Art Reveal Magazine no. 24

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Almudena Blanco Bilbao, Spain EXHIBITIONS 2016 - Group exhibition, Circuit Artístic, Fundación, Claret, Barcelona (Spain) 2016 - Group exhibition, NauArt, Barcelona (Spain) 2016 - Group exhibition, Autum Colors, Tandem Art Gallery, Sabadell (Spain) 2016 - Solo exhibition, K2, Bilbao (Spain) 2016 - Group exhibition, Blanco, Nave 73, Madrid (Spain) 2016 - Group exhibition, Estudios A Tu Aire, Bilbao (Spain) 2015 - Solo exhibition, 0’Level, Madrid (Spain) 2010 - Individual performance: Appearance and Meaning, San Francisco (USA) 2003 - Group exhibition, Photography, Bakrenko Collection, Saint Petersburg (Russia) AWARDS 2017 - Special Recognition, All Women Art Exhibition, Light Space and Time Gallery 2016 - Finalist at the 8th Art Slant Prize 2016 - Finalist at the November contest at Fusion Art Gallery REPRESENTATION AND RECOGNITIONS 2016 - Artist at Garte AYA Abstract Art Gallery, Bilbao (Spain) 2016 - Partner&Artist at Jano, Association for the Promotion and Divulgation of Arts, Barcelona (Spain) PROJECTS 2017 – Jano Association. The Hotel of the Arts, Catalonia (Spain)


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When, how and why started your art practice?

How would you describe the art scene in your area?

I started to paint in the fall of 2011. I was living in San Francisco (California) by then, and after a couple of years of working in creative projects through the use of drawings and sculptures, I decided to take painting classes at the university. I was working at that time as TV correspondent in the USA for a Spanish television. It had been already a long time of dissatisfaction because of what I was doing to earn a living, as well as a sense of emptiness because I was not confronting my desire to make art my main activity. So finally it happened. I could not avoid it. After taking those painting courses at UC Berkeley I have not stopped painting.

I am now living and working in Bilbao (Basque Country, Spain). This area is welknown for its tradition in sculpture. Artists as Eduardo Chillida and Jorge Oteiza were born here, and you can tell that still the main contemporary manifestations of art in this region happen around sculpture. This is good and bad. The good part is the high quality standard of these art references. The bad part, however, is that young artists in the area may be avoiding to look abroad more, to the international art scene. Fortunately, the Guggenheim Museum works out as an antidote for that. This institution has meant a lot in the openness of the city to the rest of world: the art scene now knows where Bilbao is, and also people here knows there is more art taking place abroad and that it is worth it to look at.

What is your creative process like? I mentally play with two or three ideas for months. Typically they turn out to be concepts related to human behavior (people’s true expression, fears, attitudes). Soon these concepts start to find an answer hrough a esthetic representation: I play with canvases and colors in my mind before actually going to my studio. Then I start painting and the physical process comes along with this mental, visual act of my mind that stays with me till I finish the painting or the group of paintings that I need to make in order to find the right answer. The whole process is about reflecting and acting. It is magic. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art means everything in our contemporary visual culture. Art does happen to be the structure where design, fashion and advertisement lean on. That means that any visual aspect of our culture finds its root in painting, photography, art installations, performances and video art. Their very own ways to use color, composition and movement end to be the base of our contemporary esthetic. Name three artists you admire. Cy Twombly, Georg Baselitz, Isa Genzken.

What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? I encourage them to be real, to try the authentic without fear. I believe that is the only way to build an art career that makes sense, as well as, the only way to really grow up while making art. Actually there is nothing to lose and a lot to win with this attitude, although our more conservative and protective subconscious structures sometimes tend to place us in a different scenario. It is difficult to sell pieces of art so it happens very often that artists are more focussed in making something trendy and likeable than real. I personally think that that is a mistake. That may turn them just into “cool things” creators more than into creators of knowledge. What are your future plans? I am now focused in my new series of paintings. I am working in the analysis of “less as enough”. Playing with the use of different materials, as well as with the reference in my paintings to elements coming from different art movements, I am trying to say everything it is needed to be said without going too far in the expression, neither stay short. I am also exploring through these pieces the work in big format canvases. These works will be also used to attend to my future exhibitions in Venice, Basel and New York.

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Day Bowman London, UK Day Bowman, graduate of Chelsea School of Art and London University, is a painter whose work lies on the axis of figuration and abstraction. In the past 15 years she has collaborated with film-makers, composers and musicians to produce installations in sacred spaces, market squares and railway stations throughout the U.K. The Urban Wastelands Project (2011-12) highlighted issues concerning the wastelands and detritus that surround our cities and ports. Commissioned to produce a series of posters for Weymouth Station as part of the 2012 Olympic Sailing and Paralympic Sailing Events, her work was also digitally produced and used in the ICCI Dome on Weymouth beach in collaboration with the U.K. rock group Phoria. Recent exhibitions include The Columbia Threadneedle Prize at the Mall Galleries London (2016); Borders, Boundaries and Margins at Art Gene, Barrow in Furness and Musgrove Park Hospital Taunton (2015); Drawn, RWA (2015); Alchemy, Art Jericho Oxford (2015); The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition (2015). Selected to be part of the Soft Estate touring exhibition (2013/14) at the Bluecoat Liverpool and Spacex Exeter; Refinery1 was long-listed for the Aesthetica Art Prize (2014). Day is currently curating Edgelands a cross-arts exhibition that investigates and celebrates the forgotten corners of our urban landscape. The exhibition is can be seen at The Crypt Gallery, St. Maryebone Parish Church London NW1 5LT until 30 June 2016. A U.K. wide tour of the work will take place during 2017.


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Describe the work you do. Most of my childhood holidays were spent exploring the wastelands and edgelands of a small coastal town stretching beyond the promenade, beach and golf course into a wilderness landscape. Love of that landscape – abandoned containers, gasometers and concrete detritus – forms the language of much of my recent work. In these works I have set out to explore the landscapes of Britain that are passed through, ignored or deleted from the collective memory; landscapes of arrival and departure that question our perception of place, of memory and of transience. In The Road Trip Series I have set out to investigate how and why we travel the landscape: through cities and suburbs; retail parks and parking lots; edgelands and endless motorways. These paintings represent snapshots of journeys across such landscapes by car, bicycle or bus; journeys that criss-cross the land and our daily lives, which we absorb, acknowledge or ignore. When, how and why started your practice? My earliest childhood memories are of scribbling into an unused baby book. At the top of each pink page were cherubs drawn in a grey ink and below, where little locks of hair and photographs of baby’s first steps should have been recorded, I copied and copied these beautiful cherubs. I don’t know where the book is now; it would be fun to find it. Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist? I have a problem, like many artists, with the term conceptual. Surely all art is conceptual; it’s just that conceptual artists back in the 60s and 70s saw it as a means of thought over activity. For me, the act of doing, whether it is drawing, painting or mono-printing, is central to my work and to my studio practice. How has your work changed in the past years? Over the past 15 years I have found that my work has moved from being purely abstract (The Compass Series) to grap-

pling with some form of figuration. I think nowadays (The Urban Wastelands Series) it rests somewhere on the axis of figuration and abstraction and seesaws back and forth depending on my mood and the particular series that I am working on. How would you describe you art scene in your area? As I live in London I think most people know what is going on in the capital city. Many argue that more should be happening in the provinces but whilst the money making is weighted in the south, and particularly in London, then the provinces will always lose out. There is no doubt, however, that there is a lot of great art happening in publicly-funded gallery and museum spaces up and down the country. At the moment, Edgelands, a cross-arts exhibition of painting, dance, music and spoken word that I am curating, is about to embark on a U.K. tour. The quality and professionalism of the advice given me, along with provision of workshops and events offered by each gallery space, has been second to none. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? I think you’ll find that all artists with a strong practice are reflecting something of their contemporary culture, their worlds. The work does not have to be overtly political or figurative to reach out to people, to touch them and to raise important questions. Take for example, Edgelands, this is a group exhibition of six artist whose practice has been bound up with understanding the wastelands and edgelands that surround us, whether we are city dwellers or rural inhabitants. It is also a reflection on how we perceive our landscape and how much of it is forgotten, ignored and laid to waste. What are your future plans? Like many artists, I have relied heavily on teaching to provide me time in the studio but my aim is to down size my work as a teacher and spend more time curating as I find this fits well with my studio practice. Added to which, I find I enjoy being out there and making contact with galleries and museums; I guess it is an antidote to the daily ivory tower existence of the artist!

