Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My interview with stella vine:

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[British artist Stella Vine has been causing quite a stir overseas. Her oft distorted and twisted portraits of figures famous and otherwise have gotten her plenty of media attention - and the notice of Charles Saatchi, one of the art world's most influential figures. Paintings by Vine that sold for hundreds of dollars only two years ago now sell for tens of thousands. On the eve of Vine's newest American exhibition, set to occur at Pontiac's Museum of New Art on Sept. 15, Detroit artist and Real Detroit contributor Ann Gordon checked in with Vine at her home in London.]

Real Detroit: I've heard that you like to finish a painting in 10-20 minutes; I can relate to wanting to finish a piece in a fresh stage. What do you say to critics who think that an artist has to toil over a painting for days, weeks or months? I have had to fight with myself in the beginning stages of paintings that early resolution is OK, have you ever had to do that?
Stella Vine: I did used to make paintings in 10 minutes. Not any more, now a painting takes a few weeks to a few months. I think I keep challenging myself more and more, and just 10 minutes, that kind of confidence I had once has gone, I'm more like a furtive little mouse. It gets harder and harder. In fact, it's a battle to get into that little world that I like, a childlike place of secrets, and to ignore any voices of advice or criticism that have left some kind of residue in my brain. I hope I get better and better, but maybe I get worse and worse. Like many creatives, I guess I keep moving the goal posts. I'm riddled with self-doubt. I still know when I've finished a piece though.

RD: Do you mean to shock people with your celebrity portraits of contorted, dripping faces or are they meant to be taken more as a chuckle?
SV: I suppose it's meant to evoke an emotional response; I have no desire to shock, sometimes my work is provocative though.

RD: How would you describe your work? Do you follow current art trends?
SV: There are contemporary artists I like, and have been inspired by - Karen Kilimnik for sure, Sophie Von Hellermann, Chantal Joffe.  But no, I think if anything I prefer to go and see stuff that clicks with me, that could be from a vast array of stuff, normally really old stuff though, and not to bother too much about what's in and what's out, what's fashionable etcetera. I feel happier ignoring most of that. It's rare I see something in an art mag that interests me, most of the time I feel empty, but occasionally there will be something I love, so I do read most things available to do with contemporary art. My work is really a skewed self-portraiture - my autobiography through all the people in my head.

RD: Is there anyone at the moment that you really want to paint?
SV: Well, Princess Beatrice at the moment has really captured my imagination. I think she is quite charismatic, and I feel she's got the vulnerability and strength that interests me.

RD: Your past is a much talked about subject. Do you get tired of being labeled or do you believe it has fueled your success?
SV: I think it really helped to give me a platform. It's a platform that has been ridiculed, but I appreciate it nonetheless. I think often people presume I'm quite stupid. I don't know if that's because of how I put myself across or if it's because I was a stripper. Sometimes I feel from the way people patronize me when they talk to me that they seem to find my work very interesting but that it's some kind of sheer fluke or accident that it's that, not from any kind of considered decision-making on my part.

RD: I know how important connections are to artists, whether being involved with other artists or knowing the right collectors or galleries. Have you figured out how the "art game" works?
SV: Oh, it's tricky, isn't it?  |

Stella Vine's exhibition at the Museum of New Art (MONA), located at 7 N. Saginaw St. in Pontiac, opens Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 28. For more info: or 248.210.7560.

Ann Gordon's solo exhibition Parts at Michigan Institute of Art (located below MONA) also opens Sept. 15.

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Blogger umferdinand said...

wonderful! :D

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

congrats on the interview, ann!

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

stella has arrived in detroit.

she's gotten her paints and materials, gratis utrecht -- and john cynar.

she will start on her mural friday and continue through sunday, with visitors welcome between 12 and 5pm.

10:33 PM  
Blogger umferdinand said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:16 PM  
Blogger umferdinand said...

oh that's who that was in utrecht yesterday. sweet! where is she doing a mural??

3:17 PM  
Blogger John Azoni said...

I'm so bummed that I won't get to see the show. I was so excited for her to show back in July when I was in town...sigh...

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stella is all style.

11:45 PM  

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