Self portraits, euphoric party scenes, mysterious grins and idyllic picnics are the ingredients for Florine Imo’s paintings. With a special technique using a mix of acrylic and oil paint, the Vienna-based artist creates distinctive characters and plays with the quick prejudice of our time. Florine's images speak in a language of bright colors, chaotic yet controlled patterns. Four of her artworks are exhibited and to be admired at this year’s misa.art POP-UP.  

You are showing four different distinctive works at misa.art POP-UP. Can you tell us about the idea behind those pieces?  

For some time now, my work has mainly been focusing on my characters. It was and still is important to me to develop these characters and to give them a strong attitude and character.  In the past my ideas came from a story, a feeling, a shadow, a place or a memory, but today my characters are the origin of my ideas. There are infinite scenarios in which their presence can suddenly transform a normal situation into a complex reality.  

With what three words would you describe your artworks?  

Idyllic, numinous, burning. 

Florine Imo, "I'll draw you too", 2022

What story do your artworks tell?

The artwork "I'll draw you too" is a continuation of another picture of mine - "I'll draw you".  In this picture, my characters are relaxing together and enjoying the first rays of spring sunshine.  Objects, such as the shisha, remind me of my youth, when my friends and me were sitting together in the Vienna city park.  One figure draws the other two. When you draw someone, you really have to look closely at the person.  I like that sensitive intimacy that happens when you draw someone.  It happens so rarely that a person really sees you as you are.  Often you project your own judgment/uncertainties onto a person instead of really looking.   

The quick judgment and constant pursuit of perfection, among other things, are themes I often grappled with.  Although the characters have a strong attitude and are not swayed by the judgment, this image is like a pleasant summer breeze. Some images are just allowed to be pleasant; I think. Other paintings, however, such as "you're projecting," tells precisely of one's projection onto another person. The shadow of the foot turns into a snake because of that.  The picture "tangled" has a similar structure as "you're projecting":  A rather monotonous picture shows two beautiful, but also shady, figures.  At first glance, one is attracted to the green glow,  like a moth to a light bulb. But it goes faster than you think, and suddenly you are stuck. One figure holds the other, their earrings are tangled, you can no longer get away. 

What is your work process like? Do you have a routine when painting? 

My first idea is recorded in my sketchbook, in that step I have not decided anything yet, except the idea.  Then I make several sketches of this idea and find the appropriate composition of the figure and size.  I always paint several pictures at the same time. After the composition is determined, I start painting the first layer using acrylic paint. In this layer I also often use different inks, varnishes and sprays. I like to play with the patterns of my character's clothes or their objects, rooms, walls, ect.  In these layers you can then often see color effects from the first layer. After the first layer of acrylic paint, I continue painting with oil paint. I love my edgy figures and their soft blended skin; it highlights their contrasts.  After the first layer of oil paint, everything must first dry for a while. In the end, another layer of oil with important details is applied, such as jewelry, makeup, lighters, shoelaces, and so on.  Again and again in the process I close my eyes, and imagine my figurative work as an abstract, so that I make the right decision when painting and do not blindly stick too much to the real facts. 

Florine Imo, "tangled", 2022

What reactions do you hope to receive from your observers? 

I think looking at paintings is similar to looking at a person.  Maybe it is a bit easier to perceive a painting uninfluenced than a person. However, if I could choose a reaction, it would be nice if my pictures encourage and motivate.  Sometimes they should annoy the viewer a bit and smile at his judgments.  My figures should also occasionally cause an attraction and at the same time a repulsive feeling.  In some pictures they show a sensitive, frail side and should cause and a feeling of attachment. I like to paint images that are not so obvious and then can be overshadowed by chaotic patterns, bright colors and perfect skin. Sometimes, I just like to paint women doing their thing and either not knowing anyone is watching or just not giving a shit. I think with these paintings, the point is precisely that the viewer's reaction is not in the foreground, on the contrary, the figures don't care. 

Photocredits: Kataneva

Florine Imo’s artpieces are on display at misa.art POP-UP at Französische Straße 48 from April 28th to May 1st. Get your ticket here!