Artist

Kanica

Laura Vargas Llanas is a Madrid-based artist working under the creative name of “Kanica”. Laura’s background was rooted in art history,  training in the commercial art world before becoming a fine artist. She graduated from The American University of Paris and Christie’s Education London with a degree in History of Modern and Contemporary Art and has previously worked at Christie’s, Carpenters Workshop Gallery and various leading art institutions. It was this art historical background which led to her becoming an artist. 

She says: “While studying history of art I discovered the work of Anni Albers and the weavers of the Bauhaus School, with their belief that every craft object has the potential to be art. I then discovered the work of contemporary fibre artist Sheila Hicks and I was completely drawn to her transformations of textiles into works of art. I wanted to explore those notions myself and translate them into my own vocabulary, with a focus on decorative design.”

Laura is perhaps best-known for her hand-embroidered canvases that embrace and revisit artisanal weaving techniques with a strong design aesthetic. Each embroidered piece is handcrafted in her studio using natural and ethically sourced yarns such as merino and alpaca wool, cotton and jute. She has also more recently created a collection of ceramics which were inspired by lockdown and her Spanish heritage. These “Amphoras” are terracotta vases created in collaboration with an artisan in the South of Spain, which Laura then paints - using the vessel as her canvas.


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Kanica's Style

Laura often starts her creative process by taking inspiration from an object or photograph seen in an exhibition or book, or even from a piece of furniture. She then creates compositions and colour combinations in her sketchbook until she finds the correct balance. She says: “when I work on the embroidered pieces I need to think in terms of shapes and the relationship between them to create a composition, either a rhythmic or a more structured one. I always think in terms of shapes and positive and negative space. As the wool I use is naturally dyed, the colours are very rich and earthy, so I tend to play and mix the shades until I have a combination that I feel works well together.”

 

Her ceramics came about during the first lockdown in Spain. She abruptly found herself locked at home and ran out of canvases. She explains: “I had a couple of decorative amphoras in my terrace (something quite common in Spain, especially if you live in the south) and I decided to experiment with them and explore how I could adapt my practice into a different medium and format. These particular amphoras are called Cantaros - traditional objects used to keep, preserve or transport liquids.” After lockdown she found a local artisan to work with on a larger collection of these vessels.

 

“I feel that as creatives, we need to continue stepping outside of our comfort zones, pushing the definition of craftsmanship, design and art, merging disciplines and exploring different mediums to find what suits us best. During these uncertain times specially, I think it is important to be able to adapt to the environment that surrounds us, and experiment with what we have available. In this particular case, I am thrilled I had those cantaros at home!”

“The quote by artist Anni Albers, “Pure forms will never bore us”, is a consistent motto in my line of work. With every composition I seek to find a balance between rhythm and stillness, by combining texture, rudimentary shapes and colour.” -  Laura Vargas Llanas

Formas

"Formas is the Spanish name for shapes and the title of my debut collection. The quote by artist Anni Albers, "pure forms will never bore us”, is a consistent motto in my line of work. With every composition I seek to find a balance between rhythm and stillness, by combining texture, rudimentary shapes and colour." - Kanica, Formas

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