Intro Welcome to the fifth issue of CreativPaper. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together. We live in pressing times, day after day we hear reports of attacks being carried out on people getting on with their lives and on authorities whose primary job is to keep us safe. All orchestrated by a minority of individuals who achieve nothing but tarnish the majority they are trying to represent. It is in times like these where we need to stick together, irrespective of our differences and beliefs. The planet as we all know has been taking a beating for quite some time now. Demand on its finite resources and contamination through pollution are taking its toll. It is estimated that by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. All is not lost. In this issue we talk to Druthers Menswear, a company based out in Brooklyn, NY making products out of PET Bottles and recycled yarn, artists such as Scott Herndon, Helena Blomqvist and Christopher Conroe who are pushing the boundaries of their mediums, telling stories that we all need to watch, listen and assimilate. We have also been busy putting together our first print issue of CreativPaper Magazine which will be out in December. Once again we would like to thank all our readers and artists who have believed in us. We wouldnâ€™t be here without your love, belief and support. Jimmy Outhwaite and Jefferson Pires Founder | Creative Director
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/STEELE WALSTON What would warm toast be on a Sunday morning without a slither of warm butter? Or cinnamon in your favourite confection at the bakery? Sometimes you have to mix two completely different components to get the desired result you want. Not that there is anything wrong in eating toast by itself? The same can be said for art. Some mediumâ€™s while great by themselves, are enhanced with the addition of another. Artist Steele Walston combines fine arts with an illustrative approach. Primarily working with alcohol-based marker ink, no easy task in itself. Steeleâ€™s portraits have an organically layered feel about them. Capturing the subjects in a new light. In our interview with the visual artist, we talked about where his work is headed, what led him to use his favourite medium and his favourite Sunday morning cartoon. The medium that an artist uses to express himself often says a lot about him or her as a person, why do you use the medium that you use? The primary medium I use is an alcohol-based marker ink made by Copic. I love how versatile the medium can be. I can use it in liquid form as a wash, or use it with a broad brush, or use it in marker form for fine lines and detail. That flexibility really enables me to experiment with my materials and process to express different ideas 06
and take advantage of different focal points. Up to this point, I had always been a rigid artist, meaning I knew what I was good at and I generally stuck with only that. Now I feel like I have been able to take risks with the material while also doing the things that I love to do. As I keep growing with my art, I add more and more materials to the process to create some really unique imagery.
Have you experimented with other mediums previously? Previously I have always been a hyper-realistic, photocopy only graphite and charcoal kind of guy. With more experimentation brought more mediums into the mix. So while my pieces are primarily marker ink, I tend to mix in charcoal, graphite, pastel, coloured pencil, paint and other 2D materials.
Where has your work headed more recently? My work has taken a turn away from being so much about my personal relationship with the subject and has moved towards playing with negative space a colour within hyper-realistic portraiture.
I love mixing fine detail marker work with an uncontrollable ink pour, that may ruin or enhance the Portraits are a prominent theme step I just completed. Taking across your work, is there a advantage of the weird spaces and selection process or criteria for situations that some of the pourâ€™s the subjects you choose? and brushstrokes creates is really Iâ€™ve always been drawn to satisfying. And on top of all that portraiture and hyper-realism finding a way to connect all those mainly because I love how different moments and somehow highlight people are. certain aspects of the subject is what I look forward to at the end of Each person offers a unique a piece. experience during the modelling process and my drawing process. You seem to have a love for the I generally draw people I have a outdoors which we do too! Are personal relationship with, and I there any unique spots around find it fascinating how some people Portland, Oregon that you would react differently to being in front of recommend our readers check out a camera and then to be drawn at a if they happen to be in the area? large scale. I think Crater Lake is probably my favourite place, but you have I feel like I can take those feelings to get lucky because it can often and express them in each piece be shrouded in fog or covered in through colour and negative space, snow. adding detail or taking it away. 09
Opposite: Delta Small
Outside of that, all the hiking around Mt. Hood and the Columbia River gorge is always a good way to spend a weekend day. How important is layering when it comes to your art? It is a huge part of my process. There are so many steps that, if done in a different order yield much different results.
than a water-based medium. That means I have less time to get different colours to interact which each other or to blend together. As I go through each piece, I’m always trying to find the right balance of detail, abstraction, colour, and negative space.
