cut so that it could be published according to plan. I am very proud that he once again showed such great confidence in me. He is generally a great supporter of young artists – a characteristic of him which I appreciate very much. [Together, we look at the video. A feeling of pure freedom and summer….]
So why did you start painting?
Noah: I’ll have to go into a little more detail. In Miami, I grew up in a very creative environment. Amongst other people, I met the Graffiti artist Jona Cerwinske. I hugely enjoyed being in his studio, which, now and then, was also used as a studio for jam sessions with the most amazing musicians. At some stage I asked Jona, if he could not doll up the deadly boring lunch box which my mother used to give me for school every morning. So that is how I not only got the coolest lunch box ever, I also got inspired to start drawing. I mainly doodled tiny figures – often also on the walls of my previous apartment – until at some stage somebody said to me, I should paint on canvas on the floor, for a change. And that is what I did.
It sounds simple. Was there anybody who trained you or directly inspired you?
Noah: Not trained, but I was inspired by the artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and particularly the awareness that my painting enabled me to come to terms with past experiences. To me, the paintings are like a diary, in which my thoughts and feelings are reflected by the colours and forms. So my works are very expressive.
So, rather without any plans or preliminary sketches?
Noah: Oh yes, I do that too, but it depends on the mood and the place.
Have you had an exhibition yet?
Noah: Yes, two years ago, in Hamburger Galerie*. Every painting with which I had simply experimented got sold on the day of the opening. On the one hand I thought this was cool, but on the other hand I had nothing left which I could have referred to at a later stage. That is why it was so great that I was asked to do the paintings in Lenny’s home.
Do you feel more at home in the world of music or in fine arts?
Noah: Primarily, I am a musician because I love connecting with people through music. But when I paint I find a mental balance which I need for myself. I suppose I should rather concentrate on one thing, but at the moment I can’t yet do that.
We go upstairs, where we see more paintings, and where Noah’s talent as an interior designer becomes apparent.
(*Hamburger Galerie, Contemporary & Modern in Hamburg)
A rickety ladder leads onto the roof where we philosophise a bit about life which has given 25-year-old Noah Becker a lot already, but has also claimed a lot from him.
Life gave him mainly an unusually creative environment in which to grow up that supported him quite naturally in the progress of his own artistic development. But life also confronted him with jealousy and envy, and he had to learn to live with this.
Looking back, I feel that both sides are reflected in his art. Despite the recognisable influences by his idols, his paintings are characterised by a powerful individuality because they express his personal experiences of his life. It will be interesting to see how his career will develop. One hopes that painting will continue to play an important part in it. Keep on … say it loud!
Noah Becker’s available works may be viewed online on the of Meet Pablo page