Interview with Seline Burn
• Where are you from ? Is any culture (artistic or other) influencing your artistic practice ?
I am from Basel, Switzerland. I think a lot of cultures inspire me, but the culture that has been influencing me the most is the culture of my family. Simple things like eating together, to the way we communicate and how I‘ve learnt to express myself.
• You did illustration studies, why did you choose to become a painter and how does it
impact your painting work today ?
After my studies in illustration, I worked a lot on commissioned work and there was not a lot of room for my own artistic voice. I found a way of liberating myself from that with painting and it has been a significant portal ever since to express myself. Because in the arts, there are no limits, no rules, no recipes. There is just you and your decision.
• We notice a lot of portraits in your work, often in dreamy states and fictional
settings. Which messages or emotions do you want to convey when you are making
these kind of portraits ?
Since these paintings showcase a subconscious or even spiritual world - not essentially the visible reality - they reflect an attempt on giving inner processes a form, a more public voice. Otherwise they just exist in our diaries or in our heads, if at all.
• We feel very close to your characters when looking at your paintings, in the sense
that we have the impression of witnessing very intimate moments. Is it something
you want the viewer to feel ?
Closeness and curiosity interest me very much. I remember looking back at the people I crossed in the street as a child, because I was too shy to look at them whilst I could actually see their face. Growing up in a small village, it was too obvious and therefore rude if I stared. I don‘t know, I‘ve always been very interested in the lives of other people and how they express themselves. As an observer, I often prefer to watch rather than participate. Except when it comes to creating of course.
I don‘t really expect the viewer to feel anything, I just want my work to be a landscape of connection and belonging, where stories, experiences and faces can be looked at without a feeling of voyeurism.
• We see a lot of fabric details in your paintings, is there an explanation for that ?
Yes! Other than the fact that fabric can tell a lot about the identity of a person, I enjoy painting details very much. I think about fabric a lot, as we wear it constantly. It literally is our closest companion if you will, being on our skin throughout all of our days, protecting us from the cold, or from shame or whatever, enhancing our beauty - or not at all haha ..
• Your choice of colors is very particular (sometimes all blue, very bright, almost
fluorescent for some), we also see a lot of work on transparencies. Can you explain
these choices ?
I think my biggest explanation would be intuition, which is no explanation at all. For me, to express myself with colors means two things: a lot of fun and a lot of desire. If I could eat colors, it really would be my favorite dish, I just know it.
Of course color combinations don‘t always work right away, that‘s when a painting starts to have lots of layers. Transparency interests me because you can see through something, breaking a surface, seeing something that is hiding a bit. The aspect of mystery and curiosity draw me close to it.
• In your artist statement, you mention Symbolism as an inspiration. Do you draw
inspiration from particular artists or artworks from this period ? Or is it just the
specificities of the movement in general ?
The movement in general, because other than many other art eras, it is not the stylistic choices that make a painting belong to the period, but it‘s its codes, the symbols, its meaning.
Other than that, I am certainly very influenced by my religious upbringing, of all the strange, beautiful and violent allegories and stories of the bible. Although I don‘t go to church anymore, the parables and the symbolism are still very present in my mind and can be discovered in a very subtle way in my work.
• About the portrait you created for the exhibition Entrevues (4-16 October) : what can you tell me about this
It is the first self portrait in a long time, I made lots of color changes with this one. Maybe because I really struggled to look myself in the eye this time.
Her left hand is hiding her left eye, her index finger is wearing a ring. Rings on the index finger first and foremost symbolize loyalty, but also leadership and ambition. I think the title "Protect me from what I want" says a lot about the process behind it.
Interview realized in October 2023 by Allison Gay - Director of Blossom Art Agency