Art Reveal Magazine no. 55

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Boris Beja Jeff Corwin Liam Andersen Seyed Asadollah Shariatpanahi Lorraine Cleary

Kaushik Dolui Inge Gecas Toby Griffiths Karli Henneman Yogendra Joshi

issue 55 / October 2020

Shawn Marshall Kelly Reilly Rob Tokarz Dawei Wang Hopper Prize


FEATURED ARTIST: INGE GECAS

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BORIS BEJA / LESSON 45

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JEFF CORWIN

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#55

LIAM ANDERSEN

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SEYED ASADOLLAH SHARIATPANAHI

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LORRAINE CLEARY

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KAUSHIK DOLUI

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INGE GECAS

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TOBY GRIFFITHS

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KARLI HENNEMAN

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YOGENDRA JOSHI

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SHAWN MARSHALL

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KELLY REILLY

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ROB TOKARZ

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DAWEI WANG

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FEATURED

ARTIST

INGE GECAS More at pages: 38-43

I believe that each object dictates what happens and I follow its cues helping it become what it needs to be. While the end result is a digital artwork, in the process it undergoes many different stages - from traditional painting, dripping and pouring to digital photography, using various lighting systems, and to final stage of layering and color management. Inge Gecas On the cover: “Feelings�, Inge Gecas 2020


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BORIS BEJA / LESSON 45 UGM Studio - Maribor, SLOVENIA 24 JULY − 11 OCTOBER 2020 | CURATOR: SIMONA VIDMAR

Similarly as his other projects, Boris Beja’s latest multimedia installation Lesson 45 that premieres at the UGM Studio, derives from personal experience and confrontation with one’s everyday life, translating them into broader encounters with social, cultural, or political phenomena. The initial point of this project was the artist’s recreational attendance of ballet classes for beginners. Through elemental pole exercises in a mirrored training hall, he was learning for two years the fundamentals of ballet language and the steps to overcome the limits of physical performance under the watchful eye of his own control and self-criticism. He recorded the last, 45th lesson, in a video (Lesson 45, video, 2020, 45 min).

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The artist used one of the main ballet exercises—Rond de jambe par terre—in which the dancer draws a virtual semicircle on the floor with his toe to the extreme capacity of the movement, as a starting point for the basic structural element of his installation —the “rond” (circle). It consists of a series of identical, handmade pentagons arranged into a raster or geometric pattern on the floor of a simulated training hall. The pentagon unfolds as a pattern throughout the gallery and becomes a parkour for the participatory involvement of the viewer as a random actor in a spontaneous choreography. The source of the Lesson 45 audio-video impulses, which is hidden behind the mirror, can only be reached with artful movement through the intertwined network of “ronds”. The repetition of ballet rehearsals is reflected in the repetition of the form, the art object; the repetition of the form creates a new space of movement and synchronisation. (Rond de jambe par terre, 2020, installation [wood, mirror], variable dimensions) The “rond” is also a synonym for the outlines and limitations of the body, which is being delineated and at the same time annihilated by the classical ballet. Ballet techniques make it possible to discover the extreme limits of body coordination and the synchronisation of arms, head, eyes, and legs, and seemingly transform complex movements into perfectly natural ones. Through motion, especially classical

motion with its positions, angles, and symmetries, and through the relation of the moving body to other bodies and space, we sense the presence of “intuitive body geometry”. The body in motion outlines (geometric) shapes and compositions, which at the same time delimit the body itself. This Forsythean idea of dance as depicting geometry in space resonates in the second part of the installation, which Boris Beja titles after another ballet exercise—Doublé, battement divisé en quarts. The screens with recognisable Mondrianian coloured squares delimited by straight lines, appear on the one hand as a reference to modernist structural elements, which can be found in the artist’s practice in various roles as supports and partitions, and on the other as parts of the scenery that with their strictly mathematical appearance introduce the element of theatricality and dramaturgy into the setting. They illustrate the relationship between movement and space, between dance and architecture. (Doublé, battement divisé en quarts, 2020, installation [wood, chipboard, glass, paper], 220 x 90 x 50 cm) What Beja has “frozen” in his latest project is the motion image. What he has pursued (and symbolically mimicked in his facial expression in the Lesson 45 video) is perfection. Ballet is a symbol of perfection and perfection (according to Nureyev) is the duty. Or as Beja dramatically writes: “Perfection is the charm of ballet. And the thought that movement is controlled up to the sensation of pain in every muscle of the body, which is stretched like a string, while creating the impression of lightness as if hovering in space following imaginary coordinates of a feather in vacuum.” The still images created and masterfully handled by the artist reveal that it is the syntax of the language that interests him and dictates the form. The language or the way one speaks that language and with it approaches the ideal, is the artist’s prime concern. Two interesting reflections on movement and performativity are opened up by Lesson 45, which the artist (perhaps intentionally) manages to address with his motion image. The first reflection relates to the attitude of the modern human towards movement. In later or rational life, the human becomes more cautious, suspicious, 5


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or even hostile towards movement, and forgets that movement is the basic experience of existence. “We forget that life is movement and that movement is life” (Rudolf von Laban, The Language of Movement, 1974). We lack the experience of the joy of movement as a spontaneous life action. Therefore, such an action must be re-created, so to speak, artificially, which the artist manifests by inviting the viewer to co-create a “rondoid” choreography. The second reflection is related to the transformation of art since the second half of the 20th century towards the uniform tendency of performativity of artistic actions, where the boundary between art and life is blurred.

It is about the awareness “that the production of our subjectivities takes place precisely in the performativity of everyday cultural and institutional practices. That we are, so to speak, mass-produced through the daily implementation of scenarios which we include in our unconscious modus operandi as a kind of second nature” (Eda Čufer, Writing Movement, 2010). The immanent aesthetics of life and its performativity are the aspects upon which Beja’s latest work as well as his previous projects are based. It is a perfectly “frozen” moment of Lesson 45! (Text: Simona Vidmar, curator at UGM)

Boris Beja (b. 1986) graduated in 2009 from the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering in Ljubljana, specialising in graphic technology, and continued his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana, where he graduated in sculpture in 2013. He received several awards and nominations for his work, such as the Student Prešeren Award for Sculpture (Academy of Fine Arts and Design) and the Award for the Contribution to Sustainable Development bestowed by the Public Fund of the Republic of Slovenia for Human Resources Development, both in 2012. In his work, he combines various art practices into an aestheticized appeal and social critique that expose the symptoms of contemporary society. In the period 2010-13, he regularly published articles on visual culture on the Siol.net portal. In 2014−17, he was assistant artistic director of the Škuc Gallery. Since 2017, he has been a professional adviser for cultural programmes at the Pionirski dom Public Institution. In recent years, he has held several solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group shows at home and abroad. In 2015 and 2016, he was nominated for the OHO Group Award, the main award for young visual artists in Slovenia. In 2017, he received the First Doris-Wuppermann-Stiftung Prize from Munich for his Space in Between project in Leipzig. He lives and works in Ljubljana. 7


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Famed Photographer,

Jeff Corwin,

Transitions to the Art World The chorus: Jeff Corwin, World Renowned Commercial Photographer, Captivates The Art World With His Fine Art Photography! And Corwin’s modest refrain: Simple shapes. Graphic lines. Eliminate clutter. Light when necessary. Repeat.

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Corwin’s approach to his poignant fine art photography sounds unassuming, but it belies the rigorous aesthetic he harnesses when aiming his lens. The art and design principles of balance, rhythm, pattern, emphasis, contrast and unity are the solid foundations buttressing his creativity. His seamless and successful transition into the fine art world is in large part due to the same exacting vision he used for his commercial work.

orated what he always felt was one definition of photography - a recognition of what personally resonates, defined by experience, spirit and instinct. For more than 40 years, Corwin dazzled the world with his spectacular commercial photography. His commercial work won many prestigious awards and garnered vast international media coverage. 25 years ago he began to shoot his personal fine art landscape work. Now he has turned his discerning eye to fine art photography exclusively and the art world has taken notice. London’s LandEscape Art Review is presenting a major feature article on his work and his shift in focus. He is also currently exhibiting in several important contemporary galleries throughout the western United States. Corwin’s recognition in the fine art world is growing daily.

Over the years, Corwin has taken photos hanging out of a helicopter over the Thames River, in the jungles of Borneo, on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and on the Italian aircraft carrier Garibaldi while photographing Harrier Jet missions over the Tyrrhenian Sea for Rolls-Royce. He has done photo shoots in 41 countries/5 continents, including in Moscow with two retired KGB agents with AK47’s accompanying him and Belfast, Northern Ireland in the mid-80’s. Assignments included portraits of famous faces, including Bill Gates, Cesar Chavez, Ray Bradbury, LA Police Chief Daryl Gates, Michael Graves and Gloria Allred, and photos for corporate clients like Microsoft, Dell, Apple, Boeing, Lockheed, AT&T and Time/Life. His hottest photo shoot: Abu Dhabi at 114 °F. The coldest: Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada at -40 °F.

To appreciate Corwin’s creative approach, a glimpse into his career in commercial photography is illuminating. During his years shooting for ad agencies and graphic design firms with corporate and industrial clientele, he developed a way of seeing that not only worked for his clients but pleased him as well. His photographic focus was on corporate offices, factories, oil refineries and aerospace companies. He had to work with whatever mundane objects were present at a location. He viewed his job title not as “photographer,” but actually problem solver. Profiles and forms that repeat, like ceiling patterns from fluorescent lights or rows of desks or chairs, created found opportunities for Corwin. It became second nature for him to walk into a new setting and look for these features.

The seeds were sown for his shift into fine art work years ago during an assignment in the sparse eastern part of Washington State. As Corwin drove east from Seattle, the topography transformed from the lush western hills, mountains, rivers and lakes to the central plains that then gave way to rolling hills and rich volcanic soil. The transformation was palpable. He began to recognize the things that were a visual trigger for him. A black asphalt road cutting for miles through harvested wheat. An empty, snowy field with a stream curving to a single tree. A small barn, the roof barely visible above a barren hillside. His visceral reactions to the landscape corrob-

He developed a style that helped him to see past the muddle and create photographs that were more design than immediately recognizable objects. For Corwin, simplicity, graphic shapes, strong lines or repetition in 9


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contours are what “do it” for him visually. He cites Piet Mondrian, with his masterful abstract paintings using colors, shapes and textures to achieve their effect, as an inspiration.

the world of photography is seemingly divided between commercial photography with a primary focus of advertising products or services and fine-art photography, the goal of which is to express an idea, a message or an emotion, Corwin was able to straddle the two – providing a visual account of specific subjects through the use of an artistic lens.

