Nil and Karin Romano are self-taught contemporary artists, who live and work in Tel Aviv.
Creating together with harmony and completing each other, they work primarily with acrylic & oil paint on large canvas surfaces.
However, they do not restrict themselves into a particular medium; they also create works using pen or ink on paper.
The use of strong and bold colours, together with the dark, surrealistic scenes that they unfold through their paintings capture the viewer’s eye and imagination.
For the artists, each work is an opportunity to narrate a story of their inner world.
Their interest revolves around the complexity of human soul and emotions and they communicate these notions through motifs such as chaos, ritualism and nihilism.
They explain that such ideas resulted from a long period of depression and, therefore, of isolation from society.
As they explain, “being introverts by nature, we found in art a way to communicate our messages to the world”.
Their creations are mutual and simultaneous and their style is intense, ritualistic and cult-like, dealing with beliefs and religion, relationships between women, magic, as well as with the power of emotions.
Romano often use themselves as a reference to create imaginative female characters, something particularly visible through their black and white series of drawings.
The black & white series of works by identical twins Nil and Karin Romano is a spectacular fantasy in four hands.
The pen-and-ink drawings are the result of harmonious collaboration between these two autodidactic artists.
Their attention to detail has yielded crowded drawings teeming with situations and occurrences, creating a full and explosive kaleidoscope of images, animals, furniture and architectural items reflecting off one another and shattering/splitting in the mirrors mounted on the sides.
Each drawing contains an inner space built in a different architectural style—modern, baroque or nouveau art.
In some the space can be identified: the interior of a synagogue, a temple, a bedroom.
Yet often the constructed architecture bursts out into nature.
The space strays beyond the walls, and its dimensions are unclear and do not conform to any rules.
The perspective battles with the flatness that has been forced upon it.
The most outstanding element is the symmetry.
Almost every work has a clear center line, a central event stage that balances the right side of the drawing with the left.
In psychology, symmetry is identified with obsession and narcissism.
These works serve the artists as a form of correction, a way to relate to the other, to achieve a balance within the chaotic and the psychedelic.
The works are laden with many details that call for examination.
The elements inspire a sense of ritual: various religious symbols alongside witches and black magic; an abundance of accessories and props—masks, umbrellas, chains, lamps, candles; an assortment of animals, such as turtles, bats, rabbits, pheasants, shellfish and snakes alongside imaginary hybrid creatures.
In between, the human figures stand out, first and foremost duplications of the twin artists’ faces and bodies alongside other female figures with flowing hair, naked or dressed in ceremonial attire.
All are in motion, symbiotic, powerful in their appearance.
The artists do not conform to any rules, neither those of perspective nor those of proportion.
They let their fantasies run free, such that a dung beetle or an ant may be larger than a human figure.
They take symbols and images originating in various cultures and turn them into new and very personal images that extend beyond all theories of analysis, decoding or diagnosis.
Nil and Karin Romano invite the viewer into their world—a superhuman world of dreams that is larger than life and offers a hypnotic and multi-sensual experience.
While self-taught, Romano sisters have grown a unique style of painting, and they have attracted the interest of international art collectors.
They have exhibited their works in both solo and group exhibitions together with other emerging and well known artists.
How did you find out you are artists?
As children we were always creative and thinking out of the box, it was always there inside of us, waiting for the right moment to explode.
We truly believe that some people are born to be artists and we think this is the case with us, we feel it's our duty for the world and our destiny.
Creation burns inside us like flames.
We have always been creative individuals that are driven by imagination.
We started working intensely on art on a daily basis around 6 years ago after we experienced major depression and some mental storms.
Through art we discovered we have a place in the world, in a world we never really felt belonged.
art for us is our therapist, our closest friend, our oxygen. when we don't create we tilt like flowers who don't get their water.
At first we were exploring different media, we started by creating our punk leather jackets and our own clothes, painting on jeans, on cloths etc and real fast after we started working like busy bees on large scale paintings & drawings on a daily basis persistently.
