MADDALENA ARCELLONI 4 TANER Ã‡ELIK 10 TONI COGDELL 16 THERESA DEVINE 22 VERONICA DRAGNEF 28 LAURIE FREITAG 34 LAURA SHEVAUN GREEN 40 JOHN HAVERTY 46 J. HOWARD 52
HENRY HU 58 SHIRIN KAVIN 64 LAGQAFFE (ELISABETH WOLF) 70 ROBERTA MASCIARELLI 76 CHRISTINA NICODEMA 82 TALY OEHLER 88 JUSTYNA PENNARDS-SYCZ 94 MARKO STAJIC 100 YE ZHU 106
Maddalena Arcelloni New York, USA / Milan, Italy
Before I dedicated myself entirely to photography Iâ€™ve practiced or five years as a lawyer in the Italian branch of an international firm. From my personal experience in the corporate environment I was inspired to create the body of work titled â€œWhite Collarâ€?. Through the playful and surreal interactions between objects commonly used in an office environment with everyday objects belonging to the domestic one, the series of images symbolically represents the endless challenge and the constant struggle in finding a balance between work and personal life that each individual needs to face on a daily basis.
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When, how and why started your art practice?
hind the image. It could be a story, it could be an image with a symbolic meaning, or a provocative one, The first picture, the one that made me think I’d want- or a simple portrait of reality. But any image has a ed to take more, was one of a pigeon, staring at me meaning behind it, something the author of that imwith this very angry look. age wants to say. I’m not entirely sure of what type It was a very simple and amateur image. I was in New of artist I could define myself to be, in all honesty. York for a trip with my parents, on the top of the Em- I come up with an idea and I try my best to visually pire State Building, in 2002. I found that picture fun- realize it. I had many different ideas, throughout the ny, the pigeon had this very human look to it, it really years. Some of them are just single images and some seemed to me as if it was about to yell at me for taking of them are series of images. All of them have an idea the picture, as often do people when you take a picture behind them. So I suppose that that can be defined as of them on the street. “conceptual” photography :) Since then, I thought I wanted to frame funny and interesting moments I would find around me. While I Tell us more about “White collar” series was in college, studying law, I went out as often as I could with my camera to take pictures on the street As I said, I had many ideas throughout the years and and looking for interesting scenes and subjects. one day I woke up and I my eyes fell on my boyfriend’s Later on, when I became a lawyer and started work- “serious” shoes. I thought they reminded me so much ing in a law firm, I couldn’t find the time to go out and of the environment I was working in before (the law shoot on the streets, so I set up my own studio space firm in Milan) and how it was pretty much a standard in an empty apartment my family was trying to sell for people to wear that kind of shoes, every day at and almost every weekend I would organize my own work. How those shoes could tell so much about what shoots. I started taking portraits and creating more a person does and give clues to the others about what conceptual and fine art photographs, mainly portraits kind of life this person might have. or series of portraits. A lot of things in the corporate environment are very After 5 years of working as a lawyer, I realized I was standard. Sure, with variations on the theme, but they progressively giving up my passion due to the amount are pretty much the same. Same types of shirts, same of work and time I was investing in my career, but types of suits and belts and briefcases. I also realized that I missed photography. It was my I thought I wanted to create some images where I’d way of feeling free, the opposite of what I was doing use those objects in a funny and surreal manner. for work. It was my fantasy world, and the one that Where I could play and take away that seriousness. brought me a personal, very unique type of satisfac- And the more I looked at those shoes, the more I tion I was never achieving while working as a lawyer. thought I should use something that had nothing to do So, I decided to quit my job, move to New York, go to a with them. And then I made pasta (I’m still Italian!). photography school and dedicate myself entirely to it. But I wasn’t satisfied with just one image, I was havI was 29 years old then, and I thought that if had to ing fun and I found it very stimulating to think of difstart from scratch with photography it needed to do it ferent ways to do the same with objects you would before I turned 30. usually find in an office environment. And the more I And here I am now, three years laters, still living in thought about it and immersed myself into it, the more New York and keeping on doing what I love. And not ideas came out. And there.. the hole-puncher and the once I regretted making that decision. cheese, the tie as a charmed snake, the shirts with screws instead of buttons. In the process of creating Do You Think Of Yourself as a Conceptual Artist? those images, while sticking to the idea that I wanted to make people smile when looking at them, I also reThe reason why I love photography is the infinite alized how some of those images were not only surreversatility of the medium. It allows you to capture al and funny, but carried a more sarcastic meaning. I moments that you accidentally find on your path but guess my own experience in a corporate environment also to manipulate reality and create something com- influenced me very much! pletely new. Either way, you are always telling a story, whether it’s real or fictional, personal or not. How would you describe the art scene in your area? In that sense, I think all photographers are conceptual artists. Every time one takes a pictures, pushes I live in New York and so far I haven’t found any other that button, he/she does so to tell something. And that city like this one, where art is literally everywhere. something I believe I can call it the “concept” be- Not only in galleries.
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It’s a bit like Rome, in that sense. In Rome, any corner you turn, you find these amazing ruins and ancient buildings and columns and paintings. You walk inside some old houses and you find frescos and murals from centuries ago. New York is the Rome of 21st century. Anywhere you go, when you walk around, you find pieces of art. It can be sculptures in the street, graffiti, performances. You breath art everyday, here. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. I love the work of many photographers and artists and for many different reasons. I’m not sure I can compare myself to any of them! I feel like I have a long way to go still before I can be compared to any of them. And also, I wonder if I’d like to actually be compared to anyone, when I’ll have set my own path :D I love Nikki Lee’s work, because it makes you think about how many different people we could be, how much possibilities we have as individuals and how much we can be influenced and defined by our environment. I like how she immerses herself in all these different worlds, almost completely forgetting who she is in the first place, to enter into someone else’s way of living and absorbing it and making it her own. Sometimes I wish I had the guts to do that. Maybe I will, in a different way. And I envy how much she probably got to learn from all the people she mingled with for each project. I love the aesthetic of Paolo Roversi and Sarah Moon, the painterly quality of their images. The colors. One of my goals is to achieve the same great sense of composition and of shapes. I also admire great war photographers like James Natchway, for their courage and for their consistency and the fact that they keep doing it and they are ready to sacrifice their private life to dedicate themselves to show us their take on what’s happening to other more unfortunate people. And I love very much how Martin Parr shows us the grotesque side of the mundane, how he can, with each image, make you smile and laugh and say “oh, the humanity!” but also makes you think about how we, ourselves, can often end up being and behaving exactly like the subjects of his pictures. What do you Like/Dislike about the Art World? When it gets too pretentious. I love art. I love looking and thinking about the art I see, taking it in and finding inspiration. Wondering what’s behind an image, a painting, an act. Sometime, though, I feel like the people that gravitate around the art world create this whole theater performance for them to play in, where each of them wants to have an eccentric role at all costs. I’m not so much into that. Some times it feels very forced and has some sort of desperation and bitterness to it that makes me feel a bit sad. I believe it takes away from the art itself. While saying this, I’m realizing how much of a bear I come throughs as! :D But I am, I guess, a bit. When looking at art, I like reading something about the artists, his/her bio, what’s his/her background, but I like to look at their work with nobody else telling me what to think of it or giving me directions or influencing my thoughts on it. What are your future plans as an artist? I’d like to keep doing what I am doing. Create more and more images that satisfy me (and hopefully that others appreciate too) and to be able to make a living out of it (I bet you hear that a lot!).
Taner Ă‡elik Istanbul, Turkey
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When, how and why started your art practice? Well, I would say around 4 years ago when I was in college (which might be the best and most productive era of a human being) I have always been interested in visual arts but unfortunately I did not have enough talent to actually draw something worthy. One day I was looking at 40 maybe 50 year old Turkish magazines to be inspired and it actually worked. It was like a sci-fi movie, every picture I was gazing were coming together in front of my eyes. So that day, I got out and grabbed the needed equipment to make a proper collage. My early works are just pieces put together on a blank paper. I was not looking at any other collage artists in order to maybe create something of my own. On the other hand I picked up drawing, started to draw sketches and put small touches on my own collages. And then I started to look at what other artist have been doing and it was mostly digital collages so that day I decided to stick to handmade collages as much as I can and started to get the idea of what a collage should look like. As to why I started making collages I believe everyone has to have a creative outburst at some point of their lives. As you see mine happened with doing collages after that, like I mentioned, I picked up drawing and started doing couple of visual and musical projects with my friends.
What is the best part about working in visual arts? I do not want to sound super cliché but a picture is worth a thousand words. Especially for collage it is like writing with pictures and it is like a puzzle which you don’t know the original picture but you know it is done when you feel okay with what you have just created. But as we all know, like all areas in life, technology plays a huge role in visual arts. In my case, even though I am a tech-head, I try not to use Photoshop or other collage programmes and I try to stick to the roots of this art form. I believe that is the best part about making collage you have to dig in to find quality material and dig even deeper to find one which matches the same colour pattern, follows the same storyline with the previous layers. Although, I admire some of the works people make in digital platforms, they look astonishing but with billions of high quality images and professional edit programs makes it a bit easier to make it. But as I mentioned I will always stick to the handmade collage because in my opinion something doesn’t have to be perfect to look good on a wall especially when the wall have cracks. How would you describe the art scene in your area?
Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist? I really cannot say it is well. In the past there would be at least two major exhibitions and dozens of Not at all. Like in all areas of my life I try to keep small-sized art events a month. But as of lately, it simple, fresh and striking. Sometimes it takes me there is not much going on. Which is sad because 5 minutes to put together a nice piece but there as we all know seeing the artwork’s original verare some collages I add little corrections and take sion is somehow magical and makes you feel some some of the aspects out maybe months later. So kind of way. Last major exhibition I have been to nothing is planned, or well thought before I hold was Monet’s and it was so good that it got me to the scissors. When people look at my art I want do all this flowery and birdy collages. I can only the images to stuck in their heads. I try not to go hope that it would be better in the future. Downoverboard with what I do, if I do that it will look side of it is that we do not have much chance to confusing and confusion is the last thing (at least be inspired in Istanbul right now. But, I consider for me) that people want to see. I even try to avoid myself luckier than most of the folks in Istanbul for doing continuous projects more than two because two things, first is because of my friends, my friend I think it will hold my talent back and limit my op- circle is full of talented individuals both in visual tions. That being said, I like being random rather and musical area so when we come together I can than planning ten moves ahead especially art is say we do not need an exhibition or an event to get what I do in my spare time at the moment. If I start inspired. We motivate each other to put out some to earn my living because of art then of course projects and material. It makes us all feel better in I will put all of my attention in to it. I am hoping so many ways. I am hoping we would never lose I would do that one day and I am hoping to suc- that between us and secondly, to my luck, I work ceed at it. at a place which produces high-end luxury vehi-
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cles, so every day I get to see a masterpiece from head to toe. And I get to witness every step of the process and some of the details still impress me to this day. My point is, art scene may lack in my area but it sure does not at the place I spend most of my day and among my friends. What do you like/dislike about the art world? Not that I know a lot of information about art world but in my eyes, I like that itâ€™s a living, breathing and an ever changing environment. What I like most in art is that I somehow find it provoking and inspiring at the same time. A piece is most beautiful to me if I feel disturbed and calm inside because somebody has the courage to show or tell people what most of the people cannot. This especially goes for photography and music. You see someoneâ€™s most utter feelings just poured into a piece of paper or a song. But this could be taken for granted and be horrific at some point. There is a really thin line between that. If you are really edgy with your art without a significant matter it will only disturb my eyes after some point. But even if I dislike one thing as an art form or as an idea I prefer not to spend much time thinking about and I try to focus on the good things. I am always about positive vibes. What are your future plans as an artist? Keep working, stacking up quality material. Not only as a collage artist but also in music, photography, drawing as well. And of course like every amateur artist, one day I would love to open my own exhibition and show my visual works, play the music I made for the entire time, take photos of my exhibition for future uses, serve the food I made rather than a catering service because when people come visit my exhibition I would want them to fully experience the thought process. My point is to stimulate almost every sense that a human has. That is the kind of art I want to be able to do in the future. Because nowadays people can make art with a smartphone before they go to bed. So you have to do something extra in order to get peopleâ€™s attention and do it well to make them appreciate what you are doing.
Toni Cogdell Bristol, UK As flickers of starlight in a constellation of living bodies, the figures in my paintings are solitary, but not alone. The inward moment they are captured in; their form fusing with paint, marks and textures, acts as a portal to spaces behind knowledge, a sensory sea of feeling, a self beneath our belief of the self. Us, simultaneously set in consciousness and clay. Symbolised in paint are the comforting and familiar objects which reveal themselves through the haze of daily life. A repetition of natural reminders cutting through a technology-driven Age. The horizon in your periphery as you travel. The tree you see every morning unrewardingly standing as the backbone to your inner monologue. City lights floating on water at night, flowers scattered like fallen stars on the land, silhouettes of hills behind buildings, birds, blossom, branches, our own personal talismans of nature and living. Motifs and markers that guide us subliminally. And like the movement of migrating birds we connect. Our dreams and designs launching into the cosmos, gravitating towards kin, leaving invisible threads with which to weave a life. These themes are the crux of my work, meandering across the territory of the Human Condition, exploring the constant dialogue, contrasts and tensions between the lives we lead and the lives we feel, our outer and inner worlds, the spaces between the parts. Exploring our individuation as well as our innate connections to nature, time and ultimately to each other. Telling the story of us from the inside out, through painting. Somewhere between a wish and a call to arms. - Toni Cogdell, April 2015
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When, how and why started your art practice? Art has always been a central part of my life, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making art in some form. Remaining a presence in my life akin to a best friend or watchful angel it was inevitable Art was always going to shape my life, and to be making a living from my practice now is the biggest blessing. Who knows why we start, I think it’s a very intrinsic thing, humans are creative creatures by nature, but I was lucky to have a very supportive family and teachers growing up, so I sensed that the path into Art was a valid and important one I didn’t need to question. The work I’m doing now feels like a culmination of everything in the journey to now, years of experimentation and living. Learning the rules to break them and digging deeper through each layer, piecing the parts together as I went, my own personal language eventually surfaced and I can express stories I couldn’t tell before, in a way that feels fluent and real to me personally. Basically in the same way I used to make art as a child! I took the long road back to that place of freedom and trust, in order to make what I need to make and be nourished by it. Where it sits in the world, if it sits in the world, must come later. In your opinion, what role does the artist have in society? I feel that artists are connectors in society, providing channels between the seen and unseen, bringing to light forgotten or ignored elements of life, connecting us to what they find in order for us to understand ourselves and the world more fully. I believe, as Joseph Campbell did, that artists are our Shamans, deciphering the secret language of nature and the truths behind the fabric of human existence, exploring the depths to sift for treasure, making art as an offering. All sounds like a very romantic and dramatic notion I know, embarrassingly, but I’ve always had that view. To me artists are warriors and peacekeepers, valuing creation over destruction, and in this very unstable, uncertain and fragile time we find ourselves in I feel the role of the artist is more vital and needed than ever. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Bristol is an absolutely thriving city for the Arts, and I’m a proud Bristolian! It’s a diverse and culturally
rich place, inclusive and vibrant, with a vast array of avenues to explore in visual arts, music, theatre, performance, literature...the list goes on. We gave the world Banksy (we can claim that right? Thanks Banksy) so it’s not surprising that Bristol hosts a flourishing street and urban art scene of an incredible standard. In music, the city is renowned for the ‘Bristol Sound’ , having homed artists like Tricky, Massive Attack and Portishead, and this raw, cutting edge vibe remains today and is celebrated. With many artist studio complexes across the city, like Spike Island and Jamaica Street Artists, as well as galleries, festivals, pop-up shops, Bristol supports its Creatives as well as art-lovers. We have the RWA - ‘Bristol’s first art gallery’ where I’ve had the pleasure of showing in their Annual Open Exhibitions, The Arnolfini, Tobacco Factory, and independent galleries such as Clifton Fine Art where I have just started showing work. The beautiful, Georgian city of Bath is a stone’s throw away and also a wonderful backdrop for art, I show there with Edgar Modern Gallery. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. Unsure about comparisons but I’m of course driven and inspired to keep on creating by so many incredible artists, too many to mention. I think I would like to share, if I could, a little of the passion and spirit of Nicola Hicks, the drive and bravery of Cecily Brown and the wisdom and beauty of Patti Smith, these are the things I aspire to. When I feel stuck or overwhelmed I revisit the work of Karl Weschke which never fails to speak to me in new ways each time I look. What do you Like/Dislike about the Art World? As odd a thing as it might be to say I just like that there is an Art World! I believe in the house of art, so I love that there is a huge tribe devoted to its existence and continuation! The hype, the criticism, the Emperor’s Clothes are all part of it, and while hugely frustrating and oftentimes damaging to an artist’s self esteem, it’s all part of the rich tapestry, and should be used to fuel your own fire and keep dialogues flowing about art. Art is to be talked about. For this reason I love the huge art presence on social media, people sharing their own work and writing about others’, supporting each other, glimpsing a sense of what might be happening beyond your own studio door. This sort of engagement has become a vital part of my own life as a full-time artist, if you learn where to look there re-
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ally is a lot of support for artists out there. The main thing I feel for any artist when thinking about ‘The Art World’ or placing themselves alongside it is to always look inwards first; it’s what’s going on within you, what’s stirring up in your psyche and bones, that makes real art happen - your art. So working on a strong grounding for your own practice and aspirations, your own song, is vital before sailing the seas of the Art World. Build your own boat! What are your future plans as an artist? My immediate future plans are exciting - I’ll be having some work in the Summer Exhibition at McAl-
lister Thomas Gallery, Surrey, from 16th July 2016, a beautiful gallery so looking forward to that. Also preparing some work for Clifton Fine Art, Bristol, to show in August, and for Edgar Modern Gallery, Bath. My long-term future plan is to just keep on painting and pushing my practice, being as brave as I can, and sustaining a life making art. Each painting sold means the currency of time for me to devote to making art and uncovering more of what I’m seeking, layer by layer. I’m incredibly lucky to be working with such wonderful galleries and would love for this to continue and grow, so I will be working tirelessly, full-throttle, to make the best paintings I can, while maintaining the sails of my boat for the oceans ahead!
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Theresa Devine Phoenix, AZ, USA Theresa Devine is an Assistant Professor in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. Theresa received her BFA in Painting and Printmaking at Texas A & M University- Corpus Christi in 1991 and her MFA in Painting at University of Houston in 1994. In her artwork she explores games, toys and play. As lead of the Studio 4 Gaming Innovation research lab, Theresa focuses on researching games to redefine and explore what they can be and how they can be used to initiate transformation in our society (http://studio4gaminginnovation.com/).
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When, how and why started your art practice? I think it is important to start with “why.” Why: The world troubles me, and so I feel I need to do something about fixing the cause of all of the ills that I see. After much thinking, I consider making Art the best way to effect change and to influence humanity. My goal is to open people’s hearts and minds to understand the diversity of the experience of being alive, living together, and sharing the planet. Working as an artist is the most direct way to communicate with people on a deep level and to open their eyes, minds, and hearts to many different perspectives. How: Any studio practice begins with a moment to decide to begin. I do this daily. For me, this decision is the easy part. Every day my answer is always: “Yes, I must do this.” This commitment is strong in me. There were practical obstacles to studio practice that I had to figure out. Time, money, and ambition all needed to be balanced. It does take some money to practice as an artist. Investment in materials, equipment, and exhibitions are all necessary to push a career forward. I am completely self-made, so this was a difficult problem at first. For many years (1994-2010), I worked a corporate day job and pursued my Art at night. This made time for my Artwork short and mental space small. Nevertheless, I pushed forward slowly during these years. Many of my friends from graduate school thought I had stopped my studio practice during this time. I also changed my medium from painting to games in this transitional time; I stopped showing my work regularly because I was reinventing it (1996-2005). I was learning to pull back the veils of the layers of concept to
expose what was most important to me. As a result, I only showed locally from time to time (20052010). I studied and critically dissected my own practice to discover how to deal with the multitude of concerns that I had, created a structure that made sense for what the work demanded of me, and taught myself the new skills to create it (1994-2012). I changed my day job from the corporate to the academic world (2010). This move afforded me the mental space that I needed and I was able to implement my new structure and began to show again (2012). To date I have shown extensively in national and international peer-reviewed competitions and have recently begun to gain acceptances for two-person shows. I am hopeful that solo exhibitions will be in my near future. When: October of 1988. I was 22 and sure for the first time that I was an artist and that I had something to say with my work. Before then, I enjoyed making objects. I have one piece that I would consider to be a work of Art from before my decision to become an artist; looking back, I know through 20/20 hindsight that this piece’s creation was purely accidental. What themes do you pursue? My artist statement for my body of work titled “Ce n’est pas un jouet: This is not a toy.” answers part of this question, so I am including it here: Why do we forget to play when we grow up? Why do we hurt each other? Everywhere I look I see distrust, miscommunication, and misunderstanding. This is followed with greed, selfishness, and pain. How can play help us to understand each other?
