last week i met: issa salliander
Identity [noun] a person’s conception and expression of their own individuality — London-based painter Issa Salliander draws her inspiration from spontaneous travel, cultural influences and working when everyone else is asleep.
I JUST CAUGHT YOU ON A BREAK FROM WORK…
Yeah, I’m working on two projects for New York — ‘Magnum to the Brain’ and ’The Mexican Dream’…
YOU JUST RETURNED FROM DALLAS ART FAIR. WHAT IS TEXAS LIKE?
I joined artist friends and other enthusiasts for lots of art and a few days of fun. I like the American South, people are famously friendly and of course I’ve always had a thing for cowboys!
COWBOYS? TELL ME.
It’s about dust. When dust settles things come into perspective, and it’s all subjective. It’s all feeling….Ooopps. My new feeling “Gut”.
DO YOU TRAVEL A LOT?
Traveling is an important aspect of my life…I think, it’s good for the soul to be jolted out of its normal existence every now and then!
That said, I don’t like my trips too choreographed but last minute, not knowing where you’re staying after you’ve landed…
ORIGINALLY YOU’RE FROM STOCKHOLM …WHAT’S YOUR MOST CANDID MEMORY OF CHILDHOOD?
I remember visiting Moderna Museet at a young age — Salvador Dali’s The Enigma of William Tell had a profound impact on my existence. I was in complete peace and I could not believe someone had created something so out of the ordinary. I had no idea who Dali was at that point but that was when I became an artist …in my head.
HOW DID MOVING TO THE UK AT A YOUNG AGE SHAPE YOU?
The UK is one of the most inspiring places I can think of in terms of creativity. I was exposed to many different cultures, for me it brings together a lot more different influences than Stockholm.
I like to pick up a little bit of inspiration here, a little bit there and put things together into a new format!
My paintings reflect that and I’m not sure that I would be making the paintings I make now if I had stayed in Sweden! The UK is the country I call my home now and it’s also where I met my mentor Paul Saville who’s been supporting me since I was a young student — that all helped shaping my future as a painter…
I LIKE THE CONCEPT OF A MENTOR, ITS WIDE MEANING FASCINATES ME. HOW DID YOU AND PAUL MEET?
We met at my school in Oxford when I was young. He must have liked what I did because he invited me to spend Saturdays in a studio with him where he started teaching me the basics — how to create paintings and drawings. That turned into a very good friendship. I’m still working with him, we like to mix paint together, come up with new colors…
HAS THERE EVER BEEN A PLAN B TO WHAT YOU’RE DOING?
No! Never! …painting was something that I had to do since I was young…
I think, I live in this magical world of paint!
And after I met Paul, I realized it was something I could do professionally.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ARTWORK TO SOMEONE WHO ISN’T FAMILIAR WITH IT YET?
My art is a little like story telling, but it doesn’t necessarily tell the same story to everyone. I enjoy painting large canvases using a pretty good amount of oil. There’s something sexy about oil paint dripping everywhere. Together with a large scale it can be overwhelming…
I like that feeling — it feels a bit like standing high up on a mountain with euphoria running through my body.
FROM WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR INSPIRATION?
Music is a great part of my life, I seem to have a soundtrack to everything! My inspiration often comes in the form of 60s and 70s Rock ‘n’ Roll in various shapes. It helps bringing me to what I call ‘purity of heart’.
The jangly guitars of The Byrds, the psychedelic Love and the heartfelt voice and lyrics of John Fogerty are responsible for the feeling in a lot of my work!
Those songs often deal with fear and paranoias, good versus evil or love and hate — dichotomies. But the truest art form for me is life itself, so I let my personal experience and contemporary culture get mixed with history of art, literature and music.
HOW DO YOUR PAINTINGS COME TOGETHER?
The compositions come together in pieces, often collaged. I pick a character here, a feeling there. I cut things together over a period of time, then suddenly it’s a deal. Saying that, there are light bulb moments in which case I must act immediately …I do plan my research quite well but when I start, it’s got everything to do with intuition and feeling!
LAST TIME YOU HAD TO CANCEL OUR CALL FOR A NAP IN THE MORNING BECAUSE YOU HAD BEEN WORKING ALL NIGHT LONG…
Yeah …the night thing has to do with solitude. It’s where things just happen. Those hours between 2 and 5 am are magical. You have the sense of being alone in the world, because everyone else is asleep.
DO YOU OFTEN VANISH OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH WHILE WORKING?
Yeah, you do have to switch off your phone! …and in my studio in London I don’t have any reception
WE FOUND QUITE A FEW PAIRS OF CHUCKS IN YOUR STUDIO. HOW MANY DO YOU OWN?
I’m not sure. I sort of have three of each color!
SO IN CASE YOU HAVE TO THROW A PAIR OUT BECAUSE AFTER YEARS IT’S FALLING APART…
No, I kind of like them that way!
My shoes turn into little art works ‘cause they usually are so full of paint and I find it hard to throw them out!
…you know, I don’t think I have ever thrown a pair out actually!
No, I keep them in boxes…
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PAIR OF CONVERSE?
My red and camo ones are my current favorites. But I sort of grew up wearing Converse. I’ve worn them on every occasion since I was very young. I’m sure if I go to my parents’ house I will find a pair in size 30 lying around somewhere.
DO YOU CARE ABOUT FASHION?
I’m a very aesthetic person, so I like seeing that someone has paid attention to their style, whatever the style may be. I like seeing humor in people and situations. I don’t really follow fashion, but I have developed a style that works for me — I wear black 98 percent of the time. I like playing with different textures and tones, but slightly effortlessly so. I have been called a neo-goth many times, but that’s just people who don’t get it…
HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR DOWNTIME?
I like experiencing things, so some kind of activity — either educational or adrenalin-filled. I like going out to Montauk outside of New York when I’m there, when it’s warm …and cold. So I just get away and hang out with my friends, we drink a bit of wine and make art together!
SOUNDS LIKE A LOT OF FUN! …SO WHAT’S THE NEXT DATE IN YOUR CALENDAR YOU’RE MOST EXCITED ABOUT?
Definitely the New York show I’ve been telling you about…
Do you want to know more ot Issa’s artwork, visit her website at Strange Glue Studios