Sofia Paravicini Artist in Residence | How a colour can give you a new direction

Sofia Paravicini is an artist in residence at AGA LAB for almost three months now. And when Sofia and I (Barbara) finally find the time to talk, we sit in the Painting Plants Colour Garden, with all green plants and yellow flowers blooming enthusiastically and diligently around us. But we are talking about a different and very particular colour.

– Sofia lights her cigarette when I ask her about her background and what got her at AGA LAB as an artist in residence. –

‘Actually I wanted to go back to my roots. I studied Fine art, painting. Afterwards I followed a master in Illustration and that brought me to a career as an Illustrator. So the last years I worked mainly on editorial projects like children books, book covers, magazines and newspapers. As an illustrator my work is free, but the starting point is always the words of someone else. For the last four years I felt the urge to start with my own images, work on my own stuff, go back to were I first started as an artist.’

‘I came here for the etching department. But I was not able to express myself with it. For me etching was to flat and also to slow as a process. And I started to make monotypes with cut out figures. With the shapes from linoleum vinyl I was able to find myself again.’



Can you tell me something about your work? About what you are searching for?

In my work I aim to explore the sensuality and poetry of body gestures, in particular of the female body. I like the curves that shape our gestures. The sensuality and the movement. Rather than the forms of the female body, my work focuses on an exploration of contact, which is why there is a particular focus (with the use of colour) on the top of the hands and feet. There were our body ends, our tactility and sensitivity come together, there is the anchor point of red.

Yes red, let’s talk about red. Why red and how did the red come into your process?

‘There was actually no red in my work for a long time. But then during a commissioned work my editor told me: trust me, use red. I had my doubts, but actually tried it for her sake and then it turned out to be right. From that moment on there is almost always some red in my work.’

And now you are more like a Red specialist. The next residency you are planning also derived by this colour? What’s your red?

‘Carmine Red and vermillion red. We are sitting in Naan Rijks and Lucila Kenny’s colour garden and it was Naan who told me about the natural red ‘Rose Madder’ from the roots of the Mekrab plant. I was so intrigued. It’s a beautiful red, so warm and earthy. ’

‘I never use pure pink, the pink you see in my work is always a gradations of pink that come from removing layers of red and in this way I get the skin tones. It’s the skin tone pink, and I definitely like that. Transparency of red is pure, and always coming from the red. I don’t mix it with white paint, the white comes from the Hanemuhle paper. Which is not cold white. It gets me al this beautiful soft, warm, sensual red shades.’


Sofia lights her cigarette again. The smell of the cigarette merges with the smell of the flowers of the wood plant Lucila and Naan collaborate with. A child who is staying with our neighbours on the other side of the garden drives by. It’s a happy, quiet moment we are experiencing.

Did you experience happy moments during your process too?

‘Definitely. I can’t express how many and how it helped me the last month. Especially this moment I took the blanket of the paper, and saw the shape and colour that was created by the press. It made me so extremely happy and satisfied. These were the best moments. But they also showed me that it was not yet what I wanted, that I needed to experiment more. I still learn how to control the pressure and the amount of colour or the way I need to cut the vinyl. It’s still an exploration for me.’

Let’s go back to the colour again. Because it’s the colour that gave you a certain direction?

The red colour is writing the path, like we use to say: It’s ‘the red line’ in my work. Only in the second month I saw that I was finding my own work, my own way as an artist again and that’s why I booked one more month. I’m so grateful I did this because in this extended period I was able to find a new direction. It’s a circle for me now, it all makes sense to me. I found the connection from which I’m planning my next step already. I am organising my next artist residency in Mexico for one reason: Carmine red. Pure carmine red is made from cochineal, a plant parasite, originally from Mexico, where it is still used as a fabric colour. I’ll let myself follow this colour and I’m curious where it will bring me.

I’m too. Hope to see you again, Sofia. Thank you for this lovely talk.


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Interview by Barbara Collé

Exhibition ‘ TRACES ‘ De Bouwput
Friday 27 May – 16.00-21.00
Sofia Paravicini & Vivian Mac Gillavry