Misha Diaconu | Interview
We first saw the metal sculptures of Romanian artist Misha Diaconu at Imbold Gallery, Bucharest, and were fascinated by how she manipulates the material. Find out more about her themes, inspiration and technique in our exclusive interview with her.
You have been working with metal for many years and you often mention that you are fascinated by its coldness and that you try to offer it warmth, sensuality. How do you connect matter with spirit in your art?
Yes, I’m working with metal since 2000, my first year of university, when I had my first experience with metal. The first impression of many of us is that it is a cold and sharp material that brings to mind heavy compositions, so this is where I intervene trying to change this impression with the themes and the technique I use.
The matter is the material, the physical shape that you can touch and see, and the spirit – I define it as the seed of creation, which can only be felt and seen with the eyes of the soul, and each one of us can create his own idea and image about it. In my art, I’m connecting these two, following the harmony of the shapes that compose the sculpture, the dynamic of the lines and, most important, the enthusiasm and joy of doing what I love most, and this I believe gives the vibration to what I do.
One thing we noticed about your works is that they are very dynamic and this comes natural as you approach themes such as music, dance. What music genre, artist or song is most inspiring for you? And as for dance, is ballet a main influence?
Yes, music has its own special place in my soul and in my workshop. I find it fascinating and powerful, inspiring as sound, but also the image of the instruments that create it, beside the things that impressed me all along and I use in my concepts. I connect with jazz music, classical, experimental, opera and also heavy metal, electronic music or let’s say any sound composition that has some special harmony and makes me participate with my imagination and create in my mind some new images and colors.
And as for dance, I find it complementary with music and very expressive. It can be sensual, aggressive, passionate, sad… the one that through the position of the body and the expression of the moves can “write” you a story. I chose ballet because I found it close to what I wanted to “say” and to create a contrast between a very delicate and sensual dancer and the material I use.
The Ballet Dancer
You once said that you want to express the pure feminine figure. Do you feel that you have already achieved this through a certain sculpture or is it an ongoing process?
I decided to approach this theme a few years ago, back then I thought that if I can catch in my metal sculpture the sensitivity, sensuality and warmth of a feminine figure, that means that I achieve something and from there I started the new chapter of my journey through sculpture, so now I can say that with “The Ballet Dancer” I opened this new chapter and I’m looking forward to discover what it has to offer and what will be the result.
How do you think your art defines you as a woman – do you feel more powerful, more confident?
I think that my confidence and power come from the excitement and the pleasure of doing what I do and because I believe in it and is growing when I see what comes out of my hands and spirit playing with this material. Maybe because I’m a woman my sculptures gain this warmth lines, but I’m not sure, because I’ve heard others, before knowing the author, saying that they were sure the artist was a man.
Your works are often exhibited at Imbold Gallery in Bucharest. Alexu, who we recently interviewed, told us that there is a special relationship between you and the gallery. How did you start collaborating and what were the aspects that were most important in consolidating your collaboration?
We started collaborating when I answered to the invitation of creating for Atelierul de Producție the bar and the bathrooms doors. I really enjoyed the project and the fact that I was working in my old style (the one I had when I was a student, I mean most of the composition made from spare car parts) and they trusted me and gave me the freedom of doing what I believed was right for the project.
The aspects that consolidated our collaboration were the professionalism, the honesty, the trust and what I appreciate most at them is the creativity and joy they have when making the projects, all these aspects make me feel like I am a part of their beautiful “family”.
What about your day to day work? How would you describe an ordinary or extraordinary day in your studio? Do you work alone or have assistants?
A usual day of work starts kind of early – around 7:30, 8:00 am is the time when I collect my energy, when the day is genuine and fresh. If I start later than 10:00 am, I feel like I don’t rise. I start with a cup of coffee while I put my mind in order for that day, day which can become extraordinary if I accomplish as I expect all I have in mind. Unfortunately, I don’t have assistants because I can’t afford it yet, but I have trustful friends who come and help me when I need to move or flip over something that is too heavy, the rest I do by myself.
How do people react to your sculptures? Were there any fun/ creative/ unusual interpretations in this regard?
Most of the time they are pleasantly surprised when they find out that they are made by a woman sculptor; one time a guy thought that “Misha” is a Russian sculptor and he was looking for a man. Yes, the impressions change, become stronger when they see who is the author. Actually, I am pleased when the audience thinks that the author “Misha” is a man, because I can be sure they don’t appreciate my work only because I’m a woman (smile).
Last year, you created the biggest equestrian statue in Romania. Do you wish to continue with monumental sculptures? What are you working on right now and what are your plans for the following period?
I find monumental sculpture challenging for me. It is like making my engines run full speed, finding the right solutions of how to build it, finding the right composition, the proportions, the material and all the rest that are involved in a monumental sculpture, but a sculpture that big needs a proportional budget and a place to be exposed. I built the equestrian statue in the workshop of the person who ordered this sculpture and helped me a lot to put the parts together in the end, this is why it was possible.
The Horse of the Titans
I just finished the “mixture of metal sculpture and print on canvas” for București Optimixed and am looking forward to continue working for the next personal exhibition, “The Sin”.
All images © Misha Diaconu