“Barcelona, Paris, London, Majorca, NY… Where else… I’ve painted in a lot of places. I can’t stay in the same place for too long. Do you mind if I smoke a cigarette? You want a beer? The weather’s nice today, you’ll be fine. I only have wine glasses. I like it though, drinking beer out of a wine glass.”
We drank beer that morning at painter Yolanda Dorda’s studio just outside of A Coruña in northeast Spain. We had flown from Paris to Portugal’s Porto, the second largest city in the country. Having crossed the border into Spain just the day before in a rental car, we arrived there to the first floor of her moss-green apartment with white window frames. I had seen Yolanda’s work on an online magazine and was instantly attracted to her rough and instinctual brush strokes. Her vivid portrait series of women and children, nudes, bondage, a series of children of Chernobyl… I honestly went into the interview with the impression that this was someone who may require a different interview approach. But there I was sipping beer out of my wine glass, watching her roll tobacco like an expert, realizing she had a straightforward and warm Latin personality.
“It’s important as an artist to change living environments. My time living in London especially affected me as an artist. While I waited tables and went to art school I was able to see many art exhibits. Later I became ill and returned home but I remember I had all sorts of fresh ideas thanks to those experiences. There was a time I had a studio in New York for three months to create whatever I wanted, and spending a month in Paris going to exhibits was really good, too. I think finding ways of inspiring yourself is just as important as painting itself. For me traveling is an important part of my work.”
Yolanda has had her share of hardship, too. “There was a time when I completely lost the ability to paint for two years. I put everything I had into one particular exhibit and when I was done, I was overcome with a sense of emptiness and lethargy.” It’s important for artists to discover the source of their ideas. “I felt like I fell into a deep hole. For two years I tried to watch as many movies and read as many comic books as I could, hoping that welling up of inner inspiration would show it self again. During that time a doctor recommended I study psychology. At first I was just curious, but as I went deeper into the studies I could see deeper into my self.” After a long hiatus, Yolanda rose again. “It was all inside me, all along. An explosive change occurred somewhere deep within me,” laughed Yolanda as she roughly moved her brush across the canvas as if throwing her emotions at it.
“Paintings reflect the painter’s internal state. I remember the exhibit that became the reason for my inability to paint. One painting at that exhibit really spoke to me. It said, ‘You are crazy right now!’ (laughing) To think back now, there was pain, struggle, all of the dark parts of life were portrayed on that canvas. After two years of wrestling with the situation, what brought me back to my art was painting women. Maybe I was painting my self. The images that welled up within me were more positive and colorful. I won my ‘personal liberación’.”