By Rebecca G. WilsonThis piece originally was posted in July, 2009
I met with artist Chloe Trujillo on a sunny California afternoon at the Gallery Concord to discuss her current exhibit there. I was captivated by everything from her Rapunzelian cascade of golden surfer girl Princess Leia braids to her beat up black leather engineer boots paired with a tutu-like floral petticoat to the fantastical paintings surrounding us.
An eerie bulbous head stared out from a neural network of dendrons framed by hands and real stitching on the canvas. Chloe described Alien Invasion, the aptly named painting,
“In this work I viewed alien versus humanity, those bubbles coming from the aliens head are our thoughts, busy with activity(the hands). We lost the source,we are so active, we became aliens to our true nature. We are becoming more and more aware of this, and meditation, yoga, being in nature is back in style!”
Like painter Robert Williams, her explanations are almost as interesting as her paintings themselves!
Chloe knows fine art’s formal rules having studied art at the Louvre in France for four years. Her skill has given her the confidence to break rules. The sewing of the alien piece onto a larger canvas is experimental. Literal and figurative meanings abound in her quilting together of the alien and earthly worlds. Chloe also likes experimenting with her art by ,"recycling objects" for example, by painting over pictures she finds at thrift stores.
She grew up in Paris, near the outdoor sculptures of Niki de Saint Phalle she would walk by almost every day. Does art imitate life or does life imitate art because the twists and turns in Chloe’s shapely artistic visions are similar in their liveliness to those of Saint Phalle. She actually has the same birthday as Saint Phalle. Growing up in France influenced her style in many ways as she told me,
“I love the Art Nouveau posters,we have a lot in France,like Toulouse-Lautrec,Eugene Grasset and of course Mucha. I was also raised in Paris that has a lot of Art Nouveau architecture:the metro (Guimard) for example,everywhere! And wrought iron doors and staircases...I also love Gaudi's work.”
Chloe’s household was sophisticated and creative - her grandfather was an opera singer and her parents were fashion designers. Although blessed with beauty and brains, this woman did not take the safe route in life. Before she got, not one, but two college degrees (math/matter structure and fine art) she was a wild child! When she was twelve, she broke into the infamous French catacombs where she spent the night amidst skulls and skeletons. She also squatted with street punks as she grew older. Chloe says of her punk rock days,
"I was craving adventure,I lived many different experiences and living in the streets with punks was one of them. I love the music, I love the danger, living on the edge. It was also like family for me, I felt free and accepted, we supported each other. We went through rough, very rough times, but the music and our group kept us going. I think I really discovered the power of music then."
This search for excitement and thrills can be seen in her wildly exciting and vibrant paintings.
Seeing a raw, punk look and street influence in some of her work I asked her if she liked graffiti and she replied,
“I love graffiti, there must be some influence then.”
I love the confluence of street and elite in Chloe’s paintings - the raw punk street vision and appreciation of earthy nature conveyed with a masterful stroke revealing her formal university training.
Although Mrs. Trujillo seems to have lead a charmed life she suffered a near death experience some years back when she was assaulted by a serial murderer and rapist and fought for her life. It was her survival of this tragic attack that brought her back to art and singing and, Chloe added,
“it brought a spiritual dimension into my work. Where first after this I used my painting as a therapy a lot and if helped me because I kept everything inside and I needed to let it out somehow so I painted, I painted, I painted and after the healing was done then my work changes and became more like a meditation. . .” because “I could not breathe after that experience,” and, “singing and painting were my therapy.”
Before the attack she had drifted away from art since she was questioning her motivations and had gotten in the rut of a 9-to-5 job. Her hopefulness and new appreciation for life can be seen in her vividly lit paintings.
Chloe has a wonderful use of light and color experimentation (for example - the cool blue face in Face of Darkness). Her work has evolved from technical still lives to more free form and loose shapes emanating a funky and jazzy feel.
Chloe elaborated on her innovations,
“Yes it's great to learn all the techniques,methods and tools for a start and then free yourself from them, try to forget it all so you find your own voice,your own expression. My early work is very technical, I mean it still came through me, so it had my "touch", but now I am so much more connected to my work, I let it freely come to life, and the technique lies there in the background, but it is really my own vision that comes to life.
