Studio Visit: Talia Shaaked

Tuesday, July 26, 2016




Ottawa native, now Winnipeg based artist Talia Shaaked uses her paintings as a way of looking into intellectual and emotional encounters with architectural and urban environments. Shaaked's work acknowledges the poetics of the built environment and how perceptual place and space can be experienced through the human condition. After spending some years in Montreal and graduating from Concordia University, Shaaked jumped at the opportunity and rerouted her way to Winnipeg to join the eight month residency at Cartae to move her practice forward in a new setting. We caught up with Shaaked to talk about what she's been learning and producing during her time at the residency, we also learn a bit about psychogeography, and who Guy Debord is. 




"Talia Shaaked is a painter first and foremost. She’s very interested in architectural spaces. And in her paintings, she plays with how we experience space. She experiments with perspective in her painting field as a way of trying to evoke the different responses that can come from our experience of architectural spaces." —Madeline Rae




Luther Konadu: Let’s begin by elaborating on Madeline’s [Shakeed's studio mate] comment on your work. What were your interests coming into the residency?

Talia Shaaked: I’m very interested in phenomenology and investigating the notion that the world around us is formed by our perception, delineated by our senses. Working off this train of thought we could go further to suppose that objects in the world around us are not structurally and metaphysically as we have perceived them and come to know them. That notion is really interesting to me.  Through exploring architectural space, I am also interested in discovering if it would be possible for space to be oriented in a different way; to find that there is a feeling of reality and unreality that is presented through different built environments.


LK: Can you discuss what you think about when you refer to “unreality”?

TS: If you think of unreality you may think of genres like fiction and fantasy. But another aspect of what I’m interested in is psychogeography. Psychogeography deals with the psychological effects of your adaptive surroundings; allowing a sort of transcendence to happen from that experience. For me, that’s what I think about in relation to “unreality”; being transported outside of your physical concrete surroundings.

Photo Contribution by Laina Brown



LK:Your work seems to involve a lot of theory and research, looking extensively into these concepts and schools of thoughts. Have you always been working in this manner?  

TS: The work I was doing before was completely different from the area I’m working around now. I have a very formal training in painting. I took classes with a classical oil painter, Bob Grant, for many years. I was mostly doing lots of live figure drawing, still life and realistic representations. It was kind of an overnight decision to transition after facing creative block for a bit and not knowing what I interested in anymore.

It was partly because I was privy to different conceptual artists working in the 50s and 60s. Guy Debord was the one that coined the term “psychogeography” and since then a lot of conceptual artists have been investigating this concept and using it in their work. Pyschogeography can even be linked to map making and cartography. Through that, I was lead to this path. I also became exposed to a lot of art theory and had been reading a lot about phenomenology and different schools of thought on structures of consciousness and evaluating the world around you in hand with your subconscious. I’m wishing to adapt these theories to the built environment, this is why I choose to investigate architecture and urbanisms with paint.




 Photo Contribution by Laina Brown


LK: Was it always apparent to you that you were going to be using painting as a medium to express all these things that you are learning about and discovering/?


TS: In a way, yes. I have been painting the majority of my life. In the past, I’ve tried my hand in different mediums to express different ideas but I find I am clearer and louder, more in control when I use paint. It comes very naturally to me.


LK: Do you think you are able to convey those ideas as strongly as you’d want through the paintings you are currently working on?

TS: I think because I’m dealing with a lot of theory and academic information it may not come across in the paintings and I’m aware of that. It will not necessarily convey the content of a philosophical text. I just desire to give off an experience for viewers.


Photo Contribution by Laina Brown



LK: If you hadn’t been exposed to painting for majority of your life how do you think the work would have taken form?

TS: I never really considered that before... Painting is so much a part of me and it feels like a natural extension of me. Like I mentioned, I’ve been painting for more than half of my life. It’s hard to think of myself without an arm because I’ve always had two arms and that’s how I feel about painting when I’m stepping into a project. Although I think the work would have possibly taken a more documentary approach if painting wasn’t something I was familiar with. I think maybe there will be a play of text or mapping or literal documents that exhibited the research or investigation. That’s the only way I can see it going as an alternative to painting.


LK: How do you think color comes into play when thinking about evaluating physical and nonphysical space around you? It seems like you play with a variety of color with your paintings...

TS: Yes I think it can be quite large contributing factor to point out our notion of how we make out our environment to be. I don’t know if it’s just me but often times when I am outside in the world, I’m very over-stimulated by the colors around me and how they coalesce to form my surroundings. I think the way I see color is very saturated and enhanced which delivers an experience of hyper reality as well as unreality. It is funny because I have always considered my choice of color pallet to be full of grays; but it is not at all. It is the opposite.




LK: Can you discuss how you plan on installing your paintings in relation to the ideas that flow through work itself…

TS:The painting itself is composed of three panels. Two depict a geometrical space with different entry points. The third panel is a gradient of colour. The three pieces are going to connect in space at different angles, navigating away from the more traditional way of hanging a painting on a wall at 180°. They will be largely suspended in the air, only meeting the wall at 2 points. Stretching out behind the panels I plan to paint an area of the wall grey. I am intending for the paintings to take up enough physical space that they become multiple entry-points for the viewer. As you look at the painting you feel at once as if you could go in, as well consider that it is simply a structure opposing you.












































LK: Can you talk a bit about your upcoming collaborative show in Gatineau this fall?

TS:A friend of mine, and fellow artist Ben Globerman, and I are working together on a residency at the DAïMôN artist-run centre in Gatineau from being offered their program ‘Support For First Works’. We will be creating an audio-visual installation entitled ‘Remote Access’. The installation will investigate 9 geographic locations that are almost entirely physically inaccessible, but whose knowledge and evidence of existence is obtainable online through our digital world. We will use data structures and binary to communicate the 9 locations, using visual projections and audio to build a map of the places around us.  




LK: Is there anything you've been thinking about a lot lately...

TS:I concentrate a lot of thought towards a harmonious world. Utopia is a theory that has never been able to play out in reality, but I often think of what it’s construct, parameters, and dimension would be were it to be created in our world.


LK:If you have a life motto what would it be?

TS:It isn’t a motto per se, but I always tell myself ‘we - humans - create new life, with new rules and new possibilities.’


Photo Contribution by Laina Brown


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