Interview – Pilar Lagos – Belgrade Art Studio Online Residency


How did you start getting interested in arts?

As I reflect on my current art practice, I realize that my interest in visual arts was always there – latent and waiting to be explored. I went to college to study communications and advertising because I was interested in exploring the nuances in written and visual communications across cultures. 

In 2017, I began to scratch the surface of the theme of culture through an autobiographical children’s book about a young girl that moves to a foreign land. In hindsight, this personal project was the beginning of it all. I began to take classes at various schools, with one thing leading to another. In 2021, I turned my focus to visual arts.  


 What motivates you to create?

I paint because it gives me the freedom to express myself, using intuition, observation, and memory, while exploring the space between alienation and longing. Being more comfortable as a foreigner abroad than in my native country; I often feel estranged from my own culture and body.

Art also allows me to relent to my obsession with perfectionism. It gives me the opportunity to learn and enjoy the process of achieving something new (and unexpected) each time I’m in the studio. 


How do you approach your subject matter and choose your color palette? 

There are a few themes that I am exploring and serve as a framework to approach a specific subject matter. For example, grief is a recurrent topic in my art practice, in part because of that feeling of alienation from my own culture, which I deeply love and long for. It’s not a coincidence that I incorporate found materials and pressed flowers from Honduras in my paintings.

I use bold color combinations in response to my fascination with the richness of colors that we find in nature. I like to use space as the foundation to explore inconclusive conversations disrupted by change. I find inspiration in color field paintings, because they give me a sense of repose. Abstraction lets me organize the chaos within. I also have a deep fascination for light that forms patterns as a result of the reflections on man-made structures. I am constantly chasing these organic compositions in the serendipitous moments of daily life.


What are you trying to communicate with your art? 

As an artist, I want to use abstraction to investigate and represent experiences—past and present— with the hopes of connecting with others. 


Tell us about your trauma experience.. How did practicing art help?

In early 2021, I suffered from a sudden and unbearable positional headache, which turned out to be a spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak. I was in pain and bedridden for 10 days. Surprisingly, when I drew in bed, I would forget that my head was pounding. Art helped me heal. 


To what extent does the pandemic influence your depiction of art? Does it generate new inspiration?  

The pandemic impacted my art practice in several ways. First of all, it helped me slow down. Prior to the pandemic, my art practice was a reflection of my life. I was involved in many things outside of work and was always rushing from one activity to the next. I was not giving myself the space to think and reflect. 

During the pandemic, I was able to sit in the apartment and process what was happening. It also gave me the opportunity to explore different mediums and themes. As things are starting to resume in New York, I’m again dealing with the impulse to fasten the process. I constantly have to remind myself that art cannot be rushed.


How do you feel about being involved in an online residency program? How important is it to stay connected with the international art community?

I’m pretty excited to be involved in an online residency program. As artists, we crave community and I have been very blessed to meet generous and authentic artists both in New York and online.


What are your thoughts about the theme ‘artist on standby’? Tell us a bit more about your project…

When I looked up the definition of standby in the dictionary, the one that resonated is “of, relating to, or traveling by an airline service in which the passenger must wait for an available unreserved seat” (Merriam-Webster). 

The word wait is key. What do we observe when we are obliged to wait, to be on standby? And, in the same way, what do we miss out on when we don’t wait or give ourselves the time to notice our surroundings? 

I am gleaning into this concept to see what I can find. It’s exciting! 


What do you want to achieve before things return to normal if it is to happen? Any future plans/projects?

I want to continue growing in my art practice, that’s for sure. I want to continue exploring light sources in relation to time and space. For now, I feel called to spend more time in the studio and see what comes out of it.