For some it was love at first sight, for others it grew over time, but for every artist art continues to be a commitment that requires patience, creative work and consistency. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I decided to interview three extremely talented Gallerima artists – Elena Kiannu, Luís Felipe and Valentina Asadova – who let us inside the stories of how they met art for the first time, why they fell in love with it and what their relationship with art looks like today.
FALLING IN LOVE
For abstract painter Elena and watercolorist Luís, art was their young love and falling was instant. At just 6 years old, Luís found himself obsessively attracted to the work of an oil painting-teacher next door and convinced his mother to let him take art classes. His mother wasn’t artistic at all and didn’t quite understand the fascination but enrolled her son anyway and he continued to be taught until he was 12. “I often joke it was my first love and marriage”, Luís writes after describing his art as a need in life that can’t be separated from his identity.
Elena was 12 years old when she fell in love with art at first sight: “back then, art felt so mysterious to me, like some sort of a magical creature or wizard”. Captivated and intrigued, Elena was stubborn to find out how a painter so beautifully brought new forms and colors to life on a canvas. Naturally, she entered the local art school in her hometown to learn the craftsmanship and today she’s a wizard herself, using acrylics to paint breathtaking interpretations of natural elements: Blooming Lake. For Luís, the ability to transform a shape into a meaning fascinated him most.
For some, falling in love is a process that only fully blooms when you’re in complete alignment with yourself. Growing up with expectations and experiences that limit our self-exploration often blocks us from finding true love. In the case of our talented surrealist painter Valentina, falling in love with art was a journey that involved falling in love with herself first. After leaving art college feeling disconnected from her creativity, she found the courage to abandon ideas of perfection and normalcy and instead embrace her individuality in art, that’s when her love story began:
“On a long winter evening, I had a revolution of consciousness, I realized this was not my path at all. I allowed my work to be strange, sometimes dark and wrong. It was happiness.”
If you’ve ever been in love, you know there comes a time or two when the relationship is seriously tested. But struggles aren’t always destructive, in fact, they can build a stronger bond when met with compassion and creativity. There was a time when Elena left her art because of the pressure to choose a more socially acceptable profession in the big city, “it was a hard break up for me…”, she reflects.
Sometimes, though, it’s the art that doesn’t choose us. Rejection from galleries or lacking the necessary acknowledgement from our peers can often feel like unrequited love. Luís takes us through his experience, explaining that separation from art doesn’t always happen because you fall out of love:
“You struggle to feel reciprocated by it [art], and acknowledged… At these times I think about the vocation of being an artist. And often enough you find yourself a little down, thinking “is this the time when I use all of this and put it in my work? Or is it the time to accept that it might never happen”
Today, Luís has an exceptional display of groundbreaking realist paintings that portray the uninhibited interaction between human desire and sexuality, combining themes like eroticism and addiction. See, for example, his brilliant Erotic Illustration.
RECONCILIATION, PASSION & COMMITMENT
Reconnecting with love is all about refinding the creative flow through different techniques that keep your curiosity stimulated. Artists are great inspirations when it comes to passionately navigating a love life, as they’re always trying to see the world in new ways and reintroduce themselves to their art. In the creative mind, ordinary things can be portals to new dimensions: “I like to look at the coffee patterns in the cup, look at the bizarre weaving of branches, stains of old paint on the wall, frosty lace on the windows”, Valentina describes. Looking at Valentina’s painting Inner Eye, we see this extraordinary embodiment of an artist’s ability to revolutionize an ordinary reality into a peculiar alternative fantasy. The power of love is the power to transform.
According to Elena, passion in art relies on continuous experimentation with styles and techniques that encourages mutual growth. Changing together with her art is key to keeping the relationship in tune with the times. “For me, life is a journey that I want to walk hand-in-hand with art”, Elena writes. Similarly, Luís advises anyone who falls out of love with their art to reflect and reinvent themselves by indulging in various activities like studying, cooking, dressing up, making drinks and reading – that’s how you achieve new perspectives that can influence your art.
In the end, even if falling in love might be an instant thing, maintaining the love requires a healthy and consistent routine. For Luís, this involves scheduling working hours and visiting many exhibitions. For Elena it’s going to museums and challenging her comfort zone. For Valentina, it means keeping her eyes open to seeing something unique in what others usually look past.