Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Namaste Highland Park Gallery Featured Artist: Shalini Pace

Shalini is a first generation American, whose parents moved from South Africa to the United States. Shalini has lived in Highland Park most of her life, and recently graduated with a Religious Studies degree from Occidental College. To find out more about her art, read the interview below, where Shalini discusses her inspirations, her spirituality, and the themes she explores through her art.

What is your spiritual background if you have one and how does it influence your art, if it does?

I was brought up with different spiritual backgrounds. When my parents lived in South Africa they mainly practiced Hinduism.  But my brother and I were not brought up with one religious path.  Our parents raised us both pulling from Hinduism and Buddhism in a spiritual sense, which definitely influences the way that I think and that is then translated into my art.

Religion and theory coincide well, both trying to answer confounding questions, but what I realized with art is that I could explore a completely different way of thinking. With art there can be so many different understandings.  That is why I never had a tight grasp on what the artist’s intent is because I don’t think that really matters.  I think it is about what it means to the viewer at the moment they are viewing the piece, you can look at a piece numerous times, and each time you could be thinking different things and feeling different emotions.  I think it is probably the most amazing thing when you can look at a piece of art and an emotion is evoked from it.  Especially a visceral and strong reaction. That is what I strive for in my art. I really hope that this has a reaction for other people and that I don’t need to spin intent onto my pieces, I want the viewer to look with inside themselves to figure out what might be going on.   

What is the inspiration for your art or at least for one of the pieces that you have in the studio?

All of my art is usually influenced by what I am reading at the time and what I am feeling at the time. So naturally the pieces that seem a bit darker, however you want to interpret that, they are based on weird theories, usually asking the questions, what is thought? Why do we think in certain ways? You know, the questions that go on and on, with no answer. But that’s the thing, I am not trying to answer any questions, but just explore the questions deeper.

Do you have a favorite piece, and if so are there any stories that go along with the creation of it?

I guess, I guess it is not necessarily my favorite, but the most interesting piece would be, “The Figure in the Scream.”  It is the first painting I did outside of a classroom setting.  I didn’t really paint or draw or do any art before I got to college before that I was really heavily into sports, which took over most of my time. But when I got to school I shifted gears. I wanted to explore different avenues.  So I fell into taking some art classes, which I was always curious about, but never got to explore.  But this piece I did outside of a formal art class.  I was actually in a class called “Religion and Politics” class.  And for our final project I ended up bartering with my professor to allow me to do a painting and a small manifesto on Deleuze.  And so I picked up the book “Logic and Sensation,” and it’s basically Deleuze trying to explain the process of painting through Frances Bacon.  I read the book from cover to cover, listening to interviews, and after a very long process of trying to go deep into Deleuze’s mind, I felt I was ready to undergo the process of putting his theory into practice and make this painting. 

So what I tried to do was to embody what Deleuze was describing.  One theme that he explored was the figure emerging out of the painting, and elements of losing control. And to do that one has to really immerse oneself in chaos, which then can become a space in which you can just lose yourself.  And the best way I thought to imagine what this experience was like, was to lock myself in a basement for two days and just paint something. And the weirdest thing is I don’t remember what happened down there.  When I came to, or came back into consciousness, this painting was just in front of me. And then I realized I needed food and had to go to class, and I when I got to class, I was up there trying to explain my painting but I was just at a complete loss for words. What I really caught onto was Deleuze’s idea that the fear or whatever anguish gets evoked from a scream does not come from the sound of the scream itself, it comes from the physical emotion, the motion of the scream.  If somebody tenses up, it is not the noise that evokes emotion from us it is the motion.  So that is what was going through my head during this painting.  But after I made it I could not explain it for the life of me.  My art really is just me trying to let go.

How would someone be able to contact you if they wanted to purchase a piece of your art?

Email is probably the best way to reach me, Shalini.Pace@gmail.com or facebook, you could follow my instagram but that would be just random pictures of my everyday life.