Inspiration presents itself in many forms. For Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland-based artist Claudia Kogachi, it’s often been found relatively close to home, as she inserts herself and her loved ones into bold, cartoon-like works. For the Aotearoa Art Fair 2023, Claudia has taken a new approach, using paint and rug making to depict fantastical real and imagined scenes in her exhibition Sweet, Sweet Fantasy Baby. The result is a collection of heartwarming and playful pieces that are sure to delight.
What will you be presenting at Aotearoa Art Fair 2023?
I’m making my largest body of rug works. I’m working really hard on this show as the Aotearoa Art Fair is such a big deal that I want to make Jhana Millers (my gallerist) and my family proud. I’m excited for March as the works are grand but heartwarming and fun! There will be a few paintings too, and all the works will be framed by my girlfriend Josephine, who also puts in so much energy as she is a slight perfectionist. Overall, it will be one of the largest bodies of work I’ve made. I’ve put a lot of time and care into it, but have also had a lot of fun creating. They’re colourful and large, yet soft and very warm. They’ll hopefully make people smile and entice them to touch them – which I’ll encourage. I can’t give too much away, but overall, I’m very excited.
Your work tends to be quite personal. Is it hard to share that vulnerability with others?
My mum and I have always struggled with verbal communication and being generally open. I painted my first series at art school dedicated to her. The series highlighted our relationship, which was slightly turbulent at the time. I didn’t have the intention of the work helping our relationship, but was more focussed on being vulnerable and honest about it. In the end, the exhibition helped us both process a lot of things, and now we’re much closer. I find it easy to paint what I’m going through at the time. Maybe it’s because I find it easier to communicate through paintings/work than I do verbally. I think I’m getting better now though.
How do your friends and family feel about featuring in your work?
My mum is quite private, but she looks back at that series and laughs. She’s my biggest supporter and, lucky for me, has a good sense of humour. Josephine doesn’t mind if she features in my work. She does, however, charge a one percent fee per featured work! My obaachan [grandmother] is more on the shy side, especially if her hair rollers are painted... overall the work makes her laugh, so that’s a good sign.
I’m returning to Hawai‘i in May to complete a six-week artist residency at Aupuni Space in downtown Honolulu. Hawai‘i is such a special place to me, and to return with the intention of making works is so exciting. I studied at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, completing one year of my bachelor of fine arts in 2014/2015. I’m thrilled to return and see my old teachers who helped spark my joy in painting and weaving/rug making. The residency will be studio-based and include a lecture at the university and a public workshop. I’m also hoping to catch the start of the summer swell on the south side of O‘ahu, so a lot of surfing and swimming will be involved. My obaachan is happy that I’m returning too, as I’ll be able to visit her and show her my work in person, which she hasn’t seen in a while. Aupuni Space will also be exhibiting my work at the end of the residency, so I’m over the moon that I’ll have the chance to showcase my work to the wider arts community in Hawai‘i.
Aotearoa Art Fair
2-5 March 2023