MARJAN AUGUSTIN 4 LINO AZEVEDO 10 JAVIYE BENTLEY 16 MATTINA BLUE 22 NICOLA CHRISTOFOROU 28 CALVIN C.H TENG 34 JULIAN CORDING 40 FENG GUO 46 SUNYOUNG HWANG 52
JÁNOS KUJBUS 58 MARIAN MEDINA-CUESTA 64 MARGOT OLEJNICZAK 70 ELISABETTA PALLINI 76 MILES RUFELDS 82 MARK LIAM SMITH 88 JOHANNA SONNINEN 94 MELISSA SPICCIA 100 SUSANNE WAWRA 106
Marjan Augustin Ĺ˝alec, Slovenia
I`ve always tried creating my personal style and not imitate anyone, but I found a lot of joy and inspiration in the work of van Gogh, Rembrant and also Picasso. I`ve always created what I feel inside, I never try to force a work. When looking studying my art, I`ve noticed lots of them are socially critical, which is presented in a quirky, unusual or even fun way. I think art works should have a meaning, represent something, and that is something I am striving to do. With my work I hope to accomplish recognition in the art world, but mostly bring attention to social norms that force us to act in certain way, that force us to not be our self and turn us into mindless sheep. Each artwork of mine is different, just like people are different as well, that`s why my technique varies.
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What themes do you pursue? Socially critical humorous...
Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist? Yes, actually I do. How has your work changed in the past years? Over the years, my artwork has become more free, more minimal. In my opinion it has become more genuine and less uptight. How would you describe the art scene in your area? It is poorly developed, you need a lot of connections to get a simple art exhibition. Everyone is looking for experience but no one is willing to give you any. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? It could play a bigger role than it does, if more people gave it chance it could become very popular. What are your future plans? I wish that my artwork would provide enough income that I would live comfortably, so that I wouldn`t have to work in a factory.
Lino Azevedo Williston, USA Is an artist born and not made? I have always denied the “he was just born with it” statement in the past. After all my years of training in drawing and painting, I have always felt that being an artist has very little to do with what I was born with, and everything to do with hard work. Well…maybe I’ve been a little closed minded. Like many of us, I received no formal training in the arts as a small child, yet I can remember specific atmospheres that effect my creativity today. I remember the joy radiating from the colors of the holiday season. I remember a similar delight from viewing my favorite Saturday morning cartoons. There was also the stimulating scenery that came with the long road trips to my uncle’s house. Those drives always revealed an ever changing landscape to serve as a backdrop to the character story in my head. Often, these characters were the spooky statues from our church battling my favorite comic book heroes. But I wanted to get better at depicting these things, so I went to school. And then more school. And then even more school. Of course, over the years life has revealed darker subjects for me to dwell on, but the same philosophy remains. Recently, exploitation of the weak in society has been my focus. I’m angry at the fast food industry, so I create. I’m angry at the media, so I create. I’m angry at the oil companies, so I create. But anger, like joy, can be very useful in art. I might forget the plot of a good movie, but I never forget the film’s mood. When creating, I like to start with one of these moods. This is the most important part of my process. The trick is to transfer that emotion into a work of art. These days it is done by researching certain subjects. It is done by drawing with graphite and ink. It is done by painting in acrylics. It is done with digital programs. It is done with an installation. However, I remember that Crayola Crayons did the job just fine decades ago. But what about the countless hours a “real artist” puts into refining their craft? By saying that one needs only to observe and feel from life to be an artist is silly. That would mean we can all be artists. Sure...why not?
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Briefly describe the work you do. Though I do a lot of illustration and figurative work, the art that I most enjoy creating usually involves some type of social commentary. It is often a narrative that hopefully communicates a strong message to the viewer. Quite often, this message is somewhat subjective and the viewer comes up with something totally different than my original intent. This is very exciting for me because I want to be able to start different conversations, not just demonstrate one point of view. Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you.
An older boy and his mom moved in next door to us when I was seven and he introduced me the incredible world of Marvel comics and Dungeons and Dragons. The visuals were so stimulating that the only way I could keep the energy from blowing my mind was to get these super heroes and trolls down on paper.
After transferring to San Jose State University, I took illustration classes that introduced eager students to golden and silver age illustrators. There were also the big names of the 90’s that so many of us spent hours drooling over, including Kent Williams, Bill Sienkiewicz and Malcolm Liepke. Later, this connection between illustrators and fine artists led me to make the discovery of the pop surrealists. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest names in illustration was teaching right there at SJSU. He was interested in how students can learn to express themselves even in the more commercial visual arts fields. His name is Barron Storey and his personal journal work, book illustrations and teaching methods are all a huge influence on me.
These influences, and others like them, stayed with me throughout high school. It wasn’t until I attended community college that I was exposed to so much more. Art History class brought me Caravaggio and Rembrandt. Whether from the professors or other students, the studio classes exposed us to the Austrian and German expressionists as well as American figurative painters.
In graduate school we were exposed to a huge plethora of contemporary artists that were very, very interesting. These were artists that went way beyond the conventional practice of just painting on canvas or modeling in clay. These folks were creating installations in huge public parks and have actual factories with a team of specialists helping them put together enor-
Like most other kids in the world, I started drawing at a very early age. Warner Brothers cartoons would be on TV on Saturday mornings while I sketched my favorite characters in pencil and crayon. On other days, I enjoyed learning about animals by drawing from the photos in my dad’s National Geographic magazines.
mous presentations piece by piece. I recall the work of Takashi Murakami, and Mathew Ritchie. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art is how people express themselves. We have rap music, web design, comic illustration, film making advertising, logo design, poetry, dancing and so many other art forms. All of these are extremely popular in our society right now and all of them require creativity from one or more people to get it out there. Now, some of these are very commercial in nature, but I would argue that someone had to start a new trend or modify current ones to keep the artistic communication moving. This visual communication can be meant for a large audience or for a very small one...yourself! Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. With having so much more to learn, I hesitate to compare myself to anoth-
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a strong sense of purpose. Take risks and keep learning by educating yourself or by going back to school. And remember, just because your favorite artist does it one way, it doesn’t mean that his/her way is the best approach for you. And be true to yourself. What are your future plans?
er artist. However, here are three that inspire me. I would say that Dave McKean is a huge influence because of his versatility and his connections with both the illustration field as well as the fine art world. He works in paint, collage, ink, sculpture and Photoshop. Just when you think you have figured McKean out, he changes his style and medium and grows in a new direction...and still knocks you off your feet. I’d like to think of me as someone that is also fond of experimenting with different mediums and approaches. Sebastian Kruger is important to me because of his humor and his ability to paint expressive faces. His process is impressive, to say the least. Recently, I have been going in a direction that features close up portraits, so my Kruger books are close at hand. When I think of artists that specialize in social commentary, Gottfried Helwein always comes to mind. Besides having amazing technique, Helwein always renders subjects that are not
easy to look at. His most powerful work communicates the atrocities to children by corrupt people and organizations. Early work includes paintings about the holocaust. I am interested in going in a similar direction with my own work. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Recently, I moved to North Dakota to teach at Williston State College and am still learning about the area. Much of the art done here is based on nature and Native American culture. I have met some amazing artists that do anything from complex woodwork to figurative welding. I am in the process of having a demo done for one of my drawing classes by a local portrait artist who works primarily on toned paper. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? Make time for your art every day. Know why you are creating and develop
My future in art will always involve teaching. The human connection and sharing of knowledge is essential to my well being. It gives me a sense of purpose and assures that I will not become selfish. It also keeps me informed as to what is going on with the visual interests of the next generation. I’ve tried working as a full time artist and illustrator and have found it to be a frustrating existence. It can be quite lonely and unfulfilling to sit in an art studio all day and produce uninspired work for people and companies I barely know. I felt very disconnected. That being said, my evenings are precious and are for my own work. I try to work on something every day, even if it’s just a quick sketch. This summer I am attending two residency programs in New York and North Carolina and will be working on a series of mixed media “lobotomy” paintings. These works will be a commentary on the dumbing down of American culture due to our online social interactions, corporate corruption, religion and the media. Visually, the paintings will feature portrait of different everyday people with sad, textured faces and some kind of symbol or logo on their foreheads. My hope is to show this series throughout the United States, Europe and Asia with traditional galleries and online media.
Javiye Bentleyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s art fascination began in elementary with the rental of a how to draw book and many attempts to recreate his favorite anime characters from a television series (Dragonball z). Developing a keen eye for detail, sparked his art teacherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attention to insist enrollment in Stivers School for the Arts. Afterwards he pursued an education in Architecture, but sitting in those classes he discovered this insatiable thirst to rebel and create what he considered art. His style could be described as a paradox, he utilizes acrylic paint to create these very colorful, detailed works, yet constructs these odd, unorthodox wood pieces that he uses for his canvas. The vision is to create a bridge for the youth and elderly, all the while attempting to change the way art is approached as well as perceived.