You can always make a portrait or something like that’s technique and skills or whatever what’s harder is really to express yourself. I think I was hiding myself before.
Of course the French impressionists were using light in their work,but light is primordial in giving a sense of 3 dimensions to the work,a lot of painters before them were famous for that,look at Rembrandt's use of light!!
I learned to view subjects as shapes,those shapes had to come from the contrast between lights and darks. So the answer is yes,they teach light portrayal. Lines are not really needed as long as there is a sense of light.”
Her work reminds me of Frida Kahlo with its organic themes emulating life’s curvy shapes and plants and the human body. Her appreciation of nature is seen in her art and love of travel. Chloe explains,
“I travelled a lot and every place enriches me. Nature is always spectacular to me,anywhere. I had the chance to see some of the most amazing sites on earth,like the Pyramids of Gizea,or Temples in Bangkok, or the Grand Canyon...”
I assumed there was a science fiction influence in Chloe’s work so I was surprised when she told me,
“No I don't read sci-fi or fantasy books,I actually read a lot of scientific books (that passion hasn't left me) and a lot of esoteric or philosophical essays. Right now I am reading The Elegant Universe, it's about the string theory and it's fascinating. I guess those subjects,like imagining 11 dimensions, activates my brain cells and maybe I get creative like that?”
Wow, she relaxes by reading science books!
Along with French influences from having a French father and growing up in Paris, she has a German mother which perhaps contributed to her appreciation of the work of German expressionists like Edvard Munch, Otto Dix, Gustav Klimt, and Egon Schiele. Chloe also likes 60s psychedelic Fillmore posters. Other favorite artists are Albrecht Durer, Hieronymus Bosch,Van Gogh,Van Eyck, Beckmann, Pollock, Dali, Picasso, Da Vinci and she added, “but they are so many artists I love...”
She also mentioned writers and philosophers she has read,
"I love Jean-paul Sartre, I read all his books. Like I said, I read a lot of philosophers: Confucius, Lao Tse,Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Kant, Hegel, Bettelheim, Nietzsche, Freud, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Descartes, Plato,...list is endless”
I was not surprised to find out that the multi-faceted Chloe was also a singer and songwriter and asked her what she listens to,
“As far as music goes,I listen to a lot of different styles, from Grindcore to Blues to Funk, even Classical...Carcass, Big Mama Thornton, Death, John Coltrane, Brel, Mistinguett, Chaka Khan, Schubert, Judas Priest, etc... Now I like to work listening to my own internal vibrations. I sometimes hear my husband practicing in the background.”
Oh yeah, her husband Robert Trujillo is the bass player for Metallica. She did a pyrography (woodburning) design of a Mayan calendar for him on his bass. Robert Trujillo is the former bass player for Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Grooves. Chloe’s best friend in Paris introduced them 17 years ago after a Suicidal Tendencies show. Years later when he heard she had moved to Los Angeles, he called her from a pay phone while on a surfing trip in Tahiti in a determined effort to reconnect. They have been together for the past seven years and are now married with a 4 ½ year old son and a 2 ½ year old daughter.
Apparently, being married to a rockstar has its perks. When Chloe accompanied her husband to Saint Petersburg, Russia she was thrilled to see:
“the Hermitage Museum, which has an impressive Matisse collection!!”
After the visit I asked my niece to describe Chloe in three words and she said,“she’s kind, she’s genuine, she’s unique.” I let my niece interview her at one point when I went to check on something and Esme asked her why she painted hearts with eyes in them.
Chloe said it came from a French saying, “we can only see well through the heart,” or On ne voit bien qu'avec le Coeur .
How ironic that she envisioned her painting titled "Aztec" of a Mayan figure before she reconnected with Trujillo. Her husband bears a resemblance to an Aztec god when he plays bass! Lucky for him he married a goddess!
Check out more about Chloe and her work at:
Catching Up with Chloe Part 2
by Rebecca G. Wilson
Chloe Trujillo is an amazing woman who undertakes creative projects while gracefully living a life of mystical pursuits and globetrotting with her children and rockstar husband Robert Trujillo of Metallica.
I caught up with her recently over the phone and in an email interview and she told me about her latest projects.
|Chloe in front her paintings at an S.F. art gallery opening. Photo by RGW|
RGW - I hear that you are playing music and singing nowadays? What are the names of your current music projects and with whom are you collaborating?
