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Special Edition

ART

H A B E N S C o n t e m p o r a r y

A r t

R e v i e w

KYLA YAGER ALEKSEI LATINNIK MARCO RIHA MARA G.SZYP JILL CHRISTINE MILLER JOBAN GILL MAI WADA ILSA BRITTAIN YESENIA HOLGUÍN

ART

in her studio photo by


ART H

A

B

E

C o n t e m p o r a r y

N

A r t

S

R e v i e w

Kyla Yager

Aleksei Latinnik

Ilsa Brittain

Marco Riha

Joban Gill

Mai Wada

Canada

Belarus

USA

Austria

United Kingdom

Japan

My style has shifted over the years and changes by my mood or feeling. I am very passionate about working with kids through the arts, and am hoping to find a path towards becoming an Art Therapist. YAbstraction satisfaction is the feeling I get when creating a piece. Being so far deep into a trance of color, pattern, and shape, that everything else tunes out and my mind is at ease. Over the years as an artist, my professional work shifted from realism to abstraction, and while still practicing both and sometimes combining the two, my paintings and drawings embody a psychedelic movement of pattern. I use acrylic paints and paint pens for most of my work, as well as micron pens and sharpie for my drawings.

My artworks are mostly My work is driven by a done in an abstract style desire to continually and filled colors, textures, broaden my vocabulary in symbols that incorporate paint, to visualise the thoughts, mood, emotions complexity and simplicity of thought, and to somehow be and personal in touch with what it is to observations. Usually I paint with acrylic colors be human.I use people I without any sketches. It's know, or strangers I meet, very important to me to as the props for the concepts I aim to convey. feel a sense of freedom and challenge: the artist What is strange is that they never remain merely props who paints a picture without sketches does not somehow they play quite a determining factor in where have a chance for the work goes. I have to mistake.While painting process I am in the state have a strong concept of what I am doing to bring all of flow and continuous creative findings. Usually my decision making into a I have a general idea and cohesive whole. However, I often find that while I am I'm open to any pre-occupied with this transformation, so it is particular concept, difficult even for me, the something else is happening painter, to predict the on another level and this final result. Surprising can often end up being the yourself is a great feeling. more dominant or more I try to paint "in one interesting aspect. To misbreath”, not being quote Lennon - ‘Life (art) is distracted by the what happens when you’re environment. busy making other plans.’

Originally from Austria, Marco Riha has started his long creative journey in Sri Lanka in the early nineties.The self-taught artist kept on painting and travelling for years until he found in Mexico his creative home base.The visual arts fascinate Riha, like the possibility of screaming without making a sound, art has given him soulsearching opportunities and the realisation of being on an artistic quest of sorts.Over the years Riha has been experimenting with different mixed mediums. During his early symbolic phase he mixed water colors with crayons and oils.In his later abstract works and his latest sociopolitical pieces he mixes inks with oils and spray paints.

The Mixed-Media pieces want to create an atmosphere. Almost disappearing most of what we see in physicality, but which really has not much importance. An emptier place which we are all able to fill up using the contents of our minds and bodies with emotion. Altering each scene depending entirely on the form placed within it and its relationship to it.“Diving into free flow, fast motion painting as I abandon the common ‘reality’ and the usual belief system which allows us to co-exist and recognise objects as one, despite seeing them in a unique way.During the production of my work, I spend more time on building and stretching the frames, and in gathering materials. So that my imagination can survive for longer and without restriction during the process, alongside manifesting a comfortable and respectful relationship to the painting.”

Mai Wada is a Japanese painter, she graduated from the University of the Arts London MA Painting. She mainly depicts the spiritual world that she experienced and unseen scientific object/concept. Her work is supported by scientific evidence that been offered by her scientists' collaborators as been typified with exoplanet painting series. Also, the spiritual expression is based on her experience of the inner world. The origin of her work is curiosity about the world she lives, especially the invisible aspect of the world. She aims to depict an enhanced version of the reality that is mixed visible and unseen aspects. Both spirituality and science are chief supports of her world exploration, paintings are the visual record of her exploration.


In this issue

Ilsa Brittain

Mai Wada Jill Christine Miller

Aleksei Latinnik Marco Riha

Mara G. Szyp Yesenia HolguĂ­n

Mara G. Szyp

Jill Christine Miller

Mexico

Argentina / Canada

USA

Mexican, originally from the state of Chihuahua, graduated in 2010 from the Institute of Fine Arts of the Autonomous University of Chihuahua as a Bachelor of Plastic Arts with a specialty in Painting, concludes Master's studies in Arts at the same University in 2017 Extensive experience in plastic production handling most of the painting techniques such as oil, watercolor, acrylic, pastel, pencil drawing, charcoal, chalks, inks among other techniques, likewise, photography is a constant in his artistic work. As a painting and drawing teacher for children and adults, she has 11 years of experience. Her work is characterized by expressiveness through color and strong tonal contrasts applied to the human figure and figurative compositions.

Growing up in Buenos Aires, Argentina I always had an interest for art, clay & plaster sculptures, charcoal drawings, markers illustrations but it wasn't until I faced my second unrelated cancer that I immersed myself in acrylic paintings where all this amazing odyssey started. Today I use many different mediums, such as charcoal, acrylics, ink, watercolours and oils.I believe that working in a single medium is restrictive to my artistic process. My InspirationI enjoy walking by the sea when I can (some of us give walking for granted until its hard to walk just a few steps) in my spare time, my dog running around the rocks and getting her paws wet is my happy place!Many of my pieces are directly influenced by these hikes in nature. I love letting the beach, the wind, the sun, the rain and everything in between materialize in my work.

Drawing upon autobiographical experiences of depression, my work contextualizes a variety of themes aimed at creating a visual narrative. Combining storytelling with the act of painting, I consider elements such as tension, weight, emotion, gestures and what is revealed versus hidden. Through the use of metaphors, color and brush marks, ideas translated into paint are immersed into multiple levels of emotional analysis.The act of painting visualizes memories and psychological states, along with physical elements. By placing paint on a surface and using color to make forms, each physical mark and gesture can alter perceptions. Laying colors next to each other to form interactive boundaries or connections, to separate or coexist, to make sense of the composition.

On the cover:

Joban Gill Yesenia HolguĂ­n Kyla Yager

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Special thanks to: Charlotte Seeges, Martin Gantman, Krzysztof Kaczmar, Tracey Snelling, Nicolas Vionnet, Genevieve Favre Petroff, Christopher Marsh, Adam Popli, Marilyn Wylder, Marya Vyrra, Gemma Pepper, Maria Osuna, Hannah Hiaseen and Scarlett Bowman, Yelena York Tonoyan, Edgar Askelovic, Kelsey Sheaffer and Robert Gschwantner.

in her studio, photo by


Lives and works in New York, NY, United States

Island 122cm x 91cm, oil and textured mediums on canv

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Ilsa Brittain

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video, 2013

as 422 0

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Island Issue of Sand and Seas, detail Special

Ilsa Brittain

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Ilsa Brittain An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Ilsa and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit http://www.ilsabrittain.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a MFA, that you received from the New York Academy of Art: how did these formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does you cultural substratum — as well as your life in Vienna and New York before settling in London — direct your current artistic research? Ilsa Brittain

Ilsa Brittain: Thank you for this opportunity, it’s lovely to talk to you.

school at a young age and loaded onto a Actually I had considered myself a self-

sailing boat, as my parents said good bye to

taught artist for much of my practice - I

the ‘rat-race’ and we travelled around the

never got on very well with being told what to do and how to do it. This came from

Mediterranean for several years. My parents

childhood experiences with my family.

were smart and educated and they

Along with my siblings, I was taken out of

instructed us, but we spent a lot of time

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Ilsa Brittain

freely playing and exploring. These were formative experiences - being out at sea, with no sight of land, diving off the front of the boat as it was on the move. On resurfacing we would be at the back of the boat and my Dad would be there ready to yank us out before the boat passed us by. It was a thrilling experience and I remember feeling so small in such enormous space both around and below me. This isolated tiny boat, bustling with everything necessary for life, but surrounded by impossibility for survival. My Dad had thrown a lifebuoy tied to a rope dragging behind the boat - if we missed his hand then this was our last chance - I had no idea how dangerous this was! I just thought it was exciting. When we returned to the UK and school, I felt somewhat caged by the classroom situation. I got good qualifications but I needed more freedom. And somehow, having second hand information never bore real weight for me. I felt more thrill from working things out for myself.

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Ilsa Brittain

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Green Cloth 30 x 40cm, oil on panel 21 4 06

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Ilsa Brittain

Island 122cm x 91cm, oil and textured mediums on canvas

It wasn't long before I was abroad again

had so many wonderful experiences. I was

with my own family. From China, to Russia,

painting and making work throughout the

to Guinea, To Cambodia, and on and on - we

whole time. I am not sure how young I was

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Ilsa Brittain

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when I first realised I wanted to be an artist

However, I became frustrated with the

but it is one of my earliest memories. So

isolation form the art world and wanted to

making work had been part of my life as

throw myself into the middle of something

much as having a cup of tea in the morning. I

more rigorous. From Kathmandu, Nepal,

was gaining a reputation and having shows -

with 6 months of VERY hard work I achieved

Sangeeta Thapa in Kathmandu, ran an

a first class Hons BA from the UK. This gave

international gallery with a strong

me the opportunity to secure a place on a

reputation. She took a shine to me and

two year MFA programme in New York. The

promoted my work.

experience was intense! We were crammed

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Ilsa Brittain

Succession 60cm x 30cm, oil and textured mediums on canvas over panel

into studios and worked from 9am to

work work, having crits crits crits, talking art

midnight every day, drinking till 2am and

art art - the pace was almost unbearable. I

then on again the next day. Making work

asked a tutor what exactly was the purpose

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Ilsa Brittain

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of the extreme level of demand. He said we

you can find out who you really are. He was

needed to get to a place where there was

right, at some point you cross over a barrier

no time for inhibition or pretension, then

and you are in a place where all that matters

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Island 122cm x 91cm, oil and textured mediums on canvas


Ilsa Brittain

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is what you are doing, and your own

artworks? Do you create your works

answers are the ones you need to listen to.

gesturally, instinctively? In particular, how

Along the way we also learnt everything

do you consider the role of chance and

there is to know about the human form and

improvisation playing within your work as

how to paint it.

an artist?

I was exhausted and thrilled after this

Ilsa Brittain: It seems to me very little

experience. And strangely intrigued by

stands still, and few things accommodate

where I found myself, with the odd

being caged in. The problem I have when

experience of being both self-taught and

trying to articulate a thought, is that little

rigorously educated. What followed was a

can be said without contemplating the

strange process of assimilation, but one, I

opposite, the nuances, the exceptions, the

think, that is integral to the work I am

different points of view. Language and

making now.

talking in sentences is frustratingly linear. Marked out with such unique visual identity,

This is what I love about imagery - it lends

the body of works that we have selected for

itself to layers of interpretation, to complex

this special edition of ART Habens — and

and shifting relationships between various

that our readers have already started to get

aspects, and most importantly, to not being

to know in the introductory pages of this

fixed.

article — has at once captured our attention

With each of my paintings I have what I

for the way you use your visual language in a

think is a very coherent idea of what I intend

strategic way to develop a sense of interconnectedness with the viewers,

to do. But as the work progresses the idea

offering an array of meanings: when walking

evolves and changes. In addition, choices

our readers through your usual setup and

made instinctively, without much

process, would you tell us how do you

consideration, are often the ones that play a

usually develop your initial idea for your

vital role in the final piece. I tend to think of

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Ilsa Brittain

working as a collaboration between my will

from a strong drawing background so my

and what is happening in the piece itself.

work is often considered tonally in principle - however colour is a big factor in my work. I

You use lots of different techniques and your

was struck when I went to New York how

approach is driven by a desire to continually

many contemporary artists used city colours

broaden your visual vocabulary: how does

- the colours of commercials, tv, and

your own psychological make-up determine

entertainment. Having grown up in a forest,

the nuances of tones that you decide to

living on a boat, travelling to remote places

include in your artworks and in particular, is

etc., my colours are more embedded in the

there a special state of mind that you need

natural environment. This is my inclination.

in order to make such decisions?