What attracted you to making art in the first place? I’ve always been attracted to Sometimes I layer on the detail first drawing in one way or another as and then mess it up by pouring a far as I can remember. I think I was large wash over the whole thing or lucky to have grown up in a small dipping the paper in colour. Then mountain town where the school’s I’ll come in, add more colour and art department was robust. I had a re-work more detail back into the lot of support from my teachers in piece. It’s always a back and forth middle school and high school, and kind of process with a lot of in the I owe a lot of this to them. moment reactions that (most of the time) leads to great results. What was Steele’s favourite Sunday morning cartoon growing Could you talk us through the up? creative process behind your I absolutely loved Dragonball Z. work? And from there a lot of other So I generally start out with anime shows that made it over to drawing the subject completely in the US. The ability of the artists to pencil first and from there and create that much content decide to go abstract first or consistently always drove me to be realistic detail first. a better artist. From there it’s just on the spot reaction because when working with an alcohol-based ink it evaporates and dries much faster
Above: Storm Warning
/JIEUN BETH As someone who grew up on the Asian subcontinent, I can safely say that convincing your family that you want a career in the arts in not a conversation you have lightly. Cultural stereotypes, along with the importance of being successful from a financial point of view add further obstacles to the aforementioned choice. With her parents moving to Texas from South Korea in their early 20’s, much of artist Jieun Beth’s childhood was a combination of exposure to the culture of the country she was born in and Korean tradition, customs and culture that she was introduced to on a daily basis by her family. This also included the artistic aesthetic the region is renowned for. Her work explores the idea of personal identity and moral expectations for an Asian female, along with humour and hedonism, the latter being taboo in the East. In our interview with Jieun, she talks about her time growing up in different pockets of the world and what it means to be successful as an artist, among other topics. Although you were born in Texas, would you say that you have had a traditional Asian upbringing? Yes. In the dictionary, Tradition means the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation. My parents were born and raised in Korea. They moved to Texas in their early
twenties for my father’s graduate degree, which is when I came to be. I was definitely exposed to Korean customs and culture that were passed down to my parents by their own parents and by the environment that they grew up in South Korea. 12
Although there is more than one traditional Asian upbringing, I lived in South Korea from six to fourteen years old. I immersed myself in the contemporary Korean culture that hinted to centuries-old customs and knowledge. How has that shaped you as an artist? I can relate to South Korean aesthetics and philosophies. About a year ago, I visited South Korea and attended an art fair in Seoul. I was intrigued to notice that although I am not familiar with
Korea’s contemporary art, many of the motifs and approaches that I used were demonstrated by other contemporary South Korean artists as well. It made me recognise the innate tendency that I was naturally born with; I was unconsciously using the sensitivity that is collectively shared in South Korea. A more conscious choice of using Korean influence is shown in my series, “I Am”. In the series, I created watercolour paintings on Yupo paper, and i purposefully
left the negative space of the paper serious body of work. One day, I empty to convey a floating space or was taking a break from long hours an indefinite space. of painting, and I was doodling with no goal, and that is when It lacked the perspective to portray Naughty Girls first exposed itself. a space that is more of the Western influence, but instead, I I talk about them as if they are incorporated the 15-19th century living entities because they feel like East Asian way of leaving negative individuals that are not in my space empty, so the background possession or control. I didn’t set encompasses the subject matter. out to paint female figures that At this time of the creation, I was are masturbating, and it took me learning about Buddhism and a while to share them with others. Hinduism. Therefore it made sense But, they made me giggle. that my visual language was Personally, Naughty Girls are reflecting the philosophies. simply funny, raw and honest. I was intrigued by their interpretations of one’s existence that is not confined to the linear time frame of life and death, but the idea of time to be rather a concentric space. In this series, my paintings often have an immense amount of negative space left to create an illusion that space is stretching out 3 dimensionally. Could you tell us more about your series titled “Naughty Girls”? Naughty Girls refer to female entities that are masturbating. They started to “pop-up” in my studio practice about 10 years ago when I was making a very gloomy and
Do you feel that the moral expectations of an Asian female have changed in the last decade? I can say from personal experience as an Asian American female things have changed. My personal boundaries, professional relationships, and family expectations have evolved and continue to evolve. There is work to be done, but I am committed to moving in the right direction.
Above: Sahmantha 16
Above: Gigi 17
What aspects or events in your opinion have brought about that change? I believe that commanding respect, being a positive and active member of the community, hard work and showing compassion have contributed toward moving the world in a positive direction. You spent some time growing up in South Korea, Canada and France. How did this contribute to your growth as an artist? Iâ€™ve experienced both Western and Eastern perspectives, and these aspects help me relate to diverse cultures and different people. I moved every two years until my mid-twenties, and I moved away from my family when I was fourteen years old. So, I did not grow up with a strong sense of belonging to any community or culture. It naturally made me question my identity. The question itself eventually became the strong motivation to investigate the answer through creating art. Iâ€™ve created five series of works that are related to Personal identity. What does success mean to you as an artist? My goal as an artist is to utilise my
talent to enrich the community. Also, I am interested in the global community, and I wish to expand my exhibition venues to reach out to more people. More practically, I want to be represented by a Gallery with whom I share their mission. Also, I would like to teach art for students that donâ€™t have access to art education. And I think it would be cool to show my artworks in museum settings. Your pieces often have a tactile feel to them, has that always been the case? They have in the sense that I always tried to create a depth and perspective in my works even when they were strictly two dimensional. In my exploration of identity I began to imagine the layers of memory and how that would incorporate into my works. The first manifestation was my Memories series, I used an acrylic gel medium mixed with .5 % of pigment to create layers on fixed images that related to identity.
According to the original value of the image, I will layer over and over to create three-dimensional values and to form a relief. This began my journey into incorporating found objects using resin, mixed media and sculpture to create a tactile aspect in my works.
What has Jieun got on repeat on her stereo at the moment? -Currently, I have repeatedly been listening to the album of South Korean musician, Kim Jung-Bum’s “One Day”. www.jieunbeth.com
Hedonism is a recurring theme in your current work, what forms do you think self-indulgence will take in the future? One aspect of indulgence is to allow oneself to follow one’s will. Often, we unknowingly oblige to beliefs that hinders us from following our will. And the belief systems are often built up since our childhood from family, culture, religion and society. Despite the influences of others and avoidance of one’s internal voice, I encourage honouring one’s natural will through an introspection. I believe the fulfilment of one’s uniqueness will become a loving act towards oneself, a vow that also enables others to do so as well.
