Interview with Lara Julian
Tell us please about yourself and your art.
I am a full-time conceptual artist living and working in London. My work is developed from the materiality of colour. Employing a diverse range of media, I seek to visualise colour as matter and energy through a systematic exploration of colour systems. My aim is not to represent my own emotions, but to set up combinations that are objectively and conceptually grounded, yet draw viewers into a meditative state through which they generate their responses.
As we know, you were born in Siberia. Tell us please about your childhood there and how art did appear in your life?
I was born in Novosibirsk in 1981 in an artistic family. My father is an artist, my mother is an art historian and my grandmother was a poet. I was raised in a very creative environment and was always spending time in my father’s studio, therefore I started painting from a very young age – just 4 or 5 years old. My parents were always supportive and did a lot to expose me to all kinds of “traditional culture” such as painting, literature, classical music, and history.
From a young age, I had a very strong artistic voice, therefore the classic academic system did not suit me. I was very skilled, however, I wanted to express a more abstract form so I stopped drawing and painting.
The interesting fact that you were working in the banking industry. Why did you decide to change the sphere completely?
I attained a first-class bachelor’s degree in International Relations and MA in banking later, I had a successful carrier in the international corporate department at MDM Bank in Novosibirsk.
Since 2009 I started to devote all my free time to painting and started attending one-to-one painting classes at an art school in 2010-2011. Shortly after, I was attending an art college and realised that I wanted to devote myself to art fully and became a full-time artist. I began exploring the history of art and modern art and started connecting with creative people. In 2014, I resigned from my position at the bank and moved to New York where I studied at the School of Visual Arts. A year later I relocated to London and continued to study at the Slade School of Art and Sotheby’s institute of art. Currently, I live and work in London.
Tell us, please, about your life philosophy and the way it’s reflected in your art.
My life philosophy is formed around the ideas of enlightenment, independence, responsibility, equal rights, freedom to study and do what you love. I enjoy being connected with the environment and like-minded people from all sorts of industries. Moreover, I constantly engage with young individuals through my art as it allows them to explore their capabilities, strengths and unlock their potential.
Moreover, I always try to stay attuned to the changing world around me both figuratively and literally, seize and identify opportunities when they come while also keeping my creative mind open and curious. I am always open to collaborations with creative professionals from other fields such as music, design, and the film industry.
The other key area for me is mental health, especially within young people. I am practicing meditation, horse riding, and yoga myself and insist on the implementation of mindfulness programs in schools and universities. It helps students and staff manage their stress more effectively and work through it more quickly. Moreover, relaxation improves creativity. In the nearest future, I am planning to participate in charity projects that share a similar vision as mine.
The main theme of your art is the materiality of colour. Can you elaborate on this, please?
Colour is a light reflected from different surfaces. Various colours are in fact waves with different frequencies absorbing multiple wavelengths of the visible light spectrum. Colour is a vibrancy, like a sound wave. As we know the images on our television are created by thousands of tiny pixels flashing in different colours, similar could be seen in my paintings, however, instead of pixels, I use thin lines, which are my signature brushstrokes.
My artistic practice is grounded in Munsell colour theory and I analyse the visual effects of how colours match or contrast with each other and the impact my colour combinations can have on the viewer. In my paintings, at first, the spectrum of light is divided into the main/ primary colours and after a while, one comes to realise that innumerable additional pigments are surrounding them. The pigments begin to play with each other as such, therefore new colours are formed and optics and visual perception change. I believe that there is no such thing as a single colour.
The development of colours is enormous. In addition, each of them has a historical meaning and has a particular influence on people which I take into consideration in my work. My paintings exhibit a particular rhythm that caught the interest of many psychologists who are using my artworks during their sessions with people who suffer from depression. They see my work as fractal patterns that help to reduce stress and other types of anxieties.
You combine geometry, science, and architecture and express all these through the colours, is it right? And what color theory you’re sticking to?
That’s right. In my current work, I have been exploring the use of layering and movement. My paintings exhibit a particular rhythm and explore regular structures found in nature such as vortexes, trees, waves, and tessellations. I explore the regularities of patterns in the natural world and translate these grids into my abstract paintings.
I am currently working on developing a new colour system built upon the well-constructed theories of the Munsell Colour System. My system will be different as it will be a more modern and expanded version of it. In addition, it will make it possible to recognise and name precisely which colour is referred to when written in my formula as I will state the names of the paint brands that I used to achieve the particular colours. It will be an invaluable tool for students and artists as it will give a deeper understanding of how to use colour and challenge the traditional approach that only primary colours could be used in art.
How did the experience of living in different countries influence your mindset and life philosophy? How is it reflected in your art?
I lived in New York which is the birthplace of many cultural movements which was vital for my practice. I was constantly visiting the major commercial galleries as well as the greatest museums which were great sources for inspiration. I enjoyed living in a heart of Chelsea and met a lot of interesting people and artists there. It was an excellent opportunity to be exposed to that kind of community.
Once I moved to London, the subjects of my art became more philosophical and I started to express my creative potential vocally. In 2017, I launched my YouTube channel to inspire other people. I got involved with professional development groups and resources for artists in my area and this is something I would not have been able to find in my hometown.
I have taken part in several international exhibitions and art fairs, including London, Venice, and New York. I stay connected with a few galleries around the world and currently I am collaborating with Art Nou Millenni gallery in Barcelona and Italian online art platform www.thearttalk.com.
Name please three you favorite artist or people inspire you.
I believe that with my art I am making my own statement. It is important to be informed about what other artists do and create, however, I feel that I am more supported rather than influenced by them.
I am based in central London which allows me to visit galleries on any day, therefore there is always an inspiration for me. In addition, all the talented people that I meet in person are the ones who sprint my desire to create.
How has covid affected you and your art? How do you think the art world will shape in the future?
The pandemic had a big impact on my practice and encouraged me to focus more on the technical side of my art. I produced a new series that was based on my unique colour system which is currently in development as well as explored a new format of artistic practice – video art, which is available for viewing on my YouTube channel.
The crisis caused the acceleration of the digitalisation of culture and therefore digital or immaterial became tangible, substituting for what we previously enjoyed as physical and proximate.
Recently, I started focusing on digitalising my art and I am currently working on creating NFTs. I believe that it is essential for everyone to strengthen the digital practice as the future of cultural open data will be enriched by the interplay between traditional art, new art forms, and modern technology.
As Elon Musk said, “Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.”
Interview for Haze Gallery on the occasion of a group exhibition “Garden of Colorful Mists”.