As a commercial photographer, often one has to adhere to the client’s vision. Fortunately for Corwin, due to his renown, impressive portfolio and reputation for being sent into hell-holes and bringing bring back the goods, he was given abundant creative independence. While

Some of Corwin’s august predecessors and contemporaries got their start as commercial photographers, 10


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as with famous photographer Robert Frank before he turned his attention to street photography and photojournalism. Though prominent photographer David LaChapelle’s aesthetic is quite different from Corwin’s, he is also a photographer that intersected the line in his commercial and fine art work. The renowned photographer Weegee’s black and white street photography distinguished him, yet he developed his signature style while working as a press photographer in the 1930s and 1940s.

For Corwin, the result of shooting commercial photographs: a refinement of his discriminating eye to create unique concept-driven imagery. So when he began his fine art photography, he felt he did not have a choice – observation and scrutiny were second nature to him. His present work is 100% informed by his experience shooting for clients. His well-honed techniques tapped in his commercial photography, techniques that were seemingly rule-breaking, such as using semi-abstract subjects, creative editing and defying composition rules, now serve him well. And happily so. 11


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Like the Romantic painters of the 19th century, who used lush landscapes to represent deeper philosophical notions, landscape photographers are often portraying far more than arresting terrain. A key work from the Romantic period, Caspar David Friedrich’s The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, is described as conveying the awe-inspiring and sublime characteristics of nature. Corwin wants viewers to look at his emotive photos, hesitate a moment and then ask questions. When Corwin ponders why his landscapes look the way they do, he rejects the notion that it is the location of shoots in Eastern Washington State, Montana and New Mexico that drive the scenarios. Instead, the scenes he chooses to photograph look the way they do because of what is inside of him. He gravitates to the bleak, lonely and isolated vistas because they speak to him; it is what he sees because it is what he feels. Corwin admits that he possesses a “glass half empty” personality that draws him to the desolation of landscapes. It calls to him and he viscerally reacts to it.

In his fine art photography, the autonomy to depict imagery of his choice has not thrown Corwin at all, for he is well-versed in seeing what he needs and wants to see. His goal is not to demonstrate his technical skills. His inventory of expert skills that he draws on are what allow him to comfortably create photos aligned with his personal vision and desire to express an idea or an emotion or conceptualize a metaphor. Corwin’s process involves shots from a variety of angles. He is not averse to artificially lighting subjects by bringing powerful strobes into the scene, even landscapes. Graphis Magazine once quoted Corwin as saying, “It’s amazing how much time I spend lighting, just to get things dark enough.” This augmentation stays true to the essence of the scene while heightening the surface tension. Famed photographer Charlie Waite started in theater and design and it was the lighting production that inspired him and made him one of the most famous landscape photographers. 12

Corwin appreciates the artistry of Edward Hopper, the realist painter of twentieth-century America. Hopper was selective in his vision, reflecting his own temperament in the empty cityscapes, landscapes, and isolated figures he chose to paint. Hopper was a master of light, often depicting cold, bright, and intense light, natural and man-made, that could be merciless. As with Hopper, Corwin is focused on the introspective aspects of what we see. Recently called out on this “negativity,” Corwin contemplated what would happen to the imagery he enjoys creating if he tried to navigate his approach towards something more archetypal, towards the cele-


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bration of the glory of mountains and beautiful meadows and late afternoon light. He wondered if he would end up with, in his words, “sparkly, saturated photos,” the antithesis of the powerful stark tones of his characteristic images that undergird his subjective expression. He experimented and attempted to go against his instincts within certain bodies of work; it has yet to be creatively satisfying.

Yet he is continually curious and experimental. While his mainstay at present is landscape photography, he has rich bodies of work that go in other directions, such as two portrait series, Farm Workers and American Architects, and his Guns in America series – mini indoor installations which rely heavily on props, sets that he built and harsh light with tweaked and intense saturated colors.

He is also undertaking color in his landscapes. After decades of photographing in black and white, his initial forays into color photography were disappointing to him. A problem solver, he rose to the challenge. He began to search for a solution and landed on a technique that is more painterly and interpretive, with colors muted and shifted in temperature, yet the character of the photographs remains the same. Corwin’s self-admitted “glass half empty” is rapidly filling to the top. A full glass. There is no other way to describe it.

Jeff Corwin

jeffcorwinfineart.com

Over the years, Jeff Corwin has taken photos hanging out of a helicopter over the Thames River, in the jungles of Borneo, on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and on the Italian aircraft carrier Garibaldi while photographing Harrier Jet missions over the Tyrrhenian Sea for Rolls-Royce. He has done photo shoots in 41 countries/5 continents, including in Moscow with two retired KGB agents with AK-47’s accompanying him and Belfast, Northern Ireland in the mid80’s. Assignments included portraits of famous faces, including Bill Gates, Cesar Chavez, Ray Bradbury, LA Police Chief Daryl Gates, Michael Graves, Groucho Marx and Vanna White, and photos for corporate clients like Microsoft, Dell, Apple, Boeing, Lockheed, AT&T and Time/Life. His hottest photo shoot: Abu Dhabi at 114 °F. The coldest: Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada at -40 °F. His commercial work has won many prestigious awards and garnered vast international media coverage. Corwin’s career shift into fine art photography is being met with the same serious attention. He is currently exhibiting in several important contemporary galleries throughout the western United States.

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Liam Andersen Denmark/Greece

I’m a mixed media artist from Denmark based in Greece. I’m working on recreating photographs of my family and my upbringing into oil paintings – a method which allows me to capture the poetics and emotions that these memories evoke in me, allowing me to balance between memory and imagination. To engage with them artistically has given me the opportunity to view them with a more critical lens, allowing me to better understand where I come from and how that has shaped my identity and why I have ended up on a very similar path today. The process of becoming a part of the art I am creating, by living the story that i am telling are the baseline for the whole project Until I was Born tells the story of my parents, from when they met until I was born, through oil paintings that are based on recreations of photographs as well as their oral accounts as they were handed over to me throughout my upbringing. It is a story of a young and idealistic couple who fall in love through a commitment to create a life together free from the individualistic and isolating reality of the neo-liberal market society of Europe since the late 1970s. From the squat scene of Sankt Pauli and Reberbahn in Hamburg, to the drug infused raves of Goa in India and experiments with communal lifestyles in various parts of southern Europe, this piece tells the story of the life of my parents as travelers who lived on the road in a bus converted into their home, before I was born and they became parents; Before they became pregnant and were confronted with the question: How can our lifestyle, our dreams and our aspirations, be compatible with the safe upbringing of a child? It is a story of sacrifice and compromise. Eventually deciding to settle down, and once again confronted with the meaningless life in a capitalist modernity, the piece captures the crumbling of my parent’s relationship and my father’s sinking into depression. After years of pain, the result is a divorce; I was born into this moment of pain, this moment of rupture. The only glimpse I would ever come to know of a harmonious family would be through the thousands of pictures that capture those years before I came into being, and everything changed



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

which forces you to confront the inner complexities and contradictions of your own self. These solitary aspects of the creative process were especially intensified during the covid-19 lockdown which reminded me of the importance of sharing your art and participating in collective artistic structures and collectivities. This intense experience of confinement has reminded me that art, isolated and detached from its social context has no meaning: it is given life and meaning through its participation and engagement in the larger struggles of society, through the daily conversations with the people that fill our squares, streets and neighborhoods.

My art is very fluid, and I get inspired by a variety of things. However, my current art is mostly centered around the intersection of the complexities of human relations, political struggles and nature. I have always been extremely drawn by movements and subcultures. For example, in my ongoing project “until i was born�, I am exploring the 80s squat scene of Sankt Pauli and Reeperbahn in Hamburg, the drug crazed rave scenes of Goa and people experimenting in ways of communal living across southern Europe. My artistic interest in political movements comes partly from the double contrast that is inherent to any political struggle: On the one hand, the darkness of an oppressive system that has to be fought, and on the other hand, the beautiful contrast of solidarity and comradery that fills this darkness with hope and beauty. The same imagery is evoked in me through the aesthetics of nature: The violent sound of the waterfall that meets the river. At first, loud and overwhelming; then, once accustomed to the pattern, one is conquered by a meditative and harmonious rhythm; like the synergetic movement of bodies swaying to the waves of music washed upon the twilight lit beaches of Goa, or the shadows cast upon the dark walls in far away underground urban tunnels.

How would you describe the art scene in your area? I have lived in Athens for the last two years, in the neighborhood of Exarcheia. It’s a neighborhood, where many of the discourses in society are pressed into a small area, which makes it an epicenter for a lot of political activities. The art scene is very diverse and reflects the many political currents. The neighborhood is known for being a home to many socialist, anarchist, migrants and anti-fascist groups, the streets are plastered with art from the resistance, its full off posters, grafiti, outdoor cinemars, theartres which makes it a truly vibrant and inspiring environment. However, the characteristics of the neighbourhood are threatened by rapid gentrification, squats are being evicted while buildings are being bought up by foreign investors who are turning the neighborhood into a centre of tourism and commerce, changing the characteristics of the neighborhood as a hub for resistance and radical politics. My art is inspired by the resist-

What is the most challenging of being an artist? The solitude of the artistic process is at once therapeutic and creative, but it is also a very challenging introspective process 16


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ance towards this repression of the radical struggle here, and I find my artistic strength in the locals who refuse to give up their lives to the wishes of the capitalists and their endless conquest for profit over people. What do you like/dislike about the contemporary art world? I was always drawn to the art world, and the potential of being able to counter and challenge the norms of popular culture and consumer society. I find a lot of inspiration in artists who use art as an instrument to fight for social justice issues. In my neighborhood, I see this potential in artists who come together in self organized spaces and dare to dream of a world that is yet to come, a world that does not yet exist but has the potential of coming into being through the collective creative process of our revolutionary wishes and aspirations. I am fed up with the mainstream patriarchal art institutions where white cis-men are given a platform to further reproduce their white hetero-partriarchal worldview. There is a long way to go in terms of pushing the contemporary art world into a more egalitarian direction, but I find strength and inspiration in the artist who refuses to cave in to the pressure of market society and its demand of normality. The future is diverse and creative, and as an artist I am excited to ride this wave into whatever unknown sunset we encounter. Name three artists you admire. While working on my ongoing project “until I was born” i stumbled upon Vinca Petersen which was very important for my idea of developing the project, I found a lot of inspiration from her. I often use her photos and stories to keep me ontrack with my own work. Her book “No system” tells the story of her 10 year journey around Europe in the 1990s, potraining the same cultures, settings and movements that I am deeply drawn by. The many pictures of “techno travellers” are a reminder of how beautiful, harsh and unexpected life can be. I am also a big admirer of Apolonia Skool and her art has been very inspiring and important to me. The sensation her art gives me is similar to the feeling of disappearing into an amazing piece of literature. The way she portraits her characters is incredibly strong and I am very moved by how her love for the people she works with comes across through her art. I am also a sucker for portraits that are located within the mundanes of everyday life. The normality of the setting can function almost as a window into something very powerful between people What are your future plans? As I develop my art and improve my techniques, I am looking to exhibit my work across a variety of art spaces across the world to engage in a creative

dialogue. Furthermore, I plan to start working on photo series with photographers who are engaged with political struggles across the world, hoping that my creative recreation of these works can further contribute to amplify and strengthen these. 18