/IOANA VRABIE Even with all the advances in digital photography, there is something captivating about using film. It could be the fact that it requires a certain amount of patience and discipline, in a world that’s obsessed with instant gratification, or the fact that you only have a number of shots to use, making each one count. Photographer Ioana Vrabie, who was born in Transylvania, Romania is known for her dreamlike multiple-exposure compositions that incorporate contrasting elements, reflecting the contrast she experienced growing up in Romania and Italy. Her photography is also a manifestation of the calm restlessness of life, as experienced through a heightened sense of awareness. She enrolled in the University of Arts in London in the mid-2000’s, graduating with a bachelors in Photography. She currently spends her time between Ibiza, Spain and London, United Kingdom building an archive of beauty through her lens. Is it true that you shoot exclusively in analogue? Yes, it is. I have also been working with digital cameras in the past, but I have chosen analogue for my artistic expression. I just adore the grain, the mystery, the slow-paced process and the tactile sensation of the film. I feel
fully present and relaxed when I shoot analogue, while with digital I feel anxious, for some reason. It might be due to the LCD screen, that displays everything straight away. And I am definitely the type of person who prefers veiled erotic tension to blunt “ready to consume” exposure. Analogue is sexy.
Above: Roots Of Humanity, analogue double exposure, Ubud 2014
What is it about multiple exposures that draws you towards them? It is an instinctive connection: I have spontaneously started to shoot multiple exposures, and I felt a sense of deep liberation both on an emotional and a mental level. I finally felt at peace, as choosing just one possibility has always been one of the greatest challenges in my life.
Technically, multiple exposures excite me because they are more complicated to execute than a single shot and I love the challenge of keeping in balance heart and mind.
The heart drives the inspiration as the idea suddenly and spontaneously arises - I experience a state of deep euphoria and connection with my surroundings at that moment I guess that I have a multipolar per- while the mind quickly and steadily sonality as a result of growing up calculates the settings. suspended between communism and capitalism, between Romania I feel like I am surfing a wave, I am and Italy, between a model student still and in movement at the same and a rebel at school, in a time, and there is just one attempt constant tension between two or that happens “à bout de souffle”. It more perspectives, I always is a fly or fall business, as I do not wanted to embrace, or break free like to play safe, like one of my from. And multiple exposures give collectors noticed. me this chance. Tell us a bit more about growing Truth for me is polymorphous up in Transylvania, Romania? and, somehow, there’s nothing that How did that shape you as an makes me feel as free as individual and an artist? incoherence and contradiction do. I remember the grey communist In fact, I am fascinated by the days with empty shelves in the beauty that arises from overlapping shops, the dictator’s propaganda different perspectives, even better and, above all, the deep love bond if opposites, like in Outside In. The with my grandfather Florian, a most beautiful harmony for me man of grace, my human is the one that can emerge from a encyclopaedia, ready to satisfy all collision. my innate and bottomless 22
curiosities. I recall the two of us talking and walking to contemplate Nature and its ever-changing perfect harmony: a bucolic journey adorned with teachings about medicinal herbs and Latin and Ancient Greek etymological investigations of Romanian words. My grandmother, Niculina, on the other hand, was the one ceaselessly inspiring me with her volcanic creativity and her special taste for colour and composition in her personal style and exquisite handworks. At that time, freedom of expression was completely suppressed, and there was no private property in Romania.As part of a family of intellectuals, my path was predetermined: I had to study to achieve a respectable social position. I took that very seriously so in the first year of Primary school I became the best student in the class, status that deserved a special regime uniform. I started to identify myself very much with what I knew, and I became a bookworm. At the age of eight, I moved to Tuscany, Italy with my mother to find out that “what you
own” was more important than “what you know”. I still remember the first restaurant I have walked in along the Italian highway, coming from Romania. I was mesmerised by the colourful packages, the bright lights and the smell of warm ham and cheese toasts. At the end of my early summers back to Tuscany after my holidays in Transylvania - I used to stay home at least for two weeks, before daring to walk on the “corso”, the Main Street and be seen - or maybe I should say, watched - by others. I was feeling very uncomfortable with the Italian rules of social acceptance and the importance of status symbols, after being at perfect ease with a simple lifestyle, that allowed me to be natural and shamelessly wear the same outfit in Romania for few days in a row. I am immensely grateful, though, for having been permeated by Italian art, fashion and design, that I consider one of the main sources for my aesthetics. Next page: Between Earth And Sky, analogue double exposure, Beachy Head 2013 23
What is your favourite part of being a photographer? Photography is for me the way to visually conceptualise what I feel and think through external visual information. My favourite part is the stillness of observation and the visceral connection with what surrounds me, just before pressing the shutter, the sound of which is pleasant music to my ears.
channel of my artistic expression, without expectations or predetermined parameters about the outcome.
The camera becomes the bridge that connects my inner and outer worlds and allows me to become my subjects and my subjects to become me.
In my opinion, creativity should be the only thing not be placed in a predetermined container. A box does not stimulate me unless I decide to break it.
Could you tell us a bit more about your body of images titled “Oneiromancy”? This body of work is about freedom, it is deliberately against the idea of having to plan a photographic project, something I have always felt very uncomfortable with.
And this is exactly how this body of work manifested: in 2013 I decided to break the box of security and make myself homeless for a while (about two years).
Oneiromancy means “divination by means of dreams”, and it is a self-discovery journey where my subconscious emerges and becomes conscious through images. In other words, I allowed my camera to show me the way, to reveal my soul and purely be the
I feel like my creativity is a free flow that cannot be caged. It is not just a coincidence that my surname “Vrabie” means “sparrow”, even if you probably expected “bat”, considering my origins.
