May 4, 2020

A Conversation with Bill Dambrova and Fausto Fernandez

I’m Wendy Raisanen, curator of exhibitions and collections for Scottsdale Public Art. I am excited to present our first online exhibition, Abstract Journeys of Mutation: paintings by Bill Dambrova and Fausto Fernandez.

Fausto Fernandez, Paralyzed Vitality, 2019, collage, resin, acrylic on wood, 24″ w x 18″ h

My aim as curator was to show the relationships between the two artists’ work by presenting them in pairings. When you scroll through the images, you may see their relationships in complimentary or opposing colors, harmonious compositions, or similar represented shapes on the paintings.

I recently asked them about their artistic processes and how they connect as artists and friends:

Abstract Journeys Event
Artists Bill Dambrova (left) and Fausto Fernandez

Wendy Raisanen (WR): I don’t think Bill or Fausto collaborated consciously on these pieces. Did you visit each other’s studios while you were working on the show?

Bill Dambrova (BD): We are good friends and have known each other for almost 20 years. We talk all the time and are always aware of what the other is working on. We don’t really discuss or critique each other’s (abstract) paintings though. I am so familiar with what Fausto’s doing that I am more interested in seeing where the journey takes him. I respect his experimental working style and the risks he takes. I mostly pay attention to how the work evolves and mutates and cheer him on when he pushes the work into a surprising direction.

Fausto Fernandez (FF): We often challenge the ideas in our work in conversations. When I visit him, we mostly joke in sarcasm of our own work too. While we don’t collaborate in the art itself, we relate by sharing our thoughts.

I believe that Bill questions ideas from a humanistic perspective, internally, the human body, and how we are connected to the universe and other life forms, always with an amusing and fun spin to the work. I question behaviors in society, the relationships between people and how these relationships impact my personality and life experiences.

We both create abstract works with messages that are not always readily apparent to the viewer, but our concepts drive the art into different directions that result in colorful and meaningful paintings. 

WR: It seems like neither of you is afraid of color. Have you ever done a monochromatic painting? 

BD: Yeah once. I even showed it (Chaos Theory, Phoenix) and was so disappointed with it that I painted over it as soon as I got it back. We live in a time where we have access to millions of paint colors. In the not-so-distant past, color was not easy to get, and who knows, the way things are going, we may not have them in the not so distant future. So, smoke ‘em while you got ‘em. Check out The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair. My painting Caesar the Mollusk Squeezer, a painting in this show, was inspired by the chapter about Tyrion purple from that book.

FF: Yes, I did a series of monochromatic paintings; one of them is a painting I did in 2011 based on the Picasso Guernica from a series that was inspired by other famous artists. I am always trying to find a way to use black because I appreciate the depth and mystery. I’ve tried to make paintings that are simple and minimal, but it’s difficult to stop. I admire and appreciate the simplicity in other artists’ works because I haven’t been successful in doing that. I believe it needs to be a conscious decision from the start of the painting—maybe even a plan—and I like to start my paintings without one and flow within the process.

Bill Dambrova, Hackles, 2020, mixed media on canvas, 20″ h x 16″ w

Want to hear more? Join us Friday, May 8, for an exclusive digital Cocktail Hour Q&A.

I will continue to ask them questions relating to their practice and this exhibition via a Zoom webinar. You can all join us and type your questions in the chat section. Even though we can’t be together for an opening reception, at least we can all get together in the same digital room and celebrate this incredible exhibition.

Click on this link to register for the Zoom webinar and add it to your calendar. If you don’t have Zoom installed on your computer or smart phone, download the free app here:

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