16 April 2011

Lauren Portada


Can you briefly describe what you do?

I paint and draw.

What drives you to make work?

Making work is an active relationship with seeing the world around me and the need to articulate those observations. 

Can you tell me something of your day-to-day working practices?

I am in the studio about half the week. I teach part time at a few different institutions and that keeps me in constant motion. I work on gessoed linen and panel, and while waiting for paint to dry, I make drawings so my ideas do not get stuck. I think Hemingway said it best in A Moveable Feast:

"The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start."

For me, it's important to come to a working place of knowing what needs to happen next as well as being surprised by what could happen next. I'm in constant negotiation: present-future, studio practice, work, loved ones, responsibilities, yoga, art-viewing, hiking, composting, day-dreaming, commuting.

How long have you been working in that way?

I've been working pretty consistently with a palette knife for 7 years. I abandoned the brush for a harder edge and ability to layer and scrape paint. In 2005 I received a Fulbright to India where dust and cross-contamination was inevitable. (I would open my studio door and a whirlwind of dust and debris would plow through). It helped me to be less precious and precise with my edges, which changed the space of the paintings.

Which artists have had the greatest affect on your work?

Giotto, Jasper Johns, Hans Hoffman, Piero della Francesca, Charles Birchfield, Vija Celmins, Raoul de Keyser, Alex Katz and, oh yes! Morandi: his color relationships continue to baffle and impress me.

What, outside visual art, informs your practice?

Expansive landscapes, horizons, voids and icebergs. I'm currently applying for a grant to go to the Antarctic to study glacial dynamism and alpenglow - how light translates space and shape in an environment with 'little' color and lots of reflection.

How would you like people to engage with your work?

I'm satisfied when someone is able to engage with my work on the work's terms. Maybe that seems somehow arbitrary, but I think it can be quite difficult actually; the work is always changing, whether due to lighting, environment, time, current conditions of our society. The work is connected to all of these aspects and also outside of it.

Have you seen anything recently that has made an impression?

Christian Marclay's The Clock. It was at Paula Cooper Gallery this February. What a feat of sound and visual collaging.

Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?

I'm a member of Regina Rex, and we co-curate and look at artists for shows in our space. We are a thirteen-strong artists' collective nearly one year old. This has afforded us the opportunity to have a dialogue with many artists and writers. I'm also very excited about what is now happening in the studio; I'm in the middle of finishing an 8 x 18 ft painting, the largest piece I've made to date.

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