Can play transform us and our world? Play is how we learn and gain trust from each other, so can it liberate us from the cycle of hurting each other? Through toys and games, I explore the intersection between adversity and play. Play is a serious venture and as the title says, it is not a toy. I invoke Magritte with this title, because his work showed us that possibilities are only limited by our imagination. I believe that through play we release ourselves from adversity and open the door to new possibilities. This artist statement explains the premise and media that I use. To fully answer your question: there are two themes emerging in my work. The first one has to do with the unspoken and invisible forces that inform relationships between people. “Unspoken” and “In Search of a Happy Middle” explore these external relationships. Concerns between partners, mother and child, person and society are all visible in these series. The second theme has to do with inner struggle. This work pursues a personal effort to understand and fight the invisible forces within. The work from “The Enemy Within” and “Spot Games” both investigate this private world. It is interesting to me that the external work are toys and table top games and the internal work is comprised of video games. In your opinion, what role does the artist have in society? This is for each individual artist to decide for themselves. I have decided that it is my role to create change and that the making of Art is a humanitarian effort. I use the media of games, toys, and play, because I think these are the best
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media to convey my message. I feel an affinity with Xul Solar, the FLUXUS artists, and Jean Tinguely. Solar was trying to unify South America and pull people together with a common language and spirituality. The FLUXUS were trying to comment on a system broken. And Tinguely thought that Art was play and he was playing. For my work, the importance of play from Tinguely, the social critique of the FLUXUS, and the humanitarian effort of Solar are the influences that form what comes out of my studio. I think it is important to reiterate here that this is a question that every artist must answer alone. There is no one answer to this question, only individual answers. This question, along with an individual understanding of what Art is, is what will form the path of an individual artist. Another way to think about this is: that artists have to decide what Art is and what the role of an artist is, so that they have the overriding criteria for what it is that they do. What do you like/dislike about the art world? I dislike the elitism of the institutional system of Art that fuels the galleries and museum collections. This elitism has also created a backlash. Artists seem to think that they must accept or reject the institutional Artworld. Those that reject it have much contempt for it. I find this attitude to be destructive. There is a conceptual tug of war that can be superficially understood as a fight between Modernism and Post-Modernism. I know that this description of this upsetting discourse does not do it justice. The minutiae of what aesthetic strategy and the tactics employed by each fills the air like tear gas and troubles me deeply. I
find both approaches too myopic. Having said that, I do wish to have my work preserved in museum collections, so I like that there is a system to bring together objects, document ideas that formed those objects, and protect and care for these efforts of humanity. I also dislike that the institutional system makes Art something that has to be visited. Art is marginalized. For me, Art is something that should be readily available to everyone and should permeate our collective way of life. I think that if Art is mass produced that humanity can be changed or guided toward a more inclusive world. I hope that I can do something to change the marginalization of Art in the future. Another point that I don’t like is that artists and their work are not valued. Sometimes the devaluation comes from external forces and sometimes artists devalue their own work. This results in a struggle to make a living. The contribution that an artist makes to society is as important as a doctor that saves lives or an entrepreneur that provides jobs. Artists and society both need to think about more avenues for compensation. Again, I hope that I can do something to change this current climate. What’s the best art tip you’ve ever received? “If it looks like Art, it isn’t.” This question has not been asked but I would like to offer a bit of advice to other artists. Here is the best of my experience: Every great work of Art has three components regardless of the medium, conceptual school of thought, or goal of the artist. They are: (1) the hook, (2) the burn, and (3) the afterimage. The Hook: What the viewer notices first to draw them in to experi-
ence the piece. The Burn: The experience of the piece. What ride does the artist take the viewer on? The Afterimage: What does the artist want the viewer to continue to think about after experiencing the piece? If your work does not have these three components, or one of them is weak, it will fall short of greatness. Do not be satisfied until your work holds up against other artists whose work has stood the test of time. What are your future plans as an artist? Specifically, I intend to follow the exploration that I have defined for myself to see where it goes. I have several new series started. It is difficult to know which ones will mature and become manifest. I think the ones that will come to fruition next are: (1) a casual video game series titled “Spot Games: For The Life Of Me” about illness, pain management, and recovery; (2) a series of table top games titled “The World Is Flat?” that explore power structures between people; and (3) a series of power wheelchairs titled “I Don’t Want A Wheelchair As A Part Of My Persona,” which explores cyborg theory: the intersection between the wheelchair as stigma and technology as status and play. The overall view that I have is that I plan to continue to explore humanity through the media of toys and games. I wish to find the work that can link the Artworld and the Gameworld. It is my dream that my work not only would be available in a mass market, so that it is readily available to everyone, but also be preserved in museums so that my thoughts and work could be considered by future viewers, artists, and scholars. I have my eye on the short term (in my lifetime) and on the long term (impact on the future).
Veronica Dragnef Montréal, Canada I tried for many years to find a medium to express myself artistically, so I am not new to painting. I needed a vessel in which to store all the creative energy, something that would help me relocate the monsters from under the bed. I wanted a way to depict all my joy and my aesthetic emotions, mitigate unconsciousness and consciousness, and then share it without using words. I paint directly and spontaneously.I am a real action painter.My paintings represent my intuition’s productivity and freedom. What do I paint? I paint situations;the separation of consciousness from the unconscious, and the difficulty of distinguishing the inside from the outside. My objective to take the senses on a journey that will ultimately end in the dissolution of perception—Just experience it,we don’t always need to understand.
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When, how and why started your art practice? I guess I started to be interested and loved art in general at a very young age—I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I was very interested in theatre, so I imitated all the famous actresses in my native Romania, and I recited poetry while standing up on a dining room chair to entertain our guests. I loved the theater, opera, operetta, and museums. As a child I was infatuated with art. I remember I was 8 when I first visited the Bruckenthal museum in Sibiu, Romania and I saw, for the first time, Flemish and Italian masters and I adored it. The museum was empty that day and I thought I was the only one in the world who knew about it and this was my secret: I had discovered painting. That is my first and oldest memory about visual arts. After that, growing up, the exposure to visual arts was very limited. I grew up in a communist country, so I grew up with socialism, realism, and soviet art and maybe a few byzantine icons that my grandma had. Telling the truth was a revolutionary act and painting portraits of a dictator was not an appealing career— I was not prepared to be a liar nor a revolutionary, so it never crossed my mind to study visual arts. I really wanted to be an actress and my parents said no, so I studied commerce and international trade because having a passport and being able to travel one day was a better shot at freedom that anything else. So…this is how I never studied art. We moved to Canada in 2000 and I lived another turmoil for about a decade or so—you know, the kind of experience that you have
to move forward at an incredible pace, a dizzyingly nauseating experience when your loved ones are more important than you and you can’t look at yourself in that magic mirror because you know that the outside will match the inside of and it will not be pretty.
an artist needs to pay the bills while creating his or her next collection. So I’d say it is cash flow and identifying your audience.
The rest of the story is very cliché, in a way that, at a certain moment, I was ready to tell my truth, i.e., my side of the story—I was ready to be a revolutionary of my own world. I wanted to turn everything upside down; I was ready to come out of the closet, so to speak. I did not care if it was late or I was ready or not, or whether I did not know the rules of the game. I remembered how painting made me feel as a child and how it makes me feel now as a mature adult. A couple of years ago, I just threw myself into the abyss and I grabbed some paint and a canvas in the process. I don’t remember exactly why or how I decided (and why painting and not a different medium)—I just did.
I am very new to this world, so I don’t think I’ve figured it out comme il faut, i.e., properly. The art world is like the real world. It is political and hypocritical, nasty, mean, weird beautiful, and funny. Since I am in it for the long run, likes and dislikes are inevitable and part of the journey. I love showing my art—I like to receive good, constructive criticism. I like hearing Yes and dislike hearing No. Will this making me stop painting? Nope. The art world is a tough world and you have to be hard as nails and have a thick skin. You should keep your sensitivities for your creative process (or otherwise suffer a continuous meltdown—whichever benefits your art).
I started to paint like my hair was on fire and I couldn’t stop, I can’t stop, and I don’t want to stop. This is how and when I started. With regards to the “why,” I guess it was some sort of a mystical necessity. I really do not know why I started, and I don’t really care why at this point—I just want to nurture whatever internal forces keep me doing it. Continuity is far more important to me than origin. What is the most challenging part about being painter? I think is a combination of few factors—I believe one of the biggest challenge artists face is cash flow. There is a market for work, (though it may be difficult to identify), but
What do you like/dislike about the art world?
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. I just want to make brilliant work and I do not really care about being compared or not with one or another. I will name 6 artists—three women and three men—because I want to do justice to my own kind (and because Georg Baselitz said that it was a fact that “women don’t paint very well.”). My first and eternal love is Willem DeKooning—I could stop here but I am also very fond of Arshile Gorki, and Harold Town (a Canadian painter). As for the ladies: Liubov Popova, Shani Rhys James, and Georgia O’Keefe.
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What’s the best art tip you’ve ever received? I had a workshop with Harold Klunder—a great Canadian painter—and he told me: “Everything is inside you— keep painting.” I just took the keep painting part, but this is the best tip I’ve ever received. What are your future plans? I want to paint and display my art as much as I can. I just want to enjoy the journey. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I am very lucky to live in the Montréal area because the art scene is great and the museums, shows, and festivals are just gorgeous. Also, I am just an hour away from New York (MoMa and Whitney anyone?), so I am very lucky to be part of this scene.
