Anuk Rocha contemporary paintings resulting from life-long mental recordings of colors, shapes and subject matters that have moved her in the past.
The Munchies Art Club is extremely pleased to introduce in our artist feature the amazing contemporary artist Anuk Rocha, who with her work, her story and her music has deeply touched us.
She reveals so much of her inner-self, submerging us with her honesty into her world.
We asked Anuk some questions
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Anuk Rocha, I am a Bosnian muslim painter based in Marseille, France.
I was born in an industrial town in West Germany but moved to Paris at 18, then to Berlin 8 years later and 7 years later here I am in Marseille, the most beautiful, soulful and charismatic city in France, which I have the pleasure to call home.
I read that you started painting later in life but that you were constantly drawing as a child. In that environment as a child who or what inspired you to explore the arts, draw on your inner creativity, or was there no one who encouraged you and it was just always there, a part of you?
Drawing and singing are the earliest memories I have of my childhood, they were activities I was drawn to for whatever magical reason that is.
Nobody told me to draw or sat down with me and showed me what to do as far as I can remember, I just had crayons around and they had very strong powers over me.
Sometimes when my mother tells me stories about certain things I did when I was a child I wonder if I was not on the autistic spectrum.
I still find a lot of satisfaction in repetitive tasks, I struggled with socializing all my life and often have trouble communicating simple ideas.
I always had a very rich inner life, my mind is highly sensitive to my environment, to a point where the weather or the experience of walking down a street deeply affects my mental state.
I think drawing and singing were ways for me to communicate with the outer world in a way that seemed easier to me than talking.
You and your husband have a music band called Drab City. Great music, and you are a wonderful singer. Your songs are very touching, and seem to be coming from your soul, telling your story.
Troubled girl lyrics:
Some day no I won't come back
Some day mother knows what others say
Hand in glove they pray
Some day I won't come back?
Devil doll lyrics:
I escaped from a heart of stone
Loud enough to break the bone
Bad blood runs thicker than an oil well
In the crack of a desert road
I can see my childish core
Overlooked and belittled so long ago
Again it sounds like you speak of yourself, as a child, long ago...
If these songs have so much of you in them, how does your past translate into your paintings?
Thank you, I am very touched by this. I am glad our music resonates with you so deeply, and indeed one does not have to look far to understand what’s going on in those lyrics.
The music we make is simply the result of the music culture we surround ourselves with and have experienced throughout life.
Our songs however almost feel like a sort of exorcism, the moment I successfully put in words a certain feeling, I am able to move on.
Drab city on Instagram
My paintings work in a very similar way, they are the result of life-long mental recordings of colours, shapes and subject matters that have moved me in the past.
The key to my paintings is always hidden somewhere, and every time I start a new painting I feel like I lost the key and I feel desperate and helpless.
I go through so many different stages of self-loathing, but I have learned to push through them, to trust the process.
Finally the key ends up manifesting itself in a weird magical way.
Painting is a weird thing to do, it’s like everything else in life.
You see this thing in your head and you think you know exactly what you need to do to achieve it but then you actually start painting and doing as planned but you realize that the effortless quality that you loved so much to start with is actually so much work and requires so much thinking and knowledge.
Nothing that you see that is worth being admired is actually something easily done. There is no genius who just has it and you don’t.
There are just people with a better work ethic than you, a better social life, a better start into life.
But all those things don’t matter in your physical body, you can change these things, all of them.
You can be anything you want, we all have it in us.
The difficult part is not having the talent, it’s to figure out how to let go of past trauma, how to overcome depression, how to get out of your own way, how to push past your self pity and hatred.
What it is exactly that motivated me to paint a certain object I only understand months later, when I gained enough distance to it and the person I was at the time.
But there is a certain feeling I have had since I was little, that I’m trying to convey in my paintings.
A certain mystery that comes from inanimate objects or places, something you can’t really put in words.
Like when you catch a glimpse of a certain staircase in your house and it has this dark mood about it so you prefer to avoid it when you can, but you would never try to explain that to somebody. Or how staring at the sea makes me feel connected to the world and the neighbour countries, like Spain and Italy.
Deep down do you see yourself more as a painter or as a musician, or do they go hand in hand? If you had to choose one, which would it be?
I don’t know, it doesn’t work that way for me. I do whatever I feel like doing in the moment.
Sometimes I hate painting and don’t feel like it for days sometimes I am sick of hearing music.
But I think art, music, dance, comedy and cinema are all related to each other.
You will often find certain painters who are musicians too, musicians who paint, comedians who make music.
The brain doesn’t have favourites, they all stem from the same intrigue.
Do you sometimes wonder if you had been supported at 18 to study art and start a career as an artist, what kind of an artist you would have been?
No I don’t anymore, I prefer thinking about what to paint next and how.