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Briefly describe the work you do. I take these slabs of wood and cut them into these oddly shaped canvases, which I then utilize an abstract style to convey a moment in time. The idea of the shaped wood is inspired by different things, most of the time they are silhouettes, but if I’m painting an altercation for example, I might try to imagine what that energy might look like, sort of like an onomatopoeia.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you. Well im from Dayton, Ohio and it’s not exactly a city where things are “happening”, so there was always this need for escapism, some sort of relief from the suffocating limitations of my environment. So when you grow up in an environment that feels like a prison, you develop a different sense of wonder.
From that ignites this spark that never falters, you begin to imagine a world where there is color in the black and white, and curves where there are edges and points. So for me every piece I create is a rebellion against those restrictions. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? It’s everything but its strange because people don’t give art the
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respect it deserves. As if there is anything else that drives culture forward, as if an artist wasn’t responsible for the clothes they are wearing, or the car they drive, or they home they live in. It’s subjective, yes, but so is everything else. I think it’s amazing how were told as children how “unrealistic” being a creative is, when that CEO of that major company they adore so much can’t function without first being provided creative direction. Yeah contemporary art is great and all, but it could and would improve if it was supported the way it should, if kids are told how great and important it is to be creative instead of how unrealistic it is. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. I don’t think I’ve thought about comparisons until you asked, I think it’s cool to have people you are inspired by but the second you compare yourself you lose sight of how great your work is. You see this artist doing this, he/she has her
work publish here/there, they have adoring fans and what not and you think what they’re creating is the paradigm for success. So you began to mimic their work, even if it isn’t derivative, you copy their approach, the type of paint, or the colors they use. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I’ve recently moved to Alabama and here it’s nonexistent, I mean we have a museum, a couple galleries but people don’t come here to be artists. We don’t even have any sort of graffiti, at the most you’ll see a gang tag but even then it’s sloppy and done poorly. If I want inspiration or to get an update on art culture I have to travel or go online. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? Learn to say no and don’t take any advice. For example this new thing I’ve
run into lately, “you know what you should do, blah blah this, blah blah that, and of course the ideas always involve an expense but they don’t talk about pitching in, or sponsoring the idea, even getting you in touch with people that can actually help the idea come to fruition. Another thing, the most important, don’t allow people to use and manipulate you, especially friends and family, they’ll do this thing where they’ll use guilt to get their way, and hold it over your head. It sounds strange but get comfortable with disappointing people, that moment when they come to you excited about something they want you to do for them and you tell them no and the hope kind of drains from there face, and you feel terrible, you will have to learn to deal with that just about every day. What are your future plans? Really just get myself established as a creative, spread the word that this is something that I am serious about and become more involved in the arts.
Mattina Blue Belfast, USA
Each calligraphic painting is a composition of lyrical shapes akin to a long-exposure photograph, a physical record of a playful practice. My fascination with the bleed and flow of the paint pulls me into the unknown, leaving a tangible reflection of improvisation and self-discovery.! Mattina Blue is a painter, designer and educator. Her work stands on nearly three decades of dedication to photographic and meditational practices. Her gestural paintings are bold, colorful, and highly personal. Circles and squares, relics from a career of photographic framing, invite form and color to interact with simultaneous volatility and grace. An insatiable traveler with a great love for the sea, Mattina spends much of each year teaching creative watercolor painting aboard ships. She lives in a reconstructed barn on the coast of Maine.
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Briefly describe the work you do. My work stands on nearly three decades of dedication to photographic and meditational practices, along with a fascination with watercolor. The paintings are part of my ongoing series’ entitled Love, Passion, and Prayer. These are intimate and personal works, created to express longing and emotion through color, layers, and suggestive forms. I see both the practice of painting and the paintings themselves as meditations. When I work, I’m in a meditative state, with clear, soft focus that allows me to respond to the flow of the paint in an instinctive, improvisational way. Ultimately I work to create paintings that evoke deep human feelings and struggles, through the beauty and honesty of handmade marks of paint on paper. Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you. I’ve been a full-time studio artist for nearly 30 years. I went to art schools, studied both painting and photography, then lived in big cities and small towns in different parts of the world. I’ve published books and created large-scale public art installations. And I’ve worked almost equally with traditional and digital media. All of this has obviously influenced my work, but underneath of the projects and training is a never-ending hunger for making images that was inevitably incubated in my childhood. I spent a lot of time alone in the suburbs, in a home without art or books. I wasn’t lonely. I lived so much of the time in my imagination, on my bicycle, and of course, watching television. This was the ‘70s and this was suburban America. I was a latch-key child of divorced parents. And one thing that had a profound influence on me was a game my father created for me and my sister. He would pick us
up on weekends so we could spend time together. Outside, in front of his apartment, we would each pick a direction in which to walk. Our task was to find something, anything, and then meet back in the middle to tell a story about it. This was a highlight of my weekend. It transported me into a place in my imagination where things were not what they appeared to be. They were much more than their physical selves, yet their physical selves evoked a poignant and exquisite story. In many ways, I feel that my art-making practice grew directly from this exercise. It taught me about metaphor and it sharpened my focus for intricate visual nuances. It ultimately helped me to understand that I would spend my life perpetually constellating around art and artists. And it gave me wanderlust. Those many walks alone, inside of my mind with eyes to the ground searching for treasure, were excellent training for decades of travel. Wandering foreign streets, I was never without my camera, alone, looking for images which I would then print and paint with watercolors. This further cultivated a love for solitude and life in an art studio. For the past few years I’ve spent nearly half of each year working on cruise ships around the world, as a watercolor teacher. This has been a tremendous opportunity for obvious reasons (travel, being out at sea) and for reasons not so obvious or predictable. I love working with an older demographic of students, and I love working with people who do not consider themselves to be artists. It’s a beautiful experience for me to introduce people to the magic of watercolor…it’s instantly calming and meditative and the simple act of creating layers of colors that merge and interact is equally compelling from the perspective of the maker or the observing teacher.
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What is the most challenging part about working with traditional media? What’s most challenging is less about the specific media and more about the basic stumbling blocks when making visual images of any kind: avoiding cliche; repeating myself; remaining in a “beginner’s mind” so that I’m constantly in a state of wonder and discovery. Working in any other state of mind inevitably leads to work that’s self-conscious, inelegant, and mundane. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. I admire so many artists, living and not living, and the ones I admire most, I don’t think I’d want to be compared with. To tilt the question to a place that’s more comfortable, I’d say that I would like to think that I’m living as integrated and inquisitive an art life as a few of my heroes: Paul Klee, Hilma af Klint, Matisse. Each of these artists spent their lives developing their own visual vocabularies to create uniquely expressive works in uniquely expressive voices. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Vibrant. Growing every day. Inspiring. Coastal Maine has always been a mecca for artists. It’s serene and beautiful and somewhat remote, like an oasis just beyond the clutter and distraction of more highly populated areas. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? Read literature. Go to museums. Listen to excellent music. Cook delicious food. Turn off your computer. Create a studio space (size is not important) and use it. Every day. Solitude, your own clear, uninterrupted dialogue with your work is most important. Read Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet.” Then read it again. What are your future plans? To continue doing what I’m doing…to pay close attention to my paintings and let them be the guide.
Nicola Christoforou London, England
My practice investigates the ability to create a flip between the two and three dimensional within a flat surface. The use of balance and repetition within my work enables me to assemble compositions that create a sense of perspective and distortion. The colour palette in my paintings is specific; consisting of muted tones layered above one another and then scraped into using a tool to expose lines into the paint, revealing the layer below. Making collages is imperative in the planning of my paintings; physically arranging shapes is more effective than assorting compositions mentally and drawing them. Geometric forms used within design have functions (architecture, envelope interiors, bus seats patterns ect..) and often reference geometric art from the Sixties, validating that aspects of Op Art still exist within the present day and are imperatively operated within design. This is important for my practice as elements of my work can relate to paintings from this period and show it is relevant within todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s society.
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Briefly describe the work you do. My work is heavily process based and revolves around four main elements of interest: line, colour, form and layers. Painting and collage allows me to construct logical compositions that create a perspective and a sense of movement within the surface. Through considerate placement of basic forms and angles, an illusion of space can be suggested. What themes do you pursue? Colour theory and geometry are key themes in my work as they allow me to be strategic in creating shifts of movement within logical compositions. Often things out of my control happen when making a painting and so chance is inevitable. Materiality is also an apparent theme due to my practice being heavily process based and paint being the most manipulative medium for the outcomes I want to achieve in terms of movement and texture. What is the most challenging part about being an artist? The most challenging part about being an artist is finding a balance between time and money; being able to afford to live and invest in materials but still have the time to produce work. This is the reason that I recently decided to leave London and move to Leeds, it meant picking between living in the capital and not being able to afford to rent a studio as well as a room, which would sacrifice making work, or moving out of the city to where it is more affordable and renting a studio.