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Josh Bowe Llansantffraid,UK Josh Bowe’s painting is all about the universal human experience, the distillation of the base elements that bind us together. His portaits can transform one man’s longing or one woman’s suffering into reflections of aspects at the core of the viewers’ own personality. Twelve months ago, Josh switched from acrylic to oil and the new medium has proved a revelation for him. The process he goes through to complete a painting is an investigation, a constant struggle to reconcile the opposing forces of representation and abstraction. The faces that inspire him the most are the faces that best portray the journeys we all take along the road of life; faces that capture both the decisions we make and the decisions forced upon us by circumstance. He is fascinated by the way the human physiognomy can mirror the variant strengths and relative proportions of the elements that combine within us all to forge our characters and personalities. The acceptance of defeat, the will to triumph, the courage to hope, the profondity of loneliness, the permanence of loss, the painstaking accretion of wisdom - these are some of the sentiments that Josh mines and extracts from the wrinkles on a homeless man’s brow or the radiance of an old woman’s eyes. The titles Josh gives his portraits are abstract nouns, not names. With a name comes a history, a biography, the series of associations and preconceptions that makes us all unique; by stripping away these labels, Josh extracts the essence of humanity from the individual. The identities of his subjects, their backstories - whether they live on the street or in a mansion - are subservient to the role he gives them as archetypes. Ultimately, Josh’s painting is about communication. It is his search for commonality. It is the depiction of the feelings and emotions that we all share. The things that make each of us special, unique and invidual are the conversely the things that make us part of the whole. When Josh paints men and women, he also wants to paint Mankind.


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Briefly describe the work you do. Mmmm always a contingency of the impossible about an artist describe their own work, so with that in mind hopefully I’ll avoid any pretentious allusions.... I guess my work has connotations about struggle with in the process of paint application itself, as a lot of over painting occurs before I arrive at the final image, generally. Hopefully that struggle is conveyed in a manner that gives rise to a relatable characteristic for the viewer to find. In order to throw some form of idiosyncrasy into the mix I frequently stray from orthodox palettes for figurative/portraiture work. In terms of a cohesive narrative in my work, I’ve never really concisely figured that out, so i can’t really lay any claim on an over arching philosophy inherent with my paintings. When, how and why started your art practice? I’ve been painting since before i can remember, well more accurately drawing. One of the jobs my Mum had as a kid meant there was an abundance of plain paper at my disposal at any given time, I made full use of it. Painting/drawing for me has always given me the license to spend long periods of my time alone working, and for different reasons, I think this is as important to me now, as when i was a child. Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist? Hahahahahahaha, I guess so, there has to be a contingent of that in any painters self assessment, you’re dealing with metaphors in some regard whenever you paint or draw. i think of myself more as a conceptual person rather that artist. How has your work changed in the past years? Recently my work has changed significantly, for multiple reasons. Between three and four years ago I began painting in oil paint again, after years of avoiding it. This was like a new lease of life to me, tinged with the very necessary berating of myself for having not used oils in such a long time(roughly twenty years). The incremental impact this had on my painting is still on going now. Over all i think the facility to see more detail in the

colours i use, combined with inherent mark retention in oil painting, took me down a path where my paintings have become far more layered, and i have become far less concerned about pre-empting mistakes. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I live in quite a rural area, this definitely has an effect on the art being displayed in galleries in the surrounding area. In terms of access to the larger shows, it’s pretty poor from here. I suspect a lot of rural areas are now suffering the cut backs to the humanities thanks to austerity measures. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? In my opinion, it’s not really something for one individual to articulate. For me you get out of art what you bring to it, and

i think in a time of swathing cut backs art gives people who other wise wouldn’t have a forum for articulating, room to do that. It’s certainly been the case for me, I shudder to think what i would be doing right now if i weren’t painting on a regular basis. I think art has always been about some form of transgression, the longer you engage in an artistic manner, the more you have a healthy questioning of authority. I don’t think there could be a more vital component to contemporary culture, but obviously i am biased. What are your future plans? I’ll have a selection of my portraits on show at the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle during their Summer Show this year. I currently have a show of some smaller gestural Portraits at the Art Cafe Contemporary Art gallery in Whitby. Hopefully a couple of other exhibitions will come to fruition this year, YTBC.


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Jacques Lawrence Calver Suffolk, UK My work looks to investigate the ways in which textiles can evolve in close affinity with themes related to contemporary fine art, most specifically the tradition of painting. Through using a range of materials such as linen, cotton, silk, and jute, as well as re-purposed domestic fabrics, the works look to emphasize on the aesthetic and functional traits of the materials themselves. The fabrics are exposed to a range of rigorous processes such as bleaching, dying, painting and staining, as well as a process of embroidery, stitching and sewing. Many of these processes draw upon historical modes of fabric production, such as African mudcloth and strip cloth, also with strong reference to Japanese Boro as a means of recycling or re-purposing materials. My work constantly mediates between the material, and immaterial. Between concrete, tactile objects and their virtual representations or ‘abstractions’ and as a result, the contents sits somewhere between abstraction and representation.


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ting, or grain sacking, it is this diversity of material matter that excites me. Once I have my materials, I begin to explore the aesthetic and functional properties of the materials themselves. By exposing the textiles to processes such as bleaching, dying, painting and staining, as well as a process of embroidery, stitching and sewing. Many of the processes that I use make reference to historical modes of fabric production, such as African mudcloth, strip cloth, and Batik resist dying. It is through this wide use of materials, tools and techniques, and the diversity in my making process that amputates the gestural expression of the human hand. I am constantly seeking for processes that create a lack of control over what I am doing; it allows room for unexpected discoveries, for new and exciting things to happen. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? For me it would have to be the cultural diversity that is making art exciting in contemporary culture. Whether you are traveling to a new place, or you live in a culturally diverse area, it is this on-going synthesis that is making contemporary culture. With this comes new ideas and experiences that generate new ideas through out the arts. Name three artists you admire 1.Lee Ufan 2.Alberto Burri 3.Jackie Nickerson When, how and why you started your practice? I graduated from London College of Fashion in 2014 with a BA in Creative direction. The course was great, and taught me a lot about project planning and direction, but there came a point towards the end of the course that I began to loose focus on this aspect, and just had ideas for projects that I wanted to undertake alone. I got really got in to set design, creating composed sets that I would then photograph, and it was really from there that I realised it was the making process that I enjoyed the most. From 2015 I began trying out all sorts of mediums, just constant

experimenting with different materials and process. My work is now solely textile based. Textile fine art is situated between applied and ‘ free ‘artistic practice, between craft and art, and I love this freedom as it allows me to feel less confined to a specific process or outcome. What is your creative process? I let the materials generate my creative process, I think of the sourcing process as an active part of my practice as it is generally determines the direction of a work. These materials can be anything from old curtains, or bed throws, to Japanese net-

How would you describe the art scene in your area? My studio is currently based in Suffolk, right on the south east coast of the UK and is in walking distance from both the sea and the forest. I like to work outside as much as I can which has had a great influence on my work, being exposed to my surroundings allows me to engage with my materials. Their colours, tactility and temperaments become clearer to me. It seems the tranquillity, the landscapes, and natural materials are what attract a lot of other artists in the area. There are a number

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of artists close by to me that are working in very different mediums but are using natural matter in some way in their work. Its nice to see that we are all inspired by where we are geographically, but how it is applied with such diversity to our artist practices.

and really discover what your about. It’s only through trial and error that you can find what works for you. I also think that regardless to the feedback you get from others, if you are happy with the results, you should just keep going regardless.; it becomes more a challenge of persuasion at that stage.

