Drawings from life
Zenaida Sengo talks about her art and moving to S.F.
It is possible that you have seen the figurative paintings of local artist Zanaida Sengo. Over the last few years, she has had exhibitions of her work at many local venues. Currently, the Chico State University graduate has a show up on the walls at The Upper Crust, and she recently dropped by the CN&R offices to discuss her art, her influences and her expectations for the future.
CN&R: Where are you from originally? Have you always been interested in art?
Sengo: I’m from Livermore, Calif. I’ve done [art] since I was a kid, drawn lots of pictures. It’s always been a big goal for me. I’ve always known that I was going to do something in art.
Were your parents supportive?
They always knew I was talented. Of course, being the more business-oriented type of people they are, they wanted me to go into some money-making [profession], like engineering or fashion design. So when I was younger, I always thought I’d do something like that. But the older I got, the more art became an expression of myself. I didn’t want to do it for anybody else. I wanted to do it for me.
You seem to specialize in nude figures, and many of your more successful pieces feature yourself.
My formal training was mostly with nudes. When I first got into drawing figures, I was my most convenient model. I was there to do the poses I wanted. It’s not always easy to find models although my friends are willing. But what I want to convey in my pieces I can most accurately get through using myself.
Rather than having to explain to a model?
Exactly. I like using myself because I have these predetermined images in my head. These images reflect my innermost feelings, and I think I portray them best. Also, people respond to my self-portraits. I get the biggest response to my self-portraits. When people want a painting of mine, they want a self-portrait.
Why do you think that is?
I guess when I paint myself there’s a really raw energy exposed.
Who were your major influences?
When it was clear I was going the figurative route—sort of a flat style, doesn’t have a lot of depth—my teachers introduced me to [the works of] Igon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. They’re both Austrian. They both were controversial in that they did very explicit drawings of females. Igon does lots of nude self-portraits, so it’s easy for me to identify with him. He’s definitely my favorite artist, and my greatest influence. My style is very similar to his. I was working the way I do before I had seen his work. But after seeing it, I’ve definitely been influenced.
You’re moving to S.F., to attend the Art Academy?
I’m going to get my MFA at the Academy. Hopefully, through the clout of the school and the art industry there, I’ll get a really good response and my art will take off. I love Chico. I love to share my art here because I like the community. But I want my art to take me somewhere. I want to make a living at it, so that I don’t have to do anything else.
A reception for Zenaida Sengo happens 6-8 p.m. Friday, July 12, at the Upper Crust Bakery, 130 Main St. in downtown Chico. Her show continues on display there through Wednesday, July 31.