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For the OSCAM x Patta exhibition, we've interviewed the artists partaking in the event. Shertise Solano is an artist from Rotterdam of Antillean descent. She graduated from the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht in 2005 and has been combining theatre and visual arts since 2013.
Shertise, how did your relationship with art begin?

I was ten years old when I saw a tv commercial for youth theatre in Rotterdam. I told my mother: “This is what I want to do”. As a child I kept a lot of anger inside of me, and somehow I knew that theatre would release that anger. The first time on stage felt like I could finally breathe. I found my voice. So, when at seventeen I was accepted at the HKU theatre school, I had entered paradise. It was raining art.

How did you become a visual artist, having started as a theatre maker?

I think I always have been a visual artist, theatre was just the first art form that came into my life. Once I tried visual art, something clicked; my images turned out to be much better suited for visual art than for theatre. Life sometimes tells you to change course and I chose to listen. There was no way back.

Please explain your creative process.

I work in collage, large scale painting and video. For each medium the process is a little bit different, but they all begin with the visions I get in the twilight zone between waking and sleep. If the pieces are small, I do my work on collage mostly at the dining table. This way, I can get a lot of work done in between things. I use one specific photo portrait of myself that I print many times in a number of sizes, to build the image. Then I make scans and have some of them printed in large format. The painting happens in the studio, where I can work large. My mixed-media paintings are the size of my studio walls. I use black pastel, oil bar, acrylic paint, textile hardener and collage elements, and sometimes collagraphy. Right now I am also working on three-dimensional objects in wood, pvc and polyurethane foam with a future installation in mind. Video is the medium where all things come together. Even if it can’t be seen in the final cut, in the preparatory stages I try out as much as I can and that may involve animated drawing and collage, constructed objects, confetti, sounds and music. My latest video involved making a lot of smoke. For the photography and editing, I work closely with a specialist until the video is exactly what I want it to be.

How would you place your art in our current social/political landscape?

Right now, a lot of artists reflect on political and social issues. I greatly admire them because they raise awareness and open ways for us all. My art is inherently political because I live in this world and can’t escape the social/political landscape, but there is no straightforward political message; I won’t let politics dictate my work. Ten years ago, when I was still a theatre maker, I have explored that path. But it’s not suitable as a material for my visual art. I need to reach within and give back to the world its mystery.

What messages are you trying to convey to your audience through your art?

My art is meant to activate the truth already present inside of the viewer. That’s why the eyes in my work are looking straight back. I see you, I know you, I am you.

What is the hardest part of being an artist? What part is the most rewarding?

The world of ideas and daily reality are completely different from each other.
Ideas flow like water but a lot of time goes by between planting the seed and harvesting the fruits. That’s a struggle: I’m extremely impatient and often feel like banging my head against the wall. But when it all finally comes together and the work matches my inner voice, I can’t help myself and do a little dance.

How did you get linked to Patta?

Lee Stuart, brand director of Patta, got in touch with me through Instagram, and so we met at Patta’s office/studio. This meeting was incredibly inspiring for me, there was a good vibe and I immediately got lots of ideas. On the spot, Lee invited me to participate in the art exhibition “We will be here forever. Do you understand?” at OSCAM in Amsterdam. I was in shock! There was so little time, but I had a good feeling about it, so I really wanted to do it. Now I’m so happy I did. At the opening you could sense something new, a free spirit in the atmosphere, and I felt right at home.

What advice would you give to young artists trying to find their voice?

Don’t believe the hype, believe yourself. There’s a world inside of you that is free, that is YOU, that wants to be seen. Tap into it!

Follow Shertise on Instagram: @shertise_solano