Concert Pianist….the keyboardist as a member of Revolushn, Ilene Schubert, formally Schubert Ola, artist extraordinaire, former Doctor in the Russian Red Army, and half the creator of the greatest love story on the planet, is one of the most fascinating people in the universe. Her talents never stop, as evidenced in all she does as an artist, and furthermore is the brainchild behind some of the most creative Revolushn videos ever released.
Ilene in a question and answer candidly divulges facts of her life before coming to the US, her artistry ( all forms of it), and her relationship with her husband, another creative genius, “NO”, frontman of Revolushn.
Louder Than War: You are a woman of many talents and in order to list them all, I’d have to write a book….. so first, talk about your art work. When did you discover or re-discover your artistic ability ?
We all have artistic abilities in the human part of the animal’s body. It just that not everyone tries to do something about it. I hear people say. “I cannot paint”
“Did you try?”, “Oh, no, I know I cannot.”
That attitude closes the door to the possibility, the chance to find out our own hidden beautiful part. There is nothing wrong with it. It is our choice. It takes time, concentration and courage. And a lot of work and passion. To discover our talents we have to physically try everything we can reach in order to find something we like the most. If we never try to walk, how do we know we can?
Art is not subjective or objective. Any art is a part of the energy blob that created that particular piece. It is materialization of thoughts, feelings and emotions, touchy, indescribable states. We deliver that through our essence and it is hard to fake.
I was lucky, I got in the hands of passionate Artist, my husband NO and he masterfully kept his wings behind me until the day I stood up strong in Art on my previously skinny cotton legs.
What inspires your paintings and artistic creations?
It is specific long-term concentration on a subject. Developing a single thought to a big picture with scrupulous details. Life itself is an inspiration. Life is a miracle and we know very little about life. We could assume that God put his glorious hands on the matter or we could replace God with Big Bang, or we could be a program in the program, alien nature crossed with primates, Evolution and bla bla bla —. Still the possibilities are endless. The problem is the goal itself. The attempt to put life and nature in an artificial construction of abstract limited symbols.
My inspiration is the miracle of my own existence. The possibility of you talking to me at this moment in the endless Universal game is zero. To me the goal of life is to live. Life is not the tool to get some goal. And it is my part — to create reality to my likeness — that is my inspiration.
And my work is visual materialized bits of my world that I built as my playground.
It never comes as ” Oh, something hit me in my top chakra all of the sudden, and I created a masterpiece in flames of inspiration. jeee.. It is not physical, it is more spiritual, the worlds of story tales, and I can create my own, free to do as I like and to my best at this moment of my existence. Because it is not how good it will be. It is how much of your own life is in it. I call it creating by heart.
It is different for video and paintings.
Let’s take a music video. I have to block everything outside me, space, people, news, social pages. Listen to the song over and over and over again, on my long walks with dog near the river, at the gym, all the time, until my mind sinks in. In a couple days I could see small parts in my head, The Idea. The characters. It becomes alive on its own, slowly coming up in to material world, like a black and white photograph coming to life like in the magic of dark room photography lab. Then I take over and it becomes a mutual beautiful dance with the Idea. Until all the energy is sucked up, transferred to the piece and it starts its own life outside of my existence, without my supervision and attention. The umbilical cord is cut. The baby jumped out of the mothership.
Which are you most proud of… your art creations, your video creations, your musical abilities ?
I am proud of having that gift to amuse myself by being alive. My creations are not the bits of proudness on my neck for others to shine a light on. It is the product of my living. It natural, it is the way I live.
Which creative endeavor do you enjoy most at the moment?
My favorite endeavors are endeavors. There is a constant vacation and love story within the chosen media for a certain limited amount of time. It is easy to burnout and get in a creative loop. It usually takes me about 3 months, and then I take a romantic vacation with another media. Let say, I switch from sculpting to painting, I work as long as I can. Then I come back to painting. Then I can switch to video. Then I do the radio, then I paint, and on and on. I have a list “What to do before I die”. It changes, it is growing and shrinking, I always have the next plan for how to amuse myself.
A lot of your artistry was influenced by “NO’s” relentless persistence, please explain.
NO believed in my abilities more than I did myself. His assuredness of my “talents” was so strong, it made me curious— what if he is even 5% correct. Maybe I should try.
He literally dragged me to art school, he was also hiding my sculptures and paintings when I was frustrated and ready to destroy them because of lack of confidence.
He taught me “just do it and see what happens”, “do not rely on any outside definitions of your work”, “believe in yourself, trust yourself”, “you cannot be a judge of your own creation”.
I would answer, “You just say it because you love me.”
He bought my work before I started -“Do not think about money, just paint, I am buying everything you will make, I am exchanging your art for food and a roof over your head.”