What advice can you give to those who are starting out in the arts?

What are your future plans?

For me it’s been really important to discipline myself with a lot of independence to my practice. By having artists that influence and inspire my work is very important, but what is more important is putting in the time and effort to work,

Well, in January I start a 6-month residency at the muse gallery in London. My most recent work has been using loose-yarned wool, which I have been using for embroidery. I’m having a lot of fun with that at the moment and am


constantly finding new ways to work with it. Iv already completed a few works, but I am excited to develop this method further throughout the residency. At some stage I would also like to try taking my work to a more commercial level, working with interiors, and within the fashion industry. I have recently been doing a lot of screen-printing on fabrics, which are already taking more of a design approach. Like textile design I am creating prints, which can then be produced by the metre, so I intend to make these works on a larger scale as apposed to one-off works, but intend for them to be more like one-off reproductions.

Peter Eleveld Apeldoorn, the Netherlands

WetPlate photography, there is something soul satisfying working with the WetPlate process. It gives meaning to the material I am using, I can lose myself for days in creating new images. I have been working in the professional photography industry (Rijksmuseum,, etc) for many years, with both mediums, film and digital. Now I was at that point where I could not feel the excitement/creativity anymore. How to find a new way? I was always attracted to the old big wooden cameras and all the historic photographic processes. So, I decided to find myself a 10�x10� wooden camera and start working with the Wet Plate collodion process. With this I could go back to the very beginning of the photography. The Wet Plate process is exciting and full of surprises and sometimes disappointments! You only have one prepared Wet Plate and one chance to get it right. You have to think ahead, make the composition, light, time, aperture and it will all come together in one unique magic moment. This magic moment happens sometimes and then a one-of-a-kind photo develops in front of your eye!


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When, how and why started your art practice? I started working as a photographer many years ago (about 30), I thought I could live as an artistic photographer and pay the monthly bills from the income from photography sales. Well, that did not work, some months you could live from it, but for a lot of months there was not enough income to pay the bills!

So, I changed my photography from artistic to commercial photography.

I was at that point where I could not feel the excitement/creativity anymore. How to find a new way?

How has your work changed in the past years?

I was always attracted to the old big wooden cameras and all the historic photographic processes. So, I decided to find myself a 10�x10� wooden camera and start working with the Wet Plate collodion process. With this I could go back to the very beginning of the photography.

I have been working in the professional photography industry (Rijksmuseum,, etc) for many years, with both mediums, film and digital. Now

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The Wet Plate process is exciting and full of surprises and sometimes disappointments! You only have one prepared Wet Plate and one chance to get it right. You have to think ahead, make the composition, light, time, aperture and it will all come together in one unique magic moment. This magic moment happens sometimes and then a one-of-a-kind photo develops in front of your eyes! So, yes my work has changed over the last 4 years! In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? Paige Bradley (the sculptor) says “Art is not entertainment. Art is not luxury goods. Art is culture. It is you and me”. That’s how it feels to me. Art connects people. Name three artists you admire. Charles Rennie Mackintosh (artist/architect), Erwin Blumenfeld (Photographer/Artist) and Edgar Degas (painter/sculptor). How would you describe the art scene in your area? The art scene in my current hometown is not that great and soon I will move to a new town. There’s a lot of activity in the art scene. I hope that, with my new Gallery/Photostudio, I’ll enter a new network, a new environment. The new house has a great space in which I will also give workshops in analogue methods and techniques. I can’t wait to move and start! What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? Be patient, building a great career around your art takes a long time, and you have to be willing to try and try again. So don’t give up! If you can, keep a day- or parttime job. It keeps you afloat until the next customer comes along. What are your future plans? Currently I am working to renovate an old Post office (build in 1879) into a Gallery/Photostudio on the groundfloor, above there are 2 floors, which will become our new home. The project started 3 months ago and the end is in sight, 2 more months to go. It’s a big place to renovate, the Gallery/Photostudio is 8 x 15 mtrs, behind this space are 2 large darkrooms. It will open in the beginning of March this year, also there will be several workshops every month. The workshops will be mainly about analogue photography. (including Wet Plate photography)



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Olga Guse Dresden, Germany


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When, how and why started your art practice? I have been interested in art since my childhood when i was still living in Russia, in Saratov, a fairly big city on the Volga. When I was 20, I enrolled as a student in the History of Art Department at the Saratov State University. In 2003 our family came to Dresden and since then I have been living and working here. All this time I was engaged basically in art: digital and classical painting, drawing, plastic arts, animation and film. In 2014 I finally managed to get wide recognition with my experimental film with puppets “Decadence of Nature�. He was shown on more than 60 exhibitions and film festivals around the world. Among them there are such significant festivals as: 17th International Art Exhibition NordArt (2015, Ger-

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many), 9th OSTRALE international panorama exhibitions of contemporary arts in Europe (2015, Germany), 7th INCUBARTE International Art Festival (2015, Spain). What is your creative process like? At the beginning I worked basically with puppet animation, creating colourful ball-jointed characters from polymer clay. Then I animated them by shooting with the camera frame-by-frame. The background was acrylic or digital pictures. In 2016 I began to put into practice my childhood dream to be just an artist. At the heart of my two new films are acrylic paintings animated on the computer. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture?

In my opinion, art today has lost its importance in comparison with past centuries. Nowadays, instead of buying a painting, most people buy a cheap reproduction. On the other hand modern art is much more diverse and creative than older art. There are many new techniques and means of expression. For example, video art makes it possible to show an artist‘s work all over the world.

Name three artists you admire.


famous exhibitions: OSTRALE - International Contemporary Art Exhibition and OrnĂś Bienale. This is a great pleasure. But unfortunately the situation of many contemporary artists in Germany is lamentable: many art school graduates lose interest in art simply because they cannot earn enough money in this field - and they choose other activities. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts?

Michelangelo, Salvador Daly and the German painter Jonas Burgert with his gloomy, but technically very interesting paintings.

Be yourself, stay an artist!

How would you describe the art scene in your area?

To draw as much as possible and not to think about the reaction of others.

In Dresden, there are two regular big and

What are your future plans?


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Pedro HernĂĄndez

Llanogrande, Colombia

The value of this art is a counter value with respect to the experimental values and is measured in reverse direction to the latter. In “El miedo ambiente� (192x83cm.) For example: A backdrop fair that instead of the bearded lady shows us a thundercloud. Of course we do not have the ambition to list the countless possibilities integrating and disintegrating members under which the desire deforms to the desired image; We can however provide an appearance oh those inter-anatomical dreams on the surface of consciousness, even the collective consciousness, so we could deduce that the images of sex.appel precede the most profuse being implemented.


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How, when and why did your artistic career start?

What do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist?

Around the age of seven or eight I started hidden rivalry with another child, to see who could better copy drawing sheets, photographs, book illustrations etc, we spend the whole course (8 months) drawing non stop.

What I think of myself as a conceptual artist is that I am not a conceptual artist. I am a conceptualist, which is not the same, within the Spanish baroque painting tradition, the era of conceptualists or makers of paintings of riddles. Without forgetting the formal influences, the contemporary visual information – the general and the properly artistic- that my work has in addition of a certain dialogue with the history of painting itself.

