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05.02.2013 Text: lucia barbiero // Pix: lucia barbiero

Sculpture and painting graffiti

Romantic symbolism to reflect the concerns of the human being with a contemporary art style that is imposed gently, like a whisper: by Elena Abeni (Brescia 1965) and Roland Kocherhans (Zürich 1958), El.Rol.Art.Works the artistic duo Made in Ibiza.

A question I always ask myself when observing an artwork is: what is art, what’s the point of art?

Visual art is a language to tell stories, suggest emotions, express a mood – but it’ s a complex form of communication, as intense, fantastic and colorful language is its characteristic. It requires attention and dedication… Does this mean that it is impossible to decipher an artwork without artistic training? No, leaving behind the mental conditioning and letting go, art helps to recognise your mind’s current mood – or lose it! Visual art stimulates thinking, encourages play with the imagination, to feel identified, to express thoughts and ideas.

Art starts-up the mental mechanisms that generate emotions. For an artist there is nothing better than (in a world that is very difficult to interpret) achieving a recognisable language and to be wanted for it!

Elena and Roland have acquired, over time, a personal style. A reading of life with a contemporary technique inspired by the cave painting (ex graffiti) and is expressed through sculptures of iron and resin and paintings laden with symbolism and imagination. Despite human concerns represented by sea monsters present in their works, a more sensual and romantic vision of life arises automatically. Their art is a kind of exorcism to express and externalize the difficulties of life.

There are many monsters in our work, represented by the black fish. They are my monsters. The monsters are necessary to help you grow. My ‘monster’ is trying to do something that interests me and to others. If life is plain, if you don’t have any monsters to overcome, if there are no difficulties, life becomes boring and would not be a life for me. I always need a concern that makes me grow. INQUIETUD / CONCERN is the title of our latest exhibition in Can Jeroni – San Josep’s ArtGalley – Ibiza“, says Elena.

Their symbolism expresses the metaphor of life, the human being and the contact with nature. There is a great deal of poetry in their interpretation. As in the title Les Fleurs du Mal de Baudelaire (French symbolist poet) …evil, as good, has its fruits, its flowers and its beauties…

The surreal, slender and feminine, sculptures seem alien, are they so thin to represent the fragility of human beings? And why are they women?

Elena: They are part of a series of sculptures and paintings that I call “The Fisherfolks, / las Pescadoras” because they symbolise the opportunities of life that we have fished or not. But while I am working I don’t think in what I do, my hands flow without thinking so much and without much theory. They are women, as it is common to think that women are weak because we have a fragile appearance.  Actually we are very strong. It is evident that when I do a sculpture the part that I prefer modeling is the pelvis!

And what is the message in the red heart trees?

Elena: “Love Tree” is a series that comes from quick drawings I’ve done and it represents love, which we must always take care to make grow.

What was the reason to chose the visual art language and how did you start?

Elena: I started at the age of 25 after leaving Italy, where I couldn’t find myself, there was incompatibility between me being anti-materialist and the system. With my partner, I began to make small sculptures to then sell them initially in markets and on the streets of Valencia and then Ibiza. Since then I make a living with art, when I met my husband Roland we founded the El.Rol.ArtWorks duo. Without him I would not do what I do: like the Rolling Stones (smiling), we always work together.

Why have you chosen to live and work in Ibiza?

“The beautiful healing tree”, the interpretation of a series of trees drawn in graffiti style, as you say, represents that we must always be in contact with the healing power of nature. If you have a problem, if you’re sick, nature can give you something beneficial, peace, tranquility. Nature is therapy! So the best thing is to take refuge in the nature. Perhaps that is why I live in Ibiza, surrounded by nature. Here we are in contact with the primitive things that really are more important than those found in the city.

You have done many exhibitions in Ibiza, how do you find visual art in this part of the world?

In the last 10 years, there is much more interest and more artists. First we saw mostly Ibiza landscapes, now through La Ruta del Arte magazine and Ibiza ArtGuide magazine, I realise that there are always interesting artists with contemporary styles.

Tell us about your connections with the world of contemporary art?

The exhibitions we make out of Ibiza are through our contacts. Here in Ibiza, we are disconnected, and perhaps its better like that. Because to go all this way among the critics of art and all the blah blah blah is something I don’t think I want. I am happy with what is happening here in Ibiza. A person sees one of my works, if he understands it, he contacts me and buys it… The work has arrived and, in my opinion, this is the true art… There are no middlemen with criticism. I went to Basel and there I realised that art is everything, everything that one does and everything that one perceives.

When can we define someone as an artist?

An artist is a person who can move something in another person and that he himself can improve and it is a constant challenge.

What do you like and what don’t you like in Ibiza?

I like the power of nature, the chance to be free, the smell (which is already felt when just stepping off the airplane), and the fact that it is surrounded by sea makes me feel protected, not all can reach it… and I don’t like August!

What kind of music do you like listening to? 

The “Dog on Pentagram / Perro sobre Pentagrama” is an homage to sounds and music. For three years I had difficulties hearing music because of constant internal noises that cause me discomfort. Initially it was traumatic and terrible. So we do not hear much music, but we are working to return to normality.

Asking an artist to explain their message is a pleasure, and asking questions of one’s self in order to understand our emotions is a necessity.

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