Powerful art has the ability to transcend one’s state of awareness into a world that carnal thinking cannot fathom. Its force is like a rushing wind, grabbing your attention, somehow refuting gravity as your imagination runs wild!
Have you ever wondered how the world would be if all artists recognized this power and put it to good use? Well, artist Andre Hora owns up to his responsibility, and utilizes divine genius as he explores the psychological aspects of carnality and its continuous war with spirituality.
Amazingly so, he does this all through his artwork! Check out the interview below.
Yes. I have all sorts of muses. Carl Gustav Jung and his lifetime body of work on Analytic Psychology always inspired me. Gods and demons from various pantheons as well, especially the ones with whom I share a cultural background. The Yoruba gods for example, called Orishas, are a recurring theme in my pieces.
What about spirituality attracts you to explore its realms through your work?
Pretty much my interest in all sorts of spirituality started when, as a teen I discovered I was gay and I needed to find answers that made sense to me. I indulged in many religions, devoured many books, and had both good and bad experiences. Then one day I discovered Carl Jung’s work on archetypes (and later Joseph Campbell’s Comparative Mythology) and something just clicked. In particular, the relationship between symbols, spirituality and the human psyche, and how art since the beginning of time has helped all cultures to depict the same archetypical forces in different ways and with different names.
It all sounded very holistic and inclusive of all cultures and that still fascinates me. I treasure reason and logical thought as much as I treasure mythology and folklore, I participate in rituals when I go to Brazil and have deep respect for my roots specially the African and Native American ones, but if anyone asks me what my religion is, I would answer: it’s Art.
Is there a specific headspace you must be in in order for you to create?
Yes. generally I am the most creative when I am in a good frame of mind. All sorts of worries (money; day-job, etc.) can hinder my process so I always try to get in a positive vibe before attacking the paper.
If any, what is the message that you try to convey through your artwork?
I like to tell stories. Most of my work narrates something. It can be a day-to-day situation or a myth. Myths are the stories behind the stories, they never happened literally but always appear somehow in everyday life. I like to play with this concept.
The ideas behind my art are not that unique because the things that inspire me are not new. Take mythology for example, it is as old as mankind. What is a bit newer is the way Psychology brought light on the subject. I like to reinterpret all that with my own sauce and the outcome can be considered unique. I try to have fun anyway when I am creating and often the need comes from within rather than to fill a gap in the art scene or to be different from the other artists. I don’t have an agenda.
How do you engage the viewers through your paintings thoroughly enough in order for them to differentiate the psychological nature of a character from the spiritual aspect?
I don’t think most people differentiate, and that is ok. Religiosity and spirituality are part of the human psyche (Greek for soul, the object of study of Psychology). The Greeks had a very large pantheon of gods, but they didn’t have the word religion. The Tibetans also have a huge pantheon of deities borrowed from Hindu and Bon tradition, but for them those deities are not something out there, but aspects of our mind. I think in the end, people will interpret a figurative piece of artwork according to their own beliefs and culture. In the African Diaspora religion in Brazil, some Orisha worshippers see my Orishas series as a Christian would see an icon, but others in the same cultural context would see the Orisha as their deep nature.
I hugely respect the cultures I depict or make allusions of, but rather than using my art in a literal way to preach or convert people, I want to present that one doesn’t need to be a believer to respect and be amazed by the beauty of a symbol, or to react with fear and warn by the drawing of a demon. It is important to reaffirm here that I don’t come with an agenda. I draw the things I do because I feel compelled to. It’s a very personal thing and throughout the years I have met many people who relate to those drawings on all sorts of levels. I have also been criticized for using religious or spiritual symbols, but who owns the copyrights of human semiology?
This is a hard question, easier to the viewer to answer. I tend to see similarities in other people’s work and I focus on what I could improve. I suppose that my cultural background and the places I lived, the things, people and artists that inspire me shaped my style and made me keen to experimentation and innovation.
How would you want people to perceive your art?
I always say that I prefer not to have high expectations and want people to read it as if it was a book telling a story that goes on inside my head. But I would prefer them not to be literal neither come with preconceptions.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
When I finally get my research done or get my idea right and sketch it in the sketchbook.
I think it is “It’s in your head” because I managed to bring many personal and cultural influences to one piece but keeping it simple and with a small palette.
What were the cultural influences that lead you to creating, “It’s in your head”? (image pictured below)
The symbols on this piece are from African and European influences. We see a voodoo priestess rather than a priest performing some sort of exorcism in a young man sat in a chair. A demon is over him and adopts a defying position towards the priestess who sprays liquor from her mouth. A female angel flies above her blowing a trumpet. It’s a fight between dark and light, good and evil.
The trumpet represents the need for the good to have a sound that is louder than the evil. On the floor there are some Haitian voodoo magic drawings called Vevé. We can identify the Ogoun Veve of protection. But if the demon is inside the circle with him how come he is protected? That suggests that what many people accuse of being work of the devil is in reality, their own shadow, reflecting the negativity within.
Visit andrehora.com for more artwork!