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Artist of the Week — Jill Mulleady

December 13, 2009 by · 3 comments

An interview with painter Jill Mulleady by Maya Kolarova

Jill Mulleady – “a whirlpool of complex emotions”

Jill Mulleady
Photo: Personal archive

    Jill Mulleady (born 1980 in Uruguay) is a painter based in London. She studied theatre at Jacques Lecoq School (2002-03), Paris and MA Fine Arts at Chelsea College of Arts, London (2007–09).

    Jill Mulleady’s paintings combine figuration and abstraction. Her interiors are fragmented spaces such as they would be in one’s memories, serving as boundaries between facts and fantasy. She explores themes like decadence, displacement and memory, in an attempt to create a tension between high culture and the everyday to collapse the past with the present.

    Her paintings depict human figures, irrational beliefs, myth, landscape, and wonder at the natural world – in order to speak vividly about our time.

    She has shown at galleries and museums in Buenos Aires, London and Hamburg and her paintings are part of several private collections.

Did you dream of becoming an artist when you were a child?

No, I never said to myself that I wanted to become an artist, I was always painting, and doing stuff like collages, videos, etc. and that was very much like my reality. My dream was to become an Olympic star in a leotard, like Nadia Comaneci.


Photo: Serendipity 30 x 30 cm., oil on linen, 2009

How did you become an artist? What was the thing that drew you to the brush? What was the thing or who was the person that influenced your decision?

As I said, I always painted, but before I decided to do it as my “métier,” I was working in the theatre. I used to paint & draw occasionally in those days because it helped me to understand the notion of “space.”

Magic carpet

Photo: Magic carpet 30 40 x 40 cm., oil on canvas, 2008

I was living in Paris and one day, I was with my mother in the bookshop of the Louvre. She showed me a book of Chinese painting; I opened it and saw an image of a kind of fresco made with red pigments. I don’t remember what the image was but it struck me with its beauty.


Photo: Selfportrait 100 x 100 cm., ink on silk, 2005

I felt dizzy & confused as if I was time-travelling. I went out and started crying for an hour. I said to my mother, “I want to paint, I need to go into there.” She bought me a canvas and some oil paints. That was six years ago and I never ever stopped painting since that day; and I never ever got back on stage.

Te amo

Photo: Te amo 150 x 300 cm., Oil on canvas, 2005

Do you regret becoming an artist?

I regret not becoming an Olympic star!

Sip my ocean

Photo: Sip my ocean 97 x 68 cm., Oil on linen, 2009

What is the role of art in the modern world?

I don’t know. It’s a huge question, I’d like to think it’s an “evolutionary-revolutionary power” as Joseph Beuys said, and I agree with Yoko Ono saying “artists are going to be the metronome of this society.”

Blue velvet

Photo: Blue velvet 97 x 68 cm., Oil on linen, 2009

What does it give to you personally?

I’m not sure, I change my mind a lot about it.

El viento me llevara

Photo: El viento me llevara 90 x 65 cm., Oil on linen, 2009

To what extent does your work reflect your personality?

I love nature, surrealist beauty and naked emotions. I think I’m curious and caustic by turns.

The Sea of Fertility

Photo: The Sea of Fertility 80 x 120 cm., Oil on wooden panel, 2009

How does the process of your work start – you have an idea and you recreate it on the canvas? Or maybe you just sit in front of the canvas and start painting? Does your imagination have a leading part in the process of your work?

I try to bring into the canvas something that exists already as a whirlpool of complex emotions. I work with memory, intuition and desires, so each painting is like a laboratory experiment where the result depends on how the materials (pigments, mediums, brushes) reacted to that specific nervous impulse.

Ocean of dreams

Photo: Ocean of dreams 30 x 40 cm, Oil on wooden panel, 2008

And when do you feel more satisfied – while you are creating a certain work or when it is completed?
I don’t really ever feel satisfied as I ‘m already thinking “next!”


Photo: Endogamia 100 x 150 cm., Oil on canvas, 2004

Does your work bring a smile to your face?

Well I smile just before starting, when I recognize the idea and every time I feel I’m following the right impulse.

The Wishing-Box

Photo: The Wishing-Box 90 x 90 cm., Oil on linen, 2009

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