One of the most inspirational female artists around today, Shahla Rosa is a contemporary surrealist artist whose work is truly magical. Rosa has been working in the surrealist style for the last 25 years and finds herself inspired by some of the greatest artists of the Surrealist Movement that began in the 1920’s. Artists like André Breton, Salvador Dali, Frederico Fellini and Hieronymus Bosch. Working mainly with Oil on Canvas, Rosa’s work really brings painting to life. She won several national prizes in her teenage years and this recognition of her talent inspired her to pursue a career in the world of art.
Rosa was passionate about art from early on in her childhood. Her father, an amateur painter, began mentoring her at the tender age of just five. Passing on his skills and techniques to her and introducing her to ‘a galaxy of creation’. She spent the rest of her youth studying art in Europe, attending both the Kunst Academy in Düsseldorf and the Institute European in Florence. Rosa later returned to Southern California to study for two more degrees, in Technical Production and Fashion Design.
Rosa’s work is very typical of the Surrealist Movement. Her paintings are intricate and detailed with unexpected juxtapositions and they have a dreamy, hallucinatory quality to them. Rosa also writes surrealist poetry in her spare time, but her true love and favourite means of expression will always be painting. She believes the source of all creation is pure consciousness. Attempting to free the unconscious and present it in the moment. Her art is a manifestation of the mind, the exploration of a dream world. It brings the subconscious into reality in order to establish a relationship between the two. By stepping into the field of the unknown, Rosa’s work challenges people on both a conscious and subconscious level. Successfully bringing one of the most dominant and influential art movements forwards into the 21st century.
Words by Coral Andrews
FAULT: Which artists do you admire most? Do you take inspiration from non-surrealist artists?
Shahla: Hieronymus Bosch, was the first artist I started to know, as in my study period, I always admired his vigorous imagination on a period of history, that they would have called him insane, my admiration still goes towards him, only, I don’t believe up to now anybody can take his place. His work and philosophy of his art is a Marvellous and unique. Although in today’s society we have great visionary and surrealist artists, and I go through their art works with pleasure, yet the sublime details of Hieronymus artwork, is, still like all souls in my mind naked and it looks like a monumental setting given to the symbols of the passion.
Later, when I became familiar with Salvador Dali, he was added to my very short list, mostly again for his courage and the excellent execution of his technique. Federico Fellini was the greatest director in his time and his admirable movies up to now, which left immense intense influences on today’s movie makers. I enjoy looking at any kind of art work from traditional to pop art, they boost my imagination and it’s the best way to get to know the artists who created them.
FAULT: What inspires you to create your artwork?
Shahla: Many subjects, many elements, selected arbitrarily with separate identity, which can be interpreted by bringing them together, create a movement steadily from the abstract towards the concrete.
In this case I’m witnessing a vigorous stirring of the thought process becoming infinitely inductive and extensible, rebelling against all the odds, and like as unexpected way carrying the strong echoes of words in my mind in the right direction.
FAULT: What do you wish to achieve through your work?
Shahla: I would say; I wish, I walk parallel of hopeful time to reach the evaporation of a promising renaissance again, and then I walk against all the movement related to struggling development and join their statement with a language name reprinted history media and implications of a revolution, which is well-circulated in a peaceful way.
And I guess I would call it Legacy!
FAULT: In what sort of environment do you like to create your artwork?
Shahla: SILENT, is my best environment and ideal companionship, it connect me with the circle of my characters in my mind, and of course, the emotional attachment to IDEAS bring me to idealize them more and more as the guide of my thoughts and feelings and yet the chronological relationship between the composition, drives from necessity to establish the creation of surrealist scenery and bringing about a total revolution of the movement through various measures. So the true union of me and silent create an art work.
FAULT: Would you say you learnt most of the techniques you use now whilst studying?
Shahla: We usually go to school to learn about life’s alphabets, it is there, we experience challenge, hard work and new lessons and get ready for the time when we have to execute those learning and experience in our life time. So, school is a start, and when we merge into our society, it is there, we learn to communicate and use our theoretical lessons we learned. So the society is the intermediate. Yet when we have the God given talent, and we start to create, and give the society our power of abilities, it is when, we become our own Masterpiece.