I left London with a one-way ticket and just one defined destination (a yoga teacher training in India), to slow down, look for answers to some existential questions and find my inner peace. I left with my dependable analogue camera simply with the idea of having a freestyle photographic experience. 26
Above: Time And Space Relativity, analogue triple exposure, Ha Noi 2014
Above: We Need To Talk â€” God, analogue double exposure, London 2014 27
Above: Skywalking, analogue double exposure, Bali 2014
I chose different types of film, again to be free to experiment and resist consistency and repetition. I had also providentially received some expired film rolls as a gift while I was still working at Photofusion in Brixton, just a few weeks before my trip.
Through these works, I invite the viewer to question, contemplate and accept, the calm restlessness of life, and achieve the same heightened sense of awareness I experienced.
I aim to inspire the viewers to a new independent form of These photographs are meditation spirituality, which spontaneously tools. Just find the right distance arises once we embrace beauty and from the artwork and focus first on love as essential expressions of life. a layer then on the others one by Every photograph is a different one. Then, by focusing on the story - a conceptual visual trip global image, meditation happens. and soon I will talk about each one It is a state of suspension and of them on my blog. If you liberation. The same I feel when I are interested to know more, please shoot. visit www.ioanavrabie.com. 28
Why do you use light boxes to display your work? In Transylvania, when I was a child I used to go to the Orthodox mass every Sunday because my grandparents were singing in the choir. I was sitting on the balcony overlooking the nave, and from that perspective, the stained-glass images of saints on the windows appeared floating suspended in the darkness of the church. Lightboxes create the same effect: my photographs, which have a spiritual connotation, emerge from the darkness of the subconscious, as sudden seminal realisations that float suspended in time and space. Apart from this, they reflect again my love for opposites, the old and the new technology and purpose: analogue photography (a slow-paced process, today relegated mainly to art) versus LED backlit Duratrans (mainly used for commercial advertising billboards promoting a fast-paced lifestyle). You studied at the University of Arts in London, what was that process like? It was one of the most interesting experiences in my life. I enjoyed the pragmatism and the excellent
preparation of our teachers and the wonderful facilities of this college. I still remember the smell of the darkroom and the long hours in the studio, playing God in the dark with the lighting. It was a challenge to have projects assignments to deliver every 15 days. Our photos were displayed in front of the entire class and debated, criticised and even killed by tutors and classmates. It was fun, creative and uplifting. Youâ€™ve lived in a few places throughout your life, does any one of them hold a special place in your heart? Transylvania is the special one for me. The ecosystem that still survives there is, unfortunately, a memory of the past for many other parts of Europe. The wildflower meadows are incredible there, and the cows still come back home after a day of pasture. I would like to protect this beautiful land, but the sudden capitalism and consequent globalisation are dangerously menacing this fragile old-fashioned reality. 29
Have you got any more travels lined up? I currently live in Ibiza, a microcosmos of contrasts I feel very inspired by.
I am also planning to have my first solo exhibition. Few galleries have showed interest in my work and I hope to find my perfect match soon to make this happen.
I would like to go to Transylvania in Winter - the time of the year I was born into - to smell the snow and reconnect with my roots.
A part from this, I would like to share with other people what I have learnt during my journey and help them to break free to explore their creativity.
Other future destinations are Madrid, Istanbul, Brazil, Peru, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia.
How does Ioana relax? Being relaxed is my priority in daily life, so I do not wait for a specific moment. I achieve this by keeping a steady connection with my breath, whatever I am going through. I really enjoy kundalini yoga, swimming and hiking and I am also a big fan of massages, good food and wine. Apart from this, I try to laugh, dance and sing as much as possible. What are your dreams for your artistic career in the immediate future? I am in the process of setting up my base studio in Ibiza and I am very excited about it.
Above: Outside In, analogue double exposure, Florence 2013
Above: Lotus: From Mud To Flower, analogue triple exposure, Bali 2014 31
/FU WENJUN With a list of venues for solo exhibitions that include the Museu Europeu de Arte Moderno, the National Art Museum of China and the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Chinese artist Fu Wenjun has, without doubt, established himself in the contemporary world of art. The relationships our cultures have in this highly commercialised world we live in along with the rapidly evolving culture, industrialisation and urbanisation in Chinese cities play a crucial part in his work. He has gained numerous accolades including the first prize from the International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Argentina and “The Best Artist in the World” at Tour Eiffel La Grande Exposition Universelle. In our conversation with Fu Wenjun, we touched on various topics such as his time growing up in Southwest China, the challenges of being an artist and the rich and varied culture of his home country. Could you tell us a bit more about “digital pictorial photography” and how it became a part of your creative workflow? In my opinion, art is a reflection of our extremely spacious and colourful world, at the same time, it is also an expression of my individual life experience and thinking. An artist can choose any media he is familiar with to express, and I have chosen to link
the photography with painting. Usually, people think the two art forms have very different aesthetic appeal. The photography should focus on objectivity and reality (especially the documentary photography), and the painting should take the vivid representation as its goal. Opposite: Stamps, Dunhuang Lady 32
Above: Pet Animal
I have been working on the fine art photography for quite a long time. To me, photography is an art, not just a tool can be used to record the world. I don’t think photography and painting are enemies who can never shake hands. Instead, they are friends who can learn from each other. “Digital pictorial photography”, a concept I put forward, is a product of this kind of thinking. Whatever can be useful for my artistic expression, I will properly integrate into the photography creation, integrating the visual elements of painting, like
pictorial colour, texture, vividness and sense of beauty. Through the reality-imagine intersected images provided by “digital pictorial photography” and the cross-over of two art forms, I wish to give the viewers more freedom of interpretation and sensation, creating a relationship between art and its viewers which is different from the usual one and is more energetic to stimulate thinking. Because there is more than one way to see a work of art, so as the way we see our world.
