Art Reveal Magazine no. 51

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Women and Digital Art in Cรณrdoba exhibition

by Houda Bakkali



































C A S T O N G U AY Living in a great city, I was naturally driven to street photography and depicting the quotidian life in its simplest form. When I started in this field of photography, I worked accordingly to the established standards of the style. At a certain point, I got bored of not being able to illustrate the mood of the “moment”. In order to give a more authentic touch to my work, audacious and challenging the rules, I began to process my imagery to make it a little more mysterious. This had the effect of combining simple moments of life with my state of mind, ending up in a unique “creative street photography” style.

- Daniel Castonguay

More at pages: 20-25 On the cover: The pillars, Daniel Castonguay

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Women and Digital Art in Córdoba exhibition

by Houda Bakkali

Houda Bakkali exhibits her series “Women and digital art. Breaking stereotypes” in Córdoba, Spain. Her artworks were hosted at the Parador de la Arruzafa from 30/11 to 15/12. This series that seeks to break down cliches and bring the public a transgressive, breakthrough and modern vision of Arab women achieved through the techniques, tools and supports of digital art. A double claim signed by the international artist Houda Bakkali. This series is inspired by the artist’s mother, an African, Arab and Muslim woman.

The series “Beautiful African Woman” has been awarded the American Illustration 38 (New York, 2019), the New Talent Award of the Artists of the World International Festival of Cannes (2018), the Silver Award of the prestigious publishing house Graphis in New York (2018) or the Circle Foundation for the Arts Award in Lyon (2019), among other distinctions. Córdoba, a World Heritage City, is worldwide knowledge for Its mosque one of the most important Islamic art monument. The Parador de Córdoba is in the legendary city of the caliphs, atop the ruins of the summer palace of Abd-ar-Rahman I. Paradores has one of the most important art collections in Spain. From Gothic carvings from the 14th century to Flemish tapestries made from Rubens illustrations, and much more. Since its founding in 1928, this hotel chain has nourished the walls of its monumental buildings with the best art. There is no other known hotel establishment in the world that has more than 9,000 pieces of art. 4

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Tell us more about concepts in “Women and digital art. Breaking stereotypes”? The essence of this work has basically two aspects: the need to overcome the involutionism, the machista structure, the censorship and the need to continue fighting for freedom and equality between men and women. And also I want to claim digital techniques as an artistic technique like any other. Even today, in the most conservative artistic circles, digital art is considered a minor art. However, in my opinion, the concept

must prevail in an artwork. The message that motivates the work is the essence — the ability of an artwork to reach the receiver and the ability to burst into our life. The series “Beautiful African Woman”, is a tribute to the women. This artwork is inspired in my mother, African, Arab and Muslim. She always fought for women’s rights and conveyed me the importance of fighting for freedom and equality from respect. This series remembers some of her images, habits and moments. For example, when she dressed trikini in the beach of Tangier in the 60s and 70s, a fact that responded to a normal circumstance at that time. What was the main idea of it, which audience did you want to attract? The main idea is to claim freedom, equality and fight against oppression and machismo. It is a work that shows a woman


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in a trikini in the 70s in a Muslim country and that circumstance was a fact seen as normal. Freedom and equality must be an inalienable right. What are the most important aspects for you in your exhibition? The concept of this exhibition is to break down clichés and bring to the public a transgressive, disruptive and modern vision of Arab and Muslim women, and also to do so through the techniques, tools and supports of digital art. And are these aspects significant for other women? I think so. This series is an example of freedom and normalisation of a normal issue: equality. Women cannot live with fear. Women cannot live behind the scene. Women cannot live outside the system. We must be the owners of our life, our destiny, our body. We must fight for equality, and we must denounce the injustice of machismo in our society. We can’t go back. The exhibition is taking place in Parador, in Cordoba (Spain) is this place connected somehow to the subject of the exhibition? Of course. Córdoba is one of the cradles of art in the world. It is a city with an important Arab and Muslim legacy and is a city where Jews, Christians and Muslims have lived together for a long time. Being able to present my work at the Parador de Córdoba has been a privilege. You meant about Cordoba special tradition and culture, can you bring it closer to our readers? Córdoba, a World Heritage City, is worldwide knowledge for Its Mosque one of the most important Islamic art monument. Near the river Guadalquivir, this beautiful city holds four inscriptions in the World Heritage List by the UNESCO: the Mosque-Cathedral, the historical quarter surrounding it, the Festival of the Patios and Medina Azahara. Likewise, Córdoba is a vibrant city, full of joy, colour and magic. A perfect place for art and culture. What is next? Next will be the ArtShopping Exhibition, at Carrousel du Louvre. This is an amazing art show in Paris. Maybe one of the most prestigious International Contemporary Art Fairs worldwide that brings together more than 800 artists and galleries at the Carrousel du Louvre inside of Louvre Museum. It will be 3, 4 and 5 April 2020. 6

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Biljana Jurukovski Sydney, Australia

Biljana Jurukovski (43) is a Macedonian Australian Award-Winning Photographer who has always been inspired and amazed by the diverse and beautiful expressions of different cultures. Biljana’s portraits are a culmination of her passion, love and respect for other cultures and traditions; they depict a graceful world where strength and pride are engraved on the faces of the people photographed. Biljana consider herself as explorer and adventurer with a great passion for photography. Her aim is through photography to create discussions about different cultures, their way of living and accepting life challenges. Biljana sees photography as a medium for communication between people. She has travelled in many countries on five continents through some of the most remote areas and has faced very challenging situations in the quest to photograph lives of tribal people.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? The biggest and lasting influence on my art practice as a photographer has the photographer Jimmy Nelson. I remember 2014 was the crucial year when I decided to step towards the complete unknown world. I remember I came across this amazing book Before They Pass Away by photographer Jimmy Nelson and I was completely blown away and mesmerized by his photographs of tribal people. I fell in love with his work and I was amazed by the diversity of different cultures presented who were trying to keep their culture. I remember looking at his photographs and I kept asking myself so many question—who are these people, do they still exist, how I can get there? There were thousands of questions going through my head up until today as I keep finding the answers by visiting some of those tribes, spending time with them, and photographing them. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? The biggest challenge to be photographer of this type are the destinations that I’m travelling as most of them are very remote and there are tribal conflicts that are ongoing. Further finding balance between my professional job as executive manager, being a mother and wife and doing this type of photography is also very challenging. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Meaning of art in contemporary culture is multi- faceted and for me is inclusion of variety ununiformed styles and ability of the artist to express in its own way. Art within contemporary culture gives artist the opportunity to be inspired by their own interest or expressions and the work can reflect artist own culture, popular trends, political situations, climate changes. Ability to travels and to connect through social media has given the chance for art to be increasingly global, diverse and unique. Art is vehicle for expressing emotions, individual experiences and beliefs. Through the work of artists, I believe we see emotions that are for the most part hidden, perhaps even inexplicable. artists of the past were often influenced by religion, mythology, and the demands of their paying patrons; today’s artists can be inspired by much more and the work often grows out of their own interests or expressions of self. Often the work may reflect their own culture, including current political climates and popular trends. However, with the ability to travel broadly and integrate much more than what is seen in their immediate world, art is increasingly global and divers. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I believe that the market is oversaturated with photographs. Ability of people to travel, to share with social media, having ability for most people to have good digital camera has made everyone a photographer. Photography has become so easy so the value

of photography amongst people I believe has changed. On the other side photography has impacted society by allowing people to see others whom they would never have an opportunity to see otherwise. Example my type of photography is exclusively oriented on photographing tribal people, people that are mostly isolated of the modern world and very little was know previously about them. That has given me the chance to share the photos with the rest of the people and to make them aware of the diversity of this beautiful world. Name three artists you admire. Frida Kahlo Jimmy Nelson Sebastiao Salgado What are your future plans? Future plans are to continue with my style of photography, documenting some of the last tribal people, their cultures and traditions. Planning for upcoming exhibition and I’m working on the photography book that will be dedicated on the portraits of the Surma tribe. 11

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Patricia Borges Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

Brazilian photographer and multimedia artist, graduated in architecture, photography, cinematography and screenplay. Awarded at Florence and Rome biennials. Her work has been featured in numerous publications and exhibitions around the world and it is part of major private collections. From 2018, she began using photographs as a material for composing installations and three-dimensional art objects.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice?

the myth that art is useless comes from a semantic fault that needs to be rethought. True art saves us from stupidity when it creates the shock of a question we normally don’t dare to ask. It opens our imagination and encourages tolerance - much in need nowadays. Artists are very brave. They offer their sensibility to the world, teach and learn new ways of seeing life, of dealing with “reality”. Artists create new worlds that would not otherwise exist. And most of all, we ask questions. New questions for old problems. This is huge, and should not be diminished.

