INTERVIEW WITH VENEZUELAN ARTIST ISABELLA DESPUJOLS
Feb 14, 2022
Isabella Despujols (Venezuela, 1994), is a young visual artist with a focus on handmade embroidery. Despujols graduated in Fine Arts from the International University of Art and Design in Miami, and holds a degree in Art History from the University of Palermo in Buenos Aires (Argentina).
Isabella's work reflects her own history, born from her earliest visual references. "My parents are architects and I grew up surrounded by geometric drawings of projects they worked on. They also collected Venezuelan artists who were based on geometric abstraction, so the first works of art I came into contact with already posed that language. For me, geometry is the basis that speaks of what my first influences were, and also of the strong tradition of these movements in my country, which grew out of great masters such as Cruz-Diez and Jesús Soto. I pay homage to both of them in my work".
For the artist, embroidery is currently her favourite discursive medium. Due to her knowledge of oil painting (she was trained in Fine Arts with a specialisation in painting) she develops a technique in which she works the embroidery as if it were painting: "I embroider layers of colours that are juxtaposed and form new colours, resulting in that chromatic degradation that is perceived in all the works".
What inspires you when you create?
When it comes to creating, there are two universes that particularly inspire me, on the one hand Kinetic Art, especially the artists Cruz Diez and Jesús Soto, and on the other hand everything that has to do with embroidery and that feminine tradition. In my family there was always this tradition of manual work, but all confined to the domestic environment and thought of those things that can be useful, such as towels, bedspreads, I always had this fascination for manual work, whether collage or painting. I began my training in Fine Arts as a painter, so I carry a bit of this legacy of working with oils, but the feeling of thread and making with thread, creating things from nothing, was something I always felt a fascination for.
Basically I combined these two universes and from there I was able to give life to the work that I have been developing for a short time, a couple of years, and which I have been perfecting over time. It's a bit like the visual project of the kinetic artist that has to do with reproducing real movements in the work, but my contribution has to do with the sensitivity that embroidery gives. I take the legacy of these artists and try to translate it with lines and the imperfections of manual work and make it so that it doesn't look like manual work, but in reality it's all done by hand through an artisanal process. My main objective, let's say, has to do with extending or expanding what we all generally know as embroidery and its characteristics, which are mainly figurative images and above all utility, the non-artistic and every day, which is found in a domestic environment, and by combining it with kinetic art I try to elevate everything that has to do with the tradition of embroidery and this craft, so that it ceases to be a craft and a work with an artistic finish can be achieved.
What are you working on recently?
My most recent work are two works here in the background, in which the main elements are spheres. I've always felt a fascination with geometry and in fact it's a visual language that I'm quite close to, because my parents are architects, and I grew up with this visual reference to geometry, straight lines, planes, three-dimensionality. Here I try to achieve through a composition, achieved by circles, a work that wants to create a movement through the juxtaposition of different colors and how through the embroidery of different colors, new tones are created in our eye, and this gradient effect emerges. Basically, my current work has to do mainly with the study of color and the new possibilities that can arise through embroidery.
Tell us about your creative process
My work process is inspired by oil painting, I first start by painting the background in a homogeneous colour, because my idea is to highlight the embroidered work. The way I embroider emulates the process of oil painting, I first start by applying a first layer of a single colour with the embroidery and then I add layers of colours, it is a very gradual work. It is precisely this process of embroidering different layers of colours with the threads that generates the kinetic effect that I want to achieve in my work.
What do you expect from Art Madrid?
I'm very excited to be able to participate for the first time in Art Madrid and I think that this contact with the public and this exchange that takes place with the public that approaches the work is very enriching for me. My idea, or what I would like, is to be able to show my work for the second time in Madrid and for people to connect with my proposal and for them to get to know a little about other possibilities that can be done with embroidery.
How did you start working on your latest works?
At the beginning when I started my approach to embroidery, one of my first references was a Mexican tablecloth that a Mexican friend had given me, she knew that I was very interested in the technique. I remember it was a tablecloth with geometric shapes and extremely colorful, one of the approaches I wanted to take was to be inspired a little by these synthetic shapes that are typical of Mesoamerican, pre-Columbian embroidery and to see how I could develop my own technique. I found myself by imitating and copying these figures until, well, I started to separate myself from the figuration of Mesoamerican embroidery and developed my own technique, which is what I am currently working on. Those looms were a very important reference for me, especially when I was beginning this project of combining painting with embroidery.