I am originally from Brazil, I live and have a studio in London.
For artist Isabela Castelan, the work of art is intimately imbricated with the body. Her paintings explore the process of motor sensorial automatism in her work, foregrounding the subjective and inter-objective experience, for both artist and viewer.
What at first appear to be painterly impressions are transient recordings of the perceptive body and mind. These marks reveal the convergence of the subconscious mind with the interactive body, allowing the creative process to happen within a specific space and moment in time. In her paintings, she is working her way through the intersections of consciousness and the subconscious mind.
Using homemade tools, both extraordinary and mundane, to create the paintings, she allows for the unexpected to become a catalyst that drives the work forward. This seemingly uncontrolled experience and the inevitable causation of accidental markings allows the artist to explore subconscious and hidden motivations. The unexpected is a necessary element in the paintings.
Being in tune with the space and time of the action of painting is a conjunction that at first seems simple. However, the complexity of this action is revealed in the poesy of the marks. For the artist, this is only possible when she is engaged in a particular internal and intense contemplation, one in which real time disappears and becomes almost eternal.
To achieve this, she builds 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, what the artist describes as ‘landscapes of the mind’. The process, body and prosthetic facilitate an unraveling of the subconscious, through automatism.
Occasionally, the tools occur in bigger scale and become the work itself. They will frequently refer to childhood memories, her identity as a woman and historical objects. Many do not function to paint with but act to possibilbly enable or disable of the body.
“I am exploring suggestions of spaces that are extensions (or corruptions) of the body and the mind.”
Photography and digital media
Alongside painting, Isabela’s work explores the body through digital automation. These works are records of small, improvised performances composed between her and immediate surroundings and documented intimately by herself. In these works, she explores myth, fantasy, and stories of her life, sometimes drawing on cultural traditions of Brazilian heritage.
The photographs are mostly done when she is in Brazil, where the natural landscape is evocative, especially during the summertime, providing a place for contemplation and rebirth of the work. She started to photography in 2012, while in Brazil for a long period of time after being away from her painting studio, and from then on has continued to use her time in Brazil to work with photography. The photos are improvisations, momentary expressions of her body in relation to the environment.
Across her artistic output, Isabela strives to recreate the self, to locate the absent ‘she’.