FAULT: What do you see for the future of the Surrealist Movement?
Shahla: I see, the surrealism and its movement, become a miraculous gift, given to earth by to ennoble and enrich all those, who are able to appreciate it’s superior and striking qualities.
FAULT: How does the transformation from subconscious to canvas happen? How do you translate your ideas into something visual?
Shahla: The transformation goes through a method of provoking ideas, images by permanent contact with the unconscious, which allow me diversity and differences to appear naturally.
Also uncovering the unknown from my unconscious has to go through a path of dream and desire, getting constantly connected to the psychic Automatism, which gives me directly the courage to reveal them on the canvas. The voluptuous wandering of the instincts, in the intelligence, hope for future, and my vulnerability in the face of death. This compound will intrude an element of doubt into my mind; this healthful doubt will open up a pathway towards a superior intelligence for me. So unconsciously I’m always in a position to excel in them.
FAULT: Where can people go to see or buy your artwork?
Shahla: In moment I have many exhibitions in Europe and USA, the best way to be update with my work and purchasing, is via “ Myspace blog”, by clicking on, http://www.myspace.com/s153315511, or sending me a message.
FAULT: What first lured you towards Surrealism?
Shahla: The absolute freedom of thought, as Breton called it (the art of insane), which linked to a complex mental life, an amazing true union of living beings, which tells me nothing is forbidden, whether surrealist (in any shape) or figurative.
FAULT: The Surrealist Movement is generally associated with more historical artists. Would you say that Surrealism is very much still alive?
Shahla: Yes, I would say, it is more active and alive than ever. Every day the number of artists working in surrealist and visionary art is growing.
If we look around us, in today’s society, we are surrounded by all kof fantasy, visionary and surrealist art in the form of painting, sculpture, movies, games, writing, even our life style.
New generation is not satisfied with the common stories any more. The new works for generation are unveiled. It seems they are looking for appearance of God as Man world to bring the fulfilment and conquer of human longing. The expression of immortal beauty is still their chief aim. Which all can be found in a surrealist world?
FAULT: What other methods and techniques do you like to explore other than painting?
Shahla: Sculpture, poetry, and creating historical and operatic costumes for display.
FAULT: What is your favourite piece of work and why?
Shahla: I always get attached to the series of my recent work, I guess because of the last but not least effort and experience I induce to my work, the recent series of “Dante, Divine Comedy”, which I started since last year (2009) and still continue, Canto by Canto from the first book “Inferno”, and definitely the last piece I finished Dec / 2009;
Name; ( Keith Wigdor and the surrealist revolution)
This piece is a tribute to a dear friend of mine” Keith Wigdor”, who hims multitalented artist, and for one and half decade his constant effort and determinat keeping the surrealist movement more & more active and alive in the 21st Century I worked on this piece for three and half months by adapting his mostly selected poetry which deeply influenced me, and translated them into the language of painting on canvas.
The reason of my attachment to this piece is;
The architectural arrangement in certain order with a bridge of power that primarily serve a narrative function and creates two morphed triangles into each other which help the two circle of life being in constant immortal moving.
FAULT: So what do you do when you are not creating art?
Shahla: Well, I guess I still would thinking about it, surrealism is my electron element, it is in my cells as well as my vital substance, and it is in my bare skin, I’m covered with this Marvellous word, I can’t escape away from it. So even when I’m not creating, still follows me, like my shadow. I love life of surrealism.
FAULT: What are your plans for the future in regards to your art and artistic direction?
Shahla: Doing the same just more advanced and working on new technique, or may be God knows! Can’t exactly predict yet, But I have many new ideas in my mind to Execute!
FAULT: How would you describe your music?
Omar: my music has its folk feel, as well as its healing lyrical side. I try not to label my music to one specific sound; I usually let the people decide in what message or interpretation they get from listening.
FAULT: What is the creative process of your music?
