Art Talk: Toni Silber-Delerive
Some of the most interesting and engaging art pieces are those that shift the perspective of the viewer. I find that this is true of Toni Silber-Delerive’s paintings. She often takes us to a different plane – quite literally – showing us aerial views of locations and exposing beauty not normally seen unless we consider her perspective.
Viewing her art, some of which could be seen here or her website led me to ask What is this place she’s showing me? Have I been to this place before? I then found myself dissecting carefully positioned elements and colors and then piecing them back together, stepping back, and again looking at the bigger picture. At this point there’s a certain feeling of awe towards the way in which she presents us with her vision.
In the following interview Toni gives us insight into her work. We learn about her process and the general direction towards which she chooses to take us and her art next.
Your aerialscapes are so effective in how they encourage viewers to consider different perspectives. “Nottinghamshire Coal Mine“, “Oil Fields” and “Australia Industrial” for example surprise the viewer, as a mention of these places do not necessarily conjure beautiful imagery. However, your work positions them – particularly in the case of “Oil Fields” and “Australia Industrial” – in an intriguing, almost abstract manner. How did you start in this direction? Have you always had this perspective when you started painting?
Although I studied painting in college, in my career in graphic design I looked at the world and meanings of subjects through abstract shapes and colors. When I returned to painting full-time that experience as a designer influenced my work.
Beyond the composition I strive to interpret the world we live in and incite viewers to see it from a different perspective. I attempt to tell my narrative while retaining the character of the location, using a personal perspective to develop a graphic visual vocabulary. I want my paintings to be more than just a recording of the contemporary landscape and express my interpretation and vision.
It’s also particularly interesting how depth is minimized in a lot of your work. What’s the reason behind this approach?
Wanting to depart from traditional landscape perspective, but still incorporate realism, the view from above allows me to combine elements of abstraction and representation, pattern and grid, surface and illusion, as well as observation, imagination, and memory. My work can be understood on many levels, from the simple interplay of shape and color to the narrative of the pictorial story.
I enjoyed looking at the composition of elements and the choice of colors in your paintings. Please take us through your process and how you select these opportune vantage points.
I start with a location that fits my narrative, then proceed to sketch my idea from one of my own photographs or stock material using the bird’s eye view. The next step is to block out the shapes, patterns and color working with Photoshop to further refine composition and color. Although the color is not realistic there are close similarities. Finally it is time to work at the easel.
There seems to be a move towards abstraction in some of your pieces. Is this a conscious decision or do you think this is a natural progression for the kind of art that you create?
It is my conscious decision to move towards abstraction while maintaining an aerial viewpoint. There is much more that I want to explore, there’s really no limits to creativity. The last series I did is called “Intersections Quartered”. if you didn’t know they were intersections you probably wouldn’t recognize them.
Apart from your aerialscapes, you paint other subjects such as food and people. Which of these subjects gives you most satisfaction and why?
The food paintings, are also derived from the same unconventional approach as my aerialscapes. While the colors and shapes are traditional, the oversized proportions painted from above display the subject in a way that is both original and recognizable.
My figurative work draws on a stylized impression of people. Just like my landscapes they are commentaries, only about people. The most basic of human needs, desires, dreams are timeless and universal. There’s an added layer of emotions to the portraying of my subjects. These paintings hint at stories about their subjects, but give viewers room to use their imagination.
In Atlantic City, two children pose on the sand, buckets in hand, unsure of their environment, not exactly frolicking and carefree. A reminder that childhood is filled with insecurities.
And lastly, what does it mean for you to be an artist in our time?
Regardless of the time, I believe my raison d’être as an artist is to share my vision of the world. I want my aerialscapes to be a commentary on our lifestyles and environment, a collection of urban and suburban way of life as well as a representation of the natural and industrial worlds. I will be satisfied if my paintings encourage people to step back and see our world as affected by humanity in a different light.
Toni’s website is www.tonisart.com
Interviewed by: Jing Palad