How would you describe the art scene in your area? Leeds has a large community of artists and an art scene that is constantly evolving due to new studios, exhibitions, collectives and workshops that seem to be emerging all the time. What art do you most identify with? I think it is evident within my work that I’m fascinated with art that has an optical element to it, no matter how subtle or apparent it is. The 1965 exhibition ‘The Responsive Eye’, and artists like Victor Vasarely, Josef Albers, Terry Haggerty, Tomma Abts, Anoka Faruqee all demonstrate this on different spectrums. What’s the best art tip you’ve ever received? I’m not sure if this is a tip as such, but someone said to me to move away from perfection instead of trying to attain it. I often felt frustrated trying to correct the faults that chance had created within my work and instead I have started to embrace them. What are your future plans as an artist? At the moment I am in the process of finding a new studio so I can continue to make more work, after that I want to get involved in or perhaps organise some exhibitions.
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Calvin C.H Teng Taichung, Taiwan
There is life in all my creations, the canvas is merely a gateway upon which my colors populate. Life is an endless cycle, full of uncertainties, yet always moving, just like my paintings. For they represent purity in motion. Amidst all the chaos and disorder depicted, you will find salvation through colors that are at play which appears harmonious and soothing. Every piece I create is a small window into an unlimited space that viewers must envision, for I have captured the essential part within this unlimited space to captivate viewers.
Born in 1954 in Taiwan, Calvin C.H Teng 鄧志浩 is a self-taught painter. For him, life has always been exploring deep into the vast unknown. In his artistic career, he has ventured into the fields of folk song singer and songwriter, author, to managing his own restaurant. Calvin has respectfully dedicated 30 years perfecting his craft in children’s theater as a director, playwright, and actor. During his travels in 1995, Calvin was fortunate to encounter a master painter from Singapore. Under his guidance, Calvin found his love and passion for abstract painting, the world he was previously unacquainted with. In time, Calvin ultimately shifted his paradigm from composing realism to abstract.
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Describe the work you do. Influenced by Western contemporary abstract expressionism and united with the essence of Eastern oriental aesthetics. The core value of my works depict how opposing forces contradict one another, yet they are mutually interconnected and inseparable through the fundamentals of the Yin and Yang. These contradictory yet complimentary polar opposites are present in every composition I create to achieve equilibrium in oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mind, body, and soul to embody total oneness. Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you. My artistic career has enabled me to venture into the realms of singing, songwriting, theatre director, actor, and playwright. I base my foundation through musicality, principles of theater, and the philosophy of life forged into my works. What art do you most identify with? Art has no boundaries, therefore Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve come to appreciate and respect every form of art.
portions of splash color by pioneer Zhang Da-Qian. Through the artistic conception and composition of Chinese Shan Shui merged with Western contemporary abstract expressionism by master painter Zao Wu-Ki. To the vivid colors and spiritual movement encompassed within each definitive brush stroke, allowing the canvas to possess continuous fluidity and vitality of life from Zhu De-Chun. How would you describe the art scene in your area? With many international and private exhibitions taking place annually, the art scene here in Taiwan has been advancing at a steady pace. It is a relief to witness younger generation artists working in different mediums emerging out the depths and given opportunities to contribute their artwork to society. The public realizes the importance of art not just as an aesthetic value. But as a forefront to connect with countries and artists around the world through globalization.
What is the most challenging part about working with traditional media?
What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts?
Allowing oil and acrylic to work in full synchronization, letting the oil flow where I want it to go and becoming static is also an extremely difficult aspect. Furthermore, combining both elements in harmony to achieve an ink rendering effect as landscape transmutes into abstraction upon completion. Lastly, exploring untried techniques to break the barrier confined by traditional media.
My advice for those starting out is to find a mentor, vigorously learn from your mentor, and respect your mentor with the proper mindset and attitude. If you can, condition a reset cycle for your mind, this will allow you to push beyond your creative failures and elevate your artwork to the next plateau.
Name three artists youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to be compared to. Not a direct comparison. My inspiration comes from the initiation of Chinese splash ink representing the natural state and flow of ink on paper, to absolute control of ink wash reinvented with harmonious pro-
What are your future plans. Continue to push beyond the boundaries and limitations set by traditional media through my artwork. But most importantly, creating cross-border and cultural exchange opportunities, with plans in the near future to collaborate with artists ranging from all types of media.
Julian Cording Düsseldorf, Germany / Mexico City, Mexico
My artistic aim is to combine painting and sculpture using installation as conductor. The materials (aluminum, polyester resin, concrete, etc.) identify the work first as sculpture, whereas the pictorial surfaces create a connection to the painting. The works are created mainly with classical sculptural processes. Often, the history of materials – in its original role – plays an important position as propitious unexpected moments. Many times are details what constitute the essence of a work. The more minimalistic it is the more concentration is required by the observer. Abstraction serves here as a transmitter - a framework alone is not a picture. The symbiosis between sculpture and painting puts the viewer to the test. As a whole, the works must be evidently escaping from a scenic character. The titles are as important as the work, since they can reveal what is veiled and guide the viewer through the desired path. I acquired three values from my professor: concentration, sincerity, and material justice. Parsimony in a bustling world. Graduated from the Academy of Arts in Düsseldorf, Cording brings together in his work the influence derived from the tradition of this school (Blinky Palermo, Imi Knoebel, Gerhard Richter) with a clear interest in the precepts of the Bauhaus, namely Josef Albers and his research on the form and the plane in the pictorial field. Spun from the experimentation with materials with a highdegree of plasticity in dialectic between two — dimensional, three — dimensional, along with their iterations and sites in a particular place. Cording displays the power of his work to punctuate his fundamental concerns: form is content and color is the plot that establishes a fact, a landscape, even better: a poetic.
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Briefly describe the work you do. My work comes along in a quiet classical way. I do have a strong sculptural background and see my works always as sculptures and not as paintings. It has a minimalistic touch with a lot of consecutive choices made. My work, especially the latest series from the past two years, is following a strong vision of material concentration and material decisions. I combine surfaces with patterns which are forming a picture. The process of making is just as important as the result. The “in between” of a work makes it more poetic and harder to read. I am not an artist who describes his work that much or talks it to death. Secrets as well as failures are both part of my artistic work. What themes do you pursue? I always have a problem with words like theme in a context of art or better yet, in my art. From my point of view, I am building a close universe of my images. I do have a clear focus on material and form as well as on images and associated issues. During the process of working I am solving and handling these things into my artistic view. The results are often pieces, which have a silent surface with a deeper meaning. Poetry often plays a crucial role, either in the title or in the piece of work itself. For me, invisibility is a main point in my artistic acting. A sentence which fits into my works could be: To visualize something invisible. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? This is hard to answer, because art is always subjective, maybe even more from an artist perspective. My feeling is that a lot of people picture art as a kind of pop culture. On the one hand it’s probably good for some museums and galleries but for me it often feels like a big event, like a Rolling Stones concert or the Super Bowl. It always has to be bigger, higher and understandable. The more people coming to the museum, the better the art it is. But, in my opinion, this thinking is completely wrong. The deep confrontation is missing. Everything is getting explained and
well served to the audience. So, art today is more and more consumable. On the other hand, art is and always was a result of the society, a reflection of it. Contemporary culture has changed a lot. Internet connects more people with each other than ever before. This is complicated because it makes everything reachable or at least it seems so. You don’t have to see a work in reality anymore because everything is virtually available. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. I don’t want to compare myself to other artist. But there are some strong connections or intersections with some great colleagues. One Person is Hubert Kiecol. He had and still has a strong influence on my artistic work. He was my professor during my time at the Art Academy Dusseldorf. I really respect his work a lot but what I learned even more of him is the concentration and the attitude towards art. Do not chase an artistic trend or a zeitgeist, you have to be focused on your work and follow your own thoughts. Paul Celan´s poems are the true masterpieces in all artistic disciplines for me. He is someone unique who makes something which is not reachable and not understandable but it touches you so deeply that you can feel every tiny bit of his words. This is an aimed form for me or a goal for my works. I need to mention Joseph Beuys. No person reflects on a complete artistic thinking better than him. It is important to me, as an artist, to combine thoughts and ways in one work and he is one of the best role model for it. With his art and reflections he opened a lot of perspectives for the future generation. For me it is hard to imagine how art would be today without him. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Last year I moved temporarily from Dusseldorf to Mexico City. Dusseldorf has
a well-established art scene with one of the best Art Academies worldwide. Relative to the size of the city, it’s densely packed with artists, galleries, museums and independent art spaces. In addition, it is located close to Cologne, which has a great art scene as well. But both cities and their art scenes feel a bit deadlocked and old-established. Here in Mexico City, the scene is quite small compared to the size of the city. But at the same time it is much more vibrant and fresh. We have a lot of young galleries and art spaces with an astonishing program, e.g. Proyectos Monclova, Galería Arróniz, Marso, Bikini Wax, Lulu or Casa Maauad and some really established art galleries like OMR, Kurimanzutto, Labor, Luis Adelantado or Galería Hilario Galguera. Just to mention a few! For me, as a European artist, it is interesting to see that there are no big differences between Europe and Latin America in the art scene, but often the tiny things are important. Here in Mexico you’ve got the feeling that art is still something to fight for, it’s more serious somehow. What are your future plans as an artist? There are actually a lot of things going on in the near future. Together with the Mexican curator Lorena Moreno I co-funded an independent art space here in Mexico City called Parterre. We have a clear intention to explore parallel exhibition possibilities, reflecting on current conditions of mobility, means of distribution, market and display. The first exhibitions will be held with some great artist like: Christoph Knecht (Germany), Luiza Margan (Croatia), Enrique Arriaga (Mexico) and Ximena García (Mexico). I will present some new works as well at Parterre in the middle of next year. Furthermore, I’ve just started working on my next solo exhibition coming up on February/March 2017 here in Mexico City. I am about to start a complete new series of works with different materials. It will contain cotton and wool carpets with the great help of Soledad Zamora, who comes from Oaxaca and knows the people and region pretty well. Following traditional ways of tapestry, this will be a totally new experience for me, which I am really looking forward to.
