La artista norteamericana Isabel Samaras charló con nosotros, en un reportaje exclusivo de Visualmente, en julio del año pasado. Su particular visión ha sido publicada en Juxtapoz Magazine, Metropolitan Magazine, en el diario The San Francisco Examiner, Axcess Magazine y en la International Tattoo Art Magazine. Si bien las pinturas de Isabel Samaras están realizadas con la técnica clásica del óleo, su iconografía con fuertes referencias al terror y mitología de las series que El Norbi veía cuando era chico, la hacen más cercanas a una especie de arte pop 2.0.
Por ejemplo, Homero y Morticia Adams son referencia obligada en sus versiones bíblicas, mientras que el Capitán Kirk mira con mucho amor a su primer oficial, el vulcano Spock, Batman le parte la boca a Robin. Nada ni nadie puede contener a esta bella genio de San Francisco.
1. What techniques and what materials do you use?
I paint in oil on wooden panels. I used to paint on tin (old tin lunchboxes and TV trays), and I got so accustomed to the smooth surface that I find canvas very bumpy now -- I like frictionless, sleek wood. And oil paint is lovely because it moves around on the wood in this really gushy, slippery way and it smells sexy and dangerous.
2. How was it working for Secrets of the Batcave?
I've had a long running obsession with Batman and even as a kid I used to imagine my own "episodes" of the TV show, what I wanted to have happen but never did. That's the beauty of being an artist -- being able to create these visions that you have in your head and share them with other people. (Most gratifying of all is finding out I'm not the only one who had these thoughts.)
3. How does a profession not known for having many women in it?
When I first started out there were very few women "lowbrow" painters, it felt like a "boy's club" and the same small group of us would always turn up at shows or be shoved into "women of lowbrow" exhibitions. But that's really changed tremendously over the last ten years -- at least within the Pop Surrealism/Lowbrow art scene. There are plenty of really talented, top notch women painters kicking serious art ass out here now.
4. What is the feminine traits that you put to work?
I don't think of my work as feminine at all -- in fact, I'd like to think that someone looking at my paintings for the first time wouldn't know if it was done by a man or a woman. I don't feel like I'm painting from a particularly feminine perspective -- I think of myself as a bit of an obsessive and kind of a geek, and I like to wear my heart on my sleeve and just pour out whatever I'm thinking about at the time onto my surfaces. I've always been captivated by issues of love and acceptance, so I often paint "stories" about monsters (the ultimate social rejects) , superheroes (people constrained by their "personas") and fairy tales (stories that were supposed to teach but were kinda warped). The cravings, fascinations and passions I paint about aren't particular to women -- I think it's a common theme for all humans. (And sometimes in my art -- animals!)
5. How do you choose the characters that will work?
I think they choose me. Unless I have a commission where someone has asked for a specific character in a painting, I just try to leave the door in my head open so ideas can walk in and rummage around. Sometimes I've got three or four different ideas and they have to fight it out to see who wins, sort of an artistic "survival of the fittest." (If I still think it's funny or interesting a week later, I'll usually sketch it out.)
6. What are your artistic influences?
I'm a walking sponge, taking in as much as possible all the time -- old classic horror movies, comic books, the TV shows of my childhood, music music music, stories and fairy tales and fables, all the forms and twists of love (good, bad and in between), dark chocolate, Old Master paintings of the Baroque and Renaissance, Flemish Masters, Ingres (one of my favorite painters of all time), a dash of pin-up and porn, and the natural world and all it's little denizens but most especially birds for some reason. I also really like fake teeth and glass eyes.
7. How was it working for The Birth of Ginger?
That was one of those ideas I'd been carrying around for a while and just never had time to paint, so when I finally got to work on it I had so much fun! There's often a picture in my mind of what I'm trying to do and the goal is to get the finished painting as close to that mental image as possible -- and it can be a real struggle sometimes. Every once in a while there's a "crisis of faith" where I don't feel like I'm capable, like I might not be up to the challenges I've set out for myself. But that one came out exactly the way I'd envisioned it, so it was just pure pleasure from start to finish. (And the idea just seemed like a natural because of Ginger's status as kind of screen goddess and the nautical/shipwreck theme of "Gilligan's Island" -- so of course she should step into Boticelli's "Birth of Venus"!)
8. How long does it take you to do one of these works as, for example, In The Garden?
I think the quickest I've ever painted anything was a very small piece and it took a week, but I didn't sleep much, and the longest I've ever spent on a painting is probably three months. "In The Garden" was a while ago so I can't remember for sure, but if I were guessing I'd say it probably took about a month. (Gomez's chest hair and all those leaves!)
(Una especie de autoretrato, como si fuera Caperucita)
9. How would you describe your style?
Old Master meets Pop Culture? (A friend once dubbed me "GIrl Master" which I thought was pretty funny.) If I had to put more words to it, I'd say I paint in a fairly meticulous style that involves a lot of layers and details, heavily influenced by art from 17th and 18th century, but usually with a humorous and/or erotic twist. I often feel like I'm looking inside a cartoon superhero or a bird or Goldilocks, and seeing something within them that maybe never had a chance to come out before, some secret wish or yearning. So my job is to make that desire a reality and then share it with everyone.