Stella Im Hultberg’s paintings are conceived in varying combinations of ink, watercolor, and oils on paper, wood and canvas. Portraying women in easy, flowing lines with soft hues, Stella's portraits transcend the typical critiques of feminine beauty inherent in today’s self conscious society.
As one of the artists participating in the 'Femme Fatale' show opening February 25th, we had a chat with this unique artist. Here Stella talks about how she 'lucked out' as an artist, the symbolism behind her subjects' hair and why he's so inspired by the female figure.
You’re work centers around the mysterious intricacies of feminine allure. What about female beauty do you find so intriguing and inspiring?
In all, I’m interested in people/humans in general, and their varying conditions, physiology and psychology. Women tend to be my vessel of choice to convey emotions, probably because I am one and can relate to the world and other people through them more.
Plus, there’s something more multidimensional, in a way, about women, with all the changes they go through their lifetime, at different stages of their life (such as motherhood) and reincarnating several times over… generally speaking, that is.
In many of your works, the subject’s hair is given the same amount of detail and focus as their visage. Is there an underlying symbolism behind this?
The draw of hair, for me, is the fact that it’s a part of you, a part that grows from you, that you can manipulate to a certain extent, but at the same time have no control over – the way and the speed at which it grows, it’s as if it’s got a mind of its own. In that sense, hair feels symbolic of a part of yourself that you want to run away and hide from, but also something comforting that you can hide behind from the world.
Sometimes maybe even representing the internal maze of a mind.
After studying Industrial Design and working many years as a product designer, you stated to have ‘serendipitously fallen into the art world’. Tell us about the fortuitous moment that led to your art career.
It all sort of happened organically so I’m not sure if it’s much of a story. I used to have a full time job in California, but after moving out to NYC, I mostly freelanced and drew for fun on the side. I posted some results online, on my blog and some user galleries on art sites (like fecalface.com), just as a self-motivation. Then I got asked to put a couple pieces in a show that Vice magazine was sponsoring at what is now LeBasse Projects in Los Angeles – that’s when many currently established galleries newly open and recruiting artists for their group shows, so I just lucked out. It just went from there, until I got enough shows and sales so I couldn’t take on design jobs!
If you could hang only one artwork from art history in your home or studio, what would it be and why?
Oh this is just cruel… I almost don’t want to have any at home because I don’t want to have to choose. But I wouldn’t mind having a Schiele figure drawing or a Klimt, or a Goya piece in the house. Actually I really can’t choose. Sorry!
Tell us something about yourself we wouldn’t necessarily know.
Maybe you would know this already - My last name “Im” (reads like Kim without the K) means “in the” in german. Also one of the shortest words & vowel/consonant combination I hear/see mispronounced (as “I am”) or spelled (as In or IM).
If I were to spend the day with Stella what could I expect?
Probably a lot of eating or talking about food. And art, too, I’m sure.
And some bike riding… to get to somewhere to eat, most likely!