Ana Popescu takes joy in the everyday. Her art transforms a table of oranges or a neighbour’s shrubs into a covetable sight, using bold colours and bright light to give objects a second life in two dimensions. The illustrations of this Vienna-based artist are a revitalising tonic: the only blues here are cloudless skies and cool pools.
After her highly successful Homes series, Ana collaborated with Google, Soho House and Wrap, before her fascination with light and shadow guided her through residencies across the world. We caught up with Ana to hear about her vibrant style, love for David Hockney and learning to see beauty in the everyday.
How long have you been making art and what made you choose a creative career?
I studied printmaking and drawing at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna from 2008 to 2013, and decided to pursue a career in this field. Even if it sounds like a cliché, I have been drawing continuously since I was a kid, and I’ve always been fascinated by the different techniques.
How do you decide what medium you’re going to use for an illustration?
That depends on different factors, like the mood of the moment, the size of the idea, if I’m travelling at that moment, what aesthetic I have in mind. Usually it extends from which colours I want on the paper, so I’ll choose between acrylic paint, acrylic markers or oil pastels.
Your art is very precise, but also bold and colourful – it has a wonderful way of making ephemeral things feel solid. What do you think have been the greatest influences on your work?
It’s very difficult to make a complete list of what influences me! But I would say it’s a mix between artists like David Hockney and Alex Katz, lots of graphic novels, Japanese woodblock prints, architecture and cities in general. I am completely fascinated by the colours and light I can find in Tokyo while walking down the streets, but also by my surroundings here in Vienna.
You’re best known for your Homes series, which imagines pristine mid century villas. What is it that draws you to these kinds of spaces?
I’m a big fan of big empty spaces. There’s something fascinating about them that I can observe for a very long time, like looking at water for hours.
Where do you turn to when looking for inspiration, and how have you kept the creative juices flowing during the pandemic?
I like to discover interesting work by young artists on Instagram. I also take pictures of my surroundings, looking for details that catch my eye to keep in an archive and use later on. During the pandemic I tried to keep a certain flow; I really like having a routine from morning until evening, so I tried to preserve that.
Recently your art seems to have shifted focus from large spaces to smaller settings and everyday objects – especially oranges! What do you think has influenced this shift?
It’s difficult to describe what is more of an instinctive feeling than something planned. I am getting older and finally see the beauty in small everyday details! I am interested in the way small ephemeral scenes tell a story.
You have an impressive client list, but what would be your dream collaboration?
I would love to make designs for shirts! I started to paint by hand on linen shirts to experiment, so I would love to do a collaboration like that with a brand.
What are you currently working on?
Different things at the same time; some works about tennis courts, others about still life and oranges, plus some commissions. I was never good at focusing on just one thing!