Exploring the environment and one's subconscious through storytelling and symbolism in art.
Updated: Jun 2, 2022
Or in other words - Mermaids, psychoanalysis, symbolism and the senses!
We had the undeniable pleasure of chatting with award winning multi disciplinary artist Loreal Prystaj - about the relationship between the domestic and natural environment and how this is explored in her work, her process and more.
First off, who's Loreal Prystaj and why you need to know about her.
Renowned London based-American artist Loreal, has been making and creating since the age of 5, spending hours in the basement drawing, painting, and creating little sculptures with sculpey clay. Loreal originally intended to study painting - but after one very fortunate foray into a film photography class, everything changed. Introduced to the concept of "painting with light" that was it - she was hooked. What followed was a BFA in Photography at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, before moving to London to complete her MA in Photography at The Royal College of Art.
Loreal is also the very modest recipient of 12 awards and nominations (including the Dior Young Talent Award), 7 artist residencies, solo exhibitions in Japan and New York as well as a plethora of features in many more, and 50+ inclusions in respected publications both printed and digital.
But that's just us tooting her horn - in the words of the artist herself "My work revolves around the phenomenology of consciousness, lived experience, and the surreal. Grounded in disrupting the "conventional" environment to reveal its psychological impact on the individual or collective,
I use photography, moving-image, sculpture, and installation to construct a mise-en-scene highlighting the relationship between the environment and its effect on one's subconscious through storytelling and symbolism."
The theme of one's experience in the domestic and natural punctuate much of your previous series (Bathwork, Reflecting on Nature for example) - can you share how this has informed some of your practice?
My work derives from personal experience, imagination, dreams and starts intuitively. Once I observe what I am creating, I then reflect on why. It is at that moment that my concepts start to take shape.
" For the past several years, most of my work has taken inspiration from the domestic sphere – from gender roles to objects connected to narratives in that space, revealing symbolic meaning; I either interrupted interiors or disrupted objects associated with domestic interior, and found doing so was a way to 'playfully' fabricate or destabilise the normality of the conventional – an attempt to reclaim these estranged and alienating spaces."
As for works created in Nature, these were often taken during Artist Residencies. The series 'Reflecting on Nature' was taken in Finland during my stay at the Artles Artist Residency. The mirror was a 'found' object in the room I was staying in, and the breathtaking Nature genuinely inspired me. Using a self-timer I held a mirror in scenic landscapes, allowing Nature to "look" at itself while my body became part of Nature, camouflaging within it.
What is constant in creating all my works is the approach–experimentation, observation and endless curiosity! The outcome and how I see myself within that environment differ between the domestic and Nature series. In works revolving around themes about the domestic sphere, I am often disrupting something. With works related to Nature, I find myself attempting to become part of and camouflage.
You've been on a very exciting journey these last 12 months - expanding the boundaries of your methods, materials, and perspectives. Tell us more!
YES! I am super excited about where my work is going presently – having worked within the domestic space for most of my practice, I first felt the itch to do something different thematically, then asked myself, why have I been working on this? When my answer was correlated to disrupting something I sometimes felt trapped in or disconnected from, I had a 'lightbulb' moment, what if I create work on something I feel most intrigued about, fascinated by, connected to – for example, Nature, mythology, dreams, folklore, storytelling etc., and thought, let's give this a go! And, what a journey it has been; I feel I have grown so much thus far – soulfully and spiritually– with the research I am doing presently, grounded in psychoanalysis, symbolism, archetypal character, and storytelling.
As for my most recent work, the departure point considers the past year's anxieties surrounding touch and physical contact due to COVID-19. My current work in progress brings a new and expanded idea of closeness and touch, by exploring possibilities beyond the physical world, through the perspective of Liminal Beings–specifically the Mermaid– a symbol for foreseeing disaster but also rebirth and renewal.
You wrote us a beautiful poem about your experience of Nature and Humanity. If you had to choose between residing in the raw and untamed wilderness or in a city devoid of Nature - which would you choose and why?
Oh my gosh! NATURE ALL THE WAY! Don't get me wrong; I love both. Being in Nature is remarkably inspiring, and being around people or living in a city is absolutely stimulating. I feel I learn and grow from both Nature and humanity, but I would choose Nature if I had to choose one.
I perceive that within Nature, we have the opportunity to become closer to ourselves, to hear our thoughts, and genuinely listen. Nature provides guidance, tranquility and the opportunity to become close to what we are part of and connected to– The Universe– which can easily be forgotten in the fast paced, logical, goal-driven world.
We got to work together last year on your work “Green Pepper” by creating a scent with CPL Aromas, that recreated the smell of the domestic environment you recreated in 4D (with sound, installation and photography wallpaper) as a comment on our experience of Covid through all the senses except, in some cases, touch. What’s your relationship with scent and does it inspire you?
Smelling is one of our most marvelous of the five senses– smell has the ability that allows us to remember– sort of time travel if you will. It ignites imagination! It has the power to attract or even detract; a soothing scent can put you to sleep, while an invasive scent can make you want to hurl. Scent can most certainly result in a response without us really even trying to think about it– this is how awe-inspiring combining Human and Nature is as a scent!!!
You can explore our scented expression of man-made and human only — in contrast with the unfaltering beauty of nature at the dawn of a new day. Available in 50ml and 2ml.