Inside the Studio

Adrienne Silva

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?

I now explore my subconscious, as well as life itself. My work is expressive and biographical – some realistic, combined with abstract. As I work, I find themes, colours and marks that I expand and use as the basis for my paintings. I always made a living from commissions, such as portraits and landscapes. Now I am able to explore my own interests too. I still take on commissions, but I really value commissions where my collectors let me paint what I like. I live in South Africa, so my work is mediated within this context. There is no unmediated experience or work. What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

One of the great icons of South African painting, Cecil Skotnes, invited me to visit him in his studio with my work for discussion. This occurred after I worked at his studio, and at Eduardo Villa’s Retrospective. Cecil Skotnes liked my work and said, “Go to your studio and paint eight hours per day. Do not skip a day. At least paint something every day. Only take three breaks: morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea.”

Prefer to work with music or in silence?

Music! I listen to Bonobo, Flying Lotus, and Nina Simone.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?

I would like to have “The Pines”  by Penny Siopis.

Who are your favorite writers?

I like Fernando Pessoa for when I dig deep into my emotions, and Tim Parks for a good contemporary novel. For art writing I like John Berger, and at the moment I am reading a novel he wrote, “To The Wedding.”