Today we are talking with artist Suzanne Plomp.
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What do you define yourself as?
I define myself as a multidisciplinary artist.
How do you maintain interdisciplinarity in your work?
It's all in the fascination for materials and the ways I can modify and manipulate these into strange kinds of tissues. I remember as a child I used to see so much potential in different kinds of materials. I handled materials in a playful manner by observing it thoroughly, thinking about the possibilities and trying these out, and pushing these materials to the limit. I use a lot of repetition by means of stitching, binding and weaving by hand. Also my drawings contain a lot of repetition of a certain action or shape, which results in strange tissues, sometimes like skin. The fascination for the physical and seeing the potential in different materials is intertwined.
What are you currently working on?
Currently I'm working on a sculpture called Regeneration that will be on view during my solo exhibition T1FF4N7. For this work I am inspired by a very intriguing phenomenon of regrowing limbs, called regeneration. This occurs for example when a sea star gets attacked by a predator and loses one of their limbs. The sea star regrows its lost limb, and even a whole new sea star can grow from the lost limb. I am amazed by this phenomenon, because after an act of violence, the lost limb is still alive and it simply regrows itself entirely. Also a sea star can pull off limbs by itself, without any sign of danger nearby. The detached limbs literally crawl away from the body. This phenomenon is caused by a virus, the sea star-associated densovirus.
Even when these are very earthly phenomena, to me they seem so alien at the same time. Almost everything that has horror or disgust combined with beauty grabs all of my attention and makes me want to observe, reflect and play.
The sculpture I'm making is something like those lost limbs. Although it looks like a phallus, or tentacle-like shape, it is in fact a tube. Later I elaborate more about the essence of a tube as a shape.
How do you get into a good workflow?
I just start. Nowadays when I work I have something from my grandma nearby. Unfortunately she passed away last summer. She always supported me and my work and she still feels incredibly close, so I keep her picture in my studio or I wear the earrings she gave me.
How do you deal with materiality in your work and why is this an important aspect of what you make?
Materiality is important in my work because materiality gives me endless possibilities to reflect on the body, whether that's human, nonhuman, alien, my own body, male, female or anything in between. I create tissues that cannot be directly traced back to specific creatures. I do this by modifying and manipulating materials thoroughly. Still, these tissues are inviting comparison with bodily parts. The tactile network of lines, cables and seams resemble skin, muscles and veins. I like to discover unusual potentials in materials, because it stimulates me to create something that is just not exactly retraceable, but still looks organic or seemingly alive. Suddenly there is a moment when the work starts to become attractive and repulsive at the same time. This is what I'm after and makes me very happy.
How do you prepare for an exhibition? (If you want, tell us a bit more about the solo exhibition that can be seen in October)
I prepare myself for an exhibition by looking and looking again at the essence of certain ideas, shapes and stories that I have in my mind, or that I'm already working with. A very helpful way how I prepare for an exhibition is by talking about the works with friends, especially if they haven't seen the work before or when they have no background information. These are always fun, interesting and in-depth conversations and this has clarified a lot. That way, fear or disgust combined with compassion and beauty is something I'm after for my upcoming solo exhibition T1FF4N7. This has even resulted in getting two tarantulas and keeping them as pets.
On the practical side, I pay attention to what the work needs to be presented. Should it hang, stand, lean, and how exactly? What does the work require from me? I made a few overview drawings and I wrote about the specific works and the exhibition as a whole to clarify the connections between the works.
