name: Betino Assa
education: Masters degree in Fine arts, Printmaking
residence: Montreal, Canada
Mokuso: How often do you produce art and does this depend on something?
Betino Assa: I haven’t reached the point where I produce art or whatever. Painting for me is searching for myself and an activity, that gives me pleasure. Being able to sell art and present it in a more commercial way is something that comes as a result. Sometimes I have more zip and draw more. But I, as many other, have moments of creative blackouts and then I need a break and things that distract me in other directions.
M: Describe inspiration
B.A: I’m mostly inspired by unconventional architecture, furniture design, electronic music, sometimes an article or a book. Sometimes a conversation with an interesting person can give me an idea of a painting or other forms of art expression. I’m not very into looking for paintings of other artists, who have similar style as me. I don’t know why, but this doesn’t influence me, it doesn’t give me anything special, only helps me to see how the land lies and what other people around me are doing.
M: Do you keep your childhood drawings? What did you like to draw in kindergarten and what didn’t you like about art classes in school?
B.A: I keep some of my drawings from my childhood, when I was 10 to 12 years old. Then I was into russian classic painters and I used to draw trees, landscapes with boats. I had some moments in art classes when I was very bored or indifferent, when we were painting still lifes.
M: Museum of soviet art was opened recently in Sofia. Do you think this type of art has a place in the contemporary art tendencies and have you personaly been inspired by it in some way? How would an approach like this look like in a country like Canada?
B.A: I cannot say anything about this museum, because I had no idea it exists, but for me it is more like an attraction than a place to show art, be inspired or learn something. It can be more like historical museum than art museum.
M: What are your favourite artistic devices and are any substances involved in the art process?
B.A: In the printmaking there are a lot of techniques, in which a lot of metal instruments and substances are included. I have experience in etching – an acid is used to fret copper or aluminium plate. Lately I’ve been doing graving in plexiglass and drawing on it afterwards with acrylic paints.
M: We find it really difficult to describe your works. Can you try with few words? Or with one?
B.A: My works are in some way realistic, mixed with abstract moments. There are some surrealistic elements. I often draw different human or anthropoid characters, that interact with animals or subjects in urban or natural environment. The idea is to put them next to each other, what is human made and made by nature, and I try to put these imaginary characters in a comic or absurd situation. My recent works are story tellers of a specific event. Two or more things represent one event in several cadres. If I have to describe my works with one word it would be atmosphere.
M: Do offsrpings or comic situations happen in Canada? Tell us some interesting story.
B.A: Canada needs a lot of comic situations so that people can break the ice. Honestly I cannot think of something funny right now, but offspings – there are many. More serious than comic. The first winter I spent in Canada it was in Winnipeg, Manitoba. There was a day when the temperature was 54 degrees below zero. I burned my fingers when trying to open the door of the house I was living in. Now I live in Montreal, where winter is more bearable. The city’s and inhabitants’ style is more european than any other canadian city.
M: Do you send a message with your works or you just go with the flow of your inspiration? Have you ever felt like somebody else is holding the pencil while you draw?
B.A: In all my works I mostly want to recreate specific atmosphere and to make the audience feel emotions. I’ve never felt something or somebody controlling the process. Maybe sometimes I wish this happens. When I don’t have any idea I really need a small hint what colour to use or what idea to develop.
M: Do you invent the stories of your works (or characters)?
B.A: Yes, the element of a story or event is closely connected with my stories. Wihtout this they are only wall decorations.
M: Who’s your favourit artist? Is there somebody you have common style?
B.A: The british painter Nigel Cooke, the sculptor Barry X Ball, Pieter Buregel and Hieronymus Bosch are my inspirations. I don’t search for artists with similar style.
M: Final sentence (recommend something to our readers).
B.A: I recommend that you find joy in the small things in life and be very curious about everything.