Interviews | August 15, 2023 |

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Image courtesy of Nada Stauber

Interview: Nada Stauber
Luca Curci talks with Nada Stauber during the Mixing Identities, second appointment of CANVAS CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.

NADA is my artist name, born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1960. I emigrated to Switzerland because of the civil war and attended the prestigious Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne where I graduated with a Masters in Graphic Design. I have lived and worked in Lausanne since 1978. With such a lucky start in life, and because my parents had planted ambitious seeds in my education, I naturally had a career-oriented vision of my life. A happy twist in my projects made me the mother of 4 boys, which made me postpone my career for a while. But it happened! While raising my little tribe, I started working as a freelancer in advertising and illustration for cultural projects and creating papier mâché sculptures in my in-house studio. This late activity made me win several prizes in the Triennale Internationale du Papier of Charmey. Also, as a compatible job with my « Mom-of-four » life, I was exploring a number of techniques of painting and printing, and my studio extended to a professional one. Several shows ensued, in Lausanne and Europe, with distinctions. And because my over-active days require more energy and concentration, Teaching is another chapter of my professional life, because I have always regarded the transmission of knowledge, of any kind, as a kind of responsibility or mission.

I also took my art students to Japan in 2018 for a week, drawing in different venues. From 2020 on, social and economic troubles in Lebanon, along with Covid issues, made me question my life and the way I might be more « present to the world ». So I founded the concept of « L’art qui abode»: by selling my works and organising artistic events, I support a couple of NGOs in Lebanon. Today I still love to learn and integrate new approaches in my art. A Master class given by Jennifer Mac Rae in London last year was an epiphanic moment in my practice. Mainly based on acrylic oil painting and digital work, my paintings tell the stories of mountains and people. These two themes provide opportunities to develop a meaningful connection to my environment. The act of painting links me to my human and natural models and thus, allows me to grow and be intensely part of the world.

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Image courtesy of Nada Stauber

Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Nada Stauber – Art is a way of looking at the world and being connected to it.

LC – What are your thoughts while you paint? Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
NS – When I enter my studio for a painting session, I rarely know what I will be doing. I need to get the place ready first, by opening the windows and turning the music on. Then I review my last works and sit for a while, just observing them on the wall. Sometimes I need to start by doodling on a large sheet of paper to let go and touch a « sacred thread » or inspiration that I would develop later. Once the act of painting has started, my mindset is a surprising mix of deep concentration and « nothingness ». Such a state can be compared to mindfulness meditation. The more I work on taking my painting further and further, the more I feel a kind of openness, meaning that an immense space is being revealed to let my picture grow.

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Image courtesy of Nada Stauber

LC- How is being an artist nowadays?
NS – I find it much more demanding than twenty years ago. Today an artist has more challenges in terms of working on visibility and self-promotion. While social media can help in that way, they also reveal the mass of so-called artists who bloom every day thanks to new technologies and minimal true knowledge of the job. Because art is a job, it is blood, sweat and tears. It is the consecration of long and hard studies coupled with self-education and continuous improvement of skills. So my opinion is that the status of artists needs to be re-valued, in many regards.

LC – Is there an unrealised or unrealisable project, even a crazy one, that you would like to work on?
NS – Not really. I am a lucky artist because I have been able to realise many many of my artistic projects so far. I still wish to work with other artists and put ideas and skills together on one project.

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Image courtesy of Nada Stauber

LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is it your medium of expression?
NS – I don’t look at art as a vehicle for my emotions or state of mind. Rather it is to me the path to reach rightness and quality in every picture I create. Then, if the picture is « right », it is necessarily expressive. It’s a long process of going back and forth until something happens, and a story is told. One typical example is my mountains. I had chosen this theme as a graphic alibi, a playground for visual and technical experiments. Gradually my mountains started to symbolise events of my life. They grew to be a deep-rooted evocation of the story of my family. So in this regard, art is my way of telling stories.

LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the exhibition?
NS – « Mixing identities » was quite an appealing theme (also an up-to-date one !) because of its vastness. One could feel very very free while working on it. But the flaw of any wide theme is that it demands a well-formulated concept for each work, and a well-mapped out realisation in order to avoid meandering and getting lost!

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Image courtesy of Nada Stauber

LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
NS – The idea: in 2020 I asked some friends and family members to sit for me, and I painted their portraits using oil painting. While painting, I thought: « Am I stealing a part of these persons ? And if yes, what part is it? Or rather, what invisible part is it? ». The technique: while dealing with fake and « real » realities, our visible world gets often interconnected with mental or virtual images that we create more or less consciously. I have been interested in this question and attempted to show « my » invisible pictures of the sitters. Using digital technology along with oil painting, my works present these « hybrid identities », as a playful superimposition of seen and unseen images.

LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
NS –
Yes I did, greatly. I found the whole process very fluid and easy. I was particularly pleased with the communication team: while exchanging emails, the persons in charge were very quick, helpful and friendly in their communication. When we visited Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello we found the same kindness and efficiency, highly appreciated! Thank you!

LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
NS –
I would recommend it! A very active group that makes things easy and communicates in a very effective way. I can feel the kindness and availability of the ItsLiquid’s staff with whom I worked. The events are meant to value many different styles and approaches in art, which is an interesting way to put people together and create a community. Again thank you for selecting my work, I am really honoured.

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Image courtesy of Nada Stauber

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