“Art is the strongest motivation in one’s relationship with their inner self”
I have had the honor of being interviewed by Mr. Marius Manta, one of my favourite teachers and one of my first supporters, since my earliest days as a young artist painter.
Read the English transcript of the interview for 627th to 628th Edition of the Ateneu culture magazine, exclusively on this page.
Scroll down to discover unique reveals about my path so far as an artist, my views on art and future plans, through the spectrum of 13 questions and answers I have greatly enjoyed contributing to as part of this great conversation!
1. MM: Dear Elleny, I knew you from the benches of the High School of Art in Bacău, passionate about the visual arts, spending most of the hours in front of the canvases, looking for answers, ways of working, trying to get the most appropriate representations. Inevitably, time has passed – in your case, with a lot of sense; I say this because, years later, I met an artist again in the true sense of the word. I ask you abruptly: does art represent to you that golden path that will lead you to immutable truths?
Indeed, art for me is something that I can not live without, it is like the air I breathe. I have to admit that my first and foremost motivation in creating art is feeding my soul. And while I believe that the path to happiness is paved with truth, the thought of making people happier through my art is as much of a motivating factor. As an artist, I think it is important to share creations with others, not just for the satisfaction of one’s ego, but because it is our mission to inspire people through our sensible reaction to reality and it’s resulting expression.
2. MM: Your journey is worthy of all interest. For a balanced look, it could be equivalent to a story worthy of being screened: on the one hand, from a small town to the University of Bucharest and later Spain, on the other hand from the grandparents’s garden to a land of universals which you seem to be closely connected with. I will ask you to outline this route!
While I grew up in a very small and beautiful city, Comanesti, I was always very close connected with nature. Since I was a little girl, I loved painting and I remember that the act of creating was the only thing that I dreamed to do in this life.
My parents believed in me and my dream, had supported me a lot in my dream of going to the High School of Arts in Bacau. The next natural step for me was to study at the National University of Arts in Bucharest, in order to learn and deepen my knowledge and experience in this wonderful field.
However, after I graduated from the University, I felt like the noise and heavy atmosphere of the big city were blocking me from reaching the level of happiness and inspiration I needed to express my very best through painting.
It was then when I started searching for a new connection with nature, similar to the one from my childhood. A place that will inspire me and also help me grow as an artist. During this search I have almost mistakenly discovered Alcaidesa, a wonderful small Andalusian village by the Mediteranean sea. Ironically, although I am now 4000 km away from home, I now feel closer to it than I have in many years!
It is as if I am reliving my childhood feelings – a state of peace given by the sound of singing birds and the vocal waves, the smell of the plants and the salty taste of the sea.
3. MM: Looking at your works, I have more than once had the impression that, although they begin in the living world, they extend their meanings to the world of symbols. How should your creations be viewed?
I think the beauty of my creations is revealed in the symbols and stories behind each one. Each viewer could see a story that can be completely different from mine or other people’s perception of it.
While I always like to tell my side of the story for each painting, I would like for my creations to be viewed with a fresh eye by every new person. Thus, I invite people to look at my art as deeply as possible and to try to imagine their own version of it. By doing so, they will also discover the more or less hidden elements and symbols within my paintings and will be able to find their own interpretation of why they exist there.
4. MM: Throughout this interview I intend to jump from perhaps more complicated questions to deliberately naive formulations. So, is there a ritual dimension in your interpretive act?
I often discover the act of creation to be ritualistic, in the sense that it can help you transcend you into a space of meditation. It allows you to disconnect from the profane realities of the ordinary and reconnect to certain senses which tend to blur during day to day life, dominated by mental and spiritual traps, such as instant gratification. These automated mental mechanisms tend to make us feel as if it is ok not to pay attention, or to not be present in what we are doing, as we fast forward through life.
