When Realism Becomes “Suffocating”- an Interview With Painter, Kirstine Reiner Hansen About Her ‘Discombobulated Art’

When Realism Becomes Suffocating- an Interview With Artist, Kirstine Reiner Hansen About Her "Discombobulated Art"

How did you get started doing what you do?

I had a career as a classical realist artist that spanned over 10 years or so. But although I was excited about the work, I kind of felt that I was painting myself into a corner. Something that started almost as an exercise had become my style, which wasn’t actually intended. I started painting this way out of a need to learn the basics of painting so that I could one day work in a looser style. So it became a means to an end so to speak and a challenge to see if I could master the techniques of the old masters. I had created this insanely rigid studio practice of insisting of northern light, handcrafted oil paints and making traditional chalk gesso on maple wood panels, having the most expensive kolinsky sable brushes and only working from life. My heroes were Rembrandt and Wyeth. This very narrow perception of what I was allowed to do, how I could work, became suffocating and not just that, also highly impractical. It all culminated when I moved to New York and all those conditions I had put on myself became impossible, while at the same time there was this persistent underlying nagging voice for change that became louder. It just seemed to become the right time to break out of the self-imposed mold and start experimenting to make those changes I needed to feel more authentic in what I was doing. I decided that now everything was fair game, photographic source material, appropriation of imagery, using whichever materials, working from the computer screen and so on. So I turned around and did the opposite of what I used to do. Anyway, to make a long story short, this has turned into my ‘style’ as it is now.

 

When Realism Becomes Suffocating- an Interview With Artist, Kirstine Reiner Hansen About Her "Discombobulated Art"

How would you describe your creative style? 
It’s been described as ‘discombobulated art’. Realism tumbles with cubism, hopefully, they both win (-;
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What’s your inspiration?
Cubism, the modernists, the dadaist, the surrealists and fashion photography. Being in California I’ve looked at a lot at the Bay Area Figurative movement as well.
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What is art to you?
Creating something new which becomes an entity that seems to have always existed. I find that enormously exhilarating. Once it’s created, possibly because I’ve spent so much time with it, it becomes a new thing, a creature perhaps, a being, that seems like it’s always been there, it’s familiar.
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“Once it’s created, possibly because I’ve spent so much time with it, it becomes a new thing, a creature perhaps, a being, that seems like it’s always been there, it’s familiar.”

How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
I would say if I think I have a really good idea of how a painting will just flow easily and probably not take very long to do, and my initial idea is super clear, then that painting typically takes a really long time to do! Ironically that piece will present me with problems all the way through. I like to work on a piece till it’s about 3/4 finished, then leave it for at least a couple of weeks if not more. By then I find it easier to know what to do to call it finished. I work on 3-5 pieces at a time so it’s hard to say how many hours or days it actually takes.
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How do you keep motivated?
I think by being hard enough on my self to know when something just isn’t good enough, but not so tough that it stops me from starting a new piece when the first didn’t work out. To keep going on when I’ve had a period of not so satisfactory work, trusting the natural cycle of ups and downs. The rule is to keep going no matter what. It hardly ever fails that new ideas will come when you just start doing ‘something’, even if it doesn’t feel like serious work…
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“It hardly ever fails that new ideas will come when you just start doing ‘something’, even if it doesn’t feel like serious work…”

When Realism Becomes Suffocating- an Interview With Artist, Kirstine Reiner Hansen About Her "Discombobulated Art"When Realism Becomes Suffocating- an Interview With Artist, Kirstine Reiner Hansen About Her "Discombobulated Art"
How would you say your surroundings have influenced your work?
In a larger sense, I think one of the reasons, or why it feels right to do more abstracted, glitchy paintings is being influenced by the world as it is today, with so many distractions. We’re flowing in and out of different realities, the digital and the physical. Our communications and our ways of ’seeing’ each other is so broken up.
In a smaller, funnier, more physical sense, I’ve noticed that since I’ve been working in a cluttered space my paintings have more ‘stuff’ packed into them. Even colors that are in the room, somehow find their way into the painting. Where I live in Carmel, California, there are lots of trees, and the light shining through them creates this ever-changing flickering effect, which also unintentionally appears in the work.
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“In a larger sense, I think one of the reasons, or why it feels right to do more abstracted, glitchy paintings is being influenced by the world as it is today, with so many distractions.We’re flowing in and out of different realities, the digital and the physical. Our communications and our ways of ’seeing’ each other is so broken up.”

