di Claudia Demitri
They say that every artist leaves a piece of their soul in their works. Do you agree? How so?
"I absolutely believe that! In my studio, when all the circumstances are just so; the lighting, the canvas, the colours, the music, the mood, my mind becomes still and my personality, my ego, rests. And then, at that moment the brushes take over, and art becomes a gift. When art flows from a source which is unencumbered by mundane thoughts, soul flows into the piece. I recall this quote by T.E. Eliot (an English poet/playwrite): 'The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.' I am often asked, 'Why are your paintings so sad?' Perhaps because there is much sadness within me. An aloneness, which I no longer fight. I’ve learned to embrace my sadness, allowed it time to create. Sadness is cathartic for me, and hopefully for those who pause to engage with my pieces. I now understand the beauty of sadness. Without sadness how can one fully experience joy? Viva la Vita was born of immense grief at the loss of two dear family members, and yet, it is full of life. Its chaotic colours and textures were created in a frenzy of tears and angst following a funeral. Ripping into old canvases and paper palettes to create the collage was cathartic. I swear there are tears within the original work, as well as joy. Even in the face of loss, one must LIVE life!"
Is passion for art part of your family history?
"When I read this question, a flood of memories washed over me. I recall my father doodling faces, which is for me, a beautiful memory of him. I believe he was a closet artist; however, the practicality of raising a family did not allow him the time to pursue his creativity. When I was young, you’d find me colouring and creating books. My images were made out of co.ee. I would dip my fingers in cold espresso and doodle, I loved how the paper would change its textures, and today I do the same with paint and other mediums."
Did you study art?
"As a teenager, I wanted nothing more than to study art, but my interest in art went unnoticed. I remember walking past the art studio in high school and peering in. The students were sketching a live model. At that moment I fell in love with art but, unfortunately, I was too afraid even to try. I assumed that I could not draw. I studied art through life; my every vacation was centered around attending galleries. I would go on my own and spend hours before a single painting. When I visited Florence, I spent most of my visit weeping before works of art! When I saw Michelangelo’s David for the first time, I lost my speech and became disoriented. I thought I was experiencing an anxiety attack, only to find out later on that I was su.ering what is known as the Florence syndrome a real condition which occurs to some individuals when exposed to objects or phenomena of great beauty. I believe I have studied art through all of my senses."
Can you elaborate the use of broken glasses and dishes in your work? What other “unique” materials do you use?
"I have a deep appreciation of 'things that are broken'. There is a centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold. The process is called 'Kintsugi' which translates as ‘golden joinery.’ Philosophically, the Japanese see these breaks as part of the life of the object, and so they celebrate its fractures and imperfections instead of hiding or disguising them, often making the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original. I like to use glass and broken plates, beads, paper, marble dust, things that would otherwise be thrown into landfills. I love Leonard Cohen’s line: 'There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.' I imagine that my appreciation of broken glass is a metaphor for my life, I believe we are all broken in one way or another, and rather than disguising it why not bring it into the light to heal, to repair. Plus, I just love the sound of breaking glass!"
How would you describe your works?
"I love being in my studio creating. I’m not sure what style I best fit into at the moment; my work is very eclectic. I’m currently in love with mixed media. I love faces as well as abstract images, and sometimes I like to combine them because we are like prisms of light, ever- evolving, ever-changing. I especially love to paint women, to celebrate women, for women have been repressed far too long. In most of my paintings of women, you’ll find them adorned with exotic head garments. We are all worthy of crowning glory. We are all Czarinas."
(In the picture, the painting "Viva la vita")