Interview by Amanda Quinn Olivar, West Coast Editor
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Anja Salonen studied at the California Institute of the Arts and the Rhode Island School of Design. She has already had two solo exhibitions at Lei Min Space and As It Stands in Los Angeles, as well as a number of group shows, including Body Building with Maja Djordjevic at The Hole in New York. At a time when our screens expose us to endless images of human bodies, Salonen’s practice uses oils to break into this proliferation of fleshy pixels and explore the body in two and three dimensions. Her paintings are full of acid colors, uncomfortable energy and faces that seem to say “keep staring” and “please don’t look at me” in the same breath.
What was the aha moment that led you to art... and did Los Angeles play a part in your career decision?
The aha moment that led me to art occurred around the age of 3, looking into the eyes of a horse and telepathically understanding my future path as an artist. It was the moment of discovering magic and freaks and finding community in those things.
How has living in LA informed your approach and aesthetic?
I’ve found that the heat of Los Angeles has offset my cognition slightly, my sweat mixes with my oils. And it’s a very spiritual place, a city full of hidden magical pockets and people, endless surreal sprawl, desert adjacent, sort of like another planet. LA was where I spent the majority of my childhood, split between Finland and England, and something that really informed the way I see the world was that multiplicity of perspective.
When and how did you first feel embraced by our LA art community?
When I moved back to LA after leaving for a few years, I found my first studio, met artists, went to openings, and quickly became a part of the art community here.
The exhibition speaks about the vitality of our art community. Which pioneering LA artist influenced you the most? And whose work do you find intriguing right now?
Some LA artists I admire are Joan Brown, Richard Diebenkorn, Ed Ruscha, Henry Taylor, Wayne Thiebaud, Lois Dodd--and many of the artists whose work I really admire are now people I was lucky enough to study with at CalArts--Harry Dodge, Candice Lin, Scott Benzel, Jessica Bronson, etc. Others include Mira Dancy, Sojourner Truth Parsons, and Julie Curtiss.
What is your favorite art accident?
I think everything that happens is an initiatory learning opportunity.
How They Ran
Over The Influence
August 12 - September 5, 2018