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A talk with Camila Piana

Today at 2chairs artspace we have Camila Piana, visual artist based in Berlin, originally came from Peru where she had graduated as an industrial engineer. Also you can name her as a writer but that will be just a half of the truth. She writes family stories in a language invented by her. Her art looks like avant-garde or even suprematism pictures, sometimes reminds Vasiliy Kandinsky compositions. However, if the last found his inspiration in the music and translated melodies into visual art by using certain shapes and colours, Camila's language is based on the precise mathematical calculation to control shapes, sizes, patterns and colours. Can you imagine your family portrait as a circle with cut and moved sectors and segments? For sure, if you are a member of Camila's network of friends and relatives, you've already received it as a present for Christmas, family plays a significant role in her art and life.

Camila, thanks for coming. Please take you two chairs and arrange them as you feel. It looks like your engineering background is far behind but your current artistic practice relies on it, doesn't it?

I think my engineering background is always present in me. The curiosity about how things work has always been there. I am more comfortable with numbers than with words. It has been amazing to explore freely my creative side and discover that my rational tendency reflects so much in my art practice.

So can you say that you are a rational artist?

I don't know if I can define myself as a "rational artist", but for sure my decisions are based on systems that I've created instead of emotions or feelings. On the other hand it doesn't mean that emotions are not involved in my work, on the contrary my practice is extremely personal, all those geometric shapes carry so many stories and memories of the people that I love and miss the most.
Does it mean that you are full of conflicts inside yourself? Do rational and creative parts of you fight with each other or do they make compromises?

For sure I am full of conflicts, I am always looking for answers…. and questions. As opposed to my rational side, I am a spiritual person and I am always questioning everything that happens and surrounds me, knowing that there is no one true and final answer.

As an engineer you need creativity to optimise systems and processes, and to solve problems, so I guess been creative was always part of the solution. In the same way, in my artistic practice, my rational and creative sides work together peacefully.

Sounds very intriguing. So you have invented the unique language doing artist residency at Berlin Art Institute. Have you already thought how others could learn it? Or do you want the audience to figure out the alphabet by themselves?

Getting people to understand my language has always been a challenge. I have been working on it for so long and have learned that they don't need to understand everything. Most of the time, I work with notations on the sides of my works, were you can find the information, like names, birth dates and places of birth of the people involved on the piece. So, if an audience is interested, they can dive in and try to understand it more deeply.

But I am also very interested in seeing how the viewer perceives my work without knowing all the information behind it. I work with systems and strict shapes that reflect this data-based practice and then work with materials like paper and pencil and soft colours that help me mirror the emotional part.

That is interesting. Are you going to publish a book or make it as video tutorials?

I haven't thought about it yet, but an artist book would be nice.

It seems that you used to keep most under control. Is it true? Would you try to do something by chance?

It seems that those systems that I work with control everything, but the truth is, that I never know how the final piece is going to look like since the data is what defines the shapes, positions, patterns, and colours. We can say that it is controlled chaos.

You miss your friends and family because of relocation a few years ago, now in our new COVID world a lot of people are separated from their families by closed borders and lockdowns. Can someone ask you to create a digital avatar of his missed friends? Can you make his family portrait for sale?

Yes of course, I would love to. As I said before, for my drawings, as important as the data, are the stories and emotions involved in those relationships, families and friend circles. So talking to people and listen to them talk about their loved ones would be an amazing way to connect during these lonely times.

How do you see yourself in a few years? What big dream do you have? e.g. travel or art project…

Doing art, expanding my practice and hopefully working together with my husband incorporating sound in my projects.

And I really love to travel, so I hope these pandemic times are over soon so that we can start flying and hugging again.

Thank you, Camila! It was nice to have you and your beautiful artworks at 2chairs artspace. See you next time!