Enterprising Expats: Aninavon Winterfeld, painter

After spending 15 years in Norway and Oman/Middle East, Aninavon Winterfeld moved to Kota Kinabalu with her husband in 2013. The German mixed media painter recently hosted a solo Art exhibition at the Sabah Art Gallery, entitled “Traces Around the World”. Her interesting collage work is a result of inspiration drawn from the micro and macro cosmos of nature and any kind of texture found as well at old, rusty, broken surfaces like tiles, floors, or walls.

I met the lovely woman when she visited KL recently, and her warm personality and positive approach to life clearly translates to her ability to see the beauty in everything. Most of us won’t look twice when passing by a rusty door or broken tile, but for Anina, it’s art in the making.

aninavon winterfeld

She says, “When I was a child, I always loved to paint and decorate. I studied a little bit of art for a teaching degree, and taught art at schools in Norway and Germany. When I travelled to the Middle East, I stopped teaching and decided to concentrate more on the art. There was so much inspiration around me, and I found success, so people started encouraging me to focus more on my art.”

Anina talks about the challenges of being an expat as well as the benefits. “Having an expat husband, we travel often to live in different parts of the world. I enjoy travelling and it gives me a lot of fun and inspiration for my work.

“It’s not always easy, having to say goodbye and settle in a new country often, as many expats will tell you. But this is why I’m very happy to have my art and my music (I play the piano), as it helps to settle down and make friends.

“We try to see things the positive way, that we have a lot of good opportunities to get to know other cultures and other people. I love to connect to the art scene in the country I’m living in. I think for artists, to learn from each other is wonderful.

“I’m a member of the Sabah Art Society, and have connections with the Sabah Art Gallery. I love meeting other artists and see what they are doing, as well as share my work with them.”

On her interesting technique, Anina says, “I learned different techniques during my career as an artist, such as watercolour and oils. However, I felt like I wanted to branch out and do something different. I stepped into mixed media while working on collage techniques.

“That gave me the freedom to do whatever I like. Collage means putting materials and paper together, but that was not enough for me, so I combine acrylic or oils and different media like stone powder. I love creating more texture and three dimensional effects, so I experiment with marble powder, putty, sand, ash, wood, coffee powder, different pigments, and so on. Those ingredients I find in different countries, and it’s interesting to incorporate into my artwork.”


painting trip Oman, aninavon winterfeld

She says it is a challenge to show in an artistic way how the variety and transformation of surfaces under the influence of nature as well as the ‘beauty’ of decay. “If you take a closer look at man-made surfaces like old walls or floors you can feel with your eyes the ‘beauty of decade’, discover traces of passing times, and read history in these images.

“I prefer working in an intuitive and spontaneous way of painting, using natural materials, such as sand, marble powder, lime putty, pigments, bone glue, and waxes. They develop a life on their own by reacting in an unpredictable and exciting way to create vivid, relief-like surfaces with rough, broken texture, sometimes showing deep cracks or fine fissures.”

Anina specializes in collage and mixed media techniques and loves experimenting with a variety of mediums in an abstract way. In addition she integrates found pieces into her composition like wood, paper scraps, fabric pieces, bark, or rusty iron parts to give her work an own personal story or local memory.

For more information about Anina’s artworks, please visit

This article was originally published in The Expat magazine (August 2016) which is available online or in print via a free subscription.


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