Omar: My music is simple. It has its balanced effects and all but I think the creativeness is exposed when I play it live and people see the full on impact that I present. Also it all comes down to the recording process! While I’m recording I get creative and sometimes add parts and what not. And well to give it a little more back bone, the lyrics, I think.
FAULT: Tell us about your musical background?
Omar: I grew up in a family with quiet a lot of musical talent. My father and some uncles of mine did some touring back in there prime, heh, but never did they encourage me to fall into music, I taught myself playing by ear. I used to write poetry ever since I was twelve, and I had this guitar around that was my Dad’s, and on that I would work on just songs I heard on the radio from a few bands that I was listening to at the time like Nirvana, System Of A down, The White Stripes, and some good ol’ Stephen Stills. I would pick up the guitar for a good month or two, then leave it for a year off and on haha. In middle school I took the courage to join band and started off on a snare drum going over some simple beats and then picked up the saxophone through High school. Entering college, I drifted away from the Sax, and picked up the guitar with a more serious approach and got into my writing more heavily. I was in four different metal bands, as the singer, playing a lot of festivals, house shows, and garage practices, but one after the next, the bands I was in at times were dropping little by little. All this would frustrate me being without a band for so long, so then I decided to put out my acoustic project of songs that I’ve written. And now, here I am with two albums out and gotten further than any band I was in.
FAULT: Who or what inspired you to take a career in music?
Omar: I got a hold of some early recordings of Elliott Smith when he was doing his basement demos, and that really sparked the flame for me. I thought to myself, I can put out my poetry, with simply an acoustic melody beneath it! Then I kept an ear out for blues, jazz samba music, and of course THE FOLK.!
FAULT: What age did you discover music?
Omar: At the age of 8 listening to my Father play his accordion, and teaching me the sounds of the black and white keys.
FAULT: What are you working on at the moment?
Omar: My new recordings and preparations to construct this new album I have in mind. I’m constantly writing new ideas, and putting them down on tape! =]
FAULT: Biggest musical icon?
Omar: The Man to blame for where I stand, Elliot Smith. (RIP)
FAULT: Do you have a Favourite artist/photographer
Omar: The artist that is my most recent favourite has to be Justin Vernon from Bon Iver, and photographer, I don’t have one, but I’m working with a Really cool camera crew and I’m impressed with the work that they have done for me. There name is Z&Tree Photography and you can check out some of their work at myspace.com/dmitriy_l as in “L” =]
FAULT: What do you think of new music?
Omar: New Indie music? Because in my books I don’t have much radio playing, but I’m always out searching for new acoustic artists and some good indie. And I Love It! haha
FAULT: What was your highlight for 2009?
Omar: To be honest, the new coming of 2010, because for this month, I’m on THIS MAGAZINE! Pretty Awesome.
FAULT: Who is the sexiest person in the music industry?
Omar: Oh don’t get me started! I have to go with Lisa Hannigan.!! <3 Call me!
FAULT: What Female Vocalist would you love to work with?
Omar: I’m a big fan of Feist, but then again, who isn’t.. If for some reason Leslie Feist was too busy to work with Omar and be a part of Ballad:The Memory, then I’d have to go with Katrina Ford of Celebration. <3 you can call me as well!
FAULT: What has been the biggest compliment you have ever been given and who was it from?
Omar: I played In Willits California at the Sanachie Pub, and I remember this lady asking me, “Excuse me, young man, did you write all those songs you just performed?” I said yes, and she replies with her glass of wine in the air and hand on her chest, “Amaaazzinngg!” *just like that. Pretty intense, I know.
FAULT: What was the first album that you bought?
Omar: Growing up I got exposed to some hip hop and even before I purchased a rock, or acoustic cd, I got my hands on The Wu-Tang Klan’s 36 Chambers album, which I now have their complete discography by the way.. And it’s nothing to F**k with Yo.!
FAULT: Who would you like to collaborate with?
Omar: I would love to share at least one track with Dallas Green. He sings, and angles give sweet birth…
FAULT: What new music are you listening to?
Omar: I am currently listening to some new Portugal.The Man. Those guys are awesome musicians!
FAULT: What couldn’t you live without?
Omar: Music of course. My close friends at Lovesick Tattoo, my Mother and my Father.
