Interview: Italian Artist Karma Chodon

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BUSAN, South Korea – In November, Painted Chair Gallery cafe in Busan will host an exhibition of the work from Italian artist, Maria Vittoria Bargero, also known by her “nom de guerre” Karma Chodon. Hailing from Torino in northern Italy, where she studied art at the Liceo Artistico Vittorio Veneto, Karma Chodon has lived in a variety of locales around the world such as Amsterdam, London, New Delhi, with Busan being “home” for the last three years.

Haps had a chance to talk with her about her about her work, her influences and her upcoming show “Sensi in Solo”.  



What does Sensi in Solo mean to you?

These are my latest works, Sensi is the Italian name for feelings. In this exhibition I am materializing the feelings I have regarding life, using them as inspiration, for example: the feelings I have when I look at a praying person, the strength that comes from the context in which she came from, the goodness coming from her is the ability to overcome obstacles despite what is happening in her life. I like to talk of things that can be interpreted in a personal way. All of us have a different story to tell, therefore I would like people to relate with my works in a personal and positive way. And Solo is quite simply because I am doing this as a solo exhibition. [Laughs]

What does art mean to you?

Well that is a very broad question to answer. Art to me is the love for life in every manifestation possible. Everything that surrounds us has an artistic side and it is special to observe or to live. Everybody is an artist in the moment and is able to materialize something with love, beauty and creativity. For me art, strictly speaking, is the ability of an artist to give his or her interpretation of the way they look at life. But more important it is the ability to make somebody stop and appreciate his or her work. I think that in the moment somebody creates something visual that we like or tell us something, this becomes part of us. Some artists  are able to create paintings or some pictures that stay in our memories and remind us of the beauty of life.

Which artists most influence your work?

The range of artists that influence my work really vary. I am inspired and admire artists such as Giotto, Botticelli, Toulouse Lautrec, Klimt, Vincent Van Gogh, Séraphine de Senlis, Gauguin, but also contemporary ones from Andy Warhol, to Geert Jan Jansen, who I had the pleasure to meet personally last year. My work is also influenced by photography as well, such as Robert Doisenau, Ed van der Elsken, Erwin Olaf, or the classical Helmut Newton. Also Julia M. Cameron portraits are a great source of inspiration to me. Let’s say that the style of photography mixed with a cartoonist touch characterized some of my portraits and different works in acrylic

What do you mean by “cartoonist touch.”

I say “cartoonist touch” because I also admire the way cartoonist such as Milo Manara or Guido Crepax  are, in two completely different ways, able to draw their women and create their stories.

What inspires you most in your paintings?

Probably what inspires me the most is the love for life, hidden in the different angles of the day. Generally, it is the beauty manifested in the colors of nature, in a face, in a flower or in a sunset. Beauty has different forms so my subjects are also constantly different and my work is a constant work in progress. I love what Roberto Benigni said, “Laugh even if the world is collapsing on you, continue to smile and laugh. There is someone who lives for your smile and somebody else will be envious of you when they will realize they couldn't stop it.”

What do you enjoy painting most?

That’s the question I hear most; it makes me smile. What I paint can vary; sometimes I love to paint faces trying to put on the canvas the intensity and the expression of the soul through the eyes. Sometimes, I just combine different techniques. From one thing comes another and I have another message to relate, to materialize. Everything I paint, or, I would prefer to say, create, has a meaning.

I also have a lot of commissioned work doing portraits of children. There are also certain clients that ask me to create paintings from the ideas in their mind. I love to work like that.

Is there an overall message you try to give through your work?

Generally, my aim is to be able to give messages of strength, love, impartiality, good feelings. I love, when somebody looks at my paintings, and they get a positive, warm, earthly message. I do not like to open the “black box” side of life. Personally I think we live in a society growing more and more detached from “mother heart”, life is very demanding and tends to absorb people’s energy. We are bombarded with negativity much of the time, so I love when people look at my paintings, in whatever situation they are in, and they smile. It is is by far, my greatest reward.

I belong to the world not to a single place therefore my works are a mixture of something I collected along the way. The name I give to all of my work is “Soul on Canvas” and it says everything about my vision of life.  


You can see Karma Chodon’s exhibition at Painted Chair Galley café in Busan from the 10th Of November through 10th of December.

If you would like to learn more about her and her paintings, you can visit her website “Soul on Canvas” here.


Photos by Nigel Callinan


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