Amalia Dulhan – The Artists’ Portraits | 11172014
In January 2014, Art Yourself Gallery launched an experimental project involving 17 artists, over a period of 11 months, with 11 exhibitions on 11 themes, opening on the 17th of every month.
Aitch, Felix Aftene, Gabriel Caloian, Codruța Cernea, Mihail Cosulețu, Cristian Crisbășan, Suzana Dan, Amalia Dulhan, Andreea Floreanu, Cornel Lazia, Ileana & Cătălin Oancea, Dragoș Pătrașcu, Tudor Pătrașcu, Radu Rodideal, Adrian Sandu, Bogdan Teodorescu, Ioana Ursa.
Within the project, Cornel Lazia and Cristian Crisbășan proposed The Artists’ Portraits, a series of photographs and interviews that would reflect the way in which these artists see themselves as well as the way in which they are seen through the two photographers’ lenses.
Portrait of Amalia Dulhan | Interview by Art Yourself Gallery
What do you seek in life?
I’m a piece of matter that is conscious and self-aware, descended from thousands of parents, some of whom may have been drawers, some that may have been writers, some that were hunters and some that probably killed to ensure their existence. What I seek are answers or rather the harmony between them. As for my journey through existence, I feel that I have only just reached the bottom of the mountain, I’m excited and afraid to climb it, but I know that up there there must be some Meaning.
Are you born an artist or do you become one?
Everyone plays and creates when they’re children. Later on, their imagination fades away, maybe it’s repressed or maybe it’s no longer of use to them. I feel lucky that I can play and create, even now when I’m so called grown up. As for being an artist, I learn and change relentlessly because there are no real rules, not even reference points or trends. I just see complete freedom to follow your gut and to create pieces of you, in the most unusual ways, which can offer you joy and which you can share with those around you.
What do you see, where do you see and how do you see?
The “vision” is this small porthole through which I look outside, around me, as well as this complicated system of mirrors on the inside that internally reflects everything that comes in from the outside. It is perception and emotional receptors, triggered thousands of times since I became aware of myself as a human. This is vision. It’s true, I have an unexplainable weakness for slightly creepy things, maybe because I see the world with all its good and its bad. There is no absolute. Not even in nature.
How do you create and when are you ready to show your work to others?
Inspiration isn’t a myth. It’s there, I feel it much more clearly now as an adult, probably because those neurological links have crossed their paths multiple times now or maybe I have just become more self-aware. She appears whenever she wants to, rarely at an order, in all kinds of situations, maybe when I’m even just sitting with someone and they mention a word or an image which I translate visually in my mind and… there it is, an idea in my mind, I stop paying attention to the conversation, it demands me fully, I get excited and write it down. I always write down in planners, notebooks and diaries (and sometimes I forget about an idea for a long time and then I get it again because actually it had been there in my subconscious all along, waiting to come up again).
But then there’s the actual work. Inspiration is a real joy, a “state of flow”. Work is different. It is often hard, it takes many hours for me to materialise an idea and honestly, often, it is quite different to the mental image. But this in itself is a joy because it’s something new. Work is also a “state of flow”, but it’s somehow against nature – you’re no longer hungry, you’re no longer interested in what’s around you, what you look like, time flies by without you noticing it and if you don’t take breaks, you get to the point where it’s night-time, you’re anxious and your eyes hurt. What’s worse, you don’t like what you’ve done because you sat there with the work all this time instead of stopping and looking at it again with fresh eyes. And if you work on a project that takes longer, your whole life can pass you by. Once, I only see spring through the window. Even if you get to the point where you want to escape from so much art, in the end, all your toil is worth it. It’s weird when something you have made gives you joy, seems a bit narcissistic, but whatever. I always feel this childish nervousness when I show someone something I have done; I’m an introvert and presenting pieces of myself is always electric and risky, but somehow fun. I find out new things about myself, about the others. I couldn’t live without this form of communication with the world. I could paint alone on an island, but it wouldn’t be the same without people.
How do you see yourself within the 11172014 project and what do you look for in it?
I see myself fitting in well in the 11172014 project. I mean I had the chance to meet people, to make some works that I would have otherwise not done, to approach themes that I wouldn’t have normally seen through my porthole and that’s good. These group projects are beneficial for individuality. They make you appreciate your uniqueness. When I was in primary school, I liked it when we sang on several voices. It often didn’t really work harmoniously, but sometimes when we made it, it was something that some would call divine. I would just say that together we made something beautiful. It’s the same with group projects, sometimes group effort, composed of many individualities, is itself something unique.
What was the greatest challenge?
It was a challenge to maintain my enthusiasm and to make work in relation to themes that are outside my sphere of interest. Check and check.
What has your collaboration with ArtYourself been like?
My collaboration with ArtYourself has been the longest I’ve had so far and the only one that has been so close and consistent. I think it’s more about the human chemistry and real mutual appreciation that I especially share with Mălina Florea.
How do you perceive the others in the group?
They’re cool. As artists, of course, but it’s surprising to catch a glimpse of their humanity, to meet the same people for a year almost every month, to meet their friends, to see them in both good and bad days, to see them with their loved ones. It answers a certain curiosity of mine about people and especially about artists, who are a slightly different kind of people. Anyway, art without a human core does not exist, regardless of how abstract and conceptual it is.
How do you hope the project to develop?
I would like the project to continue in 2015 and to corrupt other artists, volume II to be even more exciting than volume I. And so on, until ArtYourself gets tired of us and then it will turn into a resistance movement. Joking, obviously. I hope it lasts as long as it can and that it grows in ways that are unfathomable now.
What do you think of the public’s reaction?
The public that I have access to, meaning the one made up of people that are close to me, has been enthusiastic about the project, and then the unusual turned into the norm and I’m glad that people know where to find me on the 17th and that they come to the openings. It’s nice.
What is the role of art and creation in life?
I recently watched a BBC documentary about the evolution of the homo sapiens, which said that, regarding our survival as a species and the disappearance of the homo neanderthalensis in Europe about 40 000 years ago, there is a theory that claims it was culture, and therefore art, that kept our predecessors in touch with one another across groups. On the other hand, the Neanderthals, although more adapted to the climate, were extinct because they lived in isolated groups, estranged from one another, until they all disappeared. This is a fascinating hypothesis, that art and culture, with all its rituals, helped us survive. As a parenthesis, I recommend another documentary, Werner Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” from 2010. It touches me each time I watch it. And it’s a scientific documentary.
As for art, in our days I would want a revolution, for people to put up paintings or posters or beautiful menus or cat pictures, but for them to put anything on their walls, to commit an artistic act, their own, in line with their taste, whatever that may be. Even an “Abduction from the Seraglio” has more value than an empty wall, and a reinterpretation of the “Abduction” is already something higher. And when they’re bored of it, to take it down and put up something else. They have to be the curators of their own walls, not just of their desktops or their laptops, iPads and phones. Technology is clearly the future, but until holographic art and digital art displays in our homes, the walls remain empty and that’s the reality of it.
Ask yourself a question and answer it.
Do you think there is life in outer space? Yes.
Questions by Cristian Crisbășan.
Photo credits: Cornel Lazia and Cristian Crisbășan.
View photos from the previous 11172014 exhibitions and other portraits of the artists involved in the project here.