Left to right: This Weight I Feel Is Yours; Grasp, Clench, Slip; To Begin With Control; The Sounds Between and Through.2018
LAURA MOSQUERA uses difficult human emotions as the impetus for her abstract paintings. The resulting works are collisions of color, shape and pattern. Her shaped canvases give the impression of patterns in motion. They are like bodies attempting to invade or escape one another. Laura received her BFA and her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her most recent solo exhibition was Close to the Bone and Skin (2018) at Rosefsky Gallery (Binghamton University, New York). Eight billboards of her paintings are permanently exhibited at the Chicago Avenue Red Line station in Chicago. Recent group shows included Onyx at Alfa gallery (Miami) and ESCAPE/ISM? at Atlantic gallery (New York). Her work is currently included in Ineffable Manifestations at the Institute of Sacred Music (Yale University) through June 18, 2019. Laura lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
OtherPeoplesPixels: It seems like you began as a figurative painter and shifted completely into geometric abstraction in the last few years. Is that true? Tell us a bit about your interests in the early figurative work?
Laura Mosquera: I began painting figuratively as it was the most identifiable and direct way to work out my ideas. At the time, it provided the most authentic process for me to capture fleeting moments of experience within a non-linear narrative. In these figurative pieces, I used abstracted environments to describe a shared psychological space to support the emotional content of the work. It has been nine years since the space itself became the sole focus. With figures removed, abstract forms and the space and shapes they create have become paramount in capturing the psychology of singular moments of fleeting emotion.
Somewhere In Between, 2010. Oil and acrylic on linen. 56" x 48"
OPP: Tell us about the shift away from representation into abstraction. Was there one body of work or painting that was the first completely abstract work?
LM: During the years I worked figuratively, the process of making those paintings was always very clear to me. In time, I started to lose the clarity of my initial intent, and I began questioning why I was making the work. As seen in my earliest paintings, abstraction has always been a central element of my visual vocabulary. However, with getting older, the complexities of life are compounding and abstraction has become the most direct approach to speak to those unnameable concerns of daily life. It continues to be an evolving process.
Around the Edges, 2017. acrylic, flashe and gouache on panel. 18" x 24"
LM: Sketching has been part of my thought process since childhood, whereas I didn’t start utilizing collage until graduate school. I used both to construct the compositions of my earlier figurative paintings.
When I moved to abstraction, the traditional method of using collage fell away and drawing and sketching became paramount. Still, my current works are constructed in stages, very much like a collage, except with paint.
In this last year, traditional collage has been making its way back into the work. I’ve kept scraps of printed paper for years, some for almost twenty, and I am just now incorporating them into the paintings.
The Space Between, 2019. Acrylic and gouache on panel. 10" x 8"
OPP: Pattern seems to be a metaphor. Can you talk about the relationship between conflict and harmony in Close to the Bone and Skin (2018)?
LM: In my works, color, pattern and texture in addition to size and form all define shapes in relationship to each other. These relationships are what constitute the entire work. Every choice embodies emotion, ideas and memories. Sometimes these shapes work and flow together and sometimes they don’t. When a shape with saturated color and a tight pattern is placed next to another with a wash and a looser texture, it creates a relationship or narrative. I'm interested in those elements working together to become a cohesive whole, but not in an obvious way. I am most drawn to moments of visual tension or when things don't quite make sense, finding these complex relationships engaging as they parallel the real world.
Not Enough To Stay, 2018. Acrylic, flashe and gouache on canvas. 48 1/2" x 60"
OPP: Curves are very rare in your paintings. Can you talk about the dominance of sharp, angular lines?
LM: When I removed the figure from my paintings, I was living in Savannah, Georgia and curves remained very much part of my work. Sharp and angular lines became dominant after moving back to an urban environment, and they are indicative of the New York architecture I used as inspiration. In the current body of work, these elements are incorporated as metaphors for rigidity and obsessiveness.
Something More Than Free, 2016. acrylic, flashe and gouache on canvas. 79-1/4" x 88-3/4" x 22"
OPP: The shaped canvases are so good! What led you to break out of the rectangle? How is the process for creating works like Not Enough To Stay (2018), Something More Than Free (2016), and Grab and Hold (2017) different from painting a conventional rectangle?
LM: Thank you very much! Working with a rectangle the creative process starts for me once the canvas is properly stretched and gessoed. With the shaped canvases, the creativity starts at the moment of construction since the shape of the work is also a carrier of the content.
While I was making the rectangular paintings, I realized there was an opportunity to have the content of the work inform the shape of the frame, further describing the nature of each painting.
In my current work, I use the physical shape of the canvas to depict a psychological state or emotional effect. The relationships of the shapes within the painting are dynamic and can push, pierce and rest against each other, defining themselves and how they relate to one another communicating experience.