Raluca Mișca / Naples

In the pandemic context, my thoughts traveled to Italy and to a dear friend who moved there for some time now. As in mid March things were looking pretty awful over there, I reached out to her and started a conversation on art, painting and the things she was experiencing during isolation. How do you motivate yourself to do in moments of no “inspiration”?

I’d dare to say that I haven’t fought very often with moments without inspiration. I have many projects and ideas that I have not yet had the opportunity to put into practice and it seems that the time available to achieve them is extremely limited. We live very chaotic lives and I confess that the moment I enter the studio I don’t immediately manage to focus on my work. Sometimes it takes me a while before getting down to business and when I feel like I can’t put my thoughts in order, I try to create a reset moment: I close my eyes, sit for a few minutes in complete silence. After that I start listening to the music that inspires me, I make myself a coffee and… it works!

Where did you isolate yourself?

I have a free room in the house, I secluded myself here, in a brighter corner near the window.

Name something indispensable for you in the context of social distancing? What do you miss most?

I really miss being able to hug some of my family members, friends, shake someone’s hand. This forced repression of natural gestures is totally against human nature and creates a deep sense of frustration in me.

What are your themes and resources?

I have always loved the figurative, the characters of my works are people close to me. I love people and every time I choose to paint someone, I do it hoping that I’ll find common resonances, that invisible thread that binds us all together and which may be the answer to the question: „Why are we here?”. I often wonder if I knew how to use in a fair way the time that was given to me and whether or not this existence is more than a dream, as Calderòn de la Barca asked himself. Yes, I get my inspiration a lot from my dreams and I have transposed symbols into my works, which are elaborations of the subconscious. I think there will always be a human presence in my paintings for the simple fact that “questioning” and analyzing the one next to me on an artistic level is the most natural act for me.

What are you working on right now? Is this work part of a series?

I have always had a great admiration for the works of the Dutch artist Pieter Claesz, one of the promoters of Vanitas compositions. I had the opportunity to see his works in Amsterdam at the Rijkmuseum and I was impressed by the way he managed to capture the characteristics of his time through objects present in his static natures. Based on this subject and inspired by the dynamics of the events we are experiencing these days, I made my own version of the Vanitas composition, which I called „Metaphysical Garden”. I tried to describe through symbols the moment our society undergoes now. My painting is not the result of long previous elaborations, it’s not part of a series and it’s a spontaneous experiment imposed by the current circumstances. I do not intend to create a series of works on the subject of Memento mori, but rather to leave only one reflection inspired by the moment we all live now and which I hope we will overcome as soon as possible together.

Do you prefer a certain color?

I always had a weakness for dark blue, indigo tones. I have an instinctive preference for this color that I use both in my clothing choices and in the paintings I make. I was once in Rome at an oriental holistic festival where through Kirlian photography technique it was found that the aura around my body is indigo. Probably this explains my unconditional love for this color.

Give us 3 artists that you like, motivate and make you work hard.

Anselm Kiefer, Frank Stella, Rudolf Stingel.

Techniques: stolen, learned, ignored? How important is it today to master them?

Many of the artistic techniques I use now I learned in college within the Mural Painting department. I discovered and experimented a lot on my own, testing in the studio the compatibility and durability of the materials. Now there are many acrylic, polymer pastes which allow you to get countless new expressions. I think that in art the subject you choose is not that important, but rather the way you manage to achieve it: HOW it’s delivered in front of the public, with what identity. In this context a new technique can offer fantastic perspectives!

Tell us three essential things about art: the good, the bad and the ugly 

The good: The moment the artist creates his own work he experiences a moment of great freedom, you travel very far in places that physically you’ll never be able to. Of course, there’s a great struggle between what you see with the inner eye and your ability to materialize your own ideas. I think that’s the real challenge. Charles Bukowski said, “Find what you love and let it kill you.” This passion for beauty is fundamental, because it maintains a living flame in the mind and soul, it is an anchor in the whirlwind of life, a remedy for almost anything. I am grateful that it was given to me.
The bad: Art lovers represent a very small percentage in society, too many considering art as something non-essential and this is due to the level of cultural semi-illiteracy of our society. There is no aim at mass culturalization, this probably won’t be desired in the future either for the simple fact that the level of culture of an individual can become a strong base for asserting other concepts that may not be in line with general politics. In this kind of light, the artist is not understood and supported by the society in which he lives.
The ugly: Is found more often in the art world rather than in artist’s studio. Lately, the artistic environment has started to identify too much with politics, it’s too much business or just business. It’s not very clear, at least for me, where one ends and where the other begins, I probably don’t even have to understand, they are meant to coexist.

Do you believe this social distancing context will have an impact on artistic creation?

In these two months of isolation there has been an infinite number of works on social distancing, illness, death, loneliness, etc. Alongside this moment, the art themes will become more optimistic and each of us will return to the old projects. I believe that the human spirit has always been in search of light, of truth and no one will be able to take away our joy of living. What we will not forget too easily will be the economic crisis and the glorious poverty that we will experience in the coming years; for the art world it will be like a desert crossing in the middle of the day. Probably many of us will have to find other jobs to survive, but it’s important not to give up on art! We will have to make great sacrifices, but let us not forget that in the history of mankind, after every deep crisis, a rebirth has followed. It will take a lot, a lot of FAITH!