However, I also like the idea of fighting my inclination to see what that might chuck up -

Ilsa Brittain: I love what painting can do -

and certainly city life is part of my make up

simultaneously being a material substance,

too, having lived in New York, Moscow,

that has its own tactile presence, and a

Hong Kong, London, and Vienna.

vehicle to shift colours and values into an illusion of presence. There is vocabulary in

Although basically realistic, your figures are

the brush stroke or lack of it - a fast swipe

pervaded with such subtle dreamlike

on the canvas that speaks of action and a

ambience, and backgrounds that — as in the

fleeting moment that has been captured, a quick mark that sings of easy virtuosity but

interesting Sun Trap and especially in Green

contains a life time of study, a painstakingly

Cloth — challenge the viewers' perceptual

layered build up of marks that carry

parameters. Scottish painter Peter Doig once

persistence, care and attention, marks that

remarked that even the most realistic

are invisible and demand no attention but

paintings are derived more from within the

serve to shine a light elsewhere, marks that

head than from what's out there in front of

are tactile and appeal to be touched. I come

us, : how do you consider the relationship

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Self Portrait 30 x 40cm, oil and textured mediums on panel


Spring Lasts 23 x 30cm, oil on panel


Ilsa Brittain

ART Habens

between reality and imagination, playing

and what it is we share. In particular, I look

within your artistic production?

for the places where we are obliged to operate with conflicting motivations - the

Ilsa Brittain: I believe that most art

desire for protection and the desire for

operates to reveal something of the

freedom; the desire not to be judged and

challenge we have, as humans, to navigate

the desire to be validated; the necessity to

between the various realities we must

find meaning and the knowledge that it is

consider - physical reality, mental reality,

constructed, etc.

personal perception, world perception,

My work involves a very high labour input,

cultural perception. Each reality demands

my pieces can take months (sometimes

attention and precedence. Art has its place

years!) to realise - so I need to feel

to expose and envisage these complex

committed and excited about wanting to

layers.

see the visual impact of what I am

I use ‘real’ people because I like the

considering. My inspiration may come in

specificity and complexity that is embedded

flash, but I like the way the slow

in a face - each person is a unique being,

implementation means time is folded into

with a unique combination of experiences.

the work.

Yet at the same time, this person is

We have particularly appreciated the way

connected to all other life forms. We are

your artworks conveys such combination

easily intrigued by what is different, by

between the complexity and simplicity: in

cultural diversity for instance. But, with

their apparently simplicity, your paintings

globalisation, it seems cultural inheritance

draw the viewers to discover meticolously

is becoming fragmented, mixed,

refinished details, that in a certain sense

appropriated, lost, it’s integrity and

offer to the viewers such a multilayered

authority eroded. I am more interested in

visual experience, and urge them to

the depths of the common experience, the

reinterpret their remarks on a different level

complexity that is found within simplicity,

of perception. How do you consider the

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Ilsa Brittain

importance of details within your artistic

interesting Island, if on one hand seem to

practice?

reflect authentically lived moments, on the other hand is rich of allegorical meanings:

Ilsa Brittain: I love that painting and imagery

how does your everyday life's experience

can work in layers and that time is not only

fuel your artistic research? And how would

embedded in the work, but is necessary to

you consider the role of metaphors in your

experiencing the work. There is the initial

artisti research?

impact, and then there is a second or third impact (and on) that comes from more

Ilsa Brittain: Island is a piece inspired by my

careful looking and puzzling. It is important

daughter who plonked herself down in front

that the work can carry that span of

of me in this chair. I loved how she was

attention - details are an important part of

contained in the chair as if it were her whole

setting that up. Quite often, however, I may

world. And on her phone she actually had

be particularly obsessed by one aspect

access to the whole world. The painting

while another, perhaps more important in

became about this fulcrum moment, of suspension of reality and access to reality.

the end, manifests itself without my

The whole piece is designed not with just

attention to it. I like this - when there is

one point perspective but leading to one

collaboration between the making and the

actual point in the painting. Metaphors and

made.

allegory are strong components of my work. I feel my most successful work is when I

With the sea, the sand, and the sky, I am

manage to engage the viewer enough for

referencing the primal things we hold on to;

them to reconsider their first impression

the foot works to ground the piece; the

and see the complexity not immediately

chair works as a carriage, a comfort or a

apparent.

cage.

References to human form are recurrent in

As you have remarked once, your work is

your artistic production: your figures, as the

driven by a desire to be in touch with what it

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Ilsa Brittain

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White Scarf 23 x 30cm, oil on panel 21 4 16

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Garden Gaze 23 x 30cm, oil on panel Special Issue

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is to be human: many of your subjects seem

presume to claim I could know or capture

to reveal their inner lives and a kind of

this particular person’s identity. However, I

intimacy that seems to go beyond your

have to say that my decision making process

relationship with the model: what’s your

is strongly influenced by the person’s face

philosophy on the nature of the portrait?

or manner.

How do you select the people that you Your paintings are pervaded with effective

decide to include in your artworks?

still ambiguous narrative drive, that shows Ilsa Brittain: I think about things a lot - I am

the connection between reality and the

fascinated with philosophy, psychology,

subconscious. To quote Max Ernst's word,

how the brain functions, how we are

human beings have an inexhaustible store of

simultaneously passengers and drivers,

buried images in their subconscious and into

how we manage to mould our experiences

their inner world: how do you consider the

into something meaningful, how we are at

role of subconscious within your artistic

the mercy of circumstance or how we are

practice?

powerful to make change. My work is always about these things. Certain faces

Ilsa Brittain: I believe most of what we

help to tell a story or carry a metaphor.

consider, how we interpret situations, how we perceive our reality, how we come to

Sometimes I use people I have met in the

the decisions we make etc. goes on at the

street, sometimes I use friends and family,

subconscious level. I feel the conscious level

sometimes I search for what I need. In the

is the last level to get the information!

end it is a serendipitous collaboration - I use what is available to me because a lot of

However, the conscious level is where the

faces have a fascination for me. I wouldn't

will resides - it is what you will, consciously,

say these are portraits - although I deal with

that instructs your subconscious to go in a

the depths of human experience and the

certain direction. So there is an interesting

layered complexities of people, I wouldn’t

balance we must all play - take charge of our

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Ilsa Brittain

lives and also allow things to happen. I feel

Gallery in London: how do you consider the

for artists this is a crucial balance.

nature of your relationship with your

Being in touch with and believing that inner

audience? Direct relationship with the viewers

voice, whilst also willing something into

in a physical context is definetely the most

existence.

important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art

The human mind works naturally with

from traditional gallery spaces, to street and

imagery and metaphors, and the store we

especially to the online realm — as Instagram

each collect is determined by our cultural

— increases: how would in your opinion

inheritance and our personal experience. As

change the relationship with a globalised

we live in a more and more cross-cultural

audience?

environment our imagery is perhaps less coherent and more fragmented. We are

Ilsa Brittain: For me, obviously, as the

bombarded by commercial and

physical aspect of the paint is important to

entertainment imagery from global

me, it is a shame for my viewers not to see

networks, we have access to imagery from

the work in person. However, equally

all times, and we deal with imagery that is

relevant, is the fact that an online presence

current and then quickly dated. We are, to

provides access to a much broader audience

an extent, enamoured by the noise, and also

which means my work gets seen and

deaf to it. I like to work with ‘ordinary’

appreciated by so many more people. For me

imagery and mould it into something that

this is important because I want my work to

feels strongly familiar but somehow never

operate on several levels - for those that

seen before.

know a lot about painting, as well as those

Over the years your artworks have been

that perhaps do not. My instagram account

exhibited in several occasions, including the

(

Flowers Gallery in New York, The Mall

quite often gives me valuable and instant,

galleries in London, and Lacey Contemporary

information about how a piece is working,

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)


Pink 23 x 30cm, oil on panel


Me Too 60cm x 45cm, oil and textured mediums on canvas


Ilsa Brittain

depending on the feedback I get. It is not

ART Habens

be careful what I choose to make.

that I pander to this of course, but it is important to know how the work is

At the moment I am working on a piece that

perceived. It is then up to me to make the

I started last August - and I am still working

work more or less accessible depending on

on it! While of course I realise the

what I want it to do.

impracticality of this, I am so excited by it -

‘Green Cloth’ for instance got a lot of

there is something about creating a physical

attention and people read it in several quite

manifestation of time and labour. But I’m

different ways which was a bit of a looking forward to having it finished!

revelation to me. ‘Me Too,’ on the other hand, was a piece that garnered much less

My next project is a much bigger piece that I

response. can’t wait to start because it will involve To an extent they both refer to different

using a lot of different painting languages

aspects of invisibility - so is it more or less that will be fun to do.

successful that the work itself is invisible? We have really appreciated the originality of

Currently I am exhibiting in London with the

your artistic production and before leaving

Contemporary British Portrait Painters

this stimulating conversation we would like

(CBPP) and with the C24 Gallery in New

to thank you for chatting with us and for York.

sharing your thoughts, Ilsa. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

An interview by

Ilsa Brittain: As I have mentioned my work

and

, curator curator

takes an intense labour input, so I have to

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Lives and works in Tatasuno, Japan

Wimbledon Summer Show, Wimbledon Collage of Art

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Mai Wada

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video, 2013

, UK, 2019 422 0

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55 cancri, 2019, 15x15 cm, oil on board Special Issue

Jordi Rosado

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Mai Wada An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Mai and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.maiwada.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training, and after having earned your BA in Fine Art from the University of Kyoto, you moved to the United Kingdom, to nurtrure your education with your MA in Painting, that you received from the prestigious University of the Arts London: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Mai Wada: Hello, thanks for giving me a fantastic opportunity to reconsider about my work. Yes, I have strong academic background because I wanted to reach to my art. From childhood, I’ve recognised to the artistic inspiration suddenly comes down to me. Sometimes it was voice, sometimes it was sight. I just wanted too see the inspirations as reality, painting was the easiest way. So I started making effort to visualise them as painterly images as much as realistic.

Mai Wada

Then I went to the UK to learn how to compile my spiritual research in a visual artefact because these inspirations suddenly appear in front of my eyes and vanish quickly, also sometimes numerous different images simultaneously come up.

Firstly I attempted to gain the ability to copy what I saw exactly on paper or canvas, that what I've done in University in Kyoto. I just copied everything like old photographs, objects, faces, sights, spiritual experiences‌ just like as they are. I gained certain drawing skill in Japanese university.

I recognised that my sketching skill is not enough to capture them precisely. I wanted to establish the way to bring all together and to depict as one image. To achieve it, I

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Mai Wada

thought what I need to do is to improve not only painting skills but also develop the painting process. What I learned in the UK was how to visualise something unseen on my way. In the university in the UK I reconstructed my painting process by learning how the past painters expressed unseen/spiritual world and adapting it to my idea. `The solid sketching skill and logical and sophisticated process of visualising unseen made the depiction of my inspiration clear and realistic. Marked out with such unique visual identity, the body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens —and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way you use your visual language in a strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity, offering an array of meanings: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your artworks? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your work as an artist? Mai Wada: Actually, most of my paintings start with intentional urge. As I answered in the last question, some inspirations literally come down from somewhere to me. For example, about the exoplanet project, one day I got the image of standing in front of a huge shiny round shaped object. I

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Mai Wada

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a soul, 2017, 82x227 cm,Chinese ink and paint on canvas 21 4 06

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Mai Wada

Ghost I,2019, 200x280(cm), oil on canvas Special Issue

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Mai Wada

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instinctively thought it is something about astronomical object, so I went to Royal Observatory in the day and I met one of my collaborators now. After that, I submitted my painting plan to her and studied and practiced the way of painting the universe while waiting for the timing comes. Finally my collaborator found K-2 18b and our exoplanet project has began. Even though I don't know what I saw, what only I can do is making much effort and waiting g for the timing. My spiritual painting too. After I receive the inspiration, I just wait for the timing will come while try everything that i can do. For example, draw down all related inspirations, studying science if something in common, learning how legend painters consisted spiritual inspiration on canvas, going to the place where similar sight to the inspiration... just collect evidences and experiences. From my experiences, when a realistic version of first inspiration supported by my experiences comes up in my mind, it is the timing to start painting because it never vanish easily. After that, I just trace the image I see. Experience is one of the most important for my painting process because when I am tracing the insight, my physical memory remembers me of the sense of touch or smell of it, that strengthen the reality in the painting. When exploring edges and shapes, your artworks feature thoughtful nuances — as Ghost in the Machine. Moreover, we have particularly appreciated the way they create such enigmatic patterns, communicating tension and such dreamlike ambience. How does your own psychological make-up

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Mai Wada

The Sun, 2018, 30x30 cm,oil on canvas

determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in an artwork and in particular, how do you develop your

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textures in order to achieve such unique results? Mai Wada: I think these expressions are all

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Mai Wada

ART Habens

G229.2-2.9, 2018, 15x15 cm, oil on board

coming from sketching experience in the past and experimental process I mentioned in the question 2. I do not explore the shape

in painting because I’m just tracing what I’m watching. If you feel tension or ambience in it, that would be because my

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ART Habens

Mai Wada

The Earth, 2018, 15x15 cm, oil on board

painting is documentary.

the potential to create enhanced versions of the realities embodied ‘unseen’ in artworks. We dare say that your artworks highlights contours of known reality in an unknown

As you have remarked in your artist's statement you propose that painting has

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Mai Wada

ART Habens

M31, 2018, 30x30 cm,oil on canvas

world, to invite the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception.

