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sábado, 12 de março de 2016

Paint Me a Perfume: Interview with Justyna Neyman

by: Serguey Borisov

It`s always so exciting when you meet someone who is just as possessed with perfumes as you are – but expresses it in a totally different way. I was really shocked when I saw the beautiful artworks of Justyna Neyman from Poland. The pictures ofChanel №19Angel Thierry MuglerChergui Serge Lutens were not advertising posters, but colorful moody worlds of their own, full of emotions. “How come the world does not know her talent?”, I asked myself and immediately made arrangements for this email interview, illustrated with her artworks. It happened to be that I was the last in a queue – many people know her works very well.
Sergey Borisov: What is your art education and background, could you tell us about it?
Justyna Neyman: I studied at the Graphics Faculty of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, and defended my diploma at a Book Illustration Workshop lead by the famous prof. Janusz Stanny. My works you can see on my own web-site and in my artistic diary blog.
Sergey BorisovWhat is your relationship with fragrances and when did it all start?
Justyna NeymanThe first perfume I encountered was Soir de Paris by Bourjois, which my Grandma and then my Mum had used. My Dad gave me Soir de Paris when I was a teen, it was a tiny bottle of extrait, now of course empty. I have kept it, there’s still some smell left inside. I was strongly impressed with the aromas I came across during my younger years – there was a launderette on my family home’s ground floor, with an enormous copper cauldron filled with a special gasoline used in dry cleaning. This launderette was run by my Granddad and always before school I went over to his place and he used to give me chocolate coated jellies, soaked in that smell of gasoline – maybe at that moment for the first time I experienced a strong interaction between two stimuli – olfactory and gustative. It wasn’t, though, a very pleasant experience; an odd combination of chocolate, fruity jelly and a chemical solvent.
Poison Christian Dior
Justina Neyman's work dedicated to Poison Christian Dior
At art school, the most fragrant class was our graphics workshop – zinc plates treated with acid, ink, lacquer, warmed up resin, denatured alcohol – each of these things had its specific, strong odor, creating together a mixture that's difficult to put in words. A sharp, technical, multi-layered smell that I will never forget.
Even now, whenever I have the opportunity, I like to visit the Academy, walk into the building and inhale deeply this so familiar smell of turpentine, paints, canvas and wood. Sadly, I have never been able to find this aroma in any perfume.
Sergey BorisovWhen was the first time you got the idea to connect painting and perfumes?
Justyna NeymanI’ve always used certain specific scents while painting. I saw quickly that both passions, perfumes and painting, started to complement each other. It was clear to me that I perceive perfumes as colors. However, the first consciously done painting as a perfume portrait, a scent’s depiction, was Chanel № 19 EDP. 
Once I visited a high quality perfumery boutique, and the owner, Mrs. Missala, knowing I’m a painter and I use scents in my creative work, gave me a sample of her own perfume, Qessence Missala, and asked me what I saw. My vision was so coherent with her idea that she suggested that I paint an illustration of this scent. It was 2011.
Two years later, in 2013, I was approached by the perfume boutique Mon Credo with a proposal for an aromatic exhibition of visualized perfumes. I chose to paint 10 paintings (read more here). At that time the term DUFTART was coined, which I still use. Finally, last year, I had a duftart exhibition in Barcelona.
An aromatic exhibition means that next to each painting I place a small, closed box containing a source of smell. Opening and closing this box allows smelling a chosen scent and at the very same look at the painting – to perceive the idea in two ways. Of course, closing this tiny box is necessary for the smells not to mingle with each other at the exhibition.
 