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Seyed Asadollah Shariatpanahi Iran

The Middle Eastern Society fears the modernity and feels unsupported and lost in a demythologized world. I would like my paintings to be seen as a necessity for the oriental man who seeks a path through traditional being to what the era of modernity imposes on him, by carving the way through the rigid traditions, and putting light into darkness of modernity. I try in my work to imply the message to the viewers that the modern life can be as elucidated as traditional life. If the traditional life, proposes blindness in the light, and if modernity is an inevitable darkness to eyesight, my work envisions a conceptual framework in which the man lives with sight in a bright world. I try to help the bewildered oriental man, who cannot live with his past traditions through inspiring him to reproduce a new thinking paradigm. The creation of this new paradigm starts with reviewing and pruning the traditional views and synthesizing them with new concepts. My artworks are the scene of the interaction between modernity and traditional world in such a way that my works include signs of both modernity and modern system of thoughts along with traditional thinking. I am neither the product nor the effect of modernity so much so that its influence forced me to abandon my own traditions; while I am not either a bigot adherent of traditions. I have created this setting in order to have free rein in explaining my outlook towards the world around; a setting in which I would be able to relay my ideas and reflections of the world around me without solid explicitness of realism, and with more freedom, too. I also like the act of camouflage belonging to the traditional world, the curving and intertwining lines that hide within shapes and forms. In my works, concepts are neither conspicuous between lines and colors nor hidden in such a way that the observer is unable to detect their presence. With careful reading between the lines, the viewer could grasp the shapes and intentions the painter had in mind, and through the mixture of drawings and pictures hidden within colors and curves of the lines, one can reach a deeper understanding of my psychology. My paintings are not a recording of the events happened around me but my reflection of them. I apply this approach to painting of the political and social events of the Iranian society not as a replica but my own perception and interpretation of them. I offer the audience my understanding of the events. 21


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What or who has had a remarkable everlasting impact on your works?

me a lot and make me to work and say instead of the speechless people. This is what I have chosen as a mission and thus when I see the society is suffering, I suffer too and this suffer will be the subject of my work.

Throughout my life I had the chance to work with many masers and learn from them. Masters such as Morteza Momayez, Behjat Sadr, Mohsen Vaziri-Moghaddam, Esmail Ashtiani, and Hooshang Seyhoun had a great impact on our generation and in transformation of Iranian art medium from a traditional context to a modern context. However, being influenced by Seyhoon, I was amongst those who insisted on authentic experiences in which the artist looks carefully at the elements and chooses them. In this evaluation of the elements, I have used many traditional elements but I have transformed them into a modern framework. Also in terms of form and color, I have been both impacted by miniature of Behzad and cubism of Picasso.

What is the most challenging part for you with the painting? To me, the artwork is a means of conveying a message to my audience but the sociopolitical environment is not and has not been in favor of free and open communication of message for the artists. I have been punished and banned for many years for my political and social perspectives so I have learned to put my message in a veil. The most challenging part is to make sure that the message is understandable while it is not so clearly stated. The audience plays a role in perceiving the work and this hermeneutic medium is always relied on the audience and the context in which he/she sees the work. That is challenging because I have to make sure that the message is conveyed but I can never make sure it is well understood. Keeping the ambiguity in the work, and making it less visible for the audience while reflecting the concept in the work is very challenging and it is the basis of my artistic framework. This is the challenge I always encounter and I have to overcome for a work to excel.

Aside from the form and context, and regarding the subjectivity of my artwork, I should say that I have always been a very sensitive person with extreme attachment to nature. Living in small town, in the old times, people had the chance to live near to nature and animals and that has had a great impact on me. Colors, lines and motives are originated from my visionary memories which have then transformed into forms that encompass my thoughts and messages. An artist who lives in the society must be engaged with the society and its daily issues and concerns. I have never been detached from difficulties of people in my social context and I reflect them into my works though the context is originated from the nature. Therefore, the context is very much affected by my relation to nature, while the message and the subject of the artwork is related to my relation with the society. The social issues affect

Also when I start the work, I always have the fear of not being able to finish the work. It happens many of the times that I cannot sleep at night because I have the stress of what happens to the work. This is happening to me after fifty years of working and painting. This search for excellence and clarity and at the same time need for keeping the ambiguity in the artwork is my main challenge in the process of developing an artwork. 22


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What do you think is the importance and conception of art in the modern culture? Art in the nowadays life has a very high responsibility towards cultural reproduction. Artists can play a vital role in providing society with cultural products that makes the life of people meaningful and help them find a voice. The artist is able to attract attentions towards specific subjects to be thought through by society. They focus the lens on an issue, a case, a problem, a person in need of help, and it will be a collective subject for the society. However, the economic aspects of art sometimes have negative impact on the artistic work and the role she/he plays in this context. We are living in a world of rising conflicts and separation of people. The whole world is in conflict of interests and lives of people is losing meaning and people are demeaned. Spiritual needs of human being is not satisfied as much as material needs are being cared. Human being has turned into a huge consumption machine that turns all of the resources into nothingness. Meaningless adherence to survival while endangering the survival of other species which is also being accelerated by changing lifestyles due to technological transformations. I believe art plays a role in this context in line or against this vicious trend. In my works, I try to emphasize on diversity and unification of elements and colors. If you look into my works, you will never find human objects with any superiority in terms of color, gender, and even education. People are acting, but they are all connected to each other. Even in my critical works in which I am criticizing the power scheme and tyranny, I show that these people are all connected to one another in the social context. Thus in my own artwork I have always tried look into these cultural aspects and provide my audience an alternative or a critique to the status quo. I do agree that artists, like other human beings, must be able to afford their lives, but if artistic work is done with the intention of merely making an earning for life, then the artist do not act in favor of cultural development. The artist, in my opinion, should be able to limit his/her needs and not beyond essential ones. Agitated appetite to meet endless needs is one of the greatest issues of the modern man, and the artists can work to help the society understand the threat of this endless pursuit of needs’ satisfaction and to do that, one should be able to walk the talk and restrain this needful existence and free oneself from that and try to help the people to do the same for a sustainable development and improving the wellbeing

and quality of life for all of the people in the world. This is how I have lived all my life. Many of the artists, even the realists, focus on social issues and pains of the people and that is the main subject of their works and I believe this should be the main contribution of the artist in the social context in the modern world, I mean focusing on challenges and issues of the man in the modern era. What works do you like to do that has not been done because you did not have required budget or space to do? I like other areas of art like sculpture, ceramic art, and even architecture. Working with furnace and doing ceramic works as well as other artistic works such as music are areas that I like to do but I feel I do not have the time to do them too. Especially music is very important to as you can see in some of the works I have reflected this enthusiasm for music. If I had the energy of my youth I was eager to elaborate my works more into 23


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bigger spaces and diverse materials. When I was younger, political obstacles refused me to do many of my ideas though still such restrictions in the social and political context exist. Although I had the chance to immigrate and live outside Iran, to be free of these limitations, I have stayed. I have roots in this land and despite all of these restrictions, I have stayed and adapted myself to the environment and have tried to change the medium as much as I could. Thus geography is a very important aspect of my life. I wish I could reflect more of geographical perspectives and elements in my artwork.

Name three artists that you like them most.

What is the most impressive moment for you as an artist?

We are now living in post Corona world which has been impacted by this virus. COVID19 experience has been a very profound spiritual experience for the human being. We have learned a lot from it and it has made us encounter ourselves in a concrete medium. The complexity of life in this threatening environment with all of its positive and negative impacts on lives of others is my current concern and I am eager to reflect on that. I am thinking of what human being may learn from this experience and what will be the real impact on the social context and relations of human beings with each other. I am planning also to expose my artworks to a wider audience in the globe. Multiculturalism and integration of human beings into a more diverse while connected complex requires exposing more artistic works to a wider audience through international platforms and I intend to share my works on such platforms more and find international audience too.

Every artist finds a framework that shapes the context in which the message is being conveyed. It starts with developing the idea and for me, when I start with conceptualization of the work, the most impressive moment in the moment; the idea is formed into a harmonic mixture of colors, lines and objects. The work leads me in the process and elaborates itself on the canvas. When it finally is formed in between the dance of lines and colors with each other, it is like the very moment of the birth of a child and it is full of joy and makes me feel full of life. It does not happen at the beginning. It is started subjectively in my mind, but it then turns into an objective being, on the canvas throughout the process which pushes itself and reveals itself. Both me and the artwork, have simultaneous impact on reach other and in this dialogue between me and the artwork, in this mutual relationship, the work is progressively elaborated until it is framed and fully known to me and that is the very impressive moment for me.

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I like many of the artists and I have been affected by their works. To name three of them, I can name Pablo Picasso because of his impact on the history of art and his lifestyle. Next I like Francisco Goya for his courage and his political resistance. And the third one is HonorĂŠ Daumier who has had a great impact on me with his works. What plans to you have for future?


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Lorraine Cleary Ireland

Lorraine Cleary is a part-time tutor with the Learning Support Unit in Limerick School of Art & Design and a volunteer with Adapt House women’s refuge in Limerick. An experimental artist working primarily with sculptural installations in pursuance of the creation of mini environments centered around the domestic landscape. She received a First Class Honours Masters Degree in Interactive-Media from the University of Limerick in 2015 and graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Fine Art from Limerick School of Art & Design in 2014. She was highly commended for the 2014 programme of the Undergraduate Awards in both the Visual Arts category and the Media & the Arts category. She was one of thirteen artists chosen to participate at the inaugural international exhibition of ‘Aligned’. In December 2018 Cleary completed a two-week residency in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Monaghan for which she was awarded a bursary. Previous group exhibitions include ‘The Model presents Cairde Visual’, Sligo, the ‘Winter Open Exhibition’ at Rua Red Gallery, Dublin, STREAM Project Limerick and the ‘188th Annual Exhibition 2018’ at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), Peak Show Limerick, K-Fest Kerry, Oughterard Galway, and TACTIC Cork. Clearys first solo “Conversation with [my] Mother” ran at the Alley Arts Centre in Co. Tyrone. Recently published in the first edition of AMP artist magazine and online in the March-Matriarchy edition of Mass magazine. Upcoming projects include a collaboration with 126 Gallery in Galway and Studio 12 in 2020, group exhibition ‘Comfort Zone’ in Dublin and a solo show in Tipperary Excel in 2021. Currently participating on a curatorial residency in South Tipperary Arts Centre with visiting curator Anne Mulee. Most recent exhibition Rural Shame ran at the Custom House Gallery, Westport, Co. Mayo. 26