Above: Body, Nowhere to Lay
What was it like growing up in Chongqing? I was born in 1955 in Chongqing, a city in the Southwestern China. At the time when I was a teenager, the whole world was curious about what was happening in my country, but in fact, we also knew little about the world outside.
traditional culture and art. In the 1980â€™s, I passed the entrance exam of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute located in Chongqing and began to learn oil painting systematically.
From then on, I had the opportunity to get close to and study deeply the art movements in the 20th century in the Western Influenced by my father, when I world, including Conceptual Art, was a little boy I began to learn Pop Art, Dadaism, Abstract Chinese calligraphy and traditional Expressionism etc. The eminent painting. A little grown up, I liked artists of the time like Pablo to immerse myself in reading Picasso, Salvatore DalĂŹ, Marcel Chinese ancient books, one after Duchamp, Jackson Pollock, Andy another. I think I am a person Warhol gave me a deep impression. deeply influenced by Chinese 35
Some people have commented that in my photography works they can find their shadows, even some traces of traditional Chinese painting. It is not a strange thing because my art is a part of my life. China has a rich and varied art heritage, what elements of this are you hoping to carry on through your work? I think the cultural heritage of a nation represents the most lively and unique proof of its history and civilisation. I am proud of the rich heritage of China, but at the same time, I feel sad about the antiques that are destroyed or lost overseas. What’s more, I think our cultural relics and civilisation should be known by more people in the wider areas. Sometimes when we look back, we may feel less confused. At a very early time, I realised that photography could be a perfect media for the communication on this aspect. I then created several photography series addressing this question and expressing my thinking: “Thought Reading”, “No Realms”, “Illusory Metamorphoses” created in the range of three years, from 2009
to 2010; “Stamps” and “National Treasure” in 2014; “A Wind from Yesterday” from 2016 to 2017. To invite these ancient objects to walk into my photography works, their beauty will travel through the time coming to life again in the current age. How do you find a balance between aesthetics and meaning in your art? The soul of a work of art, I think, should be the ideas or concepts it hosts. Usually, I will start to create a piece of work after a long time of thinking. With regards to photography, I no longer focus on the technical aspects, with which I have been very familiar. Starting from this point, I am able to freely present my thinking in a two-dimensional space about many issues, especially the ones related to the history, culture, humanity in Eastern and Western society, and the difference and integration of them in the current times. When the skills have been a part of the artist, the proficient handle of them donates him a special feeling and an outstanding ability to percept the beauty.
Above: Stamps, David
Above: Come and Go
While the key which makes a piece of contemporary artwork meaningful lies in the artistâ€™s profound thinking on his personal living situation and the social environment around him. I think the balance of aesthetics and meaning in the art depends almost on the artistâ€™s own artistic endowments, internal cultivation and original insights about the world.
What is the hardest element of being an artist? To me the hardest element is how to continuously break through myself, to present my thinking and the ideas I want to share with the public through the artistic expression. www.fuwenjun.com
Above: National Treasure
/TODD JONES Here at CreativPaper, we are always kept on our toes with the wide array of work we come across on a daily basis. Sculptors, illustrators, painters and photographers all share a drive and passion that shines through in their work. Living and working from Columbus, Ohio, artist Todd Jones caught our eye with his unique incorporation of painting, drawing and photography. What we found most interesting was the interaction between watercolour and the unexpected outcomes of marbling in his work. Fractured colours blend into one another, framing subject matter while being an integral part of the bigger picture. Todd received his Bachelor of Fine Arts and a double major in studio art and psychology at Florida State University. Using an experimental approach to new materials, he manipulates them in unique ways to gain a better understanding of their limitations. www.taahd.com
Opposite: Ardent 41
Above: G.A.D Opposite: Self Opposition
/PARUL BOUVART India is a treasure trove of culture, language, heritage and art. Each invading foreign nation has left behind its own artistic imprint, amalgamated with the countries very own historical artistry and identity. From the Mughals to the British, French and Portuguese. You would struggle to find a nation with more variations across its length and breath in every field. These influences are still a part of everyday life, especially when it comes to religion and societal expectations. Originally born in New Delhi in Northern India, artist Parul Bouvart began to question rituals and ideologies from a very young age. The flame that was her curiosity only grew larger as she became aware of the world around her growing up. Her work revolves around expressing the absurdity of rituals and social issues of race and gender identity. We spent some time with the lovely Parul and got to know her better. From her favourite comfort food to staying true to yourself as an artist, read on below.
Above: The Rising
As someone who also spent my formative years in Mumbai, India, I would love to hear about your experience growing up in New Delhi? New Delhi is the capital of India, and I grew up there just like any other Delhi girl. Being in Delhi, I was exposed to multiple cultures, rituals, practices and ideologies. As a young girl, growing up I was shy but ambitious. My parents encouraged me to participate in every activity and be independent. I learned Karate at a very young age which helped me to fight the conventional philosophy. I think that was my first step to fight the standards.
expected to please God, or a form represent phallic figure to get a rightful husband. It is auspicious yet mysterious. It was much later I realised what the form represented. The form is the symbol of fertility, and every civilisation has celebrated sexuality. It is present from Kamasutra to the temples of Khujraho. I guess this varied culture, has inspired me immensely in creating my art, yet it keeps me questioning the practices and their relevance in today’s world.