My first degree was in Architecture and Urbanism, and now I realise how my artistic practice is imbued with architectural building processes. The city I live in today will always influence the creative process; it’s my source of light as a photographer. Being a woman, a surfer, a political being, a citizen, everything will be there in my work. Directly or indirectly, the sea plays a significant role in my practice: liquid matter, colours, movement, rhythm. As much as the books I read, the movies I watch, the people I know - fiction and reality merge in my practice. It is difficult to separate art and life.

How would you describe the art scene in your area?

What is the most challenging part of being an artist?

We are at the beginning of a long journey I would say. There are so many fantastic artists, critics, intellectuals on the fringes of the cultural industry, who are on the verge to create new ways of making art, thinking about art, disseminating art. Like everywhere else, I think we tend to work among our peers and share our art within a small circle of artists friends inside a specialised art community. But slowly, art becomes more accessible to a broader audience. I remember when I was a kid, we used to walk into a museum as if we were walking into a church. There were so much respect and reverence to the ambience and to the objects displayed there as if they were beyond comprehension, made by gifted and untouchable individuals. That used to happen because it was a sporadic event; there were fewer art exhibitions and fewer opportunities to get in contact with art. The art scene flourishes on bigger cities as more individuals get together with the same interests, in search of new ideas. Brazilian art, in general, is vigorous, investigative, not afraid, not silent. But we are living through complicated times. Which can be very productive to the good art.

I think the most challenging part of being an artist is the investigative process itself. To know yourself, identify yourself, place the work in relation to reality. All the doubts that arise throughout the daily artistic practice. If what I am thinking matters to anyone but me, whether the work needs to exist physically if it is relevant. I often question myself if my art responds to the things I see in the world. And at the same time, there is this artist’s struggle not to be isolated in ourselves, in our own universe. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? I guess we can employ the words art and culture to describe decorative objects, entertainment and craft techniques. But also to describe poetry, thinking and philosophy. Everything that generates more questions than answers. On contemporary times, the artist seems more necessary than ever. In my opinion


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Name three artists you admire.

I feel I move from a reproduction of reality techniques to reality production techniques in a post-photographic era. I intend to continue my research on image and matter, produce artworks that explore broader forms of photography, beyond depicted subjects. Also, works that can explore the ephemerality of art history, art, its reception and circulation.

This is a bit unfair to the other three hundred artists I admire, and those I don’t know yet. But here we go, I would like to mention Iole de Freitas, Maria Martins and Lina Bo Bardi. All of them were ahead of their time and deserve the utmost admiration. What are your future plans?

My goal now is to be able to exchange our impressions of contemporary art production on a larger scale. Show my work to the widest possible audience and talk to others about what I am thinking and doing. What they are thinking and doing. To bring my artwork to increasingly diverse and distant audiences. To broaden the so-called art market, broaden my vocabulary.

I believe we photograph in an attempt to understand the impermanence of life, the transience of all things that cease to exist despite our desire to retain them, to maintain them. But not even the photographic image is permanent or eternal. Something new is physically created at the moment I photograph. 17

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Daniel Castonguay Montreal, Canada The quotidian life is more or less the same for all with a few variations. A part of my work as a “creative street photographer” is to bring this daily life into a world of fantasy, something related to abstraction. This creates a duality, a paradox. The paradox of the ordinary life in a universe that exists only in one’s own imagination that can literally be anything but still being able to relate to. For me, photography is a mode of expression in the same way as writing or playing music. Transmitting an emotion is the essence of my photographic work, bringing the viewer into a story. More specifically, to make the viewer travel in a world of reverie, leaving all the space to imagination.Being a street photographer is above all playing a role in the urban life framework, contribute to its vivacity, its pace and almost belonging to a chaotic scenario. To me, street photography is more than a “picture making business“, it’s being part of a continuous theatrical sketch where I play the role of a silenced character.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? In photography and especially when working on a series that stretches over several years, everything depends on the intention and the direction one wants to give to it. The intention, when I started the series “Quotidian life” was to depict the small slices of life that we all live on a daily basis always keeping poetry as a tangent. I like the fact that we are all different and react in many individual ways to events taking place in the city since in my street photography discipline it is rather beneficial. However, with practice over the years, I have noticed that even though our reactions to things in life are different, our behaviors are alike, paradoxically making us similar in all our differences.

What motivates and fascinates me in making the “Quotidian life” series, without wanting to be intrusive, is trying to understand what people live in “the moment”, probably that I am often on bad tracks but it remains that if I question myself, the art lover who will see my work will also be questioned and to me, this is the purpose of art. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? I would not want to include all artists but for my part, one of the most difficult aspects was surely to find a suitable style. I practice photography since 1979 and I must admit that that I have tried almost everything. Often in the exercise of a style there are things that we dislike and unfortunately, it becomes very demotivating. Now that I’ve found a niche and given it a creative touch, it’s about making this work “alive” by producing consistent series, giving it an intention and keeping a direction in the sense that everyone should have an idea where I’m going as an artist, and that’s what will spark the interest of art lovers. All this is easily understandable, except that implementing it involves organization and methodology. First, I am an artist photographer. However related activities are grafted sooner or later to this trade and I speak here of my example of wearing different “hats”. The businessman hat for negotiations with galleries, collection management and sales. The teaching/ writer hat to talk about passion and work and for me it is impossible to wear all these hats at the same time, then requiring more schedule management. Apart from the production work, all other tasks require me a little more as there is always to learn and rather unpredictable but with discipline in learning, I get there. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? In the “organized” world in which we live, many things are imposed on us and dictated to us. We have the choice accept it or not and not


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such a perspective of what photography should be, it becomes very difficult to stand out in producing a free and unique creative substance. For this reason, I abandoned the idea of standing out at home and rather capitalized on USA, European countries and Asia where my work is more valued. Name three artists you admire. Without a doubt, Henri Cartier-Bresson is the most prominent figure in the history of street photography. His subtle and brilliant use of compositional geometry has made his work an inspiration for many. Several studies of his works are a priceless source of inspiration. The photographic style and personality of Saul Leiter is, in my opinion, the pure definition of audacity. In his remarkable period of color, Leiter made us discover his way of seeing his neighborhood in a unique vision. The simplicity, emotion, and audaciousness in his works, as well as the modesty of the character himself, made Saul Leiter a reference and a great source of inspiration in photography as well as in life in general. Joel Meyerowitz’s view of his urban environment and his fascination towards the actors of the quotidian life is an inspiration in itself. The exceptional quality of his photographic work is due, certainly to his immense talent in addition to his understanding of the people. His intuition is an asset that enhances the whole of his work. To me, Joel Meyerowitz combines emotion, intuition and daily life scheme consideration, essential qualities of a street photographer. By bringing together the main qualities of these three masters of photography, namely geometry, audacity and fascination, we can manage to transcend the photographic medium to reach a whole philosophy of work. without consequences. From the point of view of the artist, his work allows him to express an idea. The intention and direction the artist gives to his work will join an audience that adheres to it and the beauty of the thing is that the interpretation of each one, in relation to the work of the artist is free and to the limit it has as many interpretations as of individuals and the idea behind the artistic work is not imposed but rather the end result of preferences and experiences of each. It is often said that art is there to disturb, but in my view, art is rather a matter for thought. Art remains a food for the mind and imagination and a escape of a world perhaps too organized How would you describe the art scene in your area? Unfortunately and without wanting to displease anyone, in regards with photography in my area, there seems to be an artistic rectitude that indicates what photography should be and I am far from adhering to this idea. From that, this leads me to understand that it is not acceptable to take a photographic style and make it follow new directions, which seems inconceivable to me. The negative effect is that creativity is too restrained, not in creating bad work except that inspiration is limited by overly strict rules and with 23

What are your future plans? In regards with the artistic production, I will definitely continue to grow my series “Quotidian life” as I still have a lot to learn about the human aspect that emerges from this series and it fascinates me. I must also work on the organization of the distribution of my work and the management of my collection to have a better reach and make more accessible the acquisition of my images, for all. I would also want to start a new series but I still can’t connect to a subject, that I would like it to be as nourishing as that of my current series “Quotidian life”. I would like to thank you very much, Art Reveal Magazine, for giving me the opportunity to write these few lines on such a prestigious tribune.

