Today’s SHE CURATES artist is the phenomenal @anjasalonen
Salonen’s work spark an element of the familiar, but as though from a parallel dimension. They are in some ways uncomfortable, often with the subjects faces contorted, staring beyond the viewer into the unknown in their somatic reality. Are they bored? Disturbed? Despondent? Who are we to say.
A clear interest in a wide range of conceptual ideas and styles is apparent in each of her works, amalgamating in the pieces we see before us.
“I want my work to express a view of reality that is other than our own; beyond capitalist realism, beyond Cartesian dualism, beyond the illusion of separation, beyond individualism. I want the viewer to sensorially experience a world where all is interdependent, conscious, alive, and overlapping. I want my work to invoke psychospiritual spaces that bring more love, compassion, and beauty into the world. I don’t think I’ve made the artwork yet that I’d like people to remember me for, but I’m certainly working towards it.”
Anja, tell me about your artist story so far. From everything I've read your journey started when you were young?
I was always attracted to storytelling and making art as a child, and I was very lucky to grow up in a creative family where my artistic inclinations were encouraged from a young age. Around age thirteen I took an oil painting night class at an art center nearby, where I fell in love with the medium instantly. The sensuality and vibrancy of oil painting became central to my practice and to my life. I looked to old masters as teachers and developed an intimate relationship to the historical evolution of painting.
I felt it as my lineage, and ever since have been committed to the evolution of my own painting practice within and beyond its context.
I think that's incredible. And, can you tell us a bit about your process, and how each of your artwork comes to be?
My process is cyclical, moving through phases of ingestion and phases of output. Everything I read, experience, learn, question, encounter is digested and out of this soup arises ideas, images, poetics, contradictions. A picture, a pairing, a quality will emerge as a seedling, then engage in processes of filtration and addition as I work it out in material form.
And this process, does it come from an external source?
I draw from my own body and people around me as sources, as well as from digital imaging - mesh figures, 3D models, icons, stock photos. This visual language interests me in both its ubiquity and its uniqueness. Digital space has its own constructed spatial dynamics that differ from our own, but through illusions of space and shadow it feels relatable. Stock photography claims to indicate collective symbols of experiences and objects, exposing the banality and whitewashing of universalized visions of life. Depth is exchanged for surface, perspective for layers. For me, these qualities interact with the nature of painting, particularly representational painting.
Who or what are your biggest influences Anja?
My influences are broad in rage. Early on I was drawn to Renaissance painting and particularly Mannerism where things got weird. The harmony of Renaissance painting was manipulated to create surreal and distorted visions of uncanny realism. I’ve been inspired by surrealist and transcendentalist painters, cartoons, symbolists, experimental music, film, digital imaging, spirituality, philosophy, psychology, literature, poetry, nature, ecology, practices of healing, abolition, anarchism, feminism, gardening, relationships, other than human beings. These are all expressed through my work in each choice I make, and construct a value system that guides me.
"I want my work to express a view of reality that is other than our own; beyond capitalist realism, beyond Cartesian dualism, beyond the illusion of separation, beyond individualism."
From your early training Anja, how has your work developed?
I began with a very classical training in oil painting. Before art school I went to study painting at the Aegean Center in Paros, Greece, and spent months touring Italy seeing all the old master works I had studied in school. When I went to RISD I had to break free from the classical training I had received, and looked to a lot of graphic and cartoon imagery as sources. I also started incorporating flat digital aesthetics and painting more loosely. I’ve moved into very large scales and three-dimensional panel pieces, and back to canvas. I feel that I now draw more heavily from my classical training again, while incorporating all of these varied visual sources into my visual language. I’ve also expanded into music and performance, and am currently half of a project called Dovestone with artist Allegra Jones.
And what would you say are your career highlights?
The highlights of my career have definitely been the incredible artists I’ve been honored to collaborate and show alongside with.
What do you hope your work expresses?
I want my work to express a view of reality that is other than our own; beyond capitalist realism, beyond Cartesian dualism, beyond the illusion of separation, beyond individualism. I want the viewer to sensorially experience a world where all is interdependent, conscious, alive, and overlapping. I want my work to invoke psychospiritual spaces that bring more love, compassion, and beauty into the world. I don’t think I’ve made the artwork yet that I’d like people to remember me for, but I’m certainly working towards it.
What are your artist essentials? What do you need for work?
I need solitude to make art, and my studio functions as a sanctuary space for research, experimentation, play, and creation.
And what do you for fun?
My relationships are very important to me and spending time with the people I love is one of my favorite things in life. I play with my bunnies, go on adventures, make art, make music, watch films, swim, travel, connect with nature, meditate.
What is your greatest guilty pleasure?
Your favourite historical female artist?
And who is your Favourite current practicing female artist?
I don’t know their gender identity but Janiva Ellis is one of my favorites