Interview: Laura Tuča
Luca Curci talks with Laura Tuča during CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2021 – 8TH EDITION, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Mostly Laura Tuča (born 1996) paints fellow musicians. As a 14 year old she dreamt about a time when she would be able to experience music through photography and capture it. Even though she didn’t become a professional photographer Laura Tuča started as a manager for a music band, later on created a project where she painted portraits of people that she cares about capturing the taste of an era and now she organises her own exhibitions and concerts and is mostly known for her paintings of musicians in Latvia. But that is not the only thing she does. There is a series of paintings with mythological storylines. Artist has at least three “Persephones” and she also captured many more myths about Orpheus, Medusa, etc. While her paintings look very childish from the very start, she can perfectly capture the drama of life. That’s why her painting “Farewell” is filled with emotions of sorrow and lost hope, yet there is always a light in every situation. What feels like an end now – is truly just a beginning. The artist often thinks about peoples’ relationships. How do people fall in love? Why do they break up? While she was working on painting, her grand-father died, so suddenly painting got another meaning and the title “Farewell” seemed very appropriate. It is a last tribute for her grand-father – a person that she never truly got to know. In a whirlpool of bright, naive colors lives a story – that fills with tender yet strange feeling. Here you will find plenty of stories about fictional and real people. The most commonly used techniques – acrylic and pastel.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Laura Tuča – Art is definitely self expression, spiritual awakening and therapy all at once. Even though my childhood depended on pencil and paper, I was not quite sure that I wanted to be into the art world, I was quite sceptical about it. Only when I grew up, I started to paint only because I needed to find myself, so it all started for me as a therapy. It allows us to get through our many layers, dig deeper and helps to realize who we are as individuals. I also feel that art is used as a media that describes and reflects what is going on in our society at the present, consequently it is a tool of discussion. That is why art is so important in the sense of politics, environment, sociology etc., because it helps to get a new perspective on things. It is important to use it as a microphone, to speak up your mind and pass it onto the next generations. However, I also feel that art should be just a celebration of life and nothing more. So from all of this that I just said you can choose your own reality, what works for you and in the end art is just what you want it to be.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
LT – I was very shy as a child and usually I was just bored and that is why I spent hours drawing people, making up stories and so on. I think at that moment art for me was just again a tool how I can entertain myself. Because I wasn’t interested in colours or forms. For me, it was the story. So as I remember it I realise that I am trying to awaken this inner child and do this exact same thing in my work right now. I grew up in a small town in Latvia, with my father and mother who used to teach a lot of things about art, literature and music so let’s say I was informed about culture stuff. For example, my mother presented me Frida Kahlo, who became my first great influence. As a teenager I was really interested in photography (Diana Arbus, Linda McCartney) and also in Brian Epstein, yes, manager of the Beatles. So when I moved to the Riga (capital of Latvia) I really was looking forward to finding out and experiencing what is going on in Latvian music platform. So you see at that point I was still not interested in being an artist. I thought of myself more as a manager of the band or as organizer of some cultural event and so on, but I would not have courage nor a dream to be an artist. I got into this music area and to this day I am still more updated about novelties in music rather than in art. Anyway as I mentioned before – art came to me as a therapist to explore myself a little bit more. So to the question – what is the experience that has influenced my work the most? – answer is probably exactly this music experience. As I met many musicians they helped me to realise that I have to concentrate on myself and my needs rather than others. At that moment you really start to think about your values and dreams, and it is not exactly a thing they taught you at school, so you feel kind of puzzled. And when you start to really listen to yourself, everything that is meant to be in your life finds you. So art at this point found me. And because of this “keep focus on oneself” my art includes everything that I care for – ancient culture, musicians, friends, etc. Everything that I have, I put that into work.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
LT – The thing is with inspiration that you can find it almost anywhere, you just have to be in a proper state of mind. Because for an artist to be productive it means that he or she should not be distracted by daily life. You have to see the true nature of life with its small, pretty details. And that is never easy if you are in a constant rush. I also like to find inspiration in other artists’ work, for example, I am really fascinated by Yves Klein and his monochromatic works. I always were amazed by classical masterpieces, by that great amount of work that you can feel through canvas. And also there are many interesting subjects in daily life, for example, human relations. I am very drawn to portrait paintings because it is also an interesting process creating them. There is this connection between model and artist that creates this intimate area and at least for some amount of time you think that you know that person or at least he opened up to you and while you are memorizing and capturing this person on canvas you are allowed to experience this bond. As I mentioned before I was really interested in photography and especially in Linda McCartneys aka Eastman’s photographs of musicians of the 60’s. I really loved the idea that you capture the moment, the real human being and as I got close to many of Latvia’s musicians I realised that it would be a great honor to paint them because for me music is one of the greatest art forms that there is. So that also pushed me towards portrait painting. Also for me it is important to help others that is why I came up with an idea – whenever I am making my solo exhibition I am going to ask some other artists (mostly musicians) to participate. That is also what inspires me to keep going.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