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Anna Drewnowska Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, UK My work relates to Neo-Expressionism. I deliberately produce ambiguous paintings based on close-up sections of the body. I believe that it is impossible to recognise the person by looking only at these individual parts of the body protecting my model’s identity, enabling the viewer to project themselves into the image. As each image evolves, I attempt to enter into the unique language of painting through the gestural application of paint and texture to find new ways of expressing my inner emotions.

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The impressions we receive, which often appear merely chaotic, consists of three elements: the impression of the colour of the object, of its form, and of its combined colour and form, i.e. of the object itself. - Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, 1911 Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? When I moved to South Wales from Poland, I noticed that my attention was drawn towards oil paintings that were demonstrating the intense emotions of the artist through the use of bold texture and colours. On my Foundation and BA art course I was introduced to painting. I started to develop my language in art and produce work associated with the Neo-Expressionism movement in art. The process of painting is for me an exploration into the aesthetic experience and the communicative qualities of painting, that language that exists beyond the illustrative and representative. I treat my art as my personal diary that enables me to express my journey through my mental illness and an awareness of the beauty of the everyday living in a new culture that I find inspiring. As each image evolves I attempt to enter into the unique language of painting through abstract application of paint and texture to find new ways of expressing my inner emotions.

Name three artists you admire. I am an admirer of the work of Georg Baselitz, which is characterised by bold colours, forceful brushstrokes, and the incorporation of folklore or archetypal subject matter. During a trip to London, I was able to see an exhibition of Anselm Kiefer, who’s work expresses his confrontation with his culture past and addresses taboo and controversial issues from recent history. His work captures the human experience and draws the viewer into the history, mythology, philosophy, literature and science. I was amazed by the amount of mixed media that Kiefer uses in his work and it has influenced my work to use different, sometimes unusual like salt/sugar, materials in my own art practice. Another thing that shocked me was the scale of Kiefer’s paintings. During this period of time, I started to create my large-scaled work. Also Jean-Michel Basquiat who in his work heavily applies paint and expressive marks to express taboo and experience of being black/Afro-American in North American culture. His work has a huge impact on my work because I am amazed by the way Basquiat uses abstract lines to describe his figures. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? For me as a young artist, who only started to enter the art world, is knowing how to push myself forward and believing in my skills. I always compared my work to other artists and it always put me down as they were better, more skilled than me. I did not realise that I am ‘as good as they are’ and I found it difficult to think in a different, more positive way. After graduating BA’s and not being able to continue my studies, I found it hard to produce any art work. During the first months I focused more on my personal life than pushing my paintings forward. Although finding it hard to come back again to painting and changing my art from traditional oil painting to digital painting due to the lack of personal art studio. I noticed that I am glad for the break from my creativity because once again, I started to enjoy producing new work.


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In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?

How would you describe the art scene in your area? Living in a small town I noticed that most of the recognisable art is about the past of Merthyr Tydfil and Wales. However, since the open letter that has been released by small artist community and local residents regarding the future of our only dedicated arts centre, Redhouse Cymru, more of contemporary artists have been given a chance to show their work around. I can proudly admit that I was one of these many contemporary artists, who were able to exhibit their work in the Redhouse in 2018 and it was one of the amazing experiences I achieved.

For centuries artists used their art to express their emotions, political views, dreams and countrysides. I believe that this medium will always be treated in the same way by contemporary artists. However, I can spot a few differences today. In my opinion there is a wider audience for artists. Everything that gets made by more or less popular artists, can be seen by masses all around the globe due to the high use of social media, such as Instagram, or Facebook. We, artists, can promote ourselves and be seen by audience in different age groups, as well as galleries and magazines. Another difference that I can see is the use of medium. Traditional art is not as popular as before because we live in a digital era. When I walk into an art gallery, I can see more of art videos than contemporary drawings and paintings. However, I think that this way of expressing artistic thoughts can open our eyes to see what is going on around us as humans.

What are your future plans? This is one of the most difficult questions I have been asked. My main plan is to come back to university and finish Master’s in Art. At the same time, I will apply to open art calls, art competitions and I will develop my skills even further. I will come back to oil painting, but this time I will work on larger pieces. After my studies, I would like to work in an art gallery. The aim is to share my art knowledge to visitors/clients and learn new skills, so in the future I can open my own gallery. This is a few years off plan, but I am planning to make my dreams come true.

The last of all, I have noticed a surge of LGBT art and a new art movement called School Kills Artists that starts to be recognizable in art made by young artists.


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Chia-Horng Lin Taipei City, Taiwan

Jerome Chia-Horng Lin is an artist who uses oil paintings and animation as the primary tool for his art creation. He currently lives in Taipei City, Taiwan. He has a solid formal training in Fine-Arts from National Taiwan Normal University and he further nurtured his education with a MFA of Computer Graphics and Interactive Media, that he received from Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn. He is the lecturer of Dept. of Visual Communication Design, Chaoyang University of Technology. He constantly explores the possibilities of his art. Over the past decade, he continues to create a series of works based on the theme of “Water”. He had many artworks related to this topic. It’s your second time in our magazine, what changes since the 27th issue? That issue was published in March 2017. After that I won 2017 awards winner of video art section from It’s liquid international contest, Venice, Italy. I have gone through two major exhibitions including Artrooms fair 2018 in London and Florence Biennale 2019, as well as several other exhibitions. It’s a blessing that I got selected by Artrooms fair by contest which is the only one art fair offering free exhibition space in the world. It gave me a fantastic opportunity to have a room of myself as my first solo exhibition at London, also my first solo outside Taiwan. It serves as the breaking point to my career, leading me to further chances such as Florence Biennale and other interviews by different media. I have more international exposure during these few years and I am pretty happy about it. What is your creative process like? I have to keep my job like most artists. I consider myself lucky to teach full time in a college, allowing me to have more spare time for art making. It seems that time is always running out for me and I haven’t done as much as I expected. I am capable of dealing with non-creative tasks but I just don’t enjoy doing them. However, those boring stuffs spur and inspire me. I try to use available moments in between classes to grasp some ideas and keep them in my sketch book. This way I can paint them during my creative hours. I think I am efficient in using these fragmented moments, comparing with many artists I know. I guess it’s because I previously worked in various industries for years. Efficiency is constantly in demand among most jobs. I told myself it’s not the best way to create art and I am learning to slow down my pace gradually. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? Many artists enjoy their spiritual journey within their mind. When it comes to the reality, you need to materialized these ideas into tangible objects which generally being called artworks. In the beginning, artists have to spend countless time and effort to learn various skills and techniques to get the ideas across. The next stage is becoming more complicated due

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to the fast pace of revolutionary change of the technology and society. Nowadays artists have more potential roles to play in contemporary society. It’s also a challenging task, too. Unfortunately, you can’t learn from predecessors or history. It’s still happening as of right now. When it comes to the issue of creating art, there are so many aspects to take into consideration. It’s not just the issue of money, it’s about management of resources. In the end of a day, every artist has to decide his choice of their ambition, where to go and what to make with limited time, effort and budget. It’s both exciting and frustrating at the same time for artists, depending on what you want to achieve. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? I change my mind about the meaning of art throughout different phases. Art is so unpredictable nowadays. In early 20th century, Duchamp’s concept of readymade is new to people because art had narrower definition back then. I often contemplate this issue regarding my role as an artist and the atmosphere of that time being. I used to insist that art is about craftsmanship that means artist dedicated their life to polish something to its perfection and to make works lasting forever. I realized I need that when I was learning skills and techniques. Then I thought art is about showmanship which you blow viewers mind off with whatever means. I think public media and money have shaped the art world in a very fundamental way since long time ago, sometimes very unhealthy. The showmanship has way too much power over craftsmanship overall. In contemporary society, art seems to be penetrating every part of world in newer forms. For instance, many people take selfies daily. If you trace back to few hundred years ago when camera was not invented. Only rich people can afford to hire painters to paint their portraits and those were treated as artworks. The snapshot of selfies used to take a painter’s tedious efforts with long year training to accomplish. Can you deny the selfies as artworks? In this case, every one engaged in art creativity without sensing it. New technology and technique constantly changes the role of artists as it always did. If we look back to ancient civilizations, many aboriginal people don’t define art as a particular subject in their life because they see art blending into their life without words. Because of the demand of professional artists, the trained skilled ones started to appear. Whether do we need professional artists or not remains to be a question for me. Art used to be something. Art is everything now and in the meantime, ironically, it’s nothing, too. Tell us more about your recent paintings. I have been working on the “egg series” for two years. It’s considered as the extension of my “water series” with different metaphors and indications. Take the painting “A flying egg on the beach” as an example, the flying egg represents the desire to survive, sustain and prosper in this cruel world. Many predators eagerly want to devour all kind of eggs, or the new born offspring from the eggs. Eggs are vulnerable, nutritious, delicious for those who seek for them. On the other hand, their parents struggle so much 34

