Art and Plants, Sansevieria at the window

Art and Plants, Sansevieria at the window

Artist Studio - Maria Rapela
Sansevieria Serie Foto ©Maria Rapela

You are a plant lover and an art collector, especially of art that features plants. I am excited to share with you my new series of paintings inspired by sansevierias, also known as snake plants. I started this series in 2023 and I plan to continue working on it in 2024, until I feel satisfied with my exploration and expression.


This series has various sources of inspiration, which I have discovered along the way. First, I wanted to do something related to the color green and the concept of “plants”. I did not have a clear idea of what I was going to paint. Then I chose the sansevieria plant as my subject, because it has very interesting abstract shapes and I had one in my house. With that idea and that motif, I began the series. Then, as I advanced, I learned more things.


One thing I realized was that it took me a long time to feel at home in my house, and I spent many years trying to make it nice, comfortable and cozy. When I decided to buy some plants to beautify my house – during the pandemic period – it was a step towards feeling happier in my space.


Another thing I realized was that having plants in the house meant taking care of them, watering them, observing them, and having a routine, a responsibility, and a connection with other living beings, who depend on you and who make your house a more pleasant place. They are not pets, they are not children, they are plants.

Art and Plants, Sansevieria at the window
Art and Plants, Sansevieria at the window with terracota background, 2024 ©Maria Rapela / VG Bild

I did not start this series out of a purely technical or scientific interest in art and botany, because that would be dishonest. My technical drawing skills are not realistic at all, nor can I make realistic illustrations. My painting style is abstract neo-figurative. My training focused on the exploration and investigation of forms, in the search for strokes and colors that manifest themselves through matter. So this is the most “realistic” I have painted in a long time.


My interest in plants comes from a personal place, from wanting to explore what they mean to me at this stage of my life. I want to understand the dynamics that have brought plants into my life. I am not a fanatic collector of plants, nor do I have an obsession or a craze for them. I don’t have enough space to keep many plants.


However, when I visited my family in Costa Rica, I noticed that there were beautiful plants in every house or place I went to. Several friends gave me cuttings of their plants, and in some places I just took a few leaves or roots. One day I went to my father’s farm and he also gave me some plants, which I later brought to my mother’s house. My mother has a house and a garden where she can plant them. I wanted her to have more variety of plants in her garden, so she could appreciate the beauty of the different leaves, shapes, colors, and textures. The world is full of diverse and varied plants.

I wanted to give her nice things, because I live abroad and I’m not there all the time. I want her garden and her house to look nice and then she can tell me over the phone how the plants we planted together are doing. It’s like having a shared project, from a distance.


Those have been some of the reasons, but then there is also the painting aspect. I had never explored green colors in depth before. On the other hand, painting a motif repeatedly gave me some peace, as it paused the “non-exploration” of new forms and structures, and allowed me to focus on the colors and the thousands of possible combinations.


As a non-realistic artist, I faced the challenge of adding some realism to the scene as well, using such old techniques as light and shadow, which I am not used to in painting.


So it has been a process of exploring certain colors, looking for new color combinations, and trying to express this plant in an abstract-realistic or neo-figurative way. I have also given texture and materiality to the canvas. I have tried to be self-critical and not settle for the first results that come up. It is not always easy to complete a work.

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