Interview: Paul Penciu
Luca Curci talks with Paul Penciu during CANVAS INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2022, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Paul Penciu is an emerging photographer who specialized in portrait photography with a little twist adding boudoir, fine art and conceptual photography to his skill set. Fascinated by the idea of creating visual poetry. He began his journey by creating self-portraits as a medium for his creativity and self-expression. His work often revolves around the concept of freedom, sexual, emotional, political or simply put freedom of expression. Currently residing in the United Kingdom, studying for a BA in Photography at Birmingham City University. His style sits at the intersection between fashion, conceptual, boudoir and fine art photography. Drawing inspiration from the Old Masters as well as photographers like Tim Walker and David Lachapelle, he uses his creativity and imagination to create beautiful works of art.
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Paul Penciu – I’m a Romanian queer artist, and self-expression has been a very important aspect of my life. With Romania not yet being that inviting to queer artists, I used photography to discover myself, my sexuality, my femininity, and my queerness. Through my self-portraits I allowed myself to become more feminine and explore that, and regarding the rest of my work, I always want to have a queer representation in it, talk about social issues in the community, or just depict and showcase queer art.
LC – When you take photos, are you usually inspired by the situation or do you find inspiration in yourself?
PP – Most of the time whenever I create a concept I start from within. I’m inspired by a thought, a feeling, an experience that I went through and then I start to build upon that idea by doing some research. I find my inspiration everywhere, from other practitioners, classical art, quotes, TV shows and films. I usually take one idea or aspect of something and filter it through my own being and then I create a concept.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
PP – It indeed changed and thank God for that! I started with taking self-portraits as means of expressing my emotions, having art as an outlet, I might dare to say that it was some kind of therapy for me. I as grew older and I started to discover and understand myself, I shifted my outlet to creating images with other people in them. One thing that I feel remained constant throughout the years is my tendency to have a dark aesthetic, created by my fascination with chiaroscuro and how artists like Caravaggio used light to emphasize his subjects. I would say that my style is somewhere in the dark and sexual area.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this exhibition? How did it inspire you?
PP – First of all, I think that even the title, Canvas, is really cleverly created as it relates to all sorts of art forms and therefore it brings painting, illustration, photography together. The most inspirational aspect of this exhibition is the fact that you can see artworks from all over the world, and that in a sense, it enriches the viewer with different cultures, experiences, ethnicities and visual languages.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
PP – I created Venus Rising as a reinterpretation of The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, but my main concern that I wanted to convey is that something can be sensual without being sexual. Depicting a naked woman is often associated with sexuality, the male gaze, lust and sexual desires. However, my intention was to bring all that feminine energy, thus having a moon, and a celestial setting, in one image. I wanted the viewer to look at this project and see beauty and sensuality, not sexuality.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
PP – Definitely! Having artists of different crafts from all over the world come together in one place, no matter if they are masters in their crafts or not, ITSLIQUID GROUP created a space to showcase artworks. Speaking from my personal experience, I was really surprised and elated when I was approached to have my work exhibited. With this being my first ever physical exhibition, it really impacted my confidence in my craft, and it showed me that hard work really pays off, also this has motivated me to get better and create even more interesting concepts and artworks. So, I really think that opportunities were created, not only for having your work exhibited but for artists that struggle with self-confidence, this has been a moment of validation.