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to protect them. They worked very hard to ensure their offspring will embark their adventures in this world. I give them my blessing through this painting, wishing they can eventually soar towards their destination. It soothes me as well while I am think of this beautiful imagery. When we are dealing with this unsettling world that no one can ensure what kind of certainty the future might hold for us. The process of art making consoles me, allowing me to engage a conversation with myself. As to the one painting “The fight between the eagle and the dragon”, the eagle symbolized United States and the dragon represents China. The trade war between two strong economic entities draw so much attention. The fight is not only about economy (yolk), but also about overall ideology and complicated factors from the past. The upper part of the eggshell contains the traditional Greek column shape indicating the West. In China, dragon is used to form the base of columns in temples and official buildings as well. The rest of the world either takes side of US or just watches the war with concern (mountains). No matter how, the water interchanges between them regardless of their intention. Water never interfere with anyone in the world, it just serves all of us selflessly. What are you working on right now? I keep working on this series right now. Currently I am working on a new painting called “ There is no pole dancer in the train.” which depicts an ironic image that you see clearly a pole dancer performing in front of travelers in the train but people preoccupied by their smart phone. It’s like the elephant in the room, everyone knows the problem yet no one wants to admit its existence. This kind of examples are overwhelming daily, for instance the climate change. We know the clock is ticking but we are consumed by other issues, yet we choose to ignore it. I personally think it has something to do with optimism, we intend to look at the bright side and when the situation gets too tough to deal with, evasion seems to be the answer. I will also include the image of egg shells in this one. It’s also part of my “egg series”. I think I will keep on coming up more works related to this topic for a while. Can you tell us about your last exhibition? I just finished the exhibition of Florence Biennale which takes place at Oct 18 to 27 at Fortezza da Basso, Florence, Italy. I was invited because of Artrooms fair. I have been preparing this exhibition for a year. I enjoy the overall experience at the Biennale. I use this opportunity to visit museums and churches in Florence, the core of Renaissance. I finally see many original artworks that I have watched thousand times from books of art history. I also travel to Venice to visit Venice Biennale. It’s more of the voyage of Pilgrimage than the experience of anticipating exhibition. Although I didn’t meet curators, collectors or people on the other side of art business as I expected. I end up getting acquainted with many international artists who dedicated to art activities all over the world. Through the referral of one artist from Mexico, I start to build up a relationship with one gallery which has branches in Mexico and Madrid. I will see how it goes in the future. 35

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Todd Jones Athens, OH, USA

Todd Jones was born in Tallahassee, FL and is currently based in Ohio. As an experimental artist, Todd explores the boundaries between contemporary painting and sculpture. Exploring the serendipitous phenomena from processes of painting, Todd expands them into sculptural skins. These skins, in turn, are superimposed on undulating three-dimensional forms derived from natural elements. Together, they occupy an unstable liminal space between nostalgia and our precarious future. ​ Todd received his Bachelor of Fine Arts with a double major in studio art and psychology from Florida State University. He is currently living and working in Athens, Ohio and is an MFA candidate in Painting + Drawing at Ohio University. He has recently had solo shows at Wild Goose Creative and the City Center Gallery at the Urban Arts Space in Columbus, OH.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? Having an education in psychology has had a lasting influence on my art practice. In psychology, a scientific approach is used to learn about behavior and mental processes. I use the same approach to making art. The artwork takes an investigational approach to new materials, manipulating them to gain a better understanding of their limitations. As a process-driven artist, I view my artistic practice as scientific experimentation. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? The most challenging part of being an artist is maintaining a practice outside an educational setting. When you are in school, you are challenged to make-work and graded on your process of creating. Once out of school, you have to be motivated to advance your practice. Especially when you are out of academia, you no longer have that sense of community, and it is essential to establish a network. Artists need to be around other artists to offer support and insight that can help each other move to the next place in creating. My favorite part of being an artist is developing my own processes for creating work.

When I create something with a technique that no one else has done, I feel a sense of accomplishment. Not all pieces I create are successful, but I view them as a learning experience. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art in contemporary culture is a dynamic blend of materials, methods, concepts, and subjects that challenge the traditional boundaries of art-making. Contemporary art reflects contemporary culture and provides the resources to discuss current ideas and issues. The audience plays a crucial role in the artwork by contributing his or her personal experiences, opinions, and interpretations. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I am currently working on my MFA in Painting + Drawing at Ohio University. Studying in Athens, OH allows me the time and space to focus on my practice, along with being immersed in a diverse artist community. The arts community in Athens offers a range of opportunities for exposing individuals to the arts. The artist community here is small and made up mainly of students. The program at Ohio University challenges its students to develop their practice and to discover their place in contemporary culture. Also, Athens is near Columbus, OH. Columbus is home to venues such as The Wexner Center for the Arts and the Columbus Museum of Art. I believe the best way to study contemporary art is to see it in person. These venues, along with other galleries in the surrounding area, give me additional educational resources and exhibiting opportunities. Since moving to Ohio three years ago, I have been inspired to develop my work and glad to continue my education in this creative state. Name three artists you admire. There are so many artists that I admire and makes limiting the list down to three very difficult. One artist I particularly admire is a Paige Greeley, a fellow MFA candidate in my cohort. Paige is a figurative painter whose work examines the ubiquity of eroticized female victimization and debasement in American media. One theme Greeley explores is Western culture’s abhorrence of extra flesh. In her work, she has painted


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bodies larger-than-life to highlight preconceived notions of what constitutes beauty or, indeed, acceptable human appearance.

in collage. Carrie confronts contemporary issues such as gender equality, sexuality, and the struggle to define oneself.

Another artist is Megumi Naganoma, who dominantly works in fabric, video, and drawing when working with her trauma, as well as others’. Her practice responds to current events, stigmas, and societal norms. Using these methods, she advocates for rape survivors, while keeping various audiences in mind by starting conversations that continue to shed light on something that is often still seen as taboo.Â

I admire all three of these artists for having a strong voice in the contemporary art scene. I am lucky enough to have worked with these artists through my educational career and cant wait to see what the future holds for them. What are your future plans? Â Currently, I am a first-year MFA Candidate in Painting + Drawing at Ohio University. It is a three-year program, and I will be finishing up my degree in the next few years. In the future, I plan to attend more artist residencies to have access to other artistic communities and have the time to focus on new projects outside the educational setting.

