Congratulations to the artists who have been selected for the publication in FreshPaintMagazine International Issue 13, June 2016! … Keep Reading
“French artist, Magdalena Lamri received her Diplôme Des Métiers d’Art from the National School of Applied Arts Olivier de Serres in Paris. Her figurative paintings and drawings juxtapose her realist technique with darker subject matter, often exploring the human body. She describes herself as an artist motivated by sensations rather than ideas, and her aim is to make manifest those feelings in her works. She has exhibited internationally in both solo and group exhibitions, and is the winner of several awards in France for her paintings.”
I am a visual artist from Bogotá, Colombia based in Brooklyn, NY. A graphic designer by training, I work in disciplines including illustration, motion graphics, live action production, curating, education design, site-specific art, product design, and publishing. My work combines passion for storytelling with attention to detail, a fearless work ethic, and a refined style developed over years working in design.
Today my focus is Sanctuaries, a series of rainforest landscapes constructed from hundreds of layered images, textures, and distortions. My latest iteration is for the Sinfonía Trópico biodiversity initiative, and consists of an outdoor rainforest mural at the Goethe-Institut Kolumbien in Bogotá, Colombia. I am also developing Spanish-language early childhood educational materials, most recently “Kuli Kuli,” a line of educational art prints, posters, textiles, cards, and decorations for young children.
As a freelance designer and creative director, my client list ranges from advertising agencies such as Wieden+Kennedy and JWT, to networks such as MTV and VH1, to brands including Mitsubishi and Anthropologie. In addition to illustrations published in over a dozen books internationally, my photography has been published in magazines such as Fader, XXL, and The Village Voice. I have directed music videos for Funkstörung, Tosca, and Mocean Worker, among others, and collaborated on fashion designs and a complete line of home, kitchen, and office products. I also founded Servicio Ejecutivo, an online gallery for emerging artists from all over the world, beginning a curatorial career spanning over 80 exhibitions.
FP: What inspired you to become an artist? Tell us about your background.
TA: I always dreamed about being an artist. I remember hanging out with my parents’ friends who where artists and thinking, “when I grew up I want to have that life.” It was fun to visit their studios, see their process and just see how they where telling a story through their work. This dream became more apparent when I was running my gallery Servico Ejecutivo and I had the opportunity to meet and support so many amazing artists. During that time I felt it was important to start establishing my own voice that would go beyond my job as a graphic designer and illustrator, which was my background.
FP: Your work is heavily influenced by your Colombian background. What are a few of the most important things you hope the viewer takes away from your art?
TA: Over the years I’ve witnessed how the perspective about Colombia has slowly changed, but I still hear from time to time comments like “all I know about Colombia is that the drugs are really good” or “Pablo Escobar” or “Is it still dangerous? would I get kidnaped if I go?” What a lot of people don’t know is that (I’m going to sound like a dictionary) Colombia is the second most bio-diverse country on Earth and its landscapes are increasingly threatened.
What I attempt to do with my work is to create a conversation that starts from Colombia but can widen to encompass the environmental crisis across the globe. My hope is to get people thinking differently about these countries that we know so little about and are extremely important for the balance of the climate in the world.
FP: How do you prepare for each project? What is the process like for creating your large scale works?
TA: I start by creating a wall of inspiration that I will draw from to create a collage. Collage is really my form of sketching. This collage is created at half the resolution of the final piece, allowing me to play more easily with many photographs and old engravings. I can move them around quickly and explore different compositions. Once I’ve consolidated the idea and I have a solid composition, I print and tile it on a wall. I continue by creating textures out of ink, watercolor, wood-cut prints and other mediums. This part is very experimental and free. If I’m creating a 12 foot by 24 foot mural, my digital file is built at the actual size. For me, this is the equivalent of painting on a wall. Each of the elements in the composition has it own individual file, and once I’ve completed the piece it gets flattened and brought into the master composition. The last step is to print, then paint and airbrush gold details into the pieces. My process is slow, the files are big and I need to be very patient while they save, as I use literally thousands of layers on each of the compositions. Waiting for the files to save isn’t so bad, as it gives me time to think and revise the compositions.
FP: What artists or creatives are you most influenced by?
TA: Henry Rousseau, James Audubon, Walton Ford and lately I’m very inspired by the life of Alexander Von Humboldt, a German explorer and naturalist from the 1800’s.
FP: What are you currently excited about in the New York art scene?
TA: I recently did an artist residency at The Wassaic Project in upstate New York, and I absolutely love them! The project was started by artists Bowie Zunino, Eve Biddle, and Elan Bogarin. They offer different programs, including an artist residency, a summer festival that includes art, film and music, and many other community outreach programs where they work with locals to bring art into everyday life. It’s very inspiring.
FP: Explain some of the resources and experiences that helped shape your work.
TA: When I was about 10 years old my family and I used to do these really long trips in the Summer to different areas of Colombia. The places where chosen by my dad’s friend, who would close his eyes and drop his finger on the map. Wherever it landed was where we would all travel to. One of the most frequent areas we used to visit had a experimental investigation center called Las Gaviotas. I remember this center very clearly. It had hydroponic plantations, renewable energy, and solar panel systems. We used to do plant pressings and what I remember being super fun was to find out was that you could transfer cow’s poop into gas. It was a magical place.
