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Paula Zariņa

Paula Zariņa

I'd love to know a bit more about you! Where are you based?

I’m from Riga, Latvia and this is where I’m mostly based.

What first interested you in making art, or painting?

I come from an artist family so I believe I was "poisoned" with this world quite early. Although I deliberately tried to escape this magic circle, now I know that that's the only thing that I can do the best, and that gives some kind of meaning.  Every new painting gives me a momentary awareness of fulfillment. 

What has your arts education been like so far, whether formally or informally?

Before attending the Art Academy of Latvia, I went to a “normal” high school and learned mathematics and physics – I thought that I would be an architect. But then somehow in the last months before university entry exams, I shifted to painting. And coincidently the exams for architects and painters where at the exact same time – after a long battle with myself and my fears I got into the Academy of Art.

I got my Masters degree in painting in 2013. A good experience was studying in art university in Lorient during Erasmus, and doing an art residency in Paris.   

You describe your paintings as "magical realism" landscapes; can you elaborate a bit on that? Where do you derive your ideas from?

By connecting views I see and things I imagine, real and unreal I create my point of view. The environments in my paintings usually are colorful, mysterious and dreamy landscapes – it’s not like we can find them in real life but at the same time you can say that it’s a landscape.

My ideas come from everything around me – it can be a song, a movie or just a view. I follow my intuition and urge. I just somehow find something that really interests me and then I have to paint it. Like the big triptych “the parallel landscape” with the gates and a sculpture of Aphrodite – that time I couldn’t take my eyes and mind of every old gate or architectural ruins I could see.

Do you have any particularly significant influences, or mentors who have had an impact on your practice?

I like a lot of different artists, but Peter Doig was the most powerful influence when I was studying. Now I don’t have any particular influencer – I absorb everything, and I can find small inspirations in most of the art pieces I see. The last big inspiration was an alabaster sculpture by Jaume Plensa.

What is your process like? When do you know you've finished a piece?

I have to know what I’m going to make before I start a painting. I don’t make precise sketches, but I have to have a vision - the big idea, the approximate colors, and the mood. Ideally I can make the most of it in one approach. It’s important because I like to wipe out some places so the color still has to be wet. I work quite quickly; mostly I use sponges and rags instead of brushes.

I know that it’s finished quite intuitively. When every brushstroke seems to be in its right place and nothing's bothering me, then it’s done.

What is your studio space or workspace like?

My studio has to be in the same place I live in. It is very important that on my way to the kitchen I can get a glimpse on my newly started painting, or I can drink my morning coffee looking and thinking about my works. So currently I have one room in my apartment that is my studio – it’s already getting too small!

What is the best advice you've ever received?

That you have to listen only to yourself and trust your intuition.

What do you need most as an artist?

Besides the materials and canvases and all other practical stuff, I need a good light (best if it’s natural) and a big space. Concentration, belief, and conviction are needed too.

What do you feel is the most challenging thing about pursuing art, either creatively or professionally--or both?

Probably the fact that you are alone with yourself in this. Sometimes you have to act as a self-psychologist and convince yourself that the new works you are working on will be the best you’ve made so far.

What is the most exciting part, or what compels you do what you do?

Firstly, it’s the part when I’m painting, and if I succeed as I want, it’s a momentary awareness of fulfillment. Each brushstroke is like an electric charge. The second best moment is when I see the paintings in a gallery – only then do I suddenly realize how much I have done, and that’s the moment when I “let them go," when there are no more doubts or changes to be done.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you're currently working on?

Yes, I’m preparing for a solo show in July 2017. It will take place in the Arsenals Exhibition Hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art. The new works will be like a sequel of my previous show “Awarenesses,” but with more symbolic details.

Anything else you would like to add?

Thank you, Kate! :) 

Find more at paulazarina.com and on Instagram @zarina_paula!

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