Vija Celmins – ‘Painting Takes Just a Second to Go In’ | TateShots
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Vija Celmins – ‘Painting Takes Just a Second to Go In’ | TateShots


The thing I like about painting, of course, is that it just takes a second for the information to go ‘bam’ all the way in, and then you can explore later. I have been painting this image, well, for maybe three years on and off so, you know, tedious for some. For me, it’s like being there. Through the making, you make a million decisions that give the work a kind of personal identity that develops over painting it many times and it gives it a certain presence. I’ve always liked the scientific image, because it’s, sort of, anonymous and often the artist for the image has been a machine and I like the idea that I can relive that image and put it in a human context. And I like you to be able to scrutinise it and relive the making of it the way that I have been doing for a long time. How you do this, is you scrape out these little dots on a plate that has been made you know, a plate that has been rocked so that it’s black. So all these little spots have been scraped out. You see, the plate is quite gorgeous in its own way. I mean, you have to feel them, like the painting keeps you out and invites you in at a certain point and then you can look around in it, and it pushes you back out. You have to find your place to the work. I like the idea that I have a work in North Uist that it’s a remote place. It’s almost like a part of me is in that place. I still really like a lot of solitude, you know. It’s impossible to do anything without it. The idea that I would have to go out and do work publicly, and the idea, actually that I’ve let you in my studio, is pretty amazing but I guess I did it, didn’t I?

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13 thoughts on “Vija Celmins – ‘Painting Takes Just a Second to Go In’ | TateShots

  1. That studio is pristine and the cupboards so tidy!  But I like her descriptions of her work and of course will always identify with water, being a painter of the sea mysef.

  2. As an art grad student in the 80s we had a few visiting artists to give critiques…I remember hers because it was the shortest…"you got a lot of work to do".

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