In conversation with Canadian artist Lisa Paradis.
Can you talk about your journey into or interest the arts?
I’ve always been interested in the arts, for as long as I can remember. As a child, I loved looking at the images of books and express myself with drawing and painting. This interest led me to study art history in Montreal, Paris and Buenos Aires: visual arts have always occupied a major place in my life. Doing a master’s degree in art history fulfilled me for a while, but when my studies were over, the desire to paint was reawakened: I felt the need to explore the possibilities of painting for myself.
Do you use a sketchbook or journal within your process?
I usually sketch on the canvas without having planned its subject prior to it. It happened to me so many times that I was more satisfied by the sketches I made in one of my journals than the ones I tried to reproduce on the canvas. Therefore, when I have an idea for a painting, I prefer to express it directly on the canvas. I use my sketchbook, which I like to carry around with me, mostly to take notes, write down ideas and thoughts. Looking back through old journals always helps me relive past inspirations since they bring back memories of moments, sceneries and faces of past encounters.
Your work often references the human form, and often in a very open and honest, almost voyeuristic form, can you talk about your influences and interests?
My favourite painter is Egon Schiele and my paintings are greatly inspired by his work, which is, indeed, very open and honest. I’ve always been an admirer of the vulnerability he was able to share through is art. Having studied art history, I’m familiar with so many amazing paintings and I find that my work is still very experimental: for now, I think of my paintings as a tribute to Egon’s muses. It’s allowing me to discover and explore figures and composition in order to develop my own style. What I know for sure is that my interest in human forms will have a central place in my practice. Art has magic powers: the possibility to capture the great beauty of the body and the complexity of human emotions.
Can you talk about your process of working. How do you work, how often?
I’m a morning person and painting is usually the first thing I do when I wake up, after coffee. I feel this routine is what works best for me as my energy and mind are fresh. I can also say that it provides me a feeling of satisfaction to have started the day by getting some work done, almost like a relief, and I can then focus my attention on my daily obligations. Since the 2020 quarantine started, I’ve been keeping busy with this routine and it’s working well so far. The admiration I have for Schiele’s works also took on another dimension as part of his late works were produced during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. It makes me reflect a lot on the function of art through a global lockdown and self isolation, its role in regards to people during crisis. I also had to become a bit resourceful as the lockdown continued and I ran out of canvas, so I started exploring mixed media, collage and painting on various supports.
Do you find the process of creating work relaxing or therapeutic?
Absolutely! Morning paintings sessions are my form of meditation. Most of the time it’s relaxing and therapeutic, but it happens that some days session don’t go quite ‘right’. It happens that your colour palette and the proportions of your subject look odd, you get stuck on details and you destroy paintings… That being said, I’ve become more peaceful when those situations happen. I’m learning that sometimes it’s better to let a work breathe and return to it later. Some paintings have stayed in the same state for months before I’ve gone back to work on them. I believe that taking a step back is sometimes the most productive thing to do.