Just delighted to share work and a wonderful interview with London-based artist Cristina BanBan! Her work emphasizes personal experience, subjectivity, and connectivity with others around us. She offers some gems about trusting one's work, and balancing what you really want to make with what might be commercially successful.
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First, tell me a bit about yourself! Where are you from, and where are you based now? When were you first introduced to painting or art-making as something you were interested in pursuing?
I am from a town near Barcelona. I asked my parents if I could start on a painting course when I was 5 and I continued in that Art School as a regular after school duty continuing until I started my BA. As a teenager I knew I wanted to pursuit a career as an artist but I didn't have a clue how I would make a living. It took me a while to understand and nowadays I am happy I took the right decision. I believe in the idea that if we have to expend most of our life working it should be by doing something that makes sense to us.
I moved to London in 2012 and have a studio in Hackney Wick, an area that is sadly changing too fast, and workspaces are disappearing. Luckily, I still have a great studio in an amazing old building where there is a community of artists working together and sharing experience.
Can you tell me about your practice? Are there any particular themes or ideas that your paintings point to or are influenced by?
I like to look at what I have around me. I mostly paint people doing things, sometimes in situations that are also familiar to me, stressing the subjectivity of the personal experiences. When I don't use figures to narrate a story you can find mundane objects and street scenarios in my paintings. I feel inspired by daily life and the act of painting itself.
One of my recent paintings, Friday Night, was clearly influenced by Philip Guston's piece Painting, Smoking, Eating (1973), a self-portrait of the artist in bed, smoking, with his brushes and a plate of fries. These elements help to contextualize the image and to describe the character and this is the arrangement I wanted to transfer into my painting. In Friday Night, a woman is looking at her phone and lying on the bed, for me, a place where we can finally relieve and a symbol of the day ending. The mug with the tea bag, the still fuming cigarettes and the hot water bag are a metaphor of time consuming.
What is your process like? How much do you plan ahead before starting a new piece?
Before starting a painting I have in my head an idea of how it would look then I try to reproduce it. I normally do a quick sketch on spare paper and then I draw a couple of lines on the canvas that help me to think about the composition. What most likely happens is that I don't follow my own guidelines and everything changes but this is the starting point for me.
I work on different layers of paint through an additive and substrate process until I feel the image is completed.
What is your studio space or workspace like?
I have wall space where I paint and a table to do small/clean jobs and admin. My studio is on the 3rd floor and I have a huge window that lets in a lot of light. The building is full of talented and inspiring people.
What is your favorite thing about your medium?
I mostly paint with acrylic, it allows me to create any sort of texture. Also it dries pretty quickly so it helps my way of painting as I believe I work in an energetic kind of way. I paint very thick layers so while one are is waiting to dry I am usually able to start painting something else.
If you could offer a piece of advice to a young student just beginning a BFA, for example, is there anything you've learned so far that you would offer them as advice?
Believe in the idea that work is now your best friend and the studio is your second home. Work hard, stay curious and be patient.
Is there any advice you've received that you've been glad you decided not to take?
At the beginning of my career I heard the idea that maintaining a day job was vital to survive. I think this is true to a point, but there comes a moment when you must fully commit time and energy to your practice.
What do you consider "success" to be as an artist?
To have your work being recognised and to be able to establish a regular income.
What do you consider to be the most challenging thing about working as an artist or pursuing art?
To maintain doing the work you are happy with alongside commercial taste or demand. Also it is very easy to find yourself isolated when working long hours in the studio and this can be sometimes difficult to deal with.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you're currently working on?
I am working towards an exhibition in May here in London and another one in Barcelona before the end of the year. I am also working on several commissions at the moment.
Anything else you would like to add?
This is a great resource of information and an amazing platform for finding contemporaries in the field. Thanks for your interest Kate!
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