It almost feels like we are undoing years of progress with regards to race, sexuality and gender identity if one were to focus on current politics and events, do How did the rich and varied you think the reality is accurately culture of India, something that’s represented in the news we read? incorporated in your work, shape Well, I believe it’s partially true as you as an artist? sometimes the media tend to As I was born and brought up in exaggerate. The news we read is India, I have experienced a lot of only 1/4 reflection to what actually rituals, and from very young age happened. And if I can recall the I used to question these practices. incident “Nirbhaya” happened in India has always been my New Delhi 2013. inspiration, from Sanskrit to different traditions and customs. First of all, I must say it was deeply unfortunate and cruel what For example, as a girl, I have happened. The news has shocked always worshipped Shivlinga, and the country for sure but what I for some reason women are discovered later in New York 48
Both Images Above: Unwanted 49
Both Images Above A Blind Love Story 50
was a completely different story. The media, of course, played the huge role in depicting and changing the whole incident. The statics shows that India is on the fifth to record the evidence of rape every 15 minutes. But the fact is that country like Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Mexico, Egypt and so are also recording cases of rape at a much higher rate than India. It is such a shame to say that the world is not limited to these countries. In the world where women are equally powered and earn their bread, I think we need to rise from the notion of women being helpless. As a new bud in the art world, I started to sew and stitch and even brought the sari together with safety pins to depict the status of women in India. “Parda: The Indian Garment” represents a motif as if it is also related to the monotony of regular chores. The insignificant objects like safety- pins, buttons and needles with which a woman interacts in her day to day life become a bit motif, and with repeating these
objects, I created a pattern. Later in my work, the perception of sexuality through the looking glass of gender became the central concern where the works try to bring forth the various complexities regarding the concept of sexuality. Through these, I portray the fear, or the stigma which is attached to sexuality like the fear of losing one’s virginity makes one question one’s own identity. The hideousness, the enclosed private space shows the overlaps of censorship and celebration of desire. Could you tell us a bit about your time in New York? Going to New York was not easy for me and living there was certainly not easy. That decision really impacted me as a person and as an artist. I experienced the freedom of thoughts and actions, and soon I started to perform. Working with all known feminists in Pratt Institute helped me discover myself. 51
What does art mean to Parul? Art for me is something which can heal the artist and viewer. Art is something which needs a reaction, and without oneâ€™s reaction, art will not fulfil its purpose. Through my art, I question the absurdity of rituals and norms of the society. Exploring those actions, I re-perform ceremonies as a means of mending relations. Through video art, I am trying to raise social issues of race and gender identity. Taking various elements from my surroundings, I puncture day to day materials to create scars. These ruptures of the material express profound loss and also the intent to heal. For me art is personal, and it reflects when one encounter with their own emotions. Could you share a piece of advice that changed you as an artist? Donâ€™t try to please anyone. Stay simple, be yourself, and listen to your heart. From personal experience, I can safely say that pursuing an artistic career is not encouraged in a traditional Indian society, at least not a couple of decades ago. How did you manage to convince
your family that art was the path you wanted to tread? Coming from a family of doctors, it was not easy at all. In India parents usually encourage their kids to pursue conventional career options like becoming a doctor, engineer, lawyer, teacher, etc. Arts is the last field towards which they would push their kids. Competition and the race to be on top combined with the pressure to earn an ideal income is affecting the way people are choosing from the available career options. Art is not considered to be a very high paying field and with only a limited scope to be successful. However, over the years, my parents saw my dedication and passion towards it. Eventually, they not only got convinced but gave me their full support to pursue a career where my heart lied. Your work often has puncture marks and scars, what does that signify? I have tried so many times to express how extreme love pricks. For some reason, loving agony became a part of my life, so close that I lost the feeling of happiness 52
Above: A Letter From Papa
for a long, long time. Inspired by how most Indian women keep themselves occupied with stitching, I started to stitch at an early stage in my career. In this process, I would usually get pricked by pins. I incorporated the prick in my later works. I used regular pins, push pins, map pins, and ice picks to express the absurdity of relationships. A Letter to/from Papa is a conversation of two long letters between daughter and the father. The letter symbolises the presence as well as an absence of the father figure and the expectations of the norm. The words I pricked over and over again are the ones which pricked my heart, and you’ll find them difficult to read as they are covered with more than 25000 regular pins. The thin layer of an Indian handmade paper bearing the load of these pins is the metaphor showing the burden of one’s expectations. This can also be read like a letter from a girl to a patriarchal society. Similarly “Close” is a collage of my family photographs. Each photo in this work has been pricked by
the pins where it takes away one’s identity. By this act, I’m closing the doors of lovely memories close to my heart. After all, we all hold on to our history. The “Blind Love story” is a collection of my intimate stories inscribed in Braille where you can feel the two sides of love with every turn of the page. Like Love and Braille, the “Blind Love Story” can only be read by touch. With every flip, it pricks and shows the act of rage. What is your favourite Indian comfort food? Comfort food.. ahhh! I must say my absolute favourite is Butter Chicken. I personally feel butter makes any food taste even better and more delicious. For many generations in India, Butter and Ghee (clarified butter) have been considered an important source of energy and also a status symbol. We have many everyday sayings in India which include butter or ghee. My father used to say “Tu hi ghee shakker khilayegi”, which translates to “You will feed us Ghee and Sugar”. By saying this, he was not only giving me his adoration but also setting up his
Above: 2lbs of Butter and Sugar
expectations of me.
to explore new dishes and new cuisines. My husband who is a French chef has also helped in widening my food knowledge.