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Laurie Freitag Los Angeles, CA, USA Iâ€™m an Angeleno for the past many decades but grew up in NY and whatever happens to my hometown, happens to me. With a nose for news (I spent 20 years working as one of the first female broadcast engineers in local TV news), when Blizzard Jonas was broadcast on CNN, I grabbed my Android phone & started shooting the coverage off of the TV screen. I zoomed past the reporters onscreen & was able to create stories. I adjusted the contrast and shadows to create a NY that reflects my own personal state.
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When, how and why started your art practice? I grew up in a 2 family house in Far Rockaway, New York. My aunt, uncle and 4 cousins lived upstairs. My uncle worked for GAF, the Kodak competition, in the 1960’s. He was always shooting stills and movies of the family. As a child I covered my bedroom walls from floor to ceiling with images and words I cut out from magazines like Life and Look but I never got the opportunity to shoot until I left home at 18 and bought my first camera, a Nikkormat. I was always drawn to images but couldn’t say why. I was a bit shy and perhaps it was a way to connect to something outside of myself. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Los Angeles is filled with artists of every ilk. Going to galleries, fairs and openings can be a complete lifestyle here. On any Saturday there are at least 20 shows taking place at galleries or museums. Artists vie for space at galleries and independent curators as well as artists are always creating pop-up shows wherever they can find space to show work. Because of the freeway system, it’s easy to get around from show to show though it can be tiresome. There isn’t just one place where artists show. There’s downtown Los Angeles, there’s Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, there’s the Brewery Artwalk where artists live and work and is considered the world’s largest art complex just to name a few. I belong to the Los Angeles Art Association where members can apply for their many shows during the year in their prestigious gallery, 825 Gallery on La Cienega Blvd. adjacent to West Hollywood. The weather is great here and now more than ever artists have a shot at making a living as well as affording to live in neighborhoods that aren’t too expensive. In your opinion, what role does the artist have in society? Artists are the philosophers; the heart of society. Artists take the time to listen to the urges that come through them. The artist is the vessel that communal consciousness comes through. The artists themselves may not even be aware of why they do what they do but it doesn’t really matter. Once the work is out there… the art becomes part of the environment and the interpretation is up for grabs. It seldom fails to inform.
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. My work has been compared to Henri Cartier Bresson, the master of candid photography. My work is very spontaneous and I’m able to access a scene very quickly geometrically. I would imagine that being compared to Life Magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt and the painter Edgar Degas would be thrilling as my work uses composition similar to theirs using elements of design as the base of the visual story. What do you like/dislike about the art world? What I like about the art world is the receptivity to new artists. There is a respect for what has come before of course, but there is excitement and buzz when someone is presenting something in a new way. What’s the best art tip you’ve ever received? The best art tip I ever received was to just keep creating; that it’s not up to me to judge my work… to just create, to keep going. The process is not always apparent nor is the end result. What are your future plans as an artist? A work of mine from my Blizzard series was accepted to the Van Der Plas Gallery Anthology 2016. The show will run July 8 -July 31 at 156 Orchard Street, NY, NY 10002. www.vanderplasgallery.com In addition I have been working on a series for the past 5 years entitled, ‘The Lost Years’ which focuses on the years before age 5 in which most people cannot remember. I am in the process of editing a 100 page book (mock-up) that I will selfpublish. In 2015 I founded L.A. Photo Curator (where photography and philanthropy meet) to offer photographers a way to get P.R. by jurors reviewing their work in monthly themed competitions. A percentage of their artist fees also go to charity. This has been a very rewarding venture with connections to photographers from all over the world.
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Laura Shevaun Green Thornton, England, UK
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“In Revenge, the Piper turned his focus upon the children of the village. He charmed them with his music and led them away into a magical mountainside that swallowed them, and they disappeared forever. The community of Hamelin was left to face profound grief, loss and regret.” The Pied Piper entices and deceives us, offering the lonely friendship and the desolate a reason to carry on. It is not only the vulnerable who are seduced by his tune, for who among us doesn’t want to find a place where you feel like you are understood, a place to truly belong? This is how an individual beings to obtain power over another, this is how the dance begins. My installations occupy the physical and digital realms. Exploring both of these realities to demonstrate how religious groups and cults firstly, recruit their followers and then spread their extremist beliefs within the communities they inhabit. Once the Pied Piper has charmed his victims a series of events begins to unfold, ending in the devastation and destruction of individual life. From this, great loss and fear echo out into our society. My work explores a dark world in which the “self” is deconstructed, manipulated and reformed to reflect the beliefs of others and control with society at large. My installations are repetitive in nature to mirror the brainwashing process used within cult initiation. These pieces are constructed from appropriated images that have been altered to create a sense of distortion, unease and mistrust among the audience. Leaving the view to question whether the tune of the Pied Piper is one they themselves one day may fall privy too.
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John Haverty Marion, MA, USA In 2013, I began working on an on-going collage project titled Gangrene. The collage consists of watercolor and ballpoint pen drawings cut out and adhered to vinyl. Currently, the collage stretches 35 feet long and 9 feet high and was recently selected as a jurorâ€™s pick for ArtPrize 7. My art, like the infection, is a collage that continues to grow organically. Gangrene presents an ambiguous visual feast that sheds light on problems vexing society such as unchecked population growth, over consumption, pollution and war that we have come to accept as the norm. The work is titled Gangrene, because similar to the condition, if left unchecked these issues will destroy us. The collage mimics an untreated wound, manifesting and devouring the vacuous space that surrounds it. The work has mainly been created in the deep south of Savannah, Georgia where gangrene devastated the combatants of the Civil War, and where the wounds of those battles remain lingering in the corners of the cityâ€™s famed burial grounds.
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What an absolute delight it was to have these images pop up in my inbox! I instantly felt a sense of fun and insanity; I became absorbed in these maze-like drawings of objects and places melding together like a bizarre and beautiful circus. To look at these drawings is to read a story; you read from left to right and get in-twined in details along the way. These particular works are like a picture book - whimsical, curious and reminiscent of the make-believe, with hints of the everyday. The sheer detail within each work is enough to hold your gaze for a solid few minutes - It is easy enough for you to get caught up on one simple leaf, brick, wrinkle or shard of glass, and allow it to pull your gaze along those beautiful lines and onto the next wondrous object, tying each piece together as if narrating a tale of an intrepid adventure through a psychedelic Graeme Base book. A particularly interesting place from which such a unique style has arisen, these works are inherently based on the idea of traveling and existing within the in-between. It is clear that through living a life of nomadicity, John has been repeatedly exposed to contrasting cultures, ways of life, objects, people and places. It is almost as if all of these juxtapositions have burst forth in one hit, creating artworks that are made up of disjointed fragments of all of the memories and knowledge he has gathered in the journey he has made through life, culture and experience. The suggestion of memories both real and imagined absorbs me - like a puzzle created out of the dissonance of the psyche, I am trying to piece together abstract and real components to make sense of the work in front of me. It is immersive in itsâ€™ ability to make me thrive to understand it, and in itsâ€™ enormity of scale - It is truly a series of works that puts emphasis on the presence of the viewer within the space, both physically and psychologically.
- Unveiling Contemporaries
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J.Howard Alvin, TX, USA
My artistic journey began as a child in Houston, Texas, when I showed an early talent for drawing and painting and studied art privately. In graduate school I studied animated art and the mechanics of visually aided learning while working in the graphics and film industries. Acclaimed for my vitality of colors, strength of composition and variety of subject matter, my work has earned national honors and many are held in corporate and private collections. I began my life as a child who chose to express important events through the gift of drawing. I have taken an incredible journey full of indescribable experiences that allows me to show passion and emotion in my work. My goal has always been for art to be an expression, which invokes emotion. I discovered a unique method of creating rich depth and texture. . My goal has always been for art to be an expression, which invokes emotion. in our daily lives. They influence our mood and decisions, they can attract or repel attention and we designate and organize things based on their hue.
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When, how and why started your art practice? Although I began my training at a very early age, my practice as an artist has had two lives. I first began as a studio artist with the responsibility of recreating life and movement with inanimate objects. Through the observation of reality, I became a lover of Photorealism, which has given substance to my art career’s second life. The name Photorealism was coined in reference to those artists whose work depended heavily on photographs, which they often projected onto canvas allowing images to be replicated with precision and accuracy. Flourishing during the 1970s, Photorealism complicates the notion of realism by successfully mixing together that which is real with that which is unreal. For this I am deeply drawn to its ability to display an image on the canvas that is recognizable and carefully delineated to suggest that it is accurate based upon photographs rather than direct observation. Therefore, remaining distanced from reality factually and metaphorically. Although I do record observations of behavior and environments, my goal is to produce pieces that have a voice and emotion unique to only each piece as art and becomes communicative of social criticism or commentary. Since the advent of photography in the early 19th-century artists have used the camera as a tool in capturing images. Artists, even today, would never reveal their dependency on photographs as to do so was seen as “cheating”. In contrast, I acknowledge the production and proliferation of photographs, and I do not deny that I rely on them to assist me in producing a piece. In creating. I attempt to identify the affects of photography, rather than the vision of the eye, such as blurriness and multiple-viewpoints, to favor the aesthetic and look. So, while the results is realistic, it is simultaneously one step away from reality by its dependence. I do this with the complete understanding that my works question traditional artistic methods, as well as the differences between reality and artificiality while successfully uniting color and light together as one element. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Unfortunately, the art scene in Houston is quite fickle and trendy. It has an air of snobbery that makes an emerging artist’s attempt at becoming known and favored very difficult. Art as a whole is rooted in cultural diversities but seems disjointed at times. With my grounded sense of reality, I feel that, for the moment, there is no place for me, but I have a voice that will one day be heard.
