Five questions to Anna-Alexandra

Five questions to Anna-Alexandra

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Anna-Alexandra is a visual artist born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1990. She currently lives in Mallorca. Myths are the basis for her artistic explorations and performances. They are an inexhaustible supply of themes, metaphors and symbols, a source of inspiration and a challenge to recreate and interpret them in an original light and with an individual language. 

How did you get into art?

Before my arrival to Mallorca 6 years ago, I was mainly writing poetry and contributing my creativity to various artistic projects as a concept developer or model. However, it was on this picturesque island where my path as a visual artist truly began to take shape. Starting with small-scale works on paper, I gradually progressed to experimenting with larger formats on unframed canvases, often setting up my easel outside by the shimmering sea. During the pandemic, I started a new project that involved working with an entirely new material for me - papier-mâché - to create a series of masks. I find the concept of the mask to be both primordial and archetypal, yet also strikingly contemporary. To me, the mask serves as a mirror that inexorably draws the viewer's gaze towards its distinctive features, triggering a powerful response that transcends the visual realm. After the long period of isolation after pandemic, I found myself drawn to the Body Art Performance, spurred by my fascination with engaging the public in co-creative experiences. 



How would you describe your style? What makes your work special?

Describing my style proves to be a challenge; nonetheless, I can elaborate on my creative process, the evolution of my artworks, and the sources of my inspiration. The act of description, to me, has perpetually felt confining. Rather than leaning on the word "special" in relation to artistic work I find "authentic" to be more resonant. By authenticity, I do not infer exclusivity or even singularity. I do not lay claim to unearthing an original technique or an innovative concept; in fact, quite the contrary. My focus gravitates towards well-established mythological or philosophical themes. What holds significance for me is the interplay between nature and the human body, a subject of perpetual rediscovery, and the intricate dialogue that unfolds between the two—a perspective that might be perceived as commonplace or even trivial. I am trying to be sincere and to follow my impulse. Intuitive painting occupies much of my efforts, and a notable hallmark of my work is the pronounced role of the human body as both a medium and an instrument, intertwined with motion, materials and context. My work frequently encompass elements of Performance Art/Body Art Performance, and of late, my exploration has delved deeper into the realm of co-creation. 

How do you go about developing your work?

Several crucial elements define my approach to the creative process. While my projects are frequently inspired by intellectual concepts, books, and myths related to technique and the creative process, my foremost goal is to achieve a state where intuitive movement guides my work. I strive to break free from calculated or controlled actions, continually devising tools and methods that nurture intuition and intuitive motion. My aspiration is to immerse myself in the act of painting with the same innate fluidity as breathing, void of the apprehension of error, establishing a realm where complete acceptance reigns. Equally significant is the establishment of an almost ritualistic ambiance during the art-making process. The selection of materials assumes a crucial role, possessing an almost sacred essence. These components form an integral part of the initial setup, an aspect of utmost significance to me. The canvas or paper's texture, the charcoal's quality, the nuances of water, all become pivotal elements. Frequently, my "studio" is the expanse of nature itself. Amidst the proximity of the sea, atop the rugged rocks, I harness the sea water, engaging in an active communion with my surroundings so I can sense the wind, the moisture in the air, and the scents of the environment, subsequently weaving them into my work.

In recent times, my exploration has delved deeper into the concept of co-creation. Reflecting on the historical context of human culture, I find that art was an inherently communal experience. A collective endeavour marked our creative expressions – be it through dance, song, or the shared potency of creative acts. I am drawn to traverse this trajectory further. Instead of creating from inside, from the intensely personal vulnerable private experience I want to start from the outside. I want to create from the connection with nature, from the shared experiences and moving together with another body or bodies, culminating in a fusion of physical and emotional resonance. My pursuit aligns with seeking a creative parallel to the experience of an orgasm, deriving a sense of bliss from the act of creation. 

Who or what influences you?

As an artist with an academic background in ancient languages and cultures, my interest in diverse cultures has been rooted in my childhood experiences. My parents, who also shared the same academic background, would read mythological stories to me, igniting my passion for mythology, philosophy, and anthropology. These disciplines form the basis of my artistic explorations and performances. I am particularly drawn to primordial images, masks, and artefacts, especially those found in Mediterranean cultures. As an accomplished artist with a diverse portfolio spanning poetry, fine art, visual performance, and film, I am drawn to the enigmatic and timeless allure of the female form and its connection to mythological and aesthetic origins. The Mallorca island’s natural beauty, inextricably intertwined with the earth and sea, serves as a constant source of inspiration for my work.

In conjunction with primal art and mythology, my creative influences are derived from: the surrealists' works and methods, particularly their ventures into the realms of creativity and the subconscious. Furthermore, I draw inspiration from Performance Art, with a specific focus on Body Art performance – the integration of the human body's movement and expression in live presentations and artistic showcases. (Nouveau Realism thought the works of Yves Klein in his Anthropometries and works of Carolee Schneemann and Gutai Art Association in Japan.) My work is also influenced by Cy Twombly and his expansive, expressive canvases adorned with scribbles, words, and gestural marks. Likewise, I hold a deep admiration for modern creators like Julie Mehretu and her monumental canvases, which are intricately layered with marks and symbolism and Caroline Dunervaud, a Swiss visual and performance artist and dancer who transmutes her love for movement into her paintings. An instrumental impetus for my transition to larger scale free canvases was influenced by an artist friend, Sevda Semer, who explores in her work textile sculptures and sizeable abstract paintings on textiles.

Given the profound role of the human body in my artistic narratives, I see my approach to the depiction and interpretation of this form as a fusion of mythological motifs with influences from Matisse, who I deeply appreciate for his distinct perspective on the human physique and his sense of compositional arrangement. 

Make us curious. What is planned next?

In my upcoming project, I will delve into the timeless and deeply-rooted myth of Eternal return, reinterpreting the epic tale Odyssey by Homer through the lens of a female perspective. This theme holds great significance not only for Mediterranean cultures but for human culture as a whole and it was inspiration for art and literature. Throughout history, diverse artists have approached the myth from various angles, with its essence reverberating across philosophical treatises, anthropological studies, novels, and poems.

Central to the Odyssey's narrative is the motif profound longing for home, for returning home Interpreting the myth metaphorically, Ulysses could symbolise the journey back to one's authentic self, catalysed by the transformative force of travel or "returning to oneself as an other." What captivates my curiosity is the intricate interplay between the eternal return's concept and the notion of self when viewed through the prism of the feminine experience. In the ancient rendition of the myth, Ulysses stands as a mythic hero who navigates an array of trials during his journey, driven by an unwavering desire to reunite with his beloved Penelope. This desire's potency outshines even the allure of immortality promised by the most beautiful goddess. Yet, how does the Odyssey of a female protagonist diverge? Where might our Ithaca be found? The eternal cycle of recurrence, the boundless loop, reverberates within our corporeal being through the rhythm of the female cycle. As nature incessantly wanes and renews itself, should we endeavour to rupture this eternal circle? Could this be, as Nietzsche mused, the heaviest of burdens, or rather the sacred mechanics of the cosmos? I have long construed longing as a weighty burden, a form of torment. Yet, perhaps, there exists a contrary perspective. Might this longing, this ache, embody the mysterious and enduring force of love everlasting?

Another recent project I have in a collaboration with a friend artist is a new platform for art and cultural experiences that we just launched, called FABULA. Our plans for FABULA are multifaceted and diverse, ranging from experimental one-day events that combine performance with gastronomic exploration, to week-long artist residencies and art retreats for those seeking a deeper immersion in the world of art.