There are few as honest as Darr Gapshis. When you ask her a question be ready for the answer because it will be unabashedly truthful. This doesn’t mean her works are grotesque nor do her words offend. Instead, your surprise will come from her ability to spread her heart wide open to you- through her paintings, in her movements, and in the way she describes her life. It was an honor to sit down and discuss with this artist as we discussed the importance of beauty in her life and instilling it in ours.
Interview with Darr:
How long have you lived in Chicago?
All my life.
You moved to Bridgeport recently. What do you think of the art scene here?
I think it’s absolutely wonderful. It started a long time ago and I feel it’s been a little bit slow. I can’t wait for it to grow more. The venue is perfect.
You’ve been painting for a long time, has anything happened in your life that has changed the way you see your process?
I’ve felt that my best work is when I’m lying on the floor crying, feeling as if my heart is being torn out and my soul is dying. My whole life is filled with ups and downs and with love. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I paint because when I see all the negativity people store up and expel, it’s so shocking to me. It forces me to battle by making beautiful things. It forces me to live beautifully and be surrounded by beauty. My husband has said he’s never met anyone who lives for beauty more than I.
How do you feel about mysticism playing a role in your art making?
I’m on the other side however I come and go. I’m mostly there when I’m painting. For me to be on the other side full time is unrealistic.
Where does your love for lusciousness come from?
I was born with a love for lushness. My mother’s dresses were so beautiful and so were her draperies. I carry out her tradition! The lushness of a peony and a garden rose are unbelievable to me. I take their colors everywhere I go. The neutrals too. There’s nothing like a boucle Chanel beige suit or man in a beautiful black Armani tuxedo. It’s about the design but more importantly the fabrics.
Do you think you were fated to become an artist?
Why does florals play such an important role in your work?
My mom was in the garden all summer. My father owned a printing business which caused him to be very political. They were always out at city functions but during the day she was in the garden. She made big cakes too. Once when I was very young she made a cake with a giant rose on the top. There were tiny sprinkles that looked like little dew drops. I still think of it today.
Purple is said to combine the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red. What is your relationship to that color?
I feel it’s a royal color. Its passion and I’m very passionate so that has a lot to do with it. I have a tremendous amount of energy.
If you could show your work anywhere, where would you want to show it?
At the Louvre in Paris.
What is your favorite place in the world?
My livingroom. After our trips, after being in some of the most beautiful rooms in the world, we get home and think this isn’t bad. Then you wake up the next morning and think yes this is where I want to be. I don’t live as high anymore. I’m closer to the trees and can outside my bedroom and my kitchen. I’m closer to them and that’s where I want to be.
What is your favorite flower and why?
He garden rose- it’s fragrance, it’s lushness, it’s bar none one of the most beautiful smelling flower.
I also love the Easter lily, gardenia, freesia, I love the scent of stephanotis, and tuberose.