I'm so pleased to share the work of a new artist friend with you today! Eliana Marinari is an abstract figure painter based in Geneva. She has a very unique style; both dynamic and sensual. I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do!
Please tell us a little bit about where you live. What is it like being an artist there?
I live in Geneva, Switzerland. Geneva is a very conservative city and it is very difficult if you are a foreigner like me who did not study here to be ‘accepted’ and included. I contacted a few artists when I came here 4 years ago from London, to see if I could join some of the local communities. However it was difficult, in particular my work was criticized by some of the artists I met as not being conceptual enough but boringly illustrative. I was looking for beauty and not content, they said. Recently, I finally joined an artistic community where I have my studio, which welcomes different forms of arts and crafts.
Have you always known that you're an artist? When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has your art career evolved?
I always liked to create things, encouraged in particular by my father, who is very creative. The biggest project we did together when I was a child was to build a Villa for all my Barbies (around 20). We built it from scratch using wood panels, which we cut and glued. Then we painted it, using stencils to copy the logo from Barbie. When I was a kid, I wanted to be several things and changing with the season I think! When I was 14 I asked my parents to join Art school, but I received a clear NO from them, based on the myth of the starving artist. So I had to do it on the side and took several art extra curricular courses. I went on studying in the evening and weekends with 2 mentors from Accademiadelle belle arti in Florence, studying classic drawing and painting and while taking a degree in Science as my real job. I then moved to London, where I did a PhD at University College London on how microscopic changes in cells affect volume and shape of the body. During my 6 years in London my artwork focused on life drawing and figurative painting, studying with a tutor at Central S. Martins.
Are you a full time artist or do you also have a day job/side hustle? If you do have a day job, does it tie in with your art practice?
I work part-time as a scientist at the University of Geneva and part-time as an artist. I would love it in the future to be a full time artist but for the moment I don’t earn enough from art practice.
Can you talk a bit about your process? How has your work evolved over time? What are you working on right now? What's new or different about it?
In the beginning I was drawing and painting nudes. From there I started to focus on movement rather then the form and volume of the human figure per se. I generally start from found images. From there, I build a sketch by digital painting and digital collage. Then I reproduce my sketch on big canvases using acrylics at first and adding layers of oil painting. At the moment I am experimenting new techniques and materials as I feel like I need to evolve.
Are there certain themes that show up in your work over and over again?
I am also thinking about the subject of my work more. I have always chosen women as the subject of my work and, recently, this very interesting article inspired me: Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interests, (published in Science, one of the most renowned scientific journals). This article talks about how common stereotypes associate high-level intellectual ability (brilliance, genius, etc.) with men more than women. These stereotypes discourage women’s pursuit of many prestigious careers; that is, women are underrepresented in fields whose members cherish brilliance. These stereotypes are endorsed by, and influence the interests of, children as young as 6. Specifically, 6-year-old girls are less likely than boys to believe that members of their gender are “really, really smart.” Also at age 6, girls begin to avoid activities said to be for children who are “really, really smart.”To the theme of women, I really I am interested in capturing the instantaneous perception of movement.
What is your studio practice like? Do you have any rituals or routines that help you get into the creative zone? Do you ever get creative blocks? How do you get unstuck?
I have a very simple studio practice. I go out of the house, leave the kids at the nursery, and go to my studio and start painting or preparing work by doing sketches. Since I have a limited time for my art, I really try to get the most out of it, and in general, I am quite absorbed by my work. In the pastI have experienced a creative block for 2 years. But I felt ‘haunted’ by my imaginarypeople, and when I paint them, I don’t feel haunted by them anymore and it’s liberating.
The fluidity and sense of dynamic movement in your work is so compelling! Can you please talk a little bit about the inspiration for your paintings?
Thank you! I draw inspiration from movement, and dance in particular. My favorite choreographer is Pina Bausch, and you could say that my work is figurative, being the female figure the main subject. However, I usually develop my work almost like an abstract painting by studying the color composition and integrating the figure in it.
Let's talk about work/life balance. How do you balance family life, studio time, business and time for yourself?
This is a very important and critical question because I am still struggling with keeping a ‘balance’. I have two kids, a 4-year old and a little one of 8 months. I work full time, having 2 jobs, and I see them at night and weekends (when I am not painting). This is a right ‘balance’ for me because I spent 8 months home during maternity leave with my eldest son and since then I knew that being a full time mum for me was not a good option. I mean, I love my kids very much but I wasn’t happy.
Who (or what) are your biggest creative influences?
One of my biggest creative influences is Gerard Richter. He studied motion, the human figure and he is an amazing oil painter.
What does being an artist mean to you?
It means create and realize the projects and ideas that I think about, so they do not haunt me anymore. And my biggest dream would be to do it full time.
If you could give your 20 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t listen to your parents when they decide for you what to do with your life. By the way, I probably wouldn’t give this advice to my kids! ;)
Do you have any questions or comments for Eliana? Please add them to the comments below!