This month latest EYEPUS interview feature we have artist JIHANE MOSSALIM, an extraordinary artist who creates truly fierce, jaw-dropping, phantasmagoric art works. Check out her interview below and visit her website www.jihanemossalim.com for more of her iconic art works.
EYEPUS: Can you tell us about yourself and your jaw dropping, awesome works?
Jihane: Born and raised in Montreal, I was always a big fan of everything dark and strange. Horror movies being at the top of the list. I could spend hours watching one after the other. At 12 years old, I discovered special make-up effects and my mind was deeply set to become a SFX make-up artist. My Dad convinced me to pursue my studies and get a college diploma so I went in Fine Arts at Dawson College simply as a mean in perfecting my SFX skills.
As soon as I graduated, I took Dick Smith's correspondence classes and started working on every sets I could work on. A couples of years later I had a family and I couldn't picture myself working crazy hours on sets anymore. That's when I started painting seriously and was happily surprised to find people interested in buying my works. I gave it a shot and it worked out. I am now exhibiting, working as an illustrator and teaching art classes in college. Of course what I paint continues to be on the darker side of things...
EYEPUS: What is your process in making your art?
Jihane: I get ideas often times while reading or watching movies or sometimes it just seems to come out of the great nowhere. The ideas I get, I put them as images on my computer, print them out and use them as references, once I'm ready to start a new painting. I always paint not with background music- but with background interviews, mostly those of filmmakers.
Jihane: I love the works of John Carpenter, Guillermo del Toro, Dario Argento, Wes Craven, David Cronenberg and Stanley Kubrick. I also enjoy reading Stephen King and Clive Barker (of course!). I'm particularly fond of their earlier works.
EYEPUS: What was the last great horror film you seen?
Jihane: I'm a fan of the older horror movies, especially the ones from the 70's and unfortunately, I'm rarely impressed by recent horror films. Not too long ago I saw "Citadel" by Ciaran Foy and I have to say, that movie creeped me out! It was very different, very original and there is this strange atmosphere throughout the movie that makes you feel so uneasy. I really liked it.
EYEPUS: Who are some artists from past and present who have influenced your works?
Jihane: Basically all of the filmmakers and writers I mentioned above... But the first visual artist whose works truly had an effect on me is Canadian painter Maya Kulenovic. Her children's portraits of broken spectacles and bloodied nose were something I had never seen before. Her paintings made me want to paint my own.
EYEPUS: All your works are eerily fascinating, but one of your art pieces is Italian Horror Director Dario Argento (My all time favorite Film Director) holding a butcher knife, why you chose him for your art piece?
Jihane: I discovered the movies of Dario Argento when I was in College; if I remembered correctly I saw the documentary ''Dario Argento: An Eye for Horror'' before any works of his, this of course, made me want to rent a few of his movies. I fell in love with Suspiria. Argento's movies are so dream-like it's uncanny and to me, very inspiring. Of course I had to paint the Man!
EYEPUS: Can you tell us about some of your horror pieces and what inspired you to create them?
Jihane: As you probably noticed, quite a few of my paintings depict horror movie scenes; scenes that left a mark either by their subject matter, by their visuals or both. Sometimes I get an urge to paint particular scenes. Such was the case for ''Metro Incident''. Other paintings simply depict ideas I get. "Pocket Full of Posies" came from the idea of painting a well known nursery rhyme through the story it represents, the one of the Great Plague. The children are dancing while the plagued hand with darkened fingers is overseeing them.
EYEPUS: What was the hardest work you ever done?
Jihane: The hardest work I have done was probably painting a commissioned piece consisting of two huge canvases: one representing a cute little lady, the other, a cop, both full body figures set in a creepy abandoned amusement park. For me working on big canvasses is always a challenge as I lose interest when a piece is taking a long time to finish.
EYEPUS: Are you working on any projects now?
Jihane: Absolutely! I am currently working on inside illustrations for a fantasy/horror series of books published here in Montreal and recently did some illustrations for Joe Hill short story ''Snapshot 1988'' published by Cemetery Dance Magazine. I have a few paintings soon on exhibit in Salem Ma and an exhibition of 20 pieces here in Montreal. I'm also working on my own little series featuring kids and insects. Along with the teaching and the family, I'm pretty busy and I can't complain!
EYEPUS: Can you tell us your experience in showing your art works in galleries?
Jihane: My experiences with galleries where as much positive as they were negative. What it did give me is more confidence in what I do. I would say choose your gallery wisely; when everything seems so grand and wonderful, sometimes it is just smokes and mirrors.
EYEPUS: How do audience react to your art works?
Jihane: Ha! People usually react positively to my work especially with the old fashioned children's portraits. For some it's like a trip down memory lane. For other paintings I often get the: "It's nice! But I wouldn't want it in my living room...!"
EYEPUS: What is the greatest advice you can give to other artists who are trying to break into the art world?
Jihane: I would say: keep doing what you do whatever it is you're doing and when you're ready, get it out there any ways you can. Don't worry about rejections, they will happen. Just keep going and at some point the right door will open for you. Always keep working at your art and work hard. There's a quote from Stephen King that is highly appropriate for what I'm trying to say: "Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.''