Naomi Samara & Salvita De Corte

Naomi Samara & Salvita De Corte

Naomi Samara  and Salvita De Corte paint arbitrarily; fluid figures and fleeting moments. They find safe space in each other, the ability to express their emotions and the seeing of everyday shenanigans. Through this mental space, they bring it out alive in their latest exhibition, “Present Space”. We met them on a balmy January morning in Titik Dua, Ubud, in between their exhibition tour.

Aside from being women in front of canvas, Naomi and Salvita are jewelers, makers, writers, actresses - every bit of this and that.

How do you know each other?

Salvita: We met through our mutual friends at a dinner. I think it was probably around a year before my father’s gallery was closed. I was going through a rough time - my dad was sick. I don’t usually approach people so easily, but I said to her, “Hey, if you want to paint, let’s paint together”.

Naomi: It was so random actually

Salvita: Yeah. She texted me. Then, she came by almost every third of the night and we would paint for half an hour and have dinner. I think I needed a friend at that time and she needed someone; we were figuring out whether we were artists or not.

Naomi: It was super organic because we didn’t grow up with each other. That was also when we organically arranged our first exhibition before the gallery was closed.

Salvita: I asked Naomi if she would like to do an exhibition before it was closed. It was me, her, and some of my dad’s friends as well. For me, it was when I realize that maybe I can be a painter.

What does your home look like growing up?

Naomi: I grew up here in a big family of mixed marriages. My father is Javanese and my mother is British Manadonese, so it was funny to have both realities. One side was emotionally reversed, while the other side was very expressive. During the holidays, I spent time painting with my grandmother from my mom. She ended up living in Italy, so I would spend a lot of time with her over summer.

Salvita: I was born and raised in Bali - Double Six to be precise. My parents are both artists. But my dad was an artist in a sense that he knew that it was his way of life. While My mom always likes to make things; clothes, painting, and jewelry.
She’s like me. Maybe that was why I never realized that I wanted to be a painter - just as long as I was making things. It was a very free upbringing in a sense of creativity, like I remember there were paints everywhere in the house. It was never a big deal to draw on the walls. So it helped shape me to be an artist; my parents never sat down with me to show this is how you paint. I never painted with my father, but I always saw him painting. So for a long time in my head
everytime people said I was also an artist, I always like, “I don’t know if I deserved to be an artist” because my barometer was my dad. It was not until recently that I have my own flow. I don’t paint everyday, but if I don’t paint, I would be miserable.

What does your day look like?

Salvita: I wake up, go to the kitchen, then make my son snacks, breakfast, and lunch. So mornings are a bit busy. Then, I drop him off at school. I go back home and I go to the studio for an hour or two. So this two hour window after dropping
him at school, I spend time at my studio, alone. Because I don't work well at night, but I also can’t wake up too early. In my mind, ideally, I’d wake up at 4 in the morning where the studio is quiet. But then the next day, it’s like... enggak deh - not today. When I’m done with the studio, I proceed with the jewelry work. Then, paint a bit more or I’m out for lunch. Then my son’s back from school. Sometimes I’m busy with the jewelry line, other times I have more time to paint. I don’t have a rigid time, but I know I have to prepare for my son first thing in the morning.

Naomi: I’m woken up at 5 in the morning by my two dogs; I’m woken up at 5 in the morning by my two dogs; they’re insane. Because we don’t have a big space, so twice a day, they have to walk. By 5.30, I’m already up. I walk them for 30 minutes. Then if I manage, I get my yoga in, do my garden, and commit to the studio space - close to the house. I get my third cup of coffee on the way to the studio - so I try to make the most out of it. I’m working with oils right now. Although there is no ventilation there, but it’s nice to work on big pieces there. Before I shared a studio with my husband, but his pieces are very small and he is very organized.

What do you want to communicate through your art?

Salvita: In terms of communicating something, I want mine to spark some sort of feeling to anyone. I do not expect anyone to connect with my art. But if I can give that spark that means I bring any kind of feeling through my paintings and the energy that I put in there comes out.

What's your process like?

Salvita: I always carry a small sketchbook with me. Like in Jakarta, during sets, I would have it with me with the expectation that I would draw while waiting for my turns. Although in reality, there are just so many people that it’s rare for me to just sit and draw. But I think doodling or painting in small, journal size is where I can get personal. While for bigger pieces, I can learn more about myself - but
there’s always more connection in smaller pieces.

Naomi: Initially, the whole act of painting is a very introspective process as if you are trying to reach into yourself and find a tool that could help you with life. Maybe this is very cliché, but it’s like finding a connection with the world through what’s within you. It’s also observing - in a way, it’s an internal mirror to project something outside of yourself. I agree with Sal; that you start with a small gesture; you have time, the paper, the medium, and you get this moment.
That’s where the big pieces come because you see the ideas right in front of you. It was like how that can translate to a bigger space. But when you start making things, it changes again. Then you tear it down, crying, making it again - you do it back and forth. You realize that it’s not about you and you have minimal control. The rest is just an impulse. So the big piece takes more out of you in order for it to come.

Why is it the exhibition called “Present Space”?

Salvita: We were in a cafe and we were talking about space. Back in the day, mostly women, might have an artistic urge, but they don’t have the space to do; both physical space and a permission to do that, so they could never express
themselves. Then I was, “Oh you know a Virginia Woolf book, “A Room of One’s Own”?” . She said, “You mean this book?” and pulled out that book. So our exhibition was going to revolver around space.

Naomi: We were considering many things as the name of the space. “Space? In Space? On Space? Kevin Spacey?” . Present Space was also how we met. We had a space to create at Sal’s dad’s studio. I remember painting in bathrooms. As a creative, I think having a space is essential to.

As someone who grew up in Bali, what are your places to go
for bengong - spacing out?

Naomi: Museum Topeng. It’s just so nice - usually you don’t see anybody else. So it’s just so quiet. They also have the best collection.

Salvita: I like to be on an open beach... like Medewi.

Food to go in Bali?

Salvita: Rujak kuah pindang!

Naomi: Hmm..I grew up with really good Gado-gado. Anything with peanut sauce, so Gado-gado it is!

Naomi Samara & Salvita Salim De Corte

Written by Prinka Saraswati

Photos by Bella Elisebha

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