Austrian Art historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the viewers to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the

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ART Habens

Mai Wada

Ghost II,150x170 cm, oil on paper

creation of the illusion: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

understand my inspirations because my painting is a documentary of my reality. As I said I use to hear the voice, I could communicate with them more clearly than usual while painting because the voice becomes louder while I’m painting. For me, painting is a kind of communication tool, it is a visual record of our long term

Mai Wada: I don’t expect to people

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Mai Wada

ART Habens

55 cancri e, 2019, 15x15 cm, oil on canvas

communication. I think everyone have that kind of own enhanced version of reality even the society now sometimes deny it. Something unseen is mostly less powerful

than visible or tangible in the society. I hope my painting will be a reminder of their own inner reality. So I think it doesn’t matter whether viewer

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Mai Wada

k2-18b, 80x80 cm, oil on canvas

is addressed to my personal interpretation by my work or not, but at least my inner world as ghost series is always open for everyone.

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Although marked out with abstract style, your artworks create a bridge that shows the connection between reality and the subconscious. To quote Max Ernst's word,

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Mai Wada

ART Habens

a white bird, 15x15 cm, oil on canvas

human beings have an inexhaustible store of buried images in their subconscious and into their inner world: how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?

Moreover, how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production?

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Mai Wada

an elephant with a white bird, 15x15 cm, oil on canvas

Mai Wada: Personally I think I have poor imagination because I can’t paint about my imagination but yes, I can paint subconscious experiences. I only can paint

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what I experienced or saw as a reality. I don’t have any distinguish between world inside and outside. So, firstly I paint all about my reality whichever it happens inside or

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Mai Wada

ART Habens

“curiosity”. Science and art sounds like opposite but actually scientists and artists we have a lot of common in terms of curiosity for the world.

outside me. The most important thing in my every-day-life is communication. I communicate with a lot of people and spirits in a day as same like the definition of the world, I don’t line a border between human and natural spirit. Almost everyday I visit some small shrines in local city and talk with spirits there.

Both scientists and artists want to know where we are living and what is the world even though the way of describing is different. I as an artist describe the world by taking out the border between reality and inner reality, in contrast, scientists describes the world by correcting evidences to prove why the thing happens in reality. Personally I’m believing that we can complement each other by true cooperation to reveal a brand new viewpoint for the world.

They show me some images of their memory. Sometimes its about longtime ago, sometimes about yesterday. I like talking with people as well. Everyday I talk with different people I meet I speak with everyone, beside I don’t focus on our chatting but I’m keeping my eyes on the movement of their ghost I can see throughout their eyes to share the deep emotion. Communications I could understand mostly appears as image like photo or film like movie.

Your gestural oil paintings, echo the curiosity on which human civilisation is built. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living under": do you think that your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment?

It is possible that I’m storing these images in my subconscious and taking them out when I need. In that mean, I would say communication is a kind of research in every day life.

Mai Wada: I’ve grew up in Japan such the peaceful, conservative, and homogenous country. I so much appreciate to my country because I haven’t been limited my expression by the government or political force, but I could say my spirituality was nourished by Japanese culture. I've grew up in a traditional big family, sister, parents, grand parents and great grandma. Especially grandma and great grandma taught me about Yaoyorozu no Kami (uncountable natural spirits but not religion) and the way to relate them. I think such the spiritual early education by elderly family members influenced my painting style significantly. In my family its normal to see a dragon (spirit

We have been particularly fascinated by the way your artistic production features such consistent combination between the scientific and the divine: your pratice highlights the osmosis between two apparently opposite fields: how do you consider the relationship between science and spirituality? In particular, how do you consider the role of spirituality playing within your artistic practice? Mai Wada: I could say spirituality has been a core of my work because I always work with my spiritual sense. About science and art, I’m believing we are sharing a same route

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Mai Wada

of water and land) preserves our garden, the spirit of ancestors walked around a old corridor in the night, or fox spirit (a merchant god ) followed behind great grandma. My family itself was quite spiritual. So when I heard of voice from somewhere upper, I could naturally believe that is the voice of one of them. That environment naturally vanished the line between seen and unseen and made me think of visualising the world unseen.

everyone. I believe that is the first step for developing a sense of interconnectedness and oneness that I can attend. You are an established artist and over the years you have exhibited in several occasions, in Japan, Italy, Switzerland, as well as in the United States and in the United Kingdom: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definitely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram https://www.instagram.com/maiwada702 — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

To quote the last lines of your artist's statement, painting provides you with the means of reconstructing incomprehensible experiences as something touchable, tangible and communicable to others: what could be in your opinion the role of artists in order to develop a sense of interconnectedness and oneness with other human beings, in our ever-changing society?

Mai Wada: Firstly, I haven’t changed my relationship with audiences by any reason. They have been a viewer whoever they are and whether they find my work online or real place. Meanwhile, I’m a painter who continuously producing painting. In terms of my establishment as an artist, I was just trying everything that I can do while I was studying in the UK. Actually the country didn’t a matter but the venue and event contents was much more important. I was looking for the best position of my work because I was feeling uncomfortable with publishing my work only in the gallery. European countries were the best to do trial and error because there are a lot of chance all over Europe. Throughout these rich experiences, I recognised that I want to show my work where people need. For example, that was fascinating when I

Mai Wada: Firstly, I’m sill in the process of finding the role of artist at developing oneness and interconnectedness. However, I am thinking of art can be an universal language. Nowadays so many sad events happen in the world. I don’t know how we can be as one beyond all borders, but at least in my painting, there are no border even between seen and unseen. I wonder if we could share the inner world each other, people will be able to communicate without any bias of skin colour or economic status but as human to human. We are all changing by natural law, but our inner world doesn’t be influenced by time and space. It's a kind of eternity and the deep connection underlaying all lives. What I can do as an artist is continuing to create artefacts about the inner, invisible world to share it with

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Mai Wada

ART Habens

ARP273, 2018, 30x30(cm), oil on canvas

participated in an astronomical conference in Switzerland because my collaborator truly needed my painting work to show artistic visualisation of their calculation, and I could

show an idea of cooperation between science and art at the event for scientists. I thought now art shouldn’t be limited by template.

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Mai Wada

Hiroko Wada, 2017, 22x33(cm), oil on canvas SummerIssue 2015 Special

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Mai Wada

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I’m still passionate to discover the new space for my work will be. We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Mai. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Mai Wada: Thanks for the interview. I could say now I’m preparing for a big project about a life of stars and planets. Now I only have an abstract image of the next painting which is a huge painting represent the whole star’s life from forming to exploding. I instinctively know I need to spend time on that project, so now I’m waiting for an image that comes down to me while working in Japan. When the timing comes, I’m gonna leave everything in Japan and start working in the UK again. On the other hand, the Moon Gallery Project is now active in Holland. One of my works will be rocketed to the moon base in 2022. My idea about the future is, anyway I want to complete the image of star life in my mind and I hope to keep painting until I’m dying.

An interview by and

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, curator curator

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Lives and works in Michigan, USA

The Prayer

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Jill Christine Miller

ART Habens

video, 2013

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Jordi Rosado

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Jill Christine Miller An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Jill and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.jillchristinemiller.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your BFA in Painting and Drawing from The University of Michigan, you nurtured your education with an MFAin Painting, that you received from Burren College of Art, National University of Ireland Galway: how did those formative years, as well as your influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum direct your current artistic research? Jill Miller: At the University of Michigan, Professor Ted Ramsay taught me how to paint. He was the most influential teacher of my early painting years, and the knowledge he imparted as my foundation extends well beyond my undergraduate work. Being a successful studio artist as well as a professor gave him insight beyond simply painting in the classroom. His confidence in my abilities encouraged me to pursue an MFA. Attending graduate school on the remote West Coast of Ireland offered an entirely different atmosphere through solitude and stunning landscapes. It was here I learned working space is highly influential to my painting practice. My tutor and thesis advisor Dr. Martina Cleary guided me to a deeper understanding of what I wanted to visualize with paint. Her vast knowledge of art history, contemporary artists and theory, combined with her sensitive intuition, helped me develop a sense of purpose and self awareness. Whenever I felt lost in the studio, she was able

Jill Christine Miller

to guide me in new directions with thoughtful and pragmatic advice. Since graduating, my artistic research takes place in my home studio and at residencies. My practice is based in both the studio and in reaction to environmental elements I am surrounded by during the painting process. Being immersed in beautiful landscapes while on residencies channels new ideas, especially

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since I thrive in quiet areas. Locations have

RIC barrack. Each setting richly impacted the direction of work, and the depth of knowledge gained throughout the overall residency

included an 18th century castle, a famine cottage, a 1920’s American farmhouse and an

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Jill Christine Miller

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Adjustment

experience is invaluable. Most important to my work is my home studio, which provides a safe and stable place to experiment. This is where I

finish the majority of my paintings. The body of works that we have selected for

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Jill Christine Miller

this special edition of ART Habens —and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way the visual language that marks it out seems to be used in a strategic way to explore and capture the variety of human emotions, providing your artworks with an array of meanings. New York City based artist Lydia Dona once stated that in order to make art today one has to reevaluate the conceptual language behind the mechanism of art making itself: do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your creative process? Jill Miller: I paint gesturally and instinctively by starting out with a simple idea for a work. In graduate school, my figurative paintings emphasized gestural qualities of fleeting and sustained moments during episodes of depression, and unexpected moments of enlightenment using the play of light and shadow to heighten emotional resonance. I used quick brush strokes to initiate a contradiction in terms of ephemeral moments of paint applied on canvas, versus the slowing of time common in the depressive mindset. This quickness of brush mark coincided with not allowing preconceptions of an initial idea to stop me from improvising or completely changing the core of a painting. I paint in the moment, ideas are interchangable and open to interpretation while in process. My work emphasizes the painting process building an intuitive language by focusing on psychological impact and interaction between space and object or figure, and through the weight of shadows and small nuances within the brushstrokes. I am continuing to work gesturally, finding quick brush marks are often more interesting than slow, methodical ones. As you have remarked once, your compositions are immersed in an institutional green space in order to

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Jill Christine Miller

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The Gaze 21 4 08

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Jill Christine Miller

The Mask Special Issue

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Jill Christine Miller

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heighten the state of uneasiness. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in an artwork and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such brilliant results? Jill Miller: I use my experiences with depression by magnifying emotion and applying these feelings into a form of representation. By translating this onto a surface through paint, it is possible to impart the ramifications of personal events and the power of emotion felt within a painted space. Using an autobiographical approach, my purpose is to relate a layering of psychic states through a layering within the language of the paint itself. The focus on the texture is important for imparting the feeling of a psychological state, as the brush marks are able to reinforce the physicality and emotional presence, lodged within the material substance. Realizing a way to portray emotion through paint is essential in the very purpose of creating a painting, as a response to a concept with the intention of affective empathy from the viewer. With their unique multilayered visual quality, your artworks seems to highlight contours of known reality in an unknown world, to invite the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. Austrian Art historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the viewers to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the illusion: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Jill Miller: I would like viewers to interpret by

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Jill Christine Miller

following their own stream of thought process, and not feel forced into what they see. I enjoy freedom in forming a narrative of a painting when I am in a museum or gallery, especially with the work of Belgian artist Michaël Borremans. He has a refined style of painting that often features characters engaged in cryptic activities that use the human body to create an air of mystery, threat or menace. He works brilliantly between art and reality, stating, “In my paintings there are no individuals, they're just types...human beings in their symbolic quality, like the pieces in a chess game they stand for something”. His paintings always draw me in as a viewer by capturing a suspended moment in time and trying to make sense of visual clues. I would like viewers of my work to find this same sort of intrigue by mentally entering the painting. Rich of autobiographical references, you also seem to draw a lot from topical issues, as the coronavirus pandemic that has inspired your recent body of works: how does your personal memories and your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research? Jill Miller: Memories significantly influence my artistic research no matter what topic I am focusing on painting. Sometimes my work is completely immersed in memories, trying to recreate a moment in time. Home depicts an angel figurine that holds joyful childhood memories of Christmas. Liminality is also explored in the under painting blue and background green, with the memory state hovering between these areas of transition. At times when I am unsure of what to paint or what direction to follow, I look for an object from the past that offers strong visual glimpses back to childhood. This process generally helps me through “painters block”, and leads me toward new ideas.

