"Be Still" Exhibition: Interview with Loribelle Spirovski

The TAX Collection + Guy Hepner present ‘Be Still’, a solo exhibition by Loribelle Spirovski. Opening March 22nd, ‘Be Still’ is a collection of Spirovski’s’ latest body of work exploring how the concept of ‘space’ interacts with an occupant and the conversation that exists between a figure and the space around them.

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Tell us a little bit about your background. What was your upbringing like and how do you feel it has shaped your work?

I grew up in Manila with my Filipino mother, while my dad, who is of Serbian/Macedonian ethnicity, lived and worked in Australia. Due to visa restrictions, I didn't meet him until I was 7 years old, but I felt his presence very strongly throughout my childhood. He would send me care packages which included the first picture book I had ever read; it was one of those personalized books, so the protagonist was named after me. I think this was a hugely defining moment for me, because I began to associate myself with pictures, as well as forging a lifelong love of books. As well as this, my dad's brother happens to be a painter also, and for my 5th birthday he sent over a drawing of me and it was my most treasured possession. I was always a very introverted kid, so I spent most of my time drawing, creating play-doh sculptures and reading. 

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How do you feel your art has evolved over the past few years?

Evolution is probably the defining trajectory in my artistic practice over the past few years. I began in late 2012/early 2013 after graduating from university, having trained as an art educator rather than an artist. This degree fostered in me a love of art history  (which is probably evident in my work). However, the technique wasn't a focus of the degree, so is essentially a self-taught painter, my practice started off with finding me feet as well as my voice, through paint. I was initially drawn to realism/photorealism because it was demonstrative of skill, and taught me a great deal about observation and color mixing. My work is tied very closely with events in my life, and in 2014-15 I created a successful series called 'Memento Mori' during an emotionally fraught period - this was the beginning of my departure from realism. In 2016, I created the last of the 'Memento Mori' series with a portrait of my (now) husband Simon Tedeschi, who is an acclaimed Australian pianist - however, after successive rejections from portrait prizes that I attempted to enter with this painting, I decided to take a step back and reevaluate my practice. I made the decision to depart from photorealism (which I didn't much enjoy due to its labor intensive nature) and the 'crutch' of the grid method or projector, which aids photorealists in getting the most accurate reproduction of a photograph. Since then, my practice has been about honing in on a fleeting and ever-changing aesthetic quality, and on trying to use paint in a way that embraces, rather than hides its raw state. 

Being married to a musician has significantly affected my practice - Simon is my perennial muse and I've since done countless paintings and drawings of him. He has become a conduit through which I can take risks, and as such, my portraits of him are indirect self-portraits. 

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What do you hope viewers of your recent exhibition with The TAX Collection and Guy Hepner experience?

I want viewers to feel the ghost of my movements on the canvas - as their eye traces each line, stroke, dash and splatter, I want them to sense the physicality of my presence in every mark made. The faces are panted from memory and imagination, so I want the viewer to see themselves and to read their stories in the symbols. I was so affected by the extent to which the paintings resonated with attendees of the opening night, and having heard their very personal and varied interpretations and reactions, I feel that it's been a successful series indeed.

What would you say this exhibition about?

This exhibition is about so many things, but mostly I see it as an introductory letter to the city of New York. Having created this body of work specifically for this exhibition, I really let myself be as free and intuitive as possible in the creation of the works, and as such, it embodies so much about me, my past, my present, and where I want to be in the future. It's a dynamic collection that exposes so much of my emotional state of mind, my artistic influences and themes that I find myself constantly drawn to. I could talk about how I'm drawn to spaces, to myths and to ways of exploring trauma and anxiety through symbolism, but ultimately, I want my paintings to have an ineffable quality because if I could express it perfectly in words, there would be no need to paint. 


Where can we learn more and support your work?

The best place to find me is via Instagram @loribellespirovski which links to my website www.loribellespirovski.com You can also find me on Facebook on @loribellespirovskiartist