With the pocket money I would get on the weekend, I bought all the art booklets that were available. In my opinion he drew better. Despite all of this I did not get enrolled into an art class but a music course. I had never shown any signs of musical talent, not ear not singing or playing the drums, nothing at all‌ However someone suggested that musicians start out as children. So when I got to eighteen years of age I was in the second year of virtuosity in classic guitar and I was going to start the second year of harmony and composition. After eight years of music theory, scales, acoustic amongst a few other things‌ I still had no clue about music. I guess I got thus far due to my families imposition and discipline, which was quite extreme. In the meantime I had also gone through high school, the university orientation course and had passed my A-Levels thanks to my magnificent mark in Art history, but I still did not know much about anything. I guess it goes back to the abovementioned family discipline. You might ask what I had been doing all that time? Well, that what I had forbidden, drawing and reading comic books. I drew everything, fantasy cities, non-existent countries, cowboys, horses, race cars, rockets, footballers, dead trees, mermaids, everything. When I was about to become of age and after many vicissitudes with my family, I passed the entry exam for the School of Fine art, without having ever taking a preparatory course. Subsequently I got out my family home and abandoned my previous imposed music studies. When the School of fine art became the Faculty of Fine Art of the University of Barcelona, I did not have an issue with the bureaucratic change, as I had passed the entire requirement. However as time passed I understood that the academy bored me to death and that I did not see any meaning to it. The University was completely politicised, due to the fact that it was the end of the seventies, the end of dictator Franco and the beginning of the Transition, a few very convulsed years. But that is another story. Concluding: I started because of childish rivalry and continued because of the family prohibition.

How has your work changed through the years? My work has relatively remained the same with regards to the formal search, the search of thematic approaches and the search for expressive correspondence in accordance with my thinking at the different moments in time. For the last two years I have been focusing on the dissociation between the appearance of the image and its meaning. With the eagerness to achieve that the

paintings do not signify what the formal appearance might indicate. The formal appearance, as a mask of the true meaning of the paintings. It is not anything new but a personal challenge. Only what one finds interest in is what motivates the search. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I have been living in a village in the mountains for five years and the closest big city to which I sometimes travel to, is Medellin. Therefore my awareness is limited. It is a second world country borderline third world country with substantial social and economic differences. The academic elite lives in their own bubble, even though they try to develop multiple cultural activities in their attempt to universalize everything cultural, however the differences are too great. That is why the effort in the area of the University of Antioquia, a public university, is very praiseworthy. Within the context that is dedicated to culture, the arts take up a small part, and within that small part the pictori-

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al, is only a thin slice. Namely it is a small percentage of a small part of a limited space. However all the efforts are laudable and very necessary. In the private sector it would be a meager market who´s reference would be the capital, Bogotá. All he Colombian artists that I have had the opportunity of meeting aspire to international presence, as the means of viability for their projects, if they want to abandon the academic life. It is a dismal scene. In your opinion, what do the arts signify to contemporary culture? We need to keep in mind that on one hand we have the production activities, appropriation and accumulation and on the other we have the principle of loss, which explains the actions of destruction, donation and dissipation. Based on this double principle, Bataille believes it is necessary to carry out a critique of the political economy. It is necessary that the economy gives account, not only of the wealth-producing activities, but also those activities that destroy, spend, waste, dilapidate that same wealth, be it in a festive or violent manner. This is what happens, for example, with jewels and other luxury objects, the cults and religious sacrifices, the funeral ceremonies, sanctuaries, wars, sports, shows, games, parties, artistic and literary creations and sexual activities not intended for reproduction. Bataille questions the modern economy, which he calls “restricted economy”, because it only accounts for the human actions governed by the “profit principle” and proposes to develop a true general economy, which accounts also for the other activities governed by the “loss principle”, instead. In my humble opinion the Arts are part of the representative activities rather than productive activities, and therefore fall as such, in relationship that operates between the National state and its contributors and the opinion that these States deserve with respects to other National States and the Financial Institutions that sustain them. That is to say that we could speak about an “official art” that would be considered to match up to the state´s expectations of intellectual reality. These should be original and native, but today could be defined as “generalised installationism” within the frame of occidental culture of course. The nutrients of this “official culture”, which on the other hand formalises a simulacrum of the “private sector”, are the most important art galleries, which like real multinationals, have implantations in the different countries.

It is here where different proposals, which in future will be acquired by the different states, under different forms of installations, rentals or other exchange modalities, are rehearsed. Obviously the system has allowed to “fill up” big spaces, under the name of “contemporary art”, in a quick and simple manner, with detachable, ephemeral installations or with a permanent art work of acromegalic (a type of gigantism) dimensions, impossible to contain in other areas and even less in the “private sector”. These “offers” are at the same time justified culturally and epistemologically by a cultural figure, of relatively new establishment, that is called the “commissar” or “curator”. This “art philosopher”, to describe him somehow, justifies in himself the academic activity of universities, in their philosophy, history and art history branches. That is to

say, that “official art” finds in its teaching activities, its own justifiers, as it could not be otherwise. With regards to other types of contemporary art activities, the pictorial for example, within the private sector; would be based on prodigality and it would be sustained solely by the principle of loss. What are your future plans? In my life, proposing a specific plan for the future would mean abandoning myself to frustration irrevocably, so I try to learn from the present, which is my fundamental field of knowledge and of course of my painting. My present is full of basic errors, even depressing ones, but I try to amend them every day. Of course I have splendid days as well in my possession and I try to always be close or in a situation where they can continue to occur.


Art Reveal Magazine

Art Reveal Magazine


Bethan Highgate-Betts Exeter, UK Bethan Highgate-Betts is a multimedia artist and writer from the South West. A passionate and imaginative artist working in a variety of mediums she creates works which offer a new way of looking at something familiar. Having previously taken on commissions from organisations such as The BFI, Doc Next Media and Bath Fringe, she has had her short film, performance and visual pieces shown throughout the UK She has also written plays and sketches for The London Short Play Festival 2015, the Smooth Faced Gents Work Bard Play Bard events and the QuickSmart Comedy Radio Show. As well as being published for both her poetry and short stories. Bethan is a passionate and imaginative artist, who strives to create works that offer a new way of looking at something familiar.


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Briefly describe the work you do. As a multimedia artist my work can take a lot of forms; performance, film, interactive installation and visual art. Working both independently and collaboratively I create visually compelling and socially intriguing pieces that provide audiences with a safe space to question perspectives on the familiar. Often focusing on the lack of or need for connection in modern lives, this has taken many forms; from astronauts dancing around city centres in performances exploring isolation, to putting 88 year old Iranian Grandmothers centre frame in colourful short films. When, how and why started your art practice? It wasn’t until I graduated from Falmouth University with an English degree in 2013 that I started to think about a creative career. Like a lot of young people at the time I found there were a lack of employment opportunities, especially in the South West were I was –and am, based. This was something I struggled with for a while, before realising that I had the means to create my own work. Its hard and often uncertain work, but ultimately I cannot imagine doing anything else. I sometimes imagine someone telling 15 year old me that in 10 years time I would be writing ‘artist’ in career boxes, performing at festivals and being paid to make films. I can vividly see the eye roll and sarcastic laugh that would no doubt follow, but to be fair I can also imagine 15 year old me quickly going back to listening to Avril Lavigne on repeat and watching Hollyoaks, so I’m not sure she’d be the best judge. Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist? Yes would be the simple answer. I believe that most if not all artists are conceptual to a certain extent. For me my work always starts with an idea and looks for a way of translating it –in which sense it is completely conceptual. As soon as you put work out there people are going to make it something else, something for them and for me that’s the best part of what I do. I recently saw

