Interview with Shahla Rosa by Energy Art Movement
Interviewed by Giorgio Vaselli on October 12, 2008 – Energy Art Movement
Ms. Rosa’s work gave me the first impression of being troublingly incomprehensible. A trait of both the cheapest and the most ingenious works. As I kept immersing deeper and deeper in her imagery, I thought to have discovered the key to deciphering her works: her mindset. Her obsession with the chaotic subconscious continues to make her fly over irrational vistas, with elements that only make sense as a sum, in the mood and setting she assembles them.
Her recent series – the “André Breton Ideology” – reveals her intense imagination of late. It consists of paintings reminiscent of Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement”, both in their composition and their figurative elements. Although these images are not holistic but carnal, they also represent an apocalyptic vision, that of the mind’s chaotic progression into madness. Order and logic manifest in the chaotic depths of our subconscious, only where light shines from the heavens above, our consciousness.
How long have you been creating artwork?
I started learning art when I was only five or six years old. My father was an amateur painter and my first mentor. He introduced me smoothly to a galaxy of creation, and it is the most precious reason to be grateful to him forever. In elementary school as well as in high school, I was very popular for this reason. I used to copy people’s faces as portrait art, and for a while I had the reputation as a portrait artist, and made money out of it.
What media or style have you created in before, and for how long?
I’ve been working in the surrealist style (in oil on canvas) for the last 25 years of my life. Meanwhile I would like to work with charcoal on paper again in surrealist style. It pleased me to change the media once in a while, but the style has stayed the same. In my youth, I used to work in realism in both media (oil on canvas and charcoal).
How much of what you know in art, did you study in school? Did you attend university or any courses to learn art?
I would like to say, almost all of it. I spent 15 years of my youth in Europe studying art, a desire to do exactly what I was dreaming about. I attended the Kunst Academy in Düsseldorf, Germany for my art degree, and the Institute European in Florence, Italy for a degree in theatrical production. After coming back to the USA, I attended school for two more degrees in technical production and fashion design (costume and historical design) in southern California.
Did you have any major influence(s) which inspired you to begin creating?
Absolutely, there were four major individuals – geniuses and artists – who had the greatest influence in my life: Hieronymus Bosch, Federico Fellini, Dali, and André Breton. They injected an abnormal imagination unconsciously into my mind permanently when I was very young, which created a continuous inquisitive exploration, apparently striking in all aspects of my work even today.
It is one of the most revolutionary contribution to my surrealism, and the touchstone which gave my work its unique character and dominated my evolution in my paintings as an artist.
Those four individuals played such an important part in the Surrealist Movement. They proposed allegiance to folly, dreams, the incoherent, and the hyperbolic – briefly to all that is contrary to the general appearance of reality.
Do you like exploring other artists’ work? Who are your idols if any?
Oh yes! I love to explore other artists’ work with pleasure. It means boosting my mind, my imagination. It creates deepening of my visionary imagination, an inextinguishable fecundity of experiments and an enrichment of my technique, like food for my soul.
There are many artists’ work which I enjoy having around me, in any technique and media, yet of course my eyes unconsciously looking and searching for the surreal, which I have a major attraction for.
What qualities do you admire in an artwork?
Besides the brushwork in a purely textured way, perspective and color, I would like to say. How an artist dramatizes the psychological and social objectives with pictorial aspect, always used as a vehicle for the communication of ideas.
When I look at a surreal artwork, I would like to remain in suspense, or would try by all possible means to simulate madness. For a while, I would like to dedicate myself to a far more systematic revision of values, and an approach towards the unconscious, as the essential source of all art. I would like to exclude the rational and the logical, in favor of the irrational.
What does it mean for you to create? What motivates or inspires you?
Well, creating to me is a personal reflection of my inner side, to become the prototype, having kept intact all the reminiscences of the nursling’s paradises, from the erogenous to the melancholy characteristic of insurmountable intelligence. I reflect everything. There is no boundary to my creation, the moment I start creating, I become a free spirit, I am out of my skin-frame around me. This was the time I discovered Freud (The Interpretation of Dreams), which was and still is of major importance in my life.
The most casual act is subjected to agonizing self-analysis, sometimes going through tortures trying to decide whether what I am doing is confusing madness?!
My creation always links to an actual event. When I create, I literally give myself over in body and soul to painting, and to my philosophic research.
Creating for me, is to bring myself one step nearer to the means of externalizing my obsessions.
What do you wish to achieve in your work?
I would wish to achieve to be a purely surrealist artist, period. That’s my ultimate goal, whether it appears between vice or virtue.
As a surrealist artist, my fascination with all forms of aberration is essential to surrealist aims in my time and further in the future.
What are some criteria or standards you set for yourself?
Fortunately Surrealism doesn’t give you the standard limitation in any criteria, its purpose is pure irrationality, like in Freudian standards, or the theory of the Paranoiac-Critical Method.
As Dali in his book The Visible Woman described it:
“A spontaneous method of irrational knowledge based upon the critical and systematic objectification of delirious associations and interpretations.”
My criteria in Surrealism as André Breton described in his passionate quest: should be the equivalent of the “soul for soul’s sake”.
What are you methods of learning? Is your development conscious?
There is an irresistible pressure unconsciously which leads me to an increasing measure of ideas constantly, connecting my mind with all the fragmentary rediscovery of the beginnings, in view of the cloak of silence, in which my main characters and chief witnesses have chosen to wrap themselves around each other.
In this respect, I am hypersensitive to hidden appearances and counter-appearances, often seeing not only two or three images, but a sequence of images which is limited only by my mind’s capacity. So in these images they all share a common foundation of inventiveness.
I learned to unconsciously challenge materialists, to inquire into the more complex problem as to which of these images has the highest probability of existence, if the intervention of desire is taken into account.
What are some of your own favorite pieces, and why are you satisfied with them?
I actually do not have a favorite piece. I’m quite satisfied with all. Probably when the last one is finished, I become more preoccupied with it, because it’s the ultimate extract of my ideas, until I start a new one.
How does your work reach the public?
I’m part of many great websites which represent my works. The best is SurrealismNow.com, owned and managed by Keith Wigdor, as well as MySpace. In Europe, I have two gallery representatives (in Vienna and Paris), as well as selling prints.
How do you feel about being a member of our movement?
I believe your Movement is the most major part of surrealist ideology: unconsciously providing energy through creation, like some kind of automatic energy.
Automatism today still remains as the best known method of tapping the resource of energy movement of the unconscious. So I’m very honored to be part of it, and I would like to congratulate you, as the organizer of this movement, to discover this topic, and to try to spread the process through this movement.
Do you create art full-time? What else do you do or enjoy doing?
Yes, I do create full-time. It’s a persuasion that drives me from the atmosphere of crisis surrounding me, even though it’s always marked by internal and external controversy.
By creating full-time, for me means announcing the birth of surrealism, and eliminating some rival claims to the label, every day.
When I create a work of art (either painting, sculpture, or poetry) in a surrealistic form, I must explore a mental space outside the field of awareness, in a place where my consciousness and unconsciousness, meaning the possible and the impossible, become one. That’s why it is so important to me to be busy creating full-time, even though I don’t use any brushes.
In my spare time I write surrealistic poetry, another passion of mine. I like to do many other enjoyable activities around me, but these things keep me busy enough and give me enough inner joy.
What are some of your plans for the future regarding your art/life?
Doing just the same thing I do right now, on a much higher social level.
I would like to thank you for having me here, and being able to share my thoughts with you and others, and again congratulate you for bringing us together.