My exhibition T1FF4N7 will be on view from 31-10-2020 till 24-11-2020 in Pulchri Studio, The Hague. T1FF4N7 shows organic sculptures and ink drawings, exploring fairytale worlds of unknown forms of life and kinship. As the works are not directly retraceable to specific objects or creatures, they are suggestive to bodily parts. The complex networks of lines, seams and cables invite in-depth observation and are remindful of skin, muscles and veins. Next to that, the tube is a recurring element in this exhibition. It's an essential shape because it's a combination of a hole and a phallus-like shape, which both have powerful functions. A hole has the potential to suggest that there is something hidden. A hole can also engulf, retain, grab, pinch, bite and digest. A phallus- or tentacle-like shape can puncture, penetrate and pierce other shapes. A tube can do everything these other two shapes can do separately. Therefore, a tube as a shape is hybrid. With the fluidity of these shapes, I speculate about a society of unknown organisms in which no shape dominates another, which may occur in the existing order.
The ink drawings tell stories about unknown future forms of life. Arthropods, such as cockroaches and spiders, play an essential role in this. A year ago I encountered cockroaches of all shapes and sizes at a motel near Death Valley. I remember feeling very disgusted, but as I kept on observing them, there was a growing sense of fascination. As I started drawing cockroaches and learning more about them, the disgust merged with a great inspiration for their contradictions and kinship. A while ago, I even planned taking a terrarium with a Madagascan hissing cockroach. This remains as an idea for the future because it was never realised. But now I do have two tarantulas instead, which are truly spectacular to observe and together with cockroaches they are recurring critters in my drawings. Their strong chances of survival inspire me to draw fairytales in which they reproduce throughout the universe and manifest their wonderful beauty such as elegant antennae, symmetrical scales and legs, mystical egg sacs, larvae, holes, bells and tentacles.
I think a playful tension arises in the combination of attraction and repulsion. With this, I want to invite the viewer to look in a compassionate sense at the perception of both the vulnerability and power from one being to another.
How do you choose which topics to base your work on?
To some extent the content of my work is affected by my past. I have inevitably been shaped by physical traumas that occurred in my youth. Because of this, my work often contains contradictions, such as disgust and beauty. These two are an example of many other contrary extremes that can co-exist to a greater or lesser degree. Almost nothing is what it seems at first glance. I want to investigate that. Also, compassion, love and the body itself have acquired an even deeper meaning in my work. Nowadays this is reflected in my work in fairytales or sciencefiction forms. Storytelling can be enchanting and can offer new perspectives.
How do you allow feminism to be reflected in the work you create?
I like to play with shapes and their functions. With this, I refer to bodily parts that can be female, male and everything in between. This results in a fluidity of shapes and their functions. To me this is a way to speculate about gender and kinship.
How do you think the longing for freedom that has not yet been achieved and the memory of female oppression relate to the work you make?
I am glad the movement of gender fluidity is growing and I also think that it should certainly not be forgotten that for centuries women have been structurally oppressed in multiple ways. I think memorial through education and art is important, because that history of structural oppression should never be repeated. I like to create a monumental, vibrant presence in space with the size of my sculptures and the use of color and materiality.
Black Furry Tubes is one of my recent sculptures about attraction and consent. I know this work looks really tactile. By only looking at it, one could guess how it would feel like.
Even though there was a sign that said the work is not allowed to be touched, a couple of times viewers have said to me the work is 'screaming to be touched'. Although it may look very tactile and has open shapes such as holes, that does not mean by its definition that it is asking to be touched, or even 'screaming for it'. I do find this tension between the work and the viewer interesting. Attraction, tactility, consent and repulsion are recurring elements.
Where do you want to work towards in the future?
I have so many ideas that I want to work out. I want to create so much more fairytale stories and worlds about the fluidity of humans, animals, objects, shapes and genders. I'm thinking about works that are allowed to be touched or even to be eaten and works that are painful to touch. Also I want to make animations and comics or a graphic novel as an extension of my drawings.
Sonsoles Masiá Sánchez
Cold Atlantic - 80x100cm - Acrylic on canvas
Today we are talking with artist Sonsoles Masiá Sánchez.
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As what do you define yourself?
I am a plastic artist and architect. I am specialised in small watercolours, but mainly on big scale abstract acrylic paintings based on astronomical events.
Why do you make art?
