IN CONVERSATION | PAINTER- LENA BRAZIN

15.09.20

“It is also true that living in London is like living in a jungle and if you want to survive you need to try and live your best. Therefore if you want to make a living as an artist in a very competitive environment you need to level up your game.”

-Lena Brazin

Lena Brazin’s work explores and expresses metaphysical, mystical, and spiritual themes of human life through an intuitive approach to painting where vivid colours and bold drawing form a base for her expressive language within the figurative and narrative painting. Her use of the exaggerated personal and symbolic imagery evokes questioning and opens up an imaginative space for the viewer to occupy where multiple layers of paint with different paces of application of the paint reflect the complexity of the reality that we live in. [lenabrazin.com]

1.    What is your definition of studio space?

For me, studio space is any area or environment dedicated to the sole purpose to create. Personally, it is a sacred zone, a sanctuary, and a safe nest where I can focus only on painting. I am renting a studio at the moment which is in a different location than my living space but I can imagine having a studio that is being part of the home. That´s my idea for the future. My situation in London doesn´t allow me to do that yet.

2.    Collaborative/communal studio spaces are on the rise within London. Do you believe this formula can work and how?

Before my move to London I lived and worked from home , both in Slovakia and France where I had my studios in separate rooms. My first ever experience of having a studio in a complex of studios was with Bow Arts, then Turps Banana, and most recently with ASC art studios. All of these studio buildings offer separate studios for individuals or groups of creatives. I very much enjoy being able to interact with like-minded people while having my own personal space at the same time. The formula can work especially when spaces hold areas for projects, collaborations, events, etc. which can enrich artist’s own development and career. My only experience of sharing a big studio with other painters was while being at the painting studio program at Turps Art School. I didn´t mind it because all of us were painters and there was a certain trust among us as we felt that we are all on the same boat in the space and time. Sharing space is also very useful in terms of pushing those costs lower as London is a financial nightmare for the artists that are not yet established, but I understand that sharing space isn´t for everyone. I also prefer having my private zone today but I´m thankful for the “being exposed” experience as well. At the end of the day it is all about the people you work with.

3.    Do you believe that London has an impact on your art?

Definitely yes. My work is figurative and narrative and I have been always reflecting my path in my work. People and environments that I am experiencing they all play a profound role in my art. The main impact on how one’s art has something to do with the personality and drive of an individual. I don´t see any change in how much art I produce each year if I try to compare my years spent in more rural areas to London. It´s only because I had my drive that kept me going even in more hostile conditions. It is also true that living in London is like living in a jungle and if you want to survive you need to try and live your best. Therefore if you want to make a living as an artist in a very competitive environment you need to level up your game. You feel this pressure more and it also offers you a chance for growth as you need to be able to adapt, explore, try new things.

4.    Would you consider moving outside of London?

That´s my goal. I love nature and so I think that the ideal would be having two different residencies. One in a rural area and one in the city. I can imagine spending most of the time in a cottage house with a separate studio somewhere with splendid views, lively fauna and flora, and fresh air.

5.    Do you think it would impact your work if you were to move out of the city?

We all are affected by environments that we live in. That´s life and artists are sensitive to this even more. We grow with every experience. If I think about my work, each year was different so far. It´s because I reflect on my experience and what is around me and I have been moving a lot in the last 10 years and so you can see it in my work too. I also believe that I am now finding my groove, language and subject matter that I can stick to for longer. I can imagine that I am just continuing in the same spirit in different places. 

6.    What do you think the future of studio space looks like?

I can see collaboration between powerful individuals and communities. Today´s political and economical system supports very much unhealthy, greedy, and selfish behaviour. It really is a shame because I believe this is the main reason why we as a society don´t flourish as we could. Few people enjoy their luxurious lifestyles while the vast majority hustle their asses off just to be able to survive. Therefore I see potential in getting those forces together. There should be more of the government and elite support towards not only arts and creative industries but sports, science, education, health system, etc. I can imagine creative hubs that offer free of charge residencies, talks, studios for a certain amount of time. Also, it would be great if some studio spaces once established, would be granted an infinite license so developers couldn´t destroy what an art community has hardly built. Financially self-sufficient spaces and studios thanks to their ability to gather an income through cafes, shops, gardens, events, etc. Are also a good option. I know I am a bit idealistic in all of this, it´s probably more a wish than the upcoming reality.

7.    How do you believe we can ensure artists remain in London, in the future?

It all comes down to the costs. It already is quite tough for artists in London, I would say it really is on the edge at the moment. Especially for artists that are just emerging into the scene. You need to really believe in yourself to make it work somehow. I myself need to hustle among a few different jobs while still being able to focus on my art practice. There should be more support, grants, residency opportunities, studios that remain low cost no matter what.

8.    How do you think artists can collaborate and communicate with developers in London to try to maintain the cultural community it’s known for?

Maybe the magic lies in branding and marketing. Being a donator, a patron is good advertisement for your brand. It shows that you are not only generating wealth for yourself but that you also put back into a community that actually created a good soil for you. It is simple, just think about others too when you have your project in mind. If you are a developer, how does your project affect other people and the environment? You don´t need to preserve everything but leave an area or an oasis where artists and creatives can continue developing their own visions. Developers could also create a deal or exchange with artists when artists produce some artworks for their premises.