I don’t have any resentment left in me anymore because I am achieving what I wanted for myself in life.
Finding your groove really puts things in perspective. I became a very wise and strong person through the struggle.
Where do you live now and how did you find your way there? Is it your forever place or is there somewhere else you aspire to live in the future?
I just moved to Marseille, a place that has been long overlooked and mocked by the rest of France.
I love it here, any time I feel the depression bubbling up in me I only have to put my two feet outside the door and the smell of the sea and the sunlit palm trees immediately get rid of that feeling.
I think this might the place yes.
What is the art scene like where you live and how involved are you?
I only just arrived and have already been presented to so many artists and musicians, the reception here has been absolutely incredible.
People are so supportive here, and so happy to meet foreigners who love Marseille just as much as they do.
I think what creates this strong bond between us is that we all have at some point in our lives gone through a similar thought process that lead us to this city.
Our love for Marseille is what connects us. There is a beautiful art scene here, with many bubbles, representative of the many different cultures that make Marseille so special.
Some make modern kitsch with brand logos or kooky designs, others follow the timeless, universal path.
Some really embrace the sun lit, sea side theme, some work in the tradition of their North African culture. Some are building a queer scene with drag and performers.
I love them all and am just pin balling between everyone, admiring their diversity and talent, and all their different stories.
Tell us about where you work? Is it close to where you live? Do you share the space with other artists or do you work alone? Do you have a time frame, like certain hours you like to work? Certain rituals?
I am renting a studio space that I’m sharing with 4 other people. Aline, @avrandinis is a painter too, she is from Marseille and makes in my eyes that very sunlit, sea side themed artwork that dips you right into the sun bleached charm of Marseille.
Flo and Thibault @bortkletlend are the ones who built the studio, Flo is an artist too and also works a lot in art direction, animation and graphic design, Thibault is a video maker and also has a great passion for photography.
Bortkletland is their creative group which they formed with a few friends where they do a lot of really dope commercial projects for anything that comes their way really.
Valentine @tynelenva also works in graphic/digital design, she works with different brands, creates really dope photos and edits and designs book covers too!
I don’t have any rituals yet I would say, other than spending a lot of time procrastinating and then making a painting in 3 hours after having contemplated about it for 2 weeks.
I do a lot of ripening in my head before I start a painting. I also struggle a bit with consistency as my mood really dominates my work flow and sometimes I just sit around doing bad work until I get in the zone and start working on a big canvas.
Tell us what are the top songs you have been listening to lately whilst working?
Lately I like to put on the Spotify radio based on Jeanette “el muchacho de los ojos tristes” and it just plays amazing Spanish 80s pop, catalan chanteuses, Mexican banda walts etc.
What is your work process? From Idea to the actual piece of art?
I often have too many ideas and concepts swirling around in my head, so to make up my mind I pick 3 ideas and from each idea I pick 1 element I like and combine it into one painting.
So maybe I saw a vase that spoke to me but the colours weren’t right but then I have this colour pallet I wanted to work with for a while and then there is this scene in a movie I wanted to pull into another painting.
I start by putting those ideas together on the canvas, and usually something pretty ugly will come out of it, because my ideas are vague and I’m figuring shit out.
That’s usually when I start freaking out since I just wasted half a kilo of paint on the hot garbage I just produced.
So I have a snack, take a photo and pass it on to my computer. Seeing my painting on a small scale is so helpful, so I fix it up on the computer and then apply those improvements to the real canvas.
That’s usually when everything works out perfectly and very fast too.
What other mediums would you like to try other than painting?
I think I have already touched on so many different medias it would be easier to ask which ones I don’t want to try. I love pottery, sculpture, I love making videos/short movies, I worked with wax before, screen print. Actually I did want to buy some Linocut tools and try that out to make some more affordable works.
How important is Instagram to you as a tool?
It’s very important, it gives me access to the rest of the world from the palm of my hands, I can take part in competitions and meet fellow artists, curators and gallerists. It’s pretty wild how easy everything has gotten since social media was invented.
Thank you for your time and for sharing with me and my viewers, is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Thank you for the extensive interview and all the research and effort you put into your work. Your interviews are so exciting to read and your website is a piece of art! It’s truly stunning.
Follow the artist on Instagram:
Winner of Blue Shop Cottage "Works On Paper 4" Contest, (London, UK) 03/2022 Online Exhibition in April
Van Rensburg Gallery, (Milton, AUS) 02/2022 until current Galerie Koakanas (Marseille) 12/2021 "Ce qui se voit encore"
Ninu Nina Interview, 2022
Art on a postcard, 2021 Donated artworks to the Art on a postcard Hepatitis Trust, the 2 postcards have raised 300£.
A very big thank you to the wonderful and talented Anuk, for sharing with us and with you her work and her story.