FAULT: Who has been your biggest influence?
Omar: Besides Elliott Smith, The Frames.
FAULT: Do you feel sexy when you perform?
Omar: Well, I probably feel more bashful than anything when there’s that one cute girl in the front smiling back at me. I don’t know, am I sexy?
FAULT: What are you looking forward to?
Omar: Some feedback on the music I have out now, and also the reaction from all the totally new songs I have coming soon. It’s going to be a whole new different sound, without drifting away from my foundation in which I stand.
FAULT: Where do you see yourself this time next year?
Omar: My plans are to be in either Denmark, or Canada living there, playing some music, and playing on the road. (Not literally)
FAULT: What is your FAULT?
Omar: It’s my fault, to get some new tunes stuck in your head!
myspace url = myspace.com/balladthememory
Morgan O’Donovan’s base is underneath a bridge on the A406(North Circular), what might be an awkward headquarters for most photographers is not only comfortable space but at times an inspiration for his work. His focus ranges from fashion, architecture and portraits his strength lies in capturing natural form in whatever shape it initially comes. His C.V is versatile featuring work by everyone from Dazed Digital to Wall Street Journal. He takes time out to talk to us.
Was being a photographer your long time ambition or something you happily fell into?
I’ve always been into taking pics, although not really perusing it until about 5 years ago. I did get my first Double Page Spread when I was 13, on the Rose Garden at School!
Which do you use more analogue or digital and why?
I always find this a strange question. It all depends on what you want as a result. If i’m shooting architecture then I’ll shoot on 5×4, so i use film, but during fashion week when I shoot around 45000 frames, I use digital.
I don’t really like changing colour into B&W, so generally I use film if I want B&W images, Which also needs alot less re-touching.
What has been your favourite collaboration so far?
Probably a small shoot i did with Gareth Pugh many years ago, which involved shooting these huge silver cube balloons exploding out of a BMW.
How did you come up with the idea of the facebook project and was the end result as it was originally realized?
The Facebook project explores ideas of privacy that arise in the use of social networking sites. The profile picture, a representation of ones self to the world, produces a complex array of ideas about how or what this image should be. Is it actually an image of oneself or a found image? How is the picture taken? This self edit, creates half-truth images, and I found this an intriguing idea.
I was interested in giving people a unifying image, and see if people used it. In this people can compare each other, and this in turn sets up a forensic genealogical study, of groups/ clans. A nod to the work of the Bechers.
Another part of this project is the distillation of the party photograph(most of these images were taken in clubs/openings etc.). Removing the subject from the party context, asking them to conform to a set of rules and then have their picture taken.
Was it easy to get your subjects to trust your creative direction?
Sort of, I tried not to edit too much in the taking of the portraits, so I shot as many as possible.
Asking someone if you can take their picture gives them the choice, and thus giving the subject the power to decide. Once they start thinking about making their decision you have them. Sounds quite calculating, but photography is about communication, and the relationship you build with your subject, even if its just for 5seconds. You have to start some sort of dialogue. As most people were in various states, it took a lot of control to get them to not smile, look directly at the camera etc. Part of the project is no emotion or expression. That’s hard to explain to some one who’s just done a line of coke!
Do you branch into any music photography or have plans to?
I used to shoot loads of music, go on tour, was in a show at the Proud Gallery. Now I seem to shoot more fashion, but still go to gigs and shoot a bit of music.
I’ve recently been hanging out with TeenagersInTokyo, and just done a little live video of them you can see it here-
What does 2010 hold for you, any projects you’re specifically interested in?
I’m showing the Facebook project in November at Dalston Superstore, which will be a very appropriate venue. In many cases more is less, but with this I think its the other way round, so planning this 7m wall of portraits, which hopefully will be quite arresting. Opens Wed 3rd Nov 6:30.
Looking forward to working more with James Cochrane (Vogue) during fashion week, which is starting to become quite a busy time of year for me now.
And finally I’m starting a new portrait project in Ireland, so giving myself a great excuse to go home all year long.
The Fiery Furnaces feature in FAULT Spring 2010