And it’s done to me —Rembrandt could be my neighbor if I were born at that specific time. He was just another man. Why he was that good, because he never stopped, even starved, old, helpless and half blind in poor nursing home. I am maybe only one artist in all the earth’s times, who has freedom to express myself and not starve doing it. I do not have to sell my thoughts and change it to clients likeness. When I realized I had that I began to sculpt and paint like crazy.
Aside from your artistry, tell the world about your life in Russia and your profession there. Do you think that your prior life influences any of the work you do now?
My previous life in Russia gave me a lot to think about. A very specific view of the world was drilled into my head. Then moving to another country was a big shock, it was a huge test of my identity, you have to change your language, the sound of your name, your culture, your friends and the style of communications. Old chit chats do not work, it is life on intuitive grounds for first few years. And one day I discovered that I can do previously forbidden things, I could pull my courage together and drift to unknown lands.
It is much easier to work as a doctor and make good living than it is to make the same living being an artist. But to get there I had to be a doctor and then to be an artist.
I studied chemistry and engineering, but the only parts I got an A+ in were my craftsman projects of very complicated machines “with a certain elegance and happiness in it” as my professor of technical graphics told me. Doodling was my second nature. I lived through a lot of boring and dull meetings and training sessions. The happiest part of it was my doodling around every page of my technical books, doctors notes, programming pages and other note books and graphics. I did not waste my time, it made my vision sharp and my hand strong.
At that point of my life I was establishing very first ultrasound diagnostic system in my country.
It is basically 50 shades of gray moving on little screen presenting human organs in totally abstract coding. With time I was able to diagnose a heartbeat of 4 week old human in a mothers belly. It is amazing! It made my “gray scale” vision extremely precise, it was greatest training of my life — paving my road to Art.
I was in music school for 7 years in my early childhood that created stamina and the ability to concentrate and to have discipline and patience.
Does No influence your artwork?
NO influences my freedom. When an idea is too crazy to me, he is always supportive.
We never discuss my painting process, but I know every early morning he sneaks up in my studio to see — the magic of transformation, cocoon to butterfly.
It is different with his music. He gives me certain finished piece and it turns my brain to that direction. And I develop it from zero to “whatever happened” based on his materialized energy.
One day I invited NO to see an almost finished video. I always stay a little behind his chair and watch his emotions. I saw tears so many times in his eyes, while he was watching how I arranged his creations through my mental filters, how I convert sound to picture, movement, colors and layering my own emotions over his.
How did you come to play keys in Revolushn?
I had 7 years of classical music school training in my childhood. It was not a very pleasant experience. My family were the only ones in my schools class who could afford to pay for musical education. Other kids saw that as a blissful dream subject, but it was really not that colorful to me and it was eating away all my free time. Two hours a day of piano, no matter what and 5 classes a week??? come on!
My parents were great people and I did my 7 painful years of “slavery” out of respect to my family. After graduation, I brought my diploma to my parents and vowed to never play again and told them my wish was to burn the diploma in some wild ceremony.
No and I lived together for about 15 years and NO did not know that piano is extension of my fingers. He discovered it by accident, stuck up on me then I tried to play after 47 years of resentment. NO kissed the frog again and my musical side woke up and shifted to the level of enjoyment and beauty.
I feel like your love story with NO is a great inspiration to each other… what’s your point of view on that? NO feel free to add to this as well.
The best part of our love story is to finding each other at the time when we both gave up on relationships in general. We both were old enough to understand how hard is to create a love masterpiece. But never the less, we collided. We soon realized that together our energy multiplies in any direction we go side by side. It was mutual mutation, gene exchange, memory, skills, and a whole entire energy swap. That collision took us to another level that is now so dear to us that we are ready to work on it relentlessly and passionately.
And we do. And we have great results, so pure, so gentle coexistence of complete energetic polarities. It feeds our imagination, our inspiration, our existence and it grew so strong, to the point —- it is above us, it’s on it’s own and it protects us and nurses out wounds and gives us high drive “to be”. It is a quest for our human growth. Part of a relationship is not putting your own issues on your partners healthy head. By being strong for loved ones we grow strong. It is a perpetual mode of happy energy, a life support between two bits of the whole puzzle.
So you’re a doctor, an Artist, a musician, a mom, a wife … is there anything else that you’d like to accomplish?
Wow, it sounds so important and serious. I am one piece, one bubble of conciseness, one bit of gene chain, a gene arrow flying through universe. I am cherishing my time here. I choose the direction of that little part of the grandiose game. Yes, I have a few things to accomplish.
I already tried stand-up comedy, thanks to Ron Russell encouraging me on that subject. That was on my wish list for long time. I put some energy in that direction, did it, loved it and realized it will be not my game. It is not logical, it is a feeling – yes, it is good, I like it, but thanks.
On to the book, and the movie script, and the Singing. And so on….
All words by Eileen Shapiro. More of Eileen’s writing can be found in her author’s archive.