Shørsh: Turning Travel Memories and Spirituality Into Surreal Art
Jorge Luis Miraldo — also known as Shørsh — has had the luxury to travel and fill his memories with the beauty of the world. Growing up in the lush lands of Argentina, Shørsh has always had an inclination towards the natural world. But he goes beyond painting them as-is — he combines his travel memories with artistic imagination and an interest in mysticism, and they turn into surreal illustrations of landscapes.
His bright and haunting piece, ‘Sacrifice’, is another landscape rifed with nuances and musings about spirituality. “I wanted to confront life and death in the same space,” he said. “Death here is not just merely an end, but a new beginning in a continuous cycle — a force of change.”
You can purchase the scenic painting as framed wall art here.
[Note: The interview below contains minor edits for clarity and brevity.]
Tell us about who you are. How did art come into your life?
I’m Jorge Luis Miraldo, an art director and illustrator from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Art came to me very early in life. I have some blurry memories with my pencils all over the place, or being absorbed in a piece of paper. Later on, I wanted to make a living out from my love of art.
I’ve learned to love the art side of communications, so I studied advertising, perfected my illustration and photography skills, and got my first job at an advertising agency as a creative. I worked in the industry for about 5 years until I realized that I wanted to give more time to the type of work that I’ve enjoyed the most — which is still illustration.
Back in 2010, I decided to start my own studio fully dedicated to these kinds of projects. The change was big, and I was frankly a bit scared in the beginning. But everything went so well. While I still take commissions, I have plenty of room for personal exploration. Being able to make art everyday makes me happy.
What does the creation process look like for you? How do you feel while you’re creating a piece, and after a piece is complete?
It’s like a journey that starts somewhere familiar and often takes me to unknown places. Although there are experiences, tools, and certain knowledge that I'm used to, there is also a considerable amount of experimentation and not knowing precisely where things could go. This is what makes the process more interesting each time. Every single piece is a different adventure.
I’ve once heard that the process of making art and creating something new is a curve with the shape of the letter ‘U’ — you start high with some good ideas and expectations; everything goes very well until we find our first challenge and make decisions to sort it out. Then we start to feel that we've overworked things and they’re taking a bad turn. This is where we are at the very bottom of the ‘U’.
But if we keep it working, shutting down our inner critics when it’s not helping, and just giving out the best of us, we’ll eventually elevate what we’re doing to the next peak of the ‘U’. Our search will succeed. It’s absolutely natural to screw things up a little bit before we can succeed. The key is to overcome the hardest moments of the creative process, and I've found that this is easier if you are having fun creating.
This is exactly how I feel sometimes about the creative process, and there is nothing more satisfying than overcoming all the difficulties and coming out with a piece that you love and feel proud of. In the end, the balance is always positive because no matter what happens, you’ll always come out of that process learning new valuable things.
Who are your biggest influences?
Anything that I feel connected with could be a good influence for me. The list of influences would then be quite long. But the most important are the ones that had always been present since the very beginning; the ones that made me want to sit down and try to be better everyday. So I have to mention here the works of Hieronymus Bosch, Salvador Dalí, Rene Magritte, Moebius, Charles Burns, and a plethora of digital artists whose work I follow online.
[I am also inspired by] loads of sci-fi literature. [They are] always present, at least behind the concepts I explore: Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem saga — just to mention the ones I’ve enjoyed the most. I like to make some time to feed my imagination with new art shows, books, and music. I love and enjoy graphic novels.
Hopefully this list will keep growing and evolving as I continue discovering and learning new stuff.
Your landscapes are so vivid and unique. You seem to build them off different sources — from historical landmarks to surreal and dreamlike visions; and other times, you mix both concepts. Which fictional or real-life spaces ignite your imagination the most?
Thanks! I like to travel, and I feel so good while I’m doing it. I keep my eyes wide open and fill all my senses with new and unknown colors, shapes, aromas, and sounds. Everything about it makes me feel more alive.
It seems to me that these series are composed of mental images of all the places that I’ve ever visited in life, mixed with other memories and personal feelings. You can tell that they feel familiar, somehow a part of reality, but there is also something about these landscapes that feels strange and new. That aspect is what I like to explore in these bodies of work.
I grew up in a country with very diverse climates, given its vertical geographical disposition. Because of that, [my country] has many different types of landscapes, from dry deserts to tropical jungles with huge waterfalls in the north, all the way down to mountains and glaciers in the south. I had the immense luck to be able to travel all across Argentina and around the world. My imagination is fueled by the memories of each of these experiences as a traveler. These pieces are not exact reproductions of places — they are more like the product of my imperfect memories and feelings about them.
You also feature different subjects in your illustrations: Astronauts, godlike figures, and lone individuals. How do you think these touches add value to your work?
The common denominator between most of these characters is that they are always arriving in some place. They are outsiders, surviving in the unknown and making new discoveries. I identify with their spirit.
Most of the time, I use these human figures to introduce a sense of scale in my compositions and give a monumental look to the structures depicted. On the other hand, the presence of divine subjects, elements, or places in some of my work revolves around my interest in mysticism and esotericism.
How would you describe your relationship with spirituality? Does creating art help you introspect on it?
My education had been strongly influenced by religion when I was little. I started to be in contact with spirituality very early in life — things like being a kid and [going to] silent retreats for days. [I did this] enough to make me curious about some aspects of mysticism.
Then I started to abandon the orthodox practices around my religion, and I no longer feel connected or identified with them. But still I enjoy my own moments of silence and introspection, as if they are a part of a religious ritual; maybe [they are] reminiscent of a strongly spiritual childhood.
Sometimes these moments occur while I’m making art, and I think that there is something supernatural about the process of making and giving birth to something new. It elevates our soul to a divine condition and gives us the possibility to speak a universal language. Art definitely has an impact on my spirituality — it’s a source of reflection and power.
Follow Shørsh on Instagram here.