Five questions to Camilla Näsholm

Five questions to Camilla Näsholm

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Camilla Näsholm was born in 1988 on the darkest day of the year in the inland of remote northern Sweden; she today lives and works on the coast in mid-Sweden. Camilla's artistic background combines fine art painting, street art, and design. During her studies and work as a Product designer, she became interested in abstract and minimal art, and her early surrealist style has today developed into an abstract voice, borrowing bold colors and proportions from graffiti, thoughtful details from design, and a painterly finesse from her long experience as a painter.Tell us your story, why did you become an artist?

I grew up in a small working-class town in the remote subarctic region of northern Sweden; I was far away from fine art institutions, and the general message I received during my upbringing was that art was something for wealthy people and served no greater purpose for society. Therefore, I never thought I could be an artist, but nevertheless, I started painting and drawing diligently at the age of 11. By the time I had reached my 20s, there was no going back. I felt deeply called to be a painter; today, there is no other way to live. It was never an active choice for me to become an artist; over time, it just proved to be an absolute necessity for my being. I am now 35, and even though I have been painting for more than 20 years, I feel like I just got started and still have my most artistically fruitful years ahead of me.

When you create a new work, how do you go about it? What comes first?

I rarely make pre-drawings and often begin my paintings with a spontaneous gesture or mark that sets the entire piece in motion. My paintings always have many layers, each requiring drying time; therefore, I work on anything from 20 to 50 paintings at a time. Working on this many pieces simultaneously, they influence one another, and for me, they are more like chains rather than separate pieces.

A painting will "tell me" when it is ready for the next layer; I grab one and spend time looking at it; if it is mature for the next layer, I will quickly get an impulse of what to add next. If the painting is silent, and I get no impulse, I put it back and grab another one. Pushing a painting to talk to me never ends well. 

The most important aspect of my process is to get myself out of the way of the work. I need to be in a particular mind space to paint, and cultivating this mind space is what all my artwork comes down to. My artistic practice is all about listening to previous strokes and acting. 10% of the time, I use my critical eye to asses the formal qualities of the painting, and the rest of the time, I listen to my gut feeling: Impulses come up, and I immediately act on them.What can you tell us about your studio, what makes it special to you and how does it influence the way you work?

My studio consists of 3 connected rooms. One room is for storage and office, and the others are for painting and drying. However, the centered room has the most windows and light, so that's where I paint. My studio is placed on top of a small mountain overlooking a forest, particularly an old pine tree. Being close to nature and isolated from humans benefits my focus and creativity. My studio is part of my home, which is how I prefer it. The fact that I can intertwine daily life and studio time so closely enables me to spend more time in the studio, both productive and casual. The rooms are narrow; therefore, I currently do not work on pieces larger than 120x100 cm since I must be able to move them around easily; sometimes, I paint on an aisle, then put it on the floor, then on the wall, etc. Flexibility and structure are essential in my studio; all furniture has wheels and can be moved easily.

I know there is a pre-conception about creatives having messy and chaotic workspaces, but that is not true for me. My studio is the most orderly place in my home. Tools are organized on the color spectrum, no matter if it is spray cans, pens, acrylics, or oil sticks. Brushes have their specific place and are sorted according to size, texture, and shape. In this way, I can use muscle memory to reach the tool I want; it saves me energy, focus, and time that I can pour into my paintings instead.Is there a work of art in your life that has especially impressed you?

I will begin this answer with a quote: "The main thing to understand is that we are imprisoned in some kind of work of art."― Terence McKenna. I am endlessly impressed with nature, from the astrophysical landscapes to the subatomic particles and genetic codes. I am in awe of how the structures of life continue to display such an unfathomable intelligence no matter how much we zoom in or out. 

Reach to the stars: where will you be in 5 years?

In 5 years, I have formed a close relationship with an international gallery. I will go on yearly art residences to gain focused work time away from the studio, new contacts, and inspiration.Learn more about the artist: