Jilles van Alen - In search of being human
Being an artist helps Jilles van Alen to overcome his shame and inner conflicts. Through his art the openly gay artist explores his own psyche and what it means to be human.
You are a member of the LGBTQ+ community and grew-up in a loving yet struggling household. Nevertheless you experienced shame, inner conflicts and obstacles as a result of your background. How did your art help you to overcome these feelings?
For me, part of making art is a form of self-acceptance. Making art is a reflection of my inner world. My hopes, fears, dreams, my struggles and conflicts. Most works, probably all of them, reflect psychological processes I’m going through. I believe everything we experience in our lives is a reflection of our inner-world especially the art we make. By sharing my art with the world, I’m sharing a part of myself which helps me heal and to overcome my shame and inner conflict. It’s like sharing your story or secrets with the world. By showing who you really are you become more accepting of yourself.
“I use art to explore my own psyche”
Now it is 2020. Luckily our society has become more woke and tolerant. But do you think being openly queer can still somehow be an disadvantage in the art market?
I’m not sure. I tend to think it’s more an advantage. Our community has a lot of struggles which brings us so much creativity. There’s so much talent in our community. I think the only disadvantage is that many of us are not believing enough in themselves. There is still so work to be done on that level.
You said, that through art you try to explore, what it means to be a human being. What message do you want to send to your audience?
Am I sending a message? That’s interesting. Maybe I am. I’m exploring what it means to be a human being. Everything I do in live reflects in my art and I involve the subconscious in my work. I’m a spiritual person and I’m a therapist and I study applied psychology at the moment. You can say I very much drawn to psychological processes and what drives humans. You can say by making art I’m exploring my own psyche and by expressing myself I’m healing parts of me. If there is a message in my work it would be saying “dive into your subconsciousness and explore. It knows all the answers and it knows how to heal you”.
“I feel a strong connection with the universe”
In one of your early artworks you edited old portrait photos and wiped out the faces with paint, so that you can neither indentify them anymore, nor see any gender. Can you describe, what these artworks are about?
That’s actually pretty old work. It’s a collage that exists of vintage photos and paintings from Antony Micallef. I’m pretty sure it reflects my chaotic mind in the moment I made this. It reflects a contrast of the orderly outside because of the neat clothes and the chaotic mind inside.
In many of your works of art you combine photography, drawings and found image into surreal, nearly spiritual collages. Would you describe yourself as an spiritual person?
I’m a spiritual person. I’m educated as a spiritual therapist and feel a strong connection with the universe. I feel we all are connected and everything is one. Everything is consciousness and we are here to expand that consciousness by learning and healing. It’s all mirrors and reflections. We are what we see. Everything is love but we are not always able to see that.
What are your plans for the future as an artist?
I want to learn more about making art. I want to keep evolving. At this moment I’m also very busy studying but that will not stop me from making new work. In the future I would like to combine digital with analogue work. I’m looking forward to having more time to make art because next to working with people it’s what I love doing most.