Gerlinde Wendland-SEKEM-1

“Art Consists of Contrast and Suspense, Like Life Itself.”

All SEKEM is characterized by colorful paintings. In classrooms, offices and residential buildings – in the hotel, in the university, and in every corridor there are the most diverse, mostly abstract paintings in lively color and form compositions. They don’t only beautify the rooms, but also create a very special atmosphere.

“My art should not limit the thoughts of the viewers, but give them the freedom to develop into all directions,” says Gerlinde Wendland, the creator of many of these artworks. The artist has been regularly visiting SEKEM since about 25 years and creates artworks “oriented towards classical modernism, but trying to develop it further.” Her atelier is located on the third floor of SEKEMs Vocational Training Center, where she paints impressive and at the same time tender paintings, which she afterwards donates to the SEKEM initiative. Many People enjoy these great and important gifts. Gerlinde Wendland is already known as “Madam Picasso from Germany” among the Egyptian co-workers. “I feel that people have confidence in me and thereby also in my pictures,” she says. “Through my regular SEKEM visits, a certain reliability has developed, which is felt by the people. Even if I’m not directly there, I’m somehow always present through my pictures.”

Artistic harmony and great love

The SEKEM friend has always been fascinated by colors, but had to do some detours until finding to her vocation. In the first school classes she was allowed to paint for school events, while her classmates were doing math. As a teenager, she wanted to study at the academy of arts with the well-known Professor Gerhard Wendland. The visual artist, who later became her husband, however, initially rejected her entering class. She should first discover the world – experience and learn.

Gerlinde Wendland listened to the well-known painter, who today is considered as an important representative of the abstract art after the Second World War. She completed a curative education training and co-founded the child and youth psychiatry in the anthroposophic community hospital in Herdecke. But there was always her love for colors and forms and she never lost her passion for painting. “Art is a living process. Just like life. One struggles, faces burdens and finds solutions. Art consists, like life itself, of contrast and suspense,” she says. “Inhaling and exhaling or day and night are just two of countless examples of it.”

Gerlinde Wendland in her atelier in SEKEM, together with Yvonne Floride and SEKEM teacher Tamer Badr.

One day the time had come. Gerlinde Wendland could fully commit herself to arts. The admired painter and art lecturer Gerhard Wendland needed help with the preparation of an exhibition and Gerlinde was allowed to learn from him in return for her support. “This was the beginning of an incredibly rich time and a great love,” remembers the sensitive painter. Gerhard Wendland became for Gerlinde Wendland a great teacher for art and life – and later her husband and the father of one daughter. For more than six years, the couple lived and worked in the most intimate exchange and the deepest affinity. “Our relationship cannot be put into words. There was simply an indescribable harmony and complement in our way of thinking and living between us.”

It was not just about painting, but also music, philosophy and a close exchange with the youth. “We lived in an open house where students and other artists went in and out.”

“A white sheet of paper can be considered as an exercise field for the life process.”

After Gerhard Wendland’s death in 1986, she took over the management of his estate. The influence of this intense relationship can still be seen in her work today. Likewise, in those of Marianne Wachberger, who used to be a student of Professor Wendland too. The two friends have worked together for several years in SEKEM and have embellished the initiative with their art. They also accompanied the founding of the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development and started the first artistic attempts with the students. Gerlinde Wendland is still a regular lecturer at Heliopolis University. SEKEMs art director Yvonne Floride supports and directs her. At the same time Gerlinde passes on her valuable experience and her art knowledge to the long-standing SEKEM employee.

“A white sheet of paper can be considered as an exercise field for the life process,” says Gerlinde Wendland. “Here, the sensitivity to the vitality can be experienced and developed.” She supports the SEKEM idea of using art as an opportunity for human development. Because: “Here, nothing can be put over someone. Art is evolving from individuality.” She also keeps an intensive exchange with Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish, who appreciates her works very much. For Gerlinde Wendland, the joint art examinations with the SEKEM founder are an important inspiration.

Only in the open space there is development

Also in her home country, Gerlinde Wendland passes on her knowledge and her passion for fine art. In her atelier in Nuremberg, she offers painting courses and organizes trips, where she and the participants capture the variety of landscapes and then transfer them creatively. “The topic itself is often secondary. In the center is always the life itself, which is full of surprises and dynamic. Full of uncertainty, openness, and connections,” she says. Through art, she constantly tries to show that “nothing stands alone in the living. Everything is connected with everything. We want to get out of the usual concepts and the practiced imbalances. We want to become aware of the transition of living forms.”

Gerlinde Wendland’s paintings do not only embellish SEKEM, they are also an inspiration for development and movement. “There is an open space generated between the different poles. And only in an open space, unfolding and self-discovery are possible,” she explains. The work of the passionate artist also paints consistently a picture of SEKEMs vision, which holistically looks at and considers the different activities and individual characters in order to create harmony.

Christine Arlt

Learn more about Gerlinde Wendland and her work
Successful art and culture project between SEKEM and academy from Stuttgart
The hidden secrets of life: An elaborate Eurythmy collaboration
A conversation without talking: Revealing the beauty of nature and character