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Art What!: An Interview with Artist Eva Armisen (Love Stories at Ode To Art Singapore)

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A Party

Spanish artist Eva Armisen arrives in Singapore for her first solo exhibition, Love Stories, with Ode to Art gallery and for the inaugural launch of OLA Executive Condominium which is developed by Evia Real Estate and Gamuda Land this February.

In Love Stories, Armisen focuses on family portraits, with a series of work  that spans three generations and includes family pets, suggesting the significance of familial bond and time spent together. Based in Barcelona, Eva is instantly recognised through her child-like, but never childish, works. With a focus on capturing daily lives, Eva takes the mundane and habitual and transforms them into vivid representations of mindful living. The portrayal of families is common as her works revolve around family, love, and togetherness. Characters are often depicted either having a meal in the dining room or posing as though having their pictures taken. By looking at Eva’s paintings, viewers will feel as though they have been given a rare peek into the private life of another family.

Eva also often paints a portrait of a girl with a button nose, dark-haired, optimistic eyebrows, completed with a wistful smile. The painting emits an optimistic, purposeful, and confident vibe despite her being a lone figure in most of her adventures. Eva’s paintings frequently highlight the nuances of hope and intentional perspectives in lives – which explains why her characters are usually smiling. To Eva, painting is like a home, one which she can go back to each time she needs it. As such, her paintings can be viewed as a form of journalling and reveals her inner thoughts, dreams, and life views.

Prior to her arrival in Singapore and her exhibition launch, read our interview with Eva in full to find out more about her work and artistry:

Together

Bakchormeeboy: When do you think you developed your signature style recognizable across your artworks? In art school, did you ever imagine this would come to be the style of work you would be known for?

Eva: My painting has always been autobiographical. In a natural way, the main female figure has become the storyteller. I think I’ve always painted what excites me, in a way trying to stop time and retain what moves me. Painting has given me the super power to change things, to create the world as I wanted  and I think my style has evolved according to the need to communicate emotion in the most direct way.

When I was studying at the University I had no idea what my way of painting would end up but I could not imagine my future without painting, now the same thing happens to me. As a student I was curious, I tried, I copied, I was searching my way and I experimented a lot. I painted and painted without worrying much.

Bakchormeeboy: Growing up in Zaragoza, what was it that spurred you into eventually pursuing art as a career? 

Eva: I was very lucky growing up to have an art teacher that awakened my vocation. She inspired me. She showed me that I could communicate through drawing and painting. For me she represented freedom and painting, the way to access it.

I have almost no certainty in life but I know that I will paint as long as I am able, it makes me happy. In Zaragoza my home town, I had the support of my family and that helped me feel safe to devote myself to painting.

Bakchormeeboy: You’ve mentioned that most of your artworks are inspired by or based on your family. How would you describe your relationship with your family, and how they’ve been integral in your artistic journey?

Eva: My work is like a diary. When I look at my older paintings they bring me back in time. They can take me back to what I felt and to what I was living at the time. I can somehow come back and understand the changes.

I am inspired by what excites me and is often in my daily life. The family is a mini society that can be used to explain many feelings. I started painting because I was shy and I had less trouble drawing than talking. Expressing with an image what I feel is easier for me.

Bakchormeeboy: What did you hope to bring across, as a cohesive statement, with your exhibition Love Stories? 

Eva: I would love that the people who visit the exhibition can enter the paintings and feel that they are their own stories. 

Bakchormeeboy: What would you say separates ‘good art’ from ‘bad art’?  

Eva: I don’t think there is a formula to make that distinction  I think art is capable of generating a profound reaction, a change. For me, the perfect circle closes when the observer or viewer endorses the work and feels that it is made for him or her. The power of art is infinite.

A Special Day

Bakchormeeboy: You’ve recently collaborated on the book ‘Mom is a Haenyeo’. Your appeal in Korea has been particularly strong, could you share how this relationship with Korea started and developed and why you think it has such powerful appeal there?  

Eva: I started working in Korea eleven years ago and I have never stopped. The connection with the Korean people was created from the first moment that I exhibited my work at an Art Fair in Seoul. It is wonderful to experience that coming from a completely different culture and with many communication difficulties Korea has given me the opportunity to take my ideas to new formats  and also gave me the chance to meet the Haenyeo (the women divers from Jeju Island). 

These women have inspired me a lot in my work and in my life because they combine the values that I admire the most. Independence, pride in their work and teamwork. The deep respect they show for nature and the knowledge of their own limits. For them greed is not an option. After meeting them I illustrated the book “Mom is a Haenyeo” by Heeyoung Koh. It has been one of my favorite works ever. It was published in Korea in 2016 and it is now on its 13th edition. Last December, we translated the book to Spanish and Catalan and we are looking forward to the Japanese edition in April.

Bakchormeeboy: Artistically speaking, what’s next for you? Do you have any long-term or short-term goals you have you hope to achieve soon?

Eva: Until mid-April 2020, you can visit “Home” at the Busan Cultural Center in Korea. It is the largest exhibition I have made to date with more than 150 works – paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics and audio-visuals. The publication of “Mom is a Haenyeo” in Japan, China and France is also planned. 

In Singapore, I will continue to work with Ode to Art Gallery and am looking forward to new projects to come. I am very happy to have had this opportunity to work with Ode to Art in the last few years. As one of the biggest local gallery in Singapore, this platform has allowed my works to be more widely known in this part of the world. Back in 2018, I was in Singapore for a Mother’s Day collaboration with Ode to Art x Raffles City where I painted with children in the mall. It was lovely interacting with them and getting to know different cultures.

Love Stories runs from 23rd February to 7th March 2020 at Ode To Art,  #01-36E/F, Raffles City Shopping Centre,  252 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179103. Admission is free. 

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