In your opinion, what role does the artist have in society? Art plays many roles in society and, at different times, can speak to issues in areas such as religion, science, politics, and history. No mater what arena, art can provide thought-provoking commentary and innovative perspectives on a vast array of ideas. People often forget the significance of art in the discourse of social, cultural, and global concerns. Art clearly has the power to spark ideas and challenge prevailing opinions. The artist becomes the point of delivery. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. I have been thinking about some of the great artists over the past couple of days in response to this question. I consider Edgar Degas to be the greatest pastelist of all time and being a pastelist myself I thought I would start with him. Degas required a medium lending itself to precision line-work as do I. Although he took part in the Impressionist exhibitions, he felt he had little in common with that group of artists. I have attempted my own version of “impressionism” but it does not feel comfortable, so I can relate to this. He preferred working in his studio rather than plein air, something else we have in common. The originality of his work was his ability to solve problems of form and movement and he made numerous studies to work out original compositions and color harmonies in his studio. I work to do the same type studies with the aide of a camera. A notable similarity purely by accident is cutting the picture off unexpectedly. Degas’ works gained a more convincing effect of reality with a scanting line of sight that led the eye up or down into the composition. I work to do the same by uniquely cropping to gain the same type of visual effect. The impression of depth is thereby sharpened and takes on an accent of reality. We share the same sense of “blocking”; he with his charcoal stick and I with my bunt stick dipped in remnants of color. He applied his pastels, working back over the layer by scoring it with successive hatchings. Doing this several times, running strokes together and juxtaposing them so as to get a whole mosaic of interwoven tones. And although I do not use a hatch mark, I begin with a single layer and build on it each time in order to transform the painting surface into a haze of color vibrations. As a photorealist, I would love to be compared to
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Audrey Flack. Audrey Flack is an American painter, printmaker, and sculptor, who is widely regarded for her innovative contributions to the Photorealist and feminist movements of the late twentieth century. While her early work included abstract motifs, Flack achieved international recognition for her incredibly detailed paintings of still-life compositions and her monumental sculptures of mythical and divine female figures. A great deal of my work involves women, which I believe reflects my grounded sense of strength in the eloquence of the female gender. As they have always said, “behind every great man is an even greater woman.” For God placed upon women the responsibilities of compassion, inspiration and support. And I find that women are better in recognizing expression of emotions, the very thing I am hoping to invoke. In her later years, Audrey drew upon the strengths of women as well and developed a true visual on the empowerment of such. Finally in regards to the contemporary use of soft pastels, I would like to be compared to Mark Leach. Although I am very much a realist in comparison to his abstract views, his use of color to convey emotional responses is the very same goal I have in my work. In fact, all three of my choices had the same goal. Provide an emotional journey for every viewer. What do you like/dislike about the art world? I hate that which looks as though my Chihuahua painted it. And I hate even more so that the artist is receiving a great deal of notoriety. I hate that I have worked to create while at the same time market my art and skill only to be passed over by something that makes no sense. I hate the obvious subjectivity of the nature of judging and the “brown nosing” in order for a gallery to even consider you. I like that it has a voice and an opinion. What’s the best art tip you’ve ever received? Degas once said,” It’s not what you see but, what you make others see.” A very good friend recently told me that the most important thing I can do is be true to myself in my art. To make sure that above all else, my voice is heard over the judgment of others who feel that art should be traditional in how it is created. I also have to remember that just because someone or some gallery tells me “NO”, it does not mean that I cannot do it; it just means that I am not going to do it with them.
What are your future plans as an artist? I currently have a three year plan toward full retirement as a mental health physician to becoming a full time artist. I have many things on my “bucket list”, one of which was to have a solo show in a gallery. As of February of 2017 it seems I will have the opportunity to cross this off my list. I have a goal of winning the Hunting Art Prize, as well as, the Bown Project Prize. I have very high expectations for myself but will follow the path that God lays before me. Upon retirement, I would like to have my own studio gallery where I can support emerging artist; in particular, those who have overcome a difficult mental/ emotional trauma through the use of art as therapy.
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Henry Hu Sydney, Australia There are no limits to what static visuals can achieve. My personal approach of utilizing digital tools, a variety of styles can be seen across all collections matching their subject matters. Each individual collection, usually consists of multiple pieces, often in the same style, grouped by specific themes, concepts or stories. 20 years of living, some of my works touch upon life itself, others explore on themes interest me personally. Most of my works are intentional, evolving over time. I donâ€™t have specific ways for audiences to view or meanings to take away from my works, it is what it is. Each personâ€™s feelings and opinions will be polarized and I am totally happy with that.
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In your opinion, what role does the artist have in society? Well first off in my opinion, artists have a really important and challenging role in a society. There is no When, how and why started your art practice? doubt about it. Different people will have drastically different judgments on this subject and most people Started working on artworks in late 2014, little bit won’t even care but I am just going to share some of under 2 years I would say. Grew up loving films and my thoughts on this. music, the idea of making something on my own has always been in the back of my head. Over the past Currently the world is in a very scary state, there isn’t few years, I really started to appreciate mostly films, really anything positive about the future. Not to name visual arts and music as art forms, to be honest I am drop anything - doubt anyone is optimistic in regards just amazed by things artists have been doing for cen- to the middle east, general international relations, turies no matter what the medium is. Just like that I the economy, the environment, the political stuff the decided to start working on my own stuff, but real- governments, etc etc and with kids getting shot in the ly it’s personal passion. Basically I started off with streets, kids can’t get into schools, sooner or later visual arts because that’s just the most reasonable there will be nothing, I mean literally nothing; the Sun way to get my thoughts / stories out at that moment, in is gone, the Earth is gone, everything we have done as the financial and time point of view. That being said, a species all gone just like that, and these are realiI could easily be producing music or doing things re- ties but I mean we just simply can’t and shouldn’t live lated to motion visuals (which I have been working on our lives with these groomy and dark thoughts, otheras well) instead of visual arts to begin with. At the end wise why would anyone be doing anything. I think it of the day, I can always switch to different mediums if is up to the artists to figure out why it is worthwhile they suits what I am trying to do more. for everything, knowing the worst, and to explain and remind people why it is important to do what they are I love what I have been doing with artworks and by meant to do. crafting them in a specific order within a complete series / collection grouped by themes or stories, this With the internet, it makes it so much easier for artists gives me the chance to do something different and to get their works across the globe these days - in the personal. past people had to go to the record store to get music,
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to the theaters to catch a film, now we can just hop on a computer and that’s it. Also, what artists actually put out is very important for the culture and children growing up. Take a kid as an example, they go to school five days a week, spend most of their days at school, parents at work, rest of the time they get a lot of exposure to music and films, and the messages behind these will affect them as a person.
these interviews, kind of like knowing them in person. For me as an artist, it is always the most important to stay true to yourself and your work. Be sure to know what you and your works stand for, don’t change for anyone or anything. What are your future plans as an artist?
Currently I am finishing off my new art series ‘This How would you describe the art scene in your Can’t Be it’, which has been in works for quite a while area? Is this possible to compare somehow Hong now. I had the vague ideas for this series way back Kong and Sydney? when I first started crafting artworks; wanted to work on it ever since, but I guess the timing and my mind Should be interesting since Sydney is a multi cultured set just wasn’t right for it. Finally got around doing it, city, but I don’t really know, haven’t got around to TCBI is easily some of my favourite artworks I have know the art scene in the city, the same goes to Hong worked on so far. Without going into details, this seKong so we will see. ries offers something fresh, dark, grounded yet dreamy and is far different from any other of my works. With its non linear story structure TCBI brings together What do you like/dislike about the art world? something unique and I am very excited about it. A teaser motion trailer for TCBI is out now on: henryhAs of right now, I have been doing artworks mostly hu.com, full art series coming later this year. for passion, and I have full creative control over what I do, so I love everything about the art world; the re- After I am done with TCBI, I plan on doing some more ceptions of my works have been wonderful as well. short story motion visuals / animations. Will probably What’s the best art tip you’ve ever received? start on some artworks as well, have a few directions I would like to tackle in terms of subject matters and I do learn a lot from watching interviews of my fa- styles. Reaching out to the right galleries and getting vourite directors, screenwriters, musicians, etc but I some of my works exhibited is also something I have mostly want to get to know their personalities through in mind.
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Shirin Kavin Vienna, Austria Shirin Katya Aleyda Kavin (former Winiger) was born in Zurich, October 1984. Influenced by her multicultural background, she pursued several ways of expression. Driven by the fascination of the human body, its modification and the love for extremes, she worked as a body-piercer, trained oriental dancing and acquired the skills of make-up artistry in theatre, fashion and film. This early process of orchestrating the human being and body lead Shirin Kavin to photography. The artist is captivated by an immediate, intense and diverse language, that seems to listen more than it speaks. Based on clear conceptual aspirations Shirin Kavin assembles. Handmade miniature installations made from organic materials, painting and digital techniques take part in an illusionary visual language, perpetually aiming, to visualize the invisible texture of the soul. Since 2014 Shirin Kavin is living and working in Vienna, together with her husband and their one year old son.
