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I've been asked to interview a reclusive artist. An artist whose work I find to be exquisitely revolting. Work that, in my eyes, causes awkward hyper-sexualized repulsion in absolute terms. Like the protagonist, Alex, from A Clockwork Orange, we are all but programed to become ill when confronted with such confusing attractions. Kill, fuck, bleed, burst, dismember; this art is eerie and unsettling. It's clearly powerful, but it's a deeply personal intrusion to look at it. It's art that demands to be discussed; if you can bare to keep your gaze on it before averting your eyes and feeling shame.
I'm in love.
Her art commands respect, as it's infinitely detailed and technical. However, from this artist, do not expect bland shapes and colors that are inspired by a world of light. Rather, this work emerges from the shadows of a soul who's expressing big picture and existential themes. Themes that beg for reflection, yet frighten the most primordial self.
Of course, the artist does not see her work this way. But what great artists ever do?
It seems that great art (and let's admit that most art is vapid dog shit), but great art pulls the shadows into the light and gives substance to our deepest and most hidden concerns. It agitates our souls and our sensibilities towards discovery. It lurks in the darkness of your mind, and creeps and crawls in the corridors of belief and indignation. It hides just behind your view, ready to grab you by your guts when you least expect it. It's fucking haunting.
Great artists are subtle conduits for the darkness. Not this artist. This artist is more akin to a hurricane of raw grit, guts and teeth.
I hope you find yourself repulsed, repelled, angered, bemused and intrigued, with hints of confusing and complex erogenous tones. That would be a beginning; a start to understanding the messages emanating from this artist's soul. And from what I know, it's a lot about animal rights.
The question is, why have I been asked to retrieve an interview from this introverted artist hiding amongst the ancient joshuas of Pioneertown What presupposes me access to this mysterious being?
It's that I know her better than you.
Yet, after 13 years... I still have no idea who she really is. What I do know, is that she is my lover and my wife... so I can catch her off-guard at her most vulnerable.
Meet Katrina Bea; reclusive artist living in Pioneertown California.
ME: Hey Bea (I say first thing in the AM, before her brain has woken)... I have on good sources that you’re hoarding over 100 paintings, tucked away and hidden in storage in Los Angeles that you have never shown anybody. That some are 10 feet tall. That one took you an entire year to paint. Why won't you show these works to anyone?
KATRINA BEA: Fuck off Jeremy.
ME: Hey Bea (I say after dinner as we wash the dishes)… Your paintings have a visceral quality for most viewers. Do you cultivate a certain frame of mind before you begin to paint, or does frightening people come naturally to you?
KATRINA BEA: (she laughs) If you put it THAT way, I have to say it comes naturally; I don’t create with the intent to frighten, however, making people uncomfortable is pretty easy. Each body of work has a story and part of getting that across happens to upset people... and that's fine.
ME: Hey Bea (I say after we get home from walk in The Wash)... Your friend Rohini said that your paintings are a refreshing challenge to the idealized vision of femininity and beauty. She wants to know if that’s a conscious objective… and if you consider yourself a 'feminist' artist?
KATRINA BEA: Feminist? (she looks at me like I'm ridiculous) Definitely. But I hope my art portrays a message that is bigger than that. It’s about equality and freedom for all humans, persons, species and living sentient beings. My feminism naturally includes all animal lives and bodies that come under the attack, abuse and objectification of the patriarchal system; one that dismisses certain being's welfare under the guise that some beings are superior and others inferior. You can not compare oppression. Because animals cannot fight back or give consent, we should, as feminists, stand up for the voiceless and look at all sentient beings (those that have the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively), as persons that deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and not as property. My hope is that as we progress as a society, we will enlighten to the deserved justice for all sentient creatures.
ME: Hey Bea (I ask as I trip on mushrooms; staring at one of her paintings)... How has moving to the middle of the desert and living off-grid in the middle of nowhere affected your art?
KATRINA BEA: (after a long pause) The desert has allowed me to engage with the dirt; to sit amongst the wildlife and observe the natural ecosystems of this wild and untamed place. I believe my work has gone from being angry and blatantly telling the viewer to fuck off - to hoping to raise empathy through beauty, struggle and pain.
ME: Hey Bea (I say as she is drying off from a shower and jumps at the sound of my voice because she didn't see me enter the bathroom)... What was a seminal moment to initiate the realization of this new body of work?
KATRINA BEA: My current fascination with cults, religions and blind faith has led me to intertwine occultism, idolism and worship in with my paintings of animalism. 'Flesh Bone Blood Spirit' (the title of her new body of work) was born from that.
ME: Hey Bea (I say as we are curled up by the fire, mourning the sudden death of her/our dog of twelve years named Raven)… Why do you paint?
KATRINA BEA: Because it’s the only thing that makes sense (she says to me with fire and sadness in her eyes).
Katrina Bea's upcoming art show is called FLESH • BONE • BLOOD • SPIRIT, and will be at Taylor Junction in Joshua Tree, California, opening May 13th, 2017 with musical performance by Claire Wadsworth and band.
And a special thanks to Luna Arcana for inspiring the artists of the Mojave Desert.