Written by: Susan Bates
Visual art is a pathway to the subconscious, where a myriad of memories lay stored unexplored. Self expression through art can breathe vitality into repressed experiences and emotions—and Asiza’s story tells the tale like no other. After a traumatic separation from her identical twin sister at five years of age, she shut down emotionally to eradicate the pain. The grief-stricken child was so discombobulated that she effectively erased the memory of her twin, Gina, from her conscious mind. “I completely blocked it out,” she confides. But the bond was so deep, it would not be bound, and introverted child would sit spellbound for hours sketching the female portrait and figure. Without understanding the reasons behind her actions, she was clearly fascinated with recreating her twin through art.
And this fascination has lasted a lifetime. Not only did Asiza’s drawings win her friends in secondary school, but they also launched her career in design and art direction. After studying at the Alberta College of Art and Design, she landed a dream job as Art Director at Woodwards. Working with photographers and models to produce their catalogue and print ads was a fantastic experience,” she adds. “And the bonus was meeting my husband, one of the photographers.” But Asiza always had the feeling that something was missing. ”While I appeared cheerful on the outside, I always felt an inexplicable sadness. It was like a puzzle,” she reveals.
It wasn’t until Asiza was 35 that her adoptive mother revealed the earth-shattering news—Asiza had an identical twin halfway around the world in Brasov, Transylvania. “It was like waking up from a coma,” she describes. “All my drawings and paintings had been about my sister—and they still are.” She wanted to tell the world—but her parents insisted she keep the information private. Because she cared for them deeply, she complied with their wishes, but after they passed on in 2013, the artist could no longer contain herself. She burst forth onto the international art scene with the Red Series and felt a sense of liberation in telling a story that had been shrouded in secret for far too long. Asiza paints in part for herself and in part for her sister, who had suffered equally throughout the ordeal. “She is my muse and my inspiration. I want her to know how important she is to me,” shares Asiza. To this very day, the emotionally driven artist feels compelled to paint the precious moments lost with her beloved twin.
In Thinking of You, Gina’s hand is stroking her hair and providing comfort. “Whenever I’m sad, I envision my sister’s hand lovingly providing solace,” elaborates Asiza. This soulful rendering is filled with longing and heartache. The stark palette represents the pain of separation, and the red portrays the depth of sadness this evoked.
In the mesmerizing Entangled, the identical twins are inextricably connected. “Although people conspired to keep us apart, the connection was never lost,” explains the artist. Gina knew about her twin and wrote her countless letters, but Asiza’s adoptive mother intercepted every one. “She wanted me to believe she was my birth mother,” Asiza recounts. While she loves her mother dearly, her disappointment is evident in Woman with Two Faces.
This portrait of her adoptive mother represents a woman, who on the one hand is filled with love and devotion for her daughter, but on the other is a self-serving individual who kept a secret from Asiza that tore her apart inside. .
In painting La Umbra, Asiza was imagining an idyllic visit with her sister in Brasov. She visualized hiking through an enchanted forest and resting peacefully under a tree—laughing and sharing stories with her twin. And this is exactly what came to pass in 2014. Asiza’s husband, Dann, arranged the trip, and the two women were finally reunited in an ecstatic celebration of love and togetherness. “Saying goodbye was heartbreaking,” reveals Asiza.
But when Asiza returned from Brasov, her paintings were revitalized with colour, light, and texture. Her style was instantly transformed from dark, somber, and moody to bright, buoyant, and dynamic. Reconnecting with her twin had lifted her spirits and inspired her paint a Reconnection Series.
Twins portrays two women with a soul connection. “The eyes are the mirror to the soul, and Gina is my one true soulmate. We have the same DNA, the same laugh, the same voice—only life experience differentiates us,” explains the artist.
Endearment depicts the protection and love Asiza feels for her twin. “It would be so beautiful if were together,” she sighs. “I had always wished I had a sister.” The second double portrait represents the desire to have Gina here to lean on and offer support. The rich texture and flowing lines express femininity and a natural flow of love and trust.
While Asiza has always longed for Gina, this yearning has been reciprocal. Gina received photos of her twin as she was growing up and would constantly adjust her appearance to emulate that of her sister. In this image, Gina had just gotten her hair cut and styled to match that of her twin. “She always wanted to be like me,” comments Asiza. When I came to visit her, she changed her outfit to match mine.” The bond between the two girls is undeniable.
There is little doubt that sharing the same genetic code creates an unusually strong attachment between identical twins, and that losing this intimate connection creates a lost world of shared closeness. Please stop by the opening reception for Lost Worlds on Thursday, February 25th from 7 – 11pm, in which Asiza exhibits with impressionist landscape artist Farahnaz. The exhibit runs from February 25th to March 4th at the Waterfall Building, 205-1540 West 2nd Avenue.