Monday, May 4, 2009
Interview with Artist Suzzan Blac
English artist Suzzan Blac paints for pain. Her incredibly gory, surrealist paintings are both beautiful and frightening, depicting scenes of torture, anguish and brutality. And yet, she says all these emotions come directly from her experience with abuse and the visuals come straight from her wild imagination.
More amazing still is that she doesn’t rely on computer manipulation, paints everything by hand and is self-taught, drawing further inspiration Francis Bacon’s nightmarish paintings, the realism of Jan van Eyck and Hans Holbein and the ornate Baroque style of Caravaggio. Throw in a bit of the surrealism of Hieronymus Bosch and some H.R. Giger, and you’ve got an inkling of an idea of what Suzzan’s artwork looks like…but nothing can prepare you for actually seeing her stunning art for the first time!
We had a chance to talk to Suzzan about her art, her technique and just how she comes up with such horrifying and disturbing images.
Fatally Yours: How long have you been painting? How long have you been painting as the “Goddess of Gore?”
Suzzan Blac: I have been painting since 2000, previous to that I only ever used pencil! Well, the Goddess of Gore was the name given to me by my friend Roxanne who runs my fan page, people then referred to me as that and it kinda stuck, I think its really cool because there are not many women who paint as I do! Although I know that I am inspiring some to do their very worst too!!
Fatally Yours: Were you self-taught or did you go to art school to hone your craft?
Suzzan Blac: No, I didn’t attend any art school, I wouldn’t of stuck it out anyway, I am way too stubborn and I can’t be told what to do – that doesn’t sit well in my pig-headed world!
Fatally Yours: What medium do you use most?
Suzzan Blac: Although I do still like to draw in pencil sometimes, oil is my only medium. It is the only medium that I can achieve the realism that I want.
Fatally Yours: What do you think of digital manipulation of art and the “shortcuts” artist use today as opposed to the traditional, “pure” form of art?
Suzzan Blac: Oh I love it, there are some amazing images out there, but I can’t see beyond the aesthetics. I can’t see any emotion within digital art, you can only get that through the pain of painting. What I do is such fucking hard work; you can only relay your suffering through endless, lonely, frustrating, servile months of absolute hatred! I only ever enjoy the first layer, after that I dread every day!
Fatally Yours: Do you believe artistic skill is inherent or is it possible to be taught to be a good artist?
Suzzan Blac: I think anyone can learn to draw and paint to a certain degree, but that does not make you an artist. You cannot “learn” to be an artist, you either are or you’re not! It is inherent, a true artist already knows, they don’t need lessons in perspective, colors, etc. I know how things are meant to be or I can imagine how they would be. I don’t even use reference, I hate that, it’s boring, and I refuse to copy, say a photo of a person. You can’t get pure emotion from copying a photo; the closest would be if it were a candid shot of someone displaying real emotion. I paint from my mind, that’s the best reference.
The other elements that make an artist are that of passion, stubbornness, determination, imagination and the ability to push the boundaries of your mind further each time!
Fatally Yours: Does the pain, torture, anger and sadness in your paintings come from personal experience? Does painting act as a cathartic experience for you?
Suzzan Blac: Yes. Mostly all of my painting’s are self portraits; I only ever paint my feelings. My paintings are my mind, my anger, my pain, my fear…splattered over canvas, but not in an angry way. That would not be suffering, that’s why I paint so meticulously, it’s painstaking, it’s torturous, it’s almost self abuse, so I guess it is cathartic, but only because I know that I’m turning all of my “bad” into “good”, and that makes me feel alive.
Fatally Yours: Are there paintings you keep to yourself and don’t show anyone because they are too brutal and intense?
Suzzan Blac: Yes, I have about 40 private paintings that I don’t show anyone, I have shown them, and received shocking reactions such as ”personal distress” and “condemnations and judgment of myself”. I may show them one day…but not yet!
Fatally Yours: Do you hope your art sends the viewer a message? What do you hope people take away after viewing your art?
Suzzan Blac: I want my paintings to really touch people, but only those that matter, not the ignorant, shallow, narrow-minded shitheads out there, but the compassionate and people who can identify and connect to my work. There are a lot of them, I receive so many wonderful, inspiring messages of appreciation and these people…they fuel my art!
Fatally Yours: What would you say to those that wish to censor your work?
Suzzan Blac: Those that censor my work not only violate my freedom of speech and expression as an artist, but also as a survivor of abuse and the many who are unable to view it.
Fatally Yours: What artists’ work has influenced you the most?
Suzzan Blac: My main influences are artists such as [Hans] Holbein, [Jan] van Eyck, Caravaggio and [Francis] Bacon. I love realism and strong emotion, so I guess I combine those two elements within my work.
Fatally Yours: What other external factors (besides other artwork) influence your paintings?
Suzzan Blac: My true inspiration comes from artists who have suffered, overcome and given their all within their art – people like Beethoven, Otep Shamaya [lead singer of metal band Otep], John Nash [American mathematician whose life is the basis for the film A Beautiful Mind] Jacqueline du Pre [English cellist] and David Helfgott [Australian concert pianist whose life is the basis for the film Shine]…to name a few.
Inspiration for my subject matter comes from my hate, anger and pain, I wasn’t born with those feelings, they were given to me by the sub-humans that infested my life. They don’t “own” me anymore, though. I portray them in paint, so in effect, I own them.
Fatally Yours: Are you a horror movie/book fan? If so, what are some of your favorites?
Suzzan Blac: I only like really good horror movies if there is a good story, I hate those “slash” films, there so crappy and lame!
I love thrillers such as Silence of the Lambs, Fargo, Seven and quirky, surreal, black movies such as Oldboy and the Coen Brothers and of course Stephen King’s books and films…He’s like the best storyteller ..EVER!
Fatally Yours: Your paintings are so unique, original and scary. Would you ever consider taking a job in the entertainment industry designing monsters for horror films?
Suzzan Blac: Oh yeah!! I would love to create some weird, creepy scary creature that would freak people out, that would be really cool!!
Fatally Yours: Tell us about your first solo show at the (in)famous Stychnin Gallery in London!
Suzzan Blac: Oh it was immense!! A great night, great people, great music…and free booze!! I spend so much time creating alone, it was a wonderful, stimulating feeling to relax and watch people observing and discussing my paintings. I have great reactions on the internet but nothing beats a live audience!!
Fatally Yours: What new paintings are you working on?
Suzzan Blac: I’m doing one more of my doll series, and working on two others…YES!! YES!! they contain BLOOD!! I tried not to, but it just came out…I can’t help it! Well, I am the Goddess of BLOODY Gore you know!
Fatally Yours: I couldn’t imagine your art without some blood in it anyhow! Thanks so much for your time, Suzzan. Your art is spectacular and we wish you all the best in the future!
Suzzan Blac: You are most welcome…and thank you for having me!