Daria Zapala



Sonic Womb

Wire, Plaster, Clay and Acrylic paint on Side Table 4.3H x 13W x 11.4D Inches

Daria Zapala recently graduated from the Glasgow School of Art with a Masters in Letters in Painting. In some cases working in Sculpture, Daria explores the three dimensional presence of colour as a representation of sound. In addition to recent exhibitions at SaltSpace and WASPS, both in Glasgow, Daria has shown work at the Los Angeles Contemporary Art Museum and Shrine Gallery in New York. We spoke with her last month about  her work in general and some of her influences.


Butterbiggens :

I want to ask you about the wire sculptures, in your statement you compare them to  scores, and i can picture,  like, Iannis Xennakis or the futurists or something, these big sharp lines over staff notation


Daria Zapala :

Those were actually inspired by  music scores made by John Cage, or Cornelius Cardew amongst few more. all of the works in the portfolio were made to be show together like a musical composition. So there were paintings, sculptures, drawings and sound.

The relationship between the sculptures and paintings is the fact that I was trying to set up a painterly syntax to all the research I have done. And at the beginning it was hard for me to visualize the sound as an object. Hence I reached out to sculpture as it is 3D, to help me understand how then I can make the paintings. I decided to focus on sound in general and distinguish it from the idea of music. I focused on my research on sounds I would hear in my studio especially while I was painting.


There is a fairly wide range of how literal the depiction of sound is, the synthesizer cables could easily be functional objects, “real” modular synth cables. 



Yes, The synthesizer cables. It was the latest idea that I added to my work.  I was still trying to think how I can present the idea of sound to a viewer. And the cables were just perfect. Especially those that lost their function when they were inserted into a wall. Then they were treated as sculptural pieces. I wanted the wall to reverberate as well but unfortunately the space where I was showcasing my research did not allow it. So now, I am planning to have the works shown again, hopefully this year, and I want to make sure that this time all the parts would be presented the way I planned.

I still only licked the surface of the connection between the colour and sound and I think there is a whole new avenue to discover. I would love to work with a musician or a composer, as I do not know much about sound from that perspective. There was a German physicist Hermann Helmholtz who was a pioneer in the scientific study of human vision and audition

He discovered that sound values: timbre, pitch and loudness correspond to colour’s brightness, saturation and hue. I want to use his theory and perhaps look more into Josef Albers theory of colour, Paul Klee as well and chromatic forms.


P.D. Ouspensky wrote about specific chords representing specific colours, with Albers, its this set of exercises, that will provide different results depending on the artists interpretation, like a score



Well, that is a good question. Because colour and sound both work with frequencies. And those can be measured. And that too, chords can represent specific colours.

I also follow the steps of artists that work in a similar field like Victoria Morton, Gerhard Richter and Pat Steir. My research was partially inspired by Daphne Oram works and Margaret Watts Hughes


What  about your 3D modeling work, and how it influences your paintings?


Well, I did sculpture when I was studying for masters degree in Poland. That was masters in printmaking and multimedia. Just recently I have returned to using 3D in my creative practice. I think it came along with a love for painting and also conducting sound research. It helps me to think and execute some of my ideas better. sometimes is just easier to make a 3D object in physical world than to paint it. I developed a lot of interest in how I can use sculpture in my practice. I have been considering welding and making those small wire sculptures on a bigger scale


it must be helpful to have that metaphor of the digital space to think of scale?


It definitely goes together with painting, twins Also it comes to thinking about the space as a sound as well. John Cage has used that. I think more and more artists realize that music and art go hand in hand.


what was the last painting exhibit you’ve seen that made a big impression?


Definitely the Victoria Morton show at the Modern Institure, Airds Lane. It could have been in January. There was a show of the GSA students at the RGI Kelly Gallery in February. There was this guy Murray Young. His figurative paintings were really good.

Pat Steir has a show now at the Gagosian Rome Gallery, very nice works.Steir’s new show is influenced by John Cage’s works

There is a great wee show at the Hunterian as well, Flesh arranges itself differently.


ok, I also try to ask people, if there is an artist they know about who they think is under rated, or that they would like more people to know about. Which  is a similar question to the exhibition question. I mean, someone people think is bad, or someone who never really got a day in the sun, who you like a lot?



can it be someone from a past? I love Mary Cassatt painting.

she worked under Degas. I don’t think she has been appreciated.

I am looking forward to the Burrell collection to be open. I think that is due .they have some great paintings in their collection, Degas especially


 I like to ask if you’d share with me, a guilty pleasure, can you tell me something, could be art or something else, that you know is bad/stupid, but that you love regardless?


That question! I was thinking about that. And I think it will be books. I buy a lot of books and on many occasions too many at once to read them all,  have usually like 5 books on the go and then I buy another one that I found interesting. I wish it was more of me, like another Daria or two so we can catch up with painting and reading and doing research etc..


For more information see www.dariazapala.com/


Interview by Ben Duax, April 2022

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