Meet a NYFA Artist: Alexandra Pacula
NYFA speaks with 2010 Painting Fellow Alexandra Pacula.
NYFA: Hi Alexandra, what are some of the ideas or questions which most inspire you at the moment?
AP: Right now I am most inspired by the vibrant energy of cities. We live in a time of cities that never sleep. The lights never go out and are brighter then ever before. I want to capture this energy and preserve it in my work. I believe the future will look much different especially because of the threat of oil shortage looming over us. It seems imminent that one day the lights are going to change.
NYFA: What do you most need as an artist right now?
AP: Time. There are not enough hours in a day sometimes. There is so much more to being an artist than just making the work. It would be nice to have an assistant. I guess that is what I really need right now.
NYFA: Can you describe your workspace or studio?
AP: I was very fortunate this year to receive the Robert Sterling Clark Visual Art Space Award [as part of her NYFA Fellowship], which provided me with a studio space at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation in DUMBO. My studio has large windows with an amazing view of the Manhattan Bridge and the river. I can hear the trains going by and it provides a sort of soundtrack for my work. It is an ideal space for me right now because I will be using both the view and the sound to create my next series of paintings.
NYFA: Are you aware of future viewers of your work while you are working? Do you have expectations for their experience(s) in viewing the work?
AP: Yes, I am aware of the viewers. I try to recreate an experience, to capture a fleeting moment. I want the viewers to feel like they have experienced a similar moment when they look at my paintings. I also think about how my paintings are going to be received years from now. I hope that they will be a record of our times. That, just as Hopper’s paintings so strongly show the somber mood of the early 20th century, mine will present the hustle and chaos of the early 21st century.
NYFA: Where did you grow up, and how did this influence you, if at all?
AP: I was born in Poland and came to the US when I was 14 years old. Coming from Krakow to New York in the early 90’s was a big shock. New York City was so much brighter and louder than Krakow. I remember the first time I walked through the streets of Manhattan and how overwhelmed I felt. There was so much energy; it was fascinating and frightening at the same time. I think that first experience of wonder influenced my work a lot.
NYFA: What other artists or other individuals most influence you?
AP: Edward Hopper with his ability to capture mood in painting. Gerhard Richter because of the way he is able to capture blurry imagery and create complex, layered abstract work. Marilyn Minter for the way she captures glitter and reflected light. William De Kooning because of his expressionistic brushwork. Wassily Kandinsky because of his compositions. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner for his Berlin Streets and use of color. Georges Seurat’s for his masterful drawings.
NYFA: Describe your ideal vacation.
AP: My ideal vacation would be one that provides a total shock to my senses. Right now it would be a cabin in the middle of a huge forest, high up in the mountains with perfect summer weather.
NYFA: How do depiction and/or representation operate in your paintings?
AP: I use photographs as reference for my paintings. I do not project or trace because I am not interested in photorealism. I want my paintings to feel spontaneous and expressive. I use a common, cheap digital camera because it allows my imagery to relate to a very common experience of snapping pictures during a night out on the town. The viewer can recognize the origin of the image and it brings back his/hers familiar experience. That is why I like to have recognizable elements in my paintings. It gives and idea of a certain place or time. In many cases I select images that comment on our society, it gives a broader meaning to my work.
NYFA: How has receiving a Fellowship affected you?
AP: Receiving the fellowship was a confirmation that I am on the right track with my paintings. I have been working very hard for the past 5 years on this particular series and I still have more ambitious paintings in mind. The Fellowship allowed me to purchase materials for my next large painting. It is a triptych made of three 6 by 8 foot canvases. It has been an honor to work with NYFA on a few exhibits one being the show at Pfizer [as part of NYFA’ Curatorial program) and the other the launch party for NYFA benefit hosted by Alex McCord and Simon van Kampen of the Real Housewives of New York reality show. It has also been a pleasure meeting the other artist who received the Fellowship this year they are all very talented.
For more information on Alexandra Pacula, visit her website.