Mia Buonaiuto-Paintings

I want to take part in the conversation of narrative figural painting in a way that is sympathetic to both the viewer and subject.

The painting should show an experience, the physical representation of a mental state. In particular, I often think about that moment when you're on the cusp of waking and sleeping. When reality and dreams are still confused and what world is possible in those moments. I'm drawn to those awkward and distorted situations.

I want my work to be simultaneously narrative and abstracted. I want my subjects on the edge between wild and domestic, in a house or in nature, being one or several figures, dreaming or awake. Is it comforting and pretty or distressing and gory? I like that place in between.

I don't think about the figures as portraits but as a symbol for an idea. I want to present psychological narratives where things are just slightly off. One of the big reasons I paint the way I do is because of my background in forensics and criminal psychology. I often listen to serial killer interviews while I work. Being in touch with that very dark part of humanity is almost why I paint. I want to show the human aspects behind actions that may be considered abhorrent or dirty. My work as a courtroom sketch artist made me particularly sensitive to the humanity and views of both the victim and perpetrator.

There is a sexual aspect to many of my works. Turning the raw, private space of the subject into a public one.

I see the raw aspects of human nature being repressed in many cases. I want to explore how to bring that to the forefront without being shy. I find no virtue in being coy and want to explore that idea in a culture that encourages hiding more “animalistic” aspects of human nature.

I’m trying to find a balance between very formal and very conceptual. I want to strike a balance between making the figure an object in the composition and making it a narrative. Artists like Uglow, Brugel, and Balthus have been a big inspiration. Contemporary artists like Dana Schutz, Kara Walker, and John Currin have also played a large role in inspiration.

I combine observation, construction and invention in painting to make a world that is relatable but different from our expected visual world. I get a lot of inspiration from Absurdist and Magic Realism literature. Authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Eugène Ionesco are always on my mind. Fantasy can better often express our experience than a realistic portrait.