Interview with Paula Irving for Lake Country Art Gallery
Paula Irving: How has your practice developed and what is it shaped by?
Laura Madera: My practice has developed as a way of visually thinking through ideas
about phenomena. I'm the type of artist that's in the studio everyday.
I have to get in there. It is a necessity to who I am. Not because I
have an overwrought work ethic but because I like the way I am able to
see and think about colour, for instance, after being in the studio.
There is a reciprocal and generative way to how I make things - the
more I do, the more I can do or want to do. One thing or idea, leads
to the next, to the next. There is a curiosity that is fueled by this
activity which resonates with my temperament and pulls my practice
forward. When I'm working I produce at a willfully slow pace, placing
importance on intuitive and contingent strategies, attention to
materials, and repetition.
PI: How does the medium in which you work heighten your experience of
process (supposing process is an important part of your work), and
subsequently, how do you think it affects the viewers consciousness or understanding?
LM: Yes, process is an important part of my work. I choose my materials
and how they are applied carefully. I began working with watercolour
because of it's incredible ability to convey qualities and properties
of light and the sensitivity of touch I was able to use when creating
When working on canvas or board the surface offers the possibility of
revision and openness. Each mark mixes with previous marks, often
depositing and taking paint away at the same time. This makes for an
extremely active and sometimes unpredictable painting process.
My work on paper is made using a kind of bastardized four colour process of
application like a commercial printer would use. The composition
is in effect developed very slowly over a period of time with many
multiple layers of pure colour washes poured over masked areas. The
masking is sometimes taken away and then reapplied. There is also
direct painting with both paint and masking fluid. Sometimes a garden
hose is involved to wash out the whole thing or rain or snow or sun.
The masking is a way for me to somehow contain or control the unruly
nature of water and slow down my painting process even further to
produce a richer surface.
If viewers want to spend the time and look closer I think there is
evidence to how the work is made. But I can't say how this might
affect the viewers understanding or consciousness, about the artwork
or otherwise. I like to think of painting as a site of possibilities,
for experience, meaning, thought, emotion. When I make a painting
there are a thousands of incremental decisions made and opportunities
for creating meaning, and there is a conclusion but nevertheless the
viewer will bring to it (and take from it) what they will.
PI: I think in general, when one thinks of watercolour as a medium the
mind automatically goes to picturesque landscapes and images of
cottages in the countryside, but the way in which you use this medium is
so contemporary in its abstract and geometric forms. What do these forms
bring to your practice?
LM: Currently the most influential source of inspiration is from my
interests in ideas like infinity, consciousness and phenomena. This
is coupled with the basic direct experience of spending time with my
chosen materials and personal landscape.
It is an empirical process. The work's emerging ethos develops organically,
sometimes illogically. It is a process with a fair amount of groping around
in the unknown and indeterminate; the understanding of what this substance
is and what it means to me in regards to form incrementally evolves and
unfolds over time. I have motifs that I return to again and again - light flares,
staring-into-the-sun, orbs, crystalline forms, reflections.
Ultimately, what I'm aiming for in what and how I choose to paint is a
quality of visual experience that does not describe that quality, but
shares that quality.
PI: Emanating from your works is an incredibly spiritual aura or
essence that is really significant in the effect it leaves and the way
it continues to resonate within the viewer (or at least this was the case
with me). Do you use your practice as a way to explore your own spirituality?
Furthermore, what isyou hope to instil in the viewer and what do you hope they
take away from the viewing experience?
LM: I admire greatly the work of artists like Hilma af Klint or Emma Kunz
who use their practice as a direct extension of their beliefs and
faith. I am more of a productive doubter and seeker. My process is different.
I'm interested in the spiritual (and especially its aesthetics in art history)
but I spend much more effort thinking about natural phenomena,
dimensions and cosmic speculations of the very big and very small.
The more I learn about nature, physics, and science, the more I run into
the spiritual, and the mysteries of life. I am reevaluating if spirituality and
rationality are mutually exclusive and see my practice as running
parallel to the spiritual, but contiguous with the physical and the
PI: Possibly as a result of the spiritual exploration of your work
there is an intense sense of light that radiates from the
phosphorescence effect on the canvas that is all at once ethereal,
ephemeral, chimerical, and chemical, and there is a sense of
movement and change as a result. What is the importance for you of
creating a transcendental experience through your work?
LM: I am fascinated by how light behaves with watercolour on canvas or
paper. I find it produces a seductive and changeable surface which
works with the motifs I use. I'm not very concerned with creating a
transcendental experience. But I recently came across the idea of
transimmanence, which was explained to me as the logic of contact in
separation. A way of communication because of the basic and
fundamental experience we all share of being in a body, and having
meaningful experiences though our bodily senses or sensations. I like
this idea in relation to painting, seeing it as an interval of contact
and time recorded and transmitted in later encounters.
Paula Irving - Paula is a recent graduate of Concordia University’s Art History program, and is currently completing her Masters at the Sotheby’s Institute in London UK. Motivated by an intense interest in Modern and Contemporary Art, Paula is constantly exploring and venturing to learn and see as much as she possibly can.