Feng Guo Brooklyn, NY, USA
If describe my painting as a dream. The painting is not for what is a dream about. It’s about what is the dream feels like. I always thinking about what colors could represent the feeling I have. I start with apply the color on canvas. The ground color is important for my process. It’s set up the mood of the painting for me. I will keep layering until I found the proper atmosphere for the painting. I am concerned with how the process of painting yields an image of itself. The geometric shape is just a structure in the painting that I can work with, it has no intrinsic meaning. I’m interested in the image that I don’t know the meaning. I will keep working with that image. After I figure out the meaning for myself, I stop make them. I lost the feeling when I found the meaning of the painting. For me, being knowing and unknowing is best part of making painting. Feng Guo was born in 1989 in China, and now lives and works in Brooklyn NY. Feng received his MFA from the Pratt Institute in New York in 2015. Feng held his first solo exhibition at 57w57arts gallery in New York in 2016. Recent exhibitions include BWAC Gallery, Brooklyn NY; First Street Gallery, New York NY; Silvermine Arts Center, New Canaan CT; and Jacob K. Javits Center, New York NY
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When, how and why started your art practice? I started to draw a lot since I was 6 or 7 years old. My parents were both dancer, so they are always support me to doing art, but it was more of natural activity to me. My art practice really started when I went to art school, and made my first painting. I just love painting, and I was spent most of my time in my studio. At end of my college life, I finally found painting is the best way to express myself, also the only way to prove my identity. For me, I make art when I’m lost, suffering and not satisfied with other things in my life, because I believe that makes great art. What is your creative process like? My inspirations are come from my feeling for certain moments, places and people, but it is hard to make it clear. That is why I make paintings in order to find what it is. I always thinking about what colors could represent the feeling I have. I start with apply the color on canvas. The ground color is important for my process. It’s set up the mood of the painting for me. I will keep layering until I found the proper atmosphere for the painting.
on paper. Because I tire of the images in my work after a certain period of time. Normally I need to update the images every six months. For me, being knowing and unknowing is best part of making painting. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? I think right now art became a very fashionable thing in our culture, more and more people want to participate in art world. Everyone could make art and be an artist. But I think it is important to make the work that you like, and not follow any trend, just like they said “after Van Gogh, everyone is their own sun”. I think that is art mean in contemporary culture. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. I would not use the word “compared”, but there are so many great artists who are inspired me. If I have to name three artists, I will say “ Brice Marden, Julian Schnabel and Joseph Beuys.” How would you describe the art scene in your area?
I am concerned with how the process of painting yields an image of itself. The geometric shape is just a structure in the painting that I can work with, it has no intrinsic meaning. I’m interested in the image that I don’t know the meaning. I will keep working with that image. After I figure out the meaning for myself, I stop make them. I lost the feeling when I found the meaning of the painting.
New York is great place for artist to live and make art. There are so many artists, gallery and museums. I love the freedom in here, and most important thing is most people interested in art. But I also think New York art scene have very specific taste for art.
Every summer, I make a lot of drawings
Keep an open mind, and keep make art.
What are your future plans as an artist?
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Sunyoung Hwang London, England, UK
Absence is hidden presence. Emptiness is an invisible fullness. Visible is the echo of invisible. Shadow suggests the hidden existence. Things we can see in the darkness sometimes become invisible in the light. I have been concerned with the ideas of interior world. My work is densely layered with the metaphorically internalised and abstracted images that come from my physical, sensorial and psychological experiences in the real world. In this sense, my work has a sensation that can be perceived in silent contemplation, moving to the realms of the â&#x20AC;&#x153;underworld,â&#x20AC;? which is a perspective more than a place. It constantly attempts to reach the unseen, such as a hidden presence and invisible fullness, that exists beneath or between the layers of what is perceptible. Therefore I would like to describe my painting as a place in which the invisible can be seen, the intangible can be touched, and the silence can be heard, exploring a boundary between the internal and external experiences.
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When, how and why did you start your art practice?
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
It’s hard to answer when and how I started my art practice because I didn’t have a decisive moment that made me start it. I just liked to draw and paint when I was a child, like other children, and always wanted to be a painter. I can probably answer why I loved to paint at that time, as I still remember how I felt while I was painting. I enjoyed not only painting, but also spending time painting in my own place. It gave me some time alone, completely disconnected from my surroundings, and enabled me to feel as if I didn’t really belong in any time, or anywhere in the world, which allowed me to get in touch with my inner world. I still feel that way when I’m in a studio, no matter what I’m doing there—just sitting in front of my painting or looking at it in silence.
My ultimate goal as an artist is to live a healthy, happy, and long life with my work and to be a prolific artist throughout my life. In this respect, I admire Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. No one can doubt that they are some of the greatest artists to have lived, but what makes them even more admirable for me is that they lived to a great age—Picasso and Dali died at the age of 91 and 84 respectively. I think painting was a lifelong process for them until the day they died, and that’s how I would like to be remembered.
What is your creative process like? Believing in the process rather than the end result, my painting is a sum of my achievements, failures and experiences. It is a kind of organic process or passage of time within the paints, with their cumulative layers, veils of translucent colour and gestural marks of different speeds and emotions. I work directly onto the canvas without reference to preliminary drawings or photographs. My initial marks are a starting point for the development of ideas from my ‘interior’ world, and the painting becomes a sketchbook of abstracted images drawn from my physical, sensory, emotional and psychological experiences in the real world. In this sense, I see my creative process as an accumulation of my internal and external experiences. In your opinion, what does painting mean in contemporary culture? Painting has an irreplaceable role in contemporary culture. No one can deny that contemporary culture has developed with the advances in technology. I think painting is one of the least-affected media due to the nature of its material and creative process. The way a painting is painted hasn’t changed significantly since the beginning of mankind, even after the industrial revolution and now in the digital age. For painters, their bodies are still their most important tool and are closely related to the outcome of their work. Because paint materials have a performative role that reflects an artist’s mind and body in an artist’s creative process, in my opinion, painting best explores an artist’s inner world, closely linked to an artist’s internal and external experiences in his or her artistic process. This makes painting human and sublime in ‘contemporary’ society.
How would you describe the art scene in your area? I completed both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in London, and now I have lived and worked here in London. The art scene in London is not much different from those in other cities, in my opinion. Being realistic, it is an expensive city for most artists to live and work in, but if you can afford it, London is one of the best places for you as an artist. There are various kinds of opportunities—to see a wide range of works and meet different artists—and anyone can show their work if they try. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? I think it’s really important to keep going. It may sound trite, but it’s true. To be consistent, you may need to have your own system, or your world can easily fall apart. Most artists aren’t bound by a specific time schedule and fixed rules, and this makes artists’ lives free, but also irregular. Living a mentally and physically balanced life is important, not just for your life, but for your work. I was wrong in thinking art was the only thing in my life. Now I think there are many other important things in life besides art, and keeping a balance between them is vital in an artist’ life. What are your future plans? I will keep living and working in London. As a result of the work in my MA degree show held in June, I was awarded the Chadwell Award 2016 that will provide me with a free studio in Bow, London for a year from October this year. It will result in my holding my end-of-award solo exhibition in London next October. I’m also currently having a group exhibition at the Centre Artasia Paris in Paris and have some upcoming group exhibitions in London. So far, I have exhibited my work in several countries, I would like to show it in many other countries to experience different art scenes around the world.