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When, how and why started you photographing? I started with photography in 2007. Before that I worked as a make-up artist and further back I painted. For several years I also worked as a Bodypiercer. For me, the make-up artistry was a way to combine my fascination with human anatomy and the structure of skin with my love for painting.It was in photography that I finally found a true connection to all those things I was searching for. One of the greatest qualities this art form possesses is that the object or person being photographed can be left relatively untouched, yet I can leave my fingerprints behind. It has a lot to do with time and eternity. The presence of the subconscious is palpable, yet whether it belongs to the artist, the object or person in the piece or the person viewing it, remains unclear. I do not have a degree in photography. It is a process of constanly evolving as an artist and learning whatever it is I need to at any given time. My father was a photographer, so perhaps my passion for it was passed down from him. I am not the kind of photographer who is obsessed with technical aspects, and I can absolutely imagine working with a different medium in the future. Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? As I mentioned before, I used to paint, and I still get inspired by this old art form. Especially the heavily symbolic illustrations and paintings form the 14th and 15th centuries fascinate me. I also use symbols in my work and it deeply fascinates me how using such literal and primal methods can translate into vastly deep and meaningful truths. Another big source of inspiration is everyday life. The animalistic instincts of human beings unfold; observing and photographing such behaviour is something I absolutely love. Tell us more about “Empty Page” series. The series “Empty Page” is a very personal piece, for which I have to delve into my background to explain. I grew up in Zurich and next to studying I worked
two and sometimes three odd jobs. Often at night. In 2007 I moved to Berlin, where I first came in contact with photography. After years dense with people, work and noise I found myself, slightly traumatised, in a new city. Here I was able to just breathe, hear my own thoughts and really live my art. This sudden emptiness and quiet, which stood in such contrast to the previous years, was vital for the creation of these pictures, taken between 2008-10. They show a search or proof of existence. The themes are: confrontation, coercion, sex, suppression, self love, awakening, omnipresence and transcience. My method is similar to that of a sculptor. The sculptor frees the sculpture from a stone; removes anything excessive or unnecessary. How would you describe the art scene in your area? In Zurich it’s hard to get a start as an artist. The artists are very competitive amongst themselves, perhaps due to the financial pressures of that city. There are two ways to get into the “art scene” there. One way is via the Academy of Arts, yet here I worry about the standardization of art. Another way is establishing oneself as an artist abroad before returning. It is pretty much the same in Berlin, at least that was my experience. A big difference, however, is the vast number of artists living and working there. Due to the sheer amount of them there are many opportunities and networking possibilities for up and coming artists. Of course, as in most fields, when there is more supply than demand the financial gain suffers. A little bubble emerges in which one can create and collaborate, but survival is only possible if one lives in Berlin. Things have possibly changed since I moved away, but this is how I remember it. Since early 2014, I live in Vienna. Here I found a combination of Zurich and Berlin. There are several medium sized art scenes here. The city has a certain artistic reputation to uphold, therefore there are structures in place which are beneficial for artists. Of course it is very subjective… Everyone has to create their own parameters. Timing is also a factor, and I happended to move here during a fruitful time, both on a personal and artistic level. An exchange takes place between myself and the city, which also has to do with support and feedback. This exchange is important for my creative flow. ..the art scene here is somewhat elitist, but I find that to be globally true;)
In your opininon what role does the artist have in society? Hmmmmm….what role the artist has or what role I think the artist should have? As already mentioned, I am very fond of the old school of art. I like craftmanship, refined details and evidence of that the artist has spent a great deal of time and effort creating a piece, regardless of what form/medium it is in. I don’t want an artist to lose the role of an Artisan, which is almost a thing of the past. Apart from that, an artist is like any other person. We should all be alert, reflective and interested in our surroundings and try to pass something on to and be in touch with the people in those surroundings. In the actual art world, all these things are approached quite systematically. It is all about upholding a myth, creating heroes and satisfying the market. But in my opinion, the art world is no different from other areas, be it professional sports, music, fashion, nutrition, medicine, politics etc… What do you like/dislike about the art world? As an artist I am of course interested in what other artists create. The answer to your question varies depending on said creation;) What are your future plans as an artist? What inspires me is simply “ being human”. As such, although I am also an artist, I can only view myself as a whole individual. Therefore my goals as an artist are closely aligned with personal ones. A perfect example of that is my last piece, a series of photos called Virginity Purity Innocence Youth, which I presented earlier this year. It was hugely inspired by the birth of my first child at the end of 2014. The transition in my life and the experiences I had with this innocent being took me down a path of more artistic maturity, both visually and in terms of contenct. Right now I am planning a project with the title”BUT” for which I am currently searching for models. I am experimenting with a more satirical approach. The photos are to display, tongue in cheek, all the various facets of human nature. I will let the models themselves inspire me. My goal with this series is to make a direct statement to the viewer in an uncensored, honest and perhaps painful manner, without wanting to attack or frighten him or her. Ideally, I would like the viewer to be left with a positive feeling. On my website I have described it as such: We move in the space between “ought” and “want”. I want to delve into this space. I have set aside 1 year for this project. We will see….
Elisabeth Wolf a.k.a Lagqaffe Leipzig, Germany
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Briefly describe the work you do. I´m self-taught painter, graphic designer and illustrator from Leipzig, Germany. At the moment, my artwork is really based on paintings. I spent a lot of time in preparing these paintings and I need more and more time for that. But I’m very interested in many kinds of art. It’s very difficult to say ‘I’m a painter’ or ‘I’m an illustrator’ or ‘I’m a graphic designer’ – every kind of this art has something special for me. I combine these different types of artistic mediums and styles. It´s very helpful to be familiar with digital and analog art. Maybe it’s interesting that I have no education in the background of the things I’m doing. Sometimes I miss that kind of school and I think by myself, what could be possible with a special education in art. What themes do you pursue? I´m really influenced by strong feelings and most of the time its a female feeling as well. Mostly my personal art is very sensitive and emotional. On the other hand I´m very inspired by the urban life. In contrast of my conceptional and very good arranged paintings I really love the normal and spontaneous life of the city. The unmasked peoples which are waiting for something or walking there way. But the human is always the focus of my artwork, especially women. For me women have such a emotional beauty, which fascinate me more than men. What is the most challenging part about being an artist? You always need much time, and you really need to practice a lot to get what you want. When you are talented, it’s okay, but I think, as an artist, the real talent is when you can fight for your dreams. That’s the most important and most challenging thing in being an artist. If you are a musician or if you are a painter or if you are a graphic designer, you need time to make your dreams come true. It’s not only painting or drawing; there are many other things to do to be a successful artist. There are many things you need to know, and the best way to learn is to try it, so you really need time to get better at the things you are doing.
How would you describe the art scene in your area? Leipzig has different art scenes. We have a very famous Acadamy of arts in Leipzig and this is why we have a high-class art scene in Leipzig too with many professors, galleries, art collectors and so on. But the hight society of art is locked for unknown self-taught” artists. I don’t have any contact to these galleries. But the artists, who are not “good” enough for this high society created there own alternative art scene, they create there own galleries and exhibitions with friends. They create their own context and they are successful with that. Not only for visual arts, for musician as well. You have great offer and it´s very easy to connect with other people. Alternative and urban artists moving in the same direction and I personally get great support from friends and family. I´m also represented by a gallery in Leipzig which is managed by friends of mine. What art do you most identify with? Thats difficult to answer. My daily job as an graphic designer takes a lot of time and if somebody ask me what I´m doing, I tell him “I´m working as an graphic designer”. But my heart beats for my personal artworks, paintings and illustrations. I really love my job and I´m thankful that I can live on my own creativity. But I have a very creative mind and so much ideas and the time is running so fast. I think in the first place I´m a visual artist and I hope I get more time to realize all my ideas. What’s the best art tip you’ve ever received? I don´t know. I´m not the type of woman who´s listen to good advices of other people. What are your future plans as an artist? I have so many ideas and not enough time to realize them. I´m working on a new exhibition at the moment and I think I will publish the new artworks in spring 2017. I do many smaller studies and practice a lot just for getting better in painting. It would be great to have more time for that, but it´s hard to work as an freelancer and preparing an art career at the same time.
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Art Reveal Magazine
Roberta Masciarelli Dallas, TX, USA / Sao Paulo, Brazil Maybe it is my background as an Architect that brings this up but most of my artworks are spaces where I tell stories. I invite the viewer to get inside this space, seeing the details from a close perspective and to understand how it was built. My style is loosely based on Brutalism - a short tendency in Architecture in the timeframe of 50â€™s-70â€™s. On that school of thought the infrastructure of a building was not hidden. Au contraire, electric wires, conduits, plumbing and other details were apparent to the user, making part of the visual result. I like to show how I made my piece, the beauty is in the knowledge and truth. And the use of found objects are the main focus in my creations. We live in a society that discards everything without thinking where those things came from or what damage this is going to make to our environment. I pass my message showing other uses for the found objects, creating imaginary devices and factories with my sculptures. Playing. And my art reaches younger people who love and understand my work. I have a dream that all we are going through right now in the world will pass and our future will be better. Just with creativity and jumping quantum leaps we will fix our future. My message: to imagine other solutions reusing what we have, recycling our trash.
Art Reveal Magazine
Art Reveal Magazine
When, how and why started your art practice? I was always connected to the Visual Arts as an illustrator, graphic/web designer and Art Director, but at that time I never considered myself as an artist. Ten years ago I quit my job as a web designer and dedicated myself full time to the Arts. It was when I started to feel myself as an artist—a gradual process, but made my soul happy. Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist? No. I care very much about my finished product. First comes the concept or idea - that is for sure. But the way the material and parts are connected to each other is important. I tell a story. And most times, I create spaces where something may eventually happen. I pay attention to every detail in my work. And sometimes perfectionism is a burden to carry. What is the best part about working in visual arts? Freedom for expressing my views and ideas about life. I’m a pacifist. Every time I participate in a show related to bringing Peace or calling attention to the Human Rights for this world I feel great, I feel that I’m doing something that I couldn’t do otherwise. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Is this possible to compare somehow Sao Paulo and Dallas? If you compare both cities, Dallas area wise is 3 times bigger than SP with a population density 10 times smaller—a spread out city. Regarding Sao Paulo a lot of cultural events are going on all the time - difficult for choosing which day of the week you may stay at home ;) It is a small & very competitive market, very hard for an artist. In Dallas, the art scene has changed and improved a lot since I came 18 years ago. But there is much to be done yet. I believe there are more opportunities here. What do you like/dislike about the art world? What I like is the freedom of expression, creativity being a modus operandi and also, the friendship among the artists. What I dislike is the big egos. There is no role model on which artists have to act. We are just people like everybody else. We have chosen to express our creativity in another way. What’s the best art tip you’ve ever received? ‘Less is more’, Mies Van Der Rohe. My art is far from being considered as minimalist but I always think “less” as ‘less visual noise’. I control the visual noise leaving a breathing space to balance all the textures & materials that I put together. The screws are inserted in a way which blends into the artwork. What are your future plans as an artist? The use of imagination is the only way to solve problems in our world. If we don’t think outside the box regarding all the challenges we are facing, there will be no solution. This is the message I want to spread. And to live longer, being active and working on my art everyday…
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Christina Nicodema New York, NY, USA Nicodemaâ€™s work probes the chaotic interiors of the female experience. Her latest series Hysteria examines the ways in which we address trauma and vulnerability walking the line between the rawness and grace of an experience.
