I'm thrilled to share the minimal, delicate work of Graziela Guardino who is currently living and working in Hong Kong while pursuing her studies. I'm instantly drawn to the understated beauty of the materials she uses, typically acrylic on various fabric surfaces such as polyester, linen, or organza. While she has previously worked with some color, more recently she has been exploring possibilities in form through a combination of textile compositions and paint, but with a primarily monochrome, greyscale palette. I like that by taking away an emphasis on hue, we interact with these paintings in terms of value and texture.
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Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I’m a Brazilian-born Australian artist living and studying in Hong Kong who is working on diverse mediums such as painting, installations and sculptures.
What first interested you in painting?
I started making drawings when I was about seven or eight years old. I remember I had an amazing primary art teacher that introduced me to Van Gogh’s drawings. My first painting was a horrible copy of one of the Sunflowers series, I absolutely loved making it. When I was thirteen, I started to attend private painting classes. I spent 4 years learning oil painting techniques and art history until I decided to go to University.
I'm really drawn to your choice of surface material, such as organza and polyester. What inspired this?
I was always drawn to fabrics, so when I moved to Hong Kong last year,I couldn’t find the type of canvas that I was using back in Australia.
Then I started to research and explore different types of materials and fabrics to work with.
When I first tried organza ,I loved it. It has an amazing sense of fragility and touch, which is something I want to convey throughout my work. It seemed perfect as a way of describing my current research concept of fragility and vulnerability.
You're currently pursuing an MFA in Hong Kong; how has that experience been so far?
It has been a great experience. Through my MFA research I have learned to explore and be more playful with materials. I feel like I am expending my practice and investigating more through the notions of what a painting can be. I feel my work would have been limited to paintings-only, if I was still in Australia.
Have you noticed a difference in how you approach your artwork now that you are in Hong Kong as opposed to when you were in Australia?
Yes, definitely. The environment is completely different and this certainly influences my work.
In Hong Kong, my inspiration comes from all the contrasts in this eastern country. That disparity between the landscape formations, edges, colours and the humanity in the city… The tremendous urgency to respond and take it all in. The beautiful skies and incredible mountains falling down into this crazy city, everything happening so fast. The energy of the country pushes you to work and create.
Sometimes I get too immersed in the urban life, so I have to come back to the landscape to bring back the intimacy that was lost and that I used to have back in Australia; but in the end, in both places, it is all inspiration.
What is your process like? How do you get started, and how long does a piece typically take you to finish?
My process starts when I wake up- ideas come to my mind all the time. In the studio I like to create works simultaneously. I make small works on paper as sketches to inform my larger works.
The process consists in creating my current restricted monochromatic palette and then mixing and pouring the paint to the fabrics .I am interested in the gradation of colour and light.
When the paint is dry I start to cut the fabric and play with composition.I like the idea of deconstructing and re-building materials.
I am also experimenting with installation and sculpture, which is a little out of my comfort zone, and I am enjoying it a lot.
The time to finish depends on the medium. A painting can take months, a sculpture will take weeks to develop the idea, but the making is usually quicker than a painting for me. I guess it really depends on the work, there is no formula for me.
Who or what are some of your major influences?
My influences are my own experiences and feelings.
In terms of other artists, I have been looking at Eva Hesse, Doris Salcedo and Louis Bourgeois. My old time favourites are the minimalists Sol Lewitt,Agnes Martin and Barnett Newman and the abstract expressionists Helen Frankenthaler and Mark Rothko.
I am also very inspired by poems and my favourite authors are Willian Butler Yeats and Willian Blake.
What do you find to be the most exciting or rewarding part of pursuing art?
I get very excited when I finish a piece and it matches my expectations, but recognition is surely the most rewarding part of being an artist for me. I am deeply touched when someone is able to capture the ideas and sensibility in my work.
Is there anything that you find particularly challenging?
I find it hard to balance my art practice with the art market. I guess as an artist the only thing I want to do is to be in the studio making good work, but I also want people to see the work.
This part of putting myself out there is challenging and requires a lot of energy.
What do you need most as an artist?
I need a quiet space to create, a quiet mind and routine.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects?
I will have my first solo exhibition in January next year at the Hong Kong Arts Centre and I am curating a group show in March with a few another emerging Australian artists at Cat Street Gallery, in Hong Kong as well.
Find more at grazielaguardino.com!
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