A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer at Exeter Northcott Theatre and during the interval I met a man who had seen a performance I’d done with First Line Theatre of ‘Basic Space’ at Plymouth Fringe 4 months earlier, who said he still thought about the show a lot and how it was the most beautiful love story he’d ever seen. Which is not the show I remember performing. ‘Basic Space’ was a collaborative project by First Line Theatre based on the idea of the isolation. It played on themes of depression and as a performer I always found it a solemn experience. It had never crossed my mind that these two faceless astronauts walking the city streets oblivious to each other could be seen as lovers. It was far removed from anything I had imagined as we were creating and performing the show, but once work is out there in the world it doesn’t really belong to you anymore, it belongs to the people that see it and ultimately they can do whatever they want with it. How has your work changed in the past years? Most notably I think the scale of my work has changed within the last year. Back in April I received a Raw Commission from Exeter Phoenix to create a short film entitled ‘Pink’, following the story of an Iranian Grandmother in a UK care home, and looking back at her seemingly forgotten life. The commission meant that I received a small budget as well as script writing and camera skills workshops, in which I was surrounded by all the other people that had received commissions in 2016. This community of film makers expanded my working practise, especially within workshopping. When creating work I believe very adamantly in development with other people, but up until this point I had always worked within the same relatively small creative community and this gave me the opportunity to broaden my collaborative reach. This year also saw me work on a touring project. Usually within my practise I create things for specific events or organisations that are used once. But with my First Line Theatre collaboration came ‘Basic Space’ and with it the opportunity to take the performance all over the country, being part of the program at Plymouth Fringe, Hijacked Festival, Poltimore House Festival and The Future Project,

as well as receiving development and performance residencies from The BikeShed Theatre and Bristol City Council. It wasn’t an easy project to put together, but sharing it with such a variety of audiences has been an honour. How would you describe the art scene in your area? If you know where to find it, the art scene is very lively, especially in Exeter. Unfortunately it tends to be aimed at the same groups of people. I believe that community engagement is important, but this doesn’t seem to be something that is happening a lot. You tend to see the same people at every event. There are a lot of excellent pop up and annual arts events in the South West, with Plymouth Fringe going from strength to strength, festivals like Hijacked and Poltimore putting young people at the forefront of the arts and film festivals like Two Short Nights at Exeter Phoenix bringing internationally acclaimed shorts to the county. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? I think art is a reflection of society, where its been and where its going. Right now we are facing a politically uncertain climate, and I think this can be seen reflected within the work that’s being produced. Protest, enjoyment or connection, art in contemporary culture means that we are still here, still awake, still thinking and making and shouting into the void. What are your future plans? I plan to survive, both literally and creatively. To strive to make work that offers a moment of connection, or a change of perspective, to give people the opportunity to just for a minute see something with new eyes. Throughout the next year I hope to continue to tour Basic Space with First Line Theatre, as well as working on a new commission for Hijacked Festival, finish a short film about friendship I have been working on with fellow maker Dan Davis and continue to develop my solo practise.

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Art Reveal Magazine

Art Reveal Magazine


Mack Mathod Ely, UK My work, whether performed or constructed, is in the tradition of the Surrealists, Dadaists, the Theatre of the Absurd and post Russian Revolutionary writers and performers. I strive to reintroduce humour and stupidity into an over serious contemporary art format, an aspect which I see as an important generic omission since the sixties. My present work is printed on handmade paper and presented in antique frames with torn printed texts to suggest an absurd world that we can only view from a distance of time and sobriety. My performance work is a throwback of my sixties Dadaist roots. It means nothing but the meaningless. I have been an absurdist all of my life. In the seventies, after leaving Leeds College of Art I worked in absurd performances all over the country, I have been a comedy scriptwriter, director, and educator and, over the past ten years have been manipulating ideas through photographic found images. I have a strong belief that humour needs to be redefined in its role in Contemporary Art. I am actively, and continually, reassessing the absurd, the meaningless and ridiculousness, once a staple diet of sixties creativity, and attempting to reintroduce that mindset to twenty first century art.


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ing or sculpting in a classic true fine artist tradition of being a Jack-of-All-Trades way. There was always a seam of Dada, Surreal and mischievous humour running through my work. Early on, I founded two Dada/Surreal performance groups; The Sheep Brothers, a bizarre trio who performed nonsense by not playing musical instruments and reciting poetry in gasmasks or in buckets of water. The second group was the more disciplined answer to its predecessor. Another trio of performers called ‘Philip’ it was more conventional and owed more to Commedia dell’arte than Dada. Philip would involve me in various comedy formats over the next ten years. At a time when Alternative Comedy was not even an infant, we were thrown to the wolves more often than not. We toured with pop bands, entertained the soup-ina-basket cabaret audiences, performed on TV and Radio as well as becoming part of Ken Dodd’s scriptwriting team. It was a great experience that has informed a great deal of what I have done since. Has my work changed since then? Well, the objects I have made have changed. I have worked in ceramics, acrylics, traditional and digital photography, sound, video, and found collage as well as in performance but always the humour is the unchanging theme and it is this, ironically, which is the serious basis to my work. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture?

When, how and why started your art practice? Whilst at school, from a very early age, I wanted to be a writer. The link to art never really materialized until I met and worked with Fluxus performance artist Robin Page whilst I was college. This ignited a spark in me that has never left. It is the excitement and daring of live performance but in my case, with a pinch of humour thrown in. In these formative years of my art experience I luckily became part of the madhouse art education experiment that was Leeds College of Art in the early seventies. Here I met other artists, performers and outrageous exhibitionists who were playing, not

with products or techniques but with concepts and it was the mantra of “The idea is always greater than the image” that ran through the Leeds experience. I sometimes think, looking back at those pioneering days that somehow we were to blame for the subsequent number of shallow or incomprehensible art works that now litter contemporary art exhibitions under the misnomer of Conceptual Art. How has your work changed over the years? After art college, I spent the next forty years involved in writing, producing, directing, photographing, drawing, paint-

From a working class background through to my present middle class comfort zone, I have always believed in the accessibility of art. Unless your audience can be involved with the work then your work is meaningless and it is this aspect of conceptual art that is the Pandora’s box we opened in the late sixties. It has become the underlying reason for the alienation of art underlining the arrogant elitism over it’s regularly and, sometimes, deliberately mystified audience. Art seems to have mutated into an art club magicians trick the creator of which will never reveal the their meaning in case we all might become magicians too…..and , as if to compound the illusion, it all is taken far too seriously. So it is now my lifelong crusade to retrace my steps and use humour in my work to try to point out the chasm that has formed between the artist and the public.

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Humour in art is always treated as a flippant and even a lower form of creativity when, as any comedian will tell you, it’s one of the most difficult and exacting of art forms. Laughter is a significant result of an audience’s understanding and acceptance of a concept; silence is failure. Name three artists you admire The artists who I most admire (apart from Duchamp, which is a given) are the artists who make me smile. Kienholz always makes me laugh, as does the wonderful absurdist writer Danil Kharms and the bizarrely surreal world of illustrator Glen Baxter. How would you describe the art scene in your area? The art scene in and around Ely, Cambridgeshire is very strong with a number of exceptional artists who have recently settled in the area. The majority is art college trained and their work is interestingly diverse which brings together different minds and disciplines in a fertile way.

July is an opportunity to visit and see the high standard of work that is flourishing here. Our work will be on display during July when we will be opening our studios to visitors. (Details What advice would you give to those just starting in the arts? There is no doubt about it, the arts are under threat from a political system that measures the price of everything and the quality of nothing and artists, whether young or old must be aware of our responsibilities. We are the arbiters of the quality of people’s lives. We give life colour, design, and fantasy and, most importantly, we continue to make people question. My advice to anyone starting out in the arts is not to bother about what you do, make or perform, but always aim for your best artistic expression and stay true to your artistic integrity. It’s poorly paid, bloody difficult, very frustrating but incredibly rewarding and life enhancing… and, if you can stand back from the seriousness, it’s really good fun.


