Interview with Artist Eva Claessens
After living in Italy and Southern France, Belgian artist Eva Claessens chose to base herself in rural Uruguay, choosing a dilapidated house to restore. Inspired by the natural landscapes of Latin America and life in Uruguay, Eva’s distinctive style is instantly recognisable. We caught up to get the inside track on life in Uruguay and the country’s burgeoning art scene.
1. You’re originally from Antwerp, what first drew you to Uruguay?
I was born and raised in Antwerp but left Belgium when I was 18, and afterwards I spent seven years in Italy, fifteen in France and six In Uruguay. At six or seven I said to my parents that when I grew up I wanted to be an artist, and that I was going to Italy to paint.
2. Where do you find inspiration?
My inspiration is in my head, I always search to capture specific emotions and feelings in motion, but my work is rooted in nature. Being outside in the natural world gives me freedom in my mind and body to express my thoughts. In a city for example, with lots of people and distraction, I feel overwhelmed and I find it impossible to breath. This sort of life would lead to a totally different kind of art: something that is not ‘me’.
3. How has the Uruguayan art scene developed in the last few years?
Uruguay is a very creative country on many levels. I’m not hugely involved in the art scene, but I am aware that a lot is happening, and it is slowly but surely giving opportunities to young artists. There’s an art fair in Punta Del Este every January and a whole bunch of artist residences have become available.
4. Which Uruguayan galleries would you recommend any art aficionados should visit?
I would recommend Xippas which is an international art gallery, and the Viks in Jose Ignacio, three beautiful art hotels owned by a Norweigan and Uruguayan couple. In Garzon, a small village, you can walk around and you’ll bump into artists and find yourself wandering into small galleries.
5. When you’re not painting in your studio where do you like to spend your time?
Well I am painting and sculpting most of the time, but I do love to travel too. One of my favourite spots in Uruguay are the amethyst mines in Artigas, I also love to drive in the desert in Northern Argentina (the best unexpected adventures seem to happen on dusty roads).
6. Where is next on your travel list?
I just arrived back in Uruguay after a few months in Europe and the US, but at the end of February 2020 I will be in Los Angeles for an art show and I’m off to India later in the year.
7. What do you never travel without?
I never travel without pencils, paper and a good book. Ereaders make it so much easier, I waited a long time to give up the pleasure of turning paper pages and buying paper books but honestly, I can’t travel anymore without my virtual library.
8. Where are you happiest?
I am happiest when in my own world… windows open, birds and frogs singing, being creative with no time zone other than my own inspiration.
9. What do you listen to when on the road?
I listen to very different kinds of music, a lot of classical music – cello or piano are my favorite, but I can also listen to a very cheesy song on repeat for hours! I love the occasional sing along song that makes you feel happy and nostalgic at the same time. I am also a big fan of podcasts.
10. Which place will you always return too?
I will always return to the south of France the Cevennes, the region where we had a family home next to a river and waterfall.
11. Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or new projects?
I am always working on new projects but am especially very excited about an upcoming show in Los Angeles at the end of February (2020) in the most iconic house designed by the architect Neutra, The Lovell house. My art will hang all over the house, and each piece will have a special location in total harmony with the architecture and the amazing views. The windows will be open to use the breeze to make the canvases dance in the wind.
Follow Eva Claessens on Instagram to see more of her work.