CT - I was invited by Gail Zappa to record a Frank Zappa cover, I picked "The Torture never Stops" and it was released December 21st, 2010. I recently released two songs in collaboration with healers/artists, one called "Imago" co-written with Healer Carol'ann and another one called "Light" with words channeled by Tia Crystal, which is the introduction of a meditation CD. I have a Hang, an Indian Harmonium, some Dilruba and sagat in it. I am also working with Craig McFarland, bassist for M.I.R.V. We are about to finish the album and are still currently giving this project many many different names. I am also finally putting all the songs I've written for the past 2/3 years in order and am currently recording them. This is solo for now, but I might get some help. . .who knows? All my music can soon be heard (and purchased) via my website www.chloeinart.com, which is currently being updated!
RGW - How was Burning Man this year?
CT - During that time, I was unpacking boxes, moving furniture and watching the kids at the same time for the week. . . We were moving back to LA. . . .I burned the man in my kitchen.
RGW - What subjects are you painting lately?
CT - I just finished another surfboard, today actually, and started another bass guitar. I'm also working on this huge wall piece. I've had many many visions lately and subjects are diverse. They represent a metaphoric world of predictions, of dream-like states and energetic fields. I also started working on soul portraits. I should prepare soon for a show I am doing in Paris, with an old friend from artschool. I had a few of my works photographed, so I will soon sell prints and accessories with my work on it. The drummer from "the Dukes" asked me to paint his kit and I got a new bass to wood burn for Robert.
RGW - Tell us about the connection between your painting and world events. Recently you felt there was a connection between one of your paintings and the recent tragedies in Japan from the tsunami and the earthquakes?
CT - I had goose bumps when I realized. . . . it is the second very clear prediction I have seen in a painting . . . Today, as I was driving back home right after my mom called from France, warning me about the radioactive radiations coming from Japan and asking me if I needed some iodine sent, I suddenly got a vision of a painting that I created in 2009, All Seeing Eye for Peace. This is it, the second very clear prediction: Japanese tsunami, nuclear radiation disaster, it's all in there: "Hokusai"style wave (Japanese) coming over, the peace and love signs (nuclear disarmament), piling of skulls (disaster) and many more symbolic meanings are to add (the redness of the All-Seeing eye-anger? Pollution? Japanese flag?) I'll leave it to your interpretation . . .
RGW - How do you balance creating art, making music and being a mom? Does your husband babysit too?
CT - Ha ha, well I just had a show in NYC and for once Robert had to stay with the kids for a whole week! And he did a great job! Who knew? Maybe I should do this more often . . . No, it's never easy leaving the kids! You know I stopped "creating" when I had the kids. They were babies and I wanted to take care of them, but soon after I started feeling very depressed, waking up with knots in my stomach, so instead of ignoring the pain, I looked deep and understood that my job on this earth was also to share my creativity and visions with others. There you go, it's a lot of work to do it all, but so important and worth it! It's so easy to disappear, hide behind your children. I want to be there for them as much as possible and they are my priority no question, but it is also important to teach them that mommy needs her own time. I noticed that I am such a better mom when I do that. I am happier, everyone is happier!
RGW - Tell us about recent exhibitions and do you have any upcoming gallery shows?
CT - I did a show in December in Venice curated by a woman named Alicia who created an artist group, which I am now part of. I also painted two surfboards for Billabong, one will be displayed in their new store at the Universal Citywalk, and as I painted the other one, I started channeling images and it is now a Andy Irons tribute art piece. I have some tattoo designs for a show called Burning Ink that is up in NYC. Wow, April was sooo crazy with shows. I just had four this month in all different parts of the US! Right now I have a couple of shows lined up for LA, but with a fellow artist, we are preparing a huge one for Europe. . . more info to come.
RGW - What do you think of upcoming cosmic 2012 Mayan events that some people are predicting?
CT - We are all going through a shift, a planetary shift, but also a shift in consciousness. I don't believe in the end of the world, but in the end of the world as we know it today. Mother Nature has not been taken care of the way she deserved. We have thought of ourselves as separated entities, but we aren't. We are all energy, all connected, and we need to learn respect, Love and Light.
Check out Chloe's website for updates on her projects.
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