…I am a realistic perfectionist, but at the same time I am also a poet who believes in magic!

Spotlight on Lydia van den Berg

When did you realize that you wanted to concentrate on art professionally?
I have always created art, all through my life. In fact it is difficult for me not to be creative during the day. I always imagined that once I had a family with children, everything would normalize, but this is not the case. The only difference is that now the four of us - my two children, my husband and myself - all travel together. I see so many interesting and exciting things and art is the only medium in which I can truly express my thoughts and views. Because of that it was natural for me to take it seriously as an important part of my life.
My art is a pure reflection of my persona. My art has not only guided and helped me in my darkest moments, it also mirrors my happiest moments at times when I felt as though I could explode with joy. Often when I start a new series of paintings I just cannot stop and it is as though I have forgotten that there is a real world outside. Often I think the exact moment when I paint is the true art and the image itself is a result of what has been created behind the scenes in my studio.
The more mature I have become through the years, the more concrete and clearer my art has become. The first step for me in becoming a professional artist happened, strangely enough, when I decided to create and develop my own personal website: This helped to clarify my ideas about art as a profession and what being a professional artist would mean for me.

What kind of techniques have you explored?
For a long time I experimented with abstract art. It has taken me a while to find myself. Since attending art school in Sofia, Bulgaria it has been colors, lines, dimensions and structures that have fascinated me. I have familiarized myself with various techniques, such as oil on canvas, paper-màche, encaustics, and acrylics on paper. I even worked for a while in a goldsmith’s studio. For me, it was important to explore the different possibilities, so that I could find what really worked for me.
Art can be created everywhere, and every one of us can be an artist – but only when one can reach and find one’s inner self.

You have called your approach to creating art “Magical-Poetic-Realism.” Could you explain what that means to you?
The title “Magical-Poetic-Realism” was originally mentioned by a Swiss art critic, Alois Steiner. Often I have been asked which art style I work in. I understand the question – a classification is needed for a selection and identification to find the style of art. Yet I have often found it difficult to categorize my art. The description from Alois Steiner has helped me to analyze and discover where I stand as an artist and as a person. I am a perfectionist who is realistic but at the same time also a poet who believes in magic.
Perhaps I would like to change my life into a dream. I believe that the good always wins.
Maybe I am a dreamer, poet, and realist and it is this attitude that makes it easy for me to create my art. The name “Magical-Poetic-Realism” is a statement that my audience can understand and it consciously reminds me that the answers are not found just in rules and regulations but that there is more – much more.

Many of the people who see your work comment on the cheerful, optimistic feelings it inspires in them. Is this aspect of your work important to you?
The most important aspect of my art is for me to be honest with myself. My art is like a small innocent baby which needs my nursing. I need to be honest with my feelings and believe in what I am painting. I only paint what moves me and fulfils my needs.
The only compromises that I have to accept are the materials which I paint with and the very, very small studio which I work in. When these things strike me as difficulties, I convince myself and say, “If I really want to paint, working in every situation is possible.” When I want to paint I always find a solution to create my projects.
I believe my art comes across as cheerful and optimistic only because I maintain this attitude myself and therefore translate it into my art. My art is my baby and I take great care of it. This is why I find it difficult to separate myself from my original paintings and to offer them for sale. By contrast, I have no inhibitions about offering an original art work as a gift to someone who is dear to me, because I am the artist/person who decides who can own an image of mine (it is my choice).

How do you build up the narratives that make their way into your artwork?
First of all I experience something. A theme has caught my attention and fascinated me. I deepen myself in the experience or fascination and it takes a while before I can digest it. I see the image exactly how it will be composed and what is important for me to present. Then I go into my studio. I let myself go until I begin to ‘boil’ and it all flows out.
This is an indescribable feeling! It is an intimacy within me. The whole process is relatively simple. At the end, when the painting is finished, it is a nice feeling. Sometimes I need to take a few days distance from my new artwork and then check if everything has been completed to my satisfaction.

You have traveled a lot during your life – has this had an impact on your art?
Absolutely! But I find it difficult to define. My resume looks a little chaotic, and looking at it, it could be difficult to understand which country I reside in at this moment. My travels and migrations are very important to me. It is a part of who I am. My personal biography has been up to now a very dynamic and intensive one. I have learnt so much from each country and city which I have directly or indirectly experienced.
I attempt not to be influenced by the media and try to trust my own observations. I am continually surprised by my discoveries in a world where there is so much to discover. I have a great respect for the world as it is and I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to have experienced and seen various locations. My art is totally influenced by my travels and experiences. As a small adventurer, though, sometimes my batteries need to be refilled. Then I paint again!
For example, my current project, which I am very excited about, is called “Made with Respect.” It presents the idea that not only great famous buildings and cities are meaningful and remarkable but also that there are many places which have their own special qualities to offer. Obviously, this is the direct result of my traveling lifestyle. My unforgettable journey around this magnificent world has a beginning but not a real ending, and all of it influences my art.

What would your advice be to younger artists, or artists just beginning to explore their talents?
I’m not quite sure if I am the person to advise a young, talented artist. I do not feel as though I am an example for others. But I can give one piece of advice that has been crucial to me my whole life - Be yourself and do not be willing to sell your beliefs.
Every artist should experience a process of growth and development with their art. Our powers of observation change with the years and this is something that can be reflected and viewed in the creation of art.
I would also remind a young artist that glamour and wealth are not the measure of talent. It is more important to be true to yourself and honest in what you create.

PUBLISHED BY  ARTisSpectrum Magazine - Chelsea, Manhattan, New York, United States, November 2011

INTERVIEW BY   Agora Fine Art Gallery and Team – Chelsea, Manhattan, New York, United States, 2011

PHOTO IMAGE    “One Dime” by Lydia van den Berg, Acrylic on Canvas 32”x 40”, 2011