Cara Nahaul is currently an artist in residence at The Florence Trust in London. With degrees in Fine Art from Goldsmiths in London and Parsons in New York, this talented young artist has already had several exhibitions and won Awards and Fellowships both in the U.K and in New York.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
In the past I’ve worked with photography, particular family photography as a way of thinking about the subjects I’m interested in, namely representation, subjectivity and memory. The family photograph offered a way to reflect on how we picture others and ourselves. Rather than treating the photograph as a flat surface, I imagined myself entering the photograph as if it were a three dimensional space. Lately though my work has been drawing upon my own memories and dreams, and don’t necessarily always refer to a specific source material.
How is the idea for a painting conceived?
All my paintings begin as black and white line drawings in my sketchbook, repeated and mutated until an idea for a painting emerges. The rest of the painting happens on the canvas. For example I think of the colour as I make the painting, choosing colours in relation to one another. A lot of my drawings recently are of fictional landscapes and I’ve started to incorporate geometry and patterning in to my work. I’m intrigued by creating places that don’t necessarily exist in real life and so my paintings usually end up as a composite of ideas and images that are in my sketchbook.
How much does your cross cultural identity have an impact on your art?
For someone like myself whose parents come from Malaysia and Mauritius, yet who has lived in England all her life is almost inevitably left in a position of strange and challenging negotiations – entreated to preserve the traditions of two cultures, but almost fully submerged in another. I’m interested in the idea of the exotic and what makes something exotic – it’s a problematic term for me. But my intention is always to work against the self-exoticism model by representing my cultural background in a sincere way rather than reinforcing stereotypes.
Do you find that your style has evolved over the last few years?
Although my work has undergone vast changes and developed significantly since my undergraduate degree, some of the basic intents have remained such as how can we begin to speak about who we are and where are from without conforming to a certain narrative or stereotype. Colour has also become more significant in my work as I’m interested in how it can trigger unique encounters in every individual. It is a great way to think about travel, how it can convey an experience that is not only visual but can also denote texture or even climate.
What are your plans after your residency with The Florence Trust ends in July?
To continue to be based in London making new work. I’m really excited at the thought of having a stable base in the city as I’ve travelled a lot in recent years.
The Florence Trust Summer Open, where all 12 of their artists in residence will be exhibiting their work,will run from the 3rd to the 12th of July 2015.