What are your future plans? I have recently become a devotee of Victorian narrative painting and am visiting Tate Britain regularly to view these terrific moral story-telling images. I have been fascinated by the solemnity and skill of this narrative work and I am, as usual, introducing my dada humourist ideas to the genre. As they say, watch this space. I am exhibiting a new collection of my work in an exhibition called “The Absurd World of Mack Mathod” at the Babylon Gallery in Ely, Cambridgeshire during April 2017 and then taking it to the Mersea Gallery on Mersea Island, Essex in May. My studio will be open to the public in July and, from then on, I have more performances up my sleeve and more absurdism to uncover. The world is my lobster! Then there’s also my



Art Reveal Magazine

Art Reveal Magazine


Jamie Rawlings Bristol, UK I am a visual artist, reclaiming vintage portraiture through collage. I take images from nature and space to create ethereal and sometimes haunting images of an alternate reality of beings. Jamie Rawlings (b.1991) is a Bristol based artist. His craft and digital work revolves around manipulating found photography. He trained in Exeter before relocating to Bristol in 2013 His collage and print works are often darkly comic and use optic traditions to alter found photos and ephemera.


Art Reveal Magazine

Art Reveal Magazine


When, how and why started your art practice? I studied foundation skills in a range of styles but found myself drawn into the world of appropriation. At the time I was studying in 2010 I seemed very much ‘outsider’ amongst my peers but there was definitely a kind of trend emerging. Some people just seemed to begrudge it, photo purists and fine artists, the kind of hint at populism by artists who were using ‘ found’ photography creating aesthetically pleasing work. I don’t really think it was recognised until very recently how important the work being done in the 70’s laying the foundations for current appropriation, the use of media advertising and its impact. I left studies in Exeter, moved to Bristol and had an extended period of time during which I created nearly no output. I was extremely stimulated by the appreciation that blurred the whole notion of photography following Stezaker winning the Deutsche Börse Prize. The Photographers Gallery and especially their print sales exhibitions of current artists has been a huge influence and drive. My partner and I collect contemporary work and we are ardent fans of much happening within current art movements. I have been very inspired the last years, restarting my artistic practice to become quickly part of my daily routine. I certainly don’t set out to emulate work by others but the technical influence of how to approach and ‘use’ photography as an international trend is booming and I certainly admire and follow those that produce work with vision. The past three years of creating almost in secret for several hours a day, I am enjoying including now sharing and refining my work to exhibit for the first time. The response has been great to the digital renders of my work and I can’t wait for people to see the real delicacy and detail, the unique objects themselves. What is your creative process like? I spend a good amount of time looking for the base materials to construct each piece, which varies from series to series. Where I think I differ from others working in the same field as me is that I spend an equal amount of time and scrutiny looking for printed natural history images – school geography textbooks, 19th century gemstone prints, fungi catalogues… organic and natural matter, space, galaxies… I then start the unex-

plainable process of isolating details and combining them with portrait photography. I tend to work on one batch of ‘human’ photos at a time, but it’s more like a curve as I move between styles. I see my work forming discrete projects and find myself naturally ending series as others are starting, I don’t plan much in advance. It is an intuitive process to start with, always. I seem to use geometrical design instinctively and I love a lot of optic art, Kidner especially. Even when I cover an entire

face with a gemstone, the angle of the crystal reacts as such as to allow the sitter to remain very much human, retaining a glamour and mysteriousness. The shoulders, neck, pearls and hair contain the juxtaposition. It creates some new kind of reading of the entire ephemera. I consider how to push work further once I have started an intervention, namely playing with scale and exploring analogue prints enlarged using digital processes. Some of the gemstone prints I am using are from 1880, an incredibly complex 32 colour press process,


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I can’t wait to see what is revealed by blowing them and up. My hunting for the natural history imagery is as much about the different print methods and qualities as it is the image itself. I love creating new, enlarged, flattened prints of the collage. The delicate 5cm x 3cm collage become much larger renders of a new type of cosmic portrait. My process is extremely visually focused – a highly cerebral element of my practice is not my primary concern. Like so many in my generation I am image obsessed and analogue photography especially seems both kitsch and highbrow. I make conceptual work but you don’t need to know anything about the constituent parts it to appreciate it. People who have seen my work on Instagram will experience it differently to those who see the work in the flesh, the actual collage or threading or cutting/layering is so delicate, especially the very sculptural work that has been framed so as to become part of the piece – an object of desire!

Name three artists you admire. Julie Cockburn has been the most consistent practitioner and biggest influence on my work. I am lucky to live with some of her pieces and feel like I am looking after jewels destined for future museums. Her craft, skill and vision are so strong and she has a really weird sense of humour, quite violent. She is definitely the living artist who I am most excited by and is already established as a master in the world of appropriation. Tom Butler’s cabinet cards are such an inspiration. When I first found his quietly gothic work I was so happy. Just like Julie Cockburn’s work it is impossible to explain the detail when seeing the work with the naked eye. His ability to paint in such miniature form and retain such style is phenomenal.

More recently I have been introducing threading into practice work, which is producing work I am extremely happy with.

Up and coming! Bristol is extremely artistic and has had several styles dominating for years, graffiti obviously and also a kind of continuation of old tradition. Spike Island has the best, most leftfield exhibitions, great courses and is an extremely friendly hub. There are outstanding new success stories like The Island, a community art space that has become a beacon for the city. The Arnolfini has amazing international art so there is a lot happening but I still need to regularly visit the European art fairs and London galleries like Charlie Smith, Flowers East, New Art Projects, TJ Boulting etc. to feel like I am seeing the best emerging work. I am of the opinion we have some of the best curators in the world working in London at the current time. There is a very big divide between the more traditional craft styles in the city, bunting and the like, and more contemporary fine-art trends. I live very near a fantastic gallery start-up Craftisan which sells local art with some occasional (and considerable) edge! I am hoping to get work in there soon. Great coffee too. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts?

In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? I think people are far more versed in a visual language than they have been before so there is a reverence of immediacy in an aesthetic – look at what Juno Calypso is doing and how powerful her images are across all the platforms they appear. Fine art is lent to advertise in the background on Does Artspace and the availability of art to the masses compromise the value of art? Is art for the people is a terrible idea? There is definitely a two tier art world that has emerged, driven by the internet and smartphones. Personally I am comfortable using art as an escape, a way of making the real world that much more fascinating. I am also engaged to a serious collector which gives me a slightly different view on the entire process. I fall in love with images, my partner falls in love with ideas and between us we collect work we manage to agree on. My idea of ‘living with art’, which you could argue is what art in contemporary culture is all about, is very different to other people; I sleep under John Waters’ three meter long ‘Edith Has A Fit’. You have to be part of a very certain type of culture to live that!

How would you describe the art scene in your area?

Be true to yourself and your practice, feel what you are doing. Look at the artists you love and don’t be afraid to take their inspiration into your work. For so long I felt like I couldn’t create what I wanted because certain aesthetic styles overlapped. You keep going and your voice emerges. I live with a musician and there is a great analogy in practicing, both technique and expression. You have to put in the hours somewhere, it doesn’t just happen. What are your future plans?

Yumiko Utsu has made some of the best defining images for photo purists in this field of ‘weirdo’ appropriation. Her ‘Octopus Portrait’ and ‘Squid Masks’ are strong images held in international collections, but look further into her relatively small body of work and you can find the most ingenious, hilarious little scenes from an outer-space Tokyo lunar scape. I really have great admiration for her focus and slant on continuing traditional styles like Michiko Kon but using extreme symbols of infancy. I am a sucker for goggle eyes.

I am extremely excited about showing my work for the first time in Bristol with a new gallery Paper Folds Ltd. We are renting a space in the centre of the city (just finalising) and I will be showing a large collection of work from several series. I will be sharing the exhibition with Dale Mail who creates appropriation work but in a very different style. The plan is to then take this to London and possibly Berlin, and release work online. I am so excited by the response so far and my immediate concern is to continue finding my space by the fire with a craft knife, a needle and the latest magical ephemera that has arrived.