Was your family supportive?
Hmm if to be honest not very much.
It's not the ultimate dream job because we all know that being an artist is not an easy task.
It's not easy to make a living by it so it was kinda hard for them to support.
They preferred we will go study in a decent university learning not exciting topics, but we are driven by our passions so we all knew that it won't gonna happen and that we are stubborn and go after our desires.
Nowadays they are more sensitive and learned to accept our decision and we think they understand that this is what we meant to do.
With the years it was easier for them to accept it especially after they saw in their own eyes how people react to our exhibitions in real time.
To see all the people intrigued and curious and shocked by our talent made them be less hard with us.
It made them believe we have a future in the art scene.
What is your relationship to instagram?
We have had instagram for around 6 years, but only 3 years ago we started posting more often our creations and sharing it with the world.
In the beginning we didn't find instagram exciting at all since it seems people are focused on their look and fashion all the time , it doesn't really do us a thing, we do not understand the shallow preoccupation with the culture of beauty and fashion.
It's boring for us, we can't see a soul, that's the hardest thing for us with instagram. but from the art aspect it's a great platform for artists from all over the world to share their fire. we explored many interesting artists through instagram and it's a true pleasure to come across art with a soul, and to see the passion in others.
With the years we understood the importance and the power of instagram.
Yes , we are late bloomers, haha we are aware.
How important is digitalization in connection with your art practice?
We think it's an important platform because we show how persistent we are and how devoted we are to art and people learn to understand our world better.
Our art is very genuine it provokes emotions globally and we are honored that people from all over the world believe in our creativity process and its always heart warming for us to get compliments.
Good feedback makes us even better artists.
Good words build us up maybe because we didn't get many of them from our parents, good words seep into us.
We also like to show our development as artists and share it with the world..
It brings us good feelings inside. make us shine in the dark.
How has the pandemic left a mark on your work?
We are pessimistic by birth so the pandemic did not particularly surprise us, we expected every scenario.
Besides to this we are lone wolves so it felt that we had more tools to cope in such times.
We have to admit we felt even more belong to the world in such time since we are outsiders so we felt now people can understand us better, be in our shoes and experience loneliness in big doses, or mental pain.
It's a little egoistic thinking but it doesn't come from evil. It's just we felt more understood.
This year has been for us the most creative and developmentally meaningful because we have worked hard all this year on an important exhibition at a museum in Israel called Janco Dada Museum.
We have created a body of works of about 30 dense black and white drawings that explain the twin closeness into the world of the inner occult that dwells in us.
We named the exhibition "The Secret World Of The Introverts"
The exhibition is still ongoing and it has even been extended for several months in view of the success and admiration of the visitors. We are proud of each other that out of such a chaotic and challenging year we have managed to get the best out of it.
The hard work paid off.
This year was full of inspiration for us and it was precisely in this chaotic year that we blossomed.
When, where do you work best?
We create art from a set of emotions whether it is sadness or joy.
Our art is created mostly from pain tho.
From hard times we create the best masterpieces.
We have been majorly depressed since a young age and we think we make the best art when we feel pain in big doses .
We create art that comes from the depth of our emotions.
Where, how do you usually get inspired?
We've been isolating a lot together from society so we had the time to enrich our inner worlds with a lot of culture such as cinema, art philosophy, music psychology and poetry.
Our greatest source of inspiration comes from mostly chaotic films, from directors such as: Hanke, Maya darren, Lyne Ramsy Xavier Dolan, Chantel Akerman, Gaspar Noe, Catherine Breillat, Wong kar wai, Sofia Copolla, Cronenberg, Agnes Varda, Hanke, Bong Joon Ho and music figures from different subcultures such as: Blixa, current 93, Diamanda Galas Soap and skin, and many others.
We have a soft spot for movies that make us feel intense emotions on deeper levels. (maybe because that our personas are quite chaotic and driven by emotions) also we have a soft spot for music that makes us feel, we like melancholy music we find it super inspiring.
