Interview With Graziela Guardino

Graziela Guardino is one of Art Pharmacy's newest and most promising artists. Looking over the years, her works have blossomed from their fresh beginnings in her teen years to the highly-developed abstract works they are today. With an array of university courses and collaborative projects under her belt, Graziela’s practice highlights colour and composition as a means to contemplate her consciousness and connect to the natural and immediate world around her. The Brazilian artist is perpetually experimenting and creating, her mind a constant feeding ground for ideas to conglomerate and flourish into a creative forensic splatter of vibrancy.

How long have you been painting for?
I started to attend private painting classes when I was thirteen, 24 years ago in Brazil. I spent 4 years learning oil painting techniques and art history until I decided to go for a university (visual communications) and follow another path.

After 15 years working as an event planner, I quit my job and enrolled into a few short art courses in Sydney. I first went to Julian Ashton Art School in 2012 followed by National Art School. In 2013, I got into my masters course at UNSW art and design.

What is your general art-making process?
My art process starts when I wake up- ideas come to my mind all the time. In the studio I like to create works simultaneously. I make small works on paper as sketches to inform my larger works. I usually work with acrylic paint mixed with lots of water and sometimes I use oil pastels in the last few layers.

The process consists in creating a pallet, mixing and pouring the paint and letting it (the paint) dictate where to go, resulting in formless, floating compositions. I am interested in the integration of colour and form.

What processes have you undergone to reach your current art-making style?
I think it is important to try out and experiment with mediums and materials as this forces you to develop new ideas and solve problems. I love the every day challenge.

Materials play an important role in my paintings as well. I have tried oils, acrylics, pastels, watercolour and pigments. I work with different surfaces like canvas, papers, wood, aluminium - the list goes on.

Two years ago I started to use polyester and I found that my pouring technique works better with it. The absorption is perfect. It took me a long time to learn the exact drying time and how each pigment reacts to the material, but once you get to know the pigments it is easier to control the flow of the paint.

What do your works explore and what, if there is one, is the artistic polemic behind them?
My artworks engage with a long-standing tradition of Western abstraction, specifically within the context of painting. Within this tradition there have been discourses that extend and refute conventions around a range of problematics, including modernism limitations and the very legitimacy of painting itself.

I would not say that there is a specific polemic that drives or motivates my artistic practice. That is not to say that I don't engage or deny the validity of any positions artists may have in relation to critical discourse in the context of abstract painting.

I am interested in a discourse that expands into a cosmopolitan way of thinking about abstract painting. A discourse which isn't limited to a Western way of thinking but rather opens up and includes both occidental and Eastern ways of considering both formal; form, shape, line and colour, and content which engages and draws from inspiration and ideas in the world I live, wherever, geographically that may be.

What is the connection between the consciousness and your use of colour and form?
According to Freud, memory is not always part of our consciousness as it can be forgotten or repressed, but we can retrieve it and bring to our awareness. When I am painting, I am researching my consciousness all the time, trying to bring the memories that inform my work back to the present moment. The forms, colours, tones, shapes will all exist in this present moment while I am painting.

You mention the establishment of your works uses nature as "a means to another end", what role does nature play in your artwork?
Nature plays a vital role in my creative expression. It is such an immense and complex topic. Nature’s beauty is ingrained in our lives, our history and our culture. It helps me to interpret the world around me and the art I create becomes part of my cultural identity.

Colour is an important aspect within your works, how does your knowledge and practice of colour theory influence the outcome of your works?
I was privileged to have met the right professionals to teach me everything I know about colour and painting. I had the amazing artist, Marisa Purcell tutoring me for the past 3 years and I have spent the same amount of time learning colour theory with the artist Charlie Sheard at UNSW Art and Design.

I work very hard to understand the colours that I have. Every new paint that I buy, I study the pigment, the reaction with materials and mediums, the drying time. It seems a bit crazy, but when you are actually making the work this knowledge naturally comes through and consciously influences the results of your work as you are more prepared to make quick decisions.

Where do you draw inspiration from to create a new series of works?
I draw my inspiration from everywhere, honestly. At the moment, I am living in Hong Kong, so my inspiration comes from all the contrasts in this eastern country. That disparity between the landscape formations, edges, colours and the humanity in the city… The tremendous urgency to respond and take it all in. The beautiful skies and incredible mountains falling down into this busy city, everything happening so fast. The energy of the country pushes you to work and create.

When I am too immersed in the urban life, I have to come back to the landscape to bring back the intimacy that was lost; but in the end it is all inspiration.

Are you working on anything at the moment?
Yes, I am working on my research project for my Master course at HKAS (as part of RMIT University Melbourne) and also finishing a series of black paintings and an installation piece for an exhibition in Sydney.

Do you have any upcoming shows or features anywhere?
I have an upcoming joint show called “In Between” at Gaffa Gallery in Sydney next June and a solo show at Hong Kong Arts Centre in January next year.

Words by Lotte Thomson-Vock