What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
I think art should be ambiguous enough to allow for different interpretations. What I  hope for, is for people to create their own narratives… that they hopefully look at the work for more than a glance.

 

What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
Follow your instinct and your inclination, what comes naturally to you. I think I spent too many years trying to prove something to myself and others about how well I could paint.

Do what you love to do, while always challenging your comfort zone. Then ponder the ‘why’ afterward.
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“I think I spent too many years trying to prove something to myself and others about how well I could paint.”

 

When Realism Becomes Suffocating- an Interview With Artist, Kirstine Reiner Hansen About Her "Discombobulated Art"

What’s your dream project?
I would love to have a portion of dedicated time to work on video art, I think I’ve mentioned that before. I’ve always had a love for stop-motion animation and special-effects and recently I’ve been mucking about with video editing which I totally love. I imagine there could be an exciting juxtaposition of the very meticulous, exacting and planned work that editing is, with elements of chaotic abstract painting.
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What art supplies do you use?
I am still very traditional, I use oil paints. If I had it my way I’d be using only Old Holland oil paints and handmade paints because they are just sooo nice. As it is I have a mixture of Old Holland, W&N, Williamsburg, Sennelier, Maimeri, a lot of cheap Rowney and Gamblin student grade paints that artists in our old art studio building in San Francisco would chuck out. I also have my own handmade oil paints made with Kremer Pigments, beeswax, and linseed oil.

 

What’s your process like?
When I work I like to have an element of chaos at first that I can try to make sense of…It sounds funny, but I intentionally create chaos in order to make sense of it afterward. It’s almost like an investigative process, looking for clues, parts that speak to me for whatever reason and that can lead to the next series of actions. It’s about balance and imbalance, tension, mystery, ambiguity… I am compelled to ‘throw myself off’, meaning by various means trying to land myself in new territory.24_forbiddendance

 

When Realism Becomes Suffocating- an Interview With Artist, Kirstine Reiner Hansen About Her "Discombobulated Art"

I try to have some parts that are rendered very realistically, both in order to indulge myself, because there’s a satisfaction in going all the way with details, glazes etc, but also for the viewer to have some stopping points where you can dwell before being rushed around the more abstract, chaotic areas of the painting. There’s a nice challenge in attempting to ‘have it all’, meaning to be both a realist, abstractionist, and somehow make it all work together in one painting. I’m not saying I am succeeding in this! But it’s good to have those aspirations. I think in the long term, you push for new boundaries, then you settle into a grove with a certain process, but at one point that process becomes stale and needs to be challenged again. I like to create sets of rules and limitations. Sort of like a game. With abstract work, I think you have to. If there’s no strict framework, that freedom becomes a hindrance rather than something beneficial. I tried, for example, to cover most of the painting surface with a piece of paper, leaving small areas visible, to paint parts out of context, then cover up and reveal another part, throughout the whole painting. For me it was freeing, as normally I work in an organic, holistic way, jumping around on the surface, rather on tangents. This way, of working out of context was liberating because then the brush marks were experienced just for what they were, by themselves…

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“I try to have some parts that are rendered very realistically, both in order to indulge myself, because there’s a satisfaction in going all the way with details, glazes etc, but also for the viewer to have some stopping points where you can dwell before being rushed around the more abstract, chaotic areas of the painting. There’s a nice challenge in attempting to ‘have it all’, meaning to be both a realist, abstractionist…”

See some of Kirstine Reiner Hansen’s older work in a previous blog post on Jung Katz here.

You can follow Kirstine Reiner Hansen on Facebook (@reinerhansenart), Twitter (@reiner_hansen), and Instagram (@reinerhansenart).

You can follow our art blog, Jung Katz on these channels as well.

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