Art Reveal Magazine
When, how and why started your art practice? I’ve been making art since I could hold a pencil. I went to art school, but never studied Fine Art. I actually majored in Illustration and Animation at Parsons School of Design thinking it would provide more career options. I’ve always had an innate need to create work for myself based on my personal truths and artistic sensibility. I started painting less than two years ago during a chaotic and distressing time in my life. The work I’m currently making is laced with autobiographical components and probes the complicated interiors of the female experience. Lately I’ve been using animal symbolism with feminist overtones as a means of telling stories and asking questions that I could never adequately verbalize. As a self-taught painter I feel less constrained by rules. Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist? I do not consider myself a conceptual artist, as I do not place ideas over the formal and visual components of a piece. Instead, I choose specific visual elements to convey my messages. Conceptual art often minimizes its material presence in order to place greater importance on the ideas behind it. In my work, I give equal weight to both ideas and aesthetic. What is the best part about working in visual arts? The best part of working in visual arts is being able to do what I love. It’s a luxury. I was lucky enough to receive encouragement from an outstanding teacher in high school who helped instill the confidence in me to choose this as a career path. When I applied to college, I applied to only art schools. If you have to think about it too hard, then you don’t want it badly enough. It’s a bit of a do or die situation, and I’m comfortable with that. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I’m a native New Yorker. It’s a blessing being in this city given the wealth of creativity that exists here. The art scene in this city is explosive. Living here, you have the luxury of being exposed to a massive
array of high level creativity spanning a range of media. On the flip side, it’s also extremely competitive and striving to achieve originality and recognition is a constant grind. I’ll always be in love with this city and the grind that comes with it because the reward is so deeply satisfying. What do you like/dislike about the art world? I love that just about anything goes in the art world. The constant challenge of an artist is not only achieving originality, but doing so in a way that resonates with the audience. Striking an emotional chord with even one person is a success to me. So in that respect, I love the nature of art making. What I find challenging about the art world is navigating its political terrain. Self-promotion and networking are jobs in themselves- and ones that I’m less naturally adept at. That being said, I’ve never been one to recoil from a challenge. What’s the best art tip you’ve ever received? I’ve received so many interesting comments and words of advice over the years. One that always stood out to me is actually a quote I came across from one of my favorite painters Francis Bacon. He said, “Painting that doesn’t have any balls is never vulnerable.” This resonated with me because in many ways, truth and vulnerability are the bottom line in the work I make. Visual art is my platform to express the deepest truths and emotions that cannot be verbalized. Getting that raw and that vulnerable takes guts. It leaves us wide open and exposed. I believe it requires that level of honest, unabashed, spill-your-guts vulnerability to make that emotional connection with the audience. Truth is where the power lies. What are your future plans as an artist? I intend to make this my life’s work. I want to expand into sculpture and take my paintings to a much larger scale-continuing to evolve in how I express my ideas. I want to travel and exhibit in galleries. Through my work, I hope to explore every last emotion within me until they expire. I need to reach people, and I want my work to resonate with them. I will spend forever digging into and grappling with our human experience.
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Taly Oehler Los Angeles, CA, USA
(Not) Los Angeles The camera never tells the whole truth, and the arbitrary framing of each image is determined by the photographerâ€™s psychology. (Not) Los Angeles was produced over a period of several years, during which I felt most detached and alienated from a city that I was forced to call my home. In a departure from Eve Sonnemanâ€™s pairings, two images of the same moment were forced into one frame, creating a battle between facade versus truth. This series exposed myths, shattering them in the wake of personal truths.
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When, how and why started you photographing? Though my obsession with photography started in the nineties with a roll of film and a darkroom, I began pursuing it professionally about a decade later, when I was gifted a DSLR from my better half during a time of turmoil. Photography became my therapeutic crutch when the world made no sense to me. The camera and the image allowed me to begin formulating my own definition of reality, one that provided me with a broader understanding of people as well as myself, and one that I could confidently get behind. This is why, I think, I produce images that challenge the viewer’s way of seeing the world. Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? My desire to challenge status quo definitions of the things we take for granted is what continues to motivate me to practice art. I feel it is my duty as an artist to highlight how easily one’s perception can skew depending on the angle, the slant, the focus (or lack thereof). Since I believe the brain is muscle-like, able to expand and grow, I think it is important to flex it, and to bend it. Consequently, my desire to encourage a certain flexibility and malleability in perception continues to influence my practice. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I am fortunate to live in a city where art is incredibly diverse and thriving. Because Los Angeles is a sprawl, and every 15 miles, you find yourself in different neighborhoods with distinct cultures, the artwork represents a multitude of perspectives and expressions. LA’s art community is one that emphasizes non-homogeneity, with a strong emphasis on breaking molds. Perhaps the impetus to create art outside of a prescribed box comes from our desire to debunk the myth that Los Angeles is devoid of a burgeoning art scene. What do you like/dislike about the art world? The art world is absolutely essential for the proper functioning of a society. The longer I practice my art, the more I realize that art is as significant a contribution to humanity as an educator or a nurse might be. The art world, on its best days, allows people to exercise their minds, and encourages new perspectives from an angle that they wouldn’t have seen otherwise. On its worst days, however, the art world is a place where profit reigns over content, and a greater emphasis is placed on how much work an artist produces as opposed to the quality of the work. What advice can you give to those who are just starting with arts? I think only two things are required from a new artist, the ability to be honest, and the ability to keep practicing. As long as an artist communicates from a place of truth, whatever that means to the individual artist and regardless of their chosen medium, they will be able to successfully convey their points of view to the world. For me, it has been a long and strange trip to find that place of honesty, and is something that I continue to explore. The other component, the practice, is time, energy, effort, and perseverance, and it is a lifelong action. Without this constant effort, there will be no lasting success. Both honesty and perseverance work symbiotically, continually feeding and growing one another. What are your future plans as an artist? Thus far, my artwork has taken on more general psychological questions, such as what is reality, how can perception be skewed, and how do we define a moment. In the future, I would like to explore more specific psychological themes, utilizing portraiture, a facet of photography that is new to me. At the same time, I recently finished my first documentary short film, NOTES on a VIOLIN, which follows a violin teacher who wants to promote beauty in an otherwise dissonant world. and I would like to continue finding subjects that can be explored through the medium of film. Ultimately, I plan to create work that is psychologically and philosophically enriching.
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Justyna Pennards-Sycz Amersfoort, the Netherlands A graduate of the Utrecht University of Fine Art (Hogeschool voor de Kunsten), Justyna specialised in painting. A former project manager and internal communications officer in international corporations (Warsaw, Cologne and Frankfurt) she now lives and works in Amersfoort (the Netherlands), having decided to commit herself to her true passion and focus on creative work.
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Briefly describe the work you do. imperative is to do something, to create in order to launch the My work is an amalgam. On the process of inspiration. One can’t one hand, I always take care for wait for the inspiration to come, a coherent topic, as in my latest because only when you work hard series Cities, where my aim is to the creativeness activates itself. awake awareness that, before we even existed, in every corner of the world there were cities and What is the most challenging human settlements, where hun- part about working with tradidreds of generations of people tional media? had lived and that they were similar to us – now, the only trace of The biggest challenge is to protheir existence are architecton- duce interest of a viewer, who is ic structures hidden under the used to constant spurs: virtual reground, under the modern cities, ality, Internet, television, smartwhere we live. On the other hand, phones… You can say that in the the material structure of painting contemporary world nobody has itself is essential for me: paint- time to stare at a painting, which ing as an act of painting, which is quite an outdated medium. I sometimes leads me to directions think there’s a huge chasm beI haven’t expected. I constantly tween what I could possibly say react to what is happening on the with a video and what I can actucanvas’ surface. The process of ally express on canvas. I have an creating a certain painting some- impression that the canvas loses times evolves in accordance to the this confrontation. However, sadgiven topic – I often cover the bot- ly, I prefer to paint rather that edtom layers with the new ones con- iting movies (which I also used to cealing the original structure with do for some time). I consider the new colors. All in all, the process uncertainty as the painting’s main is central to me, because painting virtue – what rules the process of as a physical act is what interests painting is the fortuity and this me the most. is what is beautiful and what I love the most. Anyhow, I’m rather disillusioned with the medium of Tell us a little about your back- painting – it’s a medium predesground and how that influences tined to a small group of viewers, you. and it will never win the battle with the mass media. Feelings are what inspire me, as well as purely sensual, visual stimuli. Sometimes it is nature, Name three artists you’d like to sometimes it can be a movie, a be compared to. composition I saw somewhere or something that I’ve just created The artists that I like and whose on canvas and it inspires me to work I follow are, among others, keep on painting. My own and Bill Viola, Peter Doig, Tomory other’s paintings are also a great Dodge, Daniel Richter. I can say motivation for me – an interesting that all the artists can be inspirline, colors’ juxtaposition, etc. are ing in a way. Virtually, I have a what allow me getting to the next strong belief that artists create stage. Either way, I don’t really more for themselves than for the believe in inspiration. I think the public.
How would you describe the art scene in your area? It just so happens that I live in a city, where many artists live and create. There’re many artistic initiatives, festivals and exhibitions – some of them have a very long tradition and they attract a wide public. Netherlands is a country that has a long and deeply rooted artistic tradition, but it doesn’t translate to a financial success of artists living here. The audience is used to the fact that art is free – all the festivals and exhibitions are free of charge. I don’t know if this is a good track of development. Lately, it has been widely discussed in the politics; as far as I know there’re plans to create guidance on the artists’ fees. I wonder what the future brings. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? I would give a rather controversial advice: study hard, discover and get to know your profession well. It will make you strong and will give you self-esteem you need to create. Another advice is to forget everything what you learned and to do what you want. Don’t wait until somebody praises your work, because the most important is what you think of your art. Don’t be radical and don’t throw everything at once in order to create – when you’re your own ssponsor, you can do what you really want to do; when you have to make your living from your art, then you’ll be a slave to the audience’s taste. What are your future plans? I have a lot of plans. There’s still so much to try, see and paint. I will keep on developing my own style and voice in art. I would also go for a trip around the world.
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Marko Stajic Belgrade, Serbia Born 10.16.1978. in Vranje(Yugoslavia). High School of Art â€œDjordje Krsticâ€? in Nis ended in 1998 , and then studied painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Pristina . With a group of artists of the younger generation , 2012 in Belgrade founded the art group consisting of C4 : Vuk Vuckovic , Alexandar V. Brankovic , Milos Djordjevic , Aleksandar Todorovic and Milan Nenezic. Member of ULUPUDS(Association of Applied Arts Artists and Designers of Serbia).
