In the Studio with Maria Gordon


Maria Gordon paints highly decorative and pleasing watercolours, where each figure, fruit and flower carries a meaning or symbolism that changes and deepens the work’s meaning. The collection of watercolours featured in Songs of the Imbeciles demonstrates her world of contrasts: where innocence and experience, purity and lust, flora and fauna, city and country settings, all battle while co-existing in a lyrical balance. Here's a short interview with her on these influences and impulses:

Can you tell us a bit about naivety in your work? What, in particular, draws you to this way of  painting?
Childhood, with its glimmering worlds and its wounds, permeates a lot of what I do when I paint. A naive style allows me to express that voice in a playful manner while I continue to channel life's bitter experiences.

Where do you find inspiration: other visual arts, folklore, mythology, religion, the everyday, your own imagination? Any particular movement, genre, tradition?
Eastern European illustrators like Vera Pavlova Josef Lada, or Yuri Vasnetsov, Greek mythology, Christianity, folkloric patterns, outsider artists like Henry Darger, acid and neo folk music, Current 93, Medieval tapestries, Shaun Tan's stories, Duck, Death and the Tulip, my mum Marta's storytelling... A random button with a nice color or shape might inspire a certain character or composition... All of these and many more really inspire me, but what really propels me is taking personal experiences and elevating them to a universe of myths and tales. By doing this, I become detached from my own experiences and further appreciate our collective imagery... The Acheron drawing you featured in the last exhibition turned the sad event of scattering my father's ashes into a river back home with the universal associations of the river and particularly the Greek river.... It brings me some comfort to bring such events into the common language of art.

Do you paint when you’re not inspired or low and then get inspired? Do you need to in good and bad times?
I usually paint when I’m in a good state or neutral, and it always makes me feel much better afterwards, as if I had a reaffirmation of my place in the world, everything becomes meaningful. It is much harder when I’m feeling low and cannot get myself to find the inspiration, but at times, when I have persevered, it can be soothing or therapeutic.

If you had to be one of the figures you’ve portrayed in this exhibition which one would you be?
The lady in The Courting, which was initially the drawing corresponding too May in a calendar project. Their union or merging takes place during Beltane, and I  too find myself dancing with the devil at times against my will. I try to take something creative from the encounter though.

What exact shade of colour are you and why?
Blood red maybe. I don’t like to overuse it in my drawings because it is one of the colors with the highest symbolic charge of life-death duality, but I do identify with it.  

Can you recommend a film director that expands your own imagery or that interests you?
Yuri Norstein really inspires me in all aspects (aesthetic, narrative, thematic), but most of all because he lets us glimpse into his inner child’s fears from a perspective of infinite tenderness; I adore him.

You can find her on instagram at @maria_gordon_ilustracion


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