Virginia Woolf and Anais Nin are also great inspiration & expressionists such as : Otto dix, George Grotz and painters from the weimar era.
We think that our closest friends who are few btw inspire us the most, they made us make a series of drawings.
Our bestie, Daniel, he is gay and we recently made few drawings that focus on relationship between gays and queers inspired by him.
We have another friend that is a delicate pianist, we watched him play the piano and it made us create a few paintings and drawings that revolve around the piano.
Besides the fact that we really love piano.
What does success mean to you?
For us success can be to paint a painting that we are very pleased with its results.
That's the biggest success in our eyes, to be proud of what we create.
We never tried to please anyone besides ourselves.if other people can see the beauty in it we appreciate it.
Another success for us is to see the reaction of visitors to our exhibition and read their facial expressions especially when we recognize an intrigued face and ask many questions about the work process and the works themselves.
There is something very exciting about knowing how to touch people through a work of art.
We also like to get positive feedback from our close friends- it is success in our eyes.
When people from all over the world are interested in purchasing a work and knowing the story behind it.
All these above are success in our eyes.
What are you working on currently?
At the moment we work on a series of drawings that focus on queer relationships, we also work on a series of body of drawings that catch loneliness as a form of escapism.
Who are your fav artists?
Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini, Remedios Varo, Francis Bacon, Edvard Munk, Egon Schiele , Nobuyoshi Araki, Man Ray, George Grosz, Otto Dix, Hans belmer,Hilma Af Klint etc.
Which is your fav piece and why?
There is this painting of George Grosz called the suicide.
We appreciate this piece a lot, it moves us.
Which is your own favorite piece and why?
It's a hard question because for us it's really hard to pick only one.
We feel attached to most of our paintings and drawings but we have a special spot for one in particular called: "The Funeral" because we did this piece of work when we were in the process of losing someone we really love which was such a unique and charismatic person, our aunt was a true rebel in her heart so we found it easy to connect with her.
She got ill and we prepared ourselves for the last goodbye when making a painting about it
Besides there are 2 recent favourites we created , one is called: "A Serenade For A Lost Nostalgic Love " the drawing shows a delicate and melancholy muscular man playing the piano with his legs wrapped around it.he plays a serenade for his lost "Forgotten" love.
The other drawing that we got attached to recently is called: "I Want To Pull The Sadness Out Of You" the drawing shows 2 gay muscular figures, one crying and the other enveloping him with love and support and pulling his body upwards in order to lift him from his pain, the 2 characters complement each other.
Describe your works in 3 words:
Chaotic, intense, mysterious
What is your creative process?
Normally we agree on ideas we want to focus on, then we decide on the subject and we take small papers for each that are used for intuitive fast sketches, right after we combine the both ideas into one sketch and we start working mutually and harmonically together with minimum fights and less talkings, four hand monster.
We get into the zone, let's call it that way, with music in the background and coffee besides.
We pretty much do equally the same, we invent new techniques together, that's our most favorite part.
We never went to an art school and we're glad about that since we don’t believe in art schools and rules when it comes to genuine art.
We are rebels by faith.
it very much depends on our moods , sometimes we are very intuitive and sometimes very calculated.
Each of our work is an opportunity to narrate a story of our inner world.
Our interest revolves around the complexity of the human soul and emotions and we communicate these notions through motifs such as chaos, ritualism and nihilism.
Such ideas resulted from a long period of depression and, therefore, of isolation from society., “being introverts by nature, we found in art a way to communicate our messages to the world”.
Our creations are mutual and simultaneous and our style is intense, ritualistic and cult-like, dealing with beliefs and religion, relationships between women, magic, as well as with the power of emotions.
Our interests are very diverse so the themes of our paintings and drawing are also diverse.
Do you have a favorite quote ????
