I first met Dubai based artist Ruxandra Mocean when I attended her exhibition at the Mövenpick Hotel, Bur Dubai, earlier this year, photos which I share in this story. The second time I encountered her artworks was at one of my favourite annual art exhibitions, Dubai’s Annual Horse Exhibition. Early in May, I spotted online images of her altruistic artistic endeavours with the Dubai Autism Centre. This project was carried out in conjunction with Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Dubai Autism Centre and the Jam Jar. During this project she taught the children to draw and paint; “A fun, fantastic day,” she says, flashing one of her pretty, dazzling smiles.
What has drawn me to interviewing Ruxandra for TravelArtsLife.com is a combination of many things: her interesting twist to horse art, her flair for languages, her passion for art and its various facets. Amongst the languages that she speaks fluently are Romanian, English, German, French, Spanish and Arabic. She can also speak Swedish and Italian at beginners level.
I asked Ruxandra what her experience with showcasing her art at both the Moevenpick Hotel and the Dubai International Horse Fair was. This is what she had to say, “Moevenpick Hotel has a great art initiative, which I feel is quite uncommon for this region. Their management team are arts enthusiasts who took time to prepare for the exhibition and helped me with the operational part! The exhibition I had at the Dubai International Horse Fair, at the World Trade Center, was a bit more hectic, but the size of the venue and the preparations were at a completely different scale!”
The Child Painter and her Bliss Moment
Apart from being the master of languages (as I like to call her), Ruxandra’s work has had a lot of Byzantine era influence, though this seems to be blended or even surpassed by the local (UAE) cultural influences, since she made Dubai her home. She is not new to art, being a master prize winner in the arts since her childhood, painting since she was three and having her first ever art exhibition in Dortmund, Germany, when she was ten years of age. She may hold an MBA in Marketing in the hospitality and business management area, but painting has always been her partner.
She says, “I am from Romania, but I left my country many years ago. I studied in Switzerland and moved to Dubai nearly five years ago. Since my childhood, I have tended towards predominantly painting portraits and horses mostly oil on canvas or wood. I do have a vast experience in Byzantine painting as well and won some National Awards for that particular style many years back (water colors on wood or glass).”
Ruxandra prefers to work with oil on canvas. “I feel that the colors blend in a specific way, unlike any other texture. Sometimes I draw a few sketches on paper before I start the actual work on the canvas, just to make sure that the end result will match what I have in mind. I also love painting in different layers, I feel that paintings gain a certain depth and a transparency that make you feel like you are discovering new details with every new look.
“There are times when I paint and I totally lose myself in the act of creation. I forget where I am, all the thoughts disappear and mind hand moves spontaneously. I am not messy when I paint, I will not wake up in a pool of colors and pencils, but I am hypnotized. Depending on what I paint, my emotion can be affected to a great extent. I can feel strong or angry if I paint other ideas (not angry in an upset manner, but just feeling what the character is feeling) and I believe that this can get a bit difficult for family of friends, who might just walk into the room and see my eyes welling up in tears while I paint.”
The Shy Beauty
With regards to horses, what struck me was the nature of her horses paintings which were really different from many of the others that I’ve seen. Usually you see horses in their majesty and glory, the power to win and reach the finishing line. Ruxandra has the knack of capturing the horses in a way that really I find appealing. This is the reason why my horse paintings are different than many others. “Shy Beauty” for example is reminding me of an innocent flirt, it looks similar to a woman (or a girl) looking over her shoulder… It is like a flirt behind a veil, strong enough to be noticed but subtle enough to impose respect and candor. I have other paintings in which horses look angry, or playful or even scared.
See the photos below.
She says, “Horses have been one of my favorite inspirations since early childhood. My mother is still regretting that I sold my very first horse painting (done on glass) when I had my painting exhibition at the age of 10 in Germany. I find horses so amazing because they seem very far from the idea of animal, the way it is generally perceived – a being living purely based on instincts, with a very limited understanding. Horses reflect and show the exact same emotions as humans: you see the winning horses at the competitions galloping so proudly and so majestic, you can see them flirty, happy, angry or shy. I have seen photos with horses who look more photogenic than the best paid models we see in the fashion magazines. I was looking at the horses during different competitions and noticed how aware they look of the fact that they are important. It feels like they are completely aware of their importance, of how much they are being admired and loved.”
