Meet Florine Imo, an artist who lives and works in Austria. A woman who paints women because – ‘ the most honest way to express a certain feeling, is to show how a woman moves through space’.
Here, we chatted with the artist to find out more about her practice and what inspires her.
What is your background and why did you want to become an artist?
I grew up in the country side in the Vienna Woods in Austria. My family is scattered throughout Austria, Germany and France so moving around and traveling was introduced to me very early. Drawing and painting came to me naturally from a very young age on. I recently found boxes filled with drawings from the time when I was in kindergarten. So many drawings of flowers and plants, horses, cats, houses and girls doing different things. Actually not so far from what I’m painting right now, which I think is funny. I became an artist because at some point I just realized that being an artist is also a thing you can become, so I just decided to become that. Of course now things are more serious and I understand what it means to work as a full time artist and the responsibilities and chores that come with it, but I just love painting. I can’t see myself doing anything else ever again in my life.
What is your favourite medium to work in? And do you have plans to explore any other forms of mediums?
I’ve made countless experiments with different materials during the last years. For 2 years I only used soft pastels as my main material. I’ve drawn with soft pastels on paper and later found a way to use it on canvas and preserve it long term. Today I’m using acrylics and oil colour again. When I have to prepare works for shows I always still make pieces where I try out something new. Often on smaller scales where I play with colour effects and take bits and pieces from those experiments back to my bigger works. I think it’s so important to hang onto the playful side of painting, to always bring something fresh and new into the works.
What is the purpose / goal of your work?
It varies from piece to piece. Although I always like to draw the viewer in. Bright colours, at first seemingly perfect looking figures, and often a paradise like setting – those are the elements I show frequently. These paintings often play with the viewers judgement of different aspects of femininity. I paint a lot of bodies and skin, making my girls both strong and fragile at the same time. Often they show you a creepy smile, they couldn’t care less about what you think of them. These figures are ugly and beautiful. They can throw you off by the animalistic features of their hands or teeth for example. Some of my paintings are really focused on a specific narration and characters. It’s lovely to talk to friends about those works and ask them what they think is happening in the work, how the characters are, and what their life is like and so on. Nowadays my paintings are often about relationships between figures. Recently I made a series of a group of girls drawing each other. When you study a person’s face to draw a portrait of it’s such an intimate situation, where two people really connect. In that series I show these confident women, being soft and enjoying the first day of summer. Some paintings are also allowed to just be pleasant…I think. We can’t control what others think of us, neither what they think of our artwork. It’s seldom that you meet someone who really sees you for who you are. Often we’re projecting our own emotions onto a person instead of investing the time and effort to truly see them. I think that we also do this with artworks but maybe to a lesser extent. I guess it’s always about that connection in order to convey a certain feeling, statement or story. Maybe the goal is to reach someone and really touch them. I think that’s what we all want in the end, right?
Do your other interests influence your work?
I’m a big nerd and spend most of my time in the studio painting or planning projects and sketches, so my other interests are kind of limited, haha. I do a lot of sports and love to travel when I can. Meeting people all over and talking about meaningful, deep stuff always seems to inspire my ideas and makes me think about paintings too. My friendships are extremely important to me and their stories and our connection influences my paintings and the ideas I get. It all comes down to real, human emotions. Apart from that I also love music. I’ve played several instruments in the past and still play guitar now. Music always helps me feel empowered to push through night sessions, work really hard and finish the paintings when they get difficult.
Which other artists influence your art / do you admire?
There are so many amazing figurative painters out there. For example, right now I’m really into Sofia Mitsola and Grace Weaver’s Paintings. Sofia’s faces and characters are so intriguing. I love how she imagines her world and how painterly she creates it. On the other side she keeps the work really clean and focused on the important parts. To me, her paintings feel like an honest delivery of emotions. Grace Weaver has also so many fantastic characters shown through her figures. Her strokes and lines are so confidently painted. I really like the flatness she creates in the complex group paintings…Additionally I totally adore Robin Francesca Williams, her surfaces are just insane! She uses so many different techniques and materials for different parts of her paintings. I enjoy to look at their interviews and seeing them talking about the universes they’ve created.
What are your techniques to get out of a creative rut?
Drawing without thinking and putting the canvas flat on the ground to use acrylics as watercolors and just have fun. I have so many sketches of ideas for new paintings and it feels like I can’t do them all. That’s more likely the problem. I rarely find myself in a creative block. I don’t take creating works too serious and as long as I trust the fact that I can paint, everything seems to work out.
When is your favourite time of day to create?
Unfortunately during the evening and night. During the day I’m often busy answering texts, socializing and organizing stuff. When it gets dark and no one expects me to be reachable it feels like nothing matters anymore and I fall into a painting trance. Sometimes there are weeks where my sleeping rhythm is turned around, but that’s when I get the most work done.
Can you share with us any exciting future plans you are currently working on?
I’m participating in quite a few group shows this year. In April you can fifind my works at MISA from König Gallery during the gallery weekend in Berlin. In May I’ll show my new series during a group show in collaboration with The Art Kollective at Lorin Gallery LA. Apart from those two projects, more shows are planned in Tokyo, London and New York this year. I’m also planning to move to London next year and hopefully attend the MA painting program at the Royal Collage of Art.
All images via the artist by Kataneva