interview for Terra Obscura - Art & Culture - August 2015
Terra Obscura: Who are you?
Paula Rosa: I was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1970. I’ve been drawing, painting and creating in general, in a variety of media, as long as I can remember. I’ve always been a very solitary, introspective and almost obsessively reflective person, owner of what I may describe as a very inquisitive, torturous and disquieted mind. These character traits may partially explain the fact that I’ve always felt a strong impulse to create things and to express myself in a variety of ways, grabbing whatever tools suit my intentions.
I’ve developed an early interest for the visual arts and design, which proceeded naturally in my academic training, but also for non-visual arts, such as music and literature, and also for some branches of knowledge, such as Philosophy and Psychology, which I keep avidly exploring.
Absorbing, Imagining, creating and producing artistic output is something I can only conceive as part of being a human. Art is so deep-rooted in our nature that we cannot dissociate from it, at risk of feeling incomplete, if not null.
For some years, I’ve been dividing my activity by painting, photographing, experimenting with film animation and the rigorous discipline of designing spaces and equipment. It’s a dualistic option that has certainly marked my work and its route.
Through my painting, specifically, I believe I’ve been searching for answers but specially trying to raise fundamental and urgent questions. It has become clear to me that painting turned out to be my preferable way to connect with my inner self, my most subliminal thoughts, my subconscious and simultaneously with the world around me. All my life, I’ve been engaged in a search for knowledge and I really think we are, in fact, the answers we seek.
Terra Obscura: Why is art important?
Paula Rosa: Art is not only important, it is essential. Those of us who repeatedly get deeply immersed in creative processes rarely stop and have the time to think about it but we can easily feel its benefits. Should be enough just to think that art has the cathartic function of purging the concerns, the fears, the anxieties and a variety of emotions and then the possibility to turn them into something higher - a sort of aesthetic value – capable to be communicated through an universal language, powerful enough to eliminate cultural, racial, educational and economical barriers.
I see it all as a magic process, a spectacular explosion of the imagination, which the result can produce, both in the author and in the viewers, a greater understanding of themselves, their feelings, and thus an expansion and regeneration of our self-awareness and consciousness. Isn’t that what Humanity has in fact been looking for since early times? We can then think of artists as relevant agents for the society, for our entire species and to the world in general.
Terra Obscura: What is your duty or mission as an artist?
Paula Rosa: Being labeled as “an artist” since an early age and not being strange at all to the debate over the role of artists in our present societies, I, however, don’t feel, not even for a moment, a Chargé de Mission, in charge of any special mission, obligation or duty, different from other people who are not involved in the artistic creation. I am what I am and I do what I do specially for the love of it, if not for a personal psychological need. On the other hand, I obviously don’t disregard the importance of the social role of the artists, which has dramatically changed throughout History, in the present times. Their proximity to the collective context and engagement in the social process is obviously important. We all know that, more or less consciously, an artist is some sort of radar that captures the concerns of the society, documents them and ends up playing an important role in the collective awareness and consciousness. That’s why art has almost always reflected the time in which an artist lives.
In this context, I may feel as that radar, just like anyone else capable to communicate their concerns by whatever means they choose. We are all radars, in fact, and what may vary is the opportunity to communicate and expose our thoughts and ideas to a wider or a restricted audience.
Terra Obscura: Tell me about your imagery.
Paula Rosa: Taking the concept of “imagery” out of the strict field of visual images and extending it to the field of perception, I believe I tend to recur more and more to the symbols, metaphors and allegories to express an idea. It’s normally a natural process, as I think it should be, and I never plan it and not even think of it. It just flows.
Our time appears to me as a time in which it is required to the artists to be ever more faithful and truthful to themselves, more and more original, at the same time that it makes perfect sense to appeal to the great ideals of our society. I may be moving somehow across these lines since I’m too aware of them to simply abstract and ignore them. Being truthful to themselves should be the main aim of artists and if there’s something I really want to preserve it is certainly this.
Our time also seems to be a time in which large capitalist societies and the development of science and technology over the matter, have gradually been reducing Man, himself, to matter – something that can not only be known but also manipulated. All these transformations have happened in a way that we, humans, no rarely seem to have forgotten important parts of ourselves: our epistemic, aesthetic and ethical dimensions. This has been a concern for me and I’ve the terrible habit of thinking about it. I believe though that it is through Art that Humankind is able to reaggregate all these fundamental aspects, to not lose track of what we really are.
Humans belong to a strange species, owner of an inquisitive mind, living in an exhausting condition by inhabiting a world of complex systems in permanent mysterious interactions. We’ve created a path and we keep leaving our marks on the universe. This idea is too scary and at the same time absolutely fascinating to simply be put aside and not be tempted to think of it.
Humankind, in general, the human condition and the human mind, in particular, have been at the centre of my interests and concerns, thus reflecting on my work, being recurrent themes in my painting.
No rarely, the visual imagery, points to timeless stories and absurd tenses, ranging from the ancestral concerns to the cataclysm of modern societies, on what seems to be the verge of a self-induced apocalypse. Dystopian or utopian vision? It’s all completely open to interpretation but specially for reflection, since it is a question and not a statement. In truth, it can only be like that since I believe that the future, as in any unfinished story, is nothing but a prominent question mark.