Famed artist Dodo Newman may not reside in Monaco, but she has inspired many of the Principality’s residents, along with creating commemorative projects for HSH Princess Charlene. Born in Hungary but now based in Berlin, Dodo has lived experience of a variety of backgrounds and has channelled these into her inspirational creations to thrill and delight art lovers across the globe. We spoke to Dodo to discover how the Principality has touched her life, and her art.
How long have you been involved with the Principality?
My first short stay in the Principality happened in 2010, not because of the place itself, but because of a call for help. A very close friend of mine, who lived in its vicinity, had a serious health problem and needed my emotional and physical support. I moved to its surroundings without hesitation or second thoughts. Once I was there I fell in love with its physical layout; it is a gem surrounded by mountains and the sea. I also decided that this would be reflected in my art. My art is always inspired by my life experiences, so in that period of time, I created Monaco-related projects, artworks and dedications. Although the need and desire for more contrasts and dynamics led me to Berlin, Monaco has held a special place in my heart since I created and donated a special wedding gift to Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco. I have also held speeches on ‘thinking outside the box’ and ‘creativity’ to Monaco residents at the CREM, as well as to students at the International University of Monaco.
What three traits define you?
This is not easy to answer since we all have the potential to be an infinite number of possibilities. However this is the way I see myself: I am flexible and persistent like the flowing river that finds always its way through interruptions. I am open-hearted like when you feel the warmth of the sun shining through the dark clouds and I always believe in the highest good, like the flower that grows freely, trusting its growth.
Who are your heroes?
The heroes for me are those from whom I learn something valuable for my own path.
I have heroes from my personal life, from well-known people and from everyday life. The person I look up to in my personal life is my grandmother. She is no longer with us, but during her life, showed through the depth of her life experiences – having lived through the first world war, been a Holocaust survivor and endured Communism – the grandness of her courage, strength and open heart. I give my reverence to people like Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, Eckhart Tolle, Oprah Winfrey and many others who, through overcoming their biggest life obstacles and dangers, set a strong example and have opened the doors of millions of people’s hearts, thus contributing to the betterment of humanity as a whole.
I also consider everyday people, from whom I learn, as heroes. They are those who live by their highest integrity and from a higher level of awareness and whose life paths may cross mine only for a few days or moments, making them heroes of the day. I always say they are sent by the angels for the right moment in time.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I do not see my career as a straight line, having a peak or a highlight. I believe we all go through cycles of growth and then transformation in order to grow again. This is especially true for an artist since this is how he or she is inspired and motivated to create new works, to express him or herself in a higher, wiser way. There are cycles of maturing and then falling apart for something new to be born, for renewal to shine through again. I have had lots of turning and breakthrough points, phases in my life which have been reflected in my art as well. Every realisation of a dream, brought with itself a new desire, new visions. The journey has and is a constant unfolding one, which is life itself.
What has been the greatest challenge of your career so far?
I have had many challenges during my path. I would say the biggest challenges for me were those phases when I found back and went on my true path, being true to who I really am, notwithstanding those who gave me a big “No” sign. Overcoming them have formed me and uplifted me to new levels, opening new doors in front of me. Although already when I was a child I was gifted with artistic talent and all that is creativity my father in particular gave me a “No” sign towards following this path. It was in my late twenties that I found my way back to my true path, reaching a breakthrough.
Later I found many “No” signals in the art world too, which is still full of misconceptions and prejudice. Quite recently I was faced with a a dark period of challenges, obstacles, insecurities and struggle. As a mother, caring and raising my daughter alone, I not only had to find my way out to be the right custodian for my daughter, to maintain myself and her as well, but also to create again, to be living the art as my life purpose again as fully as possible. So this change from darkness to light was in itself the challenge.
I believe challenges are there for a reason, for us to go deeper and find a higher meaning to whatever we are supposed to do in life. This is how I look at my challenges too, they all have contributed to who I am now, in this moment.
Where is your favourite place to eat or drink in Monaco?
I am an admirer of simple and local food. I must admit I have not been to all restaurants and bars in Monaco so I cannot really compare. However the experience of taste and atmosphere that most remained with me, is the one I had at the Fontvieille Port in ‘Le Michelangelo’. It probably reminded me of my years spent in Italy, where eating equals love and good food.
What would you be doing (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?
That is another difficult question since art was all I knew since I was a child. I have realised during my lifetime and experiences that there is a difference between talent and gift. My talent is creativity, being able to express myself with colours, forms, textures, using my sensitivity to beauty and aesthetics. From a broader perspective though my gift in this life is being able to open people’s hearts up. It is something that I have had within me since I was a child, and has given me the wonderful privilege to having had so many various people crossing my life path, touching their hearts in one way or another. I chose art, my talent to channel my gift. Whatever my career would have been if it had not been art, I would definitely be aiming at contributing to the betterment of humanity as a whole. And I would be doing this with the same gift I create – art.
How do you define success?
Success is about feeling our way in this journey of life. It is when whatever you do, you do it with joy, a sense of fulfilment and gratitude. Many people think that success is about money, fame, labels. This is everything but success, because they are temporary and exclusive. People who depend on this belief, eventually fail because their object of dependency moves on. Feeling successful means one has joy for life and is at peace within, appreciating what they already are and have, no matter what the shape or form of the external life situation is. I believe it is already a success when someone reaches inner peace no matter what the external circumstances of life are. From this perspective every single human being has the right and choice to feel and reach success.
What is your favourite book?
It is without hesitation Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. It describes the Soul’s journey of discovering itself by unlearning all that it thought it was before. This book is not only about the individual’s but humanity’s course too of awakening to our true nature, being.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I was born in Hungary but, because of my father’s profession, I lived in many contrasting parts of the world, such as India and Iran, where I experienced other, non-Western realities. Having seen a variety of life struggles I grew up with a huge understanding and empathy for different human beings, but I also grew to understand that there is much more than these differences on the surface. I am immensely grateful for having had this childhood and insight, which actually has accompanied me throughout my life and deep into my art, and continues to do so until present day forming a large part of the gift I was born with.
What do you love about Monaco?
What I truly loved to do in Monaco was to go to its market and meet with the local people there. I somehow felt myself always at home there. I found it amazing that among the residents there is such a variety of people from all over the world and how it is in a constant change. As tiny as Monaco is, it is always reshaping, reforming itself. And of course I love its sun, sea, the mountains encircling it as well as the cute, beautiful places that are in its surroundings.
If you could visit one gallery on the Cote D’Azur, which would it be and why?
I would say instead of going to one gallery, I would drive along the coast, which in itself includes so many “artworks” in the form of nature, views, landscapes. It is so picturesque that I would find art within the cities, the nature, the people themselves. You do not need to go to galleries to find art, it is part of our life in every sense.
Where can our readers buy your work?
I prefer to get in personal touch with people, whether it is via email, social platforms (facebook, instagram) or phone. However I have my artworks on various online platforms as well such as for example the Saatchi gallery. It is an easy way to buy artwork from all over the world.
I love the direct communication and getting to know the person, their wishes, dreams, preferences and I believe it is exciting and positive also for the buyer to get to know me as an artist. This way buying art becomes more a personal connection for both the buyer and me.
So I would say to the readers that if you are intrigued and interested in getting in touch with me then please connect via: