Bianca Fields, Formal Games of Painting

by Andy John Mendosa

Bianca Fields is a contemporary painter from cleveland, oh, currently living and based in kansas city, mo. field's work introduces a manifestation of her perceived imagination and material sensibilities within the paint itself. she often pulls her source of imagination from the expression of the childhood cartoon world, seeking to create visual noise and tension within her paintings. her work has been exhibited at ruttkowski68 in paris, france, as well as bellevue arts museum in seattle,wa.

How would you describe your work?

I tend to describe my work as an almost guttural response to pop culture, and that best fits for some of the formal choices that I make, but during the pandemic it’s been more of a guttural response to my day to day experiences. It’s become a little more about the self. Being disgusted with one’s self, being familiar with yourself and your body and being disgusted by that. 

Does that have a lot to do with the texture of paintings? 

Yeah, the layers, the wet into wet, and the happy accidents that occur in my work kind of speak to that. I like to think it shows a little bit of naivety and just vulnerability, combined with aggression. It’s willing to be open and true to itself in what it looks like in the process but also vulnerable. 

What’s the balance between improvisation and planning then?

There really is no formula or plan I think in my work, that’s where the guttural response term I use comes into play, it’s a little bit of a haptic immediate process. I like to think about having fun in the actual experience of creating a work, and that relationship between me and the work. It’s like looking in the mirror and having a conversation with one’s self. Not getting lost in the idea of the final result but just focusing on the experience of making it basically.  I find satisfaction in the process. While I’m making the work is the most exciting and fascinating part of it. 

Is it an extension of your feelings, like, do you come back to it after it’s done and remember how you felt or is it different? 

No, it varies. It’s hard to be specific about intuitive work. This year I’ve developed new things and discoveries in my work, each painting is doing the same thing over and over again, and I’m coming up with different formulas to get to that sort of frequency each and every time.

So like a painting ‘mantra’ or something?

Yeah, it’s fun for me to play these formal games that almost kind of feel like distracting the viewer in a way that lures them in and makes them feel compelled by the work; thinking it’s funny or inviting or something of that sort. But to me, it’s about itching a scratch. Like if someone is texting and calling me a thousand times and I have so much anxiety I will literally make a painting about that. I’ll use the literal parameters of what happened, maybe a telephone or  buttons, and incorporate into the overall feeling of anxiety. It’s always selfish, it’s always about me. When they’re being viewed I would never have that incorporated into the caption of the work. 

Because it’s personal? 

No not because it’s personal because it’s unnecessary. 

You said your work is based around intuition, do you ever have to catch yourself from being too mindful? 

Yeah, I think it’s my knowledge of color theory and academia, understanding the conventions of paintings. There’s a lot of stuff I have to unlearn, now I’m trying to make the work more naive. If I see too many complementary colors happening then that’s when I’ll take a coat of color such as pink and annoy the shit out of the cohesiveness of it. 

Art school made you too mindful of a process you try to navigate intuitively?

Yeah and in art school it’s super annoying because you get applauded for it. When too many things make sense in a piece of work, people start fucking up the true idea of beauty I think. 

It becomes too contrived? 

Yeah, I try to be honest with myself in how I define beauty in my work. Making sense in terms of color and composition could be bad. 

What inspires your work?

Music inspires my impetus to make art more than it actually does the work. I like vintage cartoons, the weird qualities in mood and rhythm. Like, there’s a beat and rhythm in the flowers and the grass and the broomstick, they all start dancing and wobbling together in sync. Moments like that I enjoy in my work. It becomes a whole entire world and everything that exists in that universe comes together and they have a mind of their own. There’s certain rules to that world and if you were to go into that world what would it look like and what would the sound be like. Is it muted, is it chaotic? But in general I’m a little scatter-brained with inspirations.

Is the guttural thing an extension of who you are as a person or just a technique in painting? 

Well overall I’m a very energetic, athletic person, and people use that word athleticism when they talk about me in the studio. But art being embedded in my identity makes me a bit more shy and patient, and it’s ironic because my works don’t appear that way. I’m still confronted by the surface and dealing with painting as a medium rather than the meaning of the work. 

Do you paint violently and veracity and does that translate to everyday life? 

No. The way I approach a painting does not mirror how I experience daily life. 

So what is an extension of? 

Well, it is an extension in so much as I want them to be gross, confrontational, goopy grabs for attention. Self portraits of me or my feelings. It’s a really conceptual thing, but when I look at them and they’re goopy and layered, it’s a self portrait in so much as it’s open and vulnerable and grotesque. 

Have you heard of Joyce Pensato?


I really resonate with something she said which is “everything is real”, the meaning of her work, the authority of her work, the way she was able to spiritually align herself with her work, and separate herself from her works after the experience of making them. I think that quote is saying everything is real, everything references the real, and the real can be gross and scary. I feel that way with my work, the closer to the real it feels, the more intense it gets and almost simultaneously beautiful it becomes as well. The more they’re pushed, the heavier that they are, the more grotesque, human-like, or spiritual they are, the more it takes on a force of its own and becomes more powerful than you. 

I feel like I’m at my BFA again [laughs] 

Do you feel like you’ve come to know yourself more because of painting? 

Yeah, I definitely know myself more because of painting. For example, I spend a lot of time obsessing over little details in music and toys or something. I have little toy collectibles in my house that make weird noises. 

You like the craftmanship of them? 

In a way yeah, but it’s not knowing more about stuff but having a private understanding of why things make me laugh or bring me joy. Like why a slide-whistle makes me laugh.

You can find Bianca's work on her website