Exclusive Interview with Barbara Johanna Billeiter “Duckylemon” – Surrealist Painter from Germany
Barbara Johanna Billeiter, also known under her artist’s name as “Duckylemon”, is a surrealist painter from Franconia in Germany.
As a child Barbara loved painting and was interested in art. She proved that she was talented at a young age when she won 3rd place in a European school competition with her depiction of a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
After the death of her husband when Barbara was 30 years old, she began to study art in Darmstadt Germany and later graduated with an art diploma.
Barbara has found her own unique style of painting. She lets her own adventures and experiences flow into her work, whether they were beautiful or unpleasant. Thus, darkness and light, sweetness and bitter unite in a game of contrasts. Barbara’s paintings show an incredible amount of detail, hidden objects and messages. Some even classify her work as “horror vacui”, which means “dislike or fear of leaving empty space”.
For Barbara, the eyes of her characters are the most important, because they are the gateway to the soul, as they can be very expressive without having to speak a single word.
Barbara is proud of two reports about her in the art magazine “Niji”, issue 2016/05 and 2020/07.
NY Glam: Tell us a little about yourself and your career beginnings.
My name is Barbara Johanna Billeiter, also known by my artist name “Duckylemon”. I am a surrealist painter from Franconia in Germany.
Since early childhood I have enjoyed painting and was extremely interested in art. Incredibly young, I won third place in a European school competition with my depiction of a phoenix rising from the ashes.
After the early death of my husband when I was 30 years old, I began to study art in Darmstadt Germany and later graduated with an art diploma.
I have found my own unique style. I let my own adventures and experiences flow into my paintings, whether they were beautiful or unpleasant. Thus, darkness and light, sweetness and bitter unite in a game of contrasts. My paintings show a tremendous amount of detail, hidden objects and messages. That is probably why some even classify my work as “horror vacui”, which means “dislike or fear of leaving empty space”.
The most important thing for me in all my characters is the eyes. They are the gateway to the soul, as they can be very expressive without having to speak a single word.
NY Glam: What projects are you currently working on?
Right now I am working on two paintings that have to do with NY.
Probably the largest and most time-consuming painting I have ever worked on is set in a bar in NY. It consists of three parts. The main part is flanked by two smaller paintings. The artwork shows next to a pensive bartender the Statue of Liberty, mentions the five major world religions and has a jazz singer appear among many small details. For the viewer there is much to discover.
The other painting in progress is set on the Brooklyn Bridge and has a slight touch of Munch’s “The Scream.”
I enjoy working on these two pieces since I feel very connected to this city.
NY Glam: What art do you most identify with?
I am a huge fan of pop surrealism. For example, I immediately fell in love with Mark Ryden’s paintings and realized how versatile this type of art can be.
I try to let a lot of own emotions flow into my art. Especially attracts me the representation of contrasts. A combination of these two, I believe, makes the paintings striking.
NY Glam: What themes do you pursue?
All the things that occupy my mind and are important to me. That is quite a lot, very personal, also secrets, wishes, feelings, love, but also current topics like politics. From almost everything can be conjured up interesting paintings.
NY Glam: What’s your favorite artwork?
My favorite painting is “Duckylemon Is Taking A Bath In NYC.”
I have an incredibly special relationship to it because a lot of personal matters are processed. I believe the more passion is expressed in a painting, the more intriguing it becomes. Then the work tells a story and perhaps stimulates the imagination of the viewer.
NY Glam: Tells us about some of your recent exhibitions. What memorable responses have you had to your work?
My last exhibition was in Erlangen. I was told that they had never seen such a style of painting before and I was happy about that, because it means to have created something extraordinary.
NY Glam: Tell us about one of your projects which you are very proud of.
I am especially proud of my “Bella Norica”. It is a declaration of love to my native Franconia and the city of Nuremberg, which has lost none of its charm despite its historic role in World War 2. “Bella Norica” sits in front of the silhouette of the old and new city, the moose skeleton symbolizes the past and the twins the new of the city.
NY Glam: What does “being creative” mean to you?
Being creative means for me to start a picture theme without much planning. I have a specific idea, but decide spontaneously while painting, what and how I express it. In the process, thoughts, energies and colors come into play and lay down on the canvas. That is what inspires me in my art and gives me joy.
NY Glam: What are you trying to communicate with your art?
My paintings are meant to tell stories, be timeless, convey strong feelings and try to encourage the viewer to indulge in their own interpretation.
NY Glam: What role does the Artist have in Society?
Artists have always played a great role, because in addition to beauty and inner truth, they also show satire and criticism. I think it was and is extremely important to hold up a mirror to society.
Hieronymus Bosch is a good example and I love his painting “The Garden Of Earthly Delights”. It reflects moral failure and sinful behavior. Bosch was way ahead of his time. I admire him very much, because his style of art was certainly not harmless during his lifetime.
NY Glam: What are your thoughts on being an artist in today’s world?
It is extraordinarily difficult to make a name for yourself and make it in the art scene these days. There are so many exceptionally good artists and, unfortunately, many are and remain undiscovered, even though social media connect the whole world. I would like to see that change.
NY Glam: How has painting influenced your life?
Painting helps me to process events and provides me with a balance. Several days without being able to paint are like lost days for me.
NY Glam: What art movement or artist would you say influences your work most?
Surrealism has influenced me the most, because in this style of painting the subconscious and not the mind are decisive. In my art, the creation of dream worlds and contradictions have a great importance. I love to hide little details and symbols everywhere. Thus, they become puzzling for the viewer and bring one or the other to ponder.
NY Glam: What can we expect from you this year?
Unfortunately, the pandemic has changed a lot. There are hardly any big plans to make for the time being. But the prospect and hope to be able to return to a certain normality in time inspire my paintings. One can look forward to several new projects from me this year.
NY Glam: Can you share with us three favorite things about your city/culture?
I come from Franconia and live near Nuremberg.
The Nuremberg Christmas Market, Nuremberg Bratwurst and Albrecht Duerer are known all over the world. All three are a good reason to visit this beautiful city.
More of Barbara’s art can be found on her web pages
as well as on her social media pages.