Artist Interview—Vija Celmins | Met Exhibitions

Artist Interview—Vija Celmins | Met Exhibitions


Vija Celmins: I don’t think there was ever
a point where I said, “I’m gonna be, you know, an artist.” No. It seeped in. I was looking for something. I went took two paintings a day of all the objects
I had in my studio. I ran through ’em like wildfire. I started going through books and magazines
and looking at images that maybe had something to do with my own remembrance of war. I had an early life that was quite traumatic,
as everybody did who lived in Europe during World War II. I try to use an image ’cause it attracts you
to the painting. You know, you wanna go in the painting. But the painting is not a window. The painting has its own reality. I used to call the image the skeleton, you
know, on which I build a painting. It’s like taming an outside image for the
inside. The painting often has a kind of an emotional
quality to it—I mean, you could say it’s an expression—but I’m not interested in
telling stories. I like a lot of retinal activity, like little
dots and smidges and waves that articulate the surface. I often stop painting. But I’m always—in my head, I’m always thinking
about paintings. I like the fluidity of the painting. And it can make incredible things, and terrible
things, and things you want to keep. It can become anything.

5 thoughts on “Artist Interview—Vija Celmins | Met Exhibitions”

  1. War is what happens when language fails. And when language fails we get into the realm of traumatic experiences, which seem to be very prominent among war veterans. It's strange then, to see how a different language, the language of painting helps so many war veterans overcome their trauma's… As an artist I can understand why, but I didn't find a way yet to communicate that to others who are not familiar with creating art… Beautiful micro docu, loved it.

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