Wow this must be the hardest question because we are junkies of movies and poetry let us give you few of our most favs quotes :
Anais Nin: "i can only connect deeply or not at all"
Kieslowski: "loneliness is important, so is love and the lack of it"
Edgar Allan Poe: "i was never insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched"
Nick cave: "sad songs don't depress me , its pop music that makes me want to slit my wrists "
Virginia woolf: “nothing thicker than a knife's blade separates happiness from melancholy.”
Tom waits: "i love beautiful melodies telling me terrible things''
Kim Gordon: "this song is for all the girls who don't want to be mothers, or lovers, or bitches"
Tarkovsky: "those who create their own worlds are generally the poets"
Wong kar wai: "i'm not coming from film schools, i learned cinema in the cinema watching films"
Vladymir Mayakovsky:"i feel i have another person's heart in my chest but there are only hearts in my body. everywhere there's a siren whistling"
Betty Blue: "she was a flower with a psychic antennae and a tinsel heart"
Persona: "they said you were mentally healthy, but your madness is the worst.
Female Trouble: "the world of heterosexuals is a sick and boring life"
Wild At heart : "this is a snakeskin jacket, it's a symbol of my individuality and my belief in personal freedom"
Leaving las Vegas: "you're like an antidote that mixes with the liquor and keeps me in balance"
What makes you happy, what makes you laugh?
We honestly think that art animates us and inspires hope in us.
Being in the company of our close friends does us good at heart.
Black comedies make us laugh and also being silly with our closest friends is a good opportunity for some pure moments of laughter.
Also we make each other laugh.
We are quite cynical sometimes since life is too serious.
We have to spice it up with a little cynicism.
Which keywords describe you as artists:
Witchy, chaotic, madness, outsider, obsession, pedantry, passionate, extreme, wild, mischievous, honest, imaginative, occult, mystic, feminist, mysterious, story-telling, deep, driven by emotions, angry, soft, dark, twin connection.
If you could choose any place to exhibit where would it be?
We would be honored to exhibit in places that are open artistically cities such as: London, Berlin, Paris, Nyc , Tokyo. in places where the art scene is kicking and wild.
We are dreamers with big dreams.
We think we fully deserve to exhibit in the best places the world has to offer.
Let us pessimists finish this interview with a bit of optimism.
Thank you for hosting us. it was pleasure!
Jerusalem Post Newspaper, Haaretz, Ynet, Artsinsquare, Topainterstopaintings, Dreck Magazine, Ostrich_magazine, Kama.Fanzine, The.artmag, _Between_Spaces_, Hart Magazine, Macabre Art , Apocalyptic Midnight Death Cult, Artbrut_outsider_art, The Mysto Erector, Infernal Visions Ov Hell, Bibliotheque Infernale, שלוש נקודות, Goth Magazine, Magick & Spiritual Art, Agrath, Alteredcraftwitch, Occulture, The Macabre And The Beautifully Grotesque
-Table Talk "Ballo In Maschera" -Tel Aviv (2018)
-Sputnik Gallery- "The Demon Is My Best Friend" Tel Aviv (2019)
-"The Secret World Of The Introverts" Janco Dada museum -Ein Hod (2021)
-Blue Rose Studio - Tel aviv (2019)
-Teder "Psolet" group exhibition, Beit Romano, resident artists. (Psolet)
Tel Aviv (2019)
-The Great Machine Festival, Levontin , Tel Aviv (2019)
-Teder "Psolet" group exhibition, Beit Romano, resident artists. (Psolet)
Tel aviv (2020)
"Calling The Goddess" Beit Ha'ir Museum (2020)
-"Fountain group exhibition/Dissidents, Rothschild 9,Tel Aviv. (2020)
SOLO EXHIBITION-"The Secret World Of The Introverts" Janco Dada museum -Ein Hod, Israel (2021)
19.03.2021 - 01.09.2021
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Portraits of Nil and Karin Romano credit: @Amit Einy
and Avigail Uzi (YNET PAPER)
Images of artworks credit: @Nil and Karin Romano
A double thank you to the wonderful Karin and Nil, who truly took their time to share with all of us a bit of their world and their amazing work. Respect ladies, respect!