Many years later before I moved to New York, I visited a place called La Ensenada de Utria in the pacific coast of Colombia, and while being in the airplane I saw the patches in the rainforest canopy from gold mining – huge pieces of land just taken out. Once I landed, the landscape was so beautiful and rich that it was hard to see how easily it could be destroyed, and you couldn’t see the destruction at all except from the air. This was a very formative experience that has consistently driven my work since then.
FP: What are your favorite ways to refuel your creativity?
TA: I love taking nature walks, collecting branches, leaves and mosses, visiting the botanical gardens and looking at old botanical plates.
FP: What was the most significant achievement in your career so far?
TA: Last year I was invited to create a mural at the Goethe Institute in Bogota, Colombia as part of a culmination event for Sinfonia Tropico’s environmental initiative. It was really important to me to create an art piece speaking about bio-diversity and the environment in Colombia. Now that it covers a wall on prominent street, it’s also incredible to know that all of my friends and family get to see a part of me in the streets of Bogota whenever they pass by.
FP: What piece of advice would you give an emerging artist looking to advance their art career?
TA: Don’t stop, take every opportunity that comes your way and turn it into something. Always keep in touch with the contacts you make. Look out for their feedback and ask for their critiques. Listen really well, even if you feel uncomfortable with what you are hearing and use it to further your work.
FP: What future projects should we be aware of?
TA: I’m currently working on a very exciting public art project, it consists on migration of birds into the trees of New York City neighborhoods to initiate a conversation around climate change.
The first migration is based on five different species of tropical birds from Colombia and a total of 300 birds. Each is constructed from laser cut MDF and wheat pasted original illustrations with gold paint details. The handmade silhouettes include tucans, parrots, and hummingbirds with intricately-layered textures. Birds are installed at specific sites and arranged in proportion to the size and scale of the trees they inhabit.
Photography courtesy of the artist, Colin Miller www.colinmillerphoto.com, and Peter Ross www.heypeterross.com
Edward Holland was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1980. He received a BFA in Painting from Syracuse University and a MA in Studio Art from New York University. His paintings and works on paper are conceptually grounded in literary and art historical sources, while emphasizing the formal qualities of atmosphere, collage and slight geometries. His work has been shown at Causey Contemporary, New York, NY; Long-Sharp Gallery, Indianapolis, IN; Peter Marcelle Gallery, Southampton, NY; Gerald Peters Gallery in New York and Santa Fe, NM; and Phyllis Weston Gallery in Cincinnati. Holland’s work has been written about in the Huffington Post and Eyes Towards the Dove. He lives and works in New York City.
My paintings explore our relationship with agrarian landscapes and livestock. Focusing on the Blue Ridge Mountain area of central Virginia, I use loose and suggestive strokes that imply an immediacy of experience within which I want the viewer to linger. Our landscapes are alive and we are daily offered ways to relate to them. The late Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue reverences the landscape in a way I hope my paintings make possible. He explains,
“I think it makes a huge difference when you wake in the morning and come out of your house whether you believe you are walking into dead geographical location, which is used to get to a destination, or whether you are emerging out into a landscape that is just as much, if not more, alive as you but in a totally different form. And if you go towards it with an open heart and a real watchful reverence, then you will be absolutely amazed at what it will reveal to you…What amazes me about landscape, [is that it] recalls you into a mindful mode of stillness, solitude, and silence where you can truly receive time.” (Onbeing.org interview with Krista Tippett.)
Painting for me is a process of paying attention, of looking at the layers of meaning we ascribe to our placed-ness in contemporary agrarian contexts and hopefully offering moments of re-humanizing connections.
Christy lives and works in Charlottesville, VA with her husband and four children. She studied art, theology and sustainable community development in graduate school in Vancouver, BC where she studied with artist Chris Anderson.
I am fascinated by the beauty and tension caught between damage and repair. I am interested in the behavior of utilitarian construction materials and artist’s media as they are forced into communication. In my current work, I engage the element of fire. In composition, I seek to define patterns that intimate a sense of balance within a process that appears haphazard, experimental and reckless in nature. Stripped of unnecessary information, my intention is to make works that are aesthetically pleasing, yet exhibit disquieting factors that engage the viewer at a primal level.
The Doppelganger collection is inspired by the short story “Borges and I” by Jorge Luis Borges. In these works, I use fire to scorch identical impressions as a way to visualize the dichotomy of self and the artistic “other.”
American born, 1964, self-taught, the artist lives and paints in Rochester, Minnesota.
Hodara is a Graphic Design professor at Emmanuel College and the Museum School, both in Boston, MA. She is a member of the Bromfield Gallery and co-founder of the International Institute of Contemporary Art and Theory, an artist residency in Mangalia, Romania.
FP: When did you begin to develop an interest in technology?
