The noted author, painter, and writer–who has had nine books published–invites us into her studio to talk about her career, her journey as an artist, and her upcoming projects
Paula Bonet (born 1980 in Villarreal, Spain) is a multidisciplinary artist who defies labels. Over the course of her career, she has worked with so many different techniques and styles that it is impossible to define her art in just a few words. She first received recognition for a style of drawing which she has now distanced herself from and says she no longer “trusts”. Moving away from that has enabled her to focus on what’s really important to her: finding her own identity.
To this date, Paula has had her work featured in nine books, half of which she also wrote. A graduate of fine art, Paula has a way of injecting her own life into every piece, whether it be a text, an engraving, or an oil painting.
Paula’s vibrant energy can be felt as soon as she opens the door to her studio, La Madriguera. Once inside, the passion with which she speaks about her work is felt in all of the different piece on display around you.
The illustrator who has never illustrated a book
Many often describe Paula Bonet as an illustrator, but the truth is that until this year, she had never illustrated a book. Just before summer, a Spanish translation of Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking” was published–a project which has filled Paula with great pride and joy. Whenever she joins a collaborative project like this, Paula says that it is of utmost importance to her that she makes it hers in some way.
That’s why it’s so easy to identify her pieces without needing to look for her signature. While few of Paula’s first drawings can be found in her current output of work, each and every one of her pieces channels her identity.
She insists that it was only at the age of 38 that she finally understood what it really meant to paint: to let the process take over and to never decide how the final image is going to look before touching the canvas. You can feel the confidence she has in her own creative process.
In every technique, she uncovers a part of herself
Paula explains how, depending on what she wants to communicate, she chooses one technique or another, and uncovers a bit of herself in each and every one. When she wanted to escape the immediacy of drawing, she tried oil painting. When she wanted to establish a more profound dialogue, she experimented with engraving.
For more challenging and delicate processes, she accepts that she has to hand over a part of her role as creator; how the final piece ends up is no longer in her control. She now says she “prefers making stains”, insisting that her work in which she uses a sort of staining technique are her best pieces, because of their impact and intensity.
Being an artist is a never-ending journey
Paula has reflected on her success that came out of nowhere and then disappeared again, the fame she received from a product she wasn't really satisfied with. For her, it’s essential that an artist recognizes the connection they have with their piece and its authenticity, and protect that from a world that wants to turn it into something for sale.
Being present in the now and being active in society has also helped her to better connect. Palau is grateful to feminist movements which have opened her eyes and helped her to publish works (“Rodents. Pregnant Body Without An Embryo”) that wouldn’t have been understood or given a chance in other environments.
She asserts with confidence that being an artist is a never-ending journey. Real success is to never stop painting, to turn creation into a way of life, and to appreciate its magic.