Interview with a Master of the Surreal: The Art of Giorge Roman
If you’ve never had one of those days when the world seems to stretch and sway, when reality takes on an oppressive and distorted quality as your dreams masquerade as memories, brain beating in time with your heart, you’re about to. Welcome to Giorge Roman’s world.
The Bucharest-based artist has been creating work that wanders back and forth across the borders of the psychological and the actual for over 10 years. Fresh off an appearance at the East European Comic Con, he explains the philosophy behind his art and discusses art’s place in the modern world.
There is a heady, heavily mental aspect to your works — emotion comes through clearly in each piece, of course, but so does thought and point of view. How do you accomplish this, and why is expressing these things important?
I must say, this is one of the hardest questions someone has asked me to this day.
I find emotions to be the foundation and the rooftop of my works. They are about the human mind and its place in the natural world. The organic, equisolid, non-rectilinear view approach I use that is often mistaken for “fish-eye” helps me create a soothing environment into which the viewer can easily enter, and starting a journey into his mind, a journey that is meant to help him find and mend his psyche’s darkest wounds. The point of view connects me, as viewer, to the world within the boundaries of the canvas; it facilitates a walk into the unconscious mind, a break from reality where thoughts start coming out, opening a much-needed conversation with oneself.
How did you develop your vertiginous first person works?
It just came out — I always found myself slap bang in the middle of everything I was observing whenever I was sketching, I saw no reason to take myself out of the picture and turn into a voyeur. The first person approach places the viewer into the setting he is watching, helping him to participate in what’s going on there rather than peeping through the keyhole, and observing as a bystander.
What should art capture about daily life?
I believe that true spirituality sits between science and art. And I think art should serve as the catalyst for our metaphysical needs. Nowadays there is being produced a massive amount of “empty art,” tons of pretty nonsense that is being executed according to some academic formulas, much of it being nothing more than design or craft that is tagged as “art” and then sent to the auction house. This makes it very hard to come across the ones that really say something powerful and important. We are what we see, art does not replace the visible, it makes visible.
How do you find a proper balance between the real and surreal in your art?
I find my dreams to be an inexhaustible source of inspiration for my works, for color and form, and real life experiences help with the settings and motifs. Half of the time I’m conscious of what I’m doing, and the other half unconscious. This balance is really important in producing what I believe to be a recipe to enter one’s unconscious mind. I create my paintings like a clock or a cipher that needs time and patience to start mending a broken psyche.
Your color palette feels simultaneously dark and bright — do you feel the same about it? Can you tell us where your color choices come from?
This has a lot to do with a search for an inner balance, not only for me as the creator but also for the viewer. My dreams are very brightly colored and I spend some time after I get up thinking of how a particular moment felt and the colors that came along with it. Colors and shapes are really very important in triggering an emotional reaction and in stimulating the human psyche, immersing people in pools of personal thoughts.
Do you find place to be an influence on your work at all? Has your city impacted your art in any way?
Inevitably. I lived in Bucharest for 20 years; I grew up in a post-communist world in shatters that left a mark on a little kid trying to make sense of his surroundings. Like any other city, it’s full of people, but more than other cities, is full of people hanging on the brink of some mental fallout. This was normality for a while, until I started to become more conscious of myself and the people around me, and of the fact that there was something fundamentally wrong with me and the world. From that point on, my mind felt ill and it was restlessly searching for a cure; the antidote, often times, came in the shape of art, in its many forms. I was also aware that all of the unconscious distress I was feeling would come to a breaking point, and it did, in the form of a meltdown early last year but, somehow, I managed to come out better than I could have ever imagined. And from that point on, ideas for paintings, illustrations and comics keep oozing out like never before. For a year now I have moved out of the city into a forested area, where I have my studio.
What advice do you have for the next generation of aspiring artists?
I think the next generation of artists should focus more on artwork that will help people look towards a higher level of aspiration, yearning, and thoughtfulness. Try to communicate with the viewer through your artwork rather than just spurting out shallow nothingness or dark and putrid and dissociated feelings. Art shouldn’t be another buzz that entertains and distracts us from the grueling monotony of the trip of life. Before you take this journey look out there and ask yourselves whether you want to make another contribution to the discombobulation of the world or do something that might actually help.
What, then, is necessary to make good art?
Looking back to my past experiences, I think the essence of making good art is very closely tied to one’s dire need to communicate some essential truth. Not only to please the eye but to fix something in an increasingly agitated world. Good art has always called out man’s evasive shallowness. I believe it will continue to do so.
Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us! Do you have any final words for our readers?
Because words are not my strong point, take some time and let my paintings talk to you in a way I can never do!