LT – It is hard for me to say because I started just recently to be an artist, but it is definitely not easy. Probably the same as it was before. Only it could be a different experience because of the social media that we have nowadays. Because of that we can create our social groups and communicate much easier. Like, without doubt social media helped me to participate in this event by ITSLIQUID GROUP. But that is just one case. Of course it is still a lot of effort and any work is hard. There is a constant fear about finances. You have to support oneself if you want to create your own show/ exhibition/ concert, whatever. Yes, every day you have to think about how you will represent yourself, where will you get contacts, where you can get money, which artists you will collaborate with, on which platform you will organise your exhibition, how much it will cost you. And meanwhile you have to be this great artist that creates something meaningful and bright. Kind of.
LC -Did your style change over the years? In which way?
LT – Yes, and it changed very quickly. I started as an abstract painter. As I mentioned before I used art as a therapy. I would do whatever comes to my mind – I would use colours that do not match, there wouldn’t be a proper composition, everything would be messy. I guess for the first time in my life I was just trying to let go of any myth of myself that other people or I had created. I was trying to get to the core of who I am as a person. Whatever that I felt I put it on canvas. And later on I realised that I am not that much of an artist that expresses their emotions through abstract art, but rather through something different. I wanted to create work where you can see small details, composition, people. Human essence in my works are very dominant. And I like to tell stories. I like the feeling that people see something particular in front of them whenever that is a girl or a boy, real person or mythological. I give them very specific material and it is interesting that it is still open to interpretations.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? How did it inspire you?
LT – Firstly, I wanted to express my gratitude for this event. I am really amazed that there are these international platforms that unites so many artists together at one place and represents them professionally. Secondly, the word itself “ITSLIQUID” – I like the idea that it is a fluid and always changing experience, I am never truly interested in something very strictly defined. So, I am already inspired just by the idea of the festival and the work behind it. Thirdly, the idea of exploring FUTURE LANDSCAPES and MIXING IDENTITIES is very inspiring. My work is mostly dedicated to identity and its relation with space and time. I am interested in how a subject reacts to everything that is around him. And I think that is a very “handy” topic, because there could be as many interpretations as there are creative minds.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
LT – My works mostly are dedicated to identity and its relation with space and time. My painting “Farewell” is an example of it. You can see the dark interior – that place could be anything! In the middle there is a couple. You can see their interaction – maybe they won’t see each other again, perhaps they suddenly understand that their relationship is going nowhere or maybe they are just strangers trying to find comfort in each other. There are many interpretations of that work. I was just trying to capture the moment of saying goodbye. And that could be also described on many levels. While I was painting this, may grand-father died. So suddenly this painting had a different meaning for me. I like to think that it is somehow dedicated to him. Also it does remind me of the thin line between life and death. Moon outside the window is at the same time as creepy as it is relaxing, so mixing a loving couple, mysterious cafe and moonlight I got a feeling that I created something transcendental.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
LT – Well, yes, definitely. It is an international cultural platform! I already found out about so many artists because of ITSLIQUID GROUP which I am thankful for. And that’s something.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
LT – Yes, of course. As I work in the gallery myself I realised what hard work it is to create an event, an exhibition, etc. It is a great amount of work even if there is only one participant, one artist. But when there are many from all around the world – I can imagine the chaos you as organiser put yourself through. And even though there is such a large amount of work you still manage to answer all my e-mails in time, for example. This year I could not be in Venice because of my work situation but still I don’t have the feeling that I am somehow pushed away. With this interview, even Instagram stories and other activities I feel that I am still in the game, and my work is somewhere out there but I am informed about whatever is going on there. That is very pleasant.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
LT – I think it is great. Thank you for inviting me! That is really an honor.