Carrie Ann Baade has also been a huge inspiration and mentor through my journey of being an artist. Her work links the power of historical masterworks with her own experience as a contemporary artist. Her art is an attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable, resulting in the exploitation of fragmentation found 41

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Sinead Kerr

Leicester, UK

Sinead Kerr is an Irish Multimedia artist practising in Leicester, England. She is interested in virtual and concrete space which is evident in her abstract sculptures. These are made of metal and acrylic combining with multiple layers to cause a vocal point with the viewer. The artist uses film to help capture the intimate process of an artists’ ideas and methodologies from constructing and deconstructing almost collaging but with different media. Kerr’s work is influenced by her practice in making, constructing and realisation of artwork in a studio or showing space. The artist is interested in how the creative process negotiates space, light, architectural boundaries or obstacles in a space.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? My artwork is informed by artist practice. Specifically, the practices of making, constructing and the realization of artwork in a studio or show space. My main interest is in how I can use the space available when constructing my pieces, while keeping in mind lighting, architectural boundaries and obstacles in the environment. I also tend to focus on how different materials can contrast and evoke different visual outcomes. These principles are the foundation of my practice along with the influences of minimalism, constructivism and kinetic art. I also tend to try and ask questions through my artwork, this can really influence any project I work on and drives the progression to achieve something new, for example one of the questions I ask is how does the virtual image read over an analogue object? The answer to this is that the analogue object acts as a link between the virtual and physical space and the audience gets to see how the artist uses their intuition to change the space available to a desired effect. It can also how the artist

overcame certain obstacles caused by the surrounding space. This influence also allows me to create unusual shapes in the film and allows me to play with colours using lighting. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? Just having finished university, I have found that I was very lucky to have all the facilities available to me whilst I was studying. After leaving I have found it harder to find places that would have the facilities that I would need for big pieces and my resources have become very limited. This would have me think of more creative ways to get the result I have pictured. Such as creating smaller models and experimenting with multiple different media, before I make the real full-sized object. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art in contemporary cultures is about reflection, viewing and explanation: for experimentation, which is essential to the first ideas as a process and to produce 46

original products of aesthetic quality. The materiality of the spaces are partly active and ever-changing evidence, traces and archives that allow insights into creative individuals’ work, creativity and methodologies. “made part by part, by addition, composed” and in which specific elements.... separate from the whole, thus setting up a relationship within the work.” Fried (1967 P.2) this quote is explained in simple terms of objects that come together that are not usually seen in a certain way creating unique relationships. When talking about the viewer in the contemporary cultures whether it be observant or interactive, there are many opinions to learn from the viewer; The viewer’s role is vital and central in the way of interpretation — giving the art a purpose by manipulating certain aspects of said works — opening an alternative concept in notion with the traditional analytical description, which may be different to what was first intended from the artist, bringing different questions and opinions to light showing that there are many views to consider when viewing specific artworks. Especially in the space that the work is situated and how this contributes to the work seen.

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How would you describe the art scene in your area? Being from Northern Ireland I get to indulge in a wide variety of different art scenes. with many contemporary art galleries based in Belfast such as Golden Thread Gallery, Platform Arts and Catalyst Arts Gallery being the main three that I would gravitate towards, with catalyst arts being best known for challenging the formal structures of curatorship by realising projects of an experimental nature which break the mould of the artist-audience relationship and confirming art as something to engage in or react to rather than something to “consume”. It is inspiring to see creative people with different outlooks and opinions and artists pushing the boundaries of making and doing. Since graduating from De Montfort University, Leicester and having lived there during my studies I have been involved in many events that the city has to offer and been apart of amazing opportunities that come along with having a university that is in touch with the community which then leads to being very enriching and diverse. Making both places very vibrant in the arts industry. Name three artists you admire. An artist that I am currently researching is George Rousse for an upcoming project which reveals the challenges I have faced being a recent graduate. inspired by the series of geometric art by Rousse. I have researched Daniel Buren and his use of the ‘virtual’ not seeing the whole picture but an element that is projected onto a physical surface using a representational approach which makes the viewer ask ‘what cant we see’? The 2D and 3D space creates obstacles, some of which relates to the making process which may hinder the creative activity “The experience of a film was once localised in space and time but with time in a film became no longer simply something to be ‘visited’”

(Burgin. V. 2004 P.8) thus, when a viewer is experiencing a work with multiple dimensions, this creates questions and uncertainty about what we are seeing being made or created whether real or virtual. The sense of intimacy in the short films while also being humorous echo through the influences of Duo Paul Wood and John Harrison. Dialogue from this duo I feel his quite humorous tongue and cheek between two fellow artists, a particular video ‘studio shot’ I found to be insightful to the negotiation between the artists and the space that is available, making the most of what can be offered and using the intuition to create something humorous. The simple yet engaging process taken by the duo, they also talk about how everything is not smooth sailing and the process they go through in fine-tuning their films. What are your Future plans? My career plan will start with me, continuing researching and creating art while trying to create a niche for myself. Continuing to develop my style as a multimedia artist while also refining my art and myself as the artist. This will mainly have me building a portfolio while also doing more commissions for commercial projects to fund my art and my expanding ideas and methodologies. In January 2020 I will be completing a 4-week residency in Derbyshire with Artcore and a Graduate exhibition in February 2020 with The Two Queens gallery and studio in Leicester, UK. With plans for a further exhibition in Co. Down, Northern Ireland in April of 2020.I will also try to reach my goal of getting myself into a collective, with other artists of multiple disciplines to inspire new and innovative ideas and to get my work out there. This all helping me to gain more experience and knowledge of the art world to help me get a permanent job in the art industry as an art curator. With the final goal is going back and doing a masters with all my abilities and insight into the industry.


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Francis Malapris Lyon, France

Schizothymic baby-boomer, at the age of 12 Francis takes refuge in computer science and excels in this field despite social and academic failure. In 1996, as he becomes an engineer, he meets the need to preserve memories of the Moment and tries photography. Gradually, this utopia fades to give way to the sensitivity he has so long repressed. Twenty years later, he is an accomplished self-taught artist through the study of technique and the masters who inspire him such as Raymond Depardon, Rafael Minkkinen and Daido Moriyama. Key encounters have formed his photographic approach to bring him to social contact and staging. He then abandons computer sciences to exploit his bubbling creativity, full of sensitivity. The human element is a fantastic material. I like observing bodies, their movements and expressions, sometimes with the idea of appropriating them. The part that fascinates me the most, because almost inaccessible, is the soul, at the head of the personality with its tastes, emotions and especially its history. Then comes the complex relationship to society, which evolves with environment and time. I approach the person naturally with openness and sensitivity, on the lookout for singularities that may resonate in me. From object, “the other� becomes a proper individual, whose distinguishable particles and sub-particles I highlight. The main theme of the work I am presenting is that of the relation to reality: whereas the physical body is submitted to the present, imagination is free to roam without constraint in time and space. The ambiguity of this permanent oscillation between rational and irrational, resignation and escape, motivates me in my research where letting go is the motto. The plurality of my projects illustrates the richness of mental spaces that I have visited. Whether dreamlike or real, I put limits only in the possible interpretation of the codes that I use.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? Without a doubt, it is the introspection that guides me, and by extension, the identity and the “me” (the separation between the physical body and the spirit). To describe myself and to be frank, I am rather timid, and human relations sometimes disturb me, which forces me in forced loneliness. So often, too often, I escape by the spirit, letting my body acts like a robot. It can take hours, even days. I worked on this while building this series: “IN SITU”, which is still running for ten years. The photos are taken live, in the street, with people in daydreaming. The fun fact is that they seem to be posing, but the thing I find the most interesting is that the viewer is trying to imagine what the person in the picture is thinking about, by taking inspiration from the context. And in 50 years, our background has changed a lot, so much so that I am convinced that many tensions are related to identity issues. Our references changed, but some habits remained. In 2015, the multiple statuses of the women inspired me the icons of “AQUATIC”, which resonates with the feminine part that is in me. This series, built in 2 years, comes from a dream in which I saw a woman drifting in midwater, hesitating between life and death, and then who chooses the light, life. Supported by a friend who is shaman, I was able to realise this resonance in me. I continue to do feminist projects with more hindsight today. I also try to use my sensitivity to create portraits where intimacy is the key. It is captivating but very utopian, because willing to associate a physical body (directed) with the perception of a soul (preferably open and relax), is very complex. The aesthetic is also important because it allows contextualizing a space, an atmosphere, to make live something that flows or that will flow from the principle that I want to illustrate. Finally, I am very motivated by collaborations: poets, painters, graphic designers, photographers and especially models. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? Apart from funding, I think the most difficult thing for me is to find the words to describe my ideas, perhaps with the fear of not choosing the right ones. It’s essential, as soon as I start working, I always focus first on vocabulary before the images. Photography art is currently