SH: Up until my early twenties, I was solely interested in painting from life. I loved looking, re-seeing, and translating the world into shape and color. Then, in 2010, I started working for artist Wendy Richmond on her show Overheard, at CALIT2, USCD, and my outlook began to shift. First, the show opened my eyes to what working in other media could offer. The installation used halves of cell phone conversations, overheard by Richmond at various Starbucks around Manhattan. The conversations, which ranged from suspenseful (“Lisa called me. She was all in a panic.”) to funny (“I had salsa, which has no calories whatsoever…”), demonstrated the carelessness with which people reveal intimate aspects of their lives in urban public spaces. The exhibition included a floor-to-ceiling system of pulleys that, when manipulated, changed the kerning and location of large projected type. I remember being surprised by the force required to pull one of the pulleys. The letterforms seemed to take on an unfamiliar fleshy existence – one that brought to mind the entirety of their pre-Gutenberg history. As an artist, this experience was pivotal. My focus started moving from form to concept, and I began to see the potential in entirely new tools and vocabularies.
FP: How did you initially introduce this subject to your art?
SH: I committed my time at graduate school, at the Dynamic Media Institute of Massachusetts College of Art and Design, to a new body of work which would incorporate my interest in technology. In general, and, like so many throughout time, I was interested in how new technologies would change the making of art, the way art was commercialized, and the way art would be seen. These themes ended up becoming the focus of my work. So in many ways, it was a very concerted effort to incorporate technology.
FP: When did you know you wanted to become an artist and where did you receive your training?
SH: Barry Nemett, a professor I had while studying in Italy, said, “You don’t choose art. It chooses you.” I agree: I didn’t have a choice.
I was raised by creative types: artists, writers, and scientists on both sides of the family. So in many ways my interest in the arts was a natural by-product of my upbringing.
In college at the University of Pennsylvania, I wanted to study philosophy. I was interested in history, logic, and the classic existential themes that plague all youth. But once I took a painting course, I never made it to the philosophy classes. My studio practice was all-consuming and there weren’t enough hours in the day to feed it. My most trusted companions were the Matisse, Diebenkorn, and Guston books in the Fine Arts library on campus. I spent my weekends wandering through the Philadelphia Museum of Art, sitting for hours in the Cy Twombly room and staring deep into Barnett Newman’s stripe paintings on view. There wasn’t time for anything else.
FP: With regards to your works on paper, how does each piece come to life? Give us a glimpse into your process.
SH: I have a prescribed process, but I treat it like I would treat a recipe or scaffolding: it’s only there if I get lost, and for the most part I diverge.
This process begins with reading; good writing is the ultimate in efficient communication and in general, so I find reading akin to stretching. With these works, I begin by reading the patents themselves. I can’t understand the specifics so I try my best. Basically, I just need to make sure I have a surface understanding of what the patent is for.
From there, I’ll bring the images from the patent onto the computer, into Illustrator. I usually break the images apart into various shapes and textures. I try to find, in these broken images, the important forms or symbols that I, as a layperson, may be able to connect to the patent itself. For example, the use of arrows in these patents are widespread. They move us through the different directions and processes. When I first started reading, I got angry because I couldn’t understand what these diagrams were about. So I took the arrows and tried to subvert them. Instead of taking us from A to B to C, I turned them into organic tangles. In my iteration of the arrows, they would fail the patent, but satiate me – the arrows becomes of symbols of intimate roles algorithmic processes play in shaping our lives, as well as culture in general.
Finally, I work on gessoed paper. I love it because I can white out by adding new layers or erase by sanding away. As a result, each piece usually has many layers of compositions. Recently I’ve started to work with black and thats been very promising.
FP: What do you hope the viewer takes away from your work? What ideas or questions do you hope to provoke?
SH: This may sound corny, but I hope this body of work brings beauty into the lives’ of my viewers. I want the final works to contrast the ugliness and lack of design in these patents, and to act as beautiful objects that possess the capacity to enrich people’s lives as well as spaces.
FP: Explain the relationship between your art and design work. How are they similar/different?
Because art and design are often both exercises in visual communication and expression, they often have similar output. Therefore they share the same fundamental language of form. But design always “serves” (usually a client, always a message) while art transcends both its author and its form. This changes the way we access the success of a piece of design work versus a piece of artwork. It’s pretty interesting stuff.
I seek to create an opulent feeling through rendering sparkling surfaces, saturated colors, and textures of our fashion and technology-conscious society. My paintings rely on the viewer’s desire to see pleasing images. Yet, within the lush imagery resides a psychological element – a memory, some light-hearted social commentary, or an ironic or surrealistic aspect that is encountered upon closer inspection.
These paintings are from my series titled “Dutch Florals,” inspired by classical still life images and incorporating costume jewelry pieces bequeathed to me by my late mother-in-law, Martha Crary Halpern. She was herself an artist, historian and an avid collector. At the time of her death in 2005 she owned virtually every piece of the Joan Rivers QVC Collection of costume jewelry. Using these marvelous objects as subject matter has afforded me a way to celebrate and remember this extraordinary woman who I greatly miss.
Lisa Ficarelli-Halpern received her BFA in surface design from Parsons the New School for Design, and earned her MFA in painting from New Jersey City University. Prior to receiving her graduate degree in fine art, Lisa served as an executive designer for the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, overseeing all areas of home design. She has widely exhibited in numerous solo and group juried exhibitions, in venues including The Shirin New York Gallery, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, and the Zhou B. Art Center in Chicago.
