Elizabeth Romhild

Danish, Armenian and Thai Artist Elizabeth Romhild Draws on World Culture

789
0

By Artsvi Bakhchinyan

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

YEREVAN/BANGKOK — I have known artist Elizabeth Romhild since 2003, when she visited Armenia for the first time with her mother and brother. Since that year I followed the creative activity of this talented artist with unique style. My friendship continues with this warm-hearted, charming lady, who made a very generous contribution to my life by sponsoring the publication of my voluminous study, The Armenians in World Cinema, published in 2004 in the Armenian language. I dedicated this study to her.

Elizabeth Romhild (née Davidian) has lived and worked in Bangkok, Thailand, since 1988. At the age of 26, she began painting realistic portraits, later moving on to seascapes and landscapes, figures of women, and animalistic images. Her artwork is part of private collections in several countries around the world, including in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Italy, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and the United States.

According to the artist’s official web page: “Romhild’s artwork has traveled through many phases on a continuous road of self development and discovery. Gradually her art became bolder and more simplified in her portrayals of the female subject both in the two-dimensional form of her painting and the three-dimensional forms of her bronze sculptures. Throughout her long artistic career, Romhild has continued to defy her boundaries with an ever expanding range of work that reflects her quest to deeper self discovery.”

 

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

Dear Elizabeth, you have lived in Thailand for many years. Your paintings and sculptures are extremely colorful and exotic. Is this the influence of the country of your residence?

I believe my surrounding influences my art style. But I also feel the choice of color I use is more emotional or temperament-related, which gives the work character.

For one period, you used to draw mostly female figures. And recently we see often animals in your paintings. What attracts you more in objects for painting and sculpting?

A few years back, I was fascinated by the wild life in the African savannah, exploring the animal characters, as I would with humans. Later exploring further led into a rawer and darker side, inspired by African masks and warrior face paints.

Are you a part of a Thai artistic community?

I have a few Thai artist friends, but I do not belong to any artistic community here. Thai artists tend to be either very political or traditional in their art style. In any case I prefer working alone.

How we can define you – an artist of Armenian-Danish origin residing in Thailand?

Yes, I always call myself a Danish-Armenian artist living in Bangkok.

Please tell us about your ancestors – both Armenian and Danish.

My father Zaven Davidian, was an Armenian from Julfa, Isfahan, and met my Danish mother in Denmark while he was working with a Danish engineering company called Kampsax. He built the Trans-Iranian Railways, designing most of the important bridges. My mother is Danish-born, Gerda Davidian (Erritzoe). After marrying my father, she moved to Iran, and was fully integrated into the Armenian family and culture, speaking fluently both Persian and Armenian.

Your childhood partly took place in Iran, in an Armenian milieu. What did that give you?

I was born in Denmark, but my childhood years were spent in Teheran, with my Armenian family. I attended both Armenian and Persian schools, before moving abroad to study. I met my Danish husband Peter Emil Romhild in Teheran in 1978, when he was working there with a Danish company just before the revolution in 1979. Both the Armenian and Persian cultures are very rich, and unconsciously are a strong part of my creativity.

What about your children?

Peter and I have two children. Wenja was born 1990 in Bangkok, and named after Peter’s older sister. She lives in Copenhagen and is a makeup artist and cosmetologist with an artist’s soul, after having studied at a well-known Danish fashion design university. Henrik was born in 1990, also in Bangkok, and named after my brother. He studied business strategic design management at Parsons in NY, recently got married to Adrianna who is Mexican American, and the two of them are currently living in Bangkok as newlyweds.

Are you in touch with Armenians in Thailand? What can you tell about them?

Yes, there is a small Armenian community here in Bangkok, mainly from Lebanon or Syria, who we meet at social functions, and some are close friends.

Do you believe in “national in arts?” Is it possible to notice some Armenian or Danish motifs in your works? If yes – how?

I guess subconsciously I have my “national” signature in my colors. Without intending it, the Armenian flag color is visible in my bold color paintings. The blue which was an inspiration in the early ’90s, when I saw a deep blue glass bowl with bright colored oranges, and was the beginning of my Woman and Orange series, and of course the ardor red, which is also in the flag…. I feel the Persian miniature is also visible in my women with their large eyes, with their untold stories.

Have you any special Armenian inspirations? Music, for instance?

Music is always a great inspiration. I love classical and sometimes melancholic tunes, to reach my deeper self in art. I do not have any specific Armenian music that inspires me, but the Armenian national duduk (specially played by Djivan Gasparyan) is now used by many other composers and musicians, including soundtrack. I like eclectic music. Another favorite rhythm is the Armen Chakmakian cheerful Gypsy Rain, where I see my signature whimsical piano keyboards (now also in my designs) dancing together.

What were your best impressions from your visit to Armenia?

There were of course many joys visiting beautiful Armenia with its rich cultures. But most of all was the feeling to be in a place you have never been before, and where everything was in Armenian, even the fasten seat belt sign on the plane. And I could read and understand.

You have been to Armenia twice, in 2003 and 2004. Your friends in Armenia, including myself, are eager to organize your personal exhibition in the country of your ancestors, but this seems to be a rather difficult project.

I would be very happy to have exhibited my work in Armenia, but unfortunately the logistics both ways seems to be the main issue….. and also very expensive.

Let us hope for wealthy sponsors appreciating art and the connections between Armenia and Diaspora! And what are your current inspirations in fine arts?

Having completed my art circle, meaning exploring my inner self in art, I am back into my well known whimsical female characters, in operatic costumes and theatrical staging, which comes naturally for me.

Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: