A Week of Canadian Painting: Tiziana La Melia

Because we are a Canadian-run publication and we admire those who continue to work with the arguably dated medium of paint, in the arguably dismal landscape of the Canadian art-world, we have decided to do a week-long feature on some of our favorite current Canadian painters, in no particular order. Stay tuned this week to see who we believe to be among the greatest established and emerging painters the Great White North has to offer!
Purple Poses_Plan d’Eau_pigment guache sand wood brass 2015  -153
Purple Poses Plan d’Eau, pigment, guache, sand, wood, brass, 2015. Photos: Ned Pratt Photography, St. John’s, NL
Tiziana La Melia is the kind of person I champion in this world. Art is often separated from the kind or sort of person who made it but in her case I find it insensible or rather impossible. She has a knowledge of the earth and soil, grew up on a farm, can work with the land, loves animals and is compassionate and profound. She is, through feeling, moving in the world like a spider, she is moving through the world like a fox in the early morning dew, like a wrecked fast car getting a new paint job, like a lucky rabbit’s foot being rejoined with its kindred in the sky. Her work is like kneeling in the grass sobbing then finding the imprints the meditation left on our knees, because the best of us are always praying in some way or another. – Sojourner Truth Parsons
SimpleSincereFrankandStraightfoward, 2015
empty your mind wizards_chalk pastel on paper, 2015
empty your mind wizards, chalk pastel on paper, 2015
Where did you grow up? What was the landscape like?
I grew up in the Okanagan Valley. We moved here permanently from San Giuseppe Jato while on vacation in the middle of kindergarten. So I have vivid memories of both places. Being confused and anxious about language, space and time. We ended up living on a cherry orchard that tapers down to Okanagan lake with mountains framing the view. The mountains were blue instead of orange and now the orchard is more of a walnut, almond, plum, fig, grape and pear grove. I’m thinking of this because I happen to be here as I write this. It sounds idyllic, and it was, but it is also distinguished by half-finished projects and piles of broken and salvaged things, like toilets, scrap metal, refrigerators, and quads in disrepair.
Do you think being Canadian has had any impact on your work?
In particular, I’m that kind of Canadian that feels like they are from somewhere else, but can’t call anywhere else home. So a kind of restlessness.
What is your favourite medium to work with?
I’m promiscuous with medium so it depends on my mood and what will comfort that.
What themes do you work with, if any?
How place and thought affects subjectivity. Fables, cliches, images, a piece of garbage, words, surface, feelings, textiles, worries, dreams, living amongst insects, gels, uncertainty, living among animals. Lately I’ve been allowing writing and literature to influence my art-making more directly. For instance, in the Innocence at Home set of works, the aluminum supports were made in reference to the angelfish pins Mark Twain gave to the girls in his “Aquarium Club,” and so it was a way of evoking that, while also creating a space that is not linguistic and about feeling and discovery beyond that specific narrative.
Purple Poses_weird Sisters_2015-16_gouache, oil, sand, potato stamp on wood and brass
Purple Poses weird Sisters,  gouache, oil, sand, potato stamp on wood and brass, 2015-16. Photos: Ned Pratt Photography, St. John’s, NL
TizianaLaMelia_Spasm_2015 oil on aluminum
Spasm,  LED, oil on aluminum, 2015
who's the boss_ chalk pastel on paper_201
who’s the boss? chalk pastel on paper, 2015
  Innocent Oyster, 2015
Are you inspired by any Canadian painters?
Mostly people who I have had a psychic leaky affinity with for many years now ­some that come to mind, and who are not necessarily known for their painting. Tamara Henderson, Sojourner Truth Parsons, and Rachelle Sawatsky, but there are many others.
Is there any one painter who has influenced your work more than others?
There are several who have influenced me more than others. But not one in particular. The other day I was googling Lily van der Stokker and some of her tendrils made me think of Hilma af Klint, Florentine Stettheimer, and cursive manuscripts. I’m also thinking about Rosemarie Trockel’s fly swatter.
Are you drawn to any particular historical art movement?
 Right now ’90s Neo-futurism (the new baroque, new naturalism and post­-punk romantic).
Do you consider your work to be political?
I consider it to be political to be an artist generally. I think that one’s relationship to the world is reflected in the way you make things. The longer I’m involved in art making, the more acutely aware I am that my life is the result of making actual decisions, rather than following a script (though arguably scripts are constantly being followed and then being tossed.) Paying attention to things and the agency of actively negotiating this is important to me.
What do you think is missing from the Canadian art scene?
I don’t know.