We don’t often think of witchcraft or black magic in the same thought as art, but multi-disciplined artist, Kabriele (Kabö) Rosas counts these influences as part of many that inspire her work. In addition to connecting deeply with these ideas, travelling and exploring other cultures also play a big part in her creative process.
Originally from Mexico City, she started to paint at the age of 12 after her brother moved to L.A. and left her all of his art supplies. “That was the best gift ever,” she says. She feels lucky that she was able to attend a visual and performing arts high school where creativity and innovative thinking were taught and encouraged. It was here she developed her interest in many different disciplines. Being exposed to theater from a young age had a profound influence that took her to the northwest, creating set designs for children’s theater. That experience opened a door to move seamlessly from scenic design to performance art, choreography, musical performance (designing costumes and CD covers for musicians) and film, as well as her visual art.
Moving to the Northwest was to be the start of years exploring the world: parts of the U.S. and Europe, Indonesia and even Africa. Sponsored by a Danish NGO, she volunteered for six months teaching drawing and painting to street kids in Mozambique. “I love moving. To be in different cultures, losing my identity is very fun”. In Africa, she recognized some similarities in the culture that coincided with her own: superstitious beliefs, black magic and witchcraft.
Her themes, revolving around deep introspection and dark subject matter, are rooted in her own pre-hispanic culture. It’s no surprise she cites Bosch, Carravaggio and Goya as favorite artists. “I am fascinated with the psychological wounds and the shadow selves we all inhabit.”
Inspired no doubt by her stage art, she calls her images puppets, dieties and fantastical creatures gleaned from her travels and exposure to different cultures. ”They seem like part of my world,” she explains. “A way to explore the dark in a safe way.” Identity, ambiguity and sexualityy are recurrent themes and she claims that for her, art is a “soul quest.”
Her creative process involves a gathering of sorts, both in materials and content. All of her images begin on a black ground. From there she uses fabric, metallics, and cut up fragments of her drawings to collage in the hybrid figures. Pattern and repetition figure prominently; the mysterious figures have a regal, ornamental look and take on an elevated status floating in the black space. Kabuki theater comes to mind.
Even though Rosas has a full, interesting life of projects that create many opportunities, she feels challenged by still living half in the states and half in her native Mexico. So while travelling has been a way of life, she has now returned to put down roots in San Miguel de Allende. Even though in some ways she feels like her work is better received in the states. ”It’s hard to become part of the community”. She is hoping to bring some positive change to the community with her current project. Using her practical skills of carpentry and welding, she is building a house and studio that eventually she wants to turn into an art residency as well. Her penchant for collaboration fits right in with inviting artists from around the world to come and make a project with her.
Rosas is a multi-dimensional artist, who collects bits of culture by merging stories and patterns into her colorful, mythological pantheon, even considering herself as a character in her collages and paintings. She hopes by creating her base in Mexico, the future will bring more collaboration, filmwork—specifically digital animation—performance art and photography. Look for her live painting performance here in San Miguel at Casa Europa in the fall. “I like putting myself into new circumstances”.
Check out her work at kabriele.com.