Exhibition alert: Cristina Popovici ‘I AM COLOUR’ @ Gallery 33

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Cristina Popovici’s paintings make movement out of colour; from her work you get the sense that colour was never meant for standing still. ‘I Am Colour’ is the latest exhibition from the Melbourne-based artist. With a palette inspired by the landscapes of New Zealand, it’s appropriate that it’s kicking off here tomorrow, at Wanaka’s Gallery 33, surrounded by landscapes have inspired artists, like Rita Angus, and writers, like James K Baxter, since people began coming here with brush and pen.

We had a chat with Cristina on the eve of the opening to talk art, inspiration and Melbourne on a perfect day.

The exhibition is called ‘I Am Colour’. Tell us about the palette you used is these paintings. There’s lots of emotion there.

In every exhibition of mine, there has always been a focal point that each piece draws to in some way or another; ‘I am Colour’ centres around colour, texture and how they interact, such as how colour follows form.

I allowed the element of ‘colour’ to be explored in this body of works by making the conscious effort to remove any biases I had towards colour combinations, letting new tones and harmonies be found in the process.

What also inspired the colour palette for ‘I Am Colour’ is a photography book of New Zealand landscapes; the contrasts of the sky and land depicted were very moving and I allowed that contrast to appear in my works.

As for emotion, it is a key ingredient to my painting method. Action painting uses my emotional charge and expresses it through the movement of marks–both from pouring or brush strokes. The colour palette also has influence over the level of emotions captured in an artwork.

You’re based in our favourite global city, Melbourne. What’s you perfect Melbourne day? (Ours would be: coffee, street art, vinyl shopping, tapas, more coffee, more street art, bookstore in the university district, more tapas, music, rooftop cocktails. And trams. We love trams.)

A perfect day for me will always be in my studio, where several paintings are in progress and I’m feeling inspired and ready to paint!

But in terms of Melbourne, nothing beats a sunny Sunday afternoon, visiting the National Gallery of Victoria or the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, where I can see great art in the flesh. Brunswick Street in Fitzroy is also high on my list of places to visit, where alternative boutiques and great bars with live music live.

What’s the best compliment you’ve had about your work?

One compliment I recently received is, “I wish I could live inside of your painting – it’s magic.”

You use both classical and action painting techniques – can you briefly explain “action painting” for the uninitiated?

Action painting is a form of art developed in America during the 40s, by major art figures Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning. It differentiates itself from other artistic styles through the expression of the artist’s psychological and emotional states by applying paint freely and energetically.

I discovered action painting through countless experimental works in my university years, and throughout my artistic career, I have developed a variety of action painting methods. From fast brush strokes, to throwing, or slowly pouring paint, energy and emotion can be captured in different ways. For example, a calm and ‘floating’ like visual image is the result of pouring paint; a static method that holds me in place in case intervention is needed, as the paint runs and slides on the canvas.

Each painting has a subjective meaning, where the viewer creates their own story from the work. There can be countless interpretations or perspectives, some of which I could encourage by emphasising certain elements. However I love the ambiguity, and I try to define only enough to provoke individual interpretations.

Who’s your art hero?

I’ve never had a ‘hero’, but as a young student I was inspired and looked up to the Expressionism movement. It was a way for artists to express themselves through modern lenses. I loved the concept of creating art that wasn’t just a static and representative image, but instead an emotional experience. Cubism was also a great inspiration for me, as this art movement revolutionised painting and sculpture in Europe.

Though, in the past few years what really inspired me has been connecting with a huge, international art community thanks to globalisation. Being in touch with the art world today, whether it’s very well-known artists such as Anish Kapoor or Leonardo Drew, to local artists who paint from their heart, as there is always something to learn from each individual.


Cristina Popovici’s exhibition ‘I Am Colour

opens tomorrow at 5pm at Gallery 33 on Helwick Street, and runs until May 15. 


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