Sunday, July 19, 2009

HEART-SEED-LIGHT: Interview with artist, Eva Bertok

The beauty of having a place to share my inspirations -the works of fellow artists & thinkers -is that I can connect seemingly distinct worlds and work towards building a global movement of like-minded visionaries from across the globe. It is a time of change and awakening, and the more we bring that to the light, the more we help to elevate & reinforce the vibration that can bring on positive change. In that spirit, I would like to introduce my fellow soul-traveler, inspiration and closest friend from Hungary, Éva Bertók. A born-artist who could connect effortlessly with people of all ages and backgrounds, Éva has always been for me a model of how to stay free and forever young in spirit and how to do art for the love of creating while staying true to your principles. I've always loved her radiant, genuinely loving and nurturing spirit, and knowing what tough life challenges she had to work through to get to that space of positivity, makes it ever more so real. Éva was born and grew up in Hungary, but like myself has been a world-traveling nomad who could find her spiritual home amongst the artist communities of Mexico, Barcelona or Budapest with equal ease. Her story of self-discovery as an artist has been a great inspiration for me, and it is my great pleasure to share her world with those who come to read my blog.

Lichiban: I know that you had a decisive moment in your life when you realized that doing art is your true calling. You jumped into the deep and decided to work with clay. What triggered this move?

Eva Bertok: Yes, I can clearly remember, I simply jumped blindfolded into the unknown, but I didn’t have a choice, since the unexpressed creative energies started to cause physical symptoms. I had to find the deeper layers of my creativity, so I started working with clay three times, again and again, after I tried out wood and metal as well. I think that what has to be expressed is going to be expressed in one way or an other. The moment of enlightenment is when you realize that you have to step on the PATH that leads to your destiny. For me this message came while I was in a state of uncertainty and feeling stuck.

L: What drew you to clay as your medium? What does clay represent to you?

EB: I’ve always liked clay, although I stopped working with it twice in Budapest. The European ceramic-culture didn’t satisfy me, the available techniques bored me to hell. It was in Barcelona – where I lived for a couple of years – where I got introduced to pre-Columbian cultures, and their love for small statues and figure-shaped pots which are filled with a magical quality, beauty and ‘SERVICE’, struck me right away. Their symbolism tell you plenty of things and take you to endless journeys, with which I can’t get bored of. After a while I felt like I became a figure-shaped pot as well…

I started to learn the Indian techniques in Spain, and continued to do so in Mexico. Its good to touch the clay, to smell it, fiddle with it, shape it, to manifest the imagination in 3-D. To work with the 4 elements /earth, fire, air, water/ is a truly complex thing to do. It’s fascinating to see how it always tells us if we are not listening enough!

L: You and I often talk about the therapeutic effect of art. Could you tell me about your approach to art therapy?
EB: In 1994, when after six years my family moved back from Spain to Hungary, I opened my school of ceramics, which in a-now-fashionable way can be called art-therapy, however I’ve always called it simply ‘fonó’ (Hungarian word for a traditional female circle, where the women in the community gather together to work on some craft while sharing stories and passing down traditional lore). Here, even today, while working everyone gets to a relaxed and chilled out space where they can open up to talk about their problems and issues, which we all try to solve. It is combining healing with creating.

On the other hand, if we work alone in silence, we get into a meditative state which helps a lot in solving our problems by letting us see them from a relaxed point of view. We release blocks and obstacles inside and out. The finished work shows us that we are able to manifest what we want, and that can give us a huge deal of confidence. I should stress however that it’s not the finished pieces what really matters, but the path that leads there and the meditative state that calms us down or gives us the creative flow.

L: The heart is an ever-present symbolism in your work. What does it represent to you?

EB: For me the heart means Life. It symbolizes The Male and the Female principle, the ‘self-core’ or ‘self-seed’ (‘seed’ and ‘core’ are both signified by the same Hungarian word ‘mag’, which is also the root of the word ‘self’), unity, love, sexuality, the place from where new LIFE arises again and again. It can be put into many forms, that is what my ‘Szivugyek’ (‘Matters of the Heart’) series was all about.

L: Your sculptures have an elemental, sensual feel to them. I always see the recurrent theme of combining abstract with organic forms and a constant play on female and male sexual symbolic imagery. Could you tell me a little more about this symbolism?

EB: The pre-Columbian cultures were the first that made me aware of this duality...the symbolism of the Sun- Moon, Male-Female, Sky- Earth etc. This harmony of opposites that I would like to express. The sexual symbolism always played an important role in my life. Life-energy in harmony, I guess this is what I would like to express with my work.

L: Many of your work serve as light sculptures. Why do you like to work with light effects?

EB: I’ve been playing with light for a long time now, it makes clay (=matter) more ethereal, and it always creates a different pattern, which only becomes visible when the piece is finished. You get a very special atmosphere thanks to the light-dots in the space. I wanted to make a Sun-lamp, and to my biggest surprise sunrays appeared in front of me on the wall. That’s when I started to create light-structures in different forms more consciously. I think about them as tools of meditation, which project light spots and lines according to the vibrations of the mind, depending on how the hand moves while creating it. Its always different, can’t get bored of it…

L: What was the most important experience you learned in your artist carrier so far?

EB: Probably the most important is that we have to listen to our inner voices, and don’t let ourselves being manipulated by the conditions when working. Oh yes there is a very good advise I received from a friend of mine, when I lacked inspiration and my creativity was stuck: it is the idea of the ‘routine-fuck’, which means that if we are having a writers' block, we should revisit one of our previous projects, and while working on it allow new inspiration to come which might give birth to a new period, a new cycle. This has been given to me at the end of a really long and hard time-period when I felt completely empty. It changed my life and gave birth to a new style. It helped a lot since then, I recommend it to anyone.

L:. Does 2012 have any significance to you? If yes, what?
EB: It was in 2000 when I first heard of 2012, on my first trip to Mexico. There are quite a few theories about what is going to happen with today's civilization, but no one can really know completely. On my first trip to Mexico, Palenque, the ruins of a Maya city, was the last stop of my pilgrimage, or to be precise, the tomb of Pakal. It’s quite a long story and I don’t want get into it, I only mentioned it to show that I have a long-time interest and affinity for Mayan culture. They close their calendar with 2012, in which they write about not only our culture, but the previous ones as well, however a missing link hasn’t been found yet, which would tell what they think is going to happen in 2012. Astrology also underlines the things that are bound to come suggesting that the systems as they are known today will change. Only the higher vibration of love-energy will allow access to embrace the dimensional change. Let’s watch ourselves.

Jung’s idea of the “shadow” comes to my mind. Briefly: If we have the courage to recognize the flaws in ourselves, and we don’t try to project them onto someone else, then we have done something in order to make a better world and raise positivity. “The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.” (read more on Jung’s idea of the “shadow” here)

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