My interest in the idea of nationalism had early roots: my parents emigrated to Canada in the mid-50s; although they lived in Canada for over 50 years, they remained German citizens until they died. I had been told I was a German my entire life. So when I moved to Germany in 2007, I thought I was returning home. Even though I had all the necessary fittings (the language, passport, the german parents), I soon realised I was not German at all. I wanted to express nationalism through paint, and wondered if I would be able to depict German-ness in any meaningful way.
The second impetus for this series came soon after the European refugee crisis began. Angela Merkel’s open door policy prompted hundreds of thousands of people to cross European external and internal borders, and head towards Germany. Around this time, I met a friend - a New York Jewish lawyer - for coffee. He said, ‘Germany still has atonement.’ Yet, even as we spoke, the schisms were beginning to appear. The rise of nationalism in a country with such a complicated relationship to their nationhood caught my interest.