This week Brighton Journal spoke to Isabela De Vasques, a multidisciplinary artist living and working between Brighton, Rio de Janeiro and Frankfurt. Isabela’s work explores displacement, belonging and the subconscious, frequently intertwining her own life experiences. She has taken part in exhibitions in Rio and London, and is currently finishing a series of paintings she has created for the upcoming Artist Open Houses. We discussed Isabela’s ongoing research, her favourite things to do locally, and how music is essential to her practice. Keep reading to find out more about Isabela and her wonderful work.
What are you doing today?
I am collecting research material for my next painting project, looking into a Master’s degree, viewing my options and retouching two works from a series of three paintings I have done for the Artist Open Houses this year.
Describe where you do most of your creative work.
Luckily I have plenty of natural light at home and high ceilings. I’ve created a studio space in my living room, dividing the space with an open bookcase. On one side I have books and records, and on the other side, facing the window, all the art material and a considerable chunk of wall. It isn’t big enough for large work, but that is ok for the time being. My next series project is about 100 x 120 cm. I also have a long table where I do all the prep, drawing and writing.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve worked on?
It is hard to justly say, every work is like a love affair. You get enthusiastic. I love, I hate, and I undoubtedly see and think of things that I haven’t done before. I can visualize and feel, but I don’t know how it is going to be or end up until it’s done, and that is exciting.
What made you decide to become an artist?
I don’t remember deciding to become an artist; it has consistently been a constructive path in my life. I grew up drawing, making things. I started studying art quite young. I can say I am a multidisciplinary artist, have coursed drawing, printmaking, book arts and photography in Brazil, Holland and over here in London. I have fidgety pairs of hands and like to translate my perceptions in various mediums.
What are you currently working on?
At the moment, I am writing and reading, researching about female statues and their representation in the ancient civilizations in the Americas.
What are the key themes in your work?
Displacement & belonging and the subconscious remain no doubt key elements in my work, but life events are also intertwined within my practice. It can be a book I am reading or a film I watched, a country that I visited, a social change that impacted me.
What would you like people to notice about your work?
Some of my work has an overtone title and there is a story behind it. It’s a surrealist playful note I like to give them.
What attracts you to the medium you work in?
Its plasticity. I enjoy experimenting; at the moment I am flirting with acrylics, it’s a pleasant medium to build layers fast, and it typically produces different paces of work.
What equipment could you not do without?
It is not a piece of equipment, but Music is essential. I don’t think I have ever worked without it, jazz in particular.
Who or what inspires you?
Literature, music, theatre, cinema. I am studying online with an international collective artist – sharing our artwork, ideas and knowledge is very inspiring.
How is your work affected by living in this area?
It’s a privilege to live by the sea, one that I, fortunately, have had most of my life. Brighton and Hove is a great and relaxed place to live. My adolescent daughter and I moved back three years ago, it’s changed quite a bit in a decade but is still a charming city. My work is on the “Artist seeking houses” list at the Artist Open Houses this year, fingers crossed (the pandemic won’t get in the way) they will find a place and I get to connect with other artists in town.
What’s your favourite thing to do locally?
Swim in the glittering sea in the summer; get the gravity off my body and soul. Before the pandemic I went to salsa lessons at the Bandstand on the seafront, its magical scenery, 360° of sunsets and moon risings while twisting and turning to the rhythm.
I can’t help mentioning food! Eating Moules marinière at my local pub, where they are deliciously prepared and served with some yummy rustic sourdough slices!
What’s your favourite gallery or place to experience art?
Vernissages are always fun. I have seen the most amazing retrospectives at the Hayward Gallery, but I get goosebumps walking down on the ramp at Tate Modern, it’s so powerful!
If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be and why?
One is hard to pinpoint, but I would dearly love to study and work at The Bauhaus. Can you imagine having Paul Klee and Kandinsky as your teachers?
What’s your favourite colour?
(Turning my eyes hesitantly…) Do I really need to answer that?!