Carley is an emerging Australian artist based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Her contemporary works are beautiful, colourful and full of energy. Carley has strong feelings towards the way humans treat animals. This inspired her to use her work to highlight the influence of human population and greed on the environment. Each piece she creates holds a special meaning, hidden in the flowers, the insects, birds or animals. Carley’s pieces contain references to endangered fauna, extinct animals and wildlife at risk.
Carley likes to use her work to get people to think about how their actions affect the environment. Her other passion has been sourcing recycled frames and surfaces for reuse. Not only is she reducing the impact her practice has on the environment, she also loves that she is adding to the history of the frame and giving it a new life. Carley uses bold colours to provide a glimmer of hope and to help people realise that we as individuals can make a difference. She also transfers as she feels the image represents the fragility of the situation, it shows how endangered species are here but also almost gone.
Carley is currently represented by Retrospect Gallery in Byron Bay and Retrospect planet, a touring sister of the gallery in Byron Bay that takes Carley’s art all over the world to International Art Fairs and events. Her work has been sold in Sweden, Brussels, Milan, Hong Kong and Singapore. She was Retrospect’s artist of the month in May 2013 where her show sold out on the opening weekend. During 2012 Carley was accepted as a finalist in the Scope Galleries Art Award, art concerning the environment, a finalist in Santos Acquisitive Art Award, as well as an online finalist in the Lethbridge 10,000 art award. This year she has again been accepted as a finalist in the Lethbridge 10,000 art award and the Sunshine Coast Art Prize.
Massey Lyuben Gallery is proud to present Daydreaming, a group exhibition featuring works by Federico Infante, Claire Lieberman, Elizabeth Allison, and Georgi Hamalski.
Federico Infante works predominantly in the medium of painting. He received his BFA from Finis Terrae University (Santiago, Chile) in 2002 and graduated in Spring 2013 with his MFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York.
Infante begins his work with an expressive act of covering the canvas with several layers of acrylic paint and then scratches it off. He repeats this process many times. Infante does not plan the images in advance and stays present and detached as possible from the result. In doing this, he is able to express his unconscious mind, the part of him that has not been processed by logic. Infante then reacts to this abstract and expressive atmosphere by searching for the elements that have emerged: possibly in pockets of light, or
the foundations of a landscape. In this way, each painting shows him its singular identity.
Through this process, Infante investigates the tension between the subconscious that drives us and the logic with which we understand our everyday lives. Although this is a deeply personal process, the tension and ambiguity of the circumstances that often arise allow this experience to be related by any viewer.
Infante was the recipient of the Uanlane Foundation Scholarship (2012), the Conicyt Scholarship (2009), and the Juan Downey Grant (2004). He has had several successful solo and group exhibitions in Chile and New York. His work is in private collections across the US and internationally, including France, Belgium, Germany and Singapore. Infante was born in Santiago, Chile in 1982 and is currently living and working in New York.
Claire Lieberman is a sculptor and installation artist who combines such materials as marble, Jell-O, and video. Her work explores a range of dichotomies, such as “the sublime and the quirky, desire and danger, indulgence and guilt.” Lieberman has had solo shows at Hot Wood Arts, Brooklyn; THE LAB, NYC; Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta; Gebert Contemporary, Scottsdale; PDX, Portland; the Chelsea Art Museum; International Print Center, NYC; Parker’s Box, Brooklyn; Seoul Art Center, Korea; the University of Alaska, Anchorage; Anderson Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University; and Contemporary Galleries at Southeastern Louisiana University.
Lieberman’s grenade series is a natural extension of the artist’s interest in children’s play and toy guns as source imagery. The image of toy gun is an icon which embodies the conflict between reality and fantasy in the mind of a child – and in American culture in general. A grenade rendered in translucent, white alabaster is luscious and precious. Its shape shifts from a literal representation of a grenade to a fleshy and sensual, disarming form. This generates an range of responses which vibrate between beauty and repulsion.
Elizabeth Allison’s watercolors explore places the artist has gone, or hopes to go. Dense layers of built up pigment and a labyrinth of drips create each painting. By turning a big sheet of paper this way and that, Allison manipulates the drip. She places the painting on the floor to apply broad washes and lets the paint puddle up, creating unexpected watermarks.
Recently, Allison has been inspired by the pulsating landscape of New York City and the surrounding region. These paintings chase the light at dusk or dawn, examine times of transition, and peer at the spaces between things. They aspire her to capture the way the air not only looks, but smells, feels and changes. The large scale of these works is important- the artist invites the viewer to feel as though they can enter into the scene, that it lurks somewhere between reality and dream. Allison, a Chicago native, lives and works in New York.
Georgi Hamalski was born and raised in Bulgaria where he studied fine art.
After college, the artist explored many aspects of figurative painting and focused mainly on portraits. Most recently, however, the artist has used vivid abstract painting to explore the idea of color, and the color that surrounds us. Some of his abstract landscapes feel as we are ‘driving through forest with a sports car’, Hamalski says, ‘it is all blurry but rich in color with no beginning and no end’.
Please join us on Wednesday, April 13th from 6pm-8pm for the opening reception. The show will run from April 13th to May 21st.
For inquiries, please email email@example.com.
