An artist between dream and reality
Petra von Kazinyan, who recently became an artshortlister, was very kind to open the doors of her studio in Vienna. Immersion in her world between dream and reality.
Petra von Kazinyan in her studio with her dog
Hello Petra, when and how did you start painting?
Since my early childhood, I had the desire to transform my life into art. I was never not painting or drawing. When I was six years old, I started to sign my works; the first one I ever signed was a small landscape painting, a forest scene. Funnily I wrote my age, not my name in the right bottom corner...
The young Petra drawing
To me, being creative is just something that has always been there and can’t be separated from my inner self. Like Christo once said: When you’re an artist, you’re always an artist, there’s not one second in your life when you’re not an artist.
You live in Vienna, tell us about this city? What does it mean to you?
Vienna has always been a city with great friction potential for artists - its cultural heritage is impressive and the coexistence of historic and contemporary architecture is visually striking, but it‘s also a quite conservative city, not as vibrant and open-minded as comparable capitals.
Your art oscillates between abstraction and figuration, why?
Over the years, I turned from realism to pure abstraction, then things started to get more figurative again.
Petra von Kazinyan in front of Ego XII (Omnia aut nihil)
To me, figuration and abstraction complement each other; due to their reciprocal relationship, one results from the other, it’s an eternal cycle.
Do you have routines or rituals when you are in your studio?
When I enter my studio and close the door behind me, I leave everyday life outside; it’s always a moment of great relief and pure freedom.
Then I‘ll sit down in front of the canvas for quite some time, taking my time to get into the right mood. Music also plays an important role; every painting has its own soundtrack.
Music is important in your creative process, what do you usually listen to?
I listen to any kind of music that moves me in a certain way, from Stromae to Vivaldi; I also have a soft spot for French chansons and soundtracks of movies I love.
Her studio in Vienna
Regarding the creative process, the music selection depends on my current mood and the kind of atmosphere I want to create.
Who are the artists who inspire you?
Van Gogh and Picasso; I never get tired of their works and the stories of their lives. Old masters like Caravaggio or Velázquez; their works still have a lot of stories to tell.
Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Lucio Fontana - in my works, I also aim to explore what the term "space" means today, in our liquid modernity, as Zygmunt Bauman once called it - in a globalized and post-digital world where the only constant is change.
What is your favourite artwork?
It’s really hard to choose only one, I need to pick at least two enigmatic masterpieces that mean a lot to me: Picasso’s Guernica and Velázquez’ Las Meninas.
Las Meninas, Diego Velázquez, 1656-1657, Prado Museum
Do you have any other passions besides art?
I‘m obsessed with fragrances and their inherent duality of fleetingness and eternity; I just can’t get enough of niche perfumery, it’s such a mesmerizing field to explore. I’m fascinated by a scent’s ability to contain and evoke memories.
Tell us about your "Ego" series? What is its meaning?
The human ego plays a key role in my work. But what is the ego? An inconsistently used term with contrasting connotations.
I use the terms "I", "self" and "ego" synonymously, just according to the mere meaning in Latin: I = ego. It’s my personal definition, based on an artistic, philosophical approach, neither religious nor spiritual. To me, the ego is mainly characterized by its openness. An obscure projection surface, undefined blank space.
Petra with The big clouds
Symbolised by a specific abstract form that once emerged unintentionally through a random brush movement, it repeatedly appeared in my first abstract paintings and proved to be an integral part of the works; I started to miss it when it wasn't there. Mostly located in the centre of the paintings, at some point I used to call it "ego".
What role should color play in a painting?
My choice of color is always either strictly intuitive or conceptual, depending on the motif and what I want to express.
When do you consider a painting finished?
When the painting closes itself like an oyster.
In talking to you, you told us that you love Paris, what does this city mean to you?
I fell in love with Paris when I was a child; and this love at first sight has lasted until today. It’s difficult to explain its magic in words, because I think you need to feel this city; to me, Paris is more than a place, it’s a state of mind.
You have just joined the Art Shortlist, how does it feel to be an Artshortlister?
I’m glad you chose to represent a fine selection of my works, and I highly appreciate not only the warm welcome but also your professionalism and open-mindedness, forming the basis for a smooth and harmonious collaboration.
Petra in front of Ego IX (Bahama concrete)
To finish our interview, can you give me a quote that particularly inspires you?
"Everything you can imagine is real." Pablo Picasso