“In being introverts by nature, we find in art a way to communicate our messages to the world. Through art, we discovered we have a place in a world we never really felt we belonged to.”Nil and Karin Romano
The following interview forms part of a series where I invite a number of contemporary artists to each reflect on their personal history, meaning and philosophy, and how those are expressed throughout their creative process.
This week I talk to Nil and Karin Romano, twin female painters based in Tel Aviv. For the artists, each work is “an opportunity to narrate a story of their inner world”. Their interest revolves around the complexity of human soul and emotions and they communicate these notions through motifs such as chaos, ritualism, and nihilism.
They explain that such ideas resulted from a long period of depression and, therefore, of isolation from society. As they explain, “being introverts by nature, we found in art a way to communicate our messages to the world”. Their creations are “mutual and simultaneous and their style is intense, ritualistic and cult-like, dealing with beliefs and religion, relationships between women, magic, as well as with the power of emotions”. Romano often use themselves as a reference to create imaginative female characters, something particularly visible through their black and white series of drawings.
In our interview, Nil and Karin tell me what they think their art says about them, how their art is a means of reflection and exploration for them, and whether or not they agree with Robert Rauschenberg that, “an empty canvas is full”.
What do you think your art says about you?
Our art can tell that we are very creative, imaginative, emotionally driven, that we are chaotic and intense, impulsive and yet also very sensitive and fragile human beings. It also can point out that we are not the biggest optimists and that we can see the beauty in everything, whether it’s tragic or joyful.
How is your art a means of reflection or exploration for you?
Our art is very personal and therefore it unfolds intimate and personal stories about our lives. For us, each work is an opportunity to narrate a story of our inner worlds. Our interest revolves around the complexity of human soul and emotions and we communicate these notions through motifs such as chaos, ritualism, and nihilism. Such ideas resulted from a long period of depression, and, therefore, of isolation from society.
In being introverts by nature, we find in art a way to communicate our messages to the world. Through art, we discovered we have a place in a world we never really felt belonged to. Our latest exhibition that took part in the Janco Dada Museum was called ‘The Secret World Of The Introverts’; just by the title that we gave to the exhibition you can understand we meant to hint to the viewers that it’s gonna be super personal and genuine.
We also paint ourselves in intimate situations regarding the twin bonds we share. Our art can also critique the society in which we live in. Thematically, most of our works focused on an intense relationship and bondage between individuals who try to survive and exist in a chaotic, destructive, and threatening world.
Which artwork of yours stands out at this moment as being particularly meaningful to you?
It’s really hard for us to pick only one. We feel attached to most of our paintings and drawings but we have a special soft spot for one in particular called “Room Full Of Grief” (The Funeral). We did this piece of work when we were in the process of losing someone we really love which was such a unique person. Our aunt was a true rebel in her heart so we found it easy to connect with her on a deeper level. She got ill and we prepared ourselves for the last goodbye when making a painting about loss. It helped us cope with the situation in the most personal way.
The other drawing that we got attached to recently is called: ” I Want To Pull The Sadness Out Of You” (shown below). The drawing shows two gay muscular figures, one crying and the other enveloping him with love and support and pull him upwards in order to lift him from his pain. We made two versions to this piece, one as a black and white drawing and the other as a painting with bold colours on a big size canvas. It’s hard for us to even tell which of the two we love more because they touch us both, they are the same but yet so different from one another.
Do you think it’s possible to find beauty in anything?
Personally, we think it is possible to find beauty in anything. We can see the beauty in the dark. Let us give you an example: we recently visited a photography exhibition and the pieces that touched us the most were those who showed the struggle, we saw in them so much beauty and honesty. The photographers who showed only smiles and flowers didn’t do us a thing. We couldn’t see their beauty.
There is this song that we really find beautiful and poetic that is called: ” I Love You In Your Tragic Beauty” by The Legendary Pink Dots. The caption says it all. The fragility of human existence has always had a great impact on our aesthetics. We see the beauty in pain. We have a soft spot for foreign cinema that shows the complexity of relationships and life itself. Perfection is boring and even ugly in our eyes. Comedies bore us, black comedy though can be fine! We have always been attracted to the complex because we are a little complicated ourselves. This is reflected in the kind of music, poetry, and films we love.
Who are some emerging artists you think we should be paying more attention to?
We find magic in the artworks of Ella Walker, Sanya Kantarovsky, Lisa Brice, Solange Knopf, Kai Althoff. We love their aesthetics and sensitivity A LOT. A good artist should not only entertain but should also have something to say. That’s why maybe we are less attracted to pop art we always search for a meaning in anything in life.
Robert Rauschenberg said, “An empty canvas is full.” How much do you agree with him?
To be honest, we do not very much agree with Mr. Rauschenberg. We guess we are a little bit afraid of the emptiness, but for others an empty canvas can be full.
See more of Nil and Karin Romano’s work and keep up to date with upcoming exhibitions: Instagram