Quarantine Dreamers by Valentina Brostean
Creating Art During The Covid-19 Pandemic. Interview With The Artist Valentina Brostean Based in Turin, Italy

About Valentina Brostean

Valentina Brostean is a multidisciplinary artist, originally from Novi Sad, currently based in beautiful sunny Italy. Graduated from Faculty of Fine Arts Novi Sad, she holds a BFA degree in graphic design and an MFA degree in Illustration and Book design. Her bold, colorful style, often described as Pop Art meets Surreal Expressionism, is a striking lesson in the use of courageous, unexpected compositions and bold, bright colors that are perfectly describing her state of mind and wild temperament. Valentina has specialized in Editorial and Fashion illustration mostly using her well know playful collage technique. Her widely recognizable style has established her as one of the emerging contemporary artists appreciated by selected international clients such as Armani Exchange, Washington Post, Corriere Della Sera, Bicycle USA amongst many others.

Valentina Brostean
Valentina Brostean

How is the situation where you are and how has it affected your life?

I live in Turin, a city in the north of Italy, which is actually very close to Milan in Lombardia – the area that has been affected most severely since the pandemic outbreak, as we all know very well from the news.
Nevertheless, I must say that situation in Turin is slightly more stable and acceptable in comparison with these most affected areas. One month ago no one was really aware of what was about to come and we all have been quite easygoing and relaxed regarding the distant “Chinese virus”.
I remember we went to the seaside that is quite close to Turin and basically that same day when we got back home the authorities gave official order to put the whole country on the lockdown and block basically everything, traffic, schools, workplaces, travels, any sort of movement or activities except for the basic ones.

Miss you by Valentina Brostean

For more than a month now we’re in the situation where basically only pharmacies and supermarkets are open, quite scary and surreal! It has been and still is quite a shock, life suddenly slowed down big time. No more evening “aperitivi”, seeing friends in bars or clubs, no more traveling or even walking around freely! All of a sudden everyone works from home, at least those who can do their jobs remotely and still didn’t lose their jobs! ? You can see just very few people on the streets, all wearing masks, avoiding each other at a safe distance, some silent weirdness echoes the empty streets… I cannot even walk my dog properly as all the parks have been shut down due to the people who didn’t respect the basic rules set by authorities. Still, I have to say that (luckily) I personally don’t know even one person who got sick. Nowadays, as the situation is still risky and fragile, we all try to respect the rules and live day by day, waiting for the moment when life will come back to normal, hoping in the first place it will be possible at all. The country suffered a big economical crisis and once when we get that fresh restart it will be more clear where we stand exactly, and how to move on.

Why do ladybirds eat people? by Valentina Brostean
Text by Zeljko Katanic
See the full project here

How has your art changed during the Coronavirus?

I must admit it affected me significantly. As I consider art should be a sort of “messenger” and “storyteller” of our times I actually feel responsible to comment on this situation through my art and illustrations.
I am trying to deal with this big issue using my art, both on a personal and emotional level but also on the informative one! I see many illustrators feel the same need, trying to somehow capture the moment and the aspects of this situation!
Basically the only news we receive from the outside world is related to the virus. No matter with whom I speak, my family or friends online, neighbors or even rare dog walkers I meet – everyone has just one subject to talk about and it is all related to the pandemic.
Therefore it is really hard not to be affected and inspired by it, what else is more relevant right now?! Still, I do not think it is a bad thing, I think art has a responsible role and I use it to share my current impressions and feelings, hoping it won’t last too long as it might cause the counter effect.

Requiem by Valentina Brostean
Ink on fine art paper

Has coronavirus changed the way you see the world and your own art?

From my perspective, this pandemic is a big test for everyone and everything, for the fragility of our relations, our state of mind, our economy stability etc.
I personally feel that this situation clearly proved to me how important my art is for my spiritual and emotional survival! it is the only thing that right now makes sense in this total madness.
It keeps me in connection with my inner self, helps me dealing with my emotions and expressing my thoughts, keeps me mentally sane. Without it, I think I would feel really lost, sad and disconnected. It is also my link to the rest of the world, I communicate through it.
I suppose that right now I know better what are my priorities and what’s really worth, my family, my art, our shared experiences, the time we have together, everything else is secondary, everything that is material became totally insignificant and irrelevant.