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Jill Christine Miller

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Commit 21 4 12

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Jill Christine Miller

Guarded Special Issue

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Jill Christine Miller

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We have appreciated the way your artworks explore ideas of liminality, unveiling the connection between reality and imagination, providing the viewers with such multilayered visual experience, and we have been struck with the way Shifting and Home transcend the usual bi-dimensional nature of paintings. Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us: as an artist particularly interested in understanding how mental and physical worlds can exist cohesively within the language of paint, how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination playing within your work? Jill Miller: In my first year of graduate school, I researched translating paint into emotion through physical places with a history of truama. These spaces included institutions, hospitals and jails, which have human memories permanently stored within the walls. Bringing about this human interaction through spaces without a figure was visualized by marks, atmosphere and emotional traces. These ideas worked to construct a cohesive space which floated between reality and imagination, a combination of a mental state and the resulting images evoked. How places speak of history is clear through visual evidence, and more subtle through emotional traces internalized when physically observing the space. Powerful memories permanently stored within walls of physical spaces harboring past trauma do not lose potency despite the passage of time. The painting Guarded portrays a psychiatric hospital room, and addresses the bleakness and isolation of mental illness. The bed represents many ideas, a symbol of vulnerability, a place of safety, while also reflecting on the physical tiredness depression inflicts. Shifting responds to the violence of the past in Ireland under English

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Shifting


ART Habens

Jill Christine Miller

rule through the depiction of a corridor in Kilmainham Gaol (jail). The building has a palpable history of tragedy and injustice, which creates a setting of frailty with a strong undercurrent of menace. This environment can conflict as a dehumanizing factor or enforce the fragility of the context. Both Guarded and Shifting have an intentional lack of physical human representation, but still directly addresses the former occupants by questioning history and outcomes of those who resided and passed through these spaces. While painting this series, I studied the work of Romanian artist Adrian Ghenie. He responds to his personal history of living within a political state of oppression with dark subject matter and paint obscuring the identity of people and spaces. The brush marks evoke a sense of distortion, and in many paintings the faces are eviscerated, a reflection of psychological torment. His paintings shift between historical facts and imaginative construction as a visual representation of fragmentation from experiences of trauma. Many of his paintings deal with the psychological space that surround and envelop his figures. With these references as a starting point for combining reality with imagination, my work progresses these ideas through diverse topics. Your artworks also contain such subtle still effective socio political criticism. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "artists's role differs depending on which part of the world they’re in": does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? In particular, as an artist who sapiently uses the personal to address the political, do you think that artists can raise awareness to an evergrowing audience on topical issues in our globalised age?

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Jill Christine Miller

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Jill Christine Miller

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Jill Miller: I do think artists have a role in raising awareness to topical issues. The way I approach an issue is to visualize my ideas subtly and let the viewer interpret the underlying meanings or purpose. I appreciate artists who make statements thoughtfully and intelligently, not forcing an opinion one way or the other. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and opinion, I am presenting a perspective in which viewers can choose whether or not to engages. I am not concerned with responding to most cultural moments, but certain events inspire me to paint politically sensitive issues. One of these topics frequently studed is the stigma associated with mental illness. Since depression easily crosses cultural boundaries, painting provides an exceptional platform for bringing awareness to this prevalent and frequently misunderstood issue. Some of my work, like Commit and Adjustment, examine treatments to alleviate depression, anxiety and insomnia through a neurostimulation device. This uses wave forms to stimulate the brain, and could be viewed as modern shock therapy. People branded “mentally ill” are too often marginalized and thought of as less than human, and these works exhibit a contemporary reaction to a consistently relevant issue. Over the years your works have been screened and showcased in several occasions, including your participation to Minerva: Harmony to Hollywood, at New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art, University of Southern Indiana: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definitely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience? Jill Miller: A globalised audience allows work to be exposed on a limitless scale, but it is also a watered down encounter of viewing a work of art. Not being

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Jill Christine Miller

able to choose a line of sight and engagement, or experience the atmosphere, sounds and overall physical environment can drastically alter what viewers see. In some instances, the space is as important as the work itself, and provides context through these environmental elements. Ideally, through social media viewers would be encouraged to experience artworks in person after seeing it online. We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Jill. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Jill Miller: I am currently working on a series of COVID-19 paintings. Since the pandemic began, we have been inundated with images of face masks in every aspect of life. In response to anxiety and tension I was feeling, I painted images that simultaneously frightened and captivated me. Besides fear, this series is also acknowledging the brave medical workers tirelessly risking their health and safety for the benefit of others. Before the pandemic, I was studying American artist Edward Hopper’s psychological figure paintings. While reading the book Silent Theatre: The Art of Edward Hopper, I was immediately drawn to his intimate interior scenes of daily life in domestic spaces. My next series of work will possibly be in response to these paintings. Thank you very much for taking the time to explore my work, I appreciate this opportunity!

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Jill Christine Miller

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Kupalle - jumping through the Fire

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Aleksei Latinnik [Alatinni]

ART Habens

video, 2013

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Jordi Rosado

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Aleksei Latinnik An interview by and

, curator curator

Aleksei and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. Are there any particular experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum direct your current artistic research and your attitude to experiment?

Aleksei Latinnik: Hello and thanks for invitation to this interview and congrats with this special anniversary edition! I started my art journey from the earliest childhood, considering myself as a wizard who may create his own world. I was born in a small city called Rechitsa, in Belarus, in a family of foreign language teachers. They also painted a bit. My elder brother Andrei successfully finished art school, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to study academic art, considering it boring, but I was copying my brother’s artworks, which I liked more, and I painted a lot in general. At school, my paintings were always on the wall gallery.

Aleksei Latinnik

My visits to Germany had a great impact on my art habits. I visited Germany under the program to support children who lived on the territory suffered from Chernobyl disaster. My host parents, The Laub family, supported my brother and me in our art initiatives and kindly provided us with all needed stuff and materials for painting and drawing, which were not affordable in our country at that time. Even more, they organized our first in-house exhibition and an

art fair for us. When I was a student, I had a great interest in web and graphic design. I studied computer science and economics. The same time I started to work as freelance designer, it later helped me to launch my small design studio. I also participated at art exhibitions and design contests. When economic crisis came, I decided to close my de-

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Aleksei Latinnik

sign studio and to switch to project management. I noticed that software development has a high-level of abstraction; it’s the same art but from different angle, may be even more abstract than contemporary art. Being creative helps me a lot in my managerial work. I also like travelling to get new insight and inspiration. When traveling I always visit art museums. I was very impressed by visiting Theatre-Museum by Salvador Dali at Figares and Moderna Museet at Stockholm. Belarussian heritage inspired me as well, especially I like artworks of Chagall, Malevich, Bakst, Savitsky, and Isachev. All this aspects formed me as a self-made artist. I still don’t have art education in traditional meaning (I prefer self-education and experiments and avoid clichés) but it has never been a roadblock for me. Nowadays I’ve got some art awards, publications in media and art catalogues; my artworks exhibited at Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, USA, China, India, Italy, Austria. Now I see how my painting living their own life, they travel to cities and countries I have never been, they talk to hundreds of people, they live in their own houses – it’s really inspire me for the next great artworks. This year I also become a member of Eurasian Art Union – it should help me to share my arts with a wider audience. Marked out with such unique visual identity, the body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens —and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the

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Aleksei Latinnik

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Backstage smoking Special Issue

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Aleksei Latinnik

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way they convey sense of freedom and rigorous aesthetics, and in particular for the way you use your visual language in a strategic way to offering an array of meanings to the viewers: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your artworks? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your work as an artist?

Aleksei Latinnik: Well, I have a general high level idea from which I start with. This idea is like a butterfly, you don’t need to catch it to notice the beauty of the flight, to feel the wind from the wigs, to see the shadows and the motion of the summer. You may save this moment for yourself or to share it with someone. Starting from this proto idea I continue my inner research. I’m staying in the state of flow and continuous creative findings. I'm open to any transformations come to my mind, so it is hard even for me, the painter, to predict the final result. Surprising yourself is a great feeling. On my artworks you may find layers or traces of these transformation. For example, I may start with geometric abstraction, transform it to landscape and complete it with young women with water jugs. I use original colors, usually not mixing it. I often paint without any sketches. It's very important for me to feel a sense of freedom and challenge: the artist who paints a

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Aleksei Latinnik

picture without sketches almost does not have a right for mistake.

personal observations: how do you consider the role of symbols in your creative process?

Although marked out with abstract style, your artworks, as the interesting Sasha, High Temperature, Elemental and Kupalle: jumping through the fire are pervaded with such stimulating dreamlike ambience, that provides its figures with ambivalent and a bit enigmatic visual identity: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production?

Aleksei Latinnik: My point is the following: art should have a Value or Message. It could be a symbol, a story, a color or texture, etc. Art should have something to say, to think, to feel, to communicate with. The painting should speak even when the artist is silent. When exploring edges or shapes, your artworks feature unique sense of geometry — as Not damaged, Linear Sunflowers and Deconstruction— as well as bold tones in The heat. Moreover, we have particularly appreciated the way they create such enigmatic patterns, communicating tension and such dreamlike ambience. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in an artwork and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such unique results?

Aleksei Latinnik: There is definitely a bridge between reality and imagination The distance between this two points could be as long as short. Sometimes it will look like one point especially if thinking about what’s real and what’s not. Most of my artworks as mentioned has passed through the experiments, intuitive dynamic transformations and multi layering. A few of my artworks were created based on my dreams. It is important for me that positive energy emanates from the paintings.

Aleksei Latinnik: Psychological background and atmosphere matters a lot. It’s better to consider an example. «The heat» was created at night, when I was sitting near the fireplace at my country house and I was looking at the yellow magic fire. It was a bit frosty and nasty outside but not inside my home. I painted by fire light only trying to depict my feeling of warm, light, protection and gratitude. I decided to stop painting when the fire went out. But I had to add firewood more and more to support the fire and to finalize my ‘one-breath’ painting.

Enigmatic and ambience feelings are mainly highlighted in my paintings with womеn. A woman for me is a symbol love, sensuality, beauty, home, the beginning of life and its continuation. You may notice that I do not paint face details to make this image more general and broad. Personal feelings incorporated to the painting matters a lot. I also used to paint in ambience style some scenes based on legends and folks. With their unique multilayered visual quality, your artworks often incorporate symbols that covey thoughts, mood, emotions and

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As for making textures, I experiment a lot, apply and invent some new techniques.

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Deconstruction


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Aleksei Latinnik

One of my signature technique is to paint layers and later to put the whole painting under the shower or under the rain. Usually it’s shower, thus my bathroom often looks very creative and my family not always happy with it. I don’t have personal studio and paint at home.

ART Habens

There could be also limitations and circumstances. For example, when I flew in an airplane, which was shaking a bit, and it was stressful, I asked for a black coffee to relax – not to drink but to use as a color for painting while my hard flight. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your paintings not only express your vision, but also it's a communication tool to interact with wide audience where everyone can find something new, personal and sacred: how open would you like your works to be understood?

You are a versatile artist and you often include such a wide variety of objects and tools sometimes completely unrelated to art, as hardware accessories, sticks, payment card, coffee, fruits and money. New York City based photographer and sculptor Zoe Leonard once stated, "the objects that we leave behind hold the marks and the sign of our use: like archeological findings, they reveal so much about us". We’d love to ask you about the qualities of the materials that you include — or that you plan to include — in your artworks: in particular, how important is for you to use found materials, as the aforesaid ones?

Aleksei Latinnik: Do I want my art will be completely understandable? Of course, no. There always must be some kind of secret or mystery. The goal of Artist is to call emotions. I’m happy when audience gets their own feelings and new experience looking at my arts. It could be completely unrelated to what artist mean, but this point of view is also true.

Aleksei Latinnik: Sometimes I come up consciously to the choice of tools. For example, when drawing grapes, I used grapes and a branch as a tool instead of brush. Another my acrylic painting «Evergreen meadow» has a real green clover incorporated to it. In the winter it’s pleasant to look at this painting to remember last warm summer days.

Ones I heard interesting statement that Artist should not care how his arts will be interpreted and he may not explain anything, this is a work for culturologists and art critics. From the one point of view, I’d like not to provide any explanation at all, so the viewer will go through the way of personal understanding of art. From the other side it is always interesting for viewer to get more contest from the artist and to know what he was thinking about while painting and was he thinking at all?

The selection of the tool is not always related to the theme of painting. Sometimes it’s occasionally and experiment sake. Experiment opens me new horizons for expression, it means new experience and moving out of comfort zone.

I resolved this dilemma using QR codes

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Aleksei Latinnik

with description to my exhibited artworks. It allows viewer to make a choice whether he wants to know artist’s vision or to stay with his feelings.