Sometimes, while I deepdive into my creative ritual, I find myself surprised by the outcome, which turns out to be quite different from my initial perception. I always have a good idea of what I would like to create, but somewhere during this act, it is as if the hand and brush get their own consciousness, detached from the rational intention. This is expressed either through method or result. I guess this is why many people, not only artists, find painting or other art-related activities to have therapeutic effects on their overall state. I would recommend this to anyone: whenever you are feeling stressed, sit down at a table and do a small drawing, maybe even something you used to like doodling as a child. You might rediscover a small treasure for the spirit.
5. MM: I do not hide the fact that I caught in your paintings a generous availability for sensitivity, fragility and romance. All this may seem consumed today, because we live in barbaric times, where the material side seems to have swallowed the principles of any kind. But still … it seems to me that you are not very interested in the current charts, in the multi structured manners of the present. Am I wrong? How do you relate to the beauty creators of your generation?
It is true, I have to admit that I do not find myself very often preoccupied by present trends, when it comes to selecting the topics or forms of expression for my art.
But sometimes, when I create, I like to imagine: what if Carravagio would arrive into my art studio today? What would he think of my art?
On the other hand, how do I relate to the beauty creators of my generation? Well, I think the beauty of being an artist is having the freedom to create anything you imagine or dream of, without any boundaries or rules.
I have respect for all the artists, including those who create art that I don’t necessarily resonate with. I think there is space and an audience for anybody in the art world, so we should not be in a competition with each other. We are all artists, and the beautiful act of creation exists in every little thing from our life.
6. MM: I can’t help but relate to another peculiarity of your developments. I know that you owe the beginnings to some extent to your aunt, who had several exhibitions in Frankfurt. You went to school in Comănești, later Bacău, then Bucharest. You have visited Germany several times, but in the end you chose Spain. I guess every space left something in your painting.
My aunt, Marlen, has supported my passion for painting since my earliest days. We have actually started this wonderful journey in painting together. I still can remember the joy of receiving a very special gift from her: my first oil colors. While I was living in the very beautiful, but small city of Comanesti, art materials were very hard to find, so she used to send me great colors from Frankfurt.
Every place I’ve been part of has left a mark on my paintings. I started out in Comanesti, spending more time in nature so back then I was painting a lot of landscapes and trees.
During the period when I studied at the University in Bucharest, I was creating a lot of characters who didn’t have a face, but were constructed from natural elements, like flowers or plants. It was a way of expressing my longing for a lost world.
Then, after I flew 4000 km away from home, to live in Spain, I developed a strong connection with birds.
Using birds as my motif has helped me rediscover a wonderful feeling of freedom. Which has then surprisingly reflected on my way of interpreting human portraits: they now have their faces revealed and not covered by flowers.
7. MM: Often, when you talk about the world you believe in, you do it in terms of a narrative. It’s a “story”, there is always a background, something decisive … Is there a mechanism that triggers the placement in the frame? Then I would venture to ask: where do the topics come from?
There is always a story and a concept behind each painting, simply because I love to tell my stories through my art. The topics come from my feelings, emotions, and my personal experiences. Inspiration comes from everywhere and my scheckbook full of ideas and stories that sometimes have to wait for years for me to bring to life.
If only I had the time to do it all!
Watching a sunset, seeing a bird flying over my window, touching a plant or simply picking up the brush and preparing my palette are really triggers of my inspiration. And so is Mother Nature, embellished with my thoughts, my feelings and emotions.
8. MM: Large works alternate with small ones, like jewelry. I’m … the bearer. It is somehow a metaphor for the fact that this pictorial discourse that you generate is addressed directly to the heart, it should be, I come back, “to the bearer”. How do you see things?
Inspiration for creation comes from an infinite space. Therefore, I believe that the canvas should not be a limitation for it’s expression. Beauty comes in different shapes and sizes, so do my paintings. Sometimes, I can find myself spending more time or attention on a detail from a 20x20cm painting than one from a much larger canvas. Either way, the connection is as strong with each new creation.
