Sunday, January 13, 2013

Interview with Tania Alvarez

Today Lobster & Canary is especially delighted to interview one of our favorite up-&-coming artists, Tania Alvarez.  We met Tania two years ago during an open studio tour in Long Island City, and were entranced with her work immediately.   You can learn more about Tania at her website:  (All images reproduced here below in the blog courtesy of and copyrighted to Tania Alvarez).

Sorry, by Tania Alvarez (2005; charcoal on folio)

Lobster & Canary Question One:  "Many collages are ostentatious, calling attention to their own construction and materials-- your collages distinguish themselves with their subtlety, their understated cleverness and lyrical movement.  Talk about what inspires you as you create your collages, what led you into this kind of art."

Tania Alvarez:  "As cliché as it may sound, it started with a dream I had during my last year of college.  In the dream, I recall creating a piece using charcoal with the word "sorry " repeated over and over again, until almost in a fog of charcoal dust appeared a vague representation of a human heart. This was of course stemmed from a loss that I had experienced the previous year. The imagery was so strong in my mind that I couldn't stop thinking about it. Although hesitant, I re-drew what I had created in the dream and felt a very strong sense of attachment to the subject matter.  Ever since, this type of work has become a necessity for me to create. From that point on, I began to collect lots of notes, photographs, or anything associated with my memories and collage became a means of putting all the pieces back together."

Numerical Family Portrait, by Tania Alvarez (2012, Acrylic, Wax Crayon, Collage and Battery Operated Pendulum Clock Movement on MDF). 

         Question Two:  "Clocks!  I happily bought one of your clock-paintings (directly from you in your studio, at the first Long Island City Open Studio Day a year or two ago; the pleasure of meeting its creator imbues an art-object with special meaning)-- and would love to know more about these whimsical creations."

"Now that you know where I began, I can tell you how I stumbled upon creating clocks. I remember thinking about loss, and the typical things people would say to make you feel better.  One of the more common quotes I was never able to relate to, is the phrase, " Time heals all wounds ".  I feel like the more time that passes, a wound can easily worsen without discovering the true root of the pain. I began playing with this idea while researching the basics of clock making, finding it to be quite an interesting, yet relative process.  It has always been an interest of mine to combine sculpture and painting.  In many ways, I feel like I am beginning to do so."

         Question Three:  "Your work is gestural, calligraphic, seemingly spontaneous.  It acknowledges the performance of painting-- I am tickled to see a paintbrush, trailing its paint-stroke, painted into your "It Doesn't Get Better" from 2010.  Your fluid style reminds me of (among others) Twombly, Motherwell, and the tachistes.   Are these, in fact, influences, or are you inspired by other sources?"

"I absolutely adore the work of Cy Twombly. His work has inspired me since I was first introduced to it in my early 20's. I also find inspiration in the works of Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Dine, and Basquiat. Aside from these artists, I seek a lot of my references from the streets of NYC. I am obsessed with photographing old deteriorating walls from industrial areas where there are layers upon layers of street art and chipped paint. I find nothing more enjoyable than seeking out a new part of the city to photograph and use as inspiration."

March 3rd, by Tania Alvarez (2012, mixed media on MDF)

         Question Four:  "You ground your gestures in chalky washes and layers.  Talk about how you orient your strokes on the field, how the ground interacts with the line, and vice versa.  Any comments on your muted palette?"

"There is always an idea I am trying to convey through each piece I create.  As each work evolves, my initial thought process begins to change and layers of chalky washes and marks begin to instinctively form.  It is interesting because I always begin my work in an obnoxiously bright color as an attempt to not have such dark paintings. As you can see, they never stay that way.  For example, my more recent piece, "Untitled", 2012, made on a found door, started off as bright pink. Now it barely shows a trace of the color. I guess it partly has to do with my love of charcoal and black Liquitex ink, but aside from that, I am just much more aesthetically drawn to a more muted/neutral color palette. Also, when I envision loss, bright colors are not the first to come to mind, as they would not due the piece justice."

         Question Five:  "Your titles are poetic.  Do you create the visual art and then search for an apt title, or do you have snippets of language stored in your mind for possible pairing with a future painting or drawing?"

"I don't think I have ever created a title before starting a piece.  I have sketchbooks filled with random streams of thought that are usually associated to a dream or a moving experience.  From there, I go back and review what I wrote, circle words or phrases that jump out, make sketches based on what I highlight, and begin from there.  The title is always the last thing that comes to mind."

The Lobster & Canary says:  "Thank you Tania!"


casey said...

Absolutely beautiful paintings! I think I may have treat myself to one of this artist's creations for my upcoming birthday...

Lynn said...

Lovely interview and stunning works!