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It’s your second time in our magazine, what changes since the 39th issue? Since the 39th issue I have begun working with Acrylic Plexiglas and Plexiglas tubing. Light has become a fundamental part within my work. LEDS are inserted into Plexiglas tubes that diffuse light into the surrounding space. I have also introduced a new element to my work with the addition of textile pieces. These textile pieces are all hand-stitched and constructed from second-hand women’s clothes sourced from charity shops or donations. Every item of clothing is pre-owned and therefore has an alternative history attached to it, we are not privy to this history but each hand-stitched ensemble attempts to convey to us a story of her, in essence each piece has undergone substantial transformation through deconstruction and reconstruction and therefore becomes a type of monument to her. Are you glad you became a full-time artist? I am glad, it has taken me years to get here and at times it can be difficult to sustain my practice, and the pandemic hasn’t made working conditions any easier. I don’t think I would be here today if I wasn’t able to express myself through art, it is no doubt a form of therapy for me. I do feel my work is important in that it acts as a talking point for issues within the domestic space that have been treated as taboo in the past. Domestic abuse has become more open in recent times, especially with the introduction of coercive control legislation. France introducing psychological violence legalisation in 2010 and Britain criminalised coercive control in December 2015, Ireland introduced coercive control legalisation in January 2019. This legalisation highlights the insidious unseen aspects of domestic abuse. What has been the most touching moment you’ve experienced as an artist? Hand stitching is a painstaking task but this working methodology is an important element in my practice, however it has resulted in painful inflictions of carpal tunnel and tennis elbow. Therefore, when you receive positive feedback for work that you have put everything into making it encourages you too keep going; for example, one Instagram user shared my work on her story calling it beautiful and poignant. Tell us more about your recent Installations. Currently participating in the group exhibition Fuzzy Logic at Studio 12 Cork as part of the Backwater Artists collaborative with 126 Galway. For this exhibition I showcased new

work titled DreamCatcher. The DreamCatcher is a Native American symbol that filters dreams; it is a maternal memento usually hung above the bed where at first light its exposure to sunlight ensures that the DreamCatcher absorbs negative dreams. Conversely, in an abusive relationship dreams are stifled by a barrier of suppression and all that remains is the negative consequences of abuse where victims are silenced and paralysed by shame; it takes immense strength to endure these conditions on a daily basis. The phrase ‘walking on eggshells’ springs to mind as an apt metaphor to describe the difficulty victims of abuse have in navigating the perils of the domestic space; where within its perimeter the protection offered is just an illusion and instead of a safe haven its inhabitants are filled with distress and torment and forced to participate as unwilling protagonists in everyday nightmares. These contemptuous surroundings smother the intellect and force the mind to question its own sanity. Chests and Drawers with their fake bottoms are referred to by Gaston Bachelard in ‘The Poetics of Space’ as ‘veritable organs of the secret psychological life’. Certainly within the realm of Domestic Abuse secret lives exist. The drawer here exists without its chest, its nakedness 28


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vulnerable, its interior exposed and merged with the exterior space of the home. Its mystery is violated and its secrets exposed. Red, a recurring theme within the installation communicates several opposing connotations that create a paradox within the work, red warns of imminent danger but also signals strength and determination, it is a colour closely associated with the female, pink been a lighter shade of red. Aside from the difficulty an abused woman experiences on a day-to-day basis, this work serves to remind us of the strength and character it takes for somebody to navigate such a tulmountous environment. Rural Shame was an exhibition that was shown in Custom House Gallery & Studios in Westport, Co. Mayo in January of this year. It consisted of a 4 works that aimed to bring the subject of domestic abuse into discourse. At first glance the exhibition appealed aesthetically to the eye, it held a pleasant aura but on closer examination, the viewer realized that all was not right; something was off, that the work disguised an insidious undertone. Adapting to the gallery space, and viewing it in correlation with the space of the home by bringing the private out into the public in a move to open up a discourse around the hidden injustices of the female within the home. This work responds to the theme of seclusion, the emphasis on isolation for its inhabitant as a result of living within a coercive environment. Room 10 x 8; circa 1990 is constructed to the dimensions of a small room from salvaged domestic objects, refashioned to tell a story. Its title refers to an era prior to social media, which only serves to enhance its solitude. Constructed from salvaged domestic objects, refashioned to tell a story. Its entrance is unconnected; light seeps out from beneath its threshold signifying the boundary between that room and the rest of the house. The lit Plexiglas tubing runs the perimeter of the work; the red light is symbolic of the Sacred Heart bulb that was a familiar feature through many Irish homes during that era and of Catholicism’s saturating influence.

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What are you working on right now? Currently I am working on the finishing touches to a piece entitled ‘Lady Caterpillar’ for an upcoming show at South Tipperary Arts Centre as part of the 2020 residency programme with Tipperary Arts office and curated by Anne Mulee. The exhibition is titled ‘New work’ and opens on the 8th of October. Lady Caterpillar is a subtle commentary on how women’s lives were/are dictated to by a patriarchal society where frequently she was expected to remain within the realm of domesticity. Layers of hand-stitched fabric from up-cycled female clothes are suspended from two crisscrossed mops emulating a puppeteers control over its puppet. Just as the caterpillar leaves its cocoon and becomes a butterfly, so too does the female, battling on-going oppression and control to take ownership over their own lives. Freeing themselves and with each layer she gets stronger and sheds her patriarchal constraints. Domestic tropes within the installation are representative of the females’ entrapment within the home, kept down by a macho society. The mug is a commentary at how limited women’s choices are perceived. The puppet master is used as a metaphor/symbol of this oppression. Anything else you’d like to mention that I didn’t ask? Upcoming projects include the continuation of the collaboration between Backwater Artists Group & 126 Artist-run Gallery Galway in 126 in January 2021, and a solo show in Tipperary Excel in 2021. Recently participated in a curatorial residency at South Tipperary Arts Centre with visiting curator Anne Mulee.


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Kaushik Dolui India

Born in Howrah, West Bengal, India but currently I am working and living in Kolkata, I am graduated and completed Master Degree in Economics from Calcutta University. In my childhood days, I did the drawing and painting, later in my mid-twenties I developed an interest in photography. By using a certain combinations of illusions and paradoxical forms and combining portraits, worldly objects as well as nature where subconscious characteristics are present. An idea came from my unconscious mind and try to unleashing my mind from the rational way of our society but at the same time I try to relate every elements coherently. Sometimes the photographs to be read as an equivocal state of mind, as realities and dreams simultaneously half innovated and half lived. 32


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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? In my childhood days, I did the drawing and painting, later in my mid-twenties I developed an interest in photography and it’s the period of analog era. Earlier for two/three years casually I used to send photographs in different national/ international salons but without any success. Slowly I started thinking about it seriously and decided to move on further and lastly won many awards/acceptances under FIAP and PSA patronages over the time and it is still continuing and got Excellence FIAP Honors from Federation de l’Art Photographique in 2009. In that sense it’s a continuous process. Digital technology in photography had given immense benefit in the next stage. Today photography and painting came a lot closer. But my artwork mainly based on photography. What is the most challenging of being an artist? Always stay in the thoughts of something new is a challenge. Sustaining in this field always requires persistence but I always find joy after establishing my thoughts in shapes, forms and colors. . I try to convey a quiet stillness of emotion with a deep thought to the natural surroundings creating the unique vision. I never tried to stick any rules or styles for a long time .I believe, over the time everything changes and it also affects the thinking of composition in photography mainly digital art works. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? From the emergence of human civilization it was seen that one can express one’s desire, emotion, inner feelings through art, mainly carving on stone walls or materials of their daily use. At that time art was mainly influenced by religion, mythology and birds or animals .They drew what they saw directly with their eyes. But artist in our age grows out of his own interest or expression of self. Social media has given the chance for art to be increasingly global. An artist can easily share his/her own ideas/feelings in social platforms. How would you describe the art scene in your area? There are many studios and art galleries in Kolkata where paintings and photographs are being exhibited periodically. Famously known as the City of Joy, Kolkata is, in every sense, the artistic, cultural and intellectual 34


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capital of the country. Kolkata’s streets are vivid, hectic, chaotic, and yet, brimming with life and creativity. Presently there are lots of photographers, painters, creative writers in my city. They are working hard in the field of creativity.

in huge numbers. Personally I think, there is a room for doubt here where quantity matters not the quality.

What do you like/dislike about the art world?

There were so many, from whom I was influenced, In the beginning there are some that leave me something to think about, namely Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams, Raghu Rai etc. Later we have lots of freedom when it comes to digital technology in photography. Every day I see lots of images/paintings and in our time it is difficult to say from whom I was inspired.

Name three artists you admire.

Firstly art is everywhere and it’s a part of our life, not only at our present time but it exists from the very beginning of this world. But in today’s world, internet has given us enough scope in promoting art works through website, social media platforms, online exhibits etc. This scope also inspired others to create new concepts, new ideas with new advancement of technologically at present time.

What are your future plans? I don’t have much future plans But always in search of exploring new form of artistic expressions and keep looking for opportunities to show it. Because of restrictions in movement in these turbulent times, eagerly waiting for going out and take good snaps.

At the same time this creates abundance of artists. Some organizers/clubs are promoting photographers/artists worldwide by conferring photographic distinctions of various types 35


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Inge Gecas USA

Threats to the universal harmony of nature motivate me to observe and reflect on our changing environment. Through the process of symbiosis and transformation, a new nature becomes my main subject. In my work, old structures are abandoned for new connections between organic and non-organic forms, movements, fleeting colors, levels of light. I express my awareness of and deep empathy with nature and all its beings through the process of intuitive experimentations with different media and techniques. I work with essential art tools - such as paints and brushes - as well as a camera and objects found in nature and in my immediate environment. I believe that each object dictates what happens and I follow its cues helping it become what it needs to be. While the end result is a digital artwork, in the process it undergoes many different stages - from traditional painting, dripping and pouring to digital photography, using various lighting systems, and to final stage of layering and color management. The process of art making becomes a prominent aspect of the completed artwork. I graduated from Vilnius Academy of Arts in my hometown of Vilnius, Lithuania, where I had two personal exhibitions showing my oil and acrylic paintings and mixed media works on paper. After moving to New York, I had a chance to learn and work with print design and digital photography. I find delight in each of the techniques in this set.

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

home to me. Every summer, the school would take the students and a handful of teachers to a month-long, sort of a sleepaway camp—a different place each time—where we would spend days practicing art outside. I remember getting up early in the morning to paint sunrises. I spent six years in art school before the college.

