Interview with artist Nicole Pon Horvath
French born, NH (Nicole Pon Horvath) has been taught by Japanese Masters. She has studied the traditional disciplines of ‘Sumi-e’ (ink painting), ‘Nihonga’ (painting with pigments) and ‘Ikebana’ (Sogetsu Master). In addition, NH is a creative art framer, and fashion designer (Doreme).
Artist: NH (Nicole Pon Horvath); Photo by Paige Fulleton McFall
NH’s work expresses the sensitive transformation of emotions which occur during meditative awareness. In this stillness, the search is for peaceful contemplation to open hearts and minds, creating moments of happiness and profound connection to the natural elements.
“For me, being mindful during the creative process is everything! Without this, I would be producing very different work. Part of my process is to be able to see and open my heart and my mind, which helps to attain stillness and permit contemplation. Without stillness, there is no contemplation. Being mindful helps process what I see, what I feel. It gives access to different layers of understanding. You need to empty your mind before you can see what is essential.” ~ NH; Photos by Paige Fulleton McFall
NH’s current inspiration stems from nature, particularly exploring the moon, bamboo and trees – painting on canvas with acrylics. She is fascinated with rebirth after trauma, and the inspiration which ignites at times of new beginnings.
Continue reading to see how nature inspires NH and her artwork.
How does nature inspire you? What kind of artwork have you created based on these inspirations?
To me, nature is energy, beauty, it is purifying and revitalizing.
I look into the details found in nature that will evoke an emotion. The emotions set in and stimulates the inspiration behind my paintings.
My works comprise of various imagery including forests, waterfalls and mountains amongst others. I am inspired by the emotions I feel when I see the strength and flexibility of bamboo, the delicate petals of cherry blossoms, the majesty of maples and pines, the lustre of the moon - and I pick up my brush and begin my journey to put these emotions down on paper or canvas.
‘Morning Reflections' by NH ( Nicole Pon Horvath), acrylic on canvas, 2016
“Reflections of nature’s beauty. A bright moon casting its glow on the delicate maple leaves.” - NH
You have lived in several countries throughout your artistic career. Does where you live (Singapore, Japan, Amsterdam, France) affect the subject matter and / or your style of painting?The environment is crucial to the outcome of my works. The nature found in each of the places I have lived is all very different, but similar in the way that it affects me and my art. Each place brings about different inspiration in the colours and materials I choose to work with, and that in turn creates different streams under the unifying theme of the beauty and power of nature.
My life would not be complete without painting. It is the purpose of my life. I paint to go deeper into my feelings. I paint to satisfy an urge to express and share them. I listen to it. I feel it. I breathe it. I contemplate with my senses. I focus on one movement, one moment, one sensation, one feeling. Like the zoom and click of a camera in the hands of a photographer.
I get my inspiration from the colours in the skies I have found in Japan, Nice and Amsterdam. They are a gentle reminder of my youth in Algeria.
‘Cherry Blossom And Winter Sky’ by NH ( Nicole Pon Horvath), acrylic on canvas, 2010
If you can only choose one, do you prefer being a creative art framer or a fashion designer?
It is difficult to fall under any category, as all bring different types of inspiration and creativity. But if I had to choose one it would be creative art framer. For me, it is a continuation to my work. Whether it is a photograph, a poem or a painting, the frame is another tool for me to use to further extend my inspiration. The frame then becomes associated with the artwork, part of the subject, and brings a new dimension to it.
How different is Sumi-e and Nihonga? Which is more challenging and which is more popular in today's context?
The two art forms are very different. Sumi-e is ink painting and Nihonga refers to Japanese paintings that have been made with traditional Japanese artistic conventions, techniques and materials.
Sumi-e is the art of perfection of using ink, water, brushes, and paper. The perfection of each stroke, of every movement, the ever-soft touches of the brush on paper. But it is so much more... it is the subtle use of ink and the preparation of the ink. It is about the sensuality in your movements and the need to develop the art of perfection.
Nihonga literally means Japanese painting. It is based on the techniques in Sumi-e in regards to the strokes, colours, water and the added use of pigments and papers.
In Japan, the most popular in today’s context is Sumi-e – however, for the rest of the world, it is Nihonga.
Why does rebirth after trauma fascinate you?
Rebirth after trauma fascinates me because in the cycle of life there will always be birth, life and death. It is a continuous loop that we as people, and nature, fall under.
A birth is miraculous, a rebirth after trauma is something magical and touching. When you look at nature and how it is continuously evolving through environmental changes - be it through seasonal or climactic obstacles, it always finds a way to renew, to replenish and to grow.
What once was a void could be flourishing with beauty. And what we would think unimaginable can test our perceptions. Like a lotus growing out of mud or a patch of grass through cement walkways. It is a true wonder of the world. And sometimes, just sometimes, nature has to retreat to renew itself.
‘Old Plum Tree’ by NH ( Nicole Pon Horvath), diptych - acrylic on canvas, 2011
“This painting captures the beauty of an old Japanese plum tree in the early morning hours. It is a scene of rebirth - the first blossoms appearing after the chaos of a bitter winter. It was my first painting after a nine-month hiatus where I dealt with trauma and chaos in her own life. It represents my personal rebirth.” ~ NH