Prudence Flint lives and works in Melbourne. She started painting from the early 1990s because she wanted a voice. Now, her paintings speaks in her name. Women are the protagonists in her art, indoors most of the time, and it appears that they are doing nothing. Sitting thinking or just sitting. For her, her paintings can be more that she can be in the social world. Flint writes for an hour every day as her paintings must work on this level first. Then, she enters in an open-passive state of mind to let the painting be completed by their own means.
How and why did you start painting?
I saw paintings in art galleries that intrigued me. I’ve always been fascinated by images of women. I was restless and wanted a voice.
Who are your biggest inspirations? Do you think references have to be personal to achieve authenticity?
Psychoanalysis questions neurotic suffering and brings me to reality. So then I observe the world through this lens. We have defence mechanisms to survive; avoidance, repression and projection. They can rule us and cost us. I want to be open. I love to read fiction and watch films.
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How do you deal with ‘realness’ in your artwork?
I’m not so interested in realism. I want my paintings to capture an atmosphere and let the tension of the paint be part of the process. The colour, surface and flatness need to be a force in the work.
Could you explain to us your creative process? I’m curious too about the way you use colour.
My creative process? I am in the studio every day. This routine has happened over a long period of time. I write every day for an hour. Ideas come from this process. It’s catharsis. Colour is powerful, it has moods and relationships. My paintings must work on this level first.
Why do you decide to portrait your women in a such a neutral way? They don´t show any kind of emotions.
I like coolness, holding back and silence. It is true and tense. The painting with all its elements needs to be the expression… the colours, the shapes and the texture.
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How much time do you spend making a painting? What is the ideal timing for you?
Three months is perfect.
What has changed since you started painting in the early 1990s? What can you say to us about the change in your construction of the body? For example the proportions of the little head and big body.
Maybe it has something to do with the emotional weight of womanhood, as I read somewhere.
At some point I began to paint from real life and photograph my friends rather than find images in magazines. This allowed me to engage more physically with my painted figures. People are all kinds of shapes, colours and sizes. There is a huge scope. It’s strange that we underplay this. I don’t have a stable idea of how big or small I am. It shifts. Distortion is reality.
I had read that self-doubt is part of your work. Can you give us an explanation about that? And about the dream logic in your paintings that you talk about?
Self-doubt… there is always a critical condemning voice (from the past) when I am tired. She quietens down when I get good sleep and I can find open space and I can enter the dream realm where I am present and on the job of seeing the painting and entering its logic. I need be open and passive to this process. I need to question and be curious about everything that I’m told by the social world, how we talk to each other and live amongst each other.
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You said too that art is a place where you can really feel the expansiveness of life. Can you tell us more about that?
My paintings can be more than I can be in the social world. There is enormous pressure on an individual to conform and to belong. My paintings can be outside of that.
How are you professionally dealing with this massive world change?
I am working well. It keeps me in my studio. No travelling. More solitude
Can you advise us of another series of paintings you are working on?
My next solo show is Conditions for Sprouting Seeds: five new paintings at Fine Arts, Sydney, opening February 5, 2022.
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