Artist Talk – Pop Artist Alex Palombi
Artist Talk: Curator Georgie Clark, chats with popular bluethumb pop art artist Alexandra Palombi.
Many of your works feature the female face and form, often painted alone with their thoughts, their faces looking to the viewer as if to share an intimate moment – can you tell us about the various emotions and emotional themes you convey in your work?
Well that’s very true they do, and thank you for picking that up – I think basically I am a very emotive person myself and I think that women are at times quite involved with their thoughts, and they live in their heads a lot of the time, when there is a quiet moment to themselves. I like to express, almost biographically, the moments that I’ve had, and intimate moments I’ve shared. Obviously not directly my own portrait, but women that have been around me, friends of mine – that capture the image of being in that one space and I’ve been there, seen it, witnessed it. And the reason why I paint women is because I like to paint about us, being a woman myself, and the growth that you have as a women from your teenage years into adulthood. I think that is something that needs to be expressed in a powerful way and if paintings are to do anything they are supposed to bring out emotions.
As I have mentioned you favour female subjects – which women have inspired you creatively – either from your life or from a-far?
Some of them are women that have been created in my head, so imaginary, almost fictional characters, others have been inspirations – so women, friends, best-friends and I merge there looks into one person to help convey what I am trying to say about the particular mood or tone. It is fun almost creating a story in your canvas yourself and creating a character.
Are you influenced by any artists in particular?
From early on Penny Dowie who has been my mentor, she was the Doug Moran portrait prize-winning artist of 1989, with her painting of her niece Caitlin. Having been brought up since a child around Penny’s studio and seeing her work in progress, and also been subject to her work which, predominantly features women as well. She paints in a very colourful emotional style as well but she’s an impressionist, her inspirations are Nora Heysen. She’s an incredible draftsman and illustrator, and her pencil skills are fantastic. She has been a massive inspiration to me and although she is more realistic and I am more stylised, her choice of palette for each character I’ve tried to emulate in my work.
The bright colours you use in your work are often accentuated by glimpses of raw canvas beneath, and bold black line – Can you talk a little about your love of colour?
Colour makes you happy, it makes anyone happy, it conveys a mood. Something I really got into was colour therapy for a while, and how if you are in one completely different mood and you see yellow or blue, how it can change your thinking. Colour, in terms of a design aesthetic, it’s wonderful to have something “pop-y” on a wall, regardless of the theory behind the painting. It’s nice to have work in the home. It’s an interior design thing for me, the use of colour, I like things to fit peoples homes. Also, I love colour matching and complementary colours, so I often pick palettes that aren’t going to clash.
As an artist you have experimented with many art forms, for example photography, can you tell us what has drawn you to painting on canvas at this stage in your work?
Canvas painting really took off when I was at art school, I went to university to do photography and I got in with my portfolio for photography, but having been at art school – it exposes you to different and other forms of medium. And where painting had been something that I had loved at school, during that break photography had really taken over. And if anything photography helped me with my composition of painting, and that is something for some artists, it’s the trickiest thing – planning a composition, particularly when it’s not a still life or a landscape and it’s something completely imaginative – so photography has helped my in that regard. You use both sources all the time, so with my photography I use how I paint a picture, how the light would come through the lens, and with photography it would be how to frame someone’s face, to take a photograph or crop an image.
And you have been drawing a lot too haven’t you?
Yes a lot of pencil work and pencil is a lot freer and can then go into the picture itself. My pencil work is really just the plan but when the painting develops itself it takes on its’ own identity, I try not to keep to a recipe as such, I like room to move.
You obviously take a lot of joy in the creation of your work, do you ever think about the life your paintings take once they are sold – Do you imagine how others may respond to them – Does this motivate you in anyway?
Totally, because you know your paintings are like your babies. Just recently there were a few paintings that were unfortunately damaged and it is incredibly heart reaching when that happens because they are pieces of work that you’ve created, and so the same things happens when they are sold. I think when you start off as an artist at the beginning; the first couple paintings that you sell it is quite difficult because they’re going to live somewhere else with a new owner, forever.
So you find it difficult to part with them?
I used to, now I don’t. Now it’s like – right I’ve done this work I’m ready for the next. Now it’s really part of the process, so you create a work and then ultimately at the end you need it out of the door so you can create new fresh work. So it’s just the final stage of a piece of work that it’s being pick up by someone who loved it enough and it’s incredibly humbling as well that someone has got the money that they’ve worked hard to for, to love something that you’ve produce and created yourself so much that they want to hang it in their own home, is very humbling and quite an honour.
But you’re constantly thinking about your work all time, it’s like a puppy and you hope it’s gone to right home, that’s why it always great to catalogue your work keep track of where it’s going.
What can your followers on bluethumb expect from you in the future, are you working on any new ideas at the moment?
Yes very exciting things a float at the moment, I’m currently painting for a boutique hotel called Soho on Flinders Street, I’m going to be painting for their rooms, I’m going to be their feature artist at the hotel, it’s really exciting
I also have a few exhibitions coming up so make sure you look out for my work, things are selling really quickly, it’s an exciting stage in my emerging artist career at the moment.