Artist Lara Gastinger

Lara painter

As she paints, Lara painter is thinking about a number of things: how to capture the beauty of a leaf; how to convey an idea of the three-dimensionality of a stem, a root or a moss; the way in which a person can be both fragile and resilient. The result is lush, abstract paintings that teeter between figuration and abstraction.

While the work echoes Abstract Expressionism and even a form of Impressionism, it is essentially a reflection on the vicissitudes of vision and memory. In many of the paintings, the brushwork is fluid and deft. In others, the smearing of the surface suggests a more aggressively gestural style. In any case, the works are meditations on the tumultuous interplay between nature and civilization.

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When I visited her studio in downtown Charlottesville, Gastinger was bent over a sheet of paper in a sun-filled room. A jar of water, a handful of tiny brushes and a bright architect’s lamp orbited her, and the process was very deliberate.

Her interest in the natural world and its power to evoke memories and emotions is augmented by her experience as a journalist, documentary maker and singer. She is a classically trained pianist and has fulfilled a lifelong dream of singing soprano with a choir in South Korea. She has also written and self-produced a film about artists’ efforts to keep classical music alive. In addition to painting, she works in animation, writing, ceramics and the artist’s book.