Art Asylum: Nina, let us start off with a basic introduction, can you share a little about your background and lifestyle?

Nina: Well, I started doing art when I was very small. My mother loved do crafts and she taught me. From there I started to draw very small and still. When I was a teenager I started to do street theater and painting canvases. After that I moved onto graffiti. Now I just work with canvas, murals….. sculptures…..I love see my little niece draw, it is very inspirational to me. I love how she draws what she dreams, and doesn’t worry about shadow, perspective, or dimensions…..It’s free, it’s her.

Art Asylum: Many people may not be aware of this, but you are considered one of the pioneer’s of Brazilian Street Art, you started painting the walls of São Paulo as a teen, Can you tell us how you were first introduced to street art? And what was it about this art form that gained your interest?

Nina: In 1991, I started to see some painting on the walls in the street and at that time I didn’t know what it was. Back then I was 14 years old and didn’t have internet or magazines to learn about graffiti. I felt graffiti artists did the same as me; they did art outside, like my street theater. I learned in my street theater class that the painting on the walls in the street was graffiti. They offered a workshop about it. I only attended one class on it, there I had done just one painting, the teacher told me I wasn’t doing it right.
I didn’t agree, I think it was because the class was all boys except for me. I didn’t stay in the class because it wasn’t a good fit for me. In 1992, I went to high school and there I met many other graffiti writers, such as Os gemeos. That is where I feel I really started to do graffiti.


Art Asylum: You were part of the group that led graffiti & street art into the museums and galleries, how did this process begin? Was this something that was done with intention or by accident?

Nina: This happening was natural. I didn’t plan anything; didn’t think where I can go with my work in the future? Now I look at it and think it is amazing to be able to make a living doing what I love.

Art Asylum: As an artist who has been painting for most of your life, what where some of your first creations?

Nina: Wow, I still have many of my first drawings. My first canvases are at my parents. My first sculpture I did when I was 10 years old and my grade school kept it. My first graffiti piece is in one train line, it was a single 2 color character.

Art Asylum: How has graffiti or art in general affected your life, how you live and think?

Nina: Well, I was born with art in my heart. I don’t know, but I think we (artists) look differently at life, objects, and people….We have different outlook on things.


Art Asylum: Growing up in São Paulo, what were some of the challenges you faced being both a female and a street artist?

Nina: I didn’t have too many problems. I have a really good family, they understand me. They encourage me to do what I love to do. This helped me a lot, made me feel strong enough to fight for my dreams. Just sometimes in the beginning, I was told from same crazy guys what I do it’s not graffiti. But I don’t care, I just wanted do what I love. If is graffiti or not, it doesn’t matter.

Art Asylum: Who or what were some of your greatest influences and inspirations growing up? Are there any artists from the past that may have influenced your artwork?

Nina: I think that most of my inspiration I have come from life in general. I am also inspired by the way the children look the world, their dreams, and the mystical life. The simple things make us happy. Artists…..I love some but maybe because I think we have the same point, with the same view like “Yoshitomo Nara, Rarindra Prakarsa….

Art Asylum: You have had the opportunity to paint with & next to some of the world’s most renowned artists, with that being said, if you had the chance to paint with any other artist who would it be and why?

Nina: I don’t know…. I need think about it. Most of the artists I work together with are friends, I don’t care if they are renowned artists or not, I like to work with friends, with good feelings.


Art Asylum: Your art focuses explicitly on the differences between childhood and adult realities, can you explain to us the idea behind your subjects?

Nina: This is hard for me to explain but I will try… When we were children we looked at problems and life in different way, more positive, we dream more, we play more, and we enjoy life more. But when we are adults we look at everything more serious, we don’t care about life details, we don’t play a lot, we don’t dream…. and we wanted grow up quick. This is terrible. We still need to enjoy, dream, do everything in a positive way….. But of course, we have different visions about everything; we can’t just close our “eyes”.

