New York residing, Chilean born artist Alonsa Guevara blurs the lines between reality and imagination. Take a look for example at her life-like fruits which she has dreamt up and then painted so real as if to look juicy and sweet enough for an afternoon treat.
We interviewed Alonsa to gain insight on this emerging artists’ process and inspirations. Take a look!
Tell us a bit about yourself (where you’re from, where is your studio, what kind of artist are you).
I am originally from Rancagua, Chile and I spent seven years of my childhood living in the Ecuadorian jungle. At 12 years old I moved back to Chile to get a better education and now at 28 years I am here in New York, a different kind of jungle! I moved here almost 4 years ago and for me it feels like my life has been a constant evolution, learning new things from different cultures and growing as a person and as a painter. I have my studio in Tribeca, New York. I spend more than 10 hours a day in my studio; it’s my favorite place to be. I am a very proactive a prolific artist. I love to create new things every time, trying new materials, surfaces, etc.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a big whole body portrait of my sister. It is an 80 x 32 inches painting. She is covered in watermelons, strawberries and other fruits from imagination. This painting will be part of a triptych. The other two will be a portrait of my brother and a self-portrait. It was very exciting to do the set up and photo-shoot for this painting. I have never seen so many opened watermelons in my life! The sensation of being inside of a mountain of fruits is unforgettable.
What is the one tool that you couldn’t live without in your studio?
I can paint with anything I have in front of me. There is nothing really indispensable for me, but I think I wouldn’t be able to work in the same way as I do now without my medium, that is 50% linseed oil, 20% stand oil and 30% gamsol. I love being able to thin down the paint and work as transparent as I want some times. I almost never paint without it.
What can we find you doing when you’re not creating?
To be honest, in the last years I have been very devoted to my art, but if I am not creating I go to gallery shows, I watch movies and something very important for me is that since 2012 I have been part of an amazing art volunteer team “The Embracing Art Team” created by Nora Ochoa de Ellis who is the founder and director of Visual Art Sur. With the Embracing Art Team we make different art activities to connect very distinct realities and cultural identities through dialog and art making. Our mission is to create social changes and responsibility through inspirational workshops around the Tri -State area in United States. I am very proud of being part of this team, and very soon we will be doing some workshops for Aid for Aids Organization where we will have a free art classes and will make auctions to help nonprofits of the area.
What should we know about your work?
I guess since I started painting at 12 years old I have been very interested in what is a fantasy and what is reality. My paintings are always a way for me to create illusions that call the viewer´s attention. A lot of details, brightness and saturated colors are present in my work. Although I like to leave some mystery and confuse the viewer with what is real and what is from imagination. Also I am fascinated by the history of still-life and the use of objects to provoke desire. Female imagery is also very important in my paintings. I incorporate characteristics of female archetypes and stereotypes, using advertising codes and alluding to mythological characters.
When do you get most of your painting done?
Before I came to the US I use to get most of my paintings done at night, but now I really get a lot more done after my morning coffee when I have a clear mind and my eyes have rested for a while. Also I have a lot of dreams at night and a lot of times a dream about painting, so I wake up very excited and desperate to have a brush in my hands.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I find inspiration everywhere!! A lot of times I try to remember colors, images or feelings from my childhood when I used to live in the jungle, and some other times I have dreams that are so beautiful that I just want to paint them. Also I have noticed that just talking with other people really inspires me. Lately I spend a lot of time with my partner and studio mate, James Raczkowski, talking about daily life, about our paintings and art in general. It can be very motivating to have conversations with other artists.
What would you like viewers to take from your work?
With my paintings I hope to please the viewer eye. I want them to believe in the three dimensional illusions that I create with my brushes and make them feel attracted to the painting. Desire and eroticism are key for my paintings. I hope the viewer opens their imagination and starts thinking about the paradoxes of life: desire & repugnance, fertility & decadence, birth & death and truth & fantasy. I am an optimistic lover of life and this is my way to show the inexplicable beauty and magic of it.
How do you work? (your process)
First I come up with the idea of what I want to paint. If it is not from imagination, I start looking for references: I take photos, find models to work from life or sometimes I make a 3D maquette that I use as a model for my paintings. I usually don´t draw, instead I cover the canvas with one color and then wipe out the lights to get some sense of light and form. Also sometimes I start painting with acrylic very lose and then I go over with a full oil palette. I work directly and indirect depending on the image.
What themes do you pursue?
I am fascinated by so many things. I love Still-Life, female imagery, Greek mythology, objects of desire, fantasy, illusion, and lately I have been working with the beauty of nature, specifically fruits and now I am incorporating the figure.
How has your work changed over time?
My work is always changing. I have a new idea and I go for it! It has definitely changed a lot technically since I joined the MFA program at the New York Academy of Art. I fell in love with working from observation and from imagination. When I started oil painting I painted from imagination all the time, but I did not have enough skills or knowledge to create what I had in my mind. Now I am getting closer, but I still have a lot of things to learn.
What do you like / dislike about the art world?
I love when I see that art is being used for a good initiative. I like the diversity and how unexpected some artists are and I really admire the creativity, talent and sincerity of some artists. What I don’t like about the art world is when everything important gets too subjective and money is the only objective goal.
How do you know when your pieces are finished?
When I look at them and everything make sense and it has the feeling that I want. If nothing bothers me about the painting…done!!