Its the way I have to express myself, what I feel and explore our relation with the universe.
Natalis Solis Invicti - Winter Solstice 2019 , 4:18am - 60X60 cm - Acrylic on canvas (http://sonso.es/natalis.html)
I've noticed that you have a thing for color and shapes why is that? Is this a reoccurring theme in your work or does this have an other reason?
Colours and shapes come and go, I realized my style evolves based on the technique I use and learn, lately I have been making a lot of watercolours. But I am always dragged back to shades of blue, over and over again.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I made my architecture master project based on an astronomical observatory, that made me develop an especial interest on astronomy and the movement of celestial bodies and their influence on the human spirit.
Nowadays I search for those magical moments, solstice, equinox, comets, metheor showers... to explore how it affects our emotions and artistical productivity. The idea started more seriously after moving from Spain (where I am from) to the Netherlands. The lack of light and how it was affecting my artistic productivity was very significant. I realize how I was more productive from the spring equinox to the summer, when the days got longer and lighter. To dive deep into this idea I woke up before sunrise on the longest day of the year of 2019 (the summer solstice), and I painted non-stop till sunset. The product of this performance was very interesting. It was a collection of 9 pieces but also the experience. The most interesting was finding myself in a state of mind where nothing else matters but vomiting your instints into the canvas.
In order to compare the experience, I made the same experiment on the winter solstice of 2019 at night, 16 hours of production where I induced myself into an extreme state of mind of exhaustion, finding a primitive instinct based on the hope of the rebirth of the sun. Searching for the ancient feeling of uncertainty and faith for longer days that our ancestors experienced during the saturnalia's festivities.
Delta Aquariids - 2019 - 120x40cm - Acrylic on canvas (http://sonso.es/delta.html)
What role in your life plays creating / making art?
A year ago i quitted my job as an architect to fully focuse on painting. It is part of my daily life now.
Tell me a little bit about your roots and what kind of role this plays in the art that you make.
I studied a double degree in architecture and fine arts. And maybe, by focusing so much in astronomy while developing my architecture master thesis project, made me realize ho much we are ancher into the universe. I was obsessed with it. Maybe as a women we are also ancher to the moon cycles in relation with our fertility.
Creativity shouldn't be different.
Are you currently working on any projects? If that's the case , tell me more about them!
Two weeks ago was the summer solstice again. And, of course, I had to do it again. Comparing it with the previous experiments I have to say that my style evolved a lot, and this long sessions are becoming a trigger for my creativity and style changes. I tent to try new things and colours. Now I use more paper than canvas and that is the reason why I had such a large ammount of pieces this time. Paper is more inmediate and I enjoy to see the colours mixing. I just have to follow my insitints and love for color. "El color por el color". And keep going untill the sunset.
Next week, most of the pieces will go to an exhibition at "de Groene Passage" in Rotterdam. So... I will keep you updated with that. But It will be a mix of all the solstices and more pieces that I prepared for this same exhibition this last April, cancelled after all the coronavirus crisis. The exhibition will be open till the end of September.
On the other hand... we can see the neowise comet on the northen emisphere during these days!
What is your own favorite piece that you made and why?
Such a hard question. I tend to get tired of old pieces and I keep having favorite ones. But definitely, my favorite is the one I made on the day that I listened to myself and i decided to leave behind architecture and focuse on art . That one is my favorite because of what it represents. And it is blue.
The day I dropped architecture / Blue - 50x50 cm - Acrylic on canvas
Last but not least I would want to ask you what is the message that you want to spread with the work that you make?
How do we capture time and memories? Is it human to be affected by the changes of seasons and astronomical events? Is it normal that we feel a bit off during dark times of the year? I think it is. And the knowledge of it, the fact that we are aware of this vulnerability, can make us stronger.
Summer solstice 2020 - 15:54 - 50x50 cm - Acrylic on canvas.
TODAY WE ARE TALKING WITH ARTIST DEWI HOMBERGEN.
