Arts and Culture

The Unseen Realm of Painting: with Isa Crespo

Jara Lopez Sastre Painting
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The Unseen Realm of Painting: with Isa Crespo

Isa Crespo’s work is contagious. Not in a COVID-ian way, but in a way that makes me want to stop writing this and start something with the canvas in my closet. A way that, somehow, makes me want to live more potently. Undefined forms and a theater of vivid color travel past the canvas’ borders. Lines abound with seemingly no end, no edges, and not a care for anything other than their movement captured eternal on the canvas. This is the joy and invitation of Crespo’s paintings.

Motherly Father (2023). 24" x 18". Oil Pastel on Paper.

Joy and mortality are not mutually exclusive for Crespo, who uses a variety of artistic mediums but chooses to paint with oils for their longevity.

“I paint for [the work] to live longer than me in this human world",

She explains, citing oil’s long drying time as something of a lifespan in its own rite. Death, life, and the beyond appear in our conversation not as opposing forces, but as the triangulating power behind her will to paint. As Crespo describes it, her work is a collaboration with “all the things I’m interacting with that I cannot perceive.” Included in these things are “visitors”, figures she repeatedly encounters while working - something most would call theme, or imagery, but which Crespo must, of course, infuse with a sense of aliveness. “Who are you? Why are you appearing a lot?” are Crespo’s ways of interrogating her “visitors” without ever questioning their right to be there. “I know I’m done with a painting because I feel I’ve seen it before … like, ‘I recognize you’.”

A Thought Exploding (2022). 9" x 12". Color Pencil on Paper.

A childhood in Quito, Ecuador meant life was always saturated in color. Of all the questions I’m prepared to ask Crespo, I am most excited to ask her favorite hue. “I got into this love for black. Not because I don’t love color, but because I love all the colors.” In fact, Crespo is not one to be limited in any form. During those early years in Quito, Crespo’s mother allowed her to paint on paper laid about her room so she could “paint freely, outside the lines … I’ve struggled a lot, all my life, with painting inside the lines.”

This [disdain] for borders, the either/or of the world around her, is perhaps what caused Crespo to recommit to color and life after a series of personal losses. The contrast of death during life has only made Crespo’s vision more vibrant:

“I want my artwork to make [people] feel alive … the fact that we’re constantly existing is insane."

Connect with Isa Crespo on: Instagram

Dualizando (2023). 24" x 18". Oil Pastel on Paper.