Sole Paints The Blues is a light that flows from the murals of Austin. Her positive messages and her colorful abstraction make her paintings a beautiful city attraction. Only a few and lucky walls bear her signature, but we predict that there will be many more soon. The artistic panorama of the capital of the lone star state is rejuvenated and new faces such as Sole Paint the Blues are occupying the fascinating space created in Austin for urban artistic expression.
Soledad Fernández comes from Paraguay but was brought up between Argentina and the United States. Like every good artist, she was a girl when she made her first scribbles. Her abstraction comes from memories and experiences lived in various countries and recreate, sometimes, places as fascinating as the South American jungle or the American forest. Art helped her express herself throughout her wandering life.
Sole’s talent can be considered a weapon against intolerance, an allegation lost on Austin’s walls in favor of immigration and hope for the future. Her positive messages reflect the power of art as a personal and popular claim.
We talked to Sole Paint the Blues to relent the life, ideas and passions of a fascinating artist after falling in love with his mural in Native, the heart of urban art in Austin. Her smile is latent in each of the wise words she has recited.
Tell us your story
I was born in Paraguay and grew up in Argentina and the USA. I come from a family of as many painters as doctors and economists, but the painting chose me since I was a child.
What does art represent to Sole Paints The Blues?
Living in such diverse places and always feeling foreign – even in my own homeland – the painting gave me the ability to express myself using language beyond spoken. I think that’s what drives me also to look for ways to distill memories and sensations in an increasingly abstract way.
When did you start painting?
Impossible to remember! I have a memory in which my mother bought me a small table… I would be 4 years old, and when I discovered a nail polish in the bathroom, I had no better idea than to make an abstract creation on the new table.
What techniques do you usually use?
I paint with acrylic and gouache, sometimes I use other materials such as magazine clippings and vintage books, gold leaf, mirrors. I have a notebook with sketches, and I make many designs using the fluid art technique where some of the organic forms originate that form my compositions.
What is your fetish color?
Saturated orange makes the other colors vibrate in an incomparable way.
Do you like to paint in studio or on the street?
If I have to choose, I prefer to work in the studio, because that’s where all my compositions are born.
How is the urban art scene in Austin?
There are many opportunities and artists love to collaborate and help each other. Before painting my mural in Native, I had already helped two muralists who invited me to participate in their work, without any experience. They saw that I wanted to learn, and they put me to work.
Do you have contact with other artists?
Yes! Every time I become more friends and colleagues in the field, the truth is that we are a large community.
Have you painted in Hope Gallery?
Not yet, but I have it projected at some point.
Do you plan to paint in your new location?
What artists have influenced you?
Alice Neel, Georgia O’Keefe, the Argentine artist Antonio Berni, Elaine de Kooning, and few know that Joni Mitchell is also a very talented plastic artist. I really look at the figurative artist much more than the abstract one because I want to maintain a personal style.
What things inspire you to paint?
The American landscape of the southwest, my formative memories of Paraguay and its jungles and rivers, the impenetrable history of the North American forests, and the bittersweet taste of what is gained and lost with a semi-nomadic childhood and youth.
Is it possible to live on art in the United States?
What galleries do you usually visit in Austin?
I like Women & Their Work, because they are committed to very original and challenging works of art, Gallery on 5th, for their caliber of artists, and Art for the People, which is committed to local art.
Should urban art be ephemeral?
Not necessarily, but the ephemeral forces you to value the beauty of a work that may disappear tomorrow.
Is urban art the final phase of contemporary art or will another trend emerge that leaves it behind?
Urban art is simply a reflection of a society that values art more and wants to see it in large spaces. What changes are the styles and trends. Before, a lot of urban art was seen in graffiti style because it was what was associated with public art and murals, it also went through the geometric for several years. Now, you are seeing minimalist and organic styles. It’s a constant evolution.
How arise your collaboration with Native?
I worked very closely in an NGO and we got to know each other, they didn’t know that I was an artist and after a long time it asked them.
What other murals have you painted?
I helped with the mural protesting about the separation of families at the border, and one that portrays the US presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. My first mural is in my studio, and I have several projects between June and September.
What places would you like to paint?
I love elegant cities, I am very stimulated by the contrast between the classic and the modern – London, Madrid … – and I dream of a great mural in my beloved Buenos Aires.
What is the difference between vandalism and urban art?
In my opinion, it is important to respect private property. Beyond talent or not, at the end of the day, I don’t agree with the idea of imposing. Must be always with permission or contract involved.
Have the authorities evolved in respect for urban art?
Very much. Already several cities have programs and scholarships to grant urban art spaces. There are even very well-paid opportunities. It is a good symptom that art and the artist are being valued.
Why is it still illegal?
The rights to private property must be balanced, but at the same time create opportunities for the artist to express himself and the public to enjoy a democratic art style that is accessible to all.
Is secrecy still necessary for urban artists?
I personally would never go out to paint in a clandestine way, I always respected the alien. But I can only speak for myself.
Should urban art be vindictive, just a personal expression or both are valid?
As long as it is with permission, personal expression is worth it. If not, it is vandalism. Cuter or ugly, but vandalism.
Is art the language of minorities?
Yes. Art is a great equalizer when it comes to expressing yourself. However, we must keep in mind that the privilege of some remains very strong when deciding who triumphs more than others. The starting point should be more equal and not depend so much on external conditions.
Do you think that the artist and the intellectual have lost their privileged position in the culture and society of social networks?
Yes and no. There are people who have become “influencer” simply by knowing how to edit and sell content, or by already having many connections. But luckily it is also a platform for artists and intellectuals to reach a wider audience.
Will your influence recover?
I don’t think it was lost.
Why are there still prejudices about immigrants?
The human being always suspects the different. There are those who believe that immigrants will steal opportunities, but that is based on a misconception. Resources, ideas, rights are not limited. The key is to share and help.
Do you think art or music is the way to tear down these stereotypes?
Totally! Creating art with people other than us breaks barriers. It is thanks to this that we have the blues, a lot of minimalist art, the various influences and trends … When we break down prejudices and stereotypes, we all win.
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