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As what do you define yourself?
I do design and I study at art academy Maastricht an education called Visual communication - illustration, but I see myself more as an artist, rather than just ‘one’ certain thing like an illustrator for example. I actually started drawing from a very young age, but for me it does not necessarily have to stay with this. I also think it is very unfortunate that I had to choose one thing at art academy, because I wanted to do everything. I honestly love all creative fields.
For me it’s a strong trait if you can do lots of different things, if you just try it and don't immediately say “I can't because I have never done it”. My parents taught me to always try new things, so I have implemented this in my own artistic practices. Do not reject something immediately even if you have never done it.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
It differs a lot with me, but I am very inspired by music. Something I always keep falling back on is David Bowie, I think he is a work of art in itself. He inspires me to do go out of my comfort zone and it makes me want to experiment in the future with my art, for example I would like to try performance art.
How do you get the right workflow?
At night I can work the best, around 11/12 o’clock, I feel time pressure. I love creating around this time because it gives me a reason to make work because otherwise, I think I should go to sleep.
How do you approach starting a new work?
I think about what I’m going to make for a very long time before I create new work, I also like to read to get inspiration. I write a lot and I sketch a lot as well; I make random notes of things that catch my eye. For example, if I’m walking down the street and I see something that is intriguing to me I will make a little note of it. Or even a picture, weeks later when I forgot that photo even existed that is usually the moment that I’ll see it on my phone/camera roll again and get inspiration from it. Museums also give me lots of inspiration and something that also really works is always having pen and paper with me to take notes. Because let’s be real here when I forget my sketchbook that’s probably the moment, I’d like to note or draw something. So, keep your sketchbook close to your heart!
Does being a woman affect your work?
I don't really know that for sure. I think so, in a way. But I don't know any better; I don't know what it's like to make art as a man. I have the idea that, if I read about it, that difference is a lot less than before. But maybe I just don't pay attention. After all, I am just busy with my own work and do not look very often at how others may be more favored. I don't care so much. And if, then I automatically look for a way around that. By the way, that is also creativity, to be able to handle things like that well and to find a way through / around them.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on so many things at once! Recently I’m focusing on an as yet unknown branch of illustration, which is also silenced during my illustration education on art academy. The possibility of tattooing is never discussed there. I actually find that strange, especially because it is much more common nowadays and it is no longer such a taboo. I myself also want to learn how to tattoo, it seems a very nice profession to keep me busy alongside my other interests.
In which areas do you want to develop more as a maker?
As a maker, I have the well-known struggles that every maker has or has had. I have a certain but vague idea of what my style should look like, but I cannot yet implement it consistently because I am still experimenting with it. Perhaps it is flat that I prefer to develop instead of having one focus; I miss that very much at the moment. There are so many things that I am interested in, and I cannot do them all at once. That sometimes frustrates a bit.
What is the most important aspect of creating for you?
For me, the most important thing about creating is imagining a feeling or a story. Moving and triggering a reaction. Even if that would be a very 'bad' one (for example, the demolition of a work). But I have not experienced that yet. I am not yet very controversial in my works, but I do think that art and design are a reflection of and a response to society. How we see the world. It simply fascinates me how we have evolved so much that we make art and that we are aware of ourselves and everything around us, and that we react to it in this way.
What is your own favorite work that you’ve made?
I think this LP cover I made as a cover for my portfolio is still my favorite. Everything comes together on this cover: my love for music, the combination of graphic design with illustration in a playful way, my love for screen printing, handwork and paper. I cut the illustration from paper and the letters as well. It reminds me that I have to be busy with my hands more often, now that I am talking about it. And it also has a deep personal layer. I have had the feeling that I didn't really fit into a box anywhere since I was little and now, I still sometimes feel like an outsider. But now I see that as a good thing, luckily. The portfolio itself also contains very personal texts and everything that occupied me at that time.