“I’m interested in the phenomenology of madness […]”- Natalie Escobar
Written by Leigh Sabisch, gallery associate, The Southern
Sometimes a work of art’s only message in life is that it’s visually beautiful, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And sometimes, like in the case of Natalie Escobar’s work, a painting can be visually beautiful yet give you the haunting feeling that there is something deeper, more serious at play. This haunting feeling can linger with you; it can plant a seed of curiosity that will nag at you until you nail down the artist’s intentions. Natalie’s work, though stunning, has passages scattered throughout. Subtle passages that pose questions and tease you with possible hints to possible answers. Well, if you’re one of the people who have been haunted by the eerie beauty of Natalie Escobar’s work, we’re here to help quell your curiosities.
Can you expand on the story behind the motif of isolation and constraint conveyed through your color palette and images of grates, chains, and camouflage?
I’m interested in the phenomenology of madness, how affected individuals are depicted in literature and history, and exploring the parallels between the physical and mental spaces that are less explored by individuals, i.e. the grate. I’m intrigued by systems that exist that are less explored such as underground water systems, gated off sections of the city, unfrequented spaces, the forbidden, the unknown.
What encouraged you to use airbrushing, a visually soft medium, to convey your seemingly serious/harsh subject matter?
I approached airbrushing without knowing anything about it. When I first got my airbrush I watched so many youtube videos about how to use it and from there made up my own process. It was refreshing working with a new medium and new tool after spending the last several years working with oil and a brush.
Why do you include only hints of a human presence in your work?
I don’t want there to be an identity to the figures. I want them to appear isolated within their own experience. Without an identity the viewer is left to make their own assumptions about the narrative within the work. It’s not important for me to make the viewer feel like they need to empathize with or feel a certain way about the figures. I guess it just adds to the mystery of what the individual is going through.
In New Painting, what was the thought process behind suspending your work?
I wish I had a clever and conceptual response to this question! The two hanging paintings in New Painting are from a solo show where the space had only windows and zero wall space. My solution was to build frames and hang the work from the ceiling. It really got me thinking about how painting can be presented and that’s something I want to spend more time thinking about.
A thing that is, in my opinion, underrated and underutilized is off-the-wall (literally) hanging methods. Sometimes, you just have to move your work around the room, put it on things you normally wouldn’t find a work of art on. This behavior is what’s going to play with the expectations that the art world will have when interacting with contemporary work. Even if it isn’t a “clever and conceptual” reason, sometimes work is more stimulating hanging in the viewers way rather than peacefully on a wall. Sometimes, you don’t need a reason when it comes to art.
If you want to keep up with Natalie’s incredible work (I’m personally very excited about these upcoming linocuts), give her a follow on Instagram at @escobat and check out her WEBSITE. And last but not least, don’t forget to stop in the gallery and lay your gaze on the physical work. Nothing quite beats that.