What emotions are you experiencing and how is creating art helping you to embrace and reflect them. Is your art an escape?

Art is an enormous experimental field where freedom is basically limitless. That is such a comforting fact for me, especially now when I do not have any sort of freedom in my daily life.
I am a free wild spirit and I generally hate to be locked and limited in my movements. I am always on the run and always planning some new little adventures. As now all our freedoms are limited I am so grateful for the freedom art gives me!
Sometimes art is my escape but mostly it is my “weapon” that helps me to process all that I think and feel. I would be so much more stressed if I didn’t have this creative side. I do feel fear and uncertainty that tomorrow brings, it is a level of consciousness I still have to deal with and explore it through my creations… probably stage two in the period that is in front of us.

“Isolated but protected?! Connected but disconnected?! Everything is under CONTROL”

What message do you try to share through your work?
I hope my art might be a mirror of our society and the times we’re living in. Reflection of the contemporary world seen through my eyes! Eclectic, experimental, deep, sensitive! I consider it engaged to a certain point, many times very critical, darkly humorous and satirical, emotional and daring. I am rather trying to make questions than to send a certain specific message.
I drain my inspiration from humanity, people, relations and my deep inner emotional perception of the world that surrounds me, being always questionable towards many subjects but without the final answers.
I explore various topics all expressed through figurative narration. Mostly when it comes to the works that are personal (not created for various commercial clients where I have specific brief) my art is an extension of my personality and the vision of the world I perceive.
I certainly do not want it to be just one thing or message, as I see the life we live in as a mixture of good and bad, beautiful and ugly, right and wrong, light and darkness and I like to explore all those hidden angles and corners! Everything is based on the principle of duality. Finding that balance while connecting the opposites is my deepest intention ?

How important is social media for you as an artist, especially during this time?

Social media and networking are crucial, now more than ever as everything we have right now is online! Currently, we’re witnessing a situation where we cannot meet in the artist studio/atelier, galleries, museums or similar.
Our window in the world right now is digital – it is a screen! Therefore I think an online presence is necessary, being present on a few platforms gives the artist a wider range of “signal”, spreads their art and message further!
Sure it takes a lot of time to create, post and share the content and in the first place it shouldn’t even be the role of an artist, but the times have changed. With digitalization, everything became so fast-moving, interactive and ever-changing, and so artists do not even have a choice, but to adapt and accept the situation the way it is! It’s not always easy to spend a couple of hours daily replying on emails, arrange and share my content, often interact with other people in the creative community but I am aware I cannot change this fact, I need to use it at my benefit as much as I can. That’s why I try to be very pragmatic, organize my day and work-schedule so I can be able to achieve everything as I planned, I do not say it works every time but I’m trying ?

Rooftop social distancing by Valentina Brostean

What helps you to get through this challenging period. What are you looking forward to when things go back to normal?

Beside my creations most definitely my biggest comfort is my beloved dog Panda. He’s such a good, innocent, loveable creature that shares so much pure love and companionship with me these days! My husband is also big support but unfortunately, I must say, even if he’s in smart working he works so much during the week we can barely share few moments in the evening before going to sleep. But we still have weekends for our crazy home parties and fun:) Beyond that being constantly in touch online with my closest family, my beloved mom, dad and aunt who live in Serbia, my brother who lives in Germany right now, and few close friends spread all over the world – they give me daily comfort and strength. As soon as all of this madness is over I can’t wait to go back to Serbia to spend some significant time with them, to see and hug them all, to catch up all the time we lost separated. I am certainly looking forward to being free again, to be able to go back to my studio where I can paint and create in a bigger scale, and very important I can’t wait to be able to sell and ship my artworks again, as I am totally blocked right now!
While regularly daydreaming about some future travels and new happy adventures I hope strongly this pandemic in a few months will be just an ugly nightmare we left behind…

Remembering summer by Valentina Brostean

Follow Valentina’s work through her Instagram channel @brostean_valentina_art , her Behance account and her website www.valentinabrostean.com

Interview by Slava Noor

Stay safe and inspired 🙂