Artist Interview - Isabela Castelan

Artist interview between Shannon Skye Robinson and Lois Emma Harkin (Curating Futures Project Coordinator), and Isabela Castelan (Curating Futures Artist).

* Warning, mature content- nudity *

Date of Interview: 20th of December 2021

Participants: Shannon Skye Robinson (SSR) and Lois Emma Harkin (LEH) and Isabela Castelan (IC)

SSR/LEH: What is your background?

IC: I have dual nationality and I travel a lot between Brazil and London. In London I have my studio and I do mostly painting, but in Brazil away from my studio I tend to work with photos and digital media. Both countries and traditions play an important part in my work. London specially, for its art world. Brazil is much more about my roots. In Brazil we have a strong spiritualist tradition that comes out of our mixed cultural background and heritage, traditional cultures, African heritage. This also informs the work that I make.


SSR/LEH: How did you get into art/ creativity?

IC: I have always wanted to be an artist.

Artwork produced by Isabela Castelan


SSR/LEH: What do you get out of producing work?

IC: Sanity, pleasure, being creative and developing further research into my work.

Artwork produced by Isabela Castelan


SSR/LEH: How do you want your work to be perceived by an audience?

IC: Ideally the onlooker would perceive in my work my intentions when doing the work, but this is just impossible, so many times people have done observations of the work that I never thought of. So, I think that to have a diverse reaction, is ideal.

Artwork produced by Isabela Castelan


SSR/LEH: Who are your biggest inspirations?

IC: My father has always been a great inspiration for me. He was Dr in Mathematics, extremely dedicated to his work. We travelled a lot when he was doing research across universities. I lived in America, Road Island for two years, when he was doing his Post Doctorate at Brown University and that is when I got my first watercolour pad from the university shop. He used to tell me about lines travelling parallel into infinity.

Fellow artists: I have a few very good friends that are artists, together we share ideas and discuss our work. I feel that it really helps and gives me inspiration to carry on.

Artwork produced by Isabela Castelan


SSR/LEH: What are the main concepts or themes you explore within your work?

IC: Automatism and automation. My work is primarily based on automatism of the psyche. Automatism refers to the performance of actions without conscious thought or premeditated actions, especially using mechanical techniques or subconscious associations.

To achieve this, I build painting tools that function as body extensions or prosthetics. The tools allow the gesture to be minimal, and necessitate repetitive gestures that uncover, on the painting surface ‘landscapes of the mind’. The process, body and prosthetic facilitate an unravelling of the subconscious, trough automatism.

I also explore the relation of the body and the subconscious through digital automation, using photographic records and improvised performances.

In my photos I explore myth, fantasy, if not only from my own identity as well as other stories that at some point were part of my life. I am an explorer of my mind; I visit spaces in which these images come alive. Sometimes this process is bathed and immersed in mystical grounds, where my identity becomes mixed with iconic figures, symbolic, ornamented figures.


SSR/LEH: What is the main thing you have learnt through your creative practice?

IC: To keep fresh, keep it close to your heart, give it to the world, to be creative is to be rich.

Artwork produced by Isabela Castelan


SSR/LEH: Who is your work for? Yourself? A small community? A specific sector of society? Or is it for everyone?

IC: For myself and absolutely for everyone. It is important that the work gets out there, so that it completes the language cycle.


SSR/LEH: What is the best piece of advice you could give to another artist, or someone just starting out in the creative sector?

IC: Enjoy, never take rejection as a loss, there are so many opportunities and ways to follow the path of creativity.


SSR/LEH: Why did you decide to join the Curating Futures community?

IC: At first, I felt that the subject was prefect for me, and this is the first time I am taking part on a project such as this one, the experience has been great, beyond expectation. I was looking for something else than just taking part on an exhibition.


You can find Isabela Castelan via her Instagram