Natasha Kissell, Artist Interview - Part 2
PINK CANYONS transports Mies Van Der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion to an Arizona canyon calling to mind Monica Ramirez-Montegut’s comments in the current Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art show 'Painting The Glass House', "Perhaps for Kissell, only nature is the true companion and owner of modern architecture".
Instead of Harrap's peopled places, the psycho-geography comes in the form of the landscapes that the buildings exist in creating a double utopia, the two in conversation with each other. The usual crowds of tourists that would swarm around Van Der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion are emptied out, in a desire to allow the building to exist in tranquility matched only by the sun gently going down in the Arizona outback. This also creates a surreal juxtaposition, two far away places united in one canvas.
MAO Q6.. So your husband Peter Harrap, is also a successful painter.. has he been a huge influence on your work? Both of your paintings are going to be in the new show together..Why? Do you work closely together.. or far apart? Are you guys co-dependent artists? What other artists would you say have been the biggest influence on you?
NK : We work back to back. Furniture flies, we shout and out of the creative furnace, new ideas come. We challenge each other and point out weak areas. I don't think I would be able to accept this from anyone else, or rather they wouldn't accept the shouting match that would follow! We are independent artists but often arrive at ideas together so it is interesting to show together. There is also the difference in figure/non figure compositions making the works create a dialog that is interesting.
MAO Q7.. In your new work as well as your last show, there were no people. For the most part, everything in your paintings are always very neat and in an unusually orderly setting.. At most there's a bird or a wolf in your paintings.. Why? Are you making a specific political statement, or do you have a specific social message you want to express?
NK : I do believe I’m making a kind of political statement, if not in your face. I am influenced by the Siennese painters of the 14th and 15th centuries. Their idea of the Republic was tantamount dictating their perspective on the cities they depicted. Because everyone had a say in the way the city was run, there is a democracy of viewpoint, not the single view point of power, of the lord of the manor, the leader or the war lord, but the multiple perspective of the collective. This is why I combine many perspectives in one picture. The neatness comes I guess because it is more the idea of place, the concept of holding an ideal, a utopia in mind than the loved experience. I use not just one utopia but two - that of the beauty of nature, and also that of the beauty and perfection of design, hence the modernist architecture, not the modernism of 60's high rises but the modernism of exquisite design where architects compete with the natural world to create something spectacular.
(photo #2 Natasha Kissell, Minimalist with Marsh Marigold, 2008, 30" x 40", oil on canvas)
MAO Q8.. So you guys don't live in NYC (the center of the Art World Universe). Do you spend much time going to London museums, or local galleries? How do you think living in the trendy Notting Hill has influenced your painting?
NK : If I could live in New York I would be there in a shot! I love the energy of it. London's not so bad though, also full of buzz, and allows me to remain well connected with the contemporary art world which is becoming increasingly international. You’re more likely to see an English artist exhibit in Berlin say than London, and London’s full of Romanian/Russian/etc. so you really get to key into the international perspective. Go very regularly to the museums, once a week to look and study old and new. In Notting Hill we work next door to the playwright Harold Pinter, great modernist writer and have others like the fashion design Paul Smith live a couple of doors down, a really buzzy place full of people who have done really interesting stuff with their lives. Also Lucien Freud is a neighbor, he once asked me to sit for him, but I couldn't’t do the commitment of a whole year of giving up painting to pose for him every day.
MAO Q9... Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as the "the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals." A more straightforward definition is "a slightly stuffy term that's been applied to a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities.
Where did you find this word "Psychogeography"? And why did you choose this as the title for your new show?
NK : Both Peter and I were using places as representations of an internal, emotional place. Painting is about reflecting our experience of living in the world, how we imprint our own individual identities on the places in which we find ourselves. I guess as a painter you try and stamp this individuality in an act of will, that I exist and I matter, however misguided this may be. Peter’s spaces may be more urban and mine more wildernesses, but each is huge and uncontrollable in its own way. This is what leads us to try and control our little bit of world allotted to us. We’re not interested in ownership, one response to the problem of being “small” in the world, but more interested in this act of the will and how it drives us, and the expressions this takes.
(Photo #3, Natasha Kissell, In the Treetops, 2008, 48" x 42", oil on canvas)
MAO Q10.. When you're not painting.. what's your favorite thing to do? What do you do for fun?
NK : Breathe! Fresh air is always refreshing after a day stuck in the fumes of oil paint. Love films, we’re addicts, love the stories which I guess we both try and infuse in our work. People have said my work is quite filmic. Otherwise hang out in Soho bars, haunts of the art world and overdose on cigarettes and alcohol, escape from the intensity of our thoughts. A little holiday away from our selves!
Natasha's show opens this Thursday night,
Opening: Thursday, May 8th 6:30-8:30pm at the Gallery 10G, located at 222 East 19th Street #10G between 2nd/3rd Avenues. MAO of course will be there!
FYI... We think all the paintings in Part 2 of this interview will be in the new show (and available)..
Fortunately for Natasha...
sadly for us art collectors.. we've been just told that all the paintings in Part 1 of this interview have already been sold/spoken for. Like who says the art market is crashing??? NOT MAO...now will someone please pass the Kool-Aid!
Congrats Natasha !