facing a permanent flow of pictures that drown the public, making difficult to the real meaning an artistic work that has been copy-pasted, keeping only the aesthetics part. Definitely, I am in favour of the multiplicity of creations, but I am saddened when I see real committed artworks, diluted and distorted. I think that it is a real hard work to create something really new now. Being an artist means dying in front of a blank sheet of paper, to be reborn on the other side. Giving up a lot of things to get through, without the assurance of being recognized. Then, accept the failure, and start over again until it works (could be years). In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? I think that when art has a real place in a society, then it shows the evolution and good health of this society. When art becomes part of the culture, it becomes a form of acceptance, introspection and openness. I am fascinated by contemporary art and its evolution: the breaks with figurative conventions, the viral expressions, political commitments, passionate performances, hacking of reality, capitalist and anti-capitalist aspects at the same time... This game is in the measure of our current world, huge. I travel regularly, and I never miss an exhibition since it gives me the energy to create. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Here in Lyon, France, as in many places, the art of photography has a hard time because of the devaluation of images. Then initiatives are created, hoping for a more authentic market, the best ones think worldwide. We have a great biennale of contemporary art, but the politico-social context remains delicate, and several museums have launched calls with crowdfunding. A free exhibition entry becomes almost a prerequisite to attract visitors. Contemporary art is very present, there are collective initiatives, artistic wastelands, associative movements and makeshift galleries, which with few means can move crowds, like the “Zoo Art Show” (street art) which welcomed 35000 visitors in a former bourgeois building in 2018. There is always an exhibition to see in Lyon.


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Name three artists you admire.

What are your future plans?

The first is Raymond Depardon (FR) for his career and achievements: photos, books, films. His firsts works are incredible, the last ones very human and touching. Then Nobuyoshi Araki (JP) for his obsessional side, which I share, and for the surpassing of oneself as well as the questioning limits. Finally, Arno Rafael Minkkinen (FIN/USA) for his delicate aesthetic and his involvement in his work.

I expose in different countries, but I am rarely present, I would like to be more. This will allow me to continue my “IN SITU” series. I have three photographic series and twenty films that I realized but never really finished, for lack of words or time, I would like to finalize and share them with the hindsight I have today. I will soon launch a new book series “Le beau petit carnet”, that will contain my photo works in collaboration with other artists. I just can’t wait to finish the first one. In 2019, I was invited to be a guest curator in the YourDailyPhotograph newsletter, bringing visibility to 50 new talents. This experience was very interesting, I would like to go further in highlighting new talents. I am also looking for structures that can work in this direction.


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Mj Tom of LosOtros Paris, France European Visual Artist Mj Tom chooses not to share personal information. Since 2003 he established the Visual Poetry | Urban Art Group LosOtros with his alter ego Andrea Nada. His work has been exhibited in Rome, London, Paris, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and Dubai. His current body of work includes mixed media, collage, sculpture, installation, and digital printing. Irreverent and fleeting, able to define himself as a copy machine of art, sarcastic and deliberately anonymous, he questions almost every probable fact. The veneer of normality, the history as written, the common way of understanding nature and oneself as a part of it. As he remarks “I rather dislike talking about myself. I am not trying to be elusive as some people might say. I just think what is important is the artwork, not the artist. I want you to have my work on your …wall, not based on who I am, where I have studied or where I have exhibited my work. I don’t want to get between “You” and the “Artwork”. I want to live in silence behind it… and who I am to be of no importance…”

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art? 13 words. There is no Reality, Until You Create One or My Reality Ιn Halftones. My work is an exploration of paradoxes and contrasts which are torturous and utopian, wild and serene but definitely resilient. As my reality is in halftones, I capture fragments of life often ignored or forgotten. My art echo’s the unease and mixes it with the uncomfortable reality of continuous transformations of the urban environment in which I live. Faces, pseudo familiar situations, characters belonging to various walks of life… they all inject emotions with such a warm identity to characterize the experience of ordinary people, those people who would say and tell through the eyes their own existence. Ι depict these people; those actors unaware of being protagonists of present days and to represent them in spite of a reality in half-tone that essentially results a kind of summary, which, in the end, is life! An arrested motion in time. In arresting motion there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality, so I don’t arrest motion in time. I make it. I love my subjects although I don’t know them. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never met any of them or I don’t know them at all, yet I live through them, or I can’t live without them. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? Being an artist is a state of mind, not a profession. That is what I like. On the other hand, I don’t try to achieve anything, with my art. Art is useless, but for me is a bad habit, some sort of illness. Magritte resolve that issue by saying “My painting is visible images which conceal nothing... they evoke mystery and indeed when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question ‘What does that mean’? It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable.” What does art mean in contemporary culture? I don’t know anything about that. You should ask the contemporary public ie the consumer of the culture. I m just the producer. How would you describe the art scene? Confusing? Schizophrenic? I don’t know. I‘m biased to make any comments on this as I’m part of the problem. Anyhow, since the 17th century Art became a commodity. Who are your biggest artistic influences? After Gödel and Wittgenstein definitions are of very limited value. But to give you an answer Marcel Duchamp and Guy Debord have been an inspiration for me as well as John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Richard Prince, Louise Lawler and Sherrie Levine. I ‘m always discovering new influences. What are your future plans? Can we skip this question? But if it can’t be avoided I ‘de say …to keep on painting… 58

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Redgrits Dubai, U.A.E.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? Growing up, I’ve always been seeking influences around me. I draw from my emotions and aspects of my life. I am inspired by sound, structure, dynamism in the aspects of human life and its relation to the non-living objects and sculptures around us. Earlier on, I was inspired by films, the cinematic imagery of films. My interest leaned in with the horror genre, specifically on the imagery created by Japanese film directors, like Shinya Tsukamoto, one of my favorite films being “Kotoko”. I was and am influenced by psychological aspects of the human being and how it ties into everything. Finding connections between the living and non-living. My influences arise from the music I listen to. I love listening to different genres of music and draw visual imagery from audio information, such as the raw nature of hip hop, - from the classics like Wu-Tang Clan, Nas to contemporary techno and experimental musicians like Igorrr. etc. My work is also drawn from my interest in the concept of materialism and how ‘man made’ creations that aim to enhance life, ironically slowly decays us. This interest rose from my familial struggles with finance. I would always be interested in why a piece of paper called ‘money’ would control us so much. Such association of oneself to standards, the concept of money, brands – false identity. The need for acknowledgment and how one slowly materializes themselves only to find themselves becoming more and more humanistically detached - even to oneself. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? The most challenging part about being an artist was monetizing/making a living out of my work. The ability to sustain a living, was and is comparatively difficult. Acceptance of work and breaking into an art scene was initially hard for me growing up in the U.A.E - as the art scene is still very fresh. The artwork being a form of ‘Identity’ is also a very important subject – it can be hard to go through the process of non-acceptance because although the artwork is what’s struggling for acceptance, the creator often times associates themselves with the work on a personal level, which leads to mistaking the rejection of ones artwork as the rejection

of one’s identity and being. It was and still is challenging (as part of the process) to get acceptance to the public due to the nature of my work. Having a block or moments of not being able to think of ideas and create is a very difficult situation to mentally be in. As the production of my artwork and most art forms is a form of catharsis, a release from the past and present stressors. In moments of block, I tend to write down any ideas that come to my mind and not overthink, as overthinking can cloud the brain. Looking at concepts with a fresh eye maybe a day or a week later can always facilitate you in assessing your decisions and concepts – allowing you to maybe even aid the entry for new insight on concept generation. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art in contemporary culture is still a case for subjectivity and objectivity. It continues to still carry the same sound of controversy from the past due to its subjective and intimidating nature (as a result of its personalized complexity from the author). In some cultures, art is seen and rises from the ambiance of luxury. While in some places it’s a response to society’s way of working – a visual transcription by people from the middle- or lower-class. Considering skill as a factor too, as some are heavy duty, analog and a few are digital and quick to create. The ‘time taken to create concepts = effort and value of the artist and artwork respectively’ is also a topic in the art scene in general - As most things that took time to create in the past, take little amount of time recreate in the present due to the available technology. Such as paintings to photographs, hand modelled sculptures to 3D printing and found object sculptures. Whether the value of an artwork is solely determined on the time it was taken to produce is still a topic with contrasted opinions. I feel that art shouldn’t be judged solely by the production time or method. What matters is the energy and feeling it evokes to the creator and the viewer. Regardless of this paradoxical nature of ‘Art’. I feel that, what makes it a unique subject - is that it is not meant to be understood or deciphered. It is a break from structure and common understanding; real life. Like most things that stand out, ‘Art’ lies in those grounds where controversy is its shadow and without it, art wouldn’t really be ‘Art’.