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When, how and why started your anonymous, faceless, unrecognizaart practice? ble, with annulled individuality. He loses his characteristics of a huMy first serious and you could say man being and starts to look like a professional practice of art started robot, armed and ready to execute in my home town Vranje in South every command, having right to use Serbia (Yugoslavia at that time) at an unlimited force under the authe group exhibition in 1997 at the thority of official duty. This is for National Galery of Vranje. That me one fascinating figure, which exhibition I consider as the be- in some way is personified in large ginning of my professional career, number of people today, so called despite the fact that I was only a ordinary citizens, who are also re19 year old high school student at duced to a level of robots without the third year of the Art School in being aware of it. We are witnesses Nis. In that period I felt a strong of a complex drama, in which final urge to show my works, to feel the act I think that we comprehend that reactions of the audience, and see the cordons of police forces and how my paintings relate to those of citizens standing opposite of them much more experienced artists. are equally slaves to one system which uses all predesigned powers Tell us more about “Breaking (especially Media as the most powNews” series. erful instrument of manipulation today) in order to keep them in that I started working on the series of position for a long time. drawings „Breaking news“ animated by my own thoughts about In this context, the manipulation fascinating and horrifying com- through Media results that a perbination of power of Media and son transforms into what he sees destructive impulses that humans (violence). But the cut off scene possess. Watching TV reports on presented as a detail of reality, put BBC and CNN from all over the in the context of artistic expression World about violence, decades old is having the purpose to transform war zones in Middle East, and vi- the conscience of the observer, to olent protests in the West, I got provoke catharsis and neutralizathe urge to all those pictures an- tion of the same urges in person. It nounced in Media as BREAKING seems to me that this is the same as NEWS, and served to us in brutal the treatment from the snake bite. and crude manner, transfer to can- As the cure, we use the antidote vas and transform it into artistic prepared exactly from the same form giving it one additional di- poison which is threatening to kill. mension of artistic deliberation…. This dimension is aiming to draw What is the best part about an audience into some kind of swirl working in visual arts? of wandering, thinking and self-observing, the state I was in while I The best part of art is the process was working on drawings and of creation and transformation of paintings. an idea into art peace. That is the phase which definitely brings satThe central figure in my paintings isfaction, even when the subject from this series is a policeman, is dark and hard. In that process who is an image of the most brutal of materialization of an idea, and power of every state. Masked in a search for the best possible form of uniform with a helmet, he becomes its expression, is hiding the whole
magic of art. When art peace is successfully derived, that magic is felt and has direct effect on people no matter how many centuries stand between an artist and audience. How would you describe the art scene in your area? The art scene in Serbia is a mixture of very talented and ambitious artists, especially those of younger generations, the complete lethargy of institutions, and the lack of any system that would function at relation artists-galleries-collectors. After the war in Yugoslavia, economic sanctions, poverty, and finally the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, the art got out of this as the severe war invalid and we still cannot see its revitalization in any form. The two biggest collections of art in Serbia that are placed in the Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Museum are unavailable for public because these museums haven’t exhibited for 15 years! Could you imagine the British Museum or Tate National Gallery to be closed for 15 years? What effect would it had on the generations of young artists who are being educated at the works of the great masters of the past?! However, despite such highly unfavorable cultural climate and isolation, Serbia produces generations of extraordinary artists, who are creating their own styles completely free, unburdened by market demands and current trends. This isolation from the current developments at the world art scene, the impossibility to participate at the so-called art market, and the focus on local developments and events, contributed to the appearance of strong personalities and artists with authentic expressions, as paradoxical as it may sound.
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These were the people who had realized that the events during 90s in Yugoslavia, Media manipulation, bloody war, militarization of the country, obvious interference of USA and other great military and economic powers from the West, hadn’t had only local character and importance, but that they had spanned to much wider range of intercrossed interests. In the years that followed, at the beginning of the 21st century, this was proved as the right perception. This was a good ground for thorough analysis of the principles on which modern civilization is based, but also motive to repeat those famous timeless questions: Who we are? Where are we going? What do you like/dislike about the art world? Practicing art for me represents great privilege and responsibility. I am always trilled when I come across someone’s art that is close to mine with its content and it’s dealing with subjects and questions that are also of my interest. This is ennobling feeling of closeness to someone you met through art, and yet someone who you never met in person. I see this as one of the privileges that dealing with art brings to us. This is the way that art connects people. On the other side, I don’t like to see pieces that deal with trivial subjects, that don’t evoke thinking, that are reduced to the level of cheap witticism. This kind of “art” could be seen today a lot in galleries and museums, but that corresponds to the thesis that everything can be art and that everyone can be artist. That is just as possible and accurate as the “fact” that anyone who writes something on a paper could call himself a philosopher. If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why? Most probably I would live with my family at the one of beautiful Serbian mountains in the house by the river and breed horses. I adore wilderness. What are your future plans as an artist? I plan to exhibit as much as possible in the art centers of Europe, and eventually get the chance to cooperate with galleries. I would like to find myself in an environment that would give me a chance to develop and advance, which is currently not the case.
New York, NY, USA / China
I am obsessed with both the internal and external realities of various human conditions. My work explores how people constructed their own reality through different lens of viewing the world and themselves. I strive to get underneath the surface and make a connection with the subjects depicted in my work, and reveal a narrative that both transcends and embodies humanâ€™s emotions, experiences and spirits. The investigative journalism docu-series A New Role for Coal in China I produced for The Seattle Times documents stories from the front lines of Chinaâ€™s changing energy industry. With powerful visuals I captured in highly restricted areas such as the bottom of an open-pit coal mine and a massive coal-to-gas plant, the series implied the tension between industrialization and herdersâ€™ traditional way of living as well as illustrating the realities of reducing carbon emissions in China. In the science fiction feature film Caihong City, I worked closely with our production team to bring to life a dystopia world of suffering peoples and outlandish inhabitants. These characters reflect the social complex and psychological problems existed in modern society and invite audience to connect with what they are going through.
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When, how and why started your film practice? The way i got into film has a lot to do with the curious events that happened in my life and the beautiful people I encountered in the past. I have always loved films and creating things when i was young but I have never thought of filmmaking as a profession. Back then i was working at this huge international advertising agency McCann Erickson (Yes, the ad agency Madman was based on) when I was offered a full scholarship by Marquette University. I fell in love with storytelling in graduate school. I would go out and meet interesting people and ask them to share their stories on camera. I was fascinated by how many great stories there are that have never been told. It was heartbreaking when Pat Kennedy, one of the most interesting people I’ve filmed passed away 2 days after the last time I interviewed him. Pat became a dear friend of mine during all the filming, drinks and hangouts. He’d always say, “You are really good at this kiddo. Have you thought about doing it professionally?” Ever since he passed away I’ve been wondering about this connection that him and I made towards the end of his life. Looking back now, Pat planted a seed in my heart, and that seed kept growing every time I continued telling stories. From finding random strangers to tell their stories on camera to shooting and producing my first documentary short, to collaborating with Pulitzer-winning journalist Hal Bernton on a year-long investigative series and having my photos and documentary shorts shot in China published on The Seattle Times, finally I had enough courage to say, hey, I really don’t suck. Maybe I can do this professionally. From that moment on, I never looked back. In your opinion What role does the artist have in society? There is so much suffering and misery in the world. Everyone has their own issues and struggles. For me, the role we have as artists in this crazy world is to create something that can both embody and transcend
humans’ emotions, experiences and spirits. If I can make something beautiful that can touch people’s lives, then my mission is accomplished. Tell us more about your feature film “Caihong City” Caihong City (“The Rainbow City”) is a science fiction feature film that is set in a twisted jungle of disorienting sectors, suffering peoples, and outlandish inhabitants. One of these inhabitants is the dying Chinese genius, Liu Junjie, who has been tasked with creating a perfect map of Caihong City. It is an impossible mission, and completing it would grant Junjie access to the neighboring utopia where his last chance of survival lies. However, a glitch appears in his map-making program. With the help of two unlikely friends, a crazy homeless Russian and a depressed Romanian prostitute, Liu Junjie ventures inside the city’s labyrinth to find out what -- or who -- the glitch is. Caihong City is an ambitious endeavor of a group of passionate and talented artists from more than 40 different countries. As the producer and post production supervisor of this film, I feel very privileged to be working with such an amazing team. To some extent we are just like the protagonists in our film, striving to accomplish something impossible. Currently, the movie is still in post production. Our trailer premiered in New York at the Philip K Dick Film Festival where audiences heard a new language that was created for the film. We won “Best Trailer” that night and was awarded “Trailer of the Month” at the 12 Months Film Festival as well as “Best Trailer” at the Transilvania Shorts Competition. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I live in New York and it’s definitely a great hub for independent filmmaking. There are a lot of supportive communities for filmmakers and artists and New York is a place that is never short of events. Organizations like IFP, UnionDocs, and The Flaherty constantly have screenings for a wide variety
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of films. The Museum of the Moving Image, BAM and MoMA also provide a great number of events and resources for film. In addition to these offerings, there are many opportunities to meet new people who may become great creative partners in the future. Yes, there are still plenty of reasons to hate the city, the biggest goddamn rats you will ever see, the smell of pee in the subway, and all that chaos, but this is New York babe! If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why? A bartender? A masseuse? An interpreter? Ok. Definitely interpreter then. I think a small part of me will always know that the respectable and steady interpreter life is the path I intentionally left since I wanted to find that one thing that I would absolutely love and be crazy about. I changed my path several times in the past years, from teaching to advertising, to journalism, and now to film. While I am perfectly happy that each new step I take I feel closer and closer to that “thing” I am looking for, my whole family has been actually grieving since each time this happened the prospect of me living steadily and dying rich seemed more and more unlikely. But after all these years, I think they finally got over it? What are your future plans as an artist? I would like to finish Caihong City and finally get the film out there. After all, everyone worked so hard on it for several years. It would be awesome if we could get a distribution deal. I also plan to remake the documentary I made about Pat Kennedy, the detective who took Jeffrey Dahmer’s confession. I feel like I have grown quite a bit artistically since Pat and I first met, and I owe it to him and his family to tell the story to the best of my capacity. Did I mention that Pat’s wife Patty has become one of my closest friends in the past few years? Sometimes I can’t help thinking maybe Pat and I made that connection towards the end of his life to lead me to Patty.
Art Reveal Magazine
Published on Jul 6, 2016
Artists: Maddalena Arcelloni, Taner Çelik, Toni Cogdell, Theresa Devine, Veronica Dragnef, Laurie Freitag, Laura Shevaun Green, John Haverty...