Cara Purita; Artist Statement
My primary interests revolve around gendered identity and the untold stories of girls and women, especially in the context of stereotypes and language used to describe women, the work women do, relationships, family and motherhood. Many of my paintings are figurative, but are not necessarily about admiring the body; instead, they are about the narrative that the figure expresses.
I admire a wide variety of artists whose work may inform my paintings, including favorites such as Vincent Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Cindy Sherman, the Beaver Hall Group, Wayne Thiebaud and Jean Michel Basquiat. I also look to contemporary artists such as Andrew Salgado, Rose Freymuth-Frazier, Jenny Saville, Angie Reed-Garner, Juliette Aristides and Rebecca Leville Guay for insight. I begin with a clear vision of the narrative I wish to explore, and obtain a variety of photographic references, many of which I photograph myself. My canvases are usually primed with a grey gesso which I find reminiscent of the newsprint my childhood comic books were printed on. Some of my paintings involve mixed media such as layers of rice or mulberry paper, fabric, embroidery, beads or broken china, most of which are applied before I begin to paint with oils. I describe painting with oils as sculpting a painting. I enjoy the blend of soft and hard edges, real and imagined colours, translucent and solid surfaces, realistic and abstracted forms. I don’t strive to achieve a photo-realistic effect, instead I hope to convey something more vibrant, colourful, textured and varied which is still accessible. After many years of feeling alienated by the anti-beauty aesthetic of much contemporary and conceptual art I have embraced beauty as my purview. Art can be both inviting and thought provoking.
My work has been inspired by family, memories, dreams, my own life experiences, the stories of women’s lives, by early 20th century and postwar instruction manuals for girls and housewives, as well as by the popular media I consumed as a child and young teenager. What strikes me most while perusing these older publications is how profoundly current expectations echo the past despite the rhetoric of feminist achievements. As a mother of three daughters who also manages a small hobby farm, family, food and home are often on my mind. Conversely, my love of intellectual pursuits and interest in human nature compel me to look more deeply into the “why” of my own gendered lifestyle. I aim to tell and to celebrate the stories of real women whose lives are so often disregarded, and to explore the ways in which both patriarchy and feminism have placed us into figurative boxes.
I also hope to convey intimacy and emotion in my paintings, while exploring some of the darker aspects of being female. The daily tasks and actions that women engage in are so often cast aside in favour of visions of passivity. The women I paint are active and engaged, whether they are representative of reality or perceptions.