Inspired by her cultural heritage and a multi-cultural identity, abstract artist Pernilla Iggstrom found her unique way to creating art pieces that inspires the viewer to reflect on his or her own cultural heritage, increase an interest and awareness about him or herself and others and thereby break down stereotypical impressions and pre-conceived ideas. Here, she shares her story…
Tell us more about your backstory and how you got into the art world..
I was born in Korea and was adopted to Sweden as a baby. I have been creative for as long as I can remember and used to draw in mail order catalogues when mum was feeding me as a toddler. I studied languages and wanted to travel so I started to work in the business world which I did for many years before I moved from Singapore to London to do a BA (Hons) in Fine Art Painting at City & Guilds of London Art School. Since I graduated in 2011, I have had a studio and been showing regularly in London and Sweden.
Can you describe the process of creating your work and the storytelling behind it?
Towards the end of my first BA year, I started to explore my cultural heritage and the loss of it. I photocopied photos from family albums and created collages. I burned, ripped, tore and glued pieces together which I then painted. This ripping, tearing and burning came to represent the trauma a child torn from her mother and her culture to then travel many thousands of miles to a different country far away. For me it didn’t feel complete until I had painted the collage.
I became interested in how the genes and the environment affect our identity and how the exterior, our looks, and our interior, our psyche, communicate with each other. That there is so much more to a person than what meets the eye. I often jokingly explain that I am metaphorically bond and blue eyed inside to explain this.
I painted on different surfaces and experimented a lot in art school on copper, slate, canvas, glass, Perspex etc. These different materials have come to symbolise for me the various exteriors we humans have. I have in recent years been painting on organza which is semi-transparent, representing the memories of one’s past that are there but not always clear to us. Likewise, the aluminium surface reflects the viewer and thus adds their own personal story to the experience of the painting.
Although I am using my own story as a spring board, my work is universal. The aim is to inspire to reflection and thereby break down pre-conceived ideas and stereotypical barriers.
What is the best advice you received as an artist?
To be true to yourself and honest in your work. Not to compromise on trying to make work you think sells. I believe that the energy that goes into a piece reflects back to the viewer and you can feel the passion and honesty in it even if it isn’t the type of art you’d normally like.
Another great advice which is very important is not to compare yourself with other artists in terms of how far your career has reached. All things need its time and will happen when it is ready and we all have different journeys that can’t be compared.
Also, if you don’t get accepted into an exhibition after applying to an Open Call, the selectors have seen your work and it could lead to something else, or something later on. You get your name and art visible when you apply. Not being selected doesn’t mean you aren’t good. Much could depend on who the other artists are, and the combination of your art and theirs might not work.
Are there any exhibitions or events you are planning?
I am currently in the process of curating an exhibition called “More Than Meets The Eye” at D Contemporary on Grafton Street in Mayfair. I have invited 6 other artists whose art practice concerns identity of some form or another. Together we create narratives around cultural identity, motherhood and the female experience, LGBTQ and inherited trauma. It opens on Tuesday 6 September with a Private View and continues until 17 September. There is a Curator’s Talk and Performances on Saturday 10 September 1- 4 pm.
After this exhibition I will focus on time in my studio which I haven’t had much of the last few years as I have been very busy with curating the stand at Supermarket Independent Art Fair in Stockholm two years in a row for the fantastic art group ArtCan that I am a member of.
To view Pernilla Iggstrom’s work please visit pernillaiggstrom.com
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