Lena Viddo is a New York based artist, mother, and definition of a kick ass woman with her martial arts training. Her art is a mix like herself, captivating nature, mythology, and pop cultures. In our interview Lena shares with us her inspirations from “the great masters” and her determination to become one herself.
Name : Lena Viddo
Birthplace : I am half Colombian, half Swedish… a dichotomy from the beginning and surely to the end. Pushed and pulled between opposites.
Métier : I am an artist, experienced curator, mother, athlete and business woman. I try to transcend these titles and create new meanings for them. My passion as an artist is constantly at odds with the expectations of me as a mother and wife. I choose not to give up either, but instead become a minister of sorts, marrying them daily choosing to prioritize myself, my needs, passions dreams not as an act of compromise, but instead as one of innovation.
Sources of inspiration : I am forever inspired by my love for humanity, I draw inspiration from the Masters — not only the great painters, but also those of literature, film, music and other art forms. I find Mytholodgy a wellspring from which to reinvent from draw. There is no shortage – the animal kingdom, fashion, pop culture, plant medicine, pornography, current events, advertising campaigns and the list goes on…
Sources of motivation : What motivates me is the notion that daily life is a work of art in and of itself. Like Cezanne, I am comforted by routine and also inspired and humbled by daily life and its’ schedules. I attempt to squeeze the juice out of each day. Grit and determination drive me. I believe in hard work and have faith that through discipline I will continue to grow as an artist, delve deeper into my subject matter, improving my technique along the way. Where some women regard aging as something to fight against, I feel like as an artist it is an asset.
Favorite reads : I have so many, I can proudly say I am a Grandmaster reader… I listen to unabridged books during painting sessions. Painting is a lonely game. I spend endless hours in the studio alone with audio books as my companions. I just finished The Children’s Bible and thought that it was brilliant ~ a social critique hitting a little too close to home was incredible. Some of my all time faves are American Pastoral by Philip Roth, The Red and The Black by Stenndhal. The Idiot by Dostoevsky, Americannah by Chimamanda Ngozi everything by fellow compatriot, Garcia Marquez, especially A Hundred Years of Solitude. I love the Victorian classics, the Russians blow my mind. I guess I am a classical girl at heart. Thomas Hardy.
Favorite tunes : I’m very inspired by great lyricists like Leonard Cohen, Cat Stephens. And Nick Cave is one of my favorite song writers. I host events that feature electronic music and I love to abandon myself in the moment to the night. To the music, but what I truly love and am profoundly moved by are the great poets, and lyricists…
Favorite foods : Mexican street food es como mi preferido, my favorite. I love ribeye…. More importantly than the kind of food is how its made. Who made it. Where it comes from. I would rather have something made by someone I know then go to a restaurant and order food.
Beauty tips : Laughs*. I’ve never been one for makeup… but beauty tips. Sleep, processing our negative emotions and staying active with lots of movement marital arts and meditations..
Favorite ways to unwind : Martial arts and sports. Walking is my favorite, I can walk for hours. I’ve been doing martial arts for 26 years. I was pregnant with my first child and I was feeling very vulnerable living in New York City, it was a different city back then. I was living on the bowery, 1993, very sketchy. A friend of mine recommended training with Sabumnim, and I was hooked Fast forward 26 years later and I am still ther going strong.
Favorite part of living in NYC : The cultural mix. It is the most integrated city. I love my anonymity here. Also, it’s small and navegable… My mode of transport is often my bike and definitely if its under 3 miles I am going by foot. I love that NYC is a pedestrian town. It’s so good for the soul.
What gets you in a working flow : I wake up every morning, get my kid ready for school, I have a matcha and I do some cleaning as a form of meditation. Thats probably not very sexy but I love to put things in order. Then after I do a twenty minute meditation, I usually walk to the studio with my dog. It’s a two mile walk from my house. Then while I’m here [the studio] I’ll go for a run, martial arts class, I’ll teach a class, everyday I do a physical activity.
What are you working on now : At the moment, I am working on a portrait of Helen of Troy. In my painting she is portrayed as a black woman.
Favorite quote : “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
Photography : Olimpia Dior
Editor : Katya Bouazza Salva