There is so much energy in Camile Sproesser’s vivid paintings! I love how they seem to vibrate right off the surface. Currently based in São Paulo, she just had her first solo exhibition in Rio de Janeiro earlier this year. Make sure to find more on the artist’s site and Instagram at the links following this great interview!
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I’m from São Paulo, a very huge and chaotic city, financial capital of this gigantic and socially unequal country called Brazil. I’m very sensitive to all kinds of injustice, and if there is a problem in my country, well, we can name it ‘injustice’ of all kinds, you can’t imagine. I have a psychologist mom who worked her entire life in the public system taking care of all kinds of violated people, and a dad who is a family doctor of a very wealthy and expensive hospital. They divorced when I was 8 and they are very different: they vote different, and have diverse visions of life. I’m very close to them now, but I was a devil as a teenager and a young adult.
When I was 18 I went to Spain to be an ‘au pair’ to some friends of my stepmother but it didn’t go very well, and I started working at a bar at the beach and then I went to the camino de Santiago. It changed my life, I got a little bit closer to what freedom means, inside and outside. Then I came back and dropped into 3 universities, journalism on the second year, literature on the first and visual arts on the third. I took a two-year film school course, finished it and started painting everyday after that. I’ve gone to Carlos Fajardo’s seminaries since 2015; he is a great artist and teacher, I discovered a lot of things with him, like Bataille, Merleau-Ponty, Didi-Huberman, Deleuze, Hans Belting, Lacan and other contemporary visual thinkers. I am kind of a self-taught painter without a visibly defined canon, but I can think of writers that influence my work better that painters, like James Joyce, Simone de Beauvoir, Hilda Hilst. I turned 33 on August 6. Right now I am very productive and enthusiastic about my work, longing to show it in São Paulo as soon as possible, since my first solo show was in Rio de Janeiro last April. It was amazing btw.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I don’t know. This question reminds me of all the fun I had when I was a kid — I had a very joyful childhood! And I was always drawing and painting everything, and writing too. I started my creative experience writing, it was really important to me. I had a blog for years and I used to write prose and poems and make a drawing to each post. It was called ‘desconstrualistas’. People used to like it and then I went to be a journalist for some years. Even when I dropped journalism I was working on a radio station and followed it. But I guess I first discovered art as a child having lots of fun, that’s how I still feel sometimes when I’m painting and this is a very important aspect of my work: fun.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I first think of my work as very excessive painting, I used to like to define it by the concept of excess. Colour is very bright, and still today I have all this symbols and forms that fill the entire canvas. It can be a mess! Lately I started painting figurative forms, like snakes, panthers, wolves, cups, bottles, hands, cigarettes. I think my painting is aggressive and I know that I am kind of aggressive person too. I think I’m trying to work my anger to be something that can be funny, deep inside. To laugh about it.
I’m deepening my research on feminism, not just feminist, but thinking gender issues personally. And it appears in my work, I write on the paintings. I worked on a Medusa after reading Ann Dufy’s poems about her. I flirt with queer culture as well, I identify as queer even though my partner is a straight male.
What is your process like?
I paint fast without studies or sketches, with exceptions, of course. I like to work on the background and leaving some raw parts on the canvas, dripping, and using a lot of paint directly from the tube at the same time. Like this I create layers working the colours and the forms. Usually I work on a big painting and little ones at the same time.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
Carlos Fajardo once said, “Your painting is like you wanna eat lobster everyday”. Hahaha! He was seeing my work for the first time and this defined my work and myself in a very funny way with this peculiar humour of his. Yes, I’m an excessive and lickerish person, and so is my painting. We wanna eat it all!
Mercedes Viegas is a important person to me. She is an old school gallerist in Rio and have worked all her life with art. She is a museologist and expert. I emailed her my solo show project last year. Few days later, she called me and said: I like your art and your project, let’s do this! We did it and it was awesome! Now, she represents my work in Rio de Janeiro and I really like her. She’s easy to work with and has a great sense of humor.
What is your studio like?
It’s little. with a great window that take the entire wall, a hammock, a table, two drawers, two dogs, plenty of books and paintings.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
It’s so hard to live from art. You really have to be in a very good gallery to sell paintings and make a living. In Brazil, having a collection is something really elitist, you don’t have common people like you and me buying art. It’s almost impossible to sell paintings to pay the bills. I consider myself lucky because I’ve always sold a little number of paintings and drawings, since I started painting. Right now I’m eager to show my work in São Paulo and to a have commercial partner here. But then if you wanna do this really you have to believe on the work and make it work.
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
Improbable, slippy, playful
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m doing little abstract paintings with tridimensional biscuit forms following the drawings. I’m having loads of fun doing it and creating titles for them. I’m writing a little book of poems as well.