Robina Doxi, What we leave behind, 2013. Mixed media on canvas panels; 180 x 200 cm.
London-based artist Robina Doxi discusses her painting with postcardwall’s Sophie Hill, exploring her dream-like imagery and the reality that takes place in our heads.
Your paintings often play out across the canvas as maps, with constellation-like patterns that guide the eye; are these designed for us to follow as a way of reading your work?
I think of the canvas as inviting the viewer to take a walk within the picture, but leaving the choice of which route to take up to the individual. This way there can be a number of possibilities in one image, built up the way a dream is, with its own sense of logic and gravity.
The likeness of maps or constellation patterning in your work, paired with titles like Fate and Change, give your work a wistful sense of destiny. Do you see them as calling to viewers in this way?
The titles are deliberately open and intend to hint at a mapping of the mind, rather than a physical space. Most of the pieces are imbued with a notion of uncertainty, and I want the titles to reflect that this does not have to be a scary thing. ‘Psychogeography’, a term coined by author Guy Debord, is an intriguing concept – the idea of a collective awareness, social existence, and relationship to a place.
Robina Doxi, Fate, 2013. Mixed media on canvas panels; 200 x 250 cm.
You say that Klimt is a strong influence, which we see in your patterns and romantic figures, yet your different approach to colour is acute. How do you see colour in his work compared to you own?
I am interested in bringing aspects of classical painting into the work in terms of atmosphere rather than technique. The powerful mood in paintings by Klimt or Munch, the way they can engulf the viewer never fails to impress, and this is something I strive for. My choice of colour is to do with what I feel each picture requires, in terms of balance and weight.
You say that you are drawn to Utopian and Dystopian imagery in your work; do you hope that your dreamy colours and map-like symbols encourage people to explore their own ideals and fears?
In a way. In terms of Utopian and Dystopian imagery, the thing that fascinates me the most is that they are only separated by a very fine line. Communist propaganda, for example, will probably at one point have looked full of hope for the future. Today these pictures will be seen through a darker lens, perceiving them as ominous or simply outdated. Most of what we consider reality really takes place in our heads.
Clusters of houses appear frequently in your work; what do these symbolise for you?
They are a combination of fiction and memory from my childhood in the Swedish countryside. In my mind, they work as a way of juxtaposing a vast cosmos too big to comprehend, against human habitation and fragility. Playing with scale in this sense is an important element throughout the paintings.
Robina Doxi, Fate (detail), 2013. Mixed media on canvas panels; 200 x 250 cm.
Much of your work is fragmented, through multiple canvases, blocks of color or lines that cut across your compositions – what does this splitting represent?
This sort of puzzle concept is appropriate in relation to the zeitgeist of the present, in terms of mixing imagery, styles, and media. We are inundated with computer screens and billboards – everywhere there is a story going on. Often I find myself listening to or seeing several different narratives play out at the same time. We do not live in a minimalist era and I want the work to be relevant in that sense. In order to counteract the whimsical features within the images, I embed quite strong architectural qualities, so as to ground the landscapes.
Drawing can often feel more personally evocative than painting; does your focus on the line in your work reflect this?
Hm, yes, kind of. The line drawing aspect is more spontaneous than the other parts of the painting and I always feel a bit naughty when I start. It is almost a defacing of the formal space, which is the canvas. I also see the line as a way of connecting the stories, like communication lines.
Robina Doxi is postcard 333 on postcardwall.
Robina will be exhibiting her work in FBA Futures at Mall Galleries from 20 to 25 January 2014.