We had a chat with Irene to find out more about her impressive work. In an exclusive Widewalls interview, Irene talks about her motivation and influences, her unique aesthetics, her working process, future plans and projects and much more. Scroll down and enjoy!
Widewalls: Can you tell us something about your early days as an artist and what motivated you to pursue a career in art?
Irene Lopez Leon: I started in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I was painting a youth hostel to earn money so I could continue traveling. While painting the hostel, I met another artist who was working on a mural and I was hooked. It was physically one of the hardest jobs I had ever tried and I spent all my time learning the basics. From this experience, I discovered my main source of expression, my vocation and my greatest personal challenge, which has only just begun.
Widewalls: What are your biggest influences with respect to your visual language?
ILL: The aesthetic of my work refers in part to rules that exist in the 3D and digital spaces. My generation grew and lived with the digital world, so in part, my work is a direct result of this environment.
On the other hand, my influences come from different disciplines including; Carl Jung and his study of dream activity. Escher, with his perspectives and imaginary worlds. Kandinsky with his clear compositions or Alexander Jodorowsky and his theories of the unconscious. They are artists who create according to their perception, are also theorists and have extra disciplines to their work such as architecture, philosophy, science, mathematics or technology.
Widewalls: How would you describe your style in terms of technique and aesthetic? What specific aspects make your work unique and original?
ILL: I paint landscapes through geometric, mathematical distortions of perspective. I love abstraction as it impacts the senses but can be opaque, which is why I like to give a sense of depth and the sensation of magnification. Open spaces created through geometric shapes, figurative elements with neon colours to provoke a mild hypnotic sensation & cause movement within the planes.
My landscapes are my interpretation of an altered state of consciousness. Painting landscapes is meditative for me.
Widewalls: What is your creative process?
ILL: Initially, I take influence from geometric/ mathematical principles and combine them with visions from my surrounding environment. This mixture gives me the base of my idea.
From here, I usually start by drawing the technical and perspective aspects. Then I draw a basic composition of geometric shapes and start to introduce landscape backgrounds including natural elements.
Widewalls: Who or what is your greatest inspiration?
ILL: I am inspired by expansive open spaces where you can see the sky. It is what makes me feel a sensation of expanded horizons. So I take that to infinity.
Widewalls: What are the themes you tackle in your work and why are they of interest to you?
ILL: I create imaginary landscapes that have little to do with classic natural spaces and often contain manipulated physics which feel familiar. They are within an impossible universe where it is possible to perceive reality from a new perspective. It is the representation of a place between consciousness and the unconscious.
Uncritical, timeless and symbolic emotions that leave criticism, deduction and temporal logic behind.
Widewalls: Can you describe the evolution of your style? Are there any important phases in your career you would highlight?
ILL: At the beginning, I was focused on geometric illustrations, mostly in black and white because those were the resources I had at the time. As my passion increased, I introduced colour/ figurative elements to give a clearer sense and a different vibration to the work.
My main technique is trial and error. I experiment and focus in on the techniques I like. It is about learning and evolving your work, so who knows what will be next?
Widewalls: Which project, exhibition, artwork etc. do you find most significant in your work so far?
ILL: The truth is, one of the most significant moments was the first time someone bought one of my paintings. I thought ... wow! I just got paid to do what I love. I want that forever.
Widewalls: Is there a message you are trying to send to the viewers and what is the response you hope to provoke?
ILL: There is not necessarily something to understand about my work, as a person brings their experience into their environment. Rather than thinking, try relaxing while just looking and let the imperfect geometry take over. Float and let go, then enjoy your trip!
Widewalls: What are your plans for the future?
ILL: I am visiting London in May with Uri, Mono, Bruno, DIlka and Will. I also have some exhibitions lined up. Apart from this, I will spend a lot of time honing my craft, painting large landscapes on walls and canvases.
The year 2017 has been a busy one already and a very intense experience. The more I learn, the more I become aware of all that I have left to do. I want it all.
Featured images: The portrait of Irene while painting, photo by Fer Alcalá; Wall in Hospitalet, Barcelona; Wall for Us, Barcelona 2016; 12+1 Wall for Contorno Urbano, photo by Clara Antón; Street Art Festival Barcelona. 2017. All images courtesy of the artist.
San Francisco, United States of America