In my work, “2lbs butter and sugar” and “Tu hi Ghee Shakker khilayegi”, I tried to feel my father’s absence as well as presence in my www.parulbouvart.com life. By writing the phrase in Hindi using snow, it would start to disappear by the time I finish or by eating 2lbs of butter and sugar raise intensity in the room. Through both the acts, I brought myself closer to him. However, having mentioned my special love towards Butter chicken and all things butter, I have to tell you, that I’m a big foodie and I love
/JULIO ORTA Growing up can be an odyssey in itself. Not only are we going through a multitude of changes physiologically, we are also exposed to a bewildering array of stimuli. Some familiar, others alien. But every event culminated into shaping us into the individuals that we are today. When Mexican artist Julio Orta was listening to the hip-hop group Control Machete at the tender age of 11, he had no idea that in the future he would become terrific friends with one of its members, using one of their songs as a foundation for his art. Currently based in sunny Los Angeles, in this interview, Julio talks about the perks of living in Southern California, his musical playlist and a day in his studio. As someone who uses a plethora of mediums do you think it is important for an artist to explore different mediums and the unique challenges and benefits they offer? I think as an artist I can conceive my idea in any medium I intend to. I also reach other fields like how I did with “MOCAM” (The Museum of Contemporary Art on the Moon).
moon so I invited Mauricio Mastropiero, a Mexican architect to collaborate on the project and we researched the real prospects for this.
The Museum of Contemporary Art on the Moon was featured in publications that don’t relate to the arts such as entrepreneurial magazines, architectural ones and I was pleased to know that my project ended in a space news When I conceived this idea, I website run by Leonard David’s needed a sustainable project of how who is one of the most recognised a museum would be built on the space journalists in the world. 56
This year we had a fascinating talk about it on Basekamp which organises discussions over the internet. This artist group is interested in alternative and future model spaces of exhibition spaces. Scott Rigby, an artist, living in New York invited me also Joey Cannizzaro who curated the inaugural show and several others to talk. I was thrilled when I knew that Jeff Kelley an inventor and rocket scientist was one of the participants in the conversation. Spaces like this where all fields can discuss and cooperate should be happening more often. I’m very passionate about science. I have a microscope which I use from time to time which a bunch of my cat fleas have been victims of. It is necessary that artists don’t limit themselves to art but also expand to other areas such as technology, medicine, science and architecture. As Pöppel says “ Artists often have an implicit knowledge, which is then confirmed by the scientist.” We could have accelerated our technologies and probably the well-being of the human race if art-
ists nowadays were like Leonardo Da Vinci was back then, an artist and a scientist. We both have in common that we are trying to solve our greatest mysteries through imagination. One of the things that interest me the most it’s the new mediums that are going to develop in the future with new technologies that we may not even be able to imagine right now. For the first time, Scientists connected a human brain to the internet this year, and it looks like all humans are going to be networking in the future, imagine what kind of art it’s going to be happening then. It would be possible that museums cease to exist since we reach the technology of felling the entire realm of “reality” of a museum show without leaving our house. Footnote: MOCAM is always accepting submissions for exhibitions from both artists and curators.
If there is one message you could convey through your work what would it be? I intend to show the unseen absurdities of life that go unspoken in everyday life. The work aims to challenge and invite introspection beyond one’s personal boundaries and is a residual invitation for one to destroy and rebuild the relationship between “I,” “the other,” “the entity,” “cannibal,” and “civilised.”
language concerning a selection of songs representative from the musical production of Monterrey between 1990 and 2010. For my piece, I chose a song very representative of my city by the hip-hop group “Control Machete”. They were the best rappers of Mexico when they were together and their song “me comprendes Mendez” was a huge hit in my country.
I intend to make visible things that aren’t spoken about that much, sometimes even reaching the taboo or at least make you doubt, if what you think is “correct.”
I was 11 years old when I was blasting this song and their music all day, in my twenties I became terrific friends with DJ Toy Selectah who is now signed to Diplo’s label Mad Decent. He was Could you tell us a bit more about one of the three members of the your body of work titled “Si me group and made all the beats, and buscas, me encuentras”? when the list of the most notable This piece was for an exhibition songs finished, and each artist had curated by Marco Granados, an to choose one, I knew that was the intriguing curator from Mexico. song I was the most excited to base my piece on. It was exhibited in CEART in Tijuana, Mexico and UCSD I talked to him told him about the (University of Contemporary Art project, and I wanted more info San Diego) this show combined the about this song, its origins, music work of two generations of artists video and everything I could get in Monterrey around a common from it. So I went to his studio, and link to all participants to share with we had a delightful chat about that a musical language established in song for hours. the region. It reflects about the 59
The title of the work “si me buscas, me encuentras,” which means “if you look for me, you’ll find me” It doesn’t relate at all to romance it is a confrontational sentence.
between London, San Diego, and Los Angeles, but I found out that personally, L.A. was the most vibrant city of them all.
