Laura Viñas uses the landscape as a source of inspiration but in a divergent way. Her creative processes articulate video, watercolor, photography and sound in compositions that appeal to a mental landscape rather than a real one.
Dolores Lamarca: Essentially in your work the landscape is the protagonist. How is the process of building your compositions?
Laura Viñas: The term landscape in English, comes from landschap in Dutch, who built part of their country by beating the sea and means “to build or create a landscape.” With regard to my work, I use landscape as a medium. These compositions are not real, they are constructions of my mind. I manipulate not only light but also color, both in my watercolors and in photography, I am interested in creating atmospheres so that the viewer can look at themselves as if they were in front of a mirror.
DL: Salvador Dalí used to say: “Whoever wants to interest others, has to provoke them”. What do you think is your way of “provoking”, in the sense of producing something in the viewer?
LV: I hope and wish that the viewer can find something in my work that “affects” him in some way. That he can remember the experience of being in front of the work once he is no longer in front of it.
DL: Who do you think made you find your true artistic path?
LV: I was trained in Luis Felipe Noé and Teresa Pereda workshops. The artists I have in my mind: Giorgio Morandi: I learned a lot about his fantastic technique by looking and copying his watercolors; Mark Rothko: I think of its atmospheres, its depths, the work as an icon; Sugimoto: I am especially interested when he refers to fossils as first photographs, and his landscapes of the oceans, his silence in his work; Xul Solar: his creativity and freedom; and of course the great video artist Douglas Gordon.
DL: There is a link between photography and watercolor in your works. Some of your photographs would look like watercolors or monochrome washes wrapped in a very mysterious atmosphere. Could it be that one of the techniques solves what the other fails to do?
LV: It is not a thought that I take into account when working. If a photo did not turn out, I do not try to rescue it with a watercolor and vice versa. I can, in any case, find a thread that threads the photography with watercolor: both have little material, and that inability to touch seems to me to have something to do with distance. And distance is the subject of my work. I can switch from one technique to the other or work both simultaneously. My beginnings are linked to watercolors as a conscious way to block the intellect due to the speed of the technique.
DL: Related to this, your series “Dark Pampas” is wrapped in a nostalgic atmosphere. Today, in the era of social networks in which filters are applied to almost everything, your “filters or mists” produce a haunting magic or poetics. How did the idea of ??those images sometimes blurred in space come about?
LV: It is work in which I did not apply any filter. I only altered the color to manipulate the atmosphere. Other works are built with images taken in other years and other places. As I mentioned to you, they are non-existent places, nobody can or will be able to visit them. I seek to blur the possibility of reaching the unattainable. The unattainable, infinity are notions that intrigue me. I like the dark, to move between the umbra and the semi-darkness, I am not particularly interested in color. However, I rarely work in black and white.
DL: “Utopias” is a series of miniature landscapes. They would give the feeling that the viewer is looking through a small hole into a huge universe. Is there something of that or is it simply the taste to solve from the micro?
LV: The “Utopias” are works that I began to do in 2011, precisely while doing a residency. They were logically evolving, but what I always kept was their size of 15.4 x 15.4 cm and their intimate spirit. I imagine a single spectator in front of each work. I am interested in maintaining that privacy. I kept the square format as a challenge, it is the “anti-landscape format” to put it bluntly. As for the size, if we think about it, it has a reason to be because when one looks into the distance that distance is small. “The ever further away” is infinitely small.
DL: The macro and the micro would seem to be a constant in your works. Your mention of the film Blue Velvet, if analyzed from the artistic point of view, it is perceived how the director plays with approaches of this type. Could they have something to do with the way you approach your works?
LV: I told you about the movie Blue Velvet, because just after years I had seen it again at the same time that I had taken those photos. It was a coincidence. I am interested in the point of view outside the rule, it is a point of view more of an insect, and as you say from the micro to the macro. I try to work freely on the particular subject of focus.
DL: In some of your videos the light fades, darkness arises and the sounds of nature increase, accompanied by what seems like a musical note that marks a certain temporality. How would you describe them?
LV: I set up installations with my watercolors on rice paper and then film, whatever it allows me to show or not, depending on how they move in space. Chance may or may not be a great ally.
As for the musical note you mention, it does not correspond to an instrument: it is the sound of a wire strung in an old tree. The sounds of nature are also constructions: I added sounds of day, of night, of sunsets. All day in one sound.
In one of Laura’s videos, the atmospheric light and the image of a landscape fade softly where the sound takes on a notable presence. In others, watercolor leaves its mark on the almost transparent texture of rice paper. This worries us and prompts us to want to know more about this mysterious world created by the artist.
© Photos are courtesy of the artist.