How would you describe the art scene in your area? Currently in 2019 - The art scene in the U.A.E is still growing. There are a lot of established and new emerging artists and creators that are producing work and generating content that is unique with influence to the culture we live in. With the fusion of culture and new technological mediums, we are able to come up with visuals that are unique within the context of our country. Through the fusion and influences of expat culture to the culture in the U.A.E, we have a lot of young artists in the art scene in Dubai, U.A.E who create content in forms ranging from music, visuals, digital – film etc. From locations such as Alserkal Avenue to Jameel Arts Center, we have a lot of creative houses that enable us to share, view and engage with artworks. Name three artists you admire. One of my favorite artists is Edward Hopper. His work being paintings, seems to display a very cinematic, futuristic and architectural sense to me. The story in each of his paintings always has a before and after, something that leads you to assume the past and the future of the subjects in the present moment depicted in his paintings. A sense of continuity and movement through still imagery. Jean-Michel Basquiat is a favorite artist of mine, his work is very drawing as it’s very raw, in its visual form, it feels more personal and relatable and its loaded with stories and details. The use of crooked lines and vibrant colors to depict a visual object is very raw and visually arresting. Daniel Rozin is another one of my favorite artists who’s known for his interactive digital art. His mechanical mirrors evoke a feeling of surrealism and futurism and I’m interested in the idea of technology used as a medium to explore identity. What are your future plans? My plans are to work, develop my craft, explore mediums and continue to actively engage in the art scene and communities - locally and internationally. Gain knowledge, experience and insights from different people, atmospheres and cultures.

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Margo van Rooyen

Johannesburg, South Africa

Margo van Rooyen is a South African artist born in Durban. She has recently graduated from The Royal College of Art in MA Print after spending some time at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Much of her work is process based, experimental and pushes the boundaries of traditional print media, often peaking as an installation or sculpture. In recent works, questions of material have become central. There has been a search for a material that allows me to transfer the energy and power of creation, emulating that of the action of my drawing, into a three dimensional form. For the work “Discarded” the found material is used photolithography plates. Coincidentally, the medium I am most fond of recently is lithography. Where the creation is such a massive transfer of energy in a short time (in drawing a plate and crushing the plates), the other half of the creation is steady and methodical (printing an edition and uniformly applying aerosol). The two contrast each other; the violence of creation and the reflection that is found in the second half. For closure I often take finished work into the darkroom and using an ‘analogue version of photoshop’ (as I like to call it), a large format manual camera, play around. I find that I am a viewer of my own work as it is often unclear what the outcome will be especially during site specific installation.

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Name three artists you admire.

it allows while not distracting the viewer from form. The macro micro relationship is protected by the contrast between black and white. Light and shadow also play a big part in my three dimensional work.

Anish Kapoor, John Chamberlain, Richard Serra What are your future plans?

I often allow the medium to create the work with as little interference from my side. An example of this would be cyanotypes that I do when I am without a studio at the beach. I leave them out during the night and when the sun rises, the emulsion is exposed.

I will be joining Pilotenkueche in early January for a 3 month international residence program in Leipzig, Germany. I will also be taking part in Cluster Photography and Print exhibition and The Other Art Fair, both in London early next year . After that the future remains unknown. There are ideas about forming a print studio and international residency space in South Africa.

I enjoy contingency and the unknown aspect in my work; I push my work to encourage spontaneous happenings. The materials I use are often discarded materials that I repurpose, prolonging their life - such as that of Discarded.

What is your creative process like?

What are you working on right now?

My process is very organic and flows from one phase to the next, I make sure that each step is well considered for the work and not forced. I usually start out in printmaking and move into three dimensional work before taking the work back into images, printmaking and the darkroom for closure. A lot of the work culminates into installation (which is often site specific), sculpture or performance.

Recently I have been making new work at Thames-Side Print Studios in London.The images I am using are photos that my father took while on an expedition in Antarctica in 1982. South Africa has a base in Antarctica and he was the doctor on the expedition to the SANAE base. He used a film camera and hand developed the photos in a darkroom. The negatives were lost in a fire so the only record of the trip are a few photographs, some of which I have recreated as a new original. I am recreating the images

I work mostly in monochrome, I enjoy the purity and detail that


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Can you tell us about your last exhibition?

using photolithography, reproducing them as a large scale duotone to enhance the tonal range and nuance of the monochrome image.

My last exhibition was The London Ultra in The Bargehouse, London. I assembled a site specific sculpture, Discarded, using 8 pieces. The pieces are made of used photolitho plates and coated in aerosol. The piece was originally made for the RCA degree show 2019 where 20 pieces were used in total. It is a site specific drawing constructed piece by piece within the space. Each piece was manipulated by hand until the desired shape was achieved. The pieces show signs of abuse such as scratches, dents, tears and puncture wounds. These can be interpreted as a way into another dimension, a gap in the matrix and a tear that allows a way into the void.

I am making the series as a continuation of a print I made earlier in the year, also one of these images. The landscape was made during the lead up to the making of Discarded. Continuing this series now is a meditation on the space, time and place where the image was taken. I view printing these images as a process where I can recreate them as originals again. I have been hand printing the photolithos on a large press using etching blankets instead of traditional litho printing (such as an automatic offset press). By doing this each print has some variation, emphasizing the human hand, compounding the results. The imperfections come forward. The images originally have disruptions such as hairs and dust which must have been on the lense when capturing them. During development of the film and photographs it could be possible that more disruptions took place as some images have an unevenness in tone, chemical stains and loss of detail. As the photos have aged, they have changed in colour and tone. After all this I have chosen to hand print the images, furthering the variation and allowing for the human hand to show, warming the image and allowing a rebirth. Enlarging the images allows for more abstraction and ambiguity in detail and contrast as the grain becomes more apparent.

The work speaks of movement halted, a tear opened and the disappearance of reality as you get sucked in. Looking into the sculpture reveals a seemingly never ending crumple of darkness and shadowland punctured by light filtering through the wounds. It is all at once fragile and menacing. There is a vulnerability in the piece as upon touch it is found to be quite easily malleable. It is a brief capturing of paper flying away. An attempt at caging something uncaptured. Alongside Discarded were 4 prints created during the lead up to the creation of Discarded. Discarded had been shown twice before this exhibition in varying numbers.


Teddy Wang Tainan, Taiwan Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you. So a little bit about my background. I was born and raised in Texas, USA, but I have deep roots and Taiwan. So I had both the Eastern and the Western Roots, you could say. I have always loved creative expression, and I’ve always been making stuff. Like, even if I wasn’t making art, I was always writing science-fiction and fantasy stories, writing rap lyrics and performing them on stages, break dancing with groups of people at clubs and social events, or just dreaming about inventions and ways to change the future of humanity. I think I was influenced by the way I was raised. My mom was a single mother and she had to raise us three kids. My brother and my sister and I had different schedules, and I would find myself alone and dreaming and lost in the television shows I was watching - the cartoons, the movies, the card games, the comic books. And I was lost in stories all the time, especially in the area of science-fiction and fantasy. And how that influenced me was that these stories made my imagination fertile. They gave me a reason to live, to look forward to tomorrow, and they really showed me that there is nothing more inspiring, nothing more important, and nothing more powerful than the potential of human speculation. And that influenced this body of work, because the series is all about expressing the deepest recesses of imagination and doing it in an automatic and intuitive fashion, where I’m not thinking. Where I am listening to audiobooks filled with these fantastic worlds of wonder and magic and just writing and drawing however I was thinking and what I was feeling. And this process was very ritualistic and routine and unconscious. My subconscious played such a big role in this series, and it is filled with wonder and magic from the stories that I absorbed and consumed voraciously, especially in video games- RPGs, adventure games. I’m Taiwanese American, so I feel like I am not quite Western but I’m not quite Eastern, because in the west, I’m treated like an Asian. But in the East, I’m treated like a foreigner or a local who is not quite fluent in the locality of this area of Taiwan. And I was always influenced by the people I surrounded myself with. You know, I always had a community of people that I would rub against that would encourage me to improve in what I was doing. And I wanted to help them improve in what they were doing, no matter if it was break dancing, hip hop. Just having this community encouraged me to work harder, because I wasn’t just improving by myself but I was improving with other people who were people better than me, people on the same level with me, and people worse than me. And all these three levels were critical to my improvement and my feeling of satisfaction in this kind of environment.