Alex lives in Charleston, South Carolina. She received her BFA at Savannah College of Art and Design in Painting and Printmaking. Her paintings come from observations of landscape and architecture, but even more so from the spaces in-between. She focuses on a forgotten pile of bricks, the way you can only see through a fence at just the right angle, the slow evolution of a construction site in its own grassless void, the privacy fence made of sheets of plywood leaning against a chain-link fence, and, how, meandering down a tiny side street, you can be pleasantly surprised that someone thought it a good idea to paint their stucco house, fence, shed doors, and cement wall all the same color, to turn it all into an undulating wave of Pepto-Bismol burnt orange.
Wil is a Canadian born artist of London, UK descent, living and working from his Basel, Switzerland studio. Wil has exhibited his works in group and solo exhibitions in Canada, USA, UK and Europe. His work has been described as masterfully manic noir culture mash ups with exquisitely blended vibrant colour and subtle, cerebral imagery.
The Other Art Fair is the UK’s leading artist fair to discover and buy art directly from the very best emerging artistic talent. With bi-annual fairs strongly established in London, The Other Art Fair has grown both in the UK and abroad with editions now in Bristol and Sydney.
Ryan Stanier, the Founder and Director of The Other Art Fair, gives a glimpse of Fair’s progress and features and shares his advice with young collectors and artists.
FP: Could you sum up the experience so far? How has the Fair grown since its launch in 2011?
RS: The Other Art Fair has quickly grown into the UK’s leading artist fair since its launch. 2015 was a particularly exciting year with two new fairs — our first regional fair in Bristol and our first international fair in Sydney. With each edition we’re thrilled to discover and work with new artists and introduce them to the public. We welcome an annual audience of over 39,000 art lovers, 58% of whom have not attended another art fair. It’s been such an incredible journey and great to see a new generation of art collectors beginning their journey.
FP: You mentioned that from your time with Artbeat that you understood how hard it was for emerging artists to gain recognition. How do you think this has changed over the last few years?
RS: It’s still difficult for emerging artists to gain recognition. However, there are increasingly more awards, competitions, galleries and art fairs for emerging artists, which provide more opportunities. The internet and social media have also provided a great platform for artists to reach a global audience.
FP: Your target buyers tend to be those who are looking at slightly more affordable art in the market. Is that the main reason that people come to the fair? What else does the Fair offer?
RS: The variety of artists present at The Other Art Fair mean that our visitors have huge choice, including on price, with artwork from £50 and an average price of £350. It’s important to point out that many of our artists are early in their careers and destined for great things, offering people the chance to buy from the leading artists of tomorrow. All artists have been hand picked by our esteemed selection committee, which this year included Hamish Jenkinson, Vanessa Branson and Lisa Wright. Another key aspect of the fair is that visitors get to meet artists and buy from them directly.
FP: What are the highlights of this year’s edition of the Fair?
RS: Alongside the 130 talented artists, highlight features this April include: limited edition prints and book signings with Guest Artist Martin Parr; an engaging panel discussion from The School of Life; BAFTA-qualifying film screenings from Aesthetica Short Film Festival, a neon spectacle from Lights of Soho and site-specific artworks from critically acclaimed artists Sarah Maple and Julia Vogl. Cocktail masters, Salts Of The Earth, present a pop-up of their brand new venture First Aid Box offering a ceviche counter with delicious cocktails and fresh juices themed around health and nutrition.
For those wishing to explore further, we are thrilled to present a unique photo-culinary experience inspired by the world of Martin Parr. The Art of Dining, ‘Say Cheese’ fuses fine dining with kitsch, humorous and quintessentially British photography, immersing visitors directly into Martin Parr’s iconic scenes with his whimsical artworks created on their plate in a gourmet 4 course meal.
FP: What advice would you give to a young collector who is just beginning to build his/her own collection? Are there any artworks or styles that he/she should be investing in right now?
RS: Art is obviously a subjective experience — I have my own tastes but I certainly wouldn’t say they apply to everyone! Ultimately any young collector needs to follow his or her gut instinct and buy pieces that they would want to hang in their own home.
FP: What advice would you give to emerging artists looking to stand out and be recognised?
RS: Make the most of London’s art scene – there are some amazing new opportunities springing up increasingly frequently. Utilise social media —
not only is it free but it can give you direct access to some influential people in the art world. Finally, and most importantly, persevere!
FP: Are you planning to add more new features to The Other Art Fair?
RS: With each edition we introduce key features that allow visitors to immerse themselves into a unique experience. Past features include live tattooing with Mo Coppoletta, anthropomorphic taxidermy classes, immersive theatre with non zero one and a secret absinthe bar. We’ll continue to bring exciting and unexpected activities to each fair.
Rebecca Chaperon’s paintings act as a means of storytelling, as landscapes meet flat geometry and emotive undercurrents. Born in England in 1978, Rebecca attended Emily Carr University in Vancouver, BC where she studied fine arts until graduation in 2002. Her work is exhibited/collected internationally and recently shown (2014) in Vancouver, LA and San Francisco. Her major series of work includes Eccentric Gardens (2014), Antarticus (2013), Eerie Dearies (2012) and Like A Great Black Fire (2011).
In 2012 she was the recipient of the Canada Council Project Grant for Visual Artists for production of her painting series Antarticus which was exhibited the following year at Initial Gallery in Vancouver, BC. In January 2014 she published a picture book of her artwork called Eerie Dearies.