Anastasia Russa Moscow, Russia / London, UK


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Briefly describe the work you do. As an artist, I am exploring the Lost Paradise myth with its all beauty, violence and liberation. I blend our new icons of mass-produced toys, computer-game heroes and social net symbols with the meta-narratives seen in both the Old-Testament and Classical Mythology that have formed the basis of European civilization. The gods and heroes of classical mythology have mutated and are now embodied in the virtual-reality of computer games. These have become the new fetishes of mass-culture and have assumed their new “flesh� in the plastic of commercial toys. Thus I am contriving an evolution of this subject-matter, and it is this that comprises my interpretation and representation of modern History Painting. As media for my art practice, I use traditional oil painting, but also experiment, to a considerable extent in a modernist way, by mixing different solutions, raw materials; using these to create distinctive textures as a background, an empty stage for my future figurative paintings. When, how and why started your art practice? Precocious as it may sound, I began my art practice from the age of three. I painted on my parents’ students working drawings, it was an abstract expressionist style. Then it developed into a girlish narrative which was a kind of magical realism. Then I began to experiment. Probably I found my own, more individual direction in the Summer of 2014 and established my art practice as you see it now. Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist? I think that every good art is conceptual. It is not possible to be a distinctive artist without some view of the world or philosophical ideas that resonate inside one, although these are subject to evolution and re-evaluation. How has your work changed in the past years? Wimbledon College of Art (where I was studying from 2013 till 2015) had a considerable impact. The approach there was not to instruct us in making paintings,

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sculptures or films, the emphasis was on our thinking processes. I struggled at the beginning, and was puzzled, even angry. Now, however, at the ‘safe’ distance of a year after finishing, I feel like I have digested it. The least useful aspects were discarded, whilst the cream floated to the top. The difference between art education in Russia and England is that in Russia the emphasis was in developing technique whilst here in Britain we were debating and describing. It is arguable that the order would have been better reversed, but being born in Russia determined it. How would you describe the art scene in your area? At the moment most of my time is spent in Russia because I have nice big studio there. I recently married an Englishman and have plans to find a studio there, and spend more time with him in England. The art scene in Moscow is not crowded, it is nothing like as competitive as in London, where the number of artists is enormous and standard very high. Although the art community is tiny in Moscow (and there is no art market at all) artistic people adopt quite a supercilious attitude, which is ironic. I live in suburb of Moscow, and very close to the international airport. It is 30 munities to Moscow center and 4 hours to London from there. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art means different things to different people. Art is everywhere, this building, that car, ultimately, is a product of the artist. Some people believe in the socio-political role of art, and the changes that it can produce in the political climate. I think that the voice of art is very slow of speech, and its impact can take several centuries. Additionally, art can be a personal journey and development of the soul. What are your future plans? I am going to continue developing my art practice and work with myself. I shall soon have a solo show in a theatre in Moscow, and in the new Cultural and Innovation Centre in Kaluga, the city in Russia in 2017. I have to prepare myself for the personal exhibition in our MMOMA in Moscow in 2018 too. Also I plan to reunion with my husband in 2017, travel, read and enjoy life.



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Art Reveal Magazine


Michael Odysseus Yakoumakis Athens, Greece Regarding the technique, my painting method is a combination of traditional and modern approaches: To compose a painting, I treat it as a theatrical play, limited to narrate a story within one scene, played by wordless, motionless, however expressive actors. First, guising as the “play write”, I create a rough draft drawing of the painting to be, the “scenario”, so to say. Next, as the “theatrical director”, I choose my “actors”, that is the models to pose for the characters (human or not) to be displayed in the painting: They can be live persons, figures I mold in plasticine, or imaginary figures “conjured” on paper. I draw several studies for my characters and I scan them all into a computer. Then, as the “scenographer”, I design the “stage”, the painting’s background. Initially I invent it on the drawing board using linear perspective. Afterwards I redraw it freely and scan it in the computer. Finally, as the “scene director”, in the computer, I keep rearranging, in front of the scanned background drawing, the previously scanned character drawings, choosing some, discarding the rest, searching for each character’s optimal, expression, stance, and spatial relation to the other characters and to the background. A final overall study becomes thus roughly ready and I refine it, by redrawing it freely with charcoal on paper and taking into account the shadow–light interplay. Afterwards, I photograph or scan it in the computer, in order to produce its print in the dimensions of the painting to be, and I copy the print on a prepared canvas using carbon–paper. At last, I paint it with oil-colors, using the traditional renaissance method: First the entire synthesis with monochromatic shades (usually of sepia, ocher, or gray) on which I then apply several layers of semitransparent color oil–pigment. Regarding the manner, as conscious references in my oeuvre I can mention El Greco, Grünewald, Bosch, Goya, Dix, Rivera, de Lempicka and Balthus. However, as Antonio Basoli stated, “Originality in Art is one’s ability to combine the formalistic achievements of one’s predecessors in a new, original way, obtaining thus new, original forms”. That, is exactly what I am trying to do: add my distinctly own, no matter how infinitesimally small, contribution in the exploration of the continuous and endless path of Art, taken up by Humanity since its origins.


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Briefly describe the work you do. Epigrammatically, I do symbolist, figurative, anthropocentric art: I express my everyday experiences in terms of symbolic, personal myths, with protagonists stereotypical characters, either social conformities or charming social nonconformities, depicted as common humans or as entities from mythology, fairytale and folklore, suggesting a view of reality through childhood’s eyes. Through my paintings I comment on our epoch, which I perceive as the twilight of our Western Civilization and to which I correspond with social and political awareness and criticism. Questioning and satirizing our collapsing civilization through the use of Art, is for me a viable means to understand it in its extreme complexity, and to finally survive it.

When, how and why started your art practice? In 1965, I was nine years old then, I saw a film about an artwork thief and got really impressed of how he would break through sophisticated security systems of international art museums, leave a perfect copy – which he had previously painted himself – of the painting he was stealing in the place of the original, and break out of the museum again, with the original in hand, and without anyone noticing. I decided then to become like my hero: A professional artwork thief. I got some old door-locks and started to meddle with them, trying to learn how to pick them, and got some History of Art books trying to learn how to copy famous artworks. Five years later, at fourteen, having by then lost interest in lock-picking and artwork stealing, I had nonetheless become fervently

enamoured with the Fine Art of Painting, after all those attempts to copy famous historical paints! Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist? No, not in the least! Quite the contrary! It is not a question of what personal taste dictates – after all there are conceptual works displaying good taste – I reject Conceptualism on a more objective basis: Consider that Art appears to perennially evolve through circles, each circle presenting the same four phases: “Primitivism”, “Solidification”, “Elaboration”, “Decadence”. Next, take notice that in every single artwork ever created anywhere by anybody, one may always discern three fundamental aesthetic qualities: A Realistic, an Abstractive and a Symbolic. These three quali-

