“I am interested in contrasting opposing forces in my work: clean and modern with old and aged, man-made with organic, bright color with grey and brown tones, and flat and graphic elements with textured elements. I attempt to create beautiful scenes and visual arrangements out of seemingly contradictory elements. My work for Hijinks pushes the interplay between organic texture (in this case animal hair) and bright colors and graphic shapes that do not occur in nature.”
San Francisco illustrator and fine artist Lisa Congdon was raised in both upstate New York and Northern California where she grew to love the trees and animals that surrounded her. That love is now expressed most intensely through her paintings and drawings. Lisa comes from a family of creative people and has been making things with her hands since she was a little girl, but she did not begin painting until she was 33 years old. Nine years later, it is the most significant part of her life and livelihood. Lisa is entirely self-taught. When she is not painting and drawing, she likes to collect old and unusual things, play with her chihuahua Wilfredo and spend time in the great outdoors with her partner, Clay Lauren.
My latest body of work, Boreas (named for the god of the north wind and winter), evolved out of an obsession with the beauty of the Icelandic landscape. This began after I watched Heima, a documentary on the Icelandic pop group Sigur Rós. The documentary follows the band as they tour through their own homeland, holding impromptu concerts across their countryside. The film documents the stunning raw beauty of Iceland, its rock formations, mountains and valleys. My interest in countries with proximity to the arctic grew. I began researching, painting and drawing the people, landscapes, animals and folk art of other Nordic countries like Denmark, Norway and Sweden, along with iceberg formations in the Arctic Ocean. For years I'd been captivated by the more recent mid-century design from Nordic countries which is a heavy influence in my illustration work. I found myself newly immersed in older traditions and cultures, like the Sami, an arctic indigenous people who have inhabited northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia since prehistoric times. My discovery of the Sami led me to the exquisite folk-patterned textile work of the Scandinavian and Eastern European countries, and I began reinterpreting these patterns in much of my paintings and drawings. My works are not intended to be realistic snapshots of any period of time, natural setting or people. Instead, I have drawn from a rich array of Nordic landscapes and cultures to create narrative works that cause the viewer to question time and place.