9. MM: I dare to invite you to your own art studio, both on the outside – asking you to describe it to us through words, as well as inside, the place where the search does not stop until after hours and hours of torment …
My art studio is kind of small for the bigger paintings I want to create and I hope soon I will move it to a bigger place. But it has a very nice energy to it and when I am there it’s like time stops. In here, I always have at least 3 paintings that I am working on at the same time, together with a lot of beautiful colors, brushes, canvases, sketches, dried flowers and a jar full of feathers that I’ve found and collected since I’ve started to paint birds. It smells like oil paints, turpentine and lemongrass.
It is quite difficult to describe my “interior studio’’. It is, of course, infinitely bigger than the physical one. This is the space where I search for, find and bring all my ideas, emotions and feelings to life. In here I process my struggles, my happiness and discover the answers to my most challenging questions.
10. MM: What are the closest colors to you? Let’s try a little exercise: after you name them, I will ask you to attach to each one an attribute, a determinant.
My favorite colors are always present in my palette: Ultramarine blue-divinity, something above us, Emerald green will be nature, and Alizarin Crimson (which is a shade of red that is slightly more towards pink), will be love.
11. MM: It’s time to tell me something about those who inspired you, this time I mean the big and meaningful world of painting … Does it bring you closer to the Renaissance, for example?
I think every art movement and style from art history is important and beautiful, but I must say that the renaissance is for me a big inspiration and very close to my soul. When I finished the High School of Art, my last big project was a master copy of the great work ”The Annunciation” by the early renaissance artist Fra Angelico, which I’ve very much enjoyed working on. Since then, I have continued studying the Renaissance movement. This has inspired me to start developing my own interpretation of the art style, using some of its characteristics, such as emotion, realism, and symbolism, as the foundation.
Renaissance artists like Botticelli, Michelangelo, or Raphael, influenced and inspired me, but also other artists like William-Adolphe Bouguereau or baroque artists such as Caravaggio, or Velasquez.
12. MM: Of course, the next question should not be asked of the artist, but it still allows me an exception, especially since I don’t know much – from this point of view – about Spain: how to determine the quote of an artist?
I think, in general, and not only limited to Spain, determining the market value of an artist’s work requires consideration of multiple aspects, such as: their studies, who were their mentors and teachers, what was their presence in exhibitions at art galleries or museums, what is their style, how skillful they are, who buys their work, do they have a sales track number and so on.
On this topic, I would also like to invite a previous article from the Elleny.Art blog, entitled: What is the most expensive painting? An artist’s perspective.
13. MM: Where do you see yourself in another 10 years?
Continuing my career, I see myself having the freedom to do what I love the most, painting and creating, while also developing my own art business, to help my art reach and make as many people happy as possible.
In a sense, I feel that I am already there, or at least on the right track. In the years to come, I see my dream growing and evolving by managing to have remarcable exhibitions in the best galleries and museums of the world and for my art to be present in the private collections of the greatest art lovers.
All of these are subjects which I believe will take me much more than 10 years.
In my personal life, I would love to continue living in Alcaidesa or a similar, peaceful and inspiring place. I see myself continuing to enjoy this beautiful life by the sea, together with my family.
Not least, I hope that through everything I do, I can contribute towards making a better world. I think it is important to respect and take care of this planet and Mother Nature. We owe it all to her: from the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and to the divine beauty that has such a healing power for our minds and souls. Everything to follow should be a tribute to it.
I am Elleny Gherghe, a passionate emerging artist, with over 7 years of dedicated study in Arts & Design and a Bachelor’s degree in Mural Art, followed by a work experience of two years at Galeria Posibilă, close to one the greatest contemporany artists, Ștefan Câlția.
I have accumulated a 11 years track record as a painter and so far I have had the chance to expose my artwork in over 10 exhibitions in 3 countries.
If you want to create a beautiful story together, I am happy to tell you that I do art commissions – and create exactly the portrait you are looking for!
They are not just simple reproductions from photos. I use to add some romance, mysterious and poetic atmosphere with symbols that reflect the personality of the character. Your character, if the portrait is yours.
Elleny Art Blog