a)Adela Leibowitz, pleased to meet you.
q) Where do you live and work?
a)New York City.
q) How did you started? How have you realized you wanted to become an artist?
a) I drew a lot as a kid, as most kids all over the world do. I was completely fascinated with the art of album cover books, and the graphics and drawings on the flyers of the hardcore and punk bands I would go see. At that age I collected and idolized vintage Vampierella and Eerie comix from places my dad would take me to. Also horror and suspense movies were the love of my life. I spent all my free time reading and drawing. I was really influenced by 2 of my friends’ mom’s. One was an original punk from the 70’s, another was a very well known illustrator of horror and sci-fi novels. These women opened up different possibilities for me. I remember her paint sets, and volumes of art books. It was like a secret world I wanted access to. My dad had a good book collection, and I’ll never forget the first time I saw Max Ernst and Hieronymus Bosch paintings. I was 7 or 8 and I had put up the torn out pages on my walls. In Junior HS and H.S. I was always encouraged to enter contests with my drawings and paintings. My peers were supportive, and some bought my work from class projects, which was also really encouraging. All of these experiences combined to make me know this was the way I wanted to live my life.
q) What materials do you use and why?
a)Mostly I only paint in oils. It is the only medium I found that is an inexhaustible source of variation. I was entranced by its almost alchemist like properties, the mediums, the solvents, the differing quality and consistency of each individual pigment. It seemed very magical and still is.
q) Who is your biggest influence, both art and non-art related
a)Hieronymus Bosch, the black paintings of Goya, Bruegel, Holbein.
My father’s vast book collection and collection of Haitian voodoo paintings.
My father too because he constantly weaved reality and non-reality. He used to work in the Air Force, then The US Department of defense He was very secretive, but he would do funny things like take his hands off the wheel while driving and say he learned mind control in the military. I could never tell when he was telling the truth or not, so my imagination was always going. I’m sure that had a big influence on me.
My mom just because. She once told me a story of her walking home from school one day and she saw a hole, you could peer down and see the tops of scattered houses and the land from above. No one was around, she wanted to throw her shoe down this mini world from above but was afraid of being reprimanded for a missing shoe. She ran off to look for a rock or stick, but then could not find the hole again. I believe in the possibility of finding strangeness in the mundane, each and every day.
My parents met by a wrong phone call. My dad was visiting Iran: he was looking up a general in the phonebook and found 2 listings for the same name. Even the addresses were similar. The bellhop at the hotel where he was using the phonebook randomly called one of the numbers for my father. No one could understand my fathers broken Farci (the Persian language), so they put my mother on the phone to translate. Coincidentally, she was an English teacher. They hit it off, went on a few chaperoned dates, got married and the rest is history.
q) How do you dream up with your wacky ideas? What is your creation process?
a)A flash will go off of a still image, usually very quickly in my head. I see a very strong image, and It can happen anywhere. It usually does not work for me to begin a painting if that did not happen.
q) What haven't you done yet that you definitely want to try someday?
a)I never know what I want to do until the moment comes.
q) Are there any contemporary artists that you love?
a)Yes, I love the work of video artist Laurel Nakadate, and Pipilotti Rist, and the movies of David Lynch. Also Inka Essenhigh, Philippe Perrot, Francis Bacon, so many, too many to name!
q) How long does it take for you to finish a piece?
a)They have taken anywhere from one month to four months. I like to work on one at a time so I can totally fixate on that thing only. I don’t like to get scattered.
q) What music, if any, do you like to have on while you're working?
a)Sometimes I listen to talk radio, other times Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Nico, Johnny Cash, The Carter Family, Leonard Cohen, Belle and Sebastian, M.I.A., and movie soundtracks.
q) Do you do many art shows?
a)Yes I have had a few solo and group shows mostly based in both New York, and California so far. Maybe some upcoming in Japan too. My website lists them all under “upcoming” so check back frequently for updates!
q) Tell us about a recent dream you had.
a)In my dream a girl I had never seen before was being abused by her father, and then it cut to a scene in a pool. She was staring at the back of his head while they were swimming and noticed his hair was turning into a miniature forest with beautiful little gardens, almost like an outward mark of his guilt.
As she looked around she noticed many heads of hair on the guests, both men and women, attending the pool party turning into gardens or forests and realized everyone was guilty of some dark secret.
In a courtyard next door many Asian girls were hung upside down and performing upside down calisthenics to make desserts come from their mouths. Specific movements could offer up either fudge or éclairs, it was amazing.
q) What are you doing when you are not creating?
a)Reading, watching movies. Mostly I’m painting though. I like to take breaks and go away somewhere rural and woodsy once in awhile.
q) Do you get emotionally attached to your work and do you miss your work when it is sold?
a)No, I feel that even though I made them, they are not really mine. I can’t explain it very well. I only hope they find good homes with people who will love and care for them.
q) What new projects or exhibits are in your future?
a)I’m working on a solo show in New York, please check my website for more details and updates!
q) What is your favorite art related web site?
a)Oh, I have quite a few, modernartobsession.com, fecalface.com, artfagcity.com, artforum.net, artsjournal.com, artnet, and now yours Claudio!
q) What is the strangest thing you have ever seen?
a)When I was little I used to see ghosts. Doors and closets would be opened when I came into my room, if they were just closed just a moment before. Items disappeared all the time and would be found in strange places. I used to hear voices and frantic scratching from inside my closet. I also had these nightly occurrences where I would hear voices in languages I could not identify, and through my slit eyes I would see dark figures looming around my bed . To this day I am afraid to fall asleep with my arms crossed in an “x” formation over my chest, because there seemed to be some connection between that and waking to hear the voices whispering around me.
Once, when I was 11 I started to hear jazz music, but no radio was playing. My cat was walking towards me then broke into 2 rats running to me. Then I knew something was realIy wrong. I could see the air shimmer and breathe, and the only thing I can describe as little demons would run towards me but hide behind furniture or freeze if I looked upon them. The houseplants turned into writhing snakes. I had to be in a state of constant paranoia and terror because only my eyes seeing the running demons would stop them from approaching too close. One second of not being vigilant could mean they would get me. My mother came home and thought I was joking, she became very angry with me but then when she saw something was wrong I was taken to the doctor. The doctor had no thoughts on why that happened, and seemed very dubious about the whole thing.
My father used to tell me my experiences with ghosts and demons were real, and they must have sensed my fear and enjoyed preying on me. He suggested someone may be doing voodoo on me. He encouraged me to read up on alternate universes and voodoo. He collected Haitian voodoo art, and explained to me that I may have found access to my body double in another dimension. I think that is the source of my twin paintings. The idea that I have a twin, and possibly everyone else, that is accessible through heightened states of awareness. He often spoke of black holes and the possibility of access to alternate universes.
q) What is the strangest thing you have ever done?
a)Hmm well I never actually did this, but I was talking to my boyfriends uncle, who is a Baptist minister about my art, and I noticed him getting very animated and then he admitted he had started to exorcise houses that had spirit activity and he offered to do an exorcism on me.
I worried I had made a bad impression on him.
q) Any advice you can pass onto aspiring artists/designers?
a)Time to do your work is the most important thing, move to Alaska for a while if necessary.
q) Your contacts.. E-mail.links