An Interview with Aletheia Rio
Aletheia Rio lives in The Philippines. Much of her art has a surrealist flavor, and often includes human figures. In this interview she tells about a collaborative surrealist art form called Exquisite Corpse, in addition to sharing her perspective on art. — Editor
You participate in artistic projects called Exquisite Corpse? Tell me about your experience with that.
An exquisite corpse is an old surrealist game where a piece of art or literature is left unfinished for another artist to finsh. Each person is only allowed to see the end of what the previous person drew or wrote. Generally, it is a form of collaboration.
On deviantart, I'm a new member of the Exquisite Corpse community. My first EC collaboration was with my friend Franci, who lives on the other side of the globe. So I had to mail the unfinished half to her country. It was fun, really. There is no telling what happens after the covers are taken off to reveal the other half.
How did you become interested in surrealism?
There was an article in Reader's Digest on Salvador Dali. I was in 5th grade when I read it but I'm sure the copy was much older. I have seen surreal paintings prior to the article, but I had no idea what sort of paintings they were. With surrealism, I get to communicate or express things with a bit of irony or dark humor to it. But not all the time. Sometimes, I get to express sincere affection or blunt abhorrence, which I won't have the verbal opportunity to convey.
Did you go to art school?
I did go to art school in high school, although I've been creating artworks ever since I could remember. I studied at the Philippine High School for the Arts for three years. In college, I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts.
How did you begin your art career?
I got serious making small income with my art when I was in college. Even today, I still do freelance illustrations and layout.
How has your work evolved?
A lot. I've encountered many artists along the way, and I pick up tips from them, especially on Deviantart. I learned a lot from there.
What do you think separates good art from great art?
I'd like to think that all forms of creative expression are great in their own right. If there's anything that separates creative forms from each other, it will have to be under the scrutiny of criticism.
What do you think is the purpose of art?
Personally, the purpose of art in my life is a kind of outlet and an inner searching both at the same time.
And what do you think is the purpose of an artist?
To convey beyond mundane perception.
What were your influences?
My influences in my art is a mad mix of a lot of things. In terms of socio-cultural spheres, there is so much to explore and share.
Who are your favorite artists?
I like a lot of artists, both old and new. For the old masters, I'd pick Leonardo and Dali. For the new ones, I'd pick Dave McKean and Nick Bantock. These artists inspire me to keep on exploring and testing the limits of my creativity.
Where else do you find inspiration?
Aside from the artists mentioned, I find inspiration in literature and music. I close my eyes and let my imagination run its course as I try to absorb what I have just read or heard.
What are your favorite art books?
Demian by Hermann Hesse woke me up in terms of social relations. I have always been attached to others, be it friends or family. Only after reading Demian did I realize that the "herd mentality" can stunt our potential of becoming who we are supposed to be. That book celebrates the beauty of individuality. I am also very fond of the Griffin & Sabine series by Nick Bantock. It's the niftiest story and presentation I have ever read.
Tell me about your creative process.
My imagination gets the better of me. I have to put it down in sketch or I will lose the idea.Then I pay attention to composition, where balance is imperative.
What themes are you trying to pursue in your artwork?
Anything that I am passionate about in life.
Why do you find human figures to be interesting subject matter?
The human body is a very interesting form. No angle is ever the same. For me, it is the most natural form of architecture.
What constitutes a captivating pose?
A captivating pose would include proper lighting and well placed shadows.
Do you consider your interpretation of the female body as being different from a male’s perspective?
It will always be different, because there is no way, unless surgically tweaked, that we can be of the opposite sex. The understanding of the female form from a male's perspective will always have a twist of awe and mystery.
What is your favorite media?
I love working with ballpens, watercolors and acrylics. Pencils are okay, but they tend to get messy.
What is your favorite surface?
Paper or board papers for the ballpens and watercolors. Acrylics will have to be on canvas.
How long does it typically take you to complete a finished work?
It depends. The fastest I can go is approximately a couple of hours on a 9 x 12 inch working area. A canvas work will take at least six to twelve hours, depending on how fast the paint dries.
How do you know when a piece is done?
That's a tough question. I guess it varies with each artist. For me, I know when I'm done when there's nothing else I can add to the entire composition. Something just stops in me, and I can not go any further.
As an artist, what are some of your greatest challenges or obstacles you face when making your art?
Carelessness is my biggest challenge. Since I work mostly with detailed pieces, if I don't watch out, accidents happen and I get really upset with myself.
What do you think has been your biggest achievement as an artist?
Things just keep getting better as I go along. I can't really point out an achievement because each chapter in my life has its equal lessons and joys.
What sort of message do you wish to communicate through your art?
What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
Make art as if you are in love with life itself.
How can one acquire your work?
I usually don't sell my original pieces. Most of those who have bought the originals were determined collectors who would take very good care of my works. If one wishes to acquire an original piece, I will have to get to know the person to a certain level where I would know he/she would be responsible enough to take good care of my artworks. I am very protective of my artworks. I might even require visiting rights, if needed.
Thank you for giving us some insights into your world as an artist.
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