Artist Interview: Olatz Irigarai (Donostia, Spain)

You mention your work revolves around finding the “essence of the perennial.” Could you expand on that, and whether there have been instances where you arrive at such an essence?

In some of my works, there is a search, somehow an intention to capture something that can’t be explained with words, that can’t be named, something essential that resides within for a long time far in the past. This ethereal entity goes through time, crossing our present, projecting itself into the future, enduring or continually coming and going, incessantly. Hence my mention to the essence of the perennial, of the eternal.

The truth is that I feel that this essence is always getting away, maybe sometimes I can catch a glimpse of it, like a shy wink.

What role does photolithography play in your artistic process?

Working with Photolithography is part of an attitude of experimentation that I keep not only in the printmaking studio but also in other fields of my creative process. Working with a diverse spectrum of materials, my practice is multidisciplinary. I like to explore, play with different techniques, and look for new languages. Photolithography is not something I work with usually. However, while I was working in screen printings, I´ve found the photolithographs a very interesting material, from where this Cavities series ultimately emerged.

Could you expand on how the movements and genres of abstraction, post-minimalism, and Chinese ink painting, serve as inspirations for your artistic process.

The Abstraction movement was understood as a departure from reality in the depiction of imagery, and it has been a big inspiration to me. Its use of shapes, colors, geometrical, and linear forms, and gestural marks has been a constant in the art of early cultures and civilisations. I’ve always found how abstract art communicates at this level of visual meaning very attractive, and I work extensively with this concept.

I especially like how various artists from the post-minimalist movement, transitioning away from the industrial materials, used original strategies for their creations and started investigating the limits of traditional creativity, and how these artists placed a fresh emphasis on the process of creation in their works.

Last but not least, their use of nontraditional materials, actions of exploring time, impermanence, and space, relates my own personal process to the post-minimalism artists’ own processes.

The way some Chinese ink paintings, with their simple compositions in black ink, leave vast areas of negative space that add a certain serenity to the work has always heartened me. As well as all the possibilities that a simple brushstroke contains with just black ink amazes me. I constantly refer to these two aspects in my creative process

Tell us more about the personal stories that emerge within the creation of your works.

This series is dedicated to magic moments that arise between people, and instances that sometimes happen. There are personal stories but they are at the same time universal because they can happen to anyone of us. How cavities can be understood as empty spaces between two surfaces is to me the core of these magic moments.

How has moving to Singapore after growing up in Europe inspired your creative process.

Moving to Singapore has been an inflexion point in my creative process for different reasons. First of all, I would say that my passion for Chinese Ink painting, as I said before, has been utterly fulfilled. Not only because by living here I’ve been able to visit a lot of galleries and museums that exhibit these paintings, but also because I had the opportunity to learn about it and practice it. Discovering the stores in Bras Basah Complex, for example, where they sell materials for Chinese Ink painting, has been a gift to me.

Also moving to Singapore, living so far from my hometown has made me feel free to experiment without fears. I guess that distance has the power to release you from some ties.

Lastly, I should say that for the last three years I’ve had more time to dedicate to my artistic process, experiment in new fields and delve deeper into the works.