Dedicated teachers instilled in me the discipline to practice art every day. Starting art school at a young age (I was 11) is bound to shape a person who will see the world differently. I loved getting my hands into clay for sculpture or ceramics classes, drawing on the sidewalks of the Old Town, or making pen-and-ink drawings of roots and leaves in the park. Attention to detail was considered very important. The school was housed in a huge neoclassical, post-war building in Vilnius and had an abundance of art resources available for our use. It was as a second

In college, I studied architecture for four years. Though it wasn’t my first choice at the time, I now appreciate the skills those studies gave me: three-dimensional composition, light, color theory, perception of objects, architectural spaces… After the college, I experimented with painting techniques and mixed media and showed my work in a few exhibitions 40


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– but all the while I was very interested in learning new media and technologies. When I moved to New York, I got involved with print graphic design and photography and worked in that field for a while before making the decision to focus solely on my art. All my studies and practices have had a great influence on what I am today as an artist. I am grateful to have this variety of tools and techniques at my disposal, to be able to express my ideas using any media I choose for the project.

things come and go, showing signs of their coming or going, and these signs are considered to be beautiful. Things that are on the verge of leaving, taking another form – like a dry leaf –besides being beautiful carry the idea of impermanence. Literature and film are two other constant, lasting influences. Kazuo Ishiguro’s genuine way of describing situations and details, his insights into the human soul and ability to conceptualize at the same time. Myths and fairytales of my childhood that I enjoy re-reading and rediscovering, especially Hans Christian Andersen’s stories where imaginary, metaphysical spaces are described in such precise detail they feel real. A scene from Andrei Tarkovsky’s film “Stalker,” in which a poem

Over the years, the aesthetic principles of zen philosophy have influenced my way of thinking. Its great appreciation of moderation, asymmetry, imperfection, rusticity, naturalness, and subtlety has all sunk in over time. In Japanese aesthetics, 41


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by the director’s father is read aloud, overlapping with the surface of water, while underneath it we catch glimpses of a disappeared civilization including religious icons, a machine gun and household items like cans, and syringes. What is the most challenging of being an artist? Choosing challenge over convenience is innate to me. Challenge gets me excited, it forces me to look for new perspectives and techniques, to go into an unknown territory with my art. I share my excitement with the viewer, and I approach challenges as a part of my practice. On the other hand, nothing is a challenge once you find who you are and what your language is, though the journey to this revelation can be challenging. Artists are gentle souls and they can be hyper-sensitive to their environments. Balancing creative work and paying the bills can be a challenge. But I believe that the inner drive to create and share will get them through tougher times to an exact place where they are supposed to be, to accomplish what is intended. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Communicating through imagery is no longer a luxury it once was, it is a part of the daily life. People need art as a reminder of who they are. We are spiritual beings. I strive to communicate that and put a lot of information about it in my works without showing an actual human.

The reality now is that physical places are largely abandoned, and the virtual world is flourishing with arts. New media and recent events are changing the art scene. Physical art is moving out of buildings into nearby parks and streets are giving way to performing arts as people long for action and movement. What do you like/dislike about the art world? The proliferation of platforms that enable artists to show their work and communicate through imagery with large audiences is a wonderful development. Your followers, your Instagram tribe becomes your immediate community. It helps create bridges that connect autonomous art and society. I think a lot about ways to make my art more accessible and relatable to my viewer and to convey light and hope versus darkness. It makes me happy to see people responding to that, and I’m especially inspired and encouraged by the response. The term “art world” implies a separate field, something disconnected from the “real world,” and I don’t see it that way. I see innovation, engagement and a deep sense of purpose that a new generation of artists, curators and critics is bringing to their communities. Our environmental challenges underscore the importance to educate ourselves about how to make environmentally friendly art, about sustainability, science, biology, philosophy so we can respond to these issues. Name three artists you admire

To me art happens by sharing it. That’s why art speaks to political, racial, gender and environmental issues. In my art, I address these issues organically by conceptualizing and abstracting the happenings of this world as I go through changes and struggles along with everyone else.

I’ve had many favorites at many different times, but at this particular time I would pick Agnes Pelton. Her recent exhibition at Whitney was terrific. I was impressed with the curatorial choice to show a visionary symbolist who depicted the spiritual reality at this particular time. I admire the art of curators and organizers for this choice.

From the artist’s perspective, it is an act of self-expression with the intention of sharing that sometimes can be acknowledged as art. If it touches many people, that means it’s unique and universal. It can become a moving force that drives science, technology and fashion in a positive direction. And same as beauty, it comes as an insight, a revelation that exposes something fundamental, unique and universal about humanity.

I grew up loving Andrei Tarkovsky because of his poetic and symbolic cinematic visions and also Jackson Pollock. I relate to his Action Painting that celebrates the process of painting.

How would you describe the art scene in your area? I live in New York City’s Financial District where institutions like Arts Brookfield and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council do outstanding work bringing the best of art to big and beautiful architectural spaces in the area.

What are your future plans? I intend to continue working on expressing my awareness of and deep empathy with nature and all beings. I’d like to go further with exploring the synthesis of different art forms and creating visual spaces. I am very grateful to my amazing Instagram community—their support and guidance have helped me to keep creating and sharing my art. I look forward to continuing this meaningful exchange with my followers.

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Toby Griffiths USA

Toby Griffiths is a multimedia artist from Cleveland, Ohio. In 2014 he received his BFA in painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Originally trained as a painter the use of a camera for gathering reference material for painting led him to additionally expressing himself via photography. His journey through painting and photography ultimately produced a profound appreciation for film making. Toby Griffiths has recently produced his first short film Deep Yang Principle, and believes motion pictures to be his artistic destiny. The Virtual series revolves around the creation of virtual space, the simulacrum, history, and mystical traditions. It is an exploration into a simulated space that functions as a storehouse for memory and imagination. The virtual spaces created are linked together through the use of single point perspective, associating the images with the mathematical use of perspective in the development of renaissance painting. These virtual spaces operate as stages, platforms, or realms in which the physical objects that inhabit them represent eternal platonic forms and types. The series intermingles and juxtaposes the “spiritual” ideal of modern and ancient art, and in doing so contrasts ideas of the “sacred” and the “profane”. In the self awareness of its construction the Virtual series inspires the viewer to consider the mechanisms of artifice and artificiality as an analogy of the current state of the rapidly evolving digital information age.

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

recognition you gain as an artist the more resources are made available to you. So in the beginning when an artist doesn’t have much recognition, and thereby fewer resources, the artist must grapple with how to elevate the profundity of their work within their limited capacity. At the same time these limitations constrain an artist, they also can be beneficial to the artist, pushing the artist to solve problems in highly creative ways. The challenge of resources is never completely removed, however, because these problems only scale with the growth of the artist. And while the challenges the artist faced in the beginning may be eliminated, as the scale of their ideas expand, new difficulties emerge. The problem of resources is what I believe to be most challenging to an artist, and at the same time, a necessary catalyst for inventive problem solving.

The biggest influences in my work come from two different sources. The first derives from the classical western art of Greco-Roman antiquity and Renaissance/Baroque era painting. The second emanates from the classical eastern art of China, Korea and Japan. In regards to the classical western influence, it most notably descends to me from the Baroque era painter, Nicolas Poussin. Poussin was a history painter who illustrated subjects derived from ancient history, mythology and the bible. He was a slow, methodical painter who conceived his pictures after deeply meditating upon their subjects, imbuing his paintings with a rich enigmatic layered depth of meaning. In his work he synthesized the natural world into idealized forms and types to investigate the dilemma of existence and the human condition.

In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?

The second eastern influence enters into my work from the inspiration of the Literati tradition of scholar-artist landscape painting, the Zen garden and, in general, a Taoist and Zen philosophical viewpoint of human beings and their relationship with the natural world. The painters of the Literati tradition considered themselves both artists and scholars whose responsibility it was to cultivate themselves in order to produce beautiful works. The connection between my work and the the eastern tradition is the concern for discovering the subtle eternal essences that hide just behind the fleeting temporary appearances of phenomena.

Art in the contemporary culture of today seems to be in a confused and chaotic state. This is because of the highly conceptual turn art took in the 20th century. In the 21st century then, with the rapidly evolving technology of the internet and social media, art is both exploding outward and imploding on itself. Warhol predicted that in the future everyone would have their moment of fame, and that is essentially the condition we are in. Art has always been a highly competitive field, with artists vying for resources and attention. The internet has intensified this considerably. There is a tremendous freedom and almost infinite potential within our conceptual contemporary art, producing some of the most imaginative works of art that would be impossible to conceive of in the past. But, at the same time, because of that conceptual ephemerality, art is an endangered species constantly on the brink of bankruptcy. Art ideally is a wellspring from which the inner imaginative need of humanity can be quenched. But art

What is most challenging about being an artist? The most challenging thing about being an artist is overcoming limitations related to time, space, and resources. The scope of the work an artist is able to create impacts the kind of exposure the artist receives. The more exposure an artist has the more recognition the artist receives. The more 46


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has also always functioned as a kind of currency. The fear is that over the last century art has been undergoing a kind of inflation that has depreciated the value and vitality of what art is truly meant to be.

critics and connoisseurs that drive this market, we have to realize that there never was a time when art was divorced from business. Instead we should recognize the economical potential involved in the creation of art and, ideally, see it as a means of generating revenue for job creation, education, and chiefest of them all, philanthropic activity.

How would you describe the art scene in your area?

Name three artists you admire.

I’m located in Cleveland Ohio, where I think we have a fantastic art scene! Cleveland is producing a wide variety of artists working across many different mediums. We have projects like the Cleveland Photo Fest, which is a huge facilitator of photographic work. Galleries like the Transformer Station and Spaces facilitate a great amount of artwork, providing space and resources for both local and visiting artists. There is also the 78th Street Studios that house many different artist’s studios and galleries. All of these galleries (and many more!) strive to promote and give voice to artists from all different backgrounds. From my perspective the artists in the Cleveland art scene are very supportive of one another. I am a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, which has an outstanding reputation for artistic excellence and furnished me with the time and space to develop my practice. On top of this we have the Cleveland Museum of Art which is ranked as one of the best in the country. It is an artistic treasure house of the arts.

There is no artist that I admire more than the Baroque era painter Nicolas Poussin. I find him to be a great exemplar because of how he strove to crystalize all of nature into a sublime reflection on humanity and the cosmos by means of his penetrating and exacting imagination. Secondly I honor the Chinese landscape painter Mi Youren, who captivated me wholly with a single landscape painting, Cloudy Mountains, and who for me represents the heart of Chinese landscape painting. Lastly I admire the Japanese film director Seijun Suzuki, whose later films are surrealistic cinematic masterpieces that stand as a testament to his mastery over the medium of motion picture. What are your future plans? Currently I am finishing my second short film and continuing my experimentation and development of the digital photographic compositions that have been featured in this publication. After I complete the second short film I intend to produce a full length motion picture expanding upon the themes explored in my previous motion pictures and digital images. Ultimately I believe that my creative destiny lies in cinema, and based on my experience and frame of reference, I feel obligated to attempt to follow in the footsteps of the great surreal film makers such as Fellini, Jodorowski, and Suzuki, and produce a new generation of art films for the 21st century.

