Art and Architecture: The Influence of Unique Spaces with Jessica Baldivieso
In this interview, artist and painter Jessica Baldivieso, who immigrated to the United States, explores how her experiences have shaped her art. Her conversation touches on several aspects of her artistic journey, including her favorite aspects of living in Dallas, the diverse and talented community of artists that have influenced her work, and her approach to defining space on a canvas and choosing colors.
Jessica’s deep appreciation for the artistic traditions of the Renaissance shines through as she reflects on the frames she embeds in some of her smaller pieces, drawing inspiration from masters like Leonardo da Vinci and Paul Cezanne. She also shares how unique spaces, such as the Kölner Dom in Cologne, Germany, and The Thorn Crown Chapel in Eureka Springs, AR, have profoundly impacted her art.The space on the canvas is a geometrical field that defines depth, scale, parts, and a whole. I see it as a unified system. - Jessica Baldivieso Click To Tweet
Jessica’s interview provides a fascinating glimpse into the complex interplay between an artist’s personal experiences, the surrounding community, and the historical and cultural traditions that shape their artistic vision.
Could you tell us about yourself and how immigrating to the US has influenced you as an artist?
I came to the US to study architecture at the University of Arkansas (Fay Jones School of Architecture) in Fayetteville, AR in 2010. After graduating, I continued to study painting at the University of Arkansas. After graduation, I worked for a year in Fayetteville for artist George Dombek and I learned a lot through that experience, it made me realize there is this secret world of collectors and art enthusiasts that were willing to buy art in this country. I believe that in the US, my skills as an artist are valued and rewarded, and there are substantial financial aid opportunities available. My favorite part of living in Dallas is the Art community, I have learned a lot since moving here, there is a very diverse, hardworking, and talented crowd of artists and I strongly believe that my artwork has been influenced by this environment.
What is the unique space you’ve been able to experience as an artist? How did that influence your painting?
The first place that changed the way I see art and architecture was the Kölner Dom in Cologne, Germany. When I was 17 years old, I had the opportunity to experience it while studying abroad in this beautiful city. The Kölner Dom is the first thing you see when you get out of the central train station. The exterior is intimidating; the scale is impressive, and it is emphasized by the way the building is placed in an open area, surrounded by a pedestrian zone. The interior of the building is surreal, an over-the-top gothic style architecture tinted with colorful stained glass and rib vaults that mark a rhythm while walking towards the altar. This building is made of stone, and you can feel the structure’s weight and massiveness.I like to explore opposite experiences, evoking ease on one canvas versus stress on another one, playing with disorienting the viewer or isolating the experience. - Jessica Baldivieso Click To Tweet
While in architecture school, we visited Seattle, WA, and went to the Seattle Public Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas. This building is so unexpected with its sharp edges and geometric exterior facade, which you experience from the exterior and interior of the building. In contrast to the Kölner Dom, the Seattle Public Library feels like it does not have enough space around it, and it is in the middle of a crowded street. The interior of the building felt huge, and when I first entered, I felt a rush of excitement. All the corners are unconventional, and the walls are the same as the ceiling, which is the same as the exterior facade. The whole building is see-through, letting light come from the grid-like structure facade.
The third space I want to mention is The Thorn Crown Chapel in Eureka Springs, AR. Architect Fay Jones designed this chapel, it is a mastery of simple, “sacred” architecture. The small chapel is a structure made mostly of wood and glass. From the outside, you can see the chapel. From the inside, you can see the forest and trees that surround the chapel. As you look up when you enter the chapel, there is a beautifully coordinated wooden structure, with dancing lines, light, and shadows. It evokes a great feeling of being isolated in the middle of nowhere.
How would you define the space on a canvas when you think about it?
The space on the canvas is a geometrical field that defines depth, scale, parts, and a whole. I see it as a unified system. Most of the time, I like to keep my ideas abstract unless I want to honor a specific place. I gravitate towards abstraction because, to me, it is a universal language, similar to math and music.
What emotions or thoughts do you want to evoke in the viewer of your art?
I like to explore opposite experiences, evoking ease on one canvas versus stress on another one, playing with disorienting the viewer or isolating the experience. I would like that the viewer feels present and immersed on the canvas while reacting to the tridimensionality of the work. During the act of looking or searching on the canvas and around it, I hope that the viewer thinks about how space can be expanded outside the canvas and the experience can be more experiential.
How do you decide about color?
Color is all around and usually when I am walking or doing everyday things I see colors that I want to use in my work and I snap a photo or grab a piece of the color. I think about the color for a while and then I mix different options and paint small samples to see how it looks when it dries. If the painting I am making is about a very shocking experience, I pick a specific opposite color that will activate the loudest and most saturated aspects of the other color. Usually, the result on the canvas is a vibrating experience and almost blinding sometimes. The process of deciding on color depends on the experience I want to create on the canvas.
I’ve noticed that your smaller pieces have frames embedded into the painting. What is the decision behind this or the meaning?
The frames are a way to provide more depth to the space inside the canvas. By using them, I am extending the painting a bit further and adding tridimensionality. I like to think about it as the interior and exterior of a building, there is an interior and exterior of the painting. When I started using the frames, I used only found frames but I am now starting to alter the frames with clay and I plan to experiment with making my own frames as an extension of the painting and inclusion of the space beyond the painting.
What are some of your influences as an artist?
I am inspired by the discovery of perspective in the Renaissance. I admire Leonardo Da Vinci’s spatial depth and use of geometry to create the composition of his paintings like The Last Supper, The Annunciation, and The Virgin of the Rocks. Jumping a few decades to Paul Cezanne, I am inspired by his concept of simplifying the image to plains and the way he uses structure and rhythm. Mondrian later takes this similar quality further, as his vertical and horizontal lines express a system with parts and a whole. These same concepts are taken further later by Sol Lewitt and Agnes Martin.
What is the most significant thing you have learned from your time as a studio artist?
I’ve learned that there is no such thing as waiting for the perfect time to work. I believe that making art is an activity that deserves no mystery or inspiration. The artwork comes from creating, searching, reading, and making mistakes. My best work happened accidentally, but this accident only occurs when I am immersed in the studio and work without trying to create a masterpiece. After the “happy accidents” comes intention and planning out what I want to take seriously and further.The mirrors in my work expand the painting further, and integrates the painting into the viewer’s environment, making the experience of the painting more inclusive, tri-dimensional but at the same time unexpected, slightly odd, and… Click To Tweet
Can you elaborate on how the use of mirrors expands the painting space and integrates the painting into the environment of the viewer? In what ways does this tri-dimensional experience of the painting reflect or challenge traditional notions of two-dimensional art and the relationship between the artwork and the viewer? Additionally, how do you think the mysterious quality of mirrors contributes to the overall meaning and impact of your artwork?
Mirrors have an inherent mysterious quality that I am very attracted to. They somehow make spaces feel bigger or deeper, and they play with your own perception. In my site-specific installation under the staircase of Ro2, called Inverted Intuition, the mirrors placed in the ground reflect the bottom of the stairs and completely disorient the viewer. So many people think that the staircase keeps going down, but it is just an illusion. The mirrors in my work expand the painting further, and integrates the painting into the viewer’s environment, making the experience of the painting more inclusive, tri-dimensional but at the same time unexpected, slightly odd, and a bit fantastical.
Artist Website: https://www.jessbaldi.com/
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