Some paintings hold your attention for a few seconds and then they are gone to make way for the next infobyte, other work stops you and pins you down while you try to solve its wonderful puzzle, which is exactly what the work of Dagmar Cyrulla does. Hip-Hop might be dead, but painting in Australia is still alive with talent like hers giving it oxygen.
With some many distractions these days, how do you go about creating an image that can capture people’s attention and make them think for more than a few seconds?
I believe if you make an image that you have really felt and connected with, then you have a better chance of engaging your audience, but it is never a guarantee.
How do conceptualize your images? Do you draw on memories from having grown or from photographs of events?
I draw a lot on experiences and observations of how we as people relate to one another. I draw a lot from life in my sketchbooks. I set up scenarios, and take photos of these. The photographs I work from are triggered by memories or emotional responses triggered within me.
Some artists say they get most creative when the pressure is on for an upcoming exhibition, how do you think you do your best work?
I don’t work well at all under pressure. I also need a lot of play time. I think because I never have a formula and because I want to create e a certain mood in the painting it takes a lot of hit and miss days. So pressure is definitely not good for my painting. I am a slow painter too.
You have an amazing sense of colour in your work, tell us how you go about choosing your palette.
Again, most of my choices are intuitive and emotionally based. I select a limited colour palette because it is easier for me to premix all my colours and then becomes one less thing I need to think about. Instead I can focus wholly on the emotion I want to create and the relationship between the figures. That way the paint and the colours work to strengthen your narrative. I do often think in terms of temperature when I am painting.
In this age of so called shock art, do you feel any pressure to do more provocative paintings?
I haven’t really thought about it too much. I find shock art exactly that, instant but not memorable. I don’t think that shock art engages the viewer at all, well it doesn’t for me. I am most receptive when I am invited in and my imagination has to do a fair bit of work.
Tell us a bit about your Studio Residency experience in 2005 at St Vincent’s Hospital
I have had a couple of residencies, another at Hill End, both of which gave me the ” play time” I needed to push my work a bit further. They also gave me time to reflect on life and what is important and drives me as a person.
Tell us some of the artists you admire and why?
Gosh, where do I start? The artists I am most interested in at any given time heavily depends on what I am searching for in my own work.
Euan Uglow – loved his use of colour and the way he investigated the planes of the figure. Beautiful work.
Velazquez, Sargent, for the confidence in their marks. Really committing to each mark, which all look random up close but as you step back the figure emerges, fresh and alive. Often quite thinly painted
Eric Fischl, The freshness of mark, how he thinks about his work, the strength of his narrative, incredible paintings. Use of light, colour and composition.
Balthus, composition and colour and of course narrative.
If you weren’t an artist what else would you like to do?
Gosh, I have never thought about it. Possibly a singer /songwriter.
What advice would you give emerging painters who want to show at galleries and be part of the art scene?
I think it is really important to find your own voice, adopt an attitude of learning, be passionate and committed to your work. The second part is the commercial part, find a gallery that you think culturally suits you. Begin to go to their openings and take an interest in them, be persistent. If certain things don’t work, ask yourself why and shift either your thinking in your approach for representation or try something else.
Can you tell us a bit about your latest exhibition?
The latest show at the James Makin Gallery is a body of work, from a two year period, which investigates and reflects on how we relate to one another. Things like, being a role model and the weight of that once your come to the realisation that you have an impact on younger people’s lives. Power relationships are looked at , usually father daughter scenarios. Husband and wife, or male female relationships.
The Keeper of secrets for instance, deals with a young girl coming to terms with her own individuality, sexuality etc learned from parents or role models in her life, coming to terms with her role within the family and then how she relates to the community. The Dog is s symbol of loyalty.
These are the kinds of things that interest me.
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on the ALTITUDEART project. There are 6 artists responding to ” Jeparit” and the Lake Hindmarsh region. The show opened in Jeparit last weekend, and will come to Melbourne in February 2011.