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May 05, 2008

Artist interview with British Painter Natasha Kissell

Artist Interview with British Painter Natasha Kissell.

Natasha_kissell_the_vertical_hour So it's been just over a year since we first saw the work of painter Natasha Kissell at the Scope'07 NY Art Fair.

And while we have to first confess admit..  we're generally totally turned off by almost all the current figurative and photorealistic paintings..

But, there was just something about Natasha's work that caught our attention.

So, a lot has been happening for Natasha Kissell..

Including a show at the Haunch of Venison's founding director's new gallery, Eleven Gallery in London..

and her work was recently included in Painting the Glass House: Artists Revisit Modern Architecture at Connecticut's Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. The Aldrich show was co-curated by Jessica Hough, and Monica Ramirez-Montagut.

(Photo #1, Natasha Kissell, The Vertical Hour, 2008, 60 x 66, Oil on canvas)

So before her new show opens up this week at the 10G Gallery in NYC.. we thought we'd check in with Natasha, and see how things were going. Here's the first part, of a 2 part artist interview..


MAO Q1. Why did you decide to become an artist?

NK : I felt the need to express my innermost thoughts and unable to do this through other means, the Natasha_kissell_bubblerock_2006_3 thing that came most naturally to me was scribbling with felt tips, crayons whatever I could get my hands on as a child. It all took off from there.

(Photo #2, Bubble Rock, 2006, 48 x 48, Oil on canvas)

MAO Q2. Painting... ? So, with such a huge expansion of the contemporary art world into new media, why choose did you choose the "traditional" brush, oil, and canvas ?

NK : It's like a kind of alchemy, something happens when you play around with paint. You start off with your ideas, but then something completely different happens as the materials respond to your touch and you arrive at a completely different destination. This tactile quality leads to surprises which keep the whole process fresh and unlimited, taking me out of what I know and think to other thoughts and ideas. For example, I may be painting a mountain as an expression of hugeness of space, but this may be done in an ethereal wispy way or it could be concrete and heavy, both would be saying different things.

MAO Q3. Would you describe your paintings as photo-realistic or even figurative? What style would you most strongly classify your paintings? And which artists would you most like to see your art work hung next to in a museum, or along side in an art text book?

NK : Magical Realism. Don’t like photo painting as such, being limited by the photographic source Natasha_kissell_bibbidibobbidiblu_3 material and deconstructing it, about flatness and the lie that manipulates us. Realism can be more real than the world outside, more intense in feeling and alive. The magical element is my desire to transcend the physical reality of the everyday and represent the things we can't see. In this sense I love Caspar David Friedrich. His work is so understated in scale, working sometimes on quite small canvases, but always conveying a sense of something bigger and loftier, a huge expanse of Germanic mountain ranges and a single tree standing solitary like the human presence. Of contemporary painters, I love Peter Doig in his daringness of colour and painterliness, not apologetic for being a painter but boldly exploiting every trick in the book in the whole range of mark making.

(Photo #3, Bibbidi Bobbidi Blue, 2007, 42 x 48, Oil on canvas)

MAO Q4.  Ever since photography, painters had the need to react to it. The Modernist movements in 20th-century painting has frequently been thought of as a reaction to the increasing possibilities of photography. Today, many contemporary painters get their inspiration from photographs.  Where do you get your inspiration from and why do you choose to make paintings that combine Modernistic architecture with idealist landscapes?

NK : Photography has definitely been a major influence from the early 20th century onwards, but the lens as a tool in painting has I would argue always been there. Take Caravaggio’s camera lucida, Cannalletto used one as well, Velasquez, all the great artists of the past, Vermeer have had tools to help them to translate the world out there, 3D and moving onto the 2d canvas. So in a sense photography is nothing new and certainly not a threat to the validity of painting as an artistic medium today. I use many ways of looking at the world, plein air as the old masters did, most recently on a trip to the Himalayas, Switzerland, all over in rain snow and sun, but also from photographs found in magazines, newspapers, and the web. Source material from films, even books (described images can sometimes etch themselves even stronger on the brain). So this with your internal vision, your drive of what you see in your mind’s eye combines with the real world to create new morphed images, combining fantasy and reality. Something utterly new and never seen before. This is what I hope.

Modernist architecture is a device I have found useful in adding to the long tradition of English landscape painting. Turner and Constable painted their cottages, ships, horse drawn carts, and faced with depicting nature you can go two ways, accept that everything that can be done has already been done, or try something new, to update and add to the tradition, to try and add your own personal vision. This is what I am trying to achieve.

MAO Q5... Which painting (or paintings) that you've made are you most proud of? Why?

NK : I don't have any favourites as such, each is given equal attention and labour. Having said that Natasha_kissell_deepanddarkandbea_3 breakthrough paintings are always satisfying. When you take risks, and go places you haven’t been. So 'Deep and Dark and Beautiful' was an exciting venture into the gothic with the spooky car headlights which lead to a whole series of works exploring the darker side of the sublime.

(Photo #4,

Deep and Dark and Beautiful, 2006, 48" x 42", Oil on canvas)


OK... be sure to stop by tomorrow for part 2.. of the MAO - Natasha Kissell Interview.

You can also see more of Natasha's work here.

Her show along with her husband, Peter Harrap's, show.. opens up this Thursday May 8th.. at the 10G Gallery

Opening: Thursday, May 8th 6:30-8:30pm
Gallery 10G is located at 222 East 19th Street #10G bet. 2nd/3rd Avenues
Show Artists:


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I love the first( butterfly)The Vertical Hour painting!
My favorite images : Architecture and Butterflies.

MAO.. Great Blog.. very informative..

Nice interview..and Natasha's paintings look fresh, with multiple levels of interest.

Now..just 2 questions...
So how does an artist get to do a MAO interview?

Is it safe at assume.. MAO owns a painting by Natasha Kissell?

Of course it's safe to assume MAO owns a painting by this artist. He should divulge full disclosure rather than hide it Charlie Finch-style. I usually agree with MAO's taste in art, but this one he's WAY off. Forget about the hype. You won't succeed on this one, so don't try to get others excited to follow your lead. It's just kitschy and unfocused.

Thanks for reading the blog..Young Artist..

YES.. it's safe to always assume anything you read about an artist on the MAO blog..is generally in the MAO art collection already.

If an artist (or a gallery/currator) wants to do an MAO interview..we're always open to all requests. But we tend to only keep interviews to artists who are in or are about to have a solo show in NYC.

I quite like Ms. Kissell's work. I should confess that I own one of the pieces above. I congratulate MAO on his acquisition also, if, indeed, it is true MAO has one in his collection. Bravo, MAO. Enjoy.

This is great. I was little upset that i can go see the last comments in this blog so I see this comments is very excellent.

Greetings All, I am writing a Dissertation about Natasha Kissell and Modernist Architecture as part of my Fine Art Degree. I really need a high res image of Vertical Hour. has anyone got one, your help will be appreciated thanks

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