What do you like/dislike about the art world? Ideally the art world is a giant, open forum in which ideas can be explored and examined. Today, everyone has a means of voicing their creative expression via the internet, which is ultimately a positive thing. Where others see the competitive nature of the art world as a negative thing, I consider it as a beneficial mechanism that drives the evolution of art. Again, where we might lament the extremely commercialized aspect involved in the big epicenters of the art world and deride the 47


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Karli Henneman USA I am Los Angeles based painter and mother. I was born in Idaho, but spent most of my adolescent years working in fashion in Tokyo and Paris. I began my Fine Art education at Parsons (The New School for Design) in Paris and transferred my studies to New York City. I received my BFA from Parsons (NYC) and continued my graduate studies at NYU in Art Therapy. While living in New York City, I created colorful, labor intensive mixed media pieces (composed of paper collage, beads, and acrylic paint). After over 10 years in New York, I moved to Los Angeles and my artwork took a dramatic shift. Inspired southern California’s light, I began painting minimalist architectural details. My serene exploration of light and shadow investigates the ambiguous markings of urban spaces. This hard-edge painting technique offers a meditative, perceptual experience through the intricate interplay of simple geometric forms. Using a neutral palette with subtle variations of color and tonal differences, I create works of both equal opposition and volume. Painting is a creative exercise that allows me to be fully present. It’s an emotional journey of problem solving and mindfulness coinciding in harmony. It imbues a sense tranquility and creative growth. I create art that I want to live with. As I continue to investigate painting on linen canvas, I am also working on a series in watercolor. I eventually plan to explore the same subject matter in sculpture. Karli Henneman is a Los Angeles based artist whose serene exploration of light and shadow investigates the ambiguous markings of urban spaces. Her hard-edge painting technique offers a meditative perceptual experience through the intricate interplay of simple geometric forms. Using a neutral palette with subtle variations of color and tonal differences, she creates works of both equal opposition and volume. Questioning our modern world through methodical exhibits of shades of gray. The distinct clean lines and tonal shifts of Henneman’s work imbue a spark of coaction between the formal structures of her subject matter; brutalist form meeting elegant shadow. Her language of minimalist elements on vertically orientated linen canvases unify her paintings with both balance and a keen sense of craft.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? For me, the act of painting is a creative exercise that allows me to be fully present. It’s an emotional journey of problem solving and mindfulness coinciding in harmony. I grew up in a home that always encouraged exploring my budding creativity. Art making has been a constant throughout every phase of my life. I have always gravitated to other creative people, and most of my closest friends are artists (including my husband). I am grateful to have a community that empowers and celebrates each other. What is the most challenging of being an artist? Finding our voice and honoring it. Scheduling uninterrupted studio time (as a mom to a toddler). In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? It is a platform for civility, incivility, stability and instability. Art elevates and challenges us. It involves everyone. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Due to the current pandemic, I’ve spent most of the year at home, confined to my neighborhood. Luckily there is vivid art scene around me. Many of my neighbors are fashion designers, musicians, actors, painters, directors, cinematographers, and writers. Over the past few months, I am inspired to see how my neighbors turned “lock down” into a period of “creative incubation”. Lots of dynamic art is on its way. What do you like/dislike about the art world? Everything I don’t like about the art world is currently being challenged by the art world. Which is a good thing. The walls and classifications that used to exist are all being torn down. Name three artists you admire. Michelle Prazak Pete Schulte Nuria Maria What are your future-plans? My canvases are getting larger in scale. I am curious to see how the scale of my work shifts over the next year. I am also interested in exploring my current subject matter of “nouveau brutalism” through sculpture. 52


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Yogendra Joshi India

Yogendra Joshi, is a fine-art visual artist from India, who chooses an unusual medium and even more unusual tool. He creates art using various kinds of chemical compounds by crystallising them and showing their intricate textures and colors through a polarised light microscopic photography. He also loves to capture real-time videos of these crystal formations and create mediative media out of them. Yogendra has been practicing and teaching various types of visual arts over past 10 years and has multiple publications, exhibitions and awards to his credit.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? That’s a very deep question. Though every artist thinks his/her art is different from others. For those who do not know, which is pretty much everyone barring a few nerds in science, my “Art with Chemicals” involves creating chemical crystals from basic things like salt and sugar to exotic chemicals like HIV and Cancer medicines and everything in between and capturing its breathtaking beauty under a microscope with specialized lighting technique called cross-polarised light. I know its a mouthful! When your art is microscopic and you aspire to show breathtaking mountains to mythological scenes at a microscopic level that too using chemicals where you only control the outcome indirectly, the influence also has to be indirect, so to say. The primary inspiration I believe is the nature itself. Throughout my life, I have always wondered how the flowers can create such shapes and colors, how each snowflake shows unique patterns, how the leaves form at the exact Fibonacci angles and so many others. While I am nowhere close to getting the exact answers, I can see those same shapes reveal themselves at the microscopic level. It’s humbling to see the chemical crystals at a microscopic level show floral structures, trees that look more real than the real trees, landscapes with mountains, sunrise, and even simple and beautiful shapes like butterflies, elephants, or perfectly circular mandala. Nature is the biggest artist around the town and taking inspiration from her puts everything else in perspective. Another long-lasting influence has been the Nobel laureate scientist and easily one of the best brains of this century, Dr. Richard Feynman. While many know about his work in Quantum Physics, very few knew he was an accomplished musician and an artist himself. He believed that knowing the science behind the beauty of nature does not take away anything but rather you can enjoy the beauty of nature both at the level of human eyesight and also at the scales well below and above human vision. My small attempt at creating art under a microscope using a variety of chemicals is a small tribute to the genius of Feynman. I have had no formal training in either science

or art. I actually come from finance background and have spent 20 years building software which powers some of the largest customer loyalty programs in the world. In spite of that, I keep Feynman’s advice of “deriving pleasure in finding things out” as a beacon of light in my journey into the world of art. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? I have been an artist in visual forms for over 11 years now with a serious passion for photography where my aim has been to show my viewers what’s usually not visible to the eye. I specialized for several years in Insect photography and later into highspeed water drop collision photography. Both of which I taught several students through workshops and essays in several publications. Art with Chemicals was a natural extension to show the invisible but to a different level altogether. So when 57


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In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? We live in an age where we don’t care about the definition of art but are ready to see the emotional connection something creates and the beauty in simplicity as well as complexity. We are lucky to live in an era where artists have freedom of expression, medium and even choosing their niche audience. The advent of social media has helped break the stereotypes and monopolies in art and made it more democratic. We are more aware and anyone can learn anything from wherever we are. I am hoping more projects to combine science and art will continue to unfold and fascinate us. How would you describe the art scene in your area? If I have to define my area as “Art from Science”, we are seeing so many cool things happening around us where people are devising scientific methods to create art. From creating new materials and using them in the art to using machine learning to create gigantic art displays. Talking about Art with Chemicals, frankly very few know about this. I happen to be the only artist seriously pursuing this art form in my country, India, and just know a handful of people who are pursuing it worldwide. I would like to encourage more people to try this art and bring the wonders of nature to people. Name three artists you admire.

I started moving over from the world of photography into the world of art, I did not know those were really so different and not the same. I was advised to not tell the art world that I have been a photographer and not tell the photography world that I am an artist but merely to say my work is abstract photographs. I believe I as an artist take great pain to learn the intricacies of chemistry to know which chemical compounds and their mixtures whill create which kind of shapes, patterns and colors and leverage that to create the “ART” and use my camera and my 10+ years of experience as a visual artist-photographer to find and showcase the right areas to my viewers. Why do we need to create walls between Art and Photography? I have had my portfolio rejected by Art Magazines calling it “mere photography” and by Photography Magazines saying “these are paintings and not photographs” I am proud to say its both. That said there have been a handful of Art and Photography magazines (like this one) that understood what my art truly is and gave me a chance to show the wonders of nature to my audience. That’s a happy beginning. Let’s hope more people can enjoy nature’s creation at the microscopic level. 58

My list is going to be as unusual as my art, so you may not have heard of these artists. My inspiration for the Art of Chemistry has been three artists, one of which is my mentor who is practicing Chemical Crystal photography for the past 25+ years. The other two create art using natural objects where the art itself is not permanent but they need to capture the photo, just like mine. First is my beloved mentor Loes Modderman. Loes picked up the hobby of microscope after her early retirement at age 50 and found the chemical crystals fascinating. For past 25 years she has continued to make thousands of pictures with these chemical crystals under a microscope and all her work is available neatly in digital gallery at https://www.scienceart.nl/. I found her few months after I started in the Art of Chemistry and learnt several techniques and also about several chemical tricks from her. She has been a source of inspiration for me and her enthusiasm at age 76 is awe-inspiring. Michael Grab is a canadian-american art-


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ist who runs his art with the name of Gravity Glue and he creates art by stacking rocks without just using gravity (https://www.gravityglue.com/). He also creates beautiful videos of him spending time in nature creating these art installations in water streams, beaches, and any place he finds stones and rocks. If you haven’t seen his work, you are missing out.

offices on the walls for people to enjoy. While I have had some success from individual buyers and also collaborating with a few global chemical manufacturers, I would like more people to know about it and buy it. I have put together a website (https://www.yogendrajoshi.in/ ) but clearly not doing enough to market the work. The second is education. I would like to make this art and beauty accessible to anyone who has the will to try and patience to fail a few times and not give up. May be a book with a detailed technique of creating crystals and displaying how each chemical and their combinations create a variety of shapes. I am also taking this art to students and taking workshops for science as well as art students. Open to international collaboration as the world is now virtual and I can teach anyone even sitting in my house. Of course, in-person teaching can’t be replaced but we have a good second-best alternative now. The last one is to work with scientists to understand who various chemicals create these shapes and how the shapes in chemicals are related to natural shapes like flowers and leaves. I have talked to several scientists and almost no one has been able to give many convincing answers and readily accepted that this is an area of further research. If I can contribute to that effort in any way, it will be an honor.

The last of my favorite artists is again someone who works with nature and natural things. James Brunt is a British artist who creates wonderful illusions and art with leaves, twigs, and pebbles (http://www.jamesbruntartist.co.uk/). Though he also does stone-stacking, his primary work is in the circular arrangement of various objects which create beautiful art. What are your future plans? I want to make a difference in three areas. I am not sure if I will be able to have any success but I am continuing to try for sure. First of all, as an artist, I am looking to take my work to as many people as I can. I want this unique art form to gain more traction and start seeing it in more exhibitions, art installations, and more importantly in the living rooms and 59


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Shawn Marshall USA

Painting is a meditative practice for me; an outlet to release intuitive energy and let go of preconceived notions or self-imposed rules about how I interpret and portray the world. Using palette knives and brushes, I strive to create depth, atmosphere, and escape on the canvas, often with a focus on the horizon. Details giving clues about season or specific location are not as important as the emphasis on the point where earth and sky meet. And though reaching that point is never physically possible, it suggests there is always hope.

