Paul Cristina made us fall in love with his fragmented collages: this human faces have eyes wide open that investigate our souls as we see them. His art reach the core of existence, violating obscurity and embracing it, investigating the dark side of everyday life and human fragility.
In your bio, we can read you worked as a paramedic and this allowed you to investigate the darker aspects of humanity. Can the human being reach the highest of the darkness? Have you seen it?
Working as a paramedic, you routinely get exposed to aspects of society and human behaviour that are normally never readily seen on the surface of most people’s everyday lives. Most of the emergency calls we would receive usually come from the more impoverished and destitute populations of our society. We go into the homes of these people and see the conditions they live in. Most of what we see and experience as paramedics is beyond understanding. Most of us are detached from these things and are often swept under the rug. We may hear or see small blips on the news about crazy things going on in our world, but most of do not have direct contact with any of it. and we may not have any personal relationship with the people involved or the activity that goes on there. For most of society, It’s out of sight and out of mind. Aside from the usual medical health problems and traffic accidents, we also get exposed to incredible acts of violence, abuse and serious mental health crisis going on continuously. It’s such s different story when you see and experience directly face to face.
How much your previous work affects the actual one?
My former career does not have any direct influence on the artwork; however, it has impacted me and inspired me in various indirect ways. It’s more abstract and under the surface of how I think and feel now. It’s embedded in the subconscious. As a result of my former paramedic career, I appreciate my life a whole lot more, and I am much more grateful for where I’ve gotten in life and what I do currently… All of that indirectly affects the amount of energy that goes into creating art.
You explore the underneath of the everyday life: there’s a dark side on the daily basis? Where?
The darkness that exists in everyday life is what we don’t see, but is very much always there, but it’s nicely tucked away most of the time. It’s usually below the surface of everything. The darkness isn’t necessarily a bad thing… It can be, but doesn’t have to be. Rather, I think of darkness as all the big and small things in our lives that we instinctively or deliberately ignore and don’t talk about. Darkness is important to always remain aware of and to accept it as part of life. It doesn’t go away, it simply always exists, just like the good things in life, always in flux and moving around. The faster we can accept and acknowledge these darker aspects of our lives, the less scary they are and the better equipped we can become to cope with them and deal with them in a healthy manner on a daily basis. These aren’t scary things, they are simply apart of being human and human behaviours that we all possess. The basement is very scary when it’s dark and you never go down there, but once you turn the light on and begin exploring, you realize that it’s really not all that bad… Then you confronted it and accepted it for what it is… Then it’s no longer a scary, it becomes just another room.
Your work uses a mix of various techniques, first of all the collage one. Where do you find pictures to use?
I collage using my own charcoal drawings. If I use collage elements of paper from books, they are just pieces of flat colour. All of the imagery and figurative elements are hand drawn or hand painted. I take my drawing apart and piece them together on the canvas. I can move them around as needed or redraw them and layer them until I get the affect that I want.
Fragmentation is the main theme of your works and we strongly believe this represents the fracturation of human soul, divided in dark and white. How do you obtain this effect?
All of the fragmentation comes from tearing the paper and gluing it down in a fairly abrasive manner. After many layers of paper have been built up on the canvas, I will begin cutting into those layers using a box cutter or sharp blade. The layers get peeled of and cut off, then sometimes reapplied in a repetitive cycle of reconstruction and deconstruction.
Eyes seem to be the main subject of your works, big and widely open. Do you think they are the darkest part of our body? Why?
The eyes usually tell the true story of what is going on. If you really want to know how someone is thinking or feeling, simple look into their eyes.