Ahead of her solo exhibition with Moosey Art, I sat down with artist Victoria Nunley to discuss her practice, her dream dinner parties and her humourous titles!
How would you describe your works in 3 words?
Humorous, dynamic, flat.
Talk to me about the titles of your works? Where do they come from?
Oh, titles. I’m glad you asked this. Titling a painting is really hard, and for a long time I didn’t title anything, or I would give my work a garbage title in a fit of desperation at the very last minute.
I never want to be too direct because it feels like I’m instructing the viewer about how to interpret the work, but being too vague feels like a cop out. It’s a tough line to walk. Right now, the majority of my titles are a line of dialogue I believe the subject is thinking or saying.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I’m interested in making what I think is an intriguing and satisfying image to me. So I harvest from various sources: the golden age of American animation, Renaissance paintings, Japanese anime, hard-boiled detective fiction, to name a few. What they have in common is that they are vehicles for storytelling, visual or written. They contain dynamic compositions, surprising imagery, transformation sequences, visual gags, clever turns of phrase, humor.
What are some themes you explore in your practice?
What it means to really try to move forward, what non-linear progress is like. The difference between being alone and loneliness. Perseverance, guilt, shame, pride, stubbornness.
Have you had any particularly memorable reactions to your works?
A couple of people have expressed that their knee-jerk reaction was to laugh but then immediately wondered if it’d be too mean to the subject struggling in the work. (It’s okay, you can laugh.)
Lots of your work have an element of humour in them. What role does humour play in your practice?
I use such a direct visual language that it’s essential for me to slow down the read of the image in some way. Humor is a way to do just that. Truthfully, I started using humor because I couldn’t figure out how to make something without being a little bit funny about it. I firmly believe everyone has their own specific sensibilities when it comes to painting, and this is mine.
In real life, we can use humor as a deflection tool or defense mechanism. But when it’s used in art, humor can be deployed to arrive at the painting’s meaning in a less direct way. I like to think of it as coming at the meaning sideways, like a bishop on a chessboard rather than a rook.
If you could have dinner with any artist from any time: a) who would the artist be?
b) what would the meal be?
Hands down, Caravaggio. Not only was he an incredible painter, but his personal life was absolutely bananas. No, I don’t approve of violence and murder, but I have no less than eight hundred questions for him and I’m a nosy person.
“Delicious but Distressing” would be the theme of the dinner. We would exclusively eat foods he would have no way of ever consuming when he was alive— things like flamin’ hot cheetos, pineapple, sour patch kids, peanut butter. Separately, it would be intense for Caravaggio, and together it would combine horribly in our stomachs. But really there’s nothing like sweating and an upset stomach to really bond two people together. And I wouldn’t feel too bad about the horrendous gastric distress because he was, after all, a murderer.
Who are the subjects of your works?
It could probably be interpreted as anyone, but when I’m making my work I’m talking about myself from the past. Could be me from five years ago or five weeks ago.
Who are some artists you are following at the moment?
Choo - choodraws
Alessandra Criseo - mais2_art
Sasha Gordon - sashaagordon
Min Heo - minstudio
Grace Kennison - petulance_
Arghavan Khosravi - arghavan_khosravi Corey K Lamb - coreyklamb
Kristen Liu-Wong - kliuwong
Maud Madsen - maud_madsen
Nikki Maloof - nikkimaloof
Lauren Martin - laurenmartin_studio Shona McAndrew - shona_mcandrew Caitlin McDonagh - caitlinmcdonagh Rebecca Morgan - rebeccamorgan10 Mai Ta - qmaita
Natalie Terenzini - terenzini_