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ties appear to always coexist combined in various measures, with one of them prevailing over the other two, or with a combination of two prevailing over the third – in this second case it is usually either Realistic with Symbolic prevailing over the Abstractive (e.g. Magic Realism, Figurative Expressionism) or Abstractive with Symbolic prevailing over the Realistic (e.g. Abstract Symbolism). Whichever the case, it appears impossible for any of the three fundamental aesthetic qualities to exist alone in any artwork, with the other two omitted, as, by analogy, it is impossible for the human psyche to perform one only of its three fundamental functions - which correspond directly to the three fundamental aesthetic qualities - Thought, Intuition and Feeling. In attempting to interpret Art history in the above terms, one may make the striking, in my opinion, observation that a “Decadence” phase in Art is often characterized by a general trait towards an Art displaying one exclusively of its three fundamental aesthetic qualities and completely omitting the other two. I coined the term “Exclusive Quality Obsession” to describe such a trait. Although, in the initial stages of a “Decadence” phase, EQ Obsession is often manifest in masterpieces, it invariably leads to a dead-end, as it is impossible to “make disappear” from Art any of its fundamental aesthetic qualities. Consider, for example, the obsession of late Roman Art with the Realistic, of Rococo with the Symbolic, of Post-Modern Art with the Abstractive. Particularly regarding the last example, in spite of the brilliance displayed by great artists like Pollock or Rothko, the Abstractive is brought to the extreme of Conceptualism, where the artistic media and, finally, the very creative process are subtracted from Art, reducing it to a colourless, tasteless, emotionless,lifeless, frigid, BORING display of crude concepts, reminiscent - in the best case - of some marketing campaign proposal, presented with “Power-Point” in some Corporation’s meeting-room. How has your work changed in the past years? It shifted from Surrealism to Symbolism, the form became more realistic, the colours less saturated, the content more anthropocentric and more socio-politically aware. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Mainstream art in Greece pathetically apes the decadence of mainstream art in more central areas of the Western world. Being a

mere fake, an awkward one at that, it not only fails to convince anyone even as genuine decadence – genuine decadence sometimes does display a certain charm – but, moreover, it is disgustingly boring. A totally different issue is Greek non-mainstream art, Greek “Underground” Art, as I’d rather call the kind of art that the media in Greece mostly choose to ignore. There, I see great potential, talent, creativity, originality, inventiveness, perceptiveness, insightful compassion and social awareness. It promises to take an important place in a fresh evolutionary circle of Art emerging now in the entire Western world, a circle of Art befitting a natural, magical, free, responsible, democratic, compassionate and humane society. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Regardless of the social and cultural environment and whichever the artist’s conscious motives and intentions, Art’s most important inherent function was, is and will ever be the revealment of the magical dimension of the Cosmos, that dimension which children accept as a matter of course, before they start “ fading into adulthood” – as opposed to “growing into maturity”.


By its own nature Art – when sincere - reminds to everyone that the Cosmos, rather than a soulless predictable Newtonian machine, is a place where everything is possible, a super-entity quantically subjected to the intentions of each and every one of us partial entities who constitute it. Consequently, in contemporary culture, as in any past or future culture, Art is inherently revolutionary. What are your future plans? * A solo art-show of a series of ten oil-paintings (100cm x 100cm) titled “Brigants and Pirates, Shamans and Witches, Whores and Pagan Saints, in a post-post-modern X-topia”. (The term “X-topia” I have coined for a future society we cannot yet determine if it will be a Utopia or a Dystopia). The show’s title along with my work “The Seduction” - which is the first of the series – may give you a rough idea. * An indeterminate number of small (A4 – sized) ink illustrations to research the aesthetics of the oil paintings and to exhibit along with them, or separately in group and/or small solo art-shows. * The translation and publication in English of several essays on Art I


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Kim Thornton Laura Moreton-Griffiths Leonie Cronin Jackie Brown London, UK


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Briefly describe the Olympic Dreams project. Olympic Dreams is a collaborative art project inspired by the history and politics of the Olympic Games. Four London based artists, Kim Thornton, Jackie Brown, Léonie Cronin and Laura Moreton-Griffiths, worked together to produce a series of photographs and objects tackling themes of politics and propaganda, inclusivity and equality, achievement and restriction. The work was made following short residencies at Crystal Palace Athletics Stadium and Ladywell Arena in South London. When, how and why did you start this collaborative project? As with all good beginnings this one was hatched in a bar! Kim had been planning to explore the theme of a ‘domestic olympics’ and although she normally works autonomously was finding it hard to get started. Whilst having a drink with Jackie, Laura and Leonie in June last year the subject of the forthcoming Rio Olympics came up. We were all interested in creating Olympic inspired work and it was decided to broaden the theme to Olympic Dreams. Each person went away to research the Olympics and our ideas were shared. Often when starting a new project you can feel

quite isolated but by working together the ideas gathered momentum until the project quite literally had legs! The whole project was completed within two months. Do you think of yourselves as a conceptual art group? We are not an art group but a group of individual artists who have chosen to work together to realise our own agendas and outcomes. We are not coming up with a grand concept or political agenda but facilitating each other’s creative endeavours. Whilst the ideas behind the project are paramount they are achieved via our technical making skills. Kim Thornton makes costumes from domestic materials and stages unexpected scenes. Inspired by the history of women being barred from the Olympic stadium, her Domestic Heptathlon looks at the restrictions women encounter in their quest to participate and humorously suggests ways in which they can overcome some of the barriers they face. Laura Moreton-Griffiths had been looking at the political turmoil, economic crisis and desperate poverty of 1930s Europe (not unlike today!). In ‘Machine For Winning’ she photographically documents

performance painting and uses dark humour to tell tales about the psychology of control and ideology, and Olympian ideals of peaceful competition and internationalism cynically exploited. Léonie Cronin plays with the red, white and blue colours to mark territory and gaining ground. Using the duality between individual achievement and the countries own uncompromising pursuit of patriotic gold, she is interested in how the territory is marked and what legacy is left behind. Mixed media artist Jackie Brown is concerned with global exchange in the current cultural climate. She feels that everyone should be able to fly, and not be held down by prejudice and intolerance. Yet far from coming together, nations are pulling apart, discouraging the exchange of different beliefs and cultures. Movement across borders becomes increasingly difficult. How has your work changed from working together? Kim: I had previously been reluctant to work collaboratively fearing a dilution of my ideas and that I would feel inhibited, although my photography is performative it is not a performance. The experience of working together has dispelled

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those concerns and the benefits have been enormous. We have shared resources and skills, helped and encouraged each other and pushed each other to produce a new body of work in a very short period of time. I normally take all my own photographs so it was liberating to have someone helping so I could concentrate on my sporting technique! Jackie: Like Kim, I had resisted working collaboratively as my practise often involves a very personal conversation with my environment and I couldn’t see how I could share this dialogue. To my surprise I found the experience empowering, I found myself having a conversation with three likeminded individuals who were prepared to see me realise my ideas whilst I helped them realise theirs. I was helped with their skills and benefitted from being able to pass on mine. The energy generated by the four of us allowed the work to evolve really quickly. They also encouraged me to get my legs out and question why I was so afraid of doing so. Laura: I love it. Rattling ideas around. Honing an idea, pushing it beyond my usual approach, seeing it with different eyes, being braver. I wouldn’t have made this work without all of them. We spurred each other on. Kim helped me document


a performance painting last year when I wore a canvas suit around London and clambered over tanks and big guns. I wouldn’t have done it without her. The documentary stills of that performance are great and a major development in my practice. With this project I wanted to become a mass of manipulated people, so as well as the painting, and staging of the performance, I composited the many photographs Kim took of me performing in Photoshop. Publishing the zine was a fantastic group solution that got the work out to lots of people as was exhibiting the work printed in uniform A0 poster size - a quality production fitting to the subject matter.

in South East London. It is also home to an increasing number of galleries, ranging from the South London Gallery to experimental artist-run workspaces and a converted multi-storey car park gallery. We staged our own Olympic Dreams exhibition at the temporary art space Peckham Market in December, the same location Artangel had used for showing The Colony during the vibrant Peckham Festival earlier that year. There are many local art groups in the area including South London Women Artists to which we all belong.

Léonie: Working with a group made me more conscious of the time I expend on my creative practice. There is no putting off when things don’t go to plan and then with the continual justification of my creative process to others my creative output sped up. I was also pleased that in the exhibition the work was very harmonious yet our own voices shone through.

Contemporary art mirrors contemporary culture. It is about expressing ideas in a creative way, a way of making sense of what is happening and communicating thoughts and views. And it is about freedom of speech.

How would you describe the art scene in your area? Two of London’s biggest art schools, UAL Camberwell and Goldsmith’s University are within striking distance of Peckham

In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?

What are your future plans? We are looking for a space to show the Olympic Dreams work in its entirety, as so far we have only been able to display some of the work. This is our first project together so we don’t know what will evolve – maybe a new project in the future…


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