Karina Bania's serene, reduced-form landscapes depict the tangible world around us, as well as the invisible, yet perceptible terrain of everyday moments. These “inner landscapes,” as the artist calls them, give color and form to the emotive territory we venture through. Karina elaborates:
“There’s a whole landscape that we’re navigating all the time that’s the unspoken energy of the world around us. Like, when you walk into a room, or walk away from a conversation, there’s a feeling for everything that went on, and the things that went unsaid, the weight of the glances, and gestures.”
Working from her home-studio in Southern California, Karina employs a variety of unconventional tools. From clay molding equipment to baking utensils, nothing in her home is off limits. Using acrylic, watercolor, gouache, dye, and a variety of pigments, Karina paints from memory, capturing the ambiance of places she’s visited, and the feeling these memories evoke in her. Her all white studio is decorated with things that inspire her: torn magazine pages, quotes, images of artwork. Natural light filters through the numerous windows that breakup the wall space, creating the perfect retreat.
Karina paints seated on the floor with the canvas stretched before her. Her process involves laying down sections of planned composition which evolve into spontaneity as she follows marks into unchartered territory. In what sounds like a dance, Karina and her paintings are in constant motion. While seated she rotates the piece to cover areas once out of reach. At times she picks up the composition and walks it to her viewing wall. She hangs it, turns away, and looks at it from afar. The two, artist and artwork, return to the floor until nothing more can be done.
Karina’s paintings are very much a visual extension of herself. There’s a stillness in her voice that reflects the tranquility of her work. Her placidity is refreshing, and offers a respite from the frenetic bustle of daily life. I ask what she hopes to achieve with her subtle landscapes, and after a moment pondering she responds:
“I want there to be a transmission of energy where you feel present. Where you feel here. I want to transmit a feeling of calm, of simplicity. In life everything is so rushed, everything is go, go, go, and time passes so quickly; we’re always running. I feel like the whole thing is moving too fast, and that movement, and that energy is unsettling because we’re so distracted. So, when I paint, it’s such a refuge to slow down. It’s my meditation.”
Recently, Karina has been experimenting with painting on stretched plastic. These translucent compositions unify the active world with her two-dimensional creations. Karina explains what inspired her see-through pieces:
"The transparent paintings came about from my desire to experiment on surfaces beyond the canvas. Many of my paintings are exploring the idea of inner landscapes- the terrain of thoughts, feelings, unspoken words, and the space between everything in the physical world. Incorporating the transparent material allows the idea of 'seeing beneath the surface' to come into play. A few of the paintings incorporate both canvas and plastic sewn together, speaking to existence of both the physical and intangible worlds."
Karina Bania’s work will be featured in The Midway Gallery’s upcoming fall show, Terrain, navigating landscapes. On opening night Karina will be collaborating with performance artist, Alexa Eisner, in a site-specific installation merging the art of dance and paint. This one-night-only act will present a synthesis of Karina’s transparent “canvas” paintings with Alexa’s lyrical movements, creating a unique, ever-evolving composition.
Terrain will be on view from September 10 to October 22, 2016 with an opening reception on Saturday, September 10, from 6pm to 9pm.
Images provided by the artist unless otherwise stated.
Written By: Vanessa Wilson