Sergey BorisovTell us more about your first perfume depicted. What was the idea for your Chanel №19 piece?
Justyna Neyman: As usual, the first thing I see is color, and then all the rest appears. Now, after a few years, I somehow automatically see the whole picture from the very beginning, due to synaesthesia.
Scent can be presented in two primary ways – the first way, which I call “poetic”, is based on an association with a situation, sometimes a face or a landscape. Like with taste, for instance, jam can be associated with childhood, tea at Grandma’s, summer evenings and so on. The second way is “describing” or, more specifically, seeing parameters by descriptive words – and again, like with taste, we can describe it as sweet, sour, velvety or hot.
Color, a specific solid block or lines, shapes, they all come to mind connected with a certain perfume. Recently, for example, I found a smell which “looked” like a diagonally cut cylinder, purple, slightly oblate, with the texture of play-doh, laying on an aquamarine, smooth bedding. Others can be a graphite grey cloud of blurry contour, or an orange colored, hard sphere, glowing, with tiny tentacles.
I’m now working on the first kind of vision – an association, keeping this association, however, to be in strict conformity with the colours, kinds of lines, silhouettes, splashes and, of course, the general feel of it. I’m also planning a visual realization of those other visions, abstract and free of associations.
Sergey Borisov: How do you choose the perfumes you want to use for an artwork?
Justyna NeymanThe first thing that matters is how articulate, how pronounced the smell is. I can’t imagine painting something bland, a perfume without character! Of course, I need to appreciate and like this smell enough to find it pleasant to “be in its company”. I like to paint perfumes which are well known – my online posts (which I sadly can not attach a smell to) start discussions, because my spectators know what perfumes I’m painting.
I'm planning another project for which I create scents for an exhibition. Of course it would have a limited number of participants. In today’s times, when one can learn almost everything online, an invitation to - and exclusively to - the real world seems to be a sensation, due to its elitist character. And online will not work, since people can only get my artistic message near my artwork, in immediate proximity of it.
 
Sergey BorisovHow many painted perfumes did you make? Which do you consider the best? Do you make author copies of them?
Justyna Neyman: I’ve painted so far about 40 “duftarts”, both to niche and mainstream perfumes, including the most revered classics. I believe my best “duftarts” were devoted to Poison Christian DiorHabanita MolinardDune Christian DiorShalimar GuerlainScent and Scent Intense от Costume NationalSamsara Guerlain and Opium Yves Saint-Laurent.
For my new project, I'm planning a duftart collection devoted to industrial, spacious, metallic and modern scents. Also I’m tempted to illustrate some of the “milestones” of perfumery – Bandit PiguetObsession Calvin KleinDolce Vita Christian Dior and others.
Author copies are used with prints (meaning, first prints, before the matrix wears down) – in workshop graphics. When it comes to paintings, the  photographs and descriptions of the creative process published at my blog Brulion Malarski are sufficient enough to me.
Sergey Borisov: How often do people guess the right perfume, just by looking at your pictures?
Justyna Neyman: People who are familiar with the perfumes I illustrate often say that my vision fits perfectly to the scent. I’ll put it this way – it never happened that somebody said that for them, it was a completely different story. At the exhibition, spectators told me they had an idea what scent to expect – and when they were reaching for a sample of the perfume they smiled and said: “That’s what I thought”.
Sergey BorisovCould you use perfumes as paint additives? Or overspray them with perfumes?

Justyna NeymanNo, never. First, because there’s no need. Always at the exhibition and while working on the paintings there's a scent carrier present. Besides, it’s essential that at the time of the duftarts’ presentation, perfumes/scents never mix with each other – it would cause a cacophony and spoil the effect. Sometimes I attach a perfume’s sample to the painting while shipping it to the owner and I give him-her a hint how to provide my duftart some scented surroundings. It’s easiest to fasten a piece of perfume soaked chamois or felt at a painting’s back.
Sergey BorisovPerfumes as well as ancient myths are known to be slow in development. Artists usually use the highlights of myths as the scene to show - what is your point of view and your style to show the essence of perfumes?
Justyna Neyman: Usually I don’t care about which scents are in fashion. Duftart, after all, isn’t a perfume advertisement. When I choose scents for my “duftarts”, I only go by if a given perfume moves my imagination in a legible way for spectators. I don’t think about what painting style I should use – the most important is my vision; I adjust colors, moods and means of expression to it. It’s obvious to me – I have an illustrator’s temperament (I got my diploma during an illustration workshop). My painting style is in my work’s outcome, not its beginning. You can reach for Art Deco with such scents as Mitsouko or Shalimar, of course. But there’s no such need when you deal with timeless perfumes.
Сергей Борисов: Do you have colleagues that also chose perfume painting?
Justyna Neyman: No, it’s a lonely job. I’m the only one, as far as I know. I contacted Miguel Matos regarding the Synesthesia project. I think that people who deal with painting and are interested in perfumery are never as much interested as I am. There are some visual artists who create their own perfumes but they don’t visualize somebody else’s scents. I’m in touch, though, with people who are passionate about perfumes and it is extremely crucial, inspiring and refreshing to me.

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