Visual arts

Artist spotlight: Shreya Gupta by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Sergio Díaz De Rojas

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After four years of working as an IT engineer, Shreya Gupta quit her job in India and moved to New York to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. A graduate of School of Visual Arts, she is now working with Google, The New York Times, Fast Company, and many other relevant companies. This is the fascinating story of an incredibly talented and hard-working artist.

Her illustrations contain patterns of lines and abstract elements that are always narrating a story – from how women in science are coming forward to confront sexual harassment to the tale of a magician fighting zombies while traveling dangerous lands. There are so many details in each picture that you can spend several minutes observing them without losing a spark of interest. Personally, I find captivating the usage of color in each of her works.

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Shreya says that her stylistic approach isn’t hugely affected by her Indian upbringing, and that is evident. I would even dare to say that her work is somehow influenced by Japanese art – Yuko Shimizu, for example.

She has created visual stories for books, magazines, newspapers, as well as for packagings, and has recently signed with a literary agent with plans to start working on her own children’s book. It is impossible to know what the future holds for this artist, but whatever it is, I am sure it will be as brilliant and beautiful as her work. 

I would love to finish this article by sharing the answer Shreya gave in an interview to Make - Nice when they asked her if there is a maxim that she lives and works by. 

If someone else can do it, so can I
— Inspiring words told to a very young me by my grandpa, that I always held on to.
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Find more of Shreya's work on her website and Instagram.

 

Artist spotlight: Esthaem by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Lore Deuninck

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Manuel Estheim – better known as Esthaem – is an Austria-based photographer, born in 1992. He holds a BA in Graphic-Design and Photography from the University of Art and Design Linz and is currently working on obtaining his MA in Visual Communications. The artist has been featured in numerous group exhibitions in cities like London, Berlin, and Vienna, and has won multiple online awards for his work.

Esthaem is said to be a quiet and thoughtful person, which often leads to complex knots of thought, that then need to be let out through photography. Aiming for mirror images of his analysis of the world, he tries to portray subject matters that are difficult to grasp, as aesthetically pleasing imagery full of fragility, sensuality, and symbolism.

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Topics such as identity, intimacy, (de-)construction of sexuality, gender and the ‘self’ connect with being drawn to nature, life itself and the human body – which is treated as a sculptural object – are held by strictly theoretical principles as well as photography seen as an artistical, expressive, personal media. What we get to see are nude subjects in serene, natural settings or in soft rooms with carefully positioned light. All of this creates fragile but strong work, often referred to as “visual poetry”.

The idea of going back to your roots is a well-incorporated concept in Esthaem’s work; for Manuel, the line between being human, animal, or even object in this world is very thin. He says that after all, no matter how smart we are, we’ll always be animals. Nature is our real root of existence, and we are all of the same kind. The subjects seem to easily lose all of their identity being put in these natural settings / sterile and soft rooms. Existing in a time and space of their own, Esthaem’s forms dare to explore the personal relation of the subject with the Self, their body and the discovery of the different, but very similar, other.

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Artist spotlight: Kamila Bassioni by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Lore Deuninck

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Kamila Bassioni is a Caïro based visual artist with a B.A. in scenography earned at the fine arts college in Egypt, born in 1985. Her last years of work have been focused on freelance illustration – such as designing book covers and illustrating children’s picture books – and personal projects next to that. She has also participated in multiple group exhibitions.

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Kamila says that commissions usually inspire her personal work. Another big source of inspiration she finds in human emotions and the feel, thought and act of suffering. With this kind of art, Bassioni wants to express and share different thoughts and concepts. To open up the eyes of the spectators is the goal, whether they are living in Egypt or abroad. She aims for people to start thinking and be critical. For her, creating visual art seems to be a way of shouting without words. Therefore expressing herself peacefully but powerfully like this, leads to the truest satisfaction possible for her.

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Bassioni mainly works with paper and cardboard; she combines the cut-out and collaging techniques to create characters big or small, with each their own thoughts and emotions. For example, for the project ‘Rags to Riches’ in Caïro, she assembled an installation of large-sized standing dolls which refer to the pain and hopelessness of the 1930’s Great Depression, but as well portray the current state of the Egyptian (or more widely seen: Arab) citizen.

Keep in touch with Kamila via Behance and Instagram.



 

 

Artist spotlight: Seraphina Theresa by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

Over the last few years, German artist Seraphina Theresa has created numerous astonishing works of art, using several creative outlets such as photography, drawing, and, as of late, music. Currently based in Düsseldorf, Seraphina creates art focused mainly on nature and self-portraits, often simultaneously, and offers an insightful look at the world she has created for herself – a world in which she flourishes.

Seraphina’s drawings range from abstract to minimalistic but mostly display a lighter side to the artist – likewise, her dreamy collages dwell on the brighter side of the spectrum, all soft curves and gentle shapes. However, it is with her photography, either hauntingly grim or blissfully light-hearted, the intense intimacy of Seraphina’s art is made perfectly clear – she hides nothing, shies away from nothing, and appears completely un-afraid to shine a light on the darkest parts of life.

It is this contrast of dark and bright that seems to me the core theme in a lot of her work, and a big part in what makes her art so intriguing; still, her art is constantly growing and changing, made obvious by the drastic differences in her projects, Le temps, la vieillesse et la mort and Phase 3 - Wie es an uns zerrt, published only a couple of months apart, yet displaying and evoking completely separate emotions.

