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Artist Cristina Troufa

Cristina Troufa intends to consolidate the idea of a self-portrait and/or self-representation. On the other hand, she pretends to reflect on an inner spiritual, emotional, and psychological self-portrait, which can be done conceptually. She uses her own image in autobiographical paintings that explore her life and spiritual beliefs. As a form of self-knowledge and self-questioning, her work symbolically explores an inner world, which remains inaccessible to the voyeur who can only guess what each painting represents.

The artist describes her work as: something spiritual, a route between several lives and several times in the same life, coexisting side by side from strategies of self-representation that ultimately, question the meaning of life. “The theme of my work is about my life, about myself and my beliefs. In my work I explore self-representation in the pursuit of my inner self, my self-portrait”, she says.

What’s your artistic background?

In 1998 I finished my degree in painting at the University of Fine Arts of Porto, Portugal, twelve years later I decided to obtain a master’s degree in painting at the same University and I finished it in 2012.

 What’s integral to the work of an artist?

It must be creative work, demonstrate sensitivity to external and internal stimuli and have its own recognizable aesthetic and soul.

What role does the artist have in society?

Taking the observer to levels of emotional and spiritual awareness that everyday life does not normally allow.

 What art do you most identify with?

On an aesthetic level with the Post-Impressionists. On a conceptual level with the surrealist movement.

What themes do you pursue?

The meaning of life, self-knowledge, death, love, a reflection on the spiritual and emotional world that lives within all of us.

 What’s your favourite art work?

I don’t have a favorite art work, the quality of artists over the centuries is too vast to be able to select one.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

In 2020 I painted a series of works inspired by the pandemic and confinement. One of the paintings, titled ‘Oxygen’, three figures (self-portraits) are represented. One of the women has a box covering her head with the help of another woman and a third is throwing leaves into the box. This painting represents the use of masks and how the virus affected respiratory capacity, leaving many people dependent on oxygen to survive.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?

I have always taught painting and drawing. At the moment I teach at the University of Fine Arts of Porto, in several courses and workshops.

Why art?

I wanted to be an artist since I was a child, I always knew that this would be the path to follow.

What is an artistic outlook on life?

See what other humans only look at. See beauty where others don’t see it. Reflect on common subjects and transform them into symbols that others can admire and reflect on.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

The responses have been wonderful, I love that the viewer sees themselves in my paintings, that they understand the metaphors and symbols that I put in my work.

What food, drink, song inspires you?

Everything that can bring pleasure to my senses inspires me. The smell of the earth after the first drops of rain. The smell of the sea, the sound of tree leaves hitting each other because of the wind, the smell of warm spring and summer days, coffee, sweet fruit. Different types of music too, but it depends on the harmony and my mood at the moment.

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

Yes, it’s very lonely, but I do well with solitude, I need that tranquility to work. The classes I teach allows me to break out of this isolation and I know I need interaction with people other than family and friends.

What do you dislike about the art world?

The lack of monetary security. Artists are very dependent on selling their works, the uncertainty keeps us in a constant state of alertness and we are afraid of the future. So, we have to do other things to earn money, like teaching.

What do you dislike about your work?

There is nothing I don’t like about my work, otherwise I wouldn’t do it the way I do. But there is always a feeling of not having reached my maximum level of quality yet.

 What do you like about your work?

The unfinished look, something I’ve always appreciated in the work of other artists. The vast quantity of clean colors I put on the canvas. The contrast between transparent and opaque surfaces. The emotional and psychological intensity that I put on the work and that only the most awake observer can identify.

Should art be funded?

Yes, there would be more great quality artists with the possibility of reaching peaks of excellence in their work. If they didn’t have to worry about survival and paying bills, they would have greater mental and emotional availability to create works of art.

 What role does arts funding have?

I believe arts funding should educate the public to appreciate and value art and artists in general, through cultural events that also allows their participation.  It´s necessary that companies encourage their investment in art and support their workers to learn any artistic practice or art theory. And very importantly, support national artists in their internationalization.

What is your dream project?

Create a large installation for the Venice Biennale.

 Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.

Frida Kahlo, Francesca Woodman, Francis Bacon

Favourite or most inspirational place?

The beach and the forests.

 What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Tomorrow is another day.

 Professionally, what’s your goal?

Seeing my work exhibited in the best museums and art galleries around the world. I want to develop technical skills in ceramic sculpture (a recent passion) and perhaps incorporate both painting and ceramics into an increasingly creative art-form.




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