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Jรกnos Kujbus Debrecen, Hungary
My artist statement and conception can be seen as the possible conditions of the human in society told in small stories. These situations are moments which are presented in a direct way. This is a certain type of an ambivalent approach to a method of art which is to cause an emotional reaction(s). I try to offer a helping hand to the viewer to accept or reject the artwork with an understanding, agreeing and identification of him/herself in the story of the painting. Success happens when the viewer recognizes this surplus information that he/she can associate and analyze. The viewer then can step into the possible world of the painting and be emotionally, mentally, and intellectually able to reach this level of functionality. Reality can change to other possibilities of many story worlds, which is why I represent my figures in a simple, rigid and sometimes obtrusively direct approach. If the visual experience causes a reaction, be it positive or negative it will result in many more ways of thinking and viewing. I try to match my characters presentation to contain the present, thus integrating them into ironic situations by their gestures. It is an important factor for me that my figures in the pictures are friends and companions. Here they have a closer, more intimate and deeper approach and understanding one another along with the viewer. Our days are filled in a micro-world which is formed by society. We move easily or uneasily in a familiar or unfamiliar way. One of my main subject points is asking if we can accept or know our humanness and identity. Real lives are put into artistic situation where sometimes the character with special features and powers (ex. Super Hero) meet the ordinary, common, and often bourgeois life. Thus the paintings of the ordinary become extra-ordinary.
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Briefly describe the work you do. As I am a painter I spend my time with creating my artworks. Mainly I deal with the so called traditional techniques. I prefer using oil on canvas but I like to try myself and my art making installations and video works. Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you. I was born in Hungary, an East European area in the time of late Socialism. I grew up within strict rules considering the political situation in the 80s in my country. As a young man I didn’t really have opportunities to travel abroad or getting to know other cultures. After the change of regime youth felt themselves as a kind of lost generation with the lack of knowing foreign languages and without experience and courage to show their art. That’s why I usually represent this sort of isolation, misunderstanding or ignoring
deep feelings in my pictures which themes are also actual nowadays in other aspects. What art do you most identify with? I am very interested in contemporary art and I seek for themes with deep meaning. I’d like to show how identity changes in this running world and what we miss during our life. I often choose my models from magazines. I want to analyse the problems of humanity in the 21st century. Trifling, frivolity, loneliness, misunderstanding appear in my pictures as well as fighting for art, submission or loyality. What is the most challenging part about working with traditional media? I have always wanted to paint. For me traditional media is a lifestyle but I don’t think I paint in a traditional way. It’s just an expression. The challenging part is to create a modern,
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expressive picture which makes people think of serious and deep things. Composing traditional media is basically hard in the time of ’trendy’ and ’bluff’. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. In my opinion every professional artist is unique and special. You could find effects in their works related to other, sometimes famous artists but real artists show their art in their own way. Comparing to other artist is the loss of artist’s self. Certainly I have favourite artists who I have a high opinion of but I admire them because of their amazing talent and for their art freedom. They are Neo Rauch, Francois Bard, Adrian Ghenie. How would you describe the art scene in your area? In Hungary, mainly in the countryside, art is very provincial. It means that artists prefer landscape or portrait painting in a really traditional way. These works are rather for decorat-
ing than for sharing thoughts and feelings through art. For an artist who is committed to high culture it is so strange and actually boring. On the other hand the capital city – Budapest – is one of the most important art centres in this area. You have a huge amount of possibilities to show your art and you can find really exciting and valuable exhibitions here. I think the problem is the concentration of culture in one city and talent is not enough. It is hard to be discovered by a curator, a collector or a gallery and you need luck. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? My advice: do your best, feel art in your heart, be odd. What are your future plans? I would like to continue painting and try to find places where I can show my art in an international level. You know – keep on moving.
Marian Medina-Cuesta London, England, UK
When I introduce myself as an artist, one of the most common questions it´s “what is your medium?”. I don´t really have a medium, I have ideas instead. Some of them would require an illustration, some of them a video, a painting or a poem. It also happens the other way around, when experimenting with new materials, concepts come up. Being an artist means to be willing and able to materialize objects from the realms of imagination to our day to day physical reality. Every single human being it is creative by definition, because everything that was created, was imagined once. I consider visual Arts as a complex and vast language at our disposal to communicate and share ideas, and eventually, a seed for deep changes in society. From a pure personal perspective, I ´d like to have more time to learn all the fascinating mediums to be capable of develop and transmit ideas as accurate as possible.
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Briefly describe the work you do. Every series required a different creative process and depending on the initial idea, I choose the medium that I consider will deliver the message in the most accurate way For example, in the “Inverse Universe” series I chose to create my own glow in the dark painting to make the pieces, even though the first time that I’d thought about doing it was through a black and white ink drawing involving black dots on a white surface. What came to mind was an “Inverse Universe”, where the stars were black and the background a shiny mass of glowing energy. I thought about how to translate that concept to painting and finally I decided to use glow in the dark pigments on glass to create the literal illusion of an “Inverse Universe”. In the series called “Tubism” everything started as a referential joke to “Cubism”, because I use the “tube” as the elemental particle from which I create the most complex figures. Working from automatic drawing, lines become tubes, tubes becomes shapes and shapes become characters.
I like the idea of reading the image from different angles, a sort of labyrinth formed by multiple visual itineraries. This can be also applied to different readings or interpretations in terms of meaning, giving a chance to the public to imagine what it is that’s “happening” in the drawing. The pair of paintings called “I was born for this” were inspired by a poem by Charles Bukowski. I wrote my own poem taking one of the verses as a starting point: “I was born for this. I was born to hustle roses down the avenues of the dead“. The intention was to translate this sentence into an image and then add another layer to that image by writing a poem based on the result, so eventually words were put into images and from these images words were born too. The background is made with acrylic and the rose plant was made of barbed wire and naturally preserved roses, as that’s how the roses that grow in the avenues of the dead look to me.
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Even though these pieces require an extra bit of information to be fully understood, I think that an image should be able to speak for itself in order to resonate with other people’s life experiences without further explanation, despite whether the final interpretation differs from its origin. What themes do you pursue? Every project could be considered a self contained theme, however, there are few things that especially concern me: waste, industrialization, the dialogue between human and nature, gender, self-image (or how we see ourselves opposed to how the others see us) and the use of drawing as a communication tool. For example, I run a monthly Art event called “Sketching Club”. Here, we approach life drawing in a very relaxed way, almost as a reminder of a time when every child enjoyed the activity for the sake of it, to ultimately just have fun while drawing. The Sketching Club is a growing community and last year took part in “The Big Draw”, an international drawing festival whose values and goals I very much share.
Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist? I think of myself as a maker who uses objects to deliver concepts. Meaning and form are equally important to me and I can´t conceive making art without a message to be transmitted. Sometimes the message is very obvious, sometimes it can be more subtle, but I always try to connect with the public in a way that isn´t purely autobiographical. How has your work changed in the past years? I definitely became more organized through the hard path of trial and error, so I can currently develop my ideas more effectively. I also became more skilled in my craft, which brought confidence and most of all, endurance. I´d say that rather to change the practice - I’m still learning and this will be a lifelong process - I instead changed my mindset.
How would you describe the art scene in your area? I studied in Southern Spain but I became a professional in London and so far this is the only art scene I know as an Art practitioner; and it is an extension of the city itself: vibrant, endless, full of opportunities, exciting. That’s the bright side of it and the main reason why I’m still here, as it can be inhumane at times, extremely complex and difficult to grasp as a whole. I think that despite the digital era and the rise of social media, face to face encounters and collaborations are still key in society, so I started to build my relationships locally. I´m based in South London and I love the sense of community that I found here. It happens to be the only way to handle such an overwhelming place to live. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? I would like to make a clear distinction between “Art” and “Art market”. Creating Art is a primal human necessity, hence every human is creative by nature. In fact, being creative is in essence the ability to re-think issues and finding new solutions. Visual Arts have been a tool to transmit knowledge, traditions and morals since the very beginning of civilization. That´s why Arts, in my opinion, are as important and inextricably linked to humanity as talking, living or loving. The Contemporary Art market, however, is a subproduct of capitalism, working under its same rules. One of the saddest aspects of extreme capitalism is how it transforms basic necessities into luxury products - as happens with housing, for example - so eventually only the very wealthy can afford to buy original Art while working class individuals will only be able to buy reproductions. A direct result of this is that there is hardly anything such as a “medium class” artist these days, creating a huge gap between the ‘successful’ artist who earns way more than he needs - and I consciously referred it as a “him” because inequality in salaries still exists in most professional areas - and the “starving artist” who struggles with 2 day jobs on top of creating Art. The trends within the Art market are fickle and they might even not make any sense at all sometimes. Why are some people so successful when others are not? Is it related to the quality of the Art itself or just to whomever says it is worthy to invest in a particular person in a particular moment? These are tricky questions to answer because “good” or “bad” in the Art market is basically subject to personal taste and, ultimately, what the elite want to purchase or not. So to a certain degree, trying to discuss if a certain piece or artist is good or bad is like engaging in an argument about whether red is better than green as a colour. The Art market has become a bargain arena where to purchase an item could now be a way of investment and when that is the goal, the original meaning of the piece becomes blurry or just simply irrelevant. What are your future plans? My future plans are to become rich - in my lifetime if possible - as this seems to be the only way to make Art without begging for money from public institutions or depending on upper class capricious tastes. First London, then the World.
