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SOUL PAINTING

An Interview with Artist Xaviera López

Words by Lisa Wayne

Captivating human expression is not often found in GIF form. That said, the storytelling of Chilean artist Xaviera López brings thoughtful feeling and emotion to this new digital medium. Xaviera’s work is instantly appealing. An audience is lured in by the black, white and determined use of vibrant red. The simplicity and grace in the cartoon-like moving images are more profound than they appear at first glance. Her uncanny ability to convey such depth of feeling through the eyes of her subject (herself) is rare, especially in this art form. The heavily lashed lids draw you back again and again. Something reminiscent of Frida Kahlo, fixating you, tells her story directly to your soul.

Your strong and powerful imagery remains so feminine. Who were the women in your life or your family who greatly inspired you?

I grew up surrounded by only women. There was a moment when even the animals in the house were females. My father left when my sister and I were little, so my mother had to adopt a traditionally masculine role. There was a nanny who lived with us, she was pregnant at the time and raised her daughter in the house. My mother is a medical doctor. She is a very strong, reliable, smart, focused and disciplined woman who taught me that nothing is impossible. My nanny was a very nurturing, calm, soft and wise woman. She was graceful and kind to me in difficult moments. My grandmother was a pioneer, one of the first women to vote and go to college in Chile.

I loved our conversations and spending time with her in her garden looking for four-leaf clovers. My godmother is like an archetype of the universal mother. Always rescuing animals, cooking delicious meals and taking care of whoever is in need. She respected and encouraged my magical thinking and imagination. My sister is a bit younger, but it feels more and more like we are twins. She has all the superpowers that I don’t and growing up by her side has been such a gift.

You are a poet. Can you walk us through your creative process? How do you take such far reaching concepts as we see in your sketchbook and condense them down to the phenomenal simplicity of your loops?

Thank you so much, I have never thought of myself as a poet. I love poetry because it speaks directly to the heart. My art practice is very absorbing and enjoyable. Much like keeping a journal, it’s all about connecting what’s going on inside me with elements I find interesting from the world. It is important for me to practice awareness and attention. Life is diegetic – whatever you’re going through, you will find mirroring situations and symbols in your daily life. What I do is make those connections evident, crystallizing specific moments into loops to remember them later and understand better why they were meaningful.

Your greatest adventure to date, was it by land, by sea, by air? Can you tell us about it?

A definition of an adventure to me is a transformative experience, and I’ve had a few of those. Visiting new places always does some of that. Places become symbols of big transformations and discoveries, like objects in a museum. I remember freedom in the north of Chile, vulnerability and loneliness in Paris, gratitude and vibrancy in Rio, trust and friendship in Havana, the power of nature in Wyoming, acceptance and awe in London.

Was there ever a moment in life when someone suggested you give up as an artist? Did you ever get any push back from the people around you who tried to dissuade you from pursuing your path? How did you overcome that?

There have been plenty of those moments, but I’m stubborn. Creativity is understood as a hobby by a majority of people because it is associated with unconsciousness, uncertainty, unpredictability, and even poverty. All the things we reject as a culture. Very understandably, parents and teachers try to convince kids to take a “safe” path. All my family members are medical doctors, lawyers, and engineers from traditional universities. 

Threading herself and her feminine viewpoints throughout the bold, color block vignettes, she resonates with women everywhere. In this quiet strength of the everyday, we recognize ourselves, our sisters, our mothers. The simple actions so beautifully stated are the actions that bind us, the same that make us one powerful force on this great earth. I went to a scientific and individualistic school where competition and measurable results were important. A very good formation to succeed in the world as it is, but is the world great as it is? Ever since I can remember I was into art. Nothing else was as interesting, compelling or rewarding. It was a force. There was some trust here, some encouragement there, tiny lights. I even got discouraged and afraid myself when I started working and trying to make a living. It has been neither easy nor linear, but it I could go back, there’s nothing else I would do. The love (interest, motivation, etc.) has been stronger overall than fear, discouragement or disappointment.

Who are the friends, pets and/or people you most likely share your daily journey of life and living with?

I’m at a very lonely turning point. I have an apartment where I love and work. I am traveling. I am making new friends, discovering new layers, figuring out what I want for my life, and I am grateful to have this moment, this opportunity. At some point I would love to be surrounded by kids, animals and flowers.

Is there a destination that calls to you? Perhaps, somewhere you haven’t been that would enjoy exploring for a week of education, peace, enlightenment, inspiration or pure pleasure?

I have a feeling that the most advanced technology is in nature and have this growing need to understand it, but not from a scientific point-of-view only. I would happily live for a while in a remote jungle or forest with a mystic teacher to learn about plants, ancient rituals, meaning, consciousness and dreams.

Order a Print Copy of Issue 8 Here.