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is changing fast. In a global world there is no borders. Everything is moving from traditional to digital transformation. Arts become close to the viewer as never before. Social networks, AR/VR, digital art and mixed media are definitely nowadays art trends worth to use.

To quote Max Ernst's word, human beings have an inexhaustible store of buried images in their subconscious and into their inner world: how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?

Of course, personally I prefer to go to museums rather having it online. But the same time staying at home anytime I have a wonderful opportunity to have a free virtual tours to Metropolitan Museum, Louvre, The Dali Theatre-Museum and other stunning galleries.

Aleksei Latinnik: I’m a big fan of Max Ernst’ artworks. I believe inspiration and creativity is everywhere surrounding our lives. It connects people all over the world and I’m glad to be part of this. All what you need is just to be open minded and ready. Everything may be a fuel for inspiration. Even a trashcan. You don’t need to dive into transcendental journeys and practices to mine something unconscious, just look around of you, the life itself has a lot of secrets.

I also participate in virtual exhibits and join international art projects with a great pleasure and probably I will launch soon my personal online art exhibit. I interact with my audience not only through the physical or online exhibits, but also through social media, in particular through the Instagram. Here you may check my new arts, to see the process of creation, or talk to me directly @aleksei.latinnik

You are an established artist; you have been awarded at artweeks in Belarus, China, India, and over the years your paintings have been exhibited in Belarus, Ukraine, USA, Germany, Russia, China, India, Italy: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definetely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

www.instagram.com/aleksei.latinnik We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Aleksei. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

Aleksei Latinnik: Thank for complementing naming me as established artist. The world

Aleksei Latinnik: At least I will keep going

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Aleksei Latinnik

Linear sunflowers

Vacations

on experimenting and to have new group exhibits. I have a lot of new ideas to realize. I’m thinking to go deeper to art installation – this is quite a new direction for me.

«The brick is a symbol of home, safety and family hearth. However, not every fortress can survive in difficult times, so the brick is black. A stool is a rigid chair without a back, on which it is possible to sit, but it's not so comfortable. The stool's symbol literally conveys the phrase: 'Sit on isolation.'

In autumn, my art installation 'When we became different' will be presented at exhibit in Minsk, where Belarusian artists will present their artworks during pandemic and self-isolation. My installation consists of red stool and black brick on it. The concept is a following:

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The combination of brick on a stool is a rethinking of the life during a global pandemic that has affected thousands of fates and divided the world to “before”

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When we became different

Elemental

and “after”. Colors are significant here. Previously, the stool and the brick had their “native” colors. Now everything is turned upside down and became opposite: serenity changed to anxiety, joy changed to sadness, openness changed to isolation, victories changed to losses ... However, an understanding of the Value is appeared. The world was able to survive (i.e. our brick and stool still here, shapes are not changed), its structure and content are alive, and we had to move somewhere further.»

Also some of my artworks will be presented soon at Art Week in Saint Petersburg. I’m always looking for opportunities to explore my arts and I always open to dialog and collaboration. Thank you for your time and for this wonderful conversation! An interview by and

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, curator curator

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Jordi Rosado

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Marco Riha An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Marco and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://marcoriha.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. As basically a self taught artist, are there any experiences — including the many years that you spent traveling and getting to know different cultures — that particularly influence your evolution as an artist?

Marco Riha: Thank you, ART Habens, for the introduction. Travelling was already a big part of my upbringing. The destinations became more exotic once I started work as a tour guide. Sri Lanka stands out as the country where my artistic journey began. This colorful, dreamy place seemed to be on a different timeline, when I arrived in the early 90ies. It was not one event in particular, but long monsoon afternoons, drinking tea and eating tropical fruits. The combination of an inspiring environment with the luxury of having lots of time, made me get up one day and start painting, like I had never done anything else before. So, I took a half a year off, living on my credit card, getting to know the artist in me. A reminder of that time are the paintings “pigeon-of-shiva” and “utopia”, the latter makes me think of going to the Buddhist temple nearby to find a lotus flower to study its lines. Little memories like that, make me feel deeply grateful to Sri Lanka.

Marco Riha

base since many years now. Here, I settled down and started a family, which reflects in me maturing artistically as well. Making art my home or settling down with my colors in Mexico, the magical place that turned me into the artist and human, I am today. Marked out with such unique visual identity, the body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens — and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at

The other place that changed the course of my life and art is Mexico, my creative home

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once captured our attention for the way you use your visual language in a strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity, offering an array of meanings: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your artworks? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your work as an artist?

Marco Riha: I call myself playfully a “Binch painter”. Ideally, I have weeks on end, where I immerse myself in art without distractions. Of course, that is not always possible, at times a couple of hours must do, but my most satisfying pieces were created without preconceived ideas. You mentioned chance, improvisations & instinct, all three play a role for me. I’d replace the word chance with destiny though, since in art there are no mistakes. My preferred method is pouring paint on the canvas. Sometimes I keep pouring and leave it at that. Sometimes I see more and go deeper, work on certain aspects, bring them to the forefront and allow the process of becoming. You often alternate between painting inspired by human form, as Encounters, and abstract works — as the interesting Crocodile on Fire — that feature such stimulating dreamlike ambience, that provides its figures with ambivalent and a bit enigmatic visual identity, that seems to unveil the bridge between the real and the imagined. Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us, how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production?

Marco Riha: I agree, it is always, the artist fil-

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tering his or her very own reality. I love to play with the concepts of reality and imagination, for me the two are interchangeable and equally as important. Reality has had the better publicist in this world so far - time to balance the scales. Another word for imagination is intention, the reason, it is so important to keep on dreaming of a better world while worrying is wasted fantasy. “You are what you think” has been proven to be true by science as well. Over the years you have been experimenting with different mixed mediums. When exploring edges or shapes, your artworks feature thoughtful nuances — as the interesting wallmeltdown. Moreover, we have particularly appreciated the way they create such enigmatic patterns? Communicating such dreamlike ambience. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in an artwork and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such unique results?

Marco Riha: My psychological make-up of the day for sure plays an important role, not just in determining nuances, but in general. The mood of the day will determine the basic mood of the creation - the colors, I feel drawn to and the shape of the canvas. I went through a phase where I did not want to use square or rectangle canvases anymore, to help me break out of the box. The development of textures also depends on the day and the art piece. As mentioned before, I have been fascinated by the pouring technique, layer over layer and the effects I get pouring tint into it, one can witness worlds seemingly grow on their own. Although marked out with abstract style, your artworks, as the interesting Pigeon of Shiva,

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Eve and Utopia are pervaded with effective narrative drive, and we really appreciate the way your figures work as bridge that shows the connection between the subconscious and

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reality. To quote Max Ernst's word, human beings have an inexhaustible store of buried images in their subconscious and into their inner world: how does your everyday life's experi-

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ence fuel your artistic research?

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ing in our collective subconscious, to enter that realm, it is best to be as empty as possible.

Marco Riha: I totally agree with Max Ernst and am proof of it, a lot of my art is all about bringing those buried subconscious images to light. C.G. Jung called them archetypes, liv-

And then, there are the pieces were it is an advantage, to be as full of a certain topic as

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your artworks seems to have several different strands but they are all connected to a core vision: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination, provoking emotions in your spectatorship? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

possible. Filled to the bursting point, I explode onto the canvas in order to understand, shrink, purge and ultimately free myself of it all. With their unique multilayered visual quality,

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Marco Riha

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As you have remarked in your artist's statement, visual arts fascinate you, like the possibility of screaming without making a sound: how important is for you the spiritual dimension?

Marco Riha: Of course, I would love to trigger a multitude of viewers in this positive way of expanding their imaginations and emotions. Openness is ideally limitless. So, may my works be understood as open as individually possible.

Yes, the idea, of screaming in color, fascinates

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You also created sociopolitical pieces. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living under": do you think that your artistic research respond to a particular cultur-

me. The power of visual images is a fact and accompanies us daily. As far as the spiritual dimension goes, I want to use this power for good. Create images that inspire, question, expand and uplift.

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Marco Riha

al moment? Moreover, as an artist particularly sensitive to ecological issues, do you think that artists can raise awareness to an evergrowing audience on topical issues that affect our glob-

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alised and everchanging society?

Marco Riha: The political systems have been going through many changes. Living and

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Marco Riha

working in different countries, made me realize in what a globalized world we live in already. My focus is on these global issues and the basic human qualities that unite us all.

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I do believe that artists have the power to raise awareness. Images are powerful deliverers of messages. If we would be bombarded with positive imagery on a daily basis, like we

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Marco Riha

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For the artist, the artwork and the viewer it is an advantage to meet in person, to get a real feel for an art piece and its size. But I have learned to work with these new online possibilities, I appreciate the instant feedback on my paintings. No more organizing a space and travelling somewhere with your artwork. Besides the audience is larger in the online realm, so ultimately more people see my art now, then when I did shows. https://www.instagram.com/marco.riha We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Marco. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

Marco Riha: We are still on orange alert here in Mexico, so, creating a socially sane environment for my son, is my current work. Daily we are reminded, that our normal is no more. Finally - but I did have a different normal in mind, one based on freedom, equality, creativity, peace and unity.

are with negative ones, I am convinced, this world could change in an instant. Over the years your artworks have been exhibited in several occasions in Mexico, Austria and Dubai: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definetely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

Never was the need to imagine utopia more pressing, I’ll keep on playing my part by pushing the envelope of this so-called reality. Thank you, Kathryn and Josh, for your support and the invitation to this interview!

An interview by

Marco Riha: The change is now more obvious than ever, we are moving from physical exhibitions to virtual galleries.

and

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, curator curator

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La Barca, Oil on Exhibition Canvas, 24 by 30 by 2 inches,

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Mara G. Szyp

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video, 2013

2019 422 0

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Silver, 20 by 16 inches, oil on canvas, 2019 Special Issue

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Mara G. Szyp An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Mara and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://szyp.ca and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. Are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum due to your Argentinian roots — as well as your life in Spain, and then in the United States before settling in Canada — direct your current artistic research?

Mara G. Szyp: For the last 20 plus years I dedicated myself to exploration of the self and of the world. My life has been full of experiences that have led to and influenced the evolution of my art. Traveling open my eyes to new experiences, new environments, and new cultures. I was amazed and awestruck with other places and cultures, but it really allowed me to learn to appreciate my own. My own roots, my food, my language, my ways and my art.

Mara G. Szyp

The substratum of my Argentinian culture, my life and travels throughout Spain, the United and my eventual permanent residency in Canada runs deep in my overarching artistic exploration. However, for me I think they factor more into the basis for the lens or perspective I look at things through.

in Canada in senior management. What appealed to me when confronted with the opportunity to get into a senior management role and caused me to hang up my gypsy lifestyle was how passionate I realized I was about the reason this role existed. It was for a not for profit organization fighting for equality, and respect. It supported an organization that provided opportunity, safety, and grace to

Travelling allowed me to see beautiful places and meet incredible people. In and among my vagabond years, I explored a career here

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Mara G. Szyp

Dallas Road Vancouver Island, oil on canvas, 36 by 18 inches, retouched July 2020

those fleeing or who have fled domestic abuse. It helped them to build their confidence, to get re-established in the world on their terms, to find their voice

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again and to pursue their life. In my life, growing up in Argentina and throughout my travels I had seen and experience many amazing things, but I also experienced and

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Mara G. Szyp

witnessed many horrible things. In my role I could make a difference, I could help, I could be a chance for someone, that made me feel just as good or better and meant more to

ART Habens

me than the most beautiful sunset I had witnessed, or my greatest experience travelling. While I loved my job and my role deeply, I

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Mara G. Szyp

Driving a Ferrari California, 36 by 36 inches, acrylic on canvas, 2019

unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately in hindsight as it led me back to art, I fell ill with two unrelated cancers and subsequently had to step away from my role

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and began a new phase in my life’s journey. Throughout my battle with cancer, and my recovery, I realized that I not only fight to live and heal physically but also to recover

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Mara G. Szyp

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Driving a convertible, acrylic on deep exhibition canvas, 36 x 36 inches, 2019

mentally and emotionally from the scars (good and bad) that all the events in my life, cancer being the most recent, left me with. This journey was by far the hardest of my life,

the cancer rendered me mute, I felt like a prisoner in my own my mind and body. All my life experience, my culture, my travels, the distance I was from my home country,

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Mara G. Szyp

everything, all of it, rushed to the forefront of my mind and I wanted to scream, but I did not feel like I had a voice, my life felt as though it was no longer mine. I had a moment in the midst of my cancer where I stopped and thought about all the trauma I have endured in my life, and the years I spent helping others after their trauma to heal, to thrive and to regain their voices and here I was, at a crossroads between life and death with no control over what was happening to me, no map, no playbook to go to on how to feel, what to do, what to ask, who to lean on. I felt completely alone and afraid, which was odd to me since I had travelled the world alone but until that moment never felt alone. Family in my culture is life, it is like the air you breathe, but I could not be further from them, I was so far from my mom who is my soul. I had no idea how to deal with the rage, fear, sadness, hurt, and the unknown. It was on this ledge that I picked up a brush and I painted. It is odd to think of the beauty of my culture, the travels I have been on, the wonderment, pain, joy, and light I have experienced and seen that I had lost my connection to my art, and I find it in one of the darkest places of my life. The art just started to flow, it may not have been perfect, but it was mine, my culture, my travels, my experiences, my feelings, my thoughts, my memories, my dreams, it was me. Marked out with such unique visual identity, the body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens —and that our readers have already started to get to

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The Deep Dark, oil on canvas, 48 by 36 inches, 2020 21 4 10

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Spirit Guide Brother, oil on canvas, 20 by 16, June 2020 Special Issue

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know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way you use your visual language in a strategic way to develop a sense of interconnectedness with the viewers, offering an array of meanings: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your artworks? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your work as an artist?