Los Angeles is very different to I based my piece on the music anywhere else in the world it’s like video of the song, the two it’s own country somehow, it is a baseball jerseys on that work comes mix of diverse cultures and all of from what one of the guys from them in one place. L.A. is where the group is wearing a jersey from the Chicano movement and “Los Sultanes” the baseball team of lowriders were born. Monterrey, but I customized so one would say “ si me buscas” and the It’s a three hour drive to Mexico, one on its right next to it “me not a long drive to the beach or to encuentras”. find snow. The city is very liberal, and there’s always The face in the middle is a picture something going on that’s hard to in a jar with red tincture which attend all the events that attract symbolises death or injuries comes you. The art scene I think is from the only other character that fascinating due to the increasing it’s not from the group a guy that is number of artist-run spaces, where running because there’s a bunch of artists create unique work because guys running after him to beat his there is no intention to please and ass. I tried to find the original guy sell. from the video asking Toy Selectah, but he had no idea of his But to be honest, the biggest part whereabouts. of the reason I moved here is that I wanted to attend the master’s How old were you when you program at CalArts (California moved to Los Angeles and what Institute of the Arts). Since I knew made you move there? this school existed and heard about I moved to L.A. when I was 28 their history and their excellent years old because of my MFA. I was faculty as Harry Gamboa and Sam looking through my different Durant and alumni. Some of them options for it at the end I was are favourite artists of mine such as 62
Ruben Ortiz-Torres, Mike Kelley, and Mario Garcia Torres. It had the fame of being a crazy place before, was opened by Walt Disney about a 40-minute drive north of LA it was the first university of its kind to house both the visual and performing arts in the same place.
almost identical as a real baby. I just let the kids do whatever they want with the doll without promoting or reprehending their behaviour.
At the end the kids practically want to destroy the baby, which brings the questions: maybe kids could be evil if you don’t set boundaries and a norm of ethics? If you don’t What he wrought was a world of reprehend them, perhaps they creative chaos that encouraged would rip off their little brother’s experimentation, artistically and arms?. I love when the random still recreationally, where Lou Reed provoke this kind of situation could be found teaching a class being just a catalyst without down the hall from John knowing what is going to happen Baldessari, and debauchery was the next. status quo. It is still clothing optional, but the debauchery might Somehow I cause a state of affairs be gone. that the random gives the final result, and sometimes it comes Your work has playful yet dark as playful and yet dark, and that’s undertones going through most where I love the most when that of the pieces, is this a literal happens. interpretation of the world as you see it? Could you talk us through an I think the world is far from being average day in the studio? unicorns and rainbows, but that It starts with me turning on my doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. computer, procrastinating a little That might reflect in my work, I bit and then reading about things might be an optimistic nihilist. that are of my interest, then I just write stuff on my notebook but On my piece “Ice, Ice, Baby” you mostly all it’s in my head already. can see a bunch of kids kicking around a reborn doll, which is The notebook is just to remind me 64
of hint words or sentences I might forget. When the idea I have is complete I start looking how to accomplish what I want t about in an aesthetic way. I’m pretty much on my computer the whole time, but I believe as an artist you are 24 hours in the studio because one of the differences of working as an artist is that you never leave the office, because you can’t just leave your brain in the studio. Your mind is just consuming new stimulus that provokes thoughts and ideas the whole day, Even if it’s on a subconscious level. It’s similar to what dreams are made of. You didn’t decide what you dreamed last night, neither what you are going to dream tomorrow. It’s just the subconscious being like a sponge the whole time getting tiny bits of info and at the end either you want it or not it’s going to end up in your artwork somehow.
distracting. Now and then I try to hear music, but it just doesn’t work for me. I mostly hear rap, Mexican indie or old school, and Colombian style cumbias, but I listen to all types of music. Mayer Hawthorne, Wu-Tang, Notorious B.I.G, The Whitest Boy Alive, Los Super Elegantes, Chico Sonido & Andres Landeros. They never fail music wise. If I succeed in hearing music while I work, it’s probably jazz or classical music especially dark ones like Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. What are your thoughts on climate change and the impact of our consumerist society on the environment as an artist? I don’t think humans are going to change their ways, we are a destructive species, and the leaders of the world are no better.
I believe that we should evacuate What are you listening to at the the earth as fast as possible and set moment? colonies in outer space, then we I don’t hear music most of the time; may try a new beginning and not I like to be aware of my mess it up as we did here. surroundings especially when I’m working. I find music very Artists are also complicit of 65
contaminating the planet, all the materials used for sculptures and chemicals for photography and all that is left behind from us. We are also complicit. We can create art to make people think more about it, also if musicians hold concerts to donate their money for some natural disasters. I think living artists are capable of doing that too. Imagine what a relief for a country that just had an earthquake or a hurricane getting the money of just two pieces that Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst would donate for the cause.
There’s also this sheep milk candy with peanuts called “glorias” that are from my city that is out of this world. What are your future plans as an artist? I have a residency in Portugal, Germany, and Russia in 2018. I’m also excited to work soon with “El Nopal Press” a limited edition fine art printing gallery in L.A.
El Nopal Press founder, Francesco Siqueiros, an artist and master printer intimately familiar with the art worlds of both Los Angeles and Mexico City, brought these worlds together. He chose Los Angeles as Does Julio have a favourite the site of intersection, and as his Mexican candy? medium the organisation of a That’s a funny question since my seminal exhibition, in part great-grandfather opened a candy sponsored by the City of Los factory in 1913 in my city and his Angeles. He is a very prominent candy is still the most figure in the limited fine art representative from my city, we printing scene in the USA and just don’t make any money out of it Mexico. anymore. I’m also planning to start working I’m more a fan of salty stuff like with this gallery with the most corn in a cup with a bunch of chilli, amazing people with unique vision tamarind-flavoured candies or any called “Visual Artist Group.” which candy that is spicy would be is also located in L.A. something i’ll be looking for If I was getting some candy. www.julio-orta.com 66
Featuring: Cover Artist; Steele Walston, Jieun Beth, Ioana Vrabie, Fu Wenjun, Todd Jones, Parul Bouvart and Julio Orta.