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

which continues to influence me. The horizon has been my enduring symbol of escape, beauty and hope.

My strongest influence has been growing up overseas in the 1970’s and living in Cyprus and Lebanon during their civil wars. Our family was forced to move twice because of war, once losing almost everything we owned in Nicosia, Cyprus. Eventually, we found peace in Munich, Germany.

As a professional artist, two groups have profoundly influenced my work. The Impressionists, particularly Claude Monet, and the Earthwork artists, primarily James Turrell, Nancy Holt, Michael Hizer, and Walter Di Maria.

Growing up in different countries ingrained my love for different cultures and enthusiasm for travel. The trauma of warfare and the multiple moves during my childhood, however, made me long for escape. Today I understand that my focus on painting the horizon is a manifestation of that desire,

Among the many great works of art and architecture I saw as a young woman, Claude Monet was a beacon. The tactile quality of his brushstrokes, the light, and his ability to capture the essence of a place through abstraction and simplification of its essential elements still mesmerize me. Monet, and his 64


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fellow Impressionists, introduced me to an interpretation and portrayal of the natural world which can be wholly mine. Later in life, while studying architecture at Cornell University, I received a travel grant for a 3-week road trip to study the work of Earthworks artists Michael Hizer, Nancy Holt, Water De Maria, and James Turrell. During that trip, I had the great fortune to meet with James Turrell at his Start Axis project in New Mexico. Turrell’s passion, combined with the work of other Earthworks, for non-traditional artistic expression, inspires me still.

What is the most challenging of being an artist? As with many artists, I always question my work and its relevance. In this sense, I am never fully “satisfied” and, honestly, I hope that continues. Almost 20 years of work as an architectural designer and my ongoing second career as a teacher are essential formative elements of my painting. Those experiences help me have the confidence to teach myself most of what I do now to create art. I, like many artists, am regularly challenged by life’s often mundane, but essential, tasks and obligations. To avoid being derailed by such intrusions, I make it a priority to work in my studio every day, even if it’s just for an hour. 65


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In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art both diverts from and reflects reality. Art’s meaning and purpose is different for artist and viewer because everyone approaches art with their own lens - their personal experiences and history. The way artists depict our ever-changing world will vary based on their perspective, but will always mirror and/or distort it. In this way, contemporary culture’s response to, and use for, art remains exciting and unpredictable. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Louisville, Kentucky has a thriving and rich arts scene. The Speed Art Museum, KMAC Art Museum, the very first 21c Hotel & Museum, the Frazier Art Museum, The Carnegie Center for Art & History, The Kentucky Center for Performing Arts, Actors Theatre, Stage One, The Louisville Orchestra are all representative of the local commitment to art. We also have a strong and supportive art association, Louisville Visual Art, that brings our community together with local artists. In fact, LVA’s annual Open Studio Weekend happens soon in November. Louisville has a wonderful array of art galleries, both privately run and artist owned. In fact, I had many rewarding experiences as a member and then director of Pyro Gallery, one of the city’s oldest artist-run galleries.

male-run galleries exhibited 75% male artists and 25% female artists. The female-run galleries didn’t fare much better, exhibiting 66% male artists and 34% female artists. The overall share being 72% male and 28% female. And in 2019, female artists represented just 2% of the market. (artnet. com). Let’s keep working to expand opportunities for female artists. Name three artists you admire. Cecily Brown - I first saw her work in person in 2005 in Oxford, England and was blown away. Her work is stirring and sensual and her brushwork is amazingly tactile. Helen Frankenthaler - I get lost in her large-scale abstract expressionist paintings. J.M.W. Turner - He was a master of painting landscapes that could evoke emotion. They weren’t just about representation - he makes the viewer feel both awe of nature and how fragile we are as human beings. What are your future plans? At present, I am focused on creating new work for 2 solo shows and a few group exhibitions next year in New York, Louisville, and Lexington. I’m producing a series of mixed-media collage landscapes by blending images such as food items and architecture with a painted landscape. By playing with scale, the work becomes somewhat surreal. I will also be working on a new series of large-scale landscape paintings for my upcoming solo shows. I’m excited to be approaching a long-term goal of working full-time as an artist. For the last 30 years, I’ve been extremely grateful for my “day jobs” as an architect and teacher while working nights and weekends as an artist. I look forward to devoting all my work time to art because, when that finally happens, I’ll never “work” another day in my life!

duPont Manual High School, a public magnet school in Louisville, has a nationally-recognized visual art magnet program. I teach visual art for a high school in nearby Oldham County, which is also very supportive of the arts. My high school employs 3 visual art teachers and offers classes in digital photography, graphic design, painting, drawing, sculpture, and architectural design. What do you like/dislike about the art world? I appreciate that the art world is more accessible for artists and collectors because of the internet. Getting your work out there is easier because artists can create their own websites, market themselves, and participate in online shows. Brick and mortar galleries are still important, however, and I will continue to exhibit in them. There is no substitute, after all, for seeing artwork in person and providing patrons an opportunity to meet artists. And being represented by a gallery still offers credibility to artists because it signals collectors that your work has value in the marketplace. I still want to see more female artists’ work, however. An article written by artsy.net in 2017 (looking at Art Basel in Miami) showed that the 66


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Kelly Reilly USA

Kelly currently lives and works in New York, NY. After graduating from Parsons School of Design, her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions internationally - recently Hong Kong, New York, Miami, Rome, and New Jersey. Her pictures hang in various private collections in the United States and Europe, and she has been featured in printed publications in the U.S. and U.K. My images bring material permanence to shadows, focusing mainly on themes of birth and decay: Beginning and end. I cross the spectrum of photographic techniques, drawing mostly from the medium’s earliest chemical processes while occasionally incorporating elements of present-day technology, blurring the lines of history as a symbol of wholeness and infinity. My images are primarily traditional photograms, a camera-less process invented at photography’s inception in which light, shadow, and chemicals produce a unique image on photosensitive materials. Select images employ the same traditional technique with the addition of a present day technology like the bed of a scanner, resulting in a series of photograms that are reflections of the infinite circle of time, space, and the breadth of the human experience in between.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? Myth, religion, and the cycle of life and death have all had a lasting influence on my practice. I was raised Catholic and I am an only child, and I think that those two elements of my early life wound up being quite influential to my practice and to my voice as an artist. The way that I experienced loss or memory or the understanding of death as an only child was magnified by the realization that I was, in many ways, alone. In addition, I was always given the freedom to spend time within my own imagination. I used to lay awake at night, using whatever light was coming in from my window to transform silhouetted shapes in my room into faces, other imagined shapes, and shadow people. Now, I go into the darkroom and do the same thing. What is the most challenging of being an artist? Resources! Being an artist requires a lot of physical time and mental energy; and it can also be quite expensive. In my own practice, I don’t usually turn away from an idea that I think is complicated or costly to produce, even if that means I have to sacrifice something else in return. Maybe I eat cereal for dinner every day for a few weeks but I don’t skimp on chemistry or paper or materials, I am unafraid of making a mess, and I don’t give up on any idea that I have faith in visually. That mentality has been so crucial to my practice because it has allowed me to create pictures that are truly and honestly representative of my ideas. I realized this years ago, when I was working in British artist Adam Fuss’ studio. At the time, Adam was building a large waterfall inside of his darkroom to make these huge, wall-sized water photograms for an upcoming exhibition. We had scaffolding, a giant flat sink on the floor, and hundreds of gallons of water falling from the ceiling. It was an enormous production. That’s when it really hit me that it is so important to full-send your process. Your ideas are worth the time, the money, and the effort you put into translating them. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art means history. Art is storytelling. I think that art is the most authentic form of documentation; it is a means through which people from many different walks of life can record their experiences on a professional or vernacular level. For some, art is a lifeline. For others, art is a break from everything else. How would you describe the art scene in your area? The coronavirus has changed things temporarily, but the art scene in New York City is usually pretty vibrant. It’s easy to feel anonymous in a major art hub like New York, but I like it that way! To create work alongside thousands of people who have abandoned where they came from to pursue their work in the city is truly a privilege. What do you like/dislike about the art world? I moved to New York City nine years ago to attend art school. When I arrived, “art world” was a phrase that carried little meaning in my personal life. I thought that attending a prestigious art school would be the springboard for my initiation into an elusive world of exhibitions and openings and film screenings and parties. What I did not realize was that, in many ways, the art world is a phrase that describes an asymmetrical industry that is run by the wealthy and the well-connected; an industry that often ignores the stories 71

and voices of those who don’t fit the on-trend mold of an “artist;” those who don’t dress a certain way, who don’t speak in a certain way, or who don’t have advantageous connections or powerful friends. While I do enjoy visiting the many galleries and museums in my city, I wish that the art world lent itself more to those who do not come into it with the right connections, the right clothes, the right background, the right friends. Name three artists you admire. It’s hard to name only three! Lynda Benglis I want a hundred of Lynda’s amorphous sculptures. I just love them. Adam Fuss Adam’s work is pure genius. I look at an Adam Fuss and I feel and I remember and I see and I understand. Cy Twombly I feel like I am traveling through time and space when looking at a Twombly. Each line, each shape, each word keeps me wondering. What are your future plans? I have an exciting fall season ahead of me with my pictures being featured in several international exhibitions. I am also working on building a home-darkroom with equipment that was generously donated to me by another awesome artist!


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Rob Tokarz USA

Painting is a synthesis between the subject matter, the image in the painter’s mind, and the medium. For me, it is a conflict between capturing a personality, the chaos of line, and the tranquility of color and pattern. Born in Chicago, I was raised by blue- collar Polish immigrant parents who pushed me to work harder and longer on any of the pursuits that I showed an enthusiasm for. In that, I developed an interest in art-making at an early age. As a child I grew up copying the people in the world around me on any surface I could find. My fascination with the figure and portrait deepened as my interests broadened beyond the media pencil and pen. By my late teens I was painting on canvas, preferring acrylic for its immediacy, allowing me to complete works in a single session. A move to Los Angeles for an MFA at the California Institute of the Arts lead to a two-fold career in film and painting. The combination of film’s organized chaos and Southern California’s sunny disposition focused my hand, honed an energetic approach to technique, and notably brightened my palette. In line with developing a cinematic instinct, the focus on working within a frame helped me to deepen the relationship with the subject’s I captured. Heavily influenced by Schiele, Picasso, Matisse, and graphic comic books, each work became an attempt to resolve my own impatient nature and obsessions. The figure, and particularly the female figure, had always been a source of fascination and eagerness. At once working to extend the art history motif of “the nude”, I work for each piece to confront the viewer with as much of the feminine tenacity, empathy, and grace that it can. It is my constant approach to a transitory target, yet one of boundless genius. My work continues to be an attack of line, color, pattern, and abstraction. Working in watercolor, ink, and acrylic, I continue to look for something deeper than a likeness to a spark of personality and the inherent power of my subject. The small size of my work aims to create an intimacy as I continue to afford the faces and figures a moment in time to inspire, arouse, and affect the viewer; a chance for you to peer deeper into my work and see them for their brashness and subtleties alike.