FP: Tell us about your background as an artist.
RC: I went a common route to becoming an artist: went to college, took art classes, transferred to an art school. I’ll be the first to admit that all through art school I created many terrible paintings… The main goal was to keep making art, even if it wasn’t always that great. That kind of unrelenting practice allows creating art to become much easier later on. Now things are more fluid and I often feel unsatisfied when they don’t feel difficult. Something I am trying to let go of!
FP: What was your early work like? How do you think your work evolved over time?
RC: My earlier work was very sombre and sometimes cartoonishly melancholy. I think I flipped between feeling “all the feels” and seeing how funny that type of dramatic emotional hyperbole was. That energy isn’t totally gone from my work, but now it’s more refined, I think. It’s very apparent in my illustrated book, Eerie Dearies, where female figures seem trapped in odd circumstances and lost in overly dramatic emotions. My current work seems to be splitting — tight and more abstracted geometry that explores colour and contrast versus really loose figurative work. This split allows me to go to extremes in a sense. I’m enjoying it!
FP: Explain the process of creating the places and landscapes within your paintings. How do you get started on each piece?
RC: First of all, I have to tell you that by the time I was at art school I decided that I never wanted to paint landscapes. They were so “not cool” in my freshly-graduated-from-art school-mind. Which made it really funny to realize how much I loved painting landscapes and honestly — where did I get the idea that they had to be boring…? (And even boring landscapes can be amazing!)
My Eccentric Gardens Series shows me really getting into painting landscapes and finding different ways to animate the space — like with pyramids and wavy rainbows etc. I started to create the gardens and then fill them with features: pools, ladders and sometimes an odd little female figure. To me, they represented a personal space — an internal space that we can retreat to in moments of introversion, a place to gather energy and, in particular, creative energy.
When I was a kid, my mom and I made some art where we would start with the landscape and then populate it with people doing things. We just invented it all from our heads. I think that’s always been a nice way for me to make my work. I rarely use references to this day because that becomes more of an exercise of observation, which is so different from “conjuring” with my paintbrush.
FP: What are your beliefs on creativity? How do you nurture yours?
RC: Good question. I certainly believe that creativity needs to be nurtured — it’s a combination of keeping a regular practice so that I keep the “muscle” of creativity strong and knowing when I need to clear my mind and prepare myself for a bigger challenge. I think going away for a weekend has proved to be one of the best tools for solving a creative slump or “stuck” feeling. It’s risky! You still have to get in the studio and work through the tougher moments.
If I am really struggling, I will start setting time limits. I’ll work for an hour or two then see where I am at with the piece. It’s like playing a trick on yourself in order to fend off feelings of being overwhelmed.
My creativity is strongest when I am not multi-tasking and my mind is clear. If I’m feeling too scattered, I will do something less important like prep canvases or clean the studio — that often helps my mind empty itself a little then I can get to work.
FP: Is there a place you traveled to or something you experienced that left a strong impression on you?
RC: I think getting a super generous Canada Council grant had a big impact on me. Apart from needing the money (almost 20K) I didn’t realize how much of an impact that kind of acknowledgement would have. I felt singled-out, seen and supported in a sea of artists. It crushed my self-doubt… a lot. It also showed me that rejection doesn’t matter. In fact, rejection shows me that I tried to do something that I wasn’t certain about; it’s proof of your effort and bravery in a way. I love encouraging other artists to submit their work.
FP: Do you listen to music when you are painting? If so, who are some of your favorite artists?
RC: I do listen to music, podcasts, etc, but only if I am in a stage of painting where I feel like I have already established where I’m going with a piece. If I hit a problem within the painting process, I usually turn off any audio.
I like a broad range of audio. A few oddities that are on heavy rotation in the studio are John Carpenter soundtracks like from “The Fog” to Salem, Survive, and lots of old 80’s synth stuff. My preference is for something a little stranger or moodier. For podcasts, right now I am OBSESSED with The Black Tapes and Tanis. They are on the side of paranormal/darker story telling. And, of course, The Jealous Curator’s podcast Art For Your Ear where she chats with artists she likes. She’s wonderful!
FP: What visual artists inspire you?
RC: I am loving so much current work that it’s hard to narrow it down. A few artists whose work has really stood out to me are Camilla Engaman, I love the muddiness of her palette, stylized approach and odd subject matter; and Sofia Arnold, who is just unbelievably good. When I look at her work I am always blown away and inspired. There is just something about how she plays with things that are somewhat hideous and still makes it all work — with very complex composition and colour and varied applications of the paint itself. I’d happily own any one of her paintings and stare at it every day. Also, Wanda Koop. I fell in love with her work and really just look up to her as a Canadian female artist. I could live eternally in her melting landscapes with geometric characters… probably listening to Jean Michel Jarre on loop.
Following a year’s residency at the Florence Trust in 1999 -2000, Wanda Bernardino participated in national and international competitions and was short-listed and participated in the Celeste and Hunting Art Prizes. Born in Portugal she now lives in London where she is a keen member and participant of the Salon, a forum for current contemporary discussions between international artists, critics, art dealers and collectors.
FP: When did you know you wanted to be an artist? What is your background as an artist?
