Briefly describe the work you do.
In my work I investigate the relationship between time and space with a special emphasis on repetition. My experience of time as a musician, where repetition is part of the everyday routine, plays an important role in my practice as an artist. I wondered what would happen if I visually captured all the time spent while practicing the piano.
In my “Études” series, the paintings are the result of the rhythmic repetition of a circular gesture that leaves a mark on the surface of the canvas. This procedure is repeated over several layers. The term étude (study) comes from music, where studies are typically based on a single piece of musical material, for instance a rhythmic or melodic pattern, which is repeated with slight variations. This creates a continuous musical flow which translates into a repetitive choreography of movements. The repeated circular gesture used on the paintings thus arises from piano playing.
In 100 metros de Do mayor (694 octavas) I continue my interest for the relationship between repetitions in time and space. I transform the repetitive rhythmic gestures encountered in piano practice into explorations of pure abstraction in a different way from the one previously used in the études series. Specifically, I now focus on the repetitive gestures of practicing scales.
In this work I “played” the scale of C major with the right hand over the 100 meters of the PVC tape. I applied a color to each finger (black for the thumb and white for the other fingers).
In the Neumas series (neumes) I graphically transpose the musical scores of the Chopin Études in order to show its repetitive nature and structure. The neumes are musical symbols, graphic representations of sounds and inflections, used in the medieval musical notation. I remove the pitch determined by the stave and the rhythmic information. By doing this, I reveal the relative melodic relationship between notes, the shape giving rise to the melodic contour.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
My background in music is very important in my work. In order to develop the necessary piano skills, one must spend thousands of hours repeating the same gestures allowing the body to internalize and integrate them.
I graduated in both Fine Arts and Music. My student years were very hard, I was really busy, always rushing against the clock. I think that might be another reason why I am obsessed with recording time.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My studio is a separate room at home, but somehow I always end up invading the surroundings, spreading my works all around the house. I usually don’t work long hours in a row. Instead I do several shorter sessions in a day. For example, if I’m working on an étude, I might paint a layer and then go and do something else (like practicing the piano) while it dries. Later on I will return with a fresh mind. Finishing one étude can take months and I usually work on several works at the same time.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I didn’t imagine at all doing very time-consuming administrative activities like accounting, building a website, promoting, applying for juried shows and grants, etc.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time every day or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I do not have a fixed schedule. Every day is different, but I usually work more in the mornings and early afternoons. I also don’t separate weekdays from weekends.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
Five years ago I was already working on my Étude series, but since then it has evolved enormously. This was in part due to a technical challenge that I set myself of producing an uninterrupted continuous line. Using a regular brush was not possible because at one point you always have to stop the line in order to dip the brush in paint. As you may have picked up, the process itself is a very important part of my work. The visible evolution in my études is the result of different solutions that I have found to this challenge.
I’ve also started working in other series as neumas, pintura digital and produced the site-specific work100 metros de Do mayor (694 octavas) for an exhibition at the Espacio OTR in Madrid (Spain).
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
I like to exchange thoughts with other fellow artists. I think it helps me to be exposed to honest feedback from people I trust. Sometimes I get ideas unexpectedly. For example, the main idea of myPintura digital series came to me while teaching the piano. My pupil was having problems understanding the repetitive fingering pattern of an exercise. She insisted on reading the notes one by one without realizing the repetitive pattern. Helping her realizing it gave me the idea of using the finger scale patterns in my paintings.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
Well, I’ve always been negotiating two paths: visual arts and music. I’ve finally realized that I need both in my life. For me they are the same; it is like speaking two different languages, but saying the same thing. Continuing to pursue both of them is my way of keeping an inner balance. I can be a bit of an obsessive character so attending to both music and visual arts prevents me from getting stuck. Other interests include reading and watching good movies.
Ana Pérez Ventura (Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 1981) is a contemporary visual artist and musician based in Paris, France. She studied Fine Arts at the Universities of Vigo and Barcelona and Music (piano) at the Conservatories of Vigo and Amsterdam. Ana Pérez Ventura moved to Paris in 2009 where she completed a master’s degree (Paris IV-Sorbonne University) specialising in the relationship between music and visual art. She has been awarded the Segundo Gil Davila’s and Pedro Barrié de la Maza scholarships (Spain) and the Artension Prize (France). She has shown her work in Spain, France, Germany and China. Inspired by her career in music as a pianist, Pérez Ventura showcases the experience of the music practice room, where repetition is part of the everyday routine of a musician.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.