Mara G. Szyp: Truth to be told, for me there is no one methodology I prescribe to, nor is there a recipe for how I develop an initial idea. There are times I am feeling things and I just create using my feeling(s) as the catalyst. Other times I am sleeping and instead of having dreams about travels or people, I see myself painting. In the middle of my dream me painting, I wake up, and head to my studio, because my awake me is agreeing that I am not really sleeping so I might as well be painting over the canvas! My paintings are a melting pot of things, some of my paintings are results of feelings, there are paintings that are social statements resulting from an experience or a world event or a cause. I also have paintings that have resulted from pure passion, and some become a tangible form of a thought, or result from unsaid words. Improvisation is most definitely involved in everything I do to some degree. An idea is conceived in some way, but as it is being “birthed� onto the canvas, most times it morphs into what I feel it needs to be at that precise moment. Strangely enough, those are the art pieces that when clients buy

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Arcadia, 36 by 24 inches, oil on canvas, 2020


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Mara G. Szyp

Paz, 20 x 16 inches, oil on canvas, 2019 Special Issue

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Nostalgia, oil on canvas, 20 by 16 inches, July 23 2020

You are a versatile artist and you currently use a variety of different mediums, including charcoal, acrylics, ink, watercolours and oils, that allow you to create thoughtful nuances — as in La Barca — as well as bold tones, in Driving a Ferrari California. Moreover, we have particularly appreciated the way they create such enigmatic patterns, communicating tension and such dreamlike

them, they undoubtedly do so because they felt an instant connection. So, what I created was in fact for them more then for myself, and that right there for me is the most raw and powerful feeling ever. Painting something that is meant for someone who you do not know but you connected so deeply, so instinctually and impulsively on canvas.

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Mara G. Szyp

In Penance, Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 inches, 2019

ambience. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your artworks and in particular, is there a special state of mind that you need in order to make such decisions?

whispery way to express a feeling or a thought. A line on my artist statement expresses my intention better than my words are at this moment:

Mara G. Szyp: Just like when a musician uses creativity as their muse, a visual artist like me uses colours as a palpable loud or

Specially to shatter the chains around my soul, when I am creating a new art piece, it expresses who I was while morphing into who I will become.

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“I paint to free myself of the chains around me, my body and my mind.�

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Mind-Full, Acrylic on canvas, 2019 21 4 16

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Fluid Intelligence, 20 by 16 inches, oil on canvas, 2019 Special Issue

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Closed doors, 30 by 30 inches, acrylic on canvas, 2018 I create art because it feeds my heart and gives me a purpose. To that end the colours I choose in fact chose me, just as music influences my aura, the colours I paint bring words of their own. In my

portraits I see through the eyes the colours bring, in my nudes I feel through their skin, in my abstracts I scream and dance and grow as their limitless shapes move and unfold, just as my life as

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an artist, bright and constantly evolving”.

Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us, : how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production?

Mara G. Szyp: To me, photography is the ultimate form of art that allows reality to take on completely different shape, it is a moment forever captured in time. To me a painting is the fluid union in between both realms. Most of my artworks have some sort of representative inspiration however I don’t paint hyperrealism paintings and therefore to me true to my own creation I glide between what is real, what I wish was real, what its tangibly real to me in the moment I am painting that art piece. Just like a photograph my paintings reflect my pure and raw imagination, in that exact moment. References to human form are quite recurrent in your artistic production: although sapiently stilyzed, as you did in the interesting In Penance, your figures are pervaded with effective narrative drive, and seem to reflect authentic moments that you actually lived: how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?

Mara G. Szyp: Great question! 100% of my life experiences fuel my artworks. That’s why they are so relatable and why viewers comment on what they “feel” when seeing them face to face other than what they “see”. It is, for me the best way I can communicate my life to other people.

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Blue Moon, oil on exhibition canvas, 36 by 48 inches, June 2020, commissioned by Giovanni De Martino 21 4 20

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Fuerza Watercolour, 18 by 12 cold press 140lb 300 g paper, 2020 SummerIssue 2015 Special

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There is undoubtably a huge portion of me in each piece of artwork; something I went through, something I desire, something that someone said, the way what was said to me made me feel, the way I wish I could have reacted to it. Including the way, I wish I wouldn’t have interpreted what happened. All of these things plus feelings, thoughts and an array of emotions that may be running through every cell of my being at the moment of creating the art piece, fuels the shape and form of my painting. Some of your landscape inspired paintings — as the interesting Spirit Guide Brother as well as The Deep Dark — feature such stimulating dreamlike ambience, that provides its figures with ambivalent and a bit enigmatic visual identity, that seems to speak of a transcendent dimension: how do you consider the role of spirituality playing within your creative process?

Mara G. Szyp: It is the basic force that inspires me to create and I believe the same goes to every creative being. Art is the result of inspirations stemming from our feelings and our life experiences, and all of these are so innately rooted to our spirituality. The energy that one feels when painting is what influences what the creative process will be, the mood or state of being which we are in at the time of painting is connected to how our soul feels. Sometimes I cannot capture my innate spiritualty or thoughts with words, and that is when I feel, an uncontrollable urge to create to be able to express what sometimes cannot be said with words. In your artist's statement you quoted Edward Hopper's words, when he remarked that “If I could say it in words there would be no

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Mara G. Szyp

Arcoiris Loro, oil on gallery canvas, 10 by 10 inches, March 7 2020

that art is universally understandable?

reason to paint.� How important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, do you believe

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Mara G. Szyp: Absolutely, Edwards Hopper’s words resonate with me to my core in a very profound and intensely deep way. When

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Mirror Lake, 20 by 16 inches, oil on canvas, 2020 21 4 20

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Sunset, 9 by 12 inches, watercolour, 2020 SummerIssue 2015 Special

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Seagulls in the sky

heart is that there is a transference of emotions, an arousing of thoughts and feelings, an invitation to go far without moving. And that’s the most rewarding feeling ever. I enjoy profoundly knowing that my art pieces, not my words, my paintings, will evoke all that in the viewer.

Pampas Grass 2

We dare say that your artworks are also pervaded with connection between reality and the subconscious: how do you consider the role of subconscious within your artistic practice?

interacting with someone who has purchased or shown interest in any of my artworks, I find it incredibly fascinating how each person can relate in in some way to the artwork. Even though the interpretations can at times be completely different, what really fills my

Mara G. Szyp: Many times, I have been asked

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Mara G. Szyp

if when I sit in front of my easel I have always the idea of what I am to create, and this is an answer I know well enough by now… there are moments in which there is an idea brewing inside my head, because of something that took place that inspired a feeling and a need to express myself, because of something someone said/did etc.… That was the spark to a thought, for whatever reason. I start from a feeling and it take life from there. Other times, as I have said above, I may have been deep asleep, and something wakes me up and I must walk to my home studio and paint… and I say out loud to myself “I have to” because there is no way for me to go back to sleep where there is art wanting to be born. Sometimes I am not even sure what will come out of my brush, somewhere in my being, something wants to be seen and heard. So, yes, I believe strongly that there is a connection. There are things in my subconscious where my entire being needs to express them and like I said, for lack of better words, there are no words to express them! My art allows me to create whatever it is that I am in such dire need to bring out of my insides. Over the years your artworks have been exhibited in several occasions, including Coast Collective Art Gallery, Archipelago Art Gallery, Hive solo show and Heron Rock Bistro: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definitely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

Mara G. Szyp: I do love the one-on-one physical

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Aurum, oil on canvas, 24 by 30 inches, July 4 2020 21 4 20

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Mara G. Szyp

Intimidad, oil on canvas, 20 by 16 inches, Sept 2019 SummerIssue 2015 Special

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interaction where the viewer can experience seeing the art piece directly in front of their eyes, and then turn their heads and be able to chat with me about what their take is on the artwork. With the current state of the world in regard to the Covid-19 pandemic and as you mention in the question, the way technology has moved that experience to the online realm, I find that art is transcending languages and miles. People that perhaps would have not been able to see my artworks, now have access thanks to platforms like Instagram ( https://www.instagram.com/szyp.ca )Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/MaraSzyp ) my own website ( www.szyp.ca ) etc.

given me to be able to reach out to more people. I must admit your questions have been challenging and deep, you got me thinking about how to express something that is organic to me in words, too bad I could not just paint the answers!

The most engaging platforms seem to always be the ones where there is a chance for the viewer to be able to chat with me. I love talking with art lovers, with people who can feel one way, or another after connecting with my art, and of course I love to hear all about what my artworks do for them, how it made them feel and to see their expressions or read their words! I encourage it and I always make time to reply because it is the best feedback in the world! The most genuine one as well!

And I had an invitation to give some classes in one of the most unique settings ever, and I was really looking forward to that but again, with Covid-19 it has been put in a state of pause.

I feel that 2020 has been a unique and unprecedented of year when it comes to arts and plans. There is a lot being on hold, I have been chatting with a few people who have been interested in having me illustrate their books. I have done two books already and I have loved every second of those projects, so it is something I really always try to be open to and if the fit is right I will definitely make time for it.

I just finished two huge commissions (one of them was one of the paintings you mentioned in a previous question “The Deep Dark” and that was an incredible experience, and it reminded me of how much I love working alongside my clients creating their dream artworks.

We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Mara. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

This year has the world in a tailspin and there is so much going on, it has me feeling inspired, so I am always open to and searching for dreams and projects. I don’t stop, ever, Cancer didn’t stop me, Covid wont either! Hopefully that answers your questions!

Mara G. Szyp: It has been truly my pleasure; I really appreciate the space and time you have

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Lives and works in London, United Kingdom

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Joban Gill

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video, 2013

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Jordi Rosado

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Joban Gill An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Joban and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://jobangill.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. Are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum address the direction of your artistic research and your attitude to experiment?

Joban Gill: Hello, thank you for welcoming me and allowing me to discuss my Artwork. I have always been very passionate about art, and at the beginning of my art education, I was lucky enough to have an amazing mentor, Damien Duffy, who recognised my fascination with anatomy/human form and pushed me to think in a more abstract and freeing manner. This, then had a domino effect, which lead to a degree in Fine Art. I was born and raised in Northern Ireland but am ethnically Indian. However, I do not think that came into much thought when conducting any artistic research.

Joban Gill

their interactions with, not only me, but with each other. Viewing myself as some sort of vessel that creates paintings from the atmospheres I soak up around me and that are created by bodies and minds besides my own. Nearly all of my works pay homage to the atmospherical environments that surround me at that

I have not felt the strength of that substratum but am acknowledging that it is there. My work has always been mainly focused on those around me and

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very time. I believe subconsciously my cultural setting did influence me, just not in the most obvious way and much later on. In the beginning whilst I was living in Northern Ireland, creating art was a path of self-discovery, which felt much wilder than my reality. Now, it filters in much more regularly. Marked out with such unique visual identity, the body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens —and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way you use your visual language in a strategic way to examine the relationship between human form and its surroundings, offering an array of meanings to the viewers: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your artworks? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your work as an artist?

