When I shot fine artist Nouel Riel she was painting feverishly in preparation for a show at the Rhabbitat. Her works are currently on view till February 10th.
Back in 2015, she moved into Materials & Applications with a friend. Within this Silver Lake sculptural non-profit, she immediately began painting. Her being, and her continuous zeal to create, has captivated me. I wanted an excuse to interview her and so one rainy afternoon, I seized the moment.
— Dominoe Farris
How did you end up with your show, A New Mythos, at the Rhabbitat?
I started this body of work when I moved back to Los Angeles from Santa Fe, New Mexico. It wasn’t until I moved to Santa Fe and spent 2 and half years there that I began painting. It’s very much a violent process that can be scary. I’m moving energy through me and out of me in the air so it can be on the canvas. There were really scary and vulnerable things happening, so when I lived alone I could go through them and conduct whatever violence or debauchery I wanted without any self judgement. No one was around.
Then you moved into Materials & Applications where you are suddenly making art in front of people. How has that affected your work?
People are used to walking into the yard and spending time with sculptures and then they surprisingly find me here painting these very literal energetic works. I’ve been learning how to be vulnerable in front of so many strangers and people coming in and out. I realized that I could either fight that and be super self conscious and feel like a stalling car or I could use all of that energy.
I see that you are also beginning to make more sculptural pieces, perhaps influenced by your current residence. Care to talk about you totems?
I feel like those totems are really confronting. When something is free standing like a person that is really intense, it activates something that’s much more full and potent. Like a Samurai that cuts through the rigamarole. The first friend that walked in while I was starting to work on the totems said, “I think it said something to me. Like I literally thought I heard words.” I know how I feel but I don’t like to force that onto anyone else and I can only hope that the potency I felt while doing it can transcend into someone else’s experience without me manipulating them anymore than just the simple object. When that happens actual magic is happening.
I love that your pieces continue to change and weather as you leave them outside for periods of time. You allow your work to evolve naturally.
I’m just showing the internal fields of someone. For Instance, the back of my canvases tend to be kind and beautiful in a soft way because a lot of the materials have sunken through. To me, I see that as a person’s external and the front of the canvas is someone’s internal plane. I’ll throw tea that I’m drinking because I’m instilling an energy into that tea as the tea is doing something back to me. The more truthful I can be to my moment in life on the canvas, it becomes a clearer mirror for others to look into and see an actual truth of a human existence, which is innately universal.
By showing yourself you are showing everyone.
Yes. It’s completely just the internal planes of existing. As we know, nothing ever stays in one form so if I use material that does change color of fall apart or ages then it’s truthful to eternity which is in constant flux. I just want to create the essence of self so densely that anything it touches is transformed and changed; transmuted in a way. I’m sometimes motivated by fear but that’s just as powerful and human as motivated by love or money. That is just how I feel. Love me. Don’t love me.
Photographer: Dominoe Farris
Model and Artist: Nouel Riel