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Ultimately, though, the greatest driver from pen-stroke to pen-stroke has been the people inside of the pieces. Working digitally in my latest series, I continue to look for something deeper than a likeness; a spark of personality - the inherent power of my subject. The small size of my work aims to create an intimacy; to the give faces and figures a moment in time to inspire, arouse, and affect the viewer; a chance to peer deeper into my work and see the subjects for their brashness and subtleties alike. What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist? The most challenging aspect of being an artist is finding the time and space (outwardly and inside myself) to get through the inevitable troughs and crests of creativity. Art making is a path deeply paved with more failure than success. Having the energy and focus in light of familial responsibilities, the job that actually supports you, and frankly, the mess of a world we’re living in right now, feels at times, Sisyphean. What makes it all the more challenging is that artists are expected to share content at a pace that rarely allows the creative process to exist unfettered. Feeling the pressure to share that journey regardless of where you are in your own creative cycle can feel overwhelming. But I’ve always found value in sharing my work- well before the myriad avenues we have now that didn’t exist when I started making. Making that process public feels like a way to share more of the life of a creative than sharing only polished work. Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? It is difficult to single out a lasting influence as so much of an artist’s life is being fed by everything we see on a daily basis over many years. We take these images and stash them away in our mental attic. Much of our time is spent digging around looking for the perfect image, inspiration, or dream while being distracted by things we put away and forgot about. As a kid, I learned to draw from graphic novels and comic books. When my family and I left Chicago for the suburbs, drawing Lion King characters at summer camp made me friends. During my undergraduate studies at Bradley University, my dorm neighbor, Arius Elvikus, showed me that you could actually study art in college. A professor named Ken Hoffman fired up a passion to paint freely and explore; while the friends and acquaintances I made through theatre fed my figure studies. Going to the California Institute of the Arts led me to Mary Heilman through whom I learned the importance of diligent, continual, and professional practice as a scenic artist. Each of these and many other precious people’s influences created the skeleton on which I’ve been able to hang the meat of my work. 76

Still, the complexity of fighting with arbitrary algorithms to be seen, while working toward gallery shows and supporting oneself can drain even the deepest well. Even the the subconscious influence of strangers can make it hard to keep your work uninfected. There are likely many artists who we’ll never have an opportunity to see because of this. I’ve seen it happen with a number of my students. A cruel response crushing the bud before it has a chance to flower. Bleeding out your work on instagram isn’t easy, selling is even harder. The artist has to be both the inspired working creative and the gallery director of their own work. Rarely can one painter embody both.


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In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art has huge importance, more broadly than at any point in history. The act of making has democratized itself across so many groups and people that we’re rarely without its impact. TikTok, Instagram, and others, have led to the production of more creative work than at any point in history. Despite the danger in that, it still holds that we’re seeing art crossing platforms and into venues that it hasn’t before. It has become so valuable and present that it seems automatic. That being said, we’re also seeing the monetary value of art and creativity plummeting. Spectacular creative output for the lowest price possible hurts artists and devalues something so culturally critical. There’s still a lingering impression that making art is a hobby, and it’s something that should “happen” to have value. That the effort of the artist should not be rewarded, beyond allowing that creator the space and exposure to have made it and shared it. It’s painful when so much of what enriches our day to day, the vernacular art world we see constantly, gets taken for granted. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Los Angeles has become one of the greatest art magnets of the world. In my view, it has surpassed any other city in the United States. Because of its food culture, music, film and television, and live performances (in the before times), Los Angeles has an incendiary visual landscape (often literally). Our diversity and energy saturate the fabric of those that live and work here. So much so, in fact, that it can become difficult to stand out. This acts to catalyze ideas and strengthen each individual’s approach to their own work. This city is a creator, a disruptor, and a motivator. The struggle to live and thrive in LA makes an artist all the stronger for the experience. What do you like/dislike about the art world? It really depends on what aspect of the art world. For one - that there is an art world at all and that we have all these new avenues to scream out our images. From my corner, which lately happens mostly virtually and less in large galleries, there’s an increasing diversity in voices that is exciting to see. There are folx starting to be heard that haven’t been outside of niche spaces. We are nowhere near where we should be, there is a long way to go, but it’s heartening to see. From a privileged position, I aim to do my best to support, listen, and lift up. What’s led to that is also the worst part of the art scene. Gatekeeping is something that has happened forever. The wealthy and powerful few of the capital “A” Art World have limited the possibilities of many artists by promoting and superficially inflating whatever narrative is desired by the controlling class. With the new avenues afforded us through social media, we’re starting to see some change happening. Then again, perhaps

it’s become another data set for the large art world players to focus test. Name three artists you admire. The three artists that I currently admire and who are influencing my work the most are Egon Schiele for his figurative dynamism. His figurative contortions and composition are a deep inspiration. My second is Jenny Saville for her treating the body as a monument. Her work is a gut punch of paint that attacks my senses in a way that I’ve rarely felt. Kehinde Wiley has been on my radar for years now. The power with which he imbues his subject matter and his treatment of ornamentation is inspiring. What are your future plans? Right now, so much of my future is tied to raising a fantastic little boy and introducing him to how much creativity has shaped my wife and me. Creatively, I plan to continue developing my latest portrait and figurative work. I’m exploring a few analog avenues on how best to share my digital work in a gallery space. I’m also developing a few art books; including a second volume of “A Booty Book”. And lastly, I’m looking into finding a new studio space to start a large scale portrait series in paint rather than pixels.

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Dawei Wang USA

Dawei Wang, born in 1984 in Shanghai, graduated from the MFA program at Fine Art College, Shanghai Normal University in 2015, now living in New York. He has participated in group exhibitions such as the FQ Projects New Generation Art Group Exhibition, FQ Projects Monologue Group Exhibition, Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art “In Between Reality and Fiction” Animamix Biennale, FQ Projects “Loners” solo show, YUI Gallery “City Poetry” solo show, as well as the Shanghai International Contemporary Art Fair, Art Stage Singapore, ART021 and Sixteenth Annual Los Angeles Art Show. Living in cities, Wang observes moments when people are immersing in specific states: sitting still, being absent-minded, or being extremely relaxed and forgetting themselves. These scenes bring him sense of both intimacy and alienation. Strangers fusing into urban environment are familiar for Wang who was brought up in cities, while his imagination upon their intentions is opened due to the alienation derived from his identity as a foreigner.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? I think it might be the perception of personnel. Most of my work focus on ordinary scenes. I capture those scenes actually related to my daily life since I found myself related to these “ordinary scenes”, even though I was probably just passing by and that was just in a glance. I painted the resonance within me. And by doing that, I found that my skill is speaking for myself, helping on revealing how I see the world. I would like to talk about Edward-Hopper. I still remember when I was in college, the first time that I encountered his portfolio, it is hard for me to understand he was one of the most important painters in America. I mean his stroke looks not as sophisticated as a master painter should be, to be honest, far away from. However, after I started to live here, visit some of the cities and step my feet on the streets in the eastern of United States, I started to see the truths that hidden in his paintings. I started to see what he saw when he lived in those cities. And one day, when I finally have the opportunity to stand in front of his paintings, I feel that it is not: “I” understand his painting. It is the “painting” understood me. So, this experience, is so much different from what I feel from Jacopo-Tintoretto or any other painters of Flemish. Hopper’s work makes me feel secured. At the same time, unfortunately, it is also impossible to carve out all the good part that you appreciated from Hopper’s painting and apply on your own work. Because that is not about skill and technic. His strokes even looked like awkward. And the images of all his characters are not idealized. At the same time, those figures, which represent the author’s prospect about how he saw the world, are only belong to him. Since then, I started to realize that, if technic is not the first consideration of your work, then how far I should go in representing my own temperament to make a piece stand out.

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What is the most challenging of being an artist?

How would you describe the art scene in your area?

I think the most challenging part of being an artist is solitude. I have to learn how to be filter the unnecessary information out. Meanwhile, artist is lonely. Your work may not get enough attention even after spending a lot of time and effort in it. And artist need to realize that he/she has to give up some skill and mindset if you want to exceed yourself. I had to avoid exposing my paintings to the risk of being solely supported by visuals and techniques.

When I first arrived in the US, I barely knew anything about this country. All of my memories were still about my hometown, Shanghai. Most often I recognize my existence by remembering the past. The biggest change is I have to process the numerous information that a new culture, a new country provides me. This information made me overwhelmed. At the same time, because of the limited using of communication, I was forced to focusing on my work. After this period, I started to feel the old feeling came back. The state when I create a work in United States has been almost as same as when I was in Shanghai. So, I started to realize that the feeling that an artist needs to deal with, which is the combination of excitement and anxiousness, won’t change when you move and live in different cultures. And of course, I gain more inspirations when moved to United State, because my work is mostly about the people who live in urban environment. Living in New York means you see people from all over

In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? This is a very broad question. Art is no longer limited as visual art. While the world keeps changing, the definition of art became complicated and the edge gets blur. The progress echoes to the culture phenomena of our time. In my opinion, art is a different form for people to question the world which we live in. But it won’t be an answer. So as artists we have to keep asking, like the ancient people question themselves when they look up at the stars.

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the world and different cultures. It helps me to experience the variety of human being. Now I think I am closer to be an ‘outsider’ to the industry in New York. I always pay a visit to gallery if I am interested in the work on show. Otherwise I’d rather spent my time wandering on street and observing people. I mean New York is such a city blended with so many cultures. This environment provides me much more “raw” and “rich” information rather than art can do. What do you like/dislike about the art world? For me who obsess with painting since I was a child, my biggest pleasure is to smear freely. I think this may be part of the human nature. Later I became a student. The pleasure moments are those when I found another painter I liked. It makes me feel that this ancient craft still has the possibility of breakthroughs. After I start my way of being an independent artist, I feel the accomplishment of finishing a new piece which I am satisfied with. Those are the moments that I can recognize my value of being an artist. I think this is the magic of painting. The dislike part, I used to have some. But now it is that important to me anymore. 84

Name three artists you admire. I would love to admire Flemish artist Hieronymus Bosch 1452-1516) who was one of the most imaginative person in my mind. I never get enough from looking at his Triptych. American artist Edward Hopper 1882-1967), his paintings taught me about solitude. His most touching work is ‘Cape Cod Morning’, which is lonely but also hopeful. The last one is Chinese Song Dynasty artist Liang kai 1140-1210) who show the high expressiveness sense of painting. If you have seen his ‘Drunken Celestial’ and ’Fighting Cocks’, you will find that he has already reached the expressionist genre that appeared in the 20th century in the West. What are your future plans? Of course I will keep exploring in painting. Looking for further opportunities of exhibitions. And I started to look for residency projects, I have never attended one before.


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