Joban Gill: People might assume that there is a lot of direct planning when it comes to my work, when in fact my practice over the past 6 years has evolved to create a balance between my thoughts and actions. I consider creating this balance to be vital to the outcome of my productions. I would say I form my initial ‘idea’ by taking a step back and

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being much more observant about the goings on that surround me, any movements around the world which unify the many people who physically are not together.

all have a huge, diverse and vibrant workforce. Building relationships with these acquaintances allow me to indulge in their backgrounds and learn from them what I can. This does not strictly have to be factual, I take in their qualities and emotions which form their personalities. I also conduct open conversations, where I will watch, write and sketch whilst certain individuals will allow me to

Living in London is a great example of this, as no matter how mentally isolated anyone may be, it is impossible to ignore that feeling of being in a crowd. I tend to find work in many different jobs that

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Joban Gill

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chalks, acrylics, inks, oil sticks or whatever else I am drawn to in using for an unrestricted mixed-media piece. I also spend some time on building and stretching my own frames, as a way of creating a more relaxed and meaningful relationship with the work. When it comes to the actual art work being created, I usually work within a matter of days (3 maximum) – I lay out everything, form my gathered images, sketches and mediums, leave all thought outside of the studio and make quick gestural movements, allowing myself to look at and use whatever I am

follow their train of thought which runs free. I would describe this as a type of cubist approach to my research. This form of studying will usually be for at least 6 months or more – causing an intense build up. From this, I then transition into a process of gathering materials such as

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Joban Gill

naturally drawn to. This greatly increases the role of chance and encourages improvisation. I believe I am a narrative painter, allowing my mind to tell a story with complete freedom. Only afterwards does the story shift into sense. In a way, by doing this I am exploring the side of the viewer as well as the artist.

As I studied realism for many years and focused on skill-building, when I first introduced abstraction into my work it was done through layering by keeping elements of ‘reality’ and increasing focus on negative spacing and placement. As I further my developed artist style it began to grow into a scene containing real figures, but which questions reality as they are placed in abnormal dimensions and have fused together. I aim to transfer the feeling of endless possibility on to a canvas, which sometimes is portrayed with a sort of loss of gravity, weightlessness or disorientation. Working on a larger scale has also helped create this illusive scene.

Your artworks — as the interesting ‘Mess’ and ‘Looted Surroundings’— feature such stimulating dreamlike ambience, that provides its figures with an ambivalent and a bit enigmatic visual identity, that seems to unveil the bridge between the real and the imagined. Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us, how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production?

I find the most interesting discoveries when merging qualities from both imagination and reality together, rather than sacrificing one for the other. When exploring edges or shapes, your artworks feature thoughtful nuances — as ‘Comprehend’ — as well as bold tones in ‘House’. Moreover, we have particularly appreciated the way they create such enigmatic patterns, communicating tension and such dreamlike ambience. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in an artwork and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such unique results?

Joban Gill: Being able to dive deep within your imagination is a truly beautiful experience, but something that also needs to be regularly practiced. I believe in all of these different alternate settings as we have only formed what we call ‘reality’ as a means to survive and co-exist. I think what Doig is suggesting is that we all associate certain shapes with certain objects, as we can see through primitive painting.

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Joban Gill

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Although marked out with abstract style, your artworks, as the interesting Perceiving People, are pervaded with effective narrative drive, and we really appreciate the way your figures work as bridge that shows the connection between reality and the subconscious. To quote Max Ernst's word, human beings have an inexhaustible store of buried images in their subconscious and into their inner world: how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?

Joban Gill: When creating these paintings, the setting I am in contributes to the nature of my psychological make up which can be seen contrasted in, ‘Comprehend’ and ‘House’. ‘Comprehend’ was painted in a quiet and relaxed space in which I had more control over, whereas, ‘House’ was produced as part of a live art performance at a house and techno music event which aimed to juxtapose art and music. The chaotic atmosphere at this event with many attendees watching me allowed for this piece to become a social experiment. Each mark and line carried a different vibration and I had to refer back to technique in order to develop these particular textures, as in a timed environment, using different mediums and layering meant I was considerate of the way these mediums behaved in relation to each other and at their initial state.

Joban Gill: The human form has always carried a great deal of importance in my work. I find the production process is more fulfilling as I will learn so much from it. Using images from my actual surroundings translates much better as I have a better understanding and feeling to go on alongside it. Everyday life experience heavily fuels my artwork consistently. Moving to London and experiencing a type of culture shock was invaluable. I take so much inspiration from my environment, it is parallel to my appreciation for normalities such as shadows, constant changes of colour and light and objects that are placed with thought all around us. Experiencing life leads to movement in one direction or another. This furthers my learning, and that is what motivates me as an artist.

I have a deep appreciation for mixedmedia work as they align with the metaphorical melting together of different dimensions. I am always brought back to the phrase ‘Culture Clash’ which makes more sense to me under the wording ‘Embracing Culture’. I often experiment with different textures but I never remember all of them – I trust my subconscious that recalls these reactions. Making all of my artworks an educated guess.

As you remarked once, your intentions are to create a scene in such a way that

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Joban Gill

the viewer is in some way shaping their own perspective and adding to the life of the work. With their unique multilayered visual quality, your artworks seem to have several different strands but they are all connected to a core vision, and draw the viewers to an emptier place which we are all able to fill up using the contents of our minds: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to discover the unity of your artistic production? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

positive bonus. As I stated earlier, my work is a product of my environment and the society surrounding me. So, without them, the artwork would simply not exist. I believe people should credit themselves more and value their places in society as insightful influences. Your artworks have often short still explanatory titles, as , that allow you to clarify the message while maintaining the element of ambiguity, as in Fun On Monday and in Free For All: how do you go about naming your work ? In particular, is important for you to tell something that might walk the viewers through their visual experience?

Joban Gill: When I first came across Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades, I was fascinated by how much food for thought it provided. Being exposed to this really propelled my mind in enhancing its more inquisitive nature, and it excited me very much. The works of collaborative art duo Gilbert Prousch and George Passmore also created an atmosphere that encouraged the viewers curiosity. This type of art that may not be classically understood or considered beautiful, certainly captured a more sublime concept. I believe my artwork is only worth viewing if it provides something more than just a ‘Retinal Painting’. It is very important to trigger this in my own mind. Pushing others to understand it is not something I desire.

Joban Gill: Naming pieces of Artwork can be very strange. I avoid restricting anyone’s interpretations as much as possible, I would rather they come up with their own title for my works by captioning it with the feeling it gives them or any word they associate with a particular piece. I try to keep the titles as simple and obvious as possible, and don’t give them too much thought, so that most of the time is focused on the painting instead of the title. It's no doubt that collaborations as the one that you have established with photographers are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds meet and collaborate on a project: could you tell us something

Although if they choose to view it and are obtaining something deeper from it as I do, then that would be a very

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about the collaborative aspect of your artistic practice?

ART Habens

photographers who are experiencing the same/similar settings to myself. They provide another perspective for the same space that we are experiencing.

Joban Gill: I like to incorporate different elements that have been captured by

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create installations in spaces that create an electric atmosphere, over-flowing with creativity. I am looking forward to collaborating with photographers who

Welcoming other interpretations into my paintings provide a lot of depth and introduce more layers. It is very exciting to bring different art forms together to

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Joban Gill

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collections of artwork on my website; https://jobangill.com , and post research, sketches and creative imagery onto social platforms such as instagram; @jobangillart

are experiencing settings from different parts of the world in the future. How do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definitely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram — increases: how would in your opinion it change the relationship with a globalised audience?

We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Joban. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

Joban Gill: It is hard to compare viewing art in real life to it being viewing on a digital platform.

Joban Gill: Thank you very much for your kind words and your interest in my artwork, I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing it with you. Currently I am studying materials in their liquid states, trying to comprehend their different weights and natural movement, but am also exploring the world of digital art and illustration. In terms of my personal project, I am researching and observing the global movements such as Black Lives Matter and also the Coronavirus pandemic, particularly in densely populated areas.

However, in this day and age it is wonderful how much content we can view from around the world and it would be a shame to not embrace this. I do feel, it depends on how you want to share your work, for example, using Instagram to give people more insight into the artistic process rather than it in its final completion is very valuable. Being able to share research and also view others, allows for a deeper relationship and investment towards artists. It also helps give those unable to travel the world and view art in person the opportunity to share in it. The media is very powerful in further educating artists and also for creating meaningful movements across the world. Personally, I share my completed

I am paying close attention to the effects this is having on people and their reactions at this particular time. I hope to further explore these ideas, work with photographers and gage my own perspective, to then create a new series of paintings.

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Lives and works in Chihuahua, México

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Yesenia HolguĂ­n

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Yesenia Holguín

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Yesenia HolguĂ­n

An interview by and

Yesenia HolguĂ­n working in her studio

, curator curator

Photo by Xavier Brenes

Hello Yesenia and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we invite our readers to visit https://www.instagram.com/portafolio_yessi _holguin and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your back-

ground. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your Bachelor of Plastic Arts with a focus on Painting, you nurtured your education with a Master's studies in Arts, that you received from the Institute of Fine Arts of the Autonomous

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Yesenia Holguín

University of Chihuahua: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum direct the direction of your current artistic research?

Yesenia Holguín: Thank you very much. Well, academic training definitely strengthened my self-taught knowledge, since I have dedicated 7 years to my formal education in the field of Plastic Arts, Art Theory and Philosophy. However, study and learning never stops. Research in Art is also of utmost importance, since, the more we know History of Art as a human expression, the better we understand this phenomenon, and our imaginary is expanded, our consciousness as creatives reach a greater dimension, and, therefore, a better plastic expression. It is of utmost importance to record the cultural and artistic movement in our environment. Marked out with such unique visual identity, the body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens — and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way you use your visual language in a strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity, offering an array of meanings. When walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your portraits? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you

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Yesenia HolguĂ­n

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methodically schemes?

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transpose

geometric

Yesenia Holguín : In my plastic creations, I recurrently photograph my models, make a composition close to my idea, put on a lighting and take several photographs. This is the only certainty that I have, the human figure, I always try to generate high contrasts, and that they are dynamic positions. I istinctively create both the background and the contexts: I cannot establish at the beginning how the result will be, therefore, I go forward according to my own imagination and creativity dictates, of course, always applying my knowledge of composition, color theory and techniques and materials. At this point, it is when the dialogue with the painting itself enters. Your artworks are marked out with bold nuances and strong tonal contrasts, and we like the way in CAÑÓN DEL PEGUIS they create tension and sense of dynamism: how did you come about settling on your color palette? And how does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your textures?

Yesenia Holguín: The pictorial style that characterizes my artistic works was born from my notion about what art should be. I think that art must have an expression of reality different from how we perceive it in a photograph or with our own eyes.

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ART Habens

Yesenia HolguĂ­n

EntropĂ­a

For this reason, I seek to capture with free brushstrokes, fillings and strong colors: painting must be seen as painting. Painting must transmit to us through its

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lines, shapes and textures a different version of reality. Featuring such powerful narrative drive,

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Yesenia Holguín

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the human figure plays a crucial role in

is a separate world, a separate reality, that

your artistic production — as the interest-

you discover and explore: how does every-

ing EGRÉGORA and MOVIMIENTO VISUAL —

day life's experience inspires your artistic

and we dare say that each of your painting

research?

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Yesenia Holguín

Distopía 2

Yesenia Holguín Saucedo: Every time I start a pictorial composition that includes human figure, I look for symbolism. In

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other words, I create scenes that mean something as a whole. For example, EGRÉGORA is pervaded by Celtic symbol-

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Oda a la fertilidad de la tierra


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Yesenia HolguĂ­n

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DistopĂ­a

each traditional organization in particular." In VISUAL MOVEMENT, force is in the movement, despite being a static image, you can feel that dynamic atmosphere achieved by the curved lines found throughout the composition. In this painting we again have high chiaroscuro contrasts, in addition the red ribbon dissonant with the cyan palette of the rest of the work, managing to highlight and direct the movement.

Autorretrato

ism, each piece has a meaning and a great story behind it. This painting represents power, magic and also "the energetic concentration that protects, unifies and animates each group of people in general and

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Transmutaciรณn


ART Habens

Yesenia Holguín

We have appreciated the way ENTROPÍA unveils the relationship between figurative composition and the realm of imagination. Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us, : how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production?

Yesenia Holguín: I will tell you about the ENTROPY process, this is a painting full of freedom and experimentation, what we sometimes call “lucky accidents”, its first stage was like this, a war with the canvas, the textures lashed against it, to generate these forms that can be visualized are naturally directed to create focus. After texturing the support I played with a diluted layer of oil, darkening in the cracks in the textures. At this point the irrationality of the work is already ending, to start the reasoned painting. I began to accentuate some forms, to find and create within that chaotic composition, to discover! And this is how this work was built. Certainly, as they comment, in this piece I captured a lot of my imagination. With their unique multilayered visual quality, ONORÚAME highlights contours of known reality in an unknown world and seem to invite the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with free-

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dom to realize their own perception: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

Yesenia Holguín: What you mention is extremely important for me, to activate the imagination of the viewers. That is the key to capture their attention, you do not have to give them all the complete information, they must enter into dialogue, which may even be very different from the dialogue that I had when creating this work. I think that in art, we can enjoy freedom and we must take advantage of both the creative and the spectators. ONORÚAME is again a painting full of symbols. A raramuri from my land is represented, with its characteristic outfit for the celebration of Easter, in the background you can see a temple, it is in fact the oldest temple in the city of Chihuahua. What they see hanging is what they call tenébare and it is a dance accessory. Altogether it speaks of a cultural syncretism, where its beliefs were influenced by the evangelizers. However, they do not completely abandon their older beliefs. You often work with large canvas, that provide the viewers with such immersive visual

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Yesenia HolguĂ­n

Iguana

Yesenia HolguĂ­n: Well, it is always how to work in the medium formats. However,

experience: how do the dimensions of your canvass affect your workflow?

