"Imminent Destruction" Gulia Groenke photography by Bettina Liebrecht "Imminent Destruction" Gulia Groenke photography by Bettina Liebrecht

The Ninth Wave: The Journey of a Self-Taught Artist

Early influences The future artist was born in a faraway place “Beyond the Arctic Circle”, far from big galleries and art institutions. As a child, she showed an insatiable curiosity for the wider world. She was fascinated by the complex relationship between man and nature. Without formal art training, she began early to record her impressions in sketches.

Self-discovery During her school years, the young woman continued to pursue her passion for art in secret. With limited resources, she took advantage of every opportunity to express herself artistically. Through picture books and studying the great masters, she began to refine her techniques and develop her own style. This period of self-discovery shaped her artistic identity. At a very early age, Gulia discovered Ivan Aivazovsky’s painting, the title of which, “The Ninth Wave”, is an old nautical term for a particularly high, threatening mass of water. Survivors of a shipwreck have taken refuge in small groups on a part of the wreck, the mast, while someone with a white rag beckons invisible helpers. This existentially threatening theme characterizes Gulia Groenke’s artistic work to this day: from natural forces such as forest fires to man-made catastrophes.

Experimentation and exploration The urge to evolve led the artist to try different styles, media and techniques. From abstract painting to sculpture to papier-mâché, she dared to experiment.

The essence of art With each new challenge, the artist became more deeply involved with the meaning behind her work. Her art became a mirror of her innermost thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Through the process of creative expression, she found her voice and also a way to connect with others.

Role models and examples This self-taught artist’s story is a tribute to the power of passion and determination. Through her dedication to art, she has proven that education and formal training are not always the only paths to success. Her journey reminds us that art thrives not only in academies, but also in the hearts and hands of people who have the courage to plot their own path. In Berlin, she came into contact with the international art scene, and she has also been deeply involved with her role models, such as Edward and Nancy Kienholz, Brian Maguire, and Sharon Kopriva.

Experience of nature and breakthrough Moving to Idaho and visiting the national parks, such as Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Zion led to the final artistic breakthrough and thematic focus on the confrontation between man and nature. A series of works with landscapes were created, but also very personal works dedicated to family history. This biography tells the story of a remarkable woman whose self-taught approach to art overcame barriers, even without an academy, to bring her creative vision to the world.

Selected Artworks



2016 | Acrylic on paper