In the lead up to Reflection: Contemporary Portrait Exhibition at Surface Gallery, Nathan T. Dean has been interviewing the artists about their practice and the wider artistic environment today. All our artists have been asked the same questions on portraiture, selfie culture, art, and more, to get an insight into how an international array of artists - all coming together under one set form of portraiture - can explore, tackle, and discuss the form in such varied ways.
And we continue, with Inbal Limor.
For people who are just discovering your pieces, can you tell us a bit about yourself, your artistic practice, and your work to date?
My art’s point of departure is usually a combination of material, emotion, and figure. I am interested in the ability to convey an emotional and external world with shape, colour palette, and texture. Most of my works are motivated by the desire to characterise a figure, whether figuratively or in a more abstract manner. The figures I depict resonate my autobiographic world, alongside reflections on archetypical figures. Archetypes that employ motifs of motherhood, femininity, or masculinity. I aspire to delineate the boundaries of these figures while setting them against contemporary perceptions, which are often laced with dark humour.
In my art, I explore this proximity of inner and external world by merging various materials and techniques. Most of my recent work is based on a mix of figurative oil painting and a combination of nontraditional materials taken from folk art, shamanism, or simply “leftovers of life.” My artworks are largely rooted in experiences of “womanhood,” which for me are manifested in the use of traditional crafts like sewing, knitting, weaving and more. Most of my works are carried out on different types of fabric or wood. They are characterised by bold colours and collagist nature that can also be arranged into different installations in diverse ensembles.
In my recent series of work, my engagement with textile solidified. To a large extent, this practice is indebted to my family’s rich historical relationship with textile. My grandfather was a tailor and my grandmother did needlepoint and sewing for many years. Her work was more creative than functional, and in a way, this has also inspired my own work. I keep different textiles and embroidery works that I did or collected over the years. From my childhood in the U.S, through my years as a teenager in Ashkelon, Israel, an art student in Tel Aviv and Sweden, to today, when I am a young mother. My autobiographical textile collection holds different stories, some of which find their way into my works and others are left as the piece’s genetic code. Only I can decipher this code, however the viewer can sense the added value to the piece, though not always discover its source.
Which artists inspire your work, and do you feel they too are portrait artists? Do you even regard yourself as a portrait artist?
I have accumulated many influences over the years I must admit. I wouldn’t say the majority are portrait artists but I have definitely always been fascinated with the way artists give their interpretations of the subject, the way it exposes so much of both the painted and the painter. I’m very influenced by folk art and growing up I had a lot of Georgia O’keeffe’s and Hundertwasser’s around my parents' house. While I have never considered myself a portrait artist, I do love painting them. But usually the portraiture is an element of a larger piece as part of a mixed media work.
In our current turbulent world, how do you feel portraiture fits into the current artistic and cultural climate?
I feel like even today a painted portrait can give you so much more than a picture. It can bring light to your inner soul. Selfies have made thoughtful portraits even more powerful by sheer contrast.
As a follow up? Facebook, selfie culture, the public and the private? As an artist, what are your views on these elements, and does this change your artistic practice?
These elements are indeed the sign of the times. I try to stay in my own world when it comes to my work, I’m a pretty private person and not much of a selfie taker…
I have, in my recent works, been breaking up the subjects of my portraits; obscuring and interweaving fragments. This could well be my reaction to the harsh objectivity of a selfie-type portrait, allowing more of my interpretation, more subjectivity and imagination than any filter can give you on your phone.
How does it feel being a part of an exhibition with such a range of international artists?
It's wonderful to be part of this varied group of artists. It’s great to see such diverse backgrounds all coming together in one place. I wish I could be there to see it and meet all these talented interesting people.
Hardest question, and one I've asked everyone I've interviewed. What do you think the future of art is? What comes next? And if you had infinite resources and time, what would you add to that future art?
That is a tough one… I think that the overabundance of digital art is bringing about a return to more traditional methods, the returning to the roots but with a more open-ended outlook. I think the key for this generations artists is how they use all of the information at their fingertips with seemingly limitless technical capabilities.