Visionary Artist, CEO and Co-Founder of Atelier-Bklyn, Raquel Díaz shares with MindMeet her philosophy and unique perspective on art, life, and finding beauty and inspiration in the passing clouds.
AH: What does ‘art’ mean to you?
RD: What is art? Is it just a beautiful thing? I don’t think so. How do you see art? With your eyes? With your mind? The deconstruction of this idea of ‘art’, of image, of having something there that’s static, is something I’m really interested in at the moment. How do we get into all of that and somehow twist it around? Painting, I think, can be something very static when people just want to create something beautiful. I’m more interested in the mind and the brain, in the visual effect and how we deconstruct the idea of modern art. I don’t need to do something beautiful; I don’t need to do something that is technically correct, just because I can.
AH: Tell us about your creative process as a painter.
RD: I don’t consider myself a painter by definition. I am a researcher. I paint as my media but I’m a seeker. I’m always triggered by things. I’m very curious.
One day, I ran out of gesso (an off-white base I put on canvas). I had just a little bit so I decided to splash it on and let it dry. A few days later I came back to it, looked at it and started seeing things. When I was a child I used to look at the clouds all the time – I think everyone does that. You look at clouds and you see things, so I wanted to recreate that. I said to myself, “Listen, these are the paintings talking to you and it’s also your visual effect, your mind. It’s working right now and you have to set that down.” So I went and rushed and started painting it on another canvas, and then I just got really sparked by it and started doing more.
AH: What did this accident reveal? Did you continue using this as a process?
RD: Yes. It revealed to me that we all have these clouds we see, but it’s your own mind that’s interpreting them and giving them some sort of shape or image. You are the one seeing something. The way I’m going to see this particular cloud on the canvas is going to be different from how you see yours. So, it’s a wonderful technique I use to explore the brain, to look at how our minds work with things, and how visuals influence the mind. That’s my thing.
AH: It seems like you are aiming for an unfiltered or spontaneous reaction, as both a creator and a viewer.
RD: It’s unfiltered—exactly. Right now, I’m doing more figurative work and sometimes I get inspired by the way things are placed or even by a photograph. But I don’t like to copy pictures because, again, my philosophy is really to find something that comes right out of me, rather than trying to duplicate someone else’s creation. I want mine to be completely raw.
AH: What would you tell people who are intimidated by galleries or who don’t feel they have the knowledge or background to appreciate or understand art?
RD: When I walk into great galleries, I always tell myself that these people – Matisse, Picasso, whoever – are my friends. I don’t feel inferior. It’s not because I’m egocentric – it’s just because we are the same thing – people. We, as humans, can create anything. So, I always want to see the beauty of art, and I feel completely together with the whole experience. I never compare myself with anything or anyone in life. No one should do that. It’s a waste of time.
AH: So, you’re connecting to the humanity and the spirit behind the painting, regardless of talent, ability, or knowledge of the artist or the viewer?
RD: Absolutely. A piece of art is more than just a flat piece on the wall and it’s more than just a reputation of a famous person. It’s a piece of that person who created it. It’s a piece of their humanity. And our reaction to it is the piece of our humanity that is touched by it.
AH: When did you first feel a conscious connection to a piece of art?
RD: When I was around 13, there was a teacher showing pictures by many different artists during a lesson in school, and I vividly remember this one classical piece. It was a projection on the wall—a big projection—and I was sitting in the middle of the class. Suddenly I started crying. People were taking notes, writing names and dates, trying to get the theoretical side of it and I just sat there, crying. I was completely emotional, and it was just because. It moved me. I was completely out of place. People weren’t showing their emotions, just trying to gather information. But for me, artistic investigation is not just one kind of research—it also includes the way you feel about it.
AH: Your point that emotion is information is one that people tend to forget in their quest to assign tangible or intellectual value to a piece of art, isn’t it?
RD: Indeed. The brain is in the heart, it’s not in the mind. True knowledge is in the heart. And art is something that can bind that knowledge, evoke emotions, and create connections to each other as human beings.
Along with her husband, Alan Aine, Raquel Díaz is the Co-Creator of Atelier-Bklyn and an autodidact figurative impressionistic artist based out of Brooklyn, New York. Their philosophy? Art is life; life is art. Raquel and Alan aim to revolutionize the art scene through a genuine creative process, and their company was established to become a vector for that aspiration.