Portrait of an Artist: Lisa Penz
Fascinated by the intense popularity of the vampire in mainstream culture, Vancouver artist Lisa Penz created new works that offer her take on the fearsome, alluring creatures. The exhibit of acrylic paintings, titled Beautiful Undead, is on display at FIVESIXTY [560 Seymour Street, Vancouver] from May 11 to June 8.
The Straight reached Penz by phone to talk about her work.
What is the main idea behind Beautiful Undead?
My goal was to basically harness what’s going on right now in pop culture in terms of the vampire craze…. I wanted to interpret the typical vampire archetype in my own way and just see what happened, basically. I’m really fascinated by what’s going on right now in our pop culture.
Why are people so interested in vampires right now?
They’ve been interested in vampires in the past. It’s come and gone. But right now I think that it’s resonating with people so much because I really, really feel that vampires are now perceived with more human qualities. They’re focusing on the human qualities now. And that’s what I want to do with this work and that’s why I found it really interesting. That’s one reason; the emotional, human qualities are being put to the forefront right now.
Where do the female subjects of your paintings come from?
I imagine them before I paint them and after the painting’s done they always turn out differently. They encompass the emotion, the feeling that I want. But they’re always different from what I first imagine and I think a lot of artists have said that about their work. But they mainly come from my imagination and inspiration from pop culture.
What do you like about portraiture?
I could paint other things but I just always go back to the eyes, I always go back to the face. It’s what resonates with me the most…. It’s not so much that they’re like a person to me, or they’re someone out there. They’re an emotion…. That’s what I’m trying to create with these portraits; a moment in time of an emotion.
"Equinox" by Lisa Penz.