Le rapport Aje


In Conversation | Anisa Filonia

Anisa’s life is a work of art.


Flourishing creatively wherever she goes, the Australian-born and Cambodia-based artist speaks with the Aje Report about her work, her wardrobe and what keeps her inspired.


Below, hear our conversation with Anisa Filonia.


How did you first start painting? Was there anyone or anything that inspired it?


I have loved creating art since I was a young child, it was always a natural form of expression for me and a way for me to process thoughts and emotions.   I started painting as a teen and returned to it again after having children because I find painting is a more accommodating artistic medium when life gets busy, and for me, it allows the most freedom in my expression. As I grow older I find it essential for my mental well-being and it brings me such deep satisfaction and joy!



Your work is a celebration of contrasts. How do you manage to find beauty through balance?


Contrast and proportion make art, design and dressing incredibly interesting! I find the best way of finding that balance is through play and experimentation. Playing around with the elements and then letting your eye guide you to the most interesting and harmonious version makes it feel balanced. Also, I enjoy removing as much detail as possible without losing that balance.



You take a multidimensional, mixed-media approach to creation. Do you practice this in other areas of your creativity – getting dressed, perhaps?


Yes, I see a direct link between my approach to creating artwork, creating interiors and dressing. When we seek to understand ourselves more we can recognize the patterns in what we are attracted to and how we might choose things. For me, a lot of it has to do with finding balance through juxtaposition. So texture, colour and proportion play a big part in putting together an outfit. For example, I love mixing suiting with a raffia bag. Something very structured with something more relaxed and whimsical. The difference in textures and the unexpected combinations just make it more interesting.

Texture is abundant throughout your work – is this something that unfolds naturally or is it something you focus on as you create?


The texture in my work started quite accidentally but ended up being one of the most meaningful parts of my work. I was trying to return to painting after a long pause, and I disliked everything I painted, everything! I would paint on the same canvas over and over, and I was never satisfied with the work I was producing. A couple of years later I pulled out those old canvases that naturally had layers and layers of hardened paint underneath, but this time I was able to translate onto the canvas what I had hoped to express. When the figures appeared the layers underneath ended up being quite symbolic. They were like the layers that we carry from life, its joys, disappointments, failures, hurt, and change; these experiences all make up the parts of who we are at a moment in time. And that’s what these portraits are. They capture a moment but if you look at them closely you see so much more beyond that.


Now that I’ve run out of those old canvases, I create those layers before I begin the portrait. But the base layers are just as important as the painting on top so I spend quite a bit of time preparing the canvas as part of my creative process.


Also, I try to be very free when I am painting so often I will paint an area over several times till it looks and feels right, leading again to a lot of texture.

What’s your favourite part of your process?


When I’m in the flow state. Flow state is when you are able to block everything around you including the chatter in your mind and be connected more deeply to the creative task. It is a divine feeling like you are a clear channel for the creative energy to pass through. Work that could have taken months to resolve might be resolved in a matter of hours, but it’s so much more than that, it’s about connection. It’s an incredible feeling.


What inspires you?


Too much! I’m the kind of person you could put into a bare concrete room and I’ll be in awe of the cracks, the tonal changes, the pattern of the pour, the coolness against my skin. Inspiration for me is truly everywhere.


 I also love studying interiors, fashion, art, crafts, and people. When I look at these things specifically I try to notice why things work, why they might be appealing or interesting and then try to understand the formula of it, and how that might be able to translate into my work.


There is so much visual information in our daily lives that can inform us creatively, we just have to be open to receiving it.


What book do you have on your bedside table?


The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin


How do you translate your artistry into your wardrobe?


Over the years I’ve been able to really refine the choices in my wardrobe by understanding the proportions of my body and how I want to feel when I get dressed. I buy pieces with longevity in mind, and that dictates both my clothing choices and my artistic choices. Will I look back at this and still appreciate it in a year, 5 years, 10 years?


Where do you feel most grounded?


By the beach, or any other natural expanse. Being somewhere where nature is in overwhelming abundance just puts everything in perspective. It’s a reminder of how small we are in relation to creation as a whole, and how connected we are in essence. It brings me a lot of peace.


When do you feel your most creative?


I can be scarily specific when it comes to this question, around 2 o’clock in the afternoon! More generally though, a few years ago I learnt about understanding the seasons of your cycle, and how to track and then learn about when you are naturally more able to perform at your best in terms of creative projects. For example when to plan, when to sketch, produce content for social media, writing and communication etc. It’s not always possible but having that awareness has helped me to be able to lean into the different seasons and use them to my advantage and to know when to put the paintbrush down!


It’s a fascinating topic on how to be more attuned to ourselves and sync that with your goals.

Texture or colour?


Texture gives colour a deeper meaning.


Landscape or portrait?


Portrait of course!


Heels or flats?


If I'm daydreaming I'm in heels but in reality, I'm in flats.


City or country?


Country with visits to the city on the weekends


Home or away?


I like life to be an adventure but I'm definitely a homebody.



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