Learning the rules on art
If there is anyone that holds strong views about what art stands for, then it would be Ruxandra. “Art is probably one of the most undefinable words. Having so various forms of art makes it even harder to define. Some philosophers used to define art as that activity performed purely for esthetical purposes, with absolutely no utilitarian target or purpose. However, I believe that art includes architecture, fashion and food among many other useful aspects of life. Art is emotions, art is passion but art is also study and hard work. I do not believe in talent without study the same way I believe just studying art without being talented will never lead to great creations. This does not mean that people should not play, or should not experiment. People can be talented without knowing and the only way to discover the talent is by playing. And even if they are not talented, “playing” art can offer an immense joy, can literally cleanse your thoughts and feelings.”
She describes art as “A paradox,” she emphasizes. “On one hand an artist should be creative and break free from rules which could cut down the imagination, but on the other hand a real artist should master the rules before breaking them. This is what I mean when saying that an artist needs to study as well. From proportions, anatomy, different means and textures to… esthetics and balance.”
Beyond that, for her art is about depicting an emotion, an experience or just simple beauty in various forms. I also want to personally show people that being an artist does not mean being disconnected from the real life, being completely “different”. I am a painter but I also have an extremely down-to-earth job. Realism can coexist with art. People should be inspired to never give up their dreams and passions.
“I also think that art teaches us respect. First, we learn to respect others who can create things which we cannot even dream of. Then we learn to admire their dedication. Beethoven kept composing music even after he lost his hearing sense. That is true dedication which not many people are capable of. Then we respect their sacrifices. When I was a kid, instead of playing outside with other kids, I was at home studying, drawing and painting. When others were sleeping, I was inhaling glues and paints and dust. Today, while others watch TV or go out after a hard day of work, I start another work. Yes, it is also a pleasure, but is equally exhausting.”
Art for a Cause
If you know me by now, I’m increasingly becoming involved with helping those in need by painting with them, and spending time writing with them and also writing about endeavours such as this for magazines. So, Ruxandra’s work with Dubai Autism Centre needs to be talked about. Ruxandra mentioned that the art initiative was taken by Jumeirah Emirates Towers, a hotel which has been collaborating with DAC before. “We wanted to create with the kids some culturally inspired art works which we could print afterwards on the Welcome Cards the hotel offers to the in-house guests upon arrival. We are also planning to sell some of those paintings and donate all the money to the center.”
Her experience was one that is so normal, as I’ve experienced. The feeling of being nervous and not knowing what to expect when the session starts with the children, dissolves into one full of surprise, healing and happiness. “I had two groups of 5-6 kids each time. I was not sure what to expect at first because it was my first experience of this kind. I was a bit nervous and scared. I was scared that they might not like me or, even worse, they might not like art- the way I portray it to them. I was so surprised though, to see that all of them were not only excited to paint, but also that some of them were hiding great talents! Out of the 12 kids, at least 3 of them were actually very talented and managed to draw better than most adults I know. They had a great attention to detail, they could match the chosen colors to the reality and they were determined to finish their drawings and paintings. It was so emotional to notice that some of those kids cannot speak, or focus or express emotions the way society approves and dictates, but they were able to draw peacocks and henna art! What I felt was a mixture of happiness (feeling that I changed their day a bit) and helplessness. I kept asking myself what dreams these kids can have for the future, how much control they have over their lives and how many talents might remain latent and undiscovered just because they are a bit challenged.”
Being an artist in its varied forms is quite a tough life to live if not for the support of those who we consider close to us. Ruxandra remains grateful to her parents who have been her greatest support system since she was a little child. I hasten to add, where we artists would be without our parents and their love and support, as I have experienced this in my own life. “They were the ones paying for and taking me to art classes,” Ruxandra reminisced. “They discovered my talent, they believed in me and they were the ones giving me strength when, as a kid, I was feeling so overwhelmed with all the work I had to do.”
“My parents still support me from Romania and ask me to never give up my dreams and they are now also helped by my husband. He is very helpful and understanding and it would have been hard to continue painting without his support.”
Access the love Ruxandra Mocean’s artwork on facebook here.