Looking at Theresa Chromati’s paintings is a trippy experience. The swirling, bright colors vaguely make out the shape of a woman and have titles like “I Already Let That Shit Go (Moving On).” They’re often glittery and bright, and it’s fun to stare at them and try to figure out what is actually being depicted — what’s a hand, a nipple, or a nose. Chromati says her work deals with female emotions. She’s interested in the contrast between how you present to the world and who you are inside. That’s one reason why she finds inspiration in French clowns. “I found comfort in exploring their language and felt it was similar to what I was exploring already in my work,” she says. “Clowns present in this happy, smiley way, but there’s a sadistic energy about it and all these other layers of seduction and mystery.” We spoke with Chromati about Marvin Gaye, being afraid of the dark, and Oscar the Grouch.
What is your most used emoji? The upside-down smile.
If you could spend three months anywhere where would it be? Mexico.
If you had a superpower, what would it be? Traveling in alternate realities, and having access to what that is.
What is the best album ever made? Portishead’s Dummy.
What is your go-to karaoke song? “Distant Lover” by Marvin Gaye.
Who is a fictional character that you’d want to hang out with? Oscar the Grouch.
If you were a magazine, which magazine would you be? ’70s Ebony.
Jeans or sweats? Jeans.
What is something your social-media followers don’t know about you? That I’m afraid of the dark. I sleep with lights on.
What was the last website you looked at? I’ve been looking at sofas, so Hem.
If you could be outfitted by one designer for the rest of your life, who would it be? Jean Paul Gaultier.
What do you eat for breakfast? I drink coffee, sometimes I’ll have a parfait. Eating that early in the morning used to make me sick.
If you could only eat three things for the rest of your life, what would they be? Crab cakes, fried squash blossoms, and elderflower-lemon-meringue pie.
If you were a color, what color would you be? Green.
Theresa wears a Norma Kamali bodysuit, Hanan Sharifa pants, Lagos earring, and Versace sandals.