gallery : theapartment

Paulina Cassimatis interviewed by Sotiris Kyriakou

Q: What do you get out of painting your subjects rather than photographing them?

A: Some would say that a painted likeness of a person or a thing is redundant when you can photograph it, but they are forgetting that the artist uses the sitter as an occasion for expression. My teacher use to say its not what you paint that matters but how you paint it. Of course to capture the likeness is a priority, the more I observe someone the more forms I find, lines and colours that bring forward the personality. Its a magical and passionate process for me. The sensuality of colour, form and its possibilities completely absorb me.
While I paint I get lost in time. The act of painting remains alive and always will be!! It’s a world with a language of it’s own, very different to that of photography.

Q: Have you ever painted more than one portrait of the same sitter?

A: Yes I have and it is like painting them again for the first time.
The light is definitely different, their mood for sure…. plus I am a different person too. Day to day we evolve, we learn and can change our minds about so many things. I believe that the way one paints is a mirror of who they are at that moment in time. Art generally is about that. What we choose to present is our truth. The more honest we are the stronger the work.

Q: For you, what role does painting as a medium play either formally or in an expressionistic way, that makes it integral to the result you want to convey?

A: Through painting I can express myself in a direct way. Brush stokes convey emotions. Colour, line, form and gesture are in conversation…
they are in a relationship. There is an intimacy but also a freedom in the boundaries of painting. So much can be expressed within the limits of this medium. Paint and canvas, simple means, still giants in this field in times gone have given us masterpieces that we sit and admire for hours while our eyes and hearts are in some kind of strainge communication beyond any logic. I love that!!

Q:To what extent do you want readings of your work to be based on their specific content, (about the relationships with these people)?
Does it imply a humanistic assertion and celebration of human nature?
On the other hand, how much are your paintings an appropriation of styles and genres for which the content is essentially a vehicle or a red herring?

A: But yes!! any occasion to celebrate the human nature don’t you think??
I can not separate one thing from the other. There has to be a style, there has to be content and there has to be a concept. This all works together.

Q: What interpretations do you want the background of the paintings to encourage? Some are more tentative, in-between spaces, others are almost monochrome whilst others are much more turbulent; some seem to hint at a space beyond the painting’s edge. Are they both formal devices and psychological spaces?

A: In these paintings I asked the sitter what their favourite colour was and I used it as my main colour for the background. It was not my choice, it was them. I found that so interesting, something like a collaboration between the two of us. Finally, both formal devices and phychological spaces coexist.

Q: Are your paintings, to some extent tributes to friendships? Have you or would you paint someone you did not know?

A: Yes, I have painted people I don’t know but I have painted friends too. Whoever sits there is a source of inspiration for me and as you mentioned earlier, they are the vehicle, they are the source together with the magic that happens when the party begins!!