Una Ursprung

The #LockdownEditions are a Delphian-run initiative to support some of our favourite contemporary artists during these difficult and unprecedented times. Throughout the remainder of the quarantine measures, we will be releasing a new print each week, with all of the profits going directly to the artists themselves. This week, we’re excited to feature our eighth artist, Una Ursprung, to talk about artificial intervention, solidifying borders and moving away from the physical.

Sarah Forman: Tell us a bit about yourself and your practice.

Una Ursprung: Well, I’m from Taiwan, and I graduated from the Ecole Européenne Supérieure d’Art de Bretagne in France. I make works that are mostly painting, collage and photography, focusing on forests and natural scenery. Initially I chose a sort of floating line style, using ribbons of spray paint to represent the colorful effects of lighting, but in quiet, serene, beautiful settings: in the woods. Every touch of brush reflects how nature, and forest environments, make me think and feel. But because we mostly see spray paint in the city, its contrast in my paintings speaks to human intervention in the ecosystem. I try to find the balance between the ecological and the artificial on the canvas, just like how we as people need to find balance with our environment.

SF: Where are you based and how has the current global health crisis affected your day-to-day?

UU: I’m based in Kœstlach, a very small village in France near the border of Switzerland and Germany. Honestly, the lockdown situation hasn’t changed my day to day so much, because I have a very closed countryside life with my studio in my garden. My life is normally one of confinement.

But I can’t help but be affected by watching the global news. It makes me very sad, and I feel the presence of borders in a way that’s depressing. It’s not even so much border control itself, but the feeling of a real existence of a border that’s affected me. My husband and I used to often go to Basel, the nearest city, and we never really felt they were different countries. Now my husband can go to Switerland because he’s Swiss. I can’t.

At the beginning of the epidemic, I was in Taiwan and everyone was wearing masks, despite the fact that there were fewer than 10 cases. When I came back to France in February, there were none. It made me really anxious. I felt insecure going outside without a mask, but at the same time was afraid of discrimination if I went out with one. It just feels different. I also had two exhibitions suspended.

SF: In what ways have you changed how you work and/or what you’re working on?

UU: No, my subject matter is quite personal to me, and that hasn’t changed, but I’ve done some more small sized works and am exploring some new ideas.

SF: How have you seen your community affected by the current COVID-19 crisis? Inside and outside the art world?

UU: I think we could see the whole world is moving increasingly from the physical to virtual, which is also true of the art world. There are more and more online exhibitions, online stores, you can visit museums with VR headsets and also there’s the great idea that is the artist support pledge – where artists sell their works on social media and help other artists – this has really created immense support and fostered the strength of the community. Because of this, unknown artists like me may have more chances than before to be seen through platforms like Instagram. I think this has maybe changed some habits of the art market for good.

SF: Can you talk to us a little bit about this print and why you chose it?

UU: Actually, it was Benjamin who chose this painting to print, and I’m really happy with it. This painting, “COVID-Study for Plants #15”, was done at the beginning of the pandemic. I found I unconsciously wrote COVID across the flowers, and I only really realized it days after I finished the painting. I think it stands to be representative of my work at this period of time.

SF: Do you feel there’s a certain pressure to respond to what’s going on in the world right now? If so, what does that look like?

UU: I don’t really feel that kind of pressure. Maybe I’m a little worried about the unknown future, but I’m trying to keep positive and accept the change of the world, keep adopting myself into it.

SF: Have you seen initiatives taking place that really scare you? Excite you?

UU: It really scared me when there were not many strict measures against the virus early on in Europe, seeing most people’s negligence at the beginning of March. I think Delphian’s initiative is genius. I feel so lucky that Benjamin found me on Instagram, and I’m grateful to have been chosen to be a part of this.

Moley Talhaoui in conversation 

Lucia Ferrari in Conversation

Sunyoung Hwang in conversation

Matt Macken in conversation

Igor Moritz in conversation

Rob Tucker in Conversation 

B.D. Graft in conversation

For more from Una Ursprung, see her INSTAGRAM