By Rebecca G. Wilson
This 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
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
“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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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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