Pin It

Artist Rossina Bossio

The multi-media artist raises interesting questions about beauty and feminity through her charged drawings and photographs

Rossina Bossio likes to question boundaries: between an art of religion and one of fashion, between seduction and beauty, nature and nurture, ancient and contemporary. The Bogotá-born artist, who now lives in Rennes, France, works in multi-media practice and works with painting, photography, drawing, and now recently video. Her work juxtaposes a catholic heritage – in its form rather than content – and contemporary imagery towards a reflection of beauty, her inner journey, and all womankind. Her latest project, ‘The Holy Beauty Project’ encompasses all the media she employs, towards a glorification and simultaneous deconstruction of icons, may they be be sacred, self-reflective or pop.

Dazed Digital: What is your art all about?
Rossina Bossio: My art is a continuous self-portrait. I manipulate the past and re-write my own story over and over again through my work. It’s a constant struggle to free myself from what I’ve learned and what I think I know. It’s an endless quest that aims to find out who I really am.

DD: Who are your main influences, contemporary and classical?
Rossina Bossio: There are too many, so I’ll just mention the ones I look up the most these days. The contemporary ones are Karim Hamid, Barnaby Whitfield, Alex Kanevsky, Jenny Saville.  And the classical ones are Flemish and Baroque art and architecture. I particularly like Colonial Latin-American Baroque. I’m inspired by fashion a lot too. I’m currently fascinated with the work of designers like Sorcha O’Ragahallaigh, Bea Szenfeld and Iris Van Herpen.

DD: Can you tell me more about your technique, for painting and for the other media?
Rossina Bossio: I used to paint live models back in Colombia, when I was focused on doing portraits of people. Now I photograph models, take photos of myself and/or download images from the Internet to put together a more accurate idea of the subject I want to paint. I rarely do preparatory sketches. I envision the images in my head and I sometimes scribble something on a piece of paper so I don’t forget anything. It’s the same process for photographs, drawings or videos.

DD: What are the main themes in your work, how do you explore them?

Rossina Bossio: Women, religion and seduction are the main themes of my work. The groundwork material to explore them comes, on one hand, from my personal experiences, memories and emotions; on the other, from a wide library of images taken from magazines and the Internet. There’s a lot for me to work with, considering nowadays we’re constantly bombarded with thousands of images fighting to grab people’s attention. I go through all this material and try to channel the ideas I already have in mind. Then I look for the irony in the obvious and try to translate my own vision into artworks.

DD: Why do you think issues of beauty and feminity are so present throughout your work?
Rossina Bossio: I question the standards of beauty and femininity through my artwork mainly because I grew up surrounded by women, in a very conservative environment. To name an example, I went to Catholic School for girls, with uniforms and everything. Even though religion and sexism are not as strong in a lot of countries as they are in mine, several gender stereotypes are still present almost everywhere, in one way or another. This is something I have a hard time understanding and that’s why I feel the urge to explore it. Nevertheless, I try to avoid feminist statements: I prefer to raise questions rather than give answers.

DD: you're from Colombia but now live in France. Where is Colombia in your work, what is Latin about it?
Rossina Bossio: I like to think there’s something quite scattered and contradicting about my work, qualities which I’d actually describe as a manifestation of “mestizaje” (definition). This word doesn’t have a direct translation in English so it’s often reduced to “mixed races”, whereas in Spanish and French “mestizaje” also refers to the fusion of entire societies, cultures and ways of thinking. Latin-America is indescribably varied, you might even say it’s the “mestizo” continent par excellence. In that sense, I consider my art to have this somewhat Latin feature: it’s a mix of contradicting ideas coming from different sources. You’ll also find a lot from my life in Colombia, given that my work is primarily autobiographical.

DD: And has been the impact of living abroad?
Rossina Bossio: It has emancipated me creatively, intellectually and emotionally. Traveling in general does that to me. But after two and a half years living abroad, I’m starting to feel the need to go back.

DD: What is the best advice you have ever gotten?

Rossina Bossio: “Real artists never take a vacation”.

DD: If your paintings were a musician, which one?
Rossina Bossio:: Thom Yorke, hopefully.

DD: What is the meaning of life?

Rossina Bossio: There’s none. We have to make one up.