Margot Olejniczak Switzerland
Sumi-e means “drawing with black ink on paper” and it comes originally from China. This demanding technique uses modest means and tries more to suggest as to clearly express a specific meaning. In addition, expressing the colorful world mainly in black and white remains a great, fascinating challenge. It requires a strong self-control and, at the same time, a lot of naturalness and spontaneity. It is an art of meditation and internal development. In fact, the path for a goal is much more important than the goal itself. It is a continuous quest for inner harmony. No stroke can be improved or corrected. With each single stroke I discover myself more and more and pursue my way full of emotions and surprises.
Thanks to the numerous trips to Japan, Margot Olejniczak discovered the art and philosophy of ink painting. Since 2001 she has been studying the Sumi-e Art in Tokyo in the class of well-known masters such as Ilan Yanizky, and since 2012 she has been perfectionning her skills in the class of Master Tohun Kobayashi. In 2014 Olejniczak received a diploma of Sumie Teacher awarded by The Sumie Japan Association. She runs courses of Japanese painting in Zurich and in Poland, in “manggha” - the Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Cracow. She regularly exhibits her works at individual and group exhibitions. In 2016 Margot Olejniczak received for her masterworks a Special Award in the Tokyo National Art Center, followed by a Special Award in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum during Le Salon Blanc -The International Exhibition of Contemporary Art.
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When, how and why did your passion for Japanese art start? In the course of my numerous trips to Japan, in the year 2000 I discovered the art and philosophy of ink painting. First, I was impressed by its minimalistic tools and, at the same time, the profound expression which can be achieved even with very few brush strokes. Each succeeding trip to Japan brought me closer to this art, and eventually I felt an urge to try my hand at it. The need to try and express myself in black and white was so strong that in 2001 I started painting at home, with the help of a simple book. After one year of such attempts I found a Japanese teacher in Tokyo. I pursued his courses regularly for several years. The more I practised, the more enthused I became. With time I was persuaded this would be my way of self-expression through art. In the meantime my bond with Japan and Japanese culture became much stronger. I explored the world of ink painting and realised that I needed a true master. My fascination became a very important part of my life. As a result, since 2012 I have been studying the sumi-e art in Tokyo in the classes of well-known masters, such as Ilan Yanizky, and a widely recognized Master, Tohun Kobayashi, during three- week courses twice a year. My passion for Japanese culture and for sumi-e painting allowed me to persevere in my efforts in studying several techniques and themes. In 2014 I obtained a diploma of a Sumi-e Teacher awarded by Master Kobayashi. Thanks to his extraordinary dedication to sharing his exquisite knowl-
edge of ink painting, in 2016 my works won a Special Award in the Tokyo National Art Center, followed by a Special Award in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum during Le Salon Blanc -The International Exhibition of Contemporary Art. Furthermore, in September 2016 I became a member of the art group at the Noho M55 Gallery in New York. In November 2016 my works will be exhibited at The Fitzrovia Gallery in London. I regularly exhibit at individual and group exhibitions. Additionally, I share my passion with students in Poland and Switzerland: I run courses in Japanese painting in Zurich and at Krakowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Poland. What is your creative process like? Sumi-e painting is both a philosophy and a meditative activity. This art uses modest means to suggest and imply rather than clearly stating a specific meaning. For this reason this painting requires strong self-control and, at the same time, a lot of naturalness and spontaneity. It is an art of meditation and internal development. In fact, the path towards the goal is much more important than achieving it. It is a continuous quest for inner harmony. Technically speaking, it is impossible to foresee any exact result. On the one hand, it is fascinating, while on the other, it obliges the painter to acknowledge and accept things just as they are. It teaches a peace of mind: acceptance, modesty and tolerance. No stroke can be corrected. The creative process can last for a long time, and the act of painting is often
suffused with very strong emotion. It could be compared to Martial Arts, where practising moves is a long process, while the action itself may take no more than a second. So is it in sumi-e: perfect control of movement depends on painfully acquired technical skills, enhanced by a deep emotional and spiritual involvement. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art has always reflected processes and changes occurring in societies, some current phenomena, as well as philosophical tendencies. Nowadays, we are exposed to an excess of stimuli and constant access to any information. Our life is ceaseless hustle and bustle. It seems that contemporary art reflects it either by casting light on this nature of modern life, or by escaping from this swinging world and rebelling against it. In my view, contemporary art means boundless expression, drawing our attention to urgent issues and searching for freedom. Let us look at Japanese ink painting again. Constant change is an inevitable part of life: all things continuously evolve and eventually die. Transience remains a very important concept in Japanese philosophy and is strongly present in Japanese art. According to it, each moment and stage of existence should be appreciated and enjoyed. This ephemeral aspect of all things is strongly reflected in sumi-e painting. By contrast, in Western culture transience is considered as a difficult to accept, or an altogether negative part of life. We often fail to acknowledge that continuous change propels everything and opens new perspectives â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it is a
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vehicle for potential. Now everything happens so quickly that we often do not even have the time to notice the uniqueness of each moment, which makes it very precious, something to be treasured. Contemporary art, among other media, has the means to grasp this aspect of our life and to attract our attention to its being beautiful and unique, if painfully inevitable. Name three artists you would like to be compared to Without a doubt, in the future I would wish to be compared to Master Kobayashi, who belongs to the best sumi-e painters in the world. His excellent technique and expression are exemplary. He also specializes in stage performance, painting very large-sized pictures. Looking back on the history of ink painting, I think with great admiration of Master Sesshu Toyo, a 15th century artist who painted amazing landscapes. They look so modern that it is difficult to believe they were created 600 years ago. Finally, there were many famous Zen Masters who were able to express the whole Universe with a few strokes. It is my goal to become as skilled and to be able to suggest more with less and â&#x20AC;&#x201C; to be compared to them. How would you describe the art scene in your area? As far as Japanese art is concerned, the sumi-e scene is very active and full of activities. I try to participate in them and can be integrated into the Japanese ink painting world. However, even in Japan, where sumi-e remains a strong tradition, this technique is declining with the rap-
id development of other cultural trends, such as manga and, especially, modern visual arts related to high technology. On the Western scene, in Poland and Switzerland, ink painting plays a role of a meditative, very original art, which fascinates more and more people. It is becoming a perfect activity for those who search for a moment of rest after their stressful workday and wish to switch off from their everyday problems and duties. In Zurich, Switzerland, the general art scene welcomes many artists who are open to experiments, new techniques and technology. The city of Zurich fosters many interesting art projects and facilitates the start for young artists. Not to mention many high-end exhibitions which attract many viewers. What are your future plans as an artist? First of all, I intend to continuously study and practise, with a view to being able to contain the whole Universe in one single brush stroke :) Then I plan to continue to pursue my master study in Japan, so as to eventually achieve the level of my Master. Furthermore, I wish to exhibit on regular basis worldwide, also in Japan, and to spread the concept of ink painting in the Western world. Finally, my goal is to expand my teaching practice, and run several classes of students in various places. I would love to share my knowledge, experience and passion with others. All in all, Japanese sumi-e ink painting not only stirs emotion, but arouses moments of reflection on life â&#x20AC;&#x201C; ephemeral and elusive, and yet so touching beautiful. As an artist, I can constantly cultivate this exceptional feeling and see my future full of such precious experiences.
Elisabetta Pallini Milan, Italy
Her personal research is focused on exploring the evanescent border between reality and its representation. Also, she is interested in the use of Smartphone, Photoshop and other alternative medium that are always welcome in her work, as a simple research tool and as a way of expressing her personal language.
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Briefly describe the work you do. I am a photographer from Italy. My personal research is focused on exploring the evanescent border between reality and its representation. The subjects of my photographs have always been spaces, but lately my attention towards people and their stories is becoming more practical. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m also interested in the use of Smartphone, Photoshop and other alternative media as simple research tools and as a way of expressing my personal language. Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you. I attended the three-year professional photography course at Fondazione Studio Marangoni in Florence, Italy, where I met many experienced professors, experts, and students that were there to learn like me. School
helped me to reach my personal language and style. It made me experience many possibilities, helped me to experience with different types of camera, film and so on. Although working as a class, everyone has done their own individual journey and I think this is what every school should aim at, especially regarding photography. It helped to understand where you are, what you want to communicate and the best way to do it. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? I think that unfortunately art is undervalued and considered unnecessary for many people. I have noticed that approach in my own country, although it is controversial considering that Italy is the most famous country for its artistic heritage.