WB: In my teenage years I was very absorbed with literature but I quickly realised nothing moved me or motivated me as entirely and as freely as making, as painting — it was liberating, exciting and challenging!
FP: What was your first work like, and how did you find your artistic voice?
WB: During a residency at the Florence Trust, housed in a beautiful yet suggestive space- a neo-gothic church, something changed. First I started losing colour and using instead a range of whites. Later I started getting rid of things. Instead of building up, of adding, I was removing and covering. My main concern was to do with depth, the multitude of surfaces (and relationships), the layering everything accumulates and later discards. Working in an environment with such a long history also made me acutely aware of time. So if I think of my first significant work, I would place it there… when I worked on a series of landscapes, of spaces. They were abstracts, predominantly white that reflected my desire to search and know more, the unresolved and the many realities that surround us.
FP: You mentioned that you ‘deliberately copy, rework, and recreate individuals from historical paintings’. Where does this passion for old masters’ paintings come from?
WB: Cultural processes integrate the past into the present but beyond that it is the pure craftsmanship that captivates me, moves me. Ideas and uses of colour, light, depth and space that are phenomenal and in many cases so sensitive and so moving. I rediscovered this passion for old masters during my post-graduate. I particularly remember two lectures, one about Bernini and his handling of marble and the other about the veil in the Baroque period.
FP: Your art seems, in part, to be a way for you to understand your own history — would you say your work reveals your personal story?
WB: Yes, because ultimately it is about the need for self-expression. My works are portraits of relationships and feelings which impact and influence the interaction with other people but also with our bodies, our gestures and in the end our very own history.
FP: Your artworks are very mesmerising. What does the final white brush stroke blanking the face of your subjects bring to the painting?
WB: I believe we change according to what we explore and choose to experience. We constantly look at ourselves and rethink ourselves. Body language is revealing as our emotions affect our body. My subjects remain beneath the surface of the painting and through concealing them we are confronted by the body language. I feel we bring them back to living through a more intimate and instinctive connection (found in the gesture or the pose) and in the process we can get closer.
FP: How do the blank faces of subjects and the theme of human relations speak in your paintings?
WB: Blanking the faces can bring out a stronger physicality and connection — past and present, as we are no longer looking at an unknown face. Instead we are presented with a limitless range of emotions and experience we share or have shared, regardless of the boundaries of time. This notion of a grand narrative of human relations becomes more immediate and intimate when isolating the subjects from cultural attitudes and by blanking their faces, partly depriving perception and in this process challenging the predominance of history.
FP: Is there a specific event that triggered your interest in the subject of human relations?
WB: To express yourself you have to be loose and remain receptive because feelings affect the way you live. After years in different studio spaces I felt I needed a break, a change! So I enrolled in a MA in History of Art and Architecture and spent a year ingesting knowledge through a great complexity of questions about art, buildings, makers and viewers. This drove me to explore the multifaceted interrelationships that surround us, past and present, all driven by our desires, our fears, our needs and curiosity. In the end it is about the need for self-expression.
FP: How do you hope your viewers respond to the work and what is the most important thing they should take away?
WB: There is so much more to a painting than what is depicted such as context and intent. We also have the expectations of so many, the sitter, the painter, the patron and finally the viewer. By abstracting the background and concealing the faces, I change the dynamics of the originals and hope the viewers intellectually engage with this process and emotionally recognise the wide range of emotions.
FP: What advice helped you the most in your art career?
WB: It is not advice as such but more a philosophy of life as a painter. It was about choosing a subject matter you love because you might be doing it for the rest of your life.
FP: Name a few of your favourite artists and makers.
WB: Vieira da Silva has always been a favourite, the way in which she addresses space, evoking such a strong sense of discontinuity yet order captivates me! Louise Bourgeois relates a personal history and creates work that submerses you… Francesca Woodman’s work has a sensitivity and fragility that is beautiful and ephemeral and yet it is very raw and I love this juxtaposition. Peter Doig’s landscapes and the people that populate them in between shadows and reflections are so evocative yet so silent. Lucien Freud’s paintings, his technique… it’s a lifetime of handling paint and the drama and tension in his portraits are very powerful. There are so many others but I will stop here!
FP: Are you involved in any upcoming shows or events? Where and when?
WB: I just had a show in HK with Bo.lee Gallery for which I have been working for the past year. I am working on a few commissions, one of which is for the Alzheimer’s Society for a group show this summer (details to be confirmed). I also currently have two paintings on show at the House of Saint Barnabas in Soho which will be up for another year. And now I desperately need a holiday after which I will start new work!
Nick Archer lives and works in East Sussex in England. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools in London (1996-1999). He won several awards after leaving the Royal Academy, including first prize at the Hunting Art Prize, commended at the BP Portrait Award and the Figure Painting Award at the Discerning Eye. He has exhibited extensively in the UK and Europe.
FP: Why do you make art?
NA: From a young age drawing has always been important to me. I remember always taking a sketch book with me on holiday as a child. As an adult the reasons are more complex. At times painting can be an incredibly frustrating practice, but when things go well it can be a magical experience and deeply rewarding.
FP: What is your artistic background? When did you decide to dedicate your life to painting?
