Spanish artist Gala Mirissa is a quintessential digital polyglot whose work spans mediums and software but whose subject matter often remains focused on the balance of feminine strength and fragility.
Working across still and animation, digital and physical, Gala continues to expand her practice into newer mediums like projection mapping. Most recently, she has contributed original artwork to actor Jennifer Esposito’s web3 film project, Fresh Kills.
We sat down over a nice, warm Google Doc to discuss the balance between her singular focus on femininity amid her otherwise restless artistic practice. Gala is based in Barcelona and Reus (Tarragona).
MP: The thing that stands out to me about your work is your focus on the female form and face while stylistically you are constantly experimenting. Can you speak to this aspect of your practice?
GM: Woman herself is my great inspiration. She is the sufferer of History and yet embodies the most beautiful physical features. Women are fragility and strength at the same time, and it is easy to explore the world of emotions with them. We have the power to grow and fly; we have light. This is especially what I reflect in my “Painful” collection.
I’m not talking about a melodramatic woman. Woman is a sufferer, yes, but she is a fighter. My women are heroines who want to break with social stereotypes and rules.
MP: Your work is an interesting conversation between classical conceptions of female beauty and women’s liberation. I’m thinking of the piece you use for your profile picture in particular. This dichotomy is present in your pieces that put the (often naked) female form front and center but with an obscuring style. Do you start a piece with a distortion in mind or does it come together before you start working?
GM: Oh, my logo piece is a gift from Naro Pinosa, a friend and collage artist I admire. I felt this image represents me, and Naro let me use it as my professional logo. The woman is a bit like me, a fighter with an angelic face. I do not allow anyone to harm me. And I join my logo with this quote:
The devil whispered in my ear:
– You are not strong enough to withstand the storm.
I whispered to the devil:
– I am the storm.
I’ve created sensual work, but they’re always empowered women or women who are fighting for empowerment.
They are not nudes in an objectifying sense; quite the opposite. I don’t like images that treat women like merchandise for men to enjoy, showing their pussies and boobs. My women are very sexual because they have the power to choose when to enjoy their own carnal desires.
But they show signs of invisibility, with hidden faces or bandages on their eyes and mouths. These women have been silenced, but they will fight for their empowerment
MP: How did you get involved with the Fresh Kills project? What was the conversation like to bring you on?
GM: Wow, it was fantastic because it was the first time that I felt that someone understood the thought behind my work.
Hollywood actress Jennifer Esposito contacted me along with producer Christine Crokos and Alexis Varouxakis, and they told me they wanted NFTs that would convey the pain felt by the silenced woman. They were looking for a female artist who conveyed pain, feeling, struggle, and empowerment, and I felt that this work was for me. I couldn’t refuse.
And Jennifer told me: What’s wrong with you? Why are you not as recognized as other artists? Is it because you are a woman and Spanish? And she told me that they were looking to support a woman who was not American, someone with fewer opportunities than other people. But they need an empowered, emotionally attuned woman, and they found this in me.
MP: Do you see a narrative thread that ties your work together? Or do you prefer to avoid editorializing?
GM: I do both. Some artworks travel alone without connections to other works. But my PAINFUL series is quite interconnected. I write poetry, very dramatic, very sexual, very emotional… I have several in a notebook that are actually linked to each work. At some point, I would like to edit them and join my works in a small book.
MP: What kind of work would you be making or doing if humanity had not yet invented computers or digital technology?
GM: I don’t know. I would surely be traveling the world. Years ago I traveled a lot in Brazil, Amazonia, around Manaus, Colombia, South Africa, etc. I don’t like very touristy places, I like unexploited nature and autonomous villages. I like to explore many aspects of different cultures, and I am interested in humble people. I feel uncomfortable in luxurious places where everything feels quite superficial.
I have a lot of travel photos, especially of children, animals, and rare insects, but we are talking about living without technology! So I think I would be a teacher.
MP: There are so many mediums that you work in: 3D, projection mapping, video loops, AI, morphing, photography, painting — how does the creative process look when you’ve got so much to choose from? Does a certain subject light up the 3D part of your brain whereas another draws you to paint? Or does the process start in the medium and you discover as you go along?
GM: I always say that I am in the process of finding myself and experimenting. Actually, I am addicted to all kinds of software, and I enjoy creating something new. For me, it’s like a game. I don’t methodically think about what I’m going to create and I don’t care if it’s going to be liked or not. I feel something special when I experience it.
My real ambitions are around lifelong learning, projection mapping, immersive digital art, and creating a space for immersive events.
MP: When it’s not the female form that you focus on, you typically work in an interesting form of portraiture, usually obscuring the face in some way but occasionally, you avoid obscuring features, opting instead to remain quite faithful to the face you’ve chosen. What is it that draws you to certain faces? What do you hope to communicate with them?
GM: When we think of the features of a beautiful face we always think of the eyes. But what really attracts me are the lips, chin, and neck. These are the three fundamental features that I need for the portrait to be elegant and subtle. And above all, I love ethnic features.
Sometimes, I like to hide the eyes because I intend to make the character invisible. I want the leading role to be in the subject’s mind, in what they’re thinking.
MP: With so many mediums and skillsets on evidence in your work, I’m curious to know: is there any that you haven’t tackled that you plan to?
GM: Yes, as I said before, I would like to go deeper into projection mapping and immersive digital art. I would like to acquire a large location in a central area and offer events. It’s a great investment. For now, I can’t do it, but it’s something I’m thinking about. It’s beautiful to think that people can enjoy your animated works inside the work itself, don’t you think?
MP: If you had to claim one influence as the most dominant in your work — whether it be a single artist, a movement, a time period, or something else entirely, like your favorite food — what would it be?
GM: I am obviously influenced by many artists and movements, but I don’t feel dominated by any one of them. I am very free in my own perceptions and concepts.
I am versatile, restless, cheerful, and optimistic. But if I have to choose some dominant feature, I would say the suffering, from a self-improvement perspective. That’s why my women are sufferers but little heroines at the same time. If I had to connect this with a movement, then it’s feminism.
I perceive art as a way of healing, a way to combat negativity and throw it out. I am sick, and art allows me to fly and travel with my mind, that is why I reflect pain and overcoming.
MP: Last question: Who are your art crushes?
GM: I’m so versatile that my idols are too, from Bill Domonkos to George Redhawk, through Frida Kahlo. Taking a big leap into the pre-Raphaelite period, I love Frederic Leighton. In fact, my favorite painting is “The Fisherman and the Siren.”
I think I have a small mixture of all of them. It’s inevitable to receive influences from other artists.