Interview: Mina Hamada's "Quiet Steps" in Paris
Mina Hamada was born in Louisiana, raised in Tokyo and “grew up” in Barcelona. A reflection of those multi-cultural influences, her works are like orchids, colorful, beautiful and diverse, alive with structural variations. A student of design, she developed into an abstract painter and blossomed when she arrived in Spain, discovering joy in large murals. Like so many artists in 2020, with more time alone in the studio, she has explored new themes, though always self-guided with curious receptivity. Her debut solar show, Quiet Steps, is currently on view at Speerstra gallery in Paris through January 30, 2021.
The 20 new works painted during lockdown in Barcelona retain her mellifluous, improvisational style, an invitation to a delightfully meandering world. Moving towards the depiction of shapes, the works mark a unique moment in her practice. Suggesting the existence of forms, spaces, and perspectives, working with more pastel, softer colors, and employing the expressive mark-making more than ever before, she reveals more about her pleasantly open-minded process.
Sasha Bogojev: How do your outdoor murals connect with your studio practice?
Mina Hamada: I think I wanted to make my imaginary world in some way and I wanted to invite people there. In recent years I have been painting murals on the streets. The mural artwork will live together with the surrounding environment and it is for everyone. I love this closeness with people and art.
To have a show inside the gallery was a bit different this time - the gallery space is only my paintings, so it is only my own world. That is exciting, too. But I also wanted my exhibition and artworks to be close to people.
How much of your work or your compositions are preplanned and how much is intuitive mark-making as you paint?
All of these artworks are painted in an intuitive, improvisational way. I totally enjoyed this process of freedom, like floating with these compositions & colors during the process of painting. I want to be surprised by the things that come with improvisation and intuitiveness. I want to be free of my brain that is limited. I prefer feeling than thinking.
Even though there are 20 artworks for the exhibition, I wanted to make some series. So I had some very rough images for that. Like, ¨this series will have a background¨ or ¨this series want to have the softest colors¨, etc...
Yeah, the color feels very coordinated. At which point do you decide the palette you'll be working with on a certain piece and how does that process look like?
I use colors just like I want at that moment. Many times I use a lot of them at once and I like that. But for these paintings, I chose a bit the color palette depending on the series.Normally I have many, or unlimited, choice of colors, but in this process, I prefer using softer and warmer colors than usual. It could be because of the current situation in the world. I was painting these works during spring-summer when Barcelona started going into a lockdown when we could not go out and we worried about many things, so I felt I prefer to make something very soft, heartful, and tender.
There are less solid color shapes and more gradients, or expressive brush gestures on your work. Is this where your interest is currently at and do you plan to push this idea further?
I like the clean and delicate part, also I like the rough and wild way, too. This time I used more gradients and brush expressions which came naturally, but also, I wanted to have transparency and dynamism.
I don´t know about my next paintings but the important thing is to feel good and have fun with them. I would like to try making more and more experimental artworks in the future.
What about the sense of perspective, almost figuration with vase-like shapes, shadows, and negative space around? Is this the way you want to keep experiment with your work and how did this concept evolve?
For this time I wanted to share feelings. The warmth, tenderness, the temperature of life, the kind of feelings that I wanted to put in my paintings. From the shapes, from the landscape, from shadows, I want everyone to enjoy their imagination to feel their own world, and then, I would like to know how we feel about it. Again, I don´t know yet the future but I could try painting more vividly, or almost transparent, or more figuration, or painting only black and white... Everything is possible and that's a good thing!
Quiet Steps is at Speerstra gallery in Paris, on view through January 30, 2021.