Ephemeral art: David Popa works quickly before his canvas melts

Coming up Cosmos Magazine #96, Petra Stock interviews land artist David Popa about his breathtaking works on ice, rock and soil.

Zero degrees is the perfect temperature for painting on ice. Too cold and any marks will freeze over; too warm and the ice will melt.

When the conditions are just right, land artist David Popa must work quickly.

“This is the day, its zero degrees, it’s perfect temperature… you can’t be making any mistakes, it’s like drawing with pen,” Popa told Cosmos.

For his Fractured series, Popa painted ice floes in southern Finland. 

The ice will often fracture and rupture in ways he can’t control. “You feel defeated because it’s cracking in half … but the reality is, that’s the beauty of it,” he says.

David Popa is a different kind of landscape artist. His large-scale images, often portraits, are painted directly onto ice, rock or soil using natural materials like charcoal or chalk.

Popa’s ephemeral earth frescoes are featured in “The art of the earth” in Cosmos Magazine #96.

With no binding agents to hold the colours, his completed artworks are captured momentarily by drone before they are washed or swept away by the elements. 

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Land artist David Popa / Credit: David Popa

When working on ice, Popa factors in other variables, like falling snow which conceals his charcoal markings. 

“And so it’s basically going from dark, and it’s just fading, it’s going deeper, and it’s just becoming lighter as the minutes go by.”

The work is physically and mentally taxing, and its freezing on the ice. Being based in Finland, once the work is finished and filmed, Popa says he’ll hop in the sauna.

“It’s euphoric,” he says.

Cosmos Magazine #96 is available now. Subscribe at comosmagazine.com and save up to $35.

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