I was following Ylana on instagram. One day I decided to write and ask if we could visit her and her studio. We spent a beautiful day and had a very interesting conversation over coffee. I hope to give you some insight into the artist's work and personality :)
S: Hello Ylana, thank you so much for joining me for this interview today. I am so happy to have your work as a part of Kintu Studio. To kick this off, you’re from Sao Paulo right? What brought you over to Lisbon?
Y: Hi Sylwia, thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to have my work be a part of Kintu.
Yes, I am from Brazil, from the centre of São Paulo. I arrived in Portugal when I was just 18. I was in this phase in my life where I was trying to decide between travel or work. My mum also reminded me at the time that I have a Portuguese passport and told me that I could move here, stay with a friend and get a job at a restaurant. I felt really fortunate because my mum has always been supportive no matter what I chose to pursue.
S: How’s your experience been since you moved to Portugal?
Y: To be honest, in the beginning it wasn’t easy. I faced a lot of obstacles as a Brazilian woman. Although it was hard, I knew I didn’t want to go back home because I was enjoying my independence a lot. The feeling within felt quite contradictory if I’m honest. I enjoyed the city so much. I fell in love with it, with the flow of the people and being able to experience the freedom and security that Europe creates for everyone. I still go to Brazil every year though. When I’m back there, I stay with my family and I come back to Lisbon feeling stronger. It solidifies my reasons for being here. Sometimes, I forget why I am here and every time I go to Brazil, I am reminded of why. I feel more at home here than there and I think it’s because I started creating something for myself.
S: I completely understand that. Since leaving Poland so long ago, I spent the past several years building my adult life for myself here. That way you described this feeling is very relatable.
Y: What’s interesting is that last time I was in Brazil, I thought you know what? I should come for work. São Paulo is so amazing for artwork. Things flow, the people make it happen, in a way that’s different from Lisbon. It’s also a different approach to art. I don’t know if it’s because I am from there, but I felt really strongly about it.
S: That sounds like a potential opportunity for growth. So, impressively, you paint, make sculptures and crochet. How do you find the time to do everything?
Y: I don’t separate the time when producing my work no matter the medium, I give each craft an equal amount of attention. The way in which I express myself is I try not to think about anything when I’m producing something. I go to that same headspace when I do anything. I can do a painting and this philosophy will be applied to the sculpture or the crochet piece. It’s just the same level of expression for me.
S: Amazing, I love that. Can you tell me more about the colours you use? They all seem to come from a similar palette. Is there a reason for that?
Y: The colours I use have always felt the most natural to me. However, I think nature is my main inspiration. The crochet is more colourful than the paintings and the sculptures, but I have this tendency to pick more earthy tones and usually stray away from anything that’s neon. It’s the subtlety and the movement of nature that inspires me. However, I don’t have that much awareness of the choices of the colour, it’s more of instinctual.
S: Do you think it might also have something to do with your school Waldorf? Do you think your background could have influenced you?
Y: I grew up surrounded by a lot of natural materials like wood, clay, wax from bees and even inks. All of it was really natural and if you have natural materials they normally have very earthy tones and I believe this has definitely impacted my work's tones. With this thought process, I also have a tendency to never use straight lines within my work. Everything in nature is imperfect. I find this also influences my crochet making because it’s impossible to make something perfect like a machine when it’s made with my own hands. When there are small imperfections, I enjoy that most.
S: I love your thought process around your work. So, tell me, you’re currently preparing yourself for an exhibition in Spain right?
Y: Yes! I’m very excited. When I’m creating, I am very isolated in my studio. When it’s the time to share the work, it’s the other side of that I have to get used to. The excitement and fear of the unknown when you put your work out in the open. Regardless, I’m also happy because the woman who I am working with from the gallery is like a friend to me. I was selling my paintings on the street here in Lisbon and I saw this woman come out of a crowd of people who were attending a guided tour. She quickly ran up to me, abandoning her group and told me my paintings were amazing and asked if I had a studio she could visit. She handed me her card and then had to rush back to her group. After that, we contacted one another and met up and this is how this came to be. It was completely out of nowhere but also so wonderful!
S: What an amazing story! When is the exhibition happening?
Y: On the 23rd of September. Everything’s ready for show currently and there’s also going to be a few events that coincide with it’ll be during Art Week in Valencia. There’s going to be a lot of visitors and I am also going to be there!
S: That’s great, sounds like a good opportunity to network!
Y: For sure. If I think about that a lot though, I start to get too anxious about it so I am trying not to think about it at all haha!
S: Thank you so much for your time, Ylana.
Y: Thank you!