Art Asylum: Now that it has been established that your art has graced the walls of cities around the world as well as those in galleries, Do you have a formal education in art or are you completely self taught?

Nina: I am self taught.

Art Asylum: As an artist who works in multiple mediums, what medium did you start off with and how did you branch off from there? How did you get into sculpting, resin etc..?

Nina: I did one sculpture when I was 10 years old and I liked the experience so much I tried it again and again. In life I try everything; the learning and the growing never stop.


Art Asylum: At what point in your life did you feel the need to expand your mediums from street art to sculpture?

Nina: I started with the canvas and sculpture and then to the street. Now, I’m back again doing sculptures and canvases….Maybe tomorrow I’ll change again or try other medium.

Art Asylum: Your subjects represent young girls with eyes wide open, Filled with vibrant life and jubilee can you explain the idea behind your “Aos Nossos Olhos” (to our eyes)?

Nina: For that exhibition, everyone can see different meanings, because of the title. Some just can see a sexy girl, others can see the same girl– like a dream girl…. I like playing with this. It depends on what your heart is full of; you will see different things and this title will have a different meaning. Everyone interprets it differently, there is no right way.

Art Asylum: Your works consist of elements such as Latex, Cloth, and Crochet to Swarovski Crystals, Are these elements used for aesthetic purposes only or are they used as a tool to help express the various themes in your work?

Nina: These things are what helped to influence my life, I used them when I was young doing hand crafts with my mother. Also this for gives a more real feeling to what I wanted to show, helps me to share my dream and my world better.


Art Asylum: There are hardly enough words to describe how beautiful and captivating your work is, I could go on but I am interested in understanding what the works mean to you?

Nina: More than you can imagine. I share some dreams I have, some places I imagine, something I have wanted…. My head is crazy to explain, there it too much inside

Art Asylum: As someone who communicates through a great use of symbols in your work giving importance to small insects as well as animals. Can you tell me a little about the ones that mean the most to you and why you use them in your art?

Nina: They are important in life, like us. And if you stop to look, they are much more intelligent than us, much more beautiful, Some can change the colors is seconds and back to the original color again… they are mystical, some can even fly, can you? I love them.

Art Asylum: What would you like to communicate as an artist to people when they see your work?

Nina: Just look deep in the painting and let go.


Art Asylum: Do the young girls in your paintings share any relation to yourself; or resemble any people in your life?

Nina: Of course some of them are a little of me and some are not.

Art Asylum: Your paintings are very vibrant and alive, what is your approach to color and is there a particular way in which you choose the eye color of your subjects?

Nina: Yes, I love vibrant colors and always I think about the colors of the eyes with the hair and skin, and also about the character’s personality.


Art Asylum: Do you consider yourself a graffiti / urban artist or a painter?
Is there a difference in your opinion?

Nina: I consider myself a lucky person because I make a living doing what I really love to do. I don’t know how you would label me, I don’t go by labels.

Art Asylum: What is one of your greatest experiences of being an artist?

Nina: I have gotten to see many countries, meet many different types of people, see different cultures, I have gained much life experience…. this is incredible.
Art Asylum: We took the time to have some of your fans participate in this interview and here’s what they asked…
Fan: why are all the characters in your paintings / sculptures girls?

Nina: I’m a girl, and when I try to draw a boy it comes out terrible, they look a girl too.

Fan: why are the eyes of your characters so large and far apart? Is there a specific reason for this?

Nina: There is not any specific reason, but I do love people that have big eyes. I have big eyes, my cat has big eyes….I look at the world through biiiigggg eyes.


Art Asylum: What can we expect from you in the next year, any gallery shows, upcoming projects etc..?

Nina: I don’t know, we will see what the future has in store. My next exhibition will be March 12 – April 7, 2010 at The Carmichael Gallery.

Thank you! – Nina Pandolfo

www.artasylumboston.com


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