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However recently things are going improving and more expand your experience and open up your mind. attention and interest is being given to the art world and artists. I hope that it will get even better in the future. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. I am just starting out in the arts so I am the one who needs Lauren Marsolier, Leigh Merrill, and Marc Sommer. advice! Anyway I would say that you should not hate But I think that it is more an identifying myself with the your work despite a bad period and at the same time you work of these artists instead of being compared to. shouldn’t overestimate it. It is all about balance. And last but not least, I believe you should never give up. How would you describe the art scene in your area? What are your future plans? I moved to Milan because it is a city full of interesting events and offers a space for every artist. I am currently working on a personal project quite different from my past works. I will spend energies and time You can find inspiration in every corner, and with all of these working on it in the near future. After that I will work on events you meet different photographers and artists. So you end another project and so on, I think. Actually I don’t have a up talking and having a confrontation with them and that is very specific plan for the future, so I don’t know what to expect important for your cultural and artistic knowledge, because you from it. Right now I don’t have an answer.
Miles Rufelds Montreal, Canada
Miles Rufelds’ work is concerned with those peculiar cultural moments in which processes, objects, or ideas are able to exist simultaneously as both reality and fiction. Through fusions of video, temporal sculpture, and photography, he asks what exactly it is that the demarcated terms of reality and fiction mean to human beings in the contemporary age. Rufelds is interested in the intimacy that has always existed between humans and the things they consider fictional – such as objects, films, or plays – and the way that this relationship has distorted and transformed throughout past millennia, culminating in the vertiginous perceptual climate of the twenty-first century, and what philosopher Jean Baudrillard has called the “hyperreal”: a predicament in which the real and the fictional routinely subjugate one another, or in which the taxonomical borders between the two have collapsed entirely.
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Briefly describe the work you do.
Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist?
My work brings together ideas from art, cinema, literature, and philosophy to contemplate the increasingly complex ways that humans, objects, and images relate to one another in twenty-first century capitalism.
I certainly don’t live up to the processual rigor of the actual 1960s Conceptual Art movement, but my work does pretty consistently follows one chain of research or another. It becomes difficult to tease form and concept apart, though, because contemporary visual culture is so central to the ideas I’m dealing with. There’s kind of a mutual presupposition between the two.
What themes do you pursue? Consistent throughout most of my work has been the question of how fictional things can exert influence in the “real”, with a particular emphasis on humanity’s oddly pathetic relationships to inanimate objects and other unreal things. My present work is more concerned with the history of storytelling – from ancient mythology, through early cinema, to contemporary advertising – and with contemplating the profound ideological power held by those who tell stories.
What is the most challenging part about working with new media? This is definitely the obvious answer, but the technical complexity of electronics poses a very real challenge. Montreal has a pretty excellent skill-sharing media community, which assuages a great deal of the fear, but the limits of my circuitry knowledge are still regularly tested.
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How would you describe the art scene in your area? Without speaking for Montreal’s art scene as a whole, there currently seems to be a predilection, among both artists and curators, towards art that collides classical Greek iconography – busts and columns and such – with artificial, digital aesthetics, recalling the Vaporwave musical movement, or much of Computers Club-style post-internet art. It’s an aesthetic that emerged pretty much entirely on the internet, so it’s really interesting to see it in sculptures and photographs, breaking into physicality. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? I’ll have to restrict my answer to my own position on this one. I find myself unshakably drawn to art because I believe that it’s one of the very few remaining disciplines where ideas,
objects, images, and labour have the possibility of existing according to a logic that contradicts capitalist teleologies. To maintain that objects, things, or ideas can exist without any measurable purpose, or even contradict the notion of purpose in general, is, I feel, a protest of immeasurable value in the contemporary age. What are your future plans? I’m currently juggling MFA applications, videography work, exhibition proposals, and artistic projects, so the immediate future is sure to be a whirlwind of activity, yet one I am unable to predict.
Mark Liam Smith Toronto, Canada
As a colour-blind artist, I long had to rely on my knowledge of colour-mixing formulas to recreate skin tones and other local colours. Later in my practice, I realized that local colours served only to restrict my expression. By viewing my colour-blindness as a strength rather than a weakness, I have embraced the use of non-local colours to develop my work. These paintings are visual works of fiction: I create a narrative using shape, colour, and characters. I carefully consider the chromatic and spatial relationships in my paintings to achieve movement and balance, just as an author uses literary devices to advance the plot. In some of my paintings, I use silhouettes as metaphors for our dual nature: our public persona versus our private selves, the overt versus that which lies beneath or remains unspoken. I then overlay abstract elements, such as colour blocks and lines, and switch from a photorealistic to a more painterly style to further enrich the narrative. I invite viewers to bring their personal experiences to the stories that I have painted, to connect with the characters, and to imagine and reimagine new narratives.
Art Reveal Magazine
Art Reveal Magazine
Briefly describe the work you do. I’m a painter. My paintings are always figurative and my colours saturated. I approach a painting in the same way a writer would approach a story: I create characters and then I set them in an environment to suggest a plot. The arrangement of the characters in the environment, the suggested plot, and the way it’s all painted points to my theme. I suppose you could say that my work is highly narrative. What themes do you pursue? As a colour-blind painter, I have always been obsessed with colour and how we see colour differently. This led to deeper questioning: if we see colour differently, then do we see the world differently? And how does that affect the way we form beliefs? In my painting I pursue this extrapolation from the perception of colour to the perception of real world referents. I believe that these differences can, and should, be acknowledged. I think that acknowledgement of our differences is the essential first step toward our unity as a society. We should be united because of our diversity, not despite it. What is the most challenging part about being an artist? For me the hardest part was figuring out what to do to get from a hobbyist to a professional artist. Four years of art school learning how to paint did not prepare me to write grant applications, develop a social media strategy, approach galleries, appreciate the importance of art fairs, deal with customs agents (when shipping internationally), write an artist’s CV, create a website, or many of the other things that artists have to do to build a successful career. For me, it has been an extensive self-taught crash course largely using trial and error. I’m still trying to figure it out! How would you describe the art scene in your area? In Canada, there are three big art cities: Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. I live in Toronto, and I find it has a bit of everything. Whether you are into street art or blue chip fine art or anything in between, Toronto can meet your needs as artist or as as afi-
cionado. It’s certainly a great place to start your art career. There are loads of young, independent galleries that are willing to take a chance on you if you have the work and the vision. Places like Hashtag Gallery, Project Gallery, and the Black Cat Gallery really helped my career when I first came to Toronto. What art do you most identity with? I most identify with art that tries to strike a balance between concept and form. I want to be struck by a visually compelling object. It doesn’t have to be beautiful but it does have to be compelling. Then, after that rush of emotion subsides, I want there to be a strong conceptual undercurrent. I don’t want to know what the artist is saying immediately; I want to have to figure it out. It should feel almost out of reach. If the art doesn’t say anything, it can be shallow. If, conversely, it has intention but isn’t visually compelling, I lose interest. If it’s both beautiful and purposeful, if it has form and concept, I find it can be transcendental. It is one of the ways we can glimpse the sublime. What’s the best art tip you’ve ever received? It came from my brother. He didn’t intend it as an art tip. I had asked him how he became a successful ultra marathon runner. He answered simply, “There is no substitute for hours on the road.” I took his lesson to heart and applied it to my art practice: there is no substitute for hours at the easel. What are your future plans as an artist? In the couple of years that I’ve been painting full time, I’ve been really fortunate to have shown my work in group exhibitions in Toronto, Vancouver, New York, London, and Basel. However, I still haven’t had a solo exhibition. So, in the short term, my plans are to have a solo. Long term it’s more of the same, really. Each body of work that I paint is a conversation between me, my work, and the audience. And I plan on having many, many more conversations in the years to come.
Art Reveal Magazine
Art Reveal Magazine
What themes do you pursue? The most carrying themes in my work are feelings and personhood. What is the most challenging part about being an artist? I have noticed that no matter how rationally I try to organize my days, it seems that 24hrs/day is simply not enough, especially when the inspiration flow hits. I love working long hours, so it doesn’t bother me, but sometimes it is challenging. How would you describe the art scene in your area? The Finnish government is continually cutting fundings from culture. I don’t think it’s saving, it’s losing. What art do you most identify with? Street art, comic and illustration. What’s the best art tip you’ve ever received? To learn from criticism. Well grounded negative feedback is the best way to learn. Enjoy the fact that you’re never fully learned, there’s always something new to explore. What are your future plans as an artist? I’ll keep on drawing and improving myself.
Melissa Spiccia London, England, UK
I have a deep interest in the detailed physicality and organisation of the body stemming from a career as a contemporary dance artist. Drawing from past experiences in dance choreography and improvisation, my processes are non linear and in constant transition, allowing ideas to shift, respond and materialise in their most suited form, unconstrained to one practice. Intrigued by identity and experience, configuration and disassociation and the play between our visual and physical perceptions, has resulted in me creating works in a more sustained outcome.
