MIXED-MEDIA ARTIST CREATES ABSTRACT LANDSCAPES INSPIRED BY FASHION
Scouring the pages of Vogue seems an unlikely starting point for painting a landscape, but for mixed-media artist Celia Neubauer, it’s a natural impulse. During an afternoon visit to her spacious studio in the Distillery District’s Case Goods Warehouse, Celia took me through her current process, her constant desire for artistic reinvention, and her surprising connection with the Donald himself.
Celia, whose abstracted landscapes are currently on display at General Hardware Contemporary in Toronto, mixes clippings cut from fashion editorials with traditional Asian painting techniques to create her unique landscapes. But rather than focusing on the models or the poses, Celia zeroes in on abstract shapes created by the clothing. “I look for texture, colour, pattern,” she says, while explaining how she transformed a gorgeous fur coat into a pink texture on her canvas. Likewise, cover model Adele holds no interest for her. “I don’t want any humans in there; it’s all about the landscape.”
While current trends in visual art have led to a digital media revolution, in which image editing software has almost entirely replaced traditional techniques for many younger artists, Celia is somewhat wary of this reliance on technology. “I’ve been using Photoshop in my work for only four years, and I’ve been painting for twenty…I think that’s been helpful since I’ve learned the good things about [it] and the downfalls…there’s the “undo” button, [but] If you stick to Photoshop too closely, the paintings look flat.”
This constant awareness of her work and materials has allowed Celia to grow as a visual artist. Rather than follow the pattern that brought her a first brush with success, Celia was immediately compelled to move to the opposite direction. “I soon realized, oh my god, this is what they’re going to expect me to paint forever!” But while she noticed a dip in sales accompanying her new artistic exploration, Celia remained unfazed. “It’s not enough that I have a few tricks up my sleeves, I want my sleeves to be stuffed.”
It’s this ambition that has allowed Celia’s work to find its fabulously diverse audience, as her commissions are now displayed in both a Dubai hotel and the Trump Towers in Miami. Perhaps her greatest challenge, however, is crossing the great divide from Yorkville to Queen West. Celia, who found much success showing and selling her work in Yorkville, nevertheless grew frustrated with the neighbourhood, saying that “no one was coming!” Now, with her first solo show in Toronto’s contemporary art Mecca, Celia is finally granted the undivided attention of the city’s art aficionados. They’re a tough crowd, but as she can win Trump, she can win anyone.
Celia Neubauer’s exhibit, titled “Exit, Enter,” is on at General Hardware Contemporary from March 24 – April 28