NA: My BA was at Leeds Polytechnic. I graduated in 1985 in Printmaking. The work I graduated with had little to do with print. The works were large assembled pieces made from found objects, which focused on texture and form. These were informed by artists such as Antonio Tapies and Anselm Kiefer. I felt I had a good solid concept to the work at the time but I regretted I had had no formal training in drawing. I moved to London in 1986, and attended regular life drawing classes in an attempt to address this. I had a studio in East London and earned money by painting furniture. This period of my life lasted 10 years and although I made no income from painting, my life was already dedicated to the art form. It was a tough period but it changed dramatically when in 1996 I was offered a place at the Royal Academy Schools having been rejected on several previous occasions. The three years at the RA changed my life. Since that point I have made a living from painting, backed up by a small amount of teaching.
FP: How has your practice changed over time?
NA: Whilst at the RA I worked mainly from observation, but since then I have used photographic reference. The emergence of digital media has played a major role in the development of my practice. The starting point for any painting now is through the eye of my camera. I then manipulate imagery with Photoshop and have a library of images before I start work on canvas. The content of my work changes quite often. For several years the figure dominated the compositions. I also worked on a series based on old film footage, historic imagery and found imagery including postcards. In the last three or four years the paintings have been primarily landscapes from photos I take myself, but at the heart of each landscape there is a point of interest such as a caravan or abandoned vehicle. Recently I have also been working with the moving image using the animation process of ‘paint on glass’ where layers of painted imagery are revealed on film, layers which would traditionally be obscured when painting on opaque canvas.
FP: What themes seem to occur/reoccur in your work?
NA: The power of nature and its sublime qualities are a central theme behind my work and this links back to the work I made 30 years ago in Leeds. Since having children the paintings have had a sense of fairy-tale about them where menace is implicit in a seemingly enchanted landscape. The paintings attempt to explore one’s place in the world. Recently the figure in the shape of my daughter has returned to the compositions. This serves to enhance the sense of vulnerability and isolation of the human condition.
FP: The colour in your work is incredible. Where do you find inspiration for the palette in each painting?
NA: Colour is central to the paintings. I studied colour theory whilst at the RA and found the knowledge invaluable. I work largely with complementary colour. There is usually a dominant colour within any composition and then a colour which reacts to this dominant colour. I think of colour as having musical qualities, and I am looking for a balance between harmony and discord and for the colour to create an atmosphere of beauty and yet menace.
FP: What influenced your recent body of work? Where do the objects in your paintings come from and what do they represent?
NA: The subject matter currently comes from things I have seen on walks where I live in East Sussex or in France where I spend a lot of time. Photographs taken on these walks are digitally manipulated and altered in order to create a landscape which is of nowhere in particular but has universal qualities to how we believe the natural world to be. The figure had dominated the landscape for years. But I found the figure was getting smaller as landscape became more dominant. The inanimate objects found in the new works, whether an abandoned van, caravan or cottage, are things I have seen, but when superimposed into the landscape, take on a metaphysical quality that alludes to a world out of kilter and a more disturbed state of being. In recent paintings the figure has returned, but small in scale as if overwhelmed by the scale of the painted canvas.
FP: How does each painting come to life, what materials and processes do you use?
NA: The paintings are started by pouring diluted oil paint onto canvas on the floor of my studio. This creates an abstract ground of spills and pools of rich colour. When nearly dry the canvas is hung vertically on the wall at which point I start drawing into the oily surface the chosen imagery. Various tools and materials are used as the image evolves and as the surface builds. The surface (what it reveals and what it obscures) is increasingly important to the quality of the works. The imagery can change several times before the painting is finished. As things are painted and overpainted the layering process and the cyclical nature of the process seems to reflect the themes of the work itself.
FP: What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you deal with them?
NA: That’s a tricky question as there are so many challenges. I often overwork paintings and paint over things that maybe should be left alone, but you have to take risks with painting, so that’s how I deal with that challenge in the knowledge that striving for something more meaningful is a risk worth taking.
FP: How do you find balancing your time between being a lecturer and an artist?
NA: It’s no problem finding a balance simply because I do a very limited amount of teaching. I initially took some teaching on in London as we moved to East Sussex and I wanted to keep a link with London, but I only do a few weeks a year. I really enjoy the teaching and now run classes in my studio block. Painting can be a solitary practice so the teaching helps make connections with other creative people. It is also very rewarding especially when working with young people and seeing how they can develop as creative people.
FP: As a lecturer, what important literature and films do you feel that artists should be aware of?
NA: I can only refer to literature and films I have been influenced by. I have to confess to not being an avid reader of literature. My paintings are influenced by fairy tales and children’s literature (Alice in Wonderland springs to mind) simply because I found myself reading them to my children at various ages. Film has influenced my work greatly, but I am influenced by popular classics as much as the obscure ‘art movie’. Disney classics such as Snow White as well as recent dark fairy tales such as Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and Burton’s Edward Scissorhands are films that probably filtered through.
FP: What would be your best advice for emerging artists?
NA: I would advise them to never give up. The 10 years I spent in complete obscurity taught me that perseverance can pay off. It always helps to have an alternative income to fall back on. Finally – listen to your own voice. You will never be short on people giving advice but in the end, your own voice will have the answers.
FP: Where can we see your work?
NA: My work is currently on show at 10, Gresham Street, London EC2V 7JD until late May 2016.