An exclusive interview with fabulous artist Serena Singh @redknockout_official
Born in Switzerland in 1992, Singh has had a passion for drawing and painting since she was a young child. This life long energy and fascination comes out through her colourful masterpieces.
Her work EMBODIES colour and texture. Her canvas are full to the brim, rippling with energy and excitement. They have this delicious retro look, since most of her palette appears mixed with base tones of white, reinforcing this sumptuous dream world she has created in her work. I am such a fan!
In our recent interview, we discuss Boxing (of course!!), dream dinner parties, artistic anxiety, studio space and more…
First question, what is your Instagram handle?
Tell me the story behind it?
Sure, it started like this: I‘ve loved boxing since I was 15. I wanted to combine my creativity with it, so when I was 19 I founded my own t-shirt brand called Red Knockout. Red represents me, I love the color red, it stands for passion and power.
Knockout is what you want to achieve in boxing, in the ring, that‘s why Red Knockout. On my Instagram page I mainly posted about my shirts, art and boxing. After a while art became more and more important and my creativity went from shirt designs to paintings on canvas. That‘s how my life and my instagram page developed. You can still buy my clothing at www.redknockout.com.
THAT MAKES MUCH MORE SENSE. THANK YOU! SO, HERE'S A Quick one, what 3 words would you use to describe your artwork?
Expressive, harmonic, serene.
PERFECT. NOW, Tell me about your artist story. How were you trained? Tell me about your journey to where you are now?
My story began in Basel, Switzerland where I was born in 1992. Already having a passion for painting as a small child, I drew for hours in my nursery. The heroes of TV such as Dragonball and the human body alongside faces and expressions particularly interested me. I attended Basels Art School and went to Munich (Germany) to study visual and corporate communication because I am also fascinated with branding. Thats why the „SERENA“ signature on my paintings looks like a logo ((laughs)). I graduated 3 years ago and since then I have been working as a brand designer and pursuing my practice as an artist as well.
What is your studio like SERENA? Where do you like to create best? What are your artist necessities? What could you not live without?
My studio is a big room where I can paint on the walls, on the floor or on the table, which is really great. I like it when it‘s tidy and there isn‘t too much distraction. My necessities are my flat brushes, my paint cans and my canvas roll.
What do you listen to while you work?
Sometimes I don‘t listen to music and concentrate on being in the moment, which is very meditative. But when it comes to music, I like it either relaxed and jazzy like Frank Sinatra or i throw my own little party in my studio and I listen to hiphop and house music, which puts me in a good mood.
What does an average working day look like to you?
When I am working on Design Projects, I design in the morning until late afternoon and I am painting in the evening. I love to paint when it‘s dark outside and everyone is asleep.
Who or what are your biggest influences, and how do you find them? How do these come out in your work?
My biggest influence is my origin. The array of colours within my art is inspired by different cultures. As the daughter of an Indian father and a Swiss mother, distant worlds have always interested me. I find these influences everywhere, in fashion, in books when I‘m traveling, on the internet...
What do you want your work to say? What are the main themes and motifs running through your work? Is there anarrative that runs throughout?
The dominant themes in my art are Identity and self-discovery. I take a critical look at the individualism of today‘s society. The characters in my paintings are exploring the relationship to themselves, to others or to the room in which they are located. They often closed their eyes or looked like they were lost in thought and completely with themselves. Often they are followed by one or more shadows, using the mythological ideas from many cultures, the shadows mimic the reflection of the soul; the „second ego“ of man. For me, it also represents the different identities of a person. We become self-proponents not only in our usual lives, but also in virtual life, taking on a multitude of personalities and identities – it is these different identities I aim to show through the colourful shadows.
Tell me about your artistic process?
At the centre of my paintings are my feelings and the path my life has taken. The process of creating a painting begins with an event, person or encounter which inspired me. I have a collection of various photos and pictures ranging from magazines to the images i compile inside my mind; which I merge to create a collage which is then painted as a silhouette onto the canvas. Bringing the canvas alive with a cacophony of colour, merged into a background.
What are you most proud of during your career?
I am very grateful that my paintings hang in fantastic places in countries like Dubai, Switzerland, England or the USA. But I think the best is yet to come, I have just started...
Do you ever feel nervous about parting with your work?
No, I love it when my painting gets a new home. For everything that leaves, there is space for something new.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
People who don‘t know that I box and have competed earlier can hardly believe it. The other way around, the people who only know me from boxing are surprised to see that I paint.
If you could have a meal with any artist from any time, what would the meal be and who would it be with?
I would eat sushi with Takashi Murakami and Akira Toriyama (Creator of Dragonball),that would be epic! ((Laughs))
What is your greatest indulgence in life other than painting?
That‘s an easy one: Boxing ((Smiles)).
What are you working on now?
I am working on a new series of artworks that continue the concept of my painting „Thinking Woman“. There you can see a figure in the foreground and an architectural construct in the background.
What would be your dream project?
It would be fantastic if a new, breathtaking building (such as a hotel) were built and I could take over the artistic direction. You could see my art in the whole building. In every room a different concept and different paintings. That would be awesome!
Favourite historical female artist?
I admire the french portrait painter Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, who portrayed numerous aristocrats including Marie-Antoinette around 1800 and was very respected for it.
But I also have to mention Tamara De Lempicka because her paintings of strong and independent women are so empowering and timeless.
Favourite current practicing female artists?
German artist Katharina Grosse, who makes huge,colorful, incredible installations.
Who should She Curates interview next (as many as you like!)?
Shout out to the amazing Sam Rueter @sruetercreates and Lauren Brevner @Laurenbrevner
Is there anything else you wanted to say?
Big compliment to She Curates, it needs more women like you who empower other women!