Pia Chavarria Interview - The Hopper Prize

Pia Chavarria

Pia Chavarria on early drawing references, the notion of ‘not knowing’, portraits & non-portraits, & the number of possiblities behind each subject.

How did you get into making art?

I have been crazy about drawing since I was a child, my major references being dragon ball Z and pretty much any cartoon current on the TV. But my mom was also a huge deal to me. She was a fine arts teacher at the Conservatorio Castella, a Costarrican arts conservatory funded in 1953, determining to the expansion of arts in our country in the current and past century. I eventually decided to study fine arts at the University of Costa Rica and have been painting daily since then (except for when I am at the beach).

What are you currently working on?

I have been working on the idea of portraying people for several years now. I say idea since it is still a turmoil of a concept to me. What I am interested in is the notion of ‘not knowing’ and the preposterous concept that we as painters are some sort of omniscient God-sent entity with a ruling fist.

I am constantly intrigued about the number of possibilities behind a person, what they are doing, with whom and why. Is like blindingly writing a novel with no beginning nor end. A glimpse of an idea vanishing on thin air.

Portraits and non-portraits of random people. That is what I am working on.

What I am interested in is the notion of 'not knowing' and the preposterous concept that we as painters are some sort of omniscient God-sent entity with a ruling fist.

Pia Chavarria

What inspired you to get started on this body of work?

Stains and hazes. Especially after looking at the works of Loren Erdrich and Maja Ruznic again and again. Different combinations of materials – pastels, acrylics, pencils- and how they might get me closer to my goal of not having a crystal clear image of the subject I am conveying.

Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?

I believe it to be a big broad project with ramifications across the time, expanding in new interests in materials, technics, referents, surfaces, and dimensions. But the sentiment is and has been consistent.

What’s a typical day like in your studio?

I wake up early, go for a walk, do some tasks on my computer and then paint or do stuff till the night. The word stuff involves all the tiny errands or steps you have to do to actually start painting, usually much less glamorous and mesmerizing but just as important.

Who are your favorite artists?

My references at the moment are: Joshua Hagler, Maja Ruznic, Loren Erdrich, Nicolas Uribe, Jenna Gribbon, Francisco G Pinzón Samper, The German Expressionists, and those two months or so I had of contemporary dance lessons back at Uni. I am always thinking about my own movements when I paint, and dance is all about that.

Plus the dozens of images and artworks I am always watching and trying to learn from. I am constantly mesmerized by the vast amount of talent you can find online.

Where do you go to discover new artists?

Instagram mostly. And before the whole pandemic situation at local shows, galleries and libraries. This is one of the things I miss the most about the art world.

Pia Chavarria is an artist based in Costa Rica who was recently shortlisted for The Hopper Prize. To learn more about the artist:

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