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Sydney-based artist Anna-Carien Goosen layers realism with abstraction in her mixed media artworks, and is currently working on a new botanical series inspired by the Australian rainforest outside the front of her home. In her portraiture works, Anna-Carien observes the physical and emotional space around the individuals and reflects this on the canvas with her colour palette. We are delighted to be welcomed Inside the Studio of Anna-Carien for a sneak-peak into her practice…
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative practice. What first led you to painting as a medium?
The second best smell in the morning after coffee, is the smell of oil paint when I walk into my studio. I love oil paint because it’s almost primitive in today’s world. I distil my own linseed oil and it makes me feel like an Alchemist when I create illusions with basically coloured butter. Charcoal is another favourite because it’s elemental like cave markings. I work in series and use what best suits the work, being comfortable with most mediums. I’ve made art with stranger stuff like woven hair and evening gown net, but getting dirty is the most fun and I always seem to return to oil or charcoal.
In your portraiture pieces, how do you select your subjects? Are these strangers or individuals you are familiar with?
I’m an avid people watcher and fill sketchbooks with pictures of strangers, trying hard not to let them realise what I’m doing and making them feel self-conscious. People are fascinating. I collect reference photos of my friends and family and there are certain models like my sister that I use a lot. My family once got so embarrassed when I asked a hugely curvaceous woman in a coffee shop if she’d pose naked for me at my studio. An old lady at the next table overheard my request and told her do it , do it! Most people feel flattered and are willing to pose.
Your work often incorporates unexpected colours, such as a bold pink or a subtle yellow across an individual’s face. How do you decide your colour palette for each piece? What influences your decision?
Colour is emotional and conveys mood. Because I observe the physical and emotional space around individuals and try to distil this in my work, colour is an important tool. These portrait studies started out as colour experiments and I chose the colour according to the vibe of the person, but sometimes I set out with a certain colour choice and then the painting gets a mood of its own and decides otherwise.
What is your reasoning for combining realism with abstraction in your artworks?
I combine realism with abstraction to indicate the overlap of boundaries between our invisible inner worlds and visible material reality. Our interactions with the world around us is layered, complex and sometimes a touch absurd. Some things only ever happen in our minds. We are ambiguous creatures and I’m comfortable with that.
What do you want your audience to take away from your works?
That life is still beautiful even though it’s often absurd and messed up too. I work in series according to the theme currently occupying my thoughts. These become records of my perceptions of life as I move through it and I hope people can connect with the similar experiences or perceptions.
Finally, what have you been working on lately?
Currently, botanicals are seeping into the work as I’m obsessed with my garden and the Australian bush/rainforest in front of our home. In the new series I’m trying to capture my sensory experience of nature like a child going for a walk, picking up treasures to show the adults who have forgotten the joy of worthless sticks and seeds. When I notice tiny magical grevilleas and other wonders, I draw them on large semi abstract canvases so that the artwork becomes like a record of a bush walk.
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