Nathalee Paolinelli, Fall 2010
Interviewed by Colleen Heslin
Plaster, Paint and Poetry

Your studio practice has really accelerated over the last few years; you've been making some exciting exploratory abstract painting and sculpture.

I decided at some point a while ago to move into my studio. I knew that living in my studio would mean I would have to confront my work each day. It so happened that I made friends with my paintings....they were the first thing I'd see in the morning and at night, even after I turned off the lights I lay on my back looking at the shadows of their shapes in the glow of television billboards that entered through the windows. The space allowed intimacy with my work that was new to me and it shows in the work, people have expressed what stands out in the work is the ‘care’, both given, and required for meaningful interaction, what enables this gentle quality has a lot to do with the fact that I lived with them… ate, payed bills, made out, danced, fell asleep on the same table as I paint on. I think it is here that one arrives at what is interesting about the work in that it has a very close encounter with the daily, some-may-say trivialities that art is often struggling to distinguish itself from. Often a result I’ve learned is, that the work appears to others as unfinished at first.

I was talking to Lisa Cinar the other day about your work and she remarked that you have always had a strong sense of colour, can you talk a bit about your relationship and interest in colour?

I like to feel out the colors, which is to say, without consciousness of ideas. I never begin with a specific palette— I lay the colors on the table and let it happen...pure, if you will, intuition. I have tried the opposite and that is as far as I’ve ever got with it. I feel stunted if I only have say six colors to work with. The meaning of the colors that are eventually chosen by my intuition, or you could say, by the painting, gather their meaning by exactly that fact— that they were chosen out of a possibility of other colors. I like to act this process out. However, at the moment, for some reason or other, I've said that maybe ill try it out again (this opposite way of working) to see if my reaction is different.

I'm always stuck by the momentum in your work. I've always seen your experience with fashion design and fabric patterns as a trajectory for the shapes and patterns that you explore in your studio practice.  Does that play a role in your abstract paintings?

The fashion work I did was all tied up with trends and was ultimately very confusing. I don’t think it influenced my studio practice. I would attribute influence of that sort solely to the people closest to me. They have a huge influence on me.

What are your biggest influences right now? Personally and internationally?

As I said my influences are those closest to me. I love all art. That which I don't understand intrigues me the most. For the longest time I had trouble appreciating Surrealism and now I'm mesmerized. Once one begins to think about gaps, one must encounter the thought: how is it that any-thing is anything but a gap... I think of the gaps in songs.... "divisions only memory may cross". I'm reading a book by the artist Roland Penrose... I can't put it down.

Last winter you mentioned that you we're really into Keats, are there any other writers, poets, music or films that have inspired new ideas, perspectives and work?

As far as inspiration goes I get so much from the people around me. My biggest inspiration now is Harlan Shore.

You currently have a solo show up at 304 days titled NEVER BEFORE EVER AGAIN, where did the title come from for this body of work?

The title is the first line of one of Harlan's poems. He says to take it one word/ moment / thought at a time, i.e. Never, Never before, Never before ever, Never before ever again. What is interesting to him, he has told me is the impasse upon which 'Never' carries through the following three words.  1 = act. 2 = relationship 3 = perception 4 = nextness.  It’s the feeling of things leaving... of knowledge of:

'that which passes being
that by
which one stays'

The act of creating often feels like the act of a grace carried out in a moment of passing.

I see a lot of music and movement from the colour, shapes and installation. The sticks remind me of drumsticks, how did you settle on the final installation of the sticks?

I think flying drumsticks is an accurate summation of what is happening in the sculpture.

Your use of plaster is bringing new dimensions to your painting, mobiles and sculptures - how did this come about?

The plasterwork was a response to the slower painting work that I’ve been doing. I wanted a release.... working with my hands in this visceral way helped me 'cross many bridges'. So much depends upon what is not done/ said/ made. The plaster sculptures give way to a viewing of the paintings that I felt was important.

After this show your heading off to the Stadelschule to study painting with Michael Krebber, which must be an exciting direction to be moving towards, what excites you most about this opportunity?

I've been feeling sort of stuck in the same spot in Vancouver, I've lived in over 40 different buildings here, and the art scene is unstable. So many aspects of Vancouver are insecure. It is exciting to move across the world for multiple reasons. To have that sense of a world, that is round, that may be measured, is certainly one of them... Also, I trust my teacher, Michael. I have some ideas of a direction that I want my work to go in, and Germany feels like a place which will act as catalyst…

Thanks NP


    interviews next