Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dacio Paints The Cosmos


"The sky is the ultimate art gallery just above us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It was recently my great pleasure to enjoy the beauty of The Cosmos Gallery, an online artwork collection by a talented Peruvian painter and web developer, who shares his art on a self-made site that is an amazing blend of science and creativity! Dacio agreed to an interview about his stunning creations, and gave permission to share them on my blog.

You were inspired by the International Year of Astronomy – but seeing your work, I find it hard to believe you've been working with oils for such a short time. What did you paint before exploring the universe?
DACIO: I've been painting and drawing since childhood, doing landscapes, abstracts and portraits, but the universe always captured my imagination. One of my first memories is gazing at Halley's Comet through my father's telescope. Space seemed overwhelming, too magnificent to grasp or paint. In 2009, I started watching the Cosmos series. I found myself experiencing an intense urge to learn more about the stars that Carl [Sagan] talked about. I attended my first star party, and realized I could find my way around the night sky. Learning a bit of what once seemed obscure was an empowering feeling!

Painting the Colors of the Cosmos
The rich textures and bold colors in your "astro art" are very powerful, and your emotions about the connections between science and creative expression come through so clearly. Are you influenced by Hubble images, science shows, or do you wait for something spontaneous to appeal to you?
DACIO: I collect images from space telescopes and observatories, because they are free on the internet. I feel happy knowing that I will never run out of inspiration by choosing the cosmos; every day, I find something new that takes my breath away. I don't watch TV, so I'm thankful for all the science content that you can find online: documentaries, science blogs, podcasts, etc. I listen to Astronomy.fm online while I paint. This allowed me to discover my favorite podcasts: 365 DOA, The Space Writer, Skepticality, Dr. Kiki's Science Hour, and The Groks Science Show.

My favorite description in your gallery was for The Swan, "where stars are born". I loved the story of the Going Nova, an "awakening that takes us through a thousand years and across space into the heart of a star". Celestial events can be timeless symbols for enlightenment, and your journeys of creation are profound. Are you also a poet?
DACIO: I love poetry and literature; I used to write more, but then needed to express more than I could comfortably put into words. I particularly love Pablo Neruda and Gustavo Bécquer, they wrote a type of poetry that I found irresistible in its simplicity and elegance. I found some of that in painting: I didn't need a big budget to get serious about it, I didn't need a crew or a producer or a studio. I simply needed my brushes, paints, an empty canvas and a burning desire to share.

Magnificent Desolation
Magnificent Desolation

Why do you encourage people to download and share the pictures of your paintings on your site, what about your copyrights?
DACIO: Many artists publish their work online by disabling the right-click or other techniques to block users from downloading, or as I'm constantly told, "To protect your work and stop people from stealing it, man!" This attitude seems shortsighted. Then why put your work online in the first place then? I'm thankful that NASA has the courtesy to share images without copyrights, thus granting me freedom to create upon this inspiration. This openness is nothing strange in the scientific community, and I wanted to work in that that spirit.

I tell my visitors they have my permission to download and share, that they are free to post things wherever they please. A Creative Commons license seemed the right decision by allowing me to give away some rights for the sake of better sharing, while still reserving the right to make a living from my work. I started selling reproductions on canvas of my paintings as a way to find out if like minded people would see value of science-inspired art and give me the chance to continue creating with their support. Thanks to this, I'm able to reach a broader audience.

Dance of the Fireflies
The dance of these fireflies is the dance of distant suns.
To the tune of silent drums,
flows the grace of gravity and time.

My favorite painting is the Dance of the Fireflies: Antennae Galaxies. In a world saturated by digital data, many might have advised you to concentrate on your web career instead of 2-D painting. Is this form of art still relevant in the modern age?
DACIO: Social relevance, absolutely. As humans reach new heights, art will continue to play a role. Inspiration transcends fields: I was inspired by science to paint the stars and my art can inspire others to pursue scientific literacy. It is true that modern age has brought us a saturation of options, information and distractions, but it also brought the chance to connect to a global audience. I want my paintings to have substance, I want to infuse them with gratitude for the science that inspired me. This was the main reason why I developed in my website an interactive "Anatomy" section for each piece.

Secondly, there is the personal journey. The creative process develops a critical stance, experimentation and problem solving skills. This is how painting becomes a learning journal for each creative moment, and with a particular contrasting property in this age of rapid obsolescence: the longevity of the medium. It's mind boggling how we can still appreciate the tangible beauty and technique of an oil painting created hundreds of years ago. Learning about the universe makes you appreciate the short time given to us. In this context, I feel that painting is also a way of saying, "I was here; everything else along with me shall pass, but the colors of my moment will stay a bit longer."

Thank you so much for your time in answering questions and for allowing me to post your beautiful images. Friends and readers, you can also keep up with Dacio on his Facebook page and his YouTube Channel… !