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Yesenia Holguín

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working with large canvases, as I have done in measurements of 10 ft by 7 ft, is quite an adventure. Force and expressive freedom take control and I always really enjoy doing such aspects of my work, in these cases having a much looser brush stroke and I also use stain a lot.

affects me. It would give me great pleasure to know that they appreciate my painting on the other side of the world, despite not having a direct relationship with the viewer, I think that work will have to be done by the work itself, without my help.

You are an established artist and over the years your artworks have been internationally exhibited: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definetely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Yesenia. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

Yesenia Holguín: Thank you very much for sharing this conversation with your readers, it is a pleasure for me. Well, I am always working on several projects at the same time, I have some exhibitions on the doorstep inside and outside of Mexico, I would like to start a sculpture and ceramics project, since I have the basic knowledge that I obtained during my studies, but no one of such project has been ever completed, it seems to me that it is time to carry it out.

Yesenia Holguín: I imagine that for the spectators who come to an exhibition, and meet and dialogue with the artist, tell them some anecdote about a painting, or simply talk about his work in general, it is very gratifying, charming. And it is also for the artist, being able to share and receive all those comments they have about you and your artistic work, at least in my experience, has always been very pleasant.

However, I could never abandon painting, painting will be always present in my creative work.

Globalizing my art, I do not know what it would make me feel, in fact I have not time to respond on my social networks to the people who write to me, even that

An interview by and

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, curator curator

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Set One Up Beat, 18x24, Acrylic, 2020

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Kyla Yager

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video, 2013

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Trippy Drippy, 9x12, Acrylic, 2020 Special Issue

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Kyla Yager An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Kyla and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://kylayagerartwork.myportfolio.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training, and you hold a BFA in Visual Art, that you received from York University, in Toronto: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum direct your current artistic research and your attitude to experiment?

Kyla Yager: I developed an interest in art at a very young age. There was something about putting pen to paper that always gave me a sense of ease and comfort. While my current work consists of abstract with a hint of realism, the work from my formative years consisted of mostly portraits, still-lifes, and pencil sketches of my surroundings. Throughout my childhood I had difficulties in the classroom, lacking focus and time management…but not when it came to art class. By the time I got to high school, painting was brought into my artistic practice, and so were the margins of my notes at school. There was not a single page in any binder that wasn’t covered in doodles.

Kyla Yager

and even interactive. I learned how to use my disabilities as an advantage towards my artistic practice. My formal training at York University helped me dive deeper and experiment with my style. Nowadays, the experimentation continues, as I am always working on something new and exploring my chaotic mind.

It wasn’t until my Junior year of high school that I found my style and purpose. At 17, I was diagnosed with ADHD and discovered from an Optometrist that I had an eye convergence deficiency, meaning simple tasks such as reading and comprehension were very difficult. Later on, I went to an art college fair, and after sifting through my sketchbook, a representative from a school suggested that I “make my doodles big”. So I did. I took my distractions and frustration from the classroom, and made them large scale,

Marked out with such unique visual identity, the body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens —and that our

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Kyla Yager

readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way you use your visual language in a strategic way to counterbalance subjectivity, offering an array of meanings: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your artworks? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your work as an artist?

Kyla Yager: I like to go with the flow, quite literally. I tend to start all of my pieces with either a line, shape, scribble, or blob of paint. In all honestly, I won’t know what a painting, or drawing, will look like until I proclaim it “done”. But I like surprises, even if I’m doing it to myself. My realism on the other hand, that is where my formal training comes in. Using a photo reference, I start with gridding, then an underpainting, and followed by hours upon hours of detail work. This is why the majority of my representational art is either commissioned work or graded (when in school). Although, with my combination abstracted-realism pieces, I tend to use my imagination for figures and other imagery, letting the piece flow and grow over time, only adding to it when truly feeling inspired. This way, I can more accurately capture a state of mind in the artwork. When exploring edges or shapes, your artworks feature thoughtful nuances — as The Blues — as well as bold tones in Warp. Moreover, we have particularly appreciated the rigorous sense of geometry that marks out Electric. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in an artwork and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such unique results?

Kyla Yager: So, each if my pieces have their own mind-state, and these states determine my use of

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Kyla Yager

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Warp, 8x10, paintpens, 2020 21 4 06

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Kyla Yager

Subtle Headache, 11x14, Acrylic, 2020 Special Issue

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Kyla Yager

ART Habens

repetition, pattern and shape. When looking back at The Blues and Warp, I think of where I was, what I was doing, and what shapes fit the mood. This past year I was working as a substitute teacher; while subtly making small paintings at the teacher’s desk. The Blues was made during 8th grade math. The kids were well behaved, doing their work, so I delved deep into the detail on this one. I tried to challenge myself by limiting my color scheme and branching from my go-to shapes. Warp was made while I was proctoring a test on an early Saturday morning. It was a small test group of 4 kids, so automatically my mind resorted to 4 sections of geometric shapes and lines. The bold tones speak to my mood and surroundings, it was a colorful classroom and I was happy to be making a few extra bucks on a Saturday. This is why I LOVE paint pens, zero set up and I can paint at a moment’s notice. On the other hand, “Electric” was a very different experience. I used a photo reference of ceiling tiles as a base for this painting and used tape to create each line and shape. Nothing was fluid, everything was an attempt to be exact and approximate, therefore the process of creating was not so fun. This “not so fun” experience was actually very important in my artmaking process today. I painted this in 2015, around the time where I was truly finding my style. I learned that I was making too many rules for myself, and I needed to find a different approach. From that point forward, I didn’t let artmaking stress me out, as it is supposed to be what makes me feel sane. Your artistic production feature such stimulating combination between realism and abstraction, that creates unique dreamlike and psychedelic ambience, that provides its figures — as the interesting Whimsicle — with ambivalent and a bit enigmatic visual identity: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production?

Kyla Yager: The relationship between the two is

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Kyla Yager

The Blues, paintpens, 2019 almost out of my control; I leave that to the subconscious. If I find a certain pattern or shape soothing, I will repeat it over and over again. Whimsicle is one of those drawings where my

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mind stuck to a pattern it enjoyed, and repetition was the outcome. Images from nature and science involve so many repeated patterns, that my work can often

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Kyla Yager

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Electric, 36x36, Acrylic, 2015 As you have remarked once, art has always been a

resemble microscopic organisms or branches/roots. When I don’t resort to repetition and spontaneity, experimentation plays a huge role as well.

therapeutic getaway for you and your style has shifted over the years and changes by your mood or feeling: how does your everyday life's

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Whimsicle, 9x12, MicronPen, 2019


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Kyla Yager

Scatter Brain, 36x36, 2019, Acrylic experience fuel your artistic research?

5 pieces at the same time. When I am doing something unrelated to my art practice, such as teaching or learning in a classroom setting, I am always doodling. That doodle could stem from boredom,

Kyla Yager: I am always creating art as a means of distraction. I cannot focus on one thing at a time, hence why I am always working on at least

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Dotty Doo, paintpens, 2019 frustration, or anxiety. My passion for social justice also fuels my artistic practice, whether it be making protest signs or sneaking in abstracted versions of everyday injustices into paintings. On the other hand, I also play around

doodling through happy and energetic emotions. Looking back, towards the end of high school (2012-13), I made large scale abstract pieces with

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The Subconscious, 36x48, Acrylic, 2015


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Kyla Yager

Bird With Baggage, MicronPen, 2019 the same repeated pattern. That was around the time when I became medicated for my ADHD, and I was all of the sudden hyper focused. As my body became adjusted and I started

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lowering my dosage, my style shifted into a constant flow of thought rather than strict selfcreated rules I made for myself, as mentioned earlier about Electric.

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Trickle The Shade, 30x30, Acrylic, 2020 In the past year, I have also collaborated with musicians, live painting to their music as a means of portraying sound and feeling through color, shape and pattern.

Set One: Upbeat is an example of this. With their unique multilayered visual quality, your artworks draw the viewers into an artistic trance

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Kyla Yager

Complusion, 36x36, Acrylic, 2016 that challenges the viewers' perception during their experience: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your

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works to be understood?

Kyla Yager: I personally don’t like to give much explanation to my paintings, as I like my work to be interpreted in multiple ways. That’s what I

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Kyla Yager

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Sunride, 30x36, 2018, Acrylic love about abstract art; it just doesn’t have to be so literal. Visually, I like to challenge a viewer’s perception so that each time they look, they will find something new or perceive it in a different way. That is how a conversation begins, and the piece goes beyond visual perception and illusions. Of course, if a viewer asks what a piece is about, I am always happy to share the

backstory, but I will always ask what they see first, because that’s half the fun! In particular, is important for you select titles that — as The Subconscious — could tell something that might walk the viewers through their visual experience?

Kyla Yager: Yes, my titles will usually give you a hint without giving away too much. The Subconscious is my mind going from thought to

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Kyla Yager

thought, in a visual sense. The rainbow color scheme is meant to help move your eyes around the pieces in a way that the mind thinks, subconsciously. The bold black lines were painted very spontaneously through my subconscious mind. Afterwards, I consciously added line weight, color, and detail to enhance the feeling of the mind “out of control”. Although it is pretty ironic that I used a controlled process to highlight a lack of control. Although marked out with abstract style, your artworks are pervaded with subtle narrative drive, that in Complusion and ScatterBrain shows the connection between reality and the subconscious: how do you consider the role of subconscious within your artistic practice?

The subconscious mind is my studio assistant. If I am ever having an art block, I either freewrite or freedraw: drawing or writing without consciously thinking about what hits the paper. Compulsion did not come from my subconscious mind, but I wouldn’t have been able to create this piece without some freedrawing and freewriting. This is a self-portrait made during a time where I felt extremely out of control, but that’s when painting reality with the tedious detail work becomes a part of the therapeutic release, because I am in control. In contrast, Scatterbrain is nothing but subconscious expression. Over the course of a year, I kept going back to this piece, adding a different pattern or section each time. Compulsion was made over the course of a month, which was 2 years prior to starting Scatterbrain, so I would say that their connection is a matter of growth, change, and two different qualities of the mind. Over the years you have exhibited in several occasions, including your recent solo ARTmoor! at Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center, in New Orleans: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context

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is definitely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

The nature of my relationship with my audience is personal, as I open up my subconscious mind to strangers. This personal connection is very important, because not only am I sharing my subconscious thoughts and feelings, I am encouraging others to do the same. I am very passionate about freedom of expression, and I also don’t believe in mistakes. Mistakes are only learning experiences or enhancements. This is also why I am passionate about working with kids and sharing my work with them. If you are taught at a young age to freely express yourself, whether it be through art, writing, dance, or music, you will not only learn from yourself, you will grow and develop to be more self-aware and confident in your craft. Shifting from sharing my Artwork in person to fully online was tough, but over the past few months, I have learned to make it work. Having a virtual artist community is very important to me. Fellow vending artists and I from Palace Market Frenchmen, in New Orleans, have been supporting each other through Instagram. You can follow me on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/artby.kylay and following @Artby.Kylay. I have also gotten involved in the TikTok Artist community, and have been making many time-lapse videos of my artmaking process. You can find me on TikTok by following @kylayagerartwork. Additionally, I am always making commissioned work, so if you want something specific, please contact me through my website or Instagram. We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank

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Kyla Yager

you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Kyla. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

furniture pieces, playing with paint pouring and Drip Prints, and working with textures from dried and peeled paint. I also have about 4 large scale paintings I am continuously going back to, adding more when inspiration strikes! I recently finished a piece I have been working on for the past three months. It’s called “Trickle the Shade” and it’s got

Kyla Yager: Thanks so much for having me! Currently I am working on some hand-painted

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a lot of hidden meaning and imagery. I hope to get some mural painting opportunities in the near future. I plan on moving back to Toronto permanently this October for a fresh start and hopefully more chances to show my artwork. Additionally, once the Pandemic has

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settled down, I would love the opportunity to exhibit my art internationally. Thank you so much for this amazing interview and opportunity to showcase my craft. I hope I have inspired some people to start utilizing their subconscious more often!

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