The relationships which we share with the sky around us and land below us, is an intimate one, however we frequently neglect it and continue on with our busy lives. Often, we are not even conscious how imperative and essential they are, unless they are highlighted by someone else or in this case by art. Laura Culic evidently is in tuned and aware of the associations the sky and land have on us, as well as their mutual dependence. Culic’s work dives into micro and macro depictions of our surroundings with striking colours to wake us up and make us see so much more.
Culic’s work illustrate the constant struggle between sky and land, whom are constantly trying to maximize their presence on the artist’s working plane. It is in this struggle that the she is able create expressive vistas of land and vibrant skies; both in constant movement. Culic expands the genre of landscape, regardless of how many times it has been covered in art history. Landscapes like these are emotional difficult for the artist, as they often show off the artist’s own sensitivities to their subject they are capturing.
--Andrea Jackman, Curator
When did you first become interested in art?
As long as I can remember, I thought I would be an artist. I was the kid in elementary school who could draw stuff, so I identified as an artist very early on. I was determined to attend art college, and my parents’ objections to my plans (they thought art could only be a hobby) seemed to have fueled my resolve, rather than dampened it. I think this determination has kept me devoted to my art all my life.
What are you working on right now?
I continue to want to paint larger and larger all the time. I’ve always painted the landscape, and also land-and-map inspired abstracts - each, I feel, serving to inform the other. I seek to merge the two approaches; to create large, expressive abstract paintings with references to terrain, weather and a sense of place.
What mediums do you work with?
I am currently in love with cold wax and oil paint - which I combine with a variety of media including oil sticks, graphite, charcoal, dry pigment, marble dust…. sometimes ash, coffee grounds or sand. I started off as a watercolour painter. I’ve painted in acrylic, oil and encaustic. But I find the possibilities and alchemy of the cold wax medium to be endlessly exciting and inspiring.
What inspires your work?
The land. Primarily Canada and specifically the Canadian Shield. I have a deep-felt relationship for the land; for its power, its poetry; its spirit and atmosphere: The land as an experience; a meditation; history and memory. As often as I can, I spend time in nature to hike, paddle, camp and simply absorb.
2019 Installation at Earls Court Gallery
What drives you to work large?
I love the physicality of working large. I find myself able to paint more freely and with less constraint. I find large panels exciting and liberating and see them as spacious environments to be explored. I also love the potential for contrast of scale in large paintings - the playfulness of varying large colour-field type areas with detailed small scribbles, twigs, branches, or smatterings of handwriting.
Which artist/s have influenced your work the most throughout your career?
Although it’s likely not very evident when viewing my work, I feel Mark Rothko is a major influence, in a technical as well as aesthetic and spiritual sense. Other inspirational artists for me include George Inness, Tom Tomson, David Milne, Gordon Smith, Landon Mackenzie, Cy Twombly… all artists with deeply spiritual aspects to their work. And lately, I’ve become very interested in Odilon Redon and Pierre Bonnard.
If you were not an artist, what would you be and why?
When I realized at a young age that gypsy or pirate were not viable career options, I settled for artist. If I were not that, I could be an environmentalist - or better yet, I think I’d be a pretty good environmental activist. I’m very serious about environmental conservation. I wish I did not have to drive a car - but I am proud to consume only plant-based food, and I’m committed in all ways to being kind to the earth.
"Our Favourite Lake" Cold Wax and Oil on Panel 42" x 48"
How has your artistic practice changed over time?
My medium and my subject matter have changed over the years, but I think the biggest shift and growth has been in my confidence in my own voice, allowing me to paint more sincerely, expressively and gesturally. My work has become more process driven. I feel I do my best work when I can remain completely in the present, rather than fixating on a planned outcome. I find much delight and fulfillment in the process of mark making and the physical application of paint.
What is your dream project?
I would love to have an enormous, light filled studio space with huge doors, and an awesome sound system, to create some super large, immersive and atmospheric pieces… maybe ten feet wide, or even larger multi-paneled paintings.
"Field Notes" Cold Wax and Oil on Panel 48" x 40"
What would you like others to know about your art that you think is unique?
I think that my process, while not exactly unique, is interesting, in that, during the course of the painting I make the effort to be in the now - much like meditation. I remind myself to remain present in this moment, and to paint and draw with a beginner's mind - taking pleasure in the act moving paint, scraping paint and making marks, without overthinking or preconceiving an outcome.
If you could give a younger artist some advice what would it be?
Be confident! I would tell a young artist to have assurance and confidence in their own voice, because no one else has that same voice.
Can you tell us about the sacrifices and rewards of a long artistic Career?
I guess the obvious sacrifices are no pension, minimal job security, and little hope of retirement. I don’t see these sacrifices as too severe. The rewards for me are being able to earn a reasonable living, doing exactly what I love to do - which makes me feel grateful and incredibly lucky every day. That I get to create things that elicit powerful emotional responses from others, and sometimes inspire people to give me money for, is an incredible high.
"Meet me in Saskatchewan" Cold Wax and Oil on Panel 40" x 60"
What kind of experience do you want the viewer to walk away with?
I hope that my work would engage the viewer so they would feel immersed in a space and feel they are sharing the essence and atmosphere of a place or time. Ideally, I like to think this engagement might encourage the viewer to act with a greater sense of responsibility and care towards our environment. I also hope the viewer would feel engaged in sharing the exciting and perhaps daring act of putting down quantities of paint, scraping much of that off, making marks, taking chances, and having fun.