Interview: Santa Paula
Luca Curci talks with Santa Paula during MIXING IDENTITIES, third appointment of CANVAS INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR, at THE LINE Contemporary Art Space in London.
Santa Paula (1999) is an artist based in Riga, Latvia. The author’s focus is on the body – bodies that resemble majestic anthropoid characters with complicated posture and expression that refer to the inner world of the artist and serves as an emotional liberation and retreat from the guilt and tension inside. The objects in Santa Paula’s oil paintings are depicted softly, with blurry edges, imitating a mist that surrounds the objects, thus bringing the total image to quiver in mysterious but peaceful vibrations. Femininity, violence, compassion, rebellion, youthfulness, and other vivid sensations inside had been transformed into human-like figures. The subconscious unfolds on the canvas between figurative and abstraction. Although the characters possess feminine outlines, the statement about gender is not relevant here. The disfiguration of a human body serves as an inner resistance to the obsessive tendency of achieving flawless appearance. Through the figures, Santa lightheartedly mocks the imperfect body parts to heal and ease the inner worries, and come to appreciate our individuality and uniqueness.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Santa Paula – Art is a way to learn through yourself, about yourself and the world next to you, whether it is a passive or active form of perceiving and creating. I also believe that art is a tool to identify with other mind-like authors that share similar feelings, stories and interests with you.
Art has been a great part of my life, it has encouraged me to speak my mind, established aesthetic values, strengthened my intuition and imagination.
LC – What are your thoughts while you paint? Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
SP – I view every accidental drip, stain or brushstroke as a beginning of an endless opportunity that I can develop according to my interests. I accept that I am not the only one that is in control of the whole process. The result is always a surprise for me as I rely on the time and feelings that come along, usually turning away from detailed project planning. This mindset takes me to a deeper connection and discussion with the painting, I experience higher energy and power in that little space between me and the canvas. I have learned a lot by accepting the uncontrolled parts of the painting – to not be upset about the unforeseen situations that life sometimes offers, but instead to look for all the opportunities that I can work towards to be in my favour. I always try to see the potential to bloom and flourish in everything.
LC – What is your creative process like?
SP – I try to relax my body and mind before the work, come into a meditative state, and then begin to sketch on the canvas with soft pastels without worrying too much about the outcome. After gazing at the scrabbles for a while, I start to develop something I see from the chaotic lines – usually it is a body figure or something anthropomorphic-like. Only after that do I focus on composition and colour. My painting technique is very airy, aerographic, quite transparent, yet bold. In one word I am reaching for softness – in the visuals and also in the subject of the painting. I prefer layering oil paints with multiple glazes instead of mixing them on my palette. I am very keen on exploring colours, the juxtaposition of them and the energy they radiate. I balance between randomness, which has been created by my subconscious, and academic knowledge with whom I control the layers and the building process of the painting.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
SP – There are three paintings of mine that depict the human body which is emotionally saturated, disproportional, rather than a realistic representation of it. The painting “The 5th Chamber” holds a personal view about different overwhelming feelings and situations in life, for example, love, excitement, joy or sadness – times when my heart just cannot take it anymore, and I need to find a bit more space, like a fifth chamber, to comprehend all of it. Finding a fast exit portal where it is seemingly impossible is comforting, but whether it will resolve a problem in long-term – one has to answer themself. The name of the painting called “Compassion” explains itself, it is a warm embrace for those who need it, a pure feeling of love. “Disproportion”, on the other hand, has a more fun backstory, as it was painted after a group activity where the task was to lead your partner blindfolded through the city.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
SP – I try not to set my art in a specific frame, as I value the idea of freedom. However, my paintings tend to have an common element – a human figure, usually with feminine features, that has been conveyed in a specific imaginary form. I also admire drawing anatomically realistic body depictions from live models. I think that themes in any artists’ artworks change as the artist grows both professionally and personality-wise and I am looking forward to see where my path as an artist takes me!
LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is it like your medium of expression?
SP – All the bodies have complicated posture and give off a bit of terrifying vibes, but in reality, they are the emotions that have accumulated inside me, and I have an urge to cleanse myself and stop repressing them by putting it on the canvas. They usually crystallize from subconscious scrabbles and turn into majestic figures. The disfiguration also serves as a resistance to the tendency to expect a flawless appearance, and come to appreciate our uniqueness.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art, and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
SP – When I saw the announcement for the open call, I immediately connected my creative practice to the festival theme “Mixing Identities”. I also believe that this era we live in is very much about expanding the boundaries of identities, beliefs, persons’ and societies’ subjective sense of self. All in all, this theme is a current topic in society right now, especially discussing sexuality and its flexibility for the past few years.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
SP – My experience has been really exciting and encouraging! I had successful communication and the process was very pleasant and calm. I hope that the next time the pandemic restrictions will allow me to enjoy the atmosphere in the gallery space surrounded by artworks and artists from all around the globe!
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
SP – I love that you provide such a wide range of services. I especially like all the opportunities regarding public relations, as it is very important for young artists like me to get some exposure to my artwork and practice. I am beyond thankful and excited for being a part of this collaboration and I therefore suggest others to collaborate with ITSLIQUID GROUP.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
SP – Definitely! The international contests give a chance for people with different cultural and political backgrounds to come into one, and it is just wonderful! It is an outstanding opportunity for any young artist, something to consider being a part of.