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ally what took my energy away was being out of the spotlight with those same people. And it’s quite a funny dichotomy, but I would say mainly, my biggest inspirations were the stories, my community of like-minded peers who wanted to be the best just like I wanted to, and the satisfaction of making something great with quality craftsmanship and enjoying that day’s work. I guess it was the work itself that made me satisfied, but without people, it would all be meaningless. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? The most challenging part of being an artist is to maintain strict, laser-like focus, and in order to do that, you really need to have a stationary, long-term goal that doesn’t move. You know, it’s not enough to just have a goal that’s long-term that doesn’t move and that forces you to grow and improve outside of your comfort zone to become a bigger person. But the action steps are even more important in terms of the execution of every step you need to take to get to that goal. Also, the other hard part about being an artist is to not give up and to not give in to the current comforts that you have around you and choose that over the pain of growing into the bigger person you have to be. Also it’s a lonely game, so having other people around who want the same things as much as you do is a hard thing to find. So, I encourage people to find that for themselves and even I am looking for this, as well, as we speak- more of it at least. Name artists you’d like to be compared to. I would say that the artist that I would like to be compared to are the artificial intelligent artists out there who are really pushing the boundaries of what it is to be superhuman, if not computerized. I think it’s a unique feature of our day and age. I also would like to be compared to Warhol or Picasso or any of these leading artists that are really thinking ahead of everyone else and are using non-traditional means of human, creative, emotional expression. How would you describe the art scene in your area?

Also, my mom had me learn piano and violin, and I also learned Spanish and French in my schools. So having to learn all these different languages and different kinds of languages, at that, really helped me pick up the artistic language, as well. I love being alone. I love being by myself- thinking and feeling about my past and my present, and dreaming. And being lost in those thoughts and making my art and sharing it with my community, as well as people outside of it.

I would describe the art scene in Taiwan as being quite tribal, where people tend to privatize themselves into groups- which is a good thing, you know. It’s still a really traditional island, where people mostly make traditional art, but the ones that are out there and really pushing the game are making waves on the international scene and it’s exciting to see that. I would also say that art here as an industry is not mainstream yet. It’s quite underground.

I was always pressured to perform. I was kind of the guy in my group that was the creative one, and I guess being expected to be creative pushed me to want that but also left me quite lonely and wanting to be alone with my thoughts. Because what gave me energy was people consuming my content and usu-

But what is mainstream is graphic design, film, and I’m so glad that creative expression is still being celebrated through those, even though not through the fine art area for now. But I have confidence that it’s going


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to and there are more and more art fairs in recent years, as well as events where modern young artists can really put themselves out there. And it’s a really good place to be if you want to be an artist in this island of Taiwan. The living expenses are really low so you’re able to purchase what you need, and the materials are not too expensive and quite decent in quality. You can make the art that you want to make and have the time to make them, while making a decent income- especially for people who come from foreign countries. This is a very foreign country citizen-friendly environment, and there’s a lot of job opportunities for people who want to come here and start something expressive and creative.

skills. Because stylistically, you cannot improve on a style, because it’s just the way something looks, right? But you can improve on the craftsmanship of how that style is created and how it looks. You can clean it up- you can make it polished. If I could see my artwork in a history book, then I would know that I did my job. I want to affect change through my art and changed the world socially and politically.

What are your future plans as an artist? For my future plans as a fine artist I am really trying to push for a non-traditional way of exposing my art to the world and having them experience what I was thinking and feeling through my art. I have something in the works that I want to keep under wraps, but I do want to be a force of nature in this industry. What I mean by that is leading a community of artists to pursue one major mission to affect the world and change it socially and politically. I also would love to create a community where artists are not afraid to show their works -in-progress and sharpen each other. I think oftentimes artists think that, “Oh, okay. I have a style now, so I’m just going to settle on my style and not change it or improve it and I’m just going to focus on selling my art. I’m going to make my innovation of my art stationary and I’m going to be innovative in my selling, marketing, and advertising,” and I think there is a time for that. It’s something that all of us artists have to constantly be doing, but I also think that we should constantly be sharpening the tools in our tool shed so that we can become better artists, because art is a skill, too. And if you don’t improve your skill, then it’s just going to be like that, and a lot of artists in this world- you know- they have one style, and they just stay in that style. And I think there is room for growth- not just in the advertising, marketing, and selling of your art but also in improving the quality of craftsmanship you’re able to deliver not only in your style and your medium techniques but also in your finish and your presentation. So those are the things- one being leading an art movement. Two, leading or being a part of a community that can challenge artists to grow not only in sales but also in technical


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Katie Watson Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice?

What is the most challenging part of being an artist?

My work is influenced by visual language, my main focus is on how ideas and directions can be communicated without written or spoken language. I study diagrams from material such as vehicle maintenance manuals, flat-pack furniture assembly documents, needle-craft diagrams and ubiquitous sources such as health and safety signage.

I think the most challenging part of being an artist is allowing yourself enough time to really get your teeth stuck into things and developing ideas. It’s a really tricky balancing act between doing ‘money jobs’, allowing yourself enough time in the studio, going to galleries, having conversations with other artists, writing applications, etc.

I’m really interested in what happens when intrinsic elements of this type of material are removed, which I like to think of as exercises in ‘gap filling’. There are fragments of information which must be optically pieced together to form a complete image. In this sense, I suppose what I’m doing is ‘gap un-filling’, a reductive process, leaving the construction to whoever is looking at it.

However, I think sometimes responding to challenging factors such as time restraints can allow exciting things to happen. Sometimes when I’m limited on time things loosen up and I think ‘OK this is an interesting image, what would happen if I took that image out of context and paired it with this colour/shape/pattern…etc?’. When that happens, things are more playful and intuitive.

I guess I’m playing upon the viewer’s instinct to need to read and comprehend visual information. Humans are pretty effective at that, we are surrounded by fairly primitive visual information on a day to day basis. My process leaves vague, often arbitrary fragments, which invite the reader to unpick and reassemble a more meaningful narrative.

In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? My practice is involved in exploring the everyday phenomenon that we’re surrounded by visual information (signage, diagrams, instructions, warnings, advertisements, etc…) which is so overwhelming that I try to re-examine that by taking it out of that context, allowing people to reconsider the everyday. In that way I suppose I’m using art as a tool to examine contemporary culture.


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Visual information is a human’s main form of communication. This is evident in contemporary examples such as road signs, as well as historical examples like cave paintings. Symbols and diagrams cross language barriers, they are ubiquitous, everyone understands what they represent. Another example of art performing in contemporary culture is the use of colour in industry. Colours are selected for their functionality rather than aesthetics, and this approach is something I try to negotiate in my practice.

through the North East’s art scene. My mam’s shared university studio in Sunderland was always very playful and full of bright, curious materials. As a child, having a front row seat to a degree show hanging week was so motivating. Name three artists you admire. Victor Pasmore, Gillian Wise & Laslo Moholy-Nagy. What are your future plans?

How would you describe the art scene in your area?

I’m aiming to get a new body of work together for a solo show in early 2020. I’m always very keen to participate in group shows, as I enjoy seeing how the works respond to one another. So I’d like to do more of these in the near future! I think it’d be really useful for me to undergo a residency as my work takes a lot from my surrounding and I think an immersive change of location would be useful to see how much things change – so hopefully that’s something that’ll happen soon!

Newcastle has a really great community of artists, especially within artist-led organisations such as The NewBridge Project, who always have a really diverse programme of events. It’s an incredibly supportive and rich area to be making art. I’m also a member of the Colour Collective UK, which runs events exploring the role of colour in scientific research, fashion, design and industry. It’s also great being so close to organisations outside of the city centre such as Allenheads Contemporary Arts and VARC (Visual Arts in Rural Communities). I was really fortunate growing up as my mam was just starting her art education, so I was (initially reluctantly!) force-fed art

I currently work for a charity which delivers creative workshops to community groups, and this is something I plan to continue doing. I get a lot out of this, including ideas for my own practice.


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