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When, how and why did you start your art practice. My career initially began as a ballerina in France and Germany and then later I retained and worked as a contemporary dance artist here in London. It was during this time, that I experimented with film, making improvised dance solos, out of curiosity more then anything else. But it was through this way of seeing and editing that gradually led me to work with photography. I found it was a way for me to capture my observations and reality and in some ways to distil the movement down to a single thought. I think I also came to a point in my career where I wanted to have more control over where I was heading. My interests had changed and I fought this and perhaps wouldn’t admit to myself that I had also changed. Sometimes you build up your identity only to realize years later it isn’t you anymore, perhaps never was. I thought it would be difficult to walk away from a career I had worked hard towards, much of my life. But in the end the decision just was. It’s been roughly about two years since I’ve made the conscious shift into the visual arts. I try now to allow my ideas to find their most suited forms, not defining myself to one practise. And I guess in someway I haven’t left anything behind, my past knowledge and approach feeds into these new fields - It all comes from the same place. What is your creative process like? It’s a mix of intuition, chance, emotion and control. I may start with being curious about
an idea that has a real urgency inside. Then later working on the idea I find that it changes depending on the tools I’m working with and other influences going on around and inside of me. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture To me art looks at things deeply, reconnecting us to ourselves and the physical world though creating experiences that’s aren’t just happening with our senses but within our minds. It offers up different perspectives and gives us a way to reflect and see ourselves in a greater context, which I feel is increasingly important. Name three artists you admire. William forsythe’s is an artist I deeply admire. He has been active in the field of dance and choreography for decades and continues to extend his research into new approaches in these areas. His work has also led him to go beyond the dancing body to produce installations and film projects. http://www.williamforsythe.de/ Louise Bourgeois is another artist whose work has had an affect on me. Her approach is emotionally very honest which I respect. Some of her pieces are currently on show as part of the Artist Rooms in the new section of the Tate Modern here in London, which been great to see. http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/ louise-bourgeois-2351
The artist Bart Hess recently asked me to work for him again on Digital Artifacts for the opening exhibition of Dream Out Loud at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Bart’s work explores several different fields of design, material studies and photography that’s appealing to me and I’ve really enjoyed working with him and his team, they’re great guys. https://dreamoutloud.stedelijk.nl/en/ artists/bart-hess/ How would you describe the art scene in your area? There’s a lot happening around London but in all honesty I’m not really plugged into any scene. However, the city does have an influence over my work. The exact nature of this influence is hard to put into words but living in a place like London that squeezes you from all angles whilst offering up so much tests your boundaries and perceptions. I’m drawn to the hustle and bustle. It keeps me moving. What are your future plans as an artist? I have a couple of new projects on the go that I’m really enjoying. I’d like to continue to develop my work and explore new materials. Perhaps to work with different bodies other then my own to express certain concepts. One of my goals is also to try and have my work shown somewhere to see how the work responds within a physical space and how people respond to it.
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As a tourist in my own life, I gather photographic observations. In my process-driven, visceral work there is no blank canvas, matter is already at hand - everything I do is additive. The interweaving of print and paint allows for the creation of something hovering between the real and the imagined; a memory. In my series of mixed-media paintings titled Memento, I create permanent physical records of my memories and fabricate the internal as external. The imagery is informed by own visual sensibilities: places I’ve been, things I’ve seen, people I’ve met; things I remember and things I don’t. A sense of a place has surfaced in the paintings, be it my home village or places that left an impact on me like Amsterdam and Hong Kong. Small details I associate with a place have taken over, multiplied and occupied space on the canvas such as Gouda cheeses, steep staircases, the textures of tropical fruit, characteristic architectures; things that strike me as different and belonging to a location or culture. I employ a mix of media, processes and layers to create a collaged composition. My practice initiates from found everyday material from the domestic sphere such as patterned curtain fabric. So the surface is already alive, hence there is no beginning or birth to the picture. The work is intuitive, since I approach the canvas without a plan of what comprises the collage and where images are placed. The intention is to keep the work open and alive by allowing spontaneity, momentum and chance. This improvisational tone is reflected in my handling of paint. I enrich, echo and/or corrupt the photographic prints with the application of paint by means of colour, marks and texture. A free association takes place, quite like automatic writing. This is a process in which I interpret and respond to the piece at every stage of its progression. Maybe this allows me to go beneath the surface and emerge aspects that reveal themselves to me.
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Susanne Wawra is a German visual artist and poet based in Dublin, Ireland. Susanne holds a Masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in English and Communication & Media from the University of Leipzig, Germany. After an exploration of business in an international big name company, she decided to swap a secure career for life as an artist. She graduated with a First Class Honours in Fine Art Painting at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland and won the Talbot Gallery and Studios Most Promising Graduate Award. The human condition is a recurring theme in her work. Particularly, she explores memory and Weltschmerz through painting, collage and video. Her work has been exhibited and screened in Ireland and the UK, Germany, Italy and the United States. Her work does not start from nothing, she draws from material already existent in the world. Susanne works in mixed media painting that incorporates photography as well as in experimental video. In her painting practice, she does not begin at a blank canvas. Instead, her pieces initiate from found and everyday material such as patterned curtain fabrics. With the surface already alive, there is no beginning or birth to the picture, instead it is all an additive process. In her video works, she has created poems from newspaper articles, focused on popular song lyrics and repurposed video diary entries.
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Briefly describe the work you do. I work in mixed media painting that incorporates photography as well as in experimental video. My work does not start from nothing, I draw from material already existent in the world. In my painting practice, I do not begin at a blank canvas. Instead, my pieces initiate from found and everyday material such as patterned fabrics. With the surface already alive, there is no beginning or birth to the picture, instead it is all an additive process. I marry print and paint. In my video works, I have created poems from newspaper articles, focused on popular song lyrics and repurposed personal video diary entries. Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you. The influence from my background is multi faceted and quite varied. The three main ones are my upbringing, my ambitious career and my affinity with the English language. Firstly, I grew up in rural East Germany behind the Iron Curtain, so my childhood was different to a lot of my friends in certain respects. The political system, its restrictions and implications definitely had an impact on my world view. So for some of my work, I am exploring my childhood years as well as my parents’ lives in the GDR working with family photographs of that time. Secondly, I pursued a rather normal or expected career path, a Master’s in English and Communication & Media, internships in HR, Marketing and PR departments in Germany and New York, then a full-on Online Sales career in a big name company. The job brought me to Ireland and ultimately to a mental breakdown and breakthrough. The medicine that helped was self-expression and losing myself in making art. Thirdly, I always wanted to live in an English-speaking country.
As a teenager, I was super cross with my Mama that I wasn’t English but German. Interestingly, leaving Germany helped me reconcile myself with my Germanness; now I can look at it, examine it and in parts embrace it. These three aspects find their way into my work: memories, Weltschmerz and place/belonging. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. Ultimately, I’d like to be an artist with as much as an own style as possible, but of course, I do have heroes and influences. For one, Robert Rauschenberg, for his use of mixed media and working “in the gap between art and life”. His collaging of photographic material as well as the use of printing and printed matter together with paint is inspirational. In my works, I am layering different materials and processes. I am working on everyday matter such patterned household fabrics, print onto them and explore the surface with oil paint. Second, David Hockney’s exploration of the camera, different photo formats and the act of looking, which have led to his “joiners” photo collages. I also focus on using my own photography as well as old family photographs, bringing in my sensibilities and making them work together. Third, German Dada heroine Hannah Höch, who originates from the same area in my county. She worked with photomontage, collaging text and images from the press and advertising as well as original photographs. The use of text is something I am very interested in, too, and the reflecting on culture. What art do you most identify with? I like art that touches me in some way or other, visually, intellectually, emotionally. Painting would be my favourite metier but also filmic realisations. I like
to see something of the artist in it, their background,theirpassion,theirtroubles. I get obsessed with certain artists and then soak up everything I can find. Artist talks and lectures are always playing in my studio as I work. My go-to artists are Mark Bradford, Jonathan Meese and Anselm Kiefer. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art is coming more to the foreground through the visual culture that was created by social media. Everyone seems to be craving visual stimuli and art is flowing into the mainstream, reaching people who would not necessarily visit galleries. It becomes more inclusive and artists’ messages and explorations get out there. I think art steps outside of culture in order to look at it and alter its definition for its occupants, even if only for a short while. In this respect, art is still very much doing what it has always done: freeing its audience from themselves and the constraints in which they find themselves. What are your future plans as an artist? In general, I want to be in a constant state of becoming better at what I do and realising my ideas. I want my work to reach a large and interested audience and I would like to work with other artists which I respect. More specifically, I am currently starting a new body of work from Dublin, wandering through the streets, acting as a tourist in my own life. I would like to grow an additional pair of hands in order to realising my painting ideas and also acquire the skill to edit my hard drive full of video material in my sleep. Joking aside, in other words, just continue to make work and evolve and experiment and also push out internationally.