Instead of drawing inspiration from any particular outside source, Seraphina prefers to look inwards – to Hooligan Magazine she said, in regards to her collaboration with composer Sergio Díaz de Rojas, “[…] it is more about the ways I understand and experience life itself which make me do the things I do”, and that shows in her work. The art Seraphina creates – whether it be music, poetry, photography – is unabashedly personal, but relatable all the same, and frankly unnerving in its complete, uncensored authenticity. 

Take a look at her beautiful website and keep up with her work on Instagram, TumblrFacebook and Flickr.

 

Dave Jackson y Adriana Trujillo presentan 90’s Gen Nostalgia by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

Por Camila Craig

La década de los noventa llevó la misión de resumir un todo siglo de información y cambios culturales significativos en todo el mundo. De la misma manera, los jóvenes de esta época fueron los encargados de afrontar la emergencia de la era digital y recibir un futuro lleno de promesas y desarrollo. Embargados por contextos tan variados y diferentes, tratando de recapitular y entender un pasado cercano, esta generación cayó en una confusión cultural que los ayudó a descubrir su propia voz y marcar su paso en la historia.

Hay un momento en toda búsqueda personal, en la cual nos detenemos a analizar cuales fueron los pasos que dieron a luz al presente. Dave Jackson y Adriana Trujillo capturan estas épocas de transición vistiendo a sus modelos de acuerdo a la época correspondida y tocando asuntos delicados de los mismos.

“Navy Boy” saca a la luz la situación de los americanos homosexuales durante la segunda guerra mundial. Muchos de ellos eran juzgados y retirados de las fuerzas armadas. En los años cincuenta, se cometieron muchas atrocidades hacia la comunidad LGBT, pues estas personas eran consideradas enfermas, y sometidas a sesiones tortuosas con la intención de “curarlos.” Esto inspira la estética y carácter de estas fotografías.

La movilización masiva de mujeres para luchar por su independencia económica y laboral inspiró el capítulo “Business Woman.” Aquí se representa a una mujer que lucha por el derecho de decidir sobre su propio cuerpo, ante la dependencia familiar y social.

Flower Child es una denominación dada a los jóvenes que participaron en el festival Summer of Love en 1967. Sinónimo de hippie, los principales protestantes contra la guerra de Vietnam y ciertas políticas gubernamentales. Esta situación inspiró a Jackson y Trujillo para fabricar el styling y arte de “Flower Child.”

Las siguientes colecciones de la lista son “Rude Girl” y “Lost Kid,” las cuales nos irán revelando poco a poco el desenlace de este ensayo visual. Dave Jackson y Adriana Trujillo están desarrollando una propuesta innovadora y holística, que incorpora una estética visual de calidad y los fragmentos más importantes de la historia americana moderna. 

Para mayor información sobre este proyecto, visiten la página web de Dave Jackson, y síganlo y a Adriana Trujillo en Instagram.

No Love For Fuckboys by Ricardo Bouyett by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Aubrey Woodward

No Love for Fuckboys explores the intricacies of surviving sexual assault and the possibility of what happens afterwards. Ricardo Bouyett – artist, cinematographer, and filmmaker – created the film as a response to his own sexual assault experience. It is a film about healing, any way you know how. Separated into seven chapters and set to spoken word poetry that Bouyett wrote himself, it explores themes of sex, love and relationships through dance, color and monologue.

As it moves through the different phases of trauma response, it starts with detachment. The inability to find yourself in one place with one person. The isolation that comes after an assault, whether it is self-imposed or forced. The loneliness. The way it feels to long for love. The viewer watches a woman as she tries to call her friends, desiring anybody to talk to. The viewer watches as she is left alone, forced to confront her isolation. “Keep me in the company of ghosts,” she whispers. “I want to be held by the ether of their past and sustained by the promise of my future.”

“It took down a wall for me,” a man describes the act of losing his virginity in the woods and the way it shapes his view of sex. It changed him, made him view sex as a way of feeling emotion, as having power over someone else. It’s a simple concept. Bouyett depicts it beautifully as a conversation between two friends, one asking for stories from the other who she considers more adventurous. Her friend responds with his sex story but it morphs into something more as he describes his goals and the way the man who took his virginity mocked him afterwards, wanted him sexually but ignored everything else. It’s oddly disconcerting, starting out as playful banter and ending with the determination to prove others wrong.

The film explores the terror and forms of roadblock intimacy a survivor finds themselves feeling. The way that you might want to be loved but find that you can’t, want to love back but find that you can’t. There are too many obstacles in your way. There are things you know that your lover doesn’t. There is the way you have been loved before. “If you’re going to ruin me, do it in a way that he hasn’t already,” Bouyett writes. It is hard to imagine you could be loved after experiencing something so violent. The finality of the situation is very apparent. Bouyett beautifully matches this feeling with scenes of a dance, two lovers attempting intimacy but hitting that roadblock over and over again. “This is my last love,” one of them repeats.

The concept of hypersexuality tends to be shied away from. But it is a way some survivors choose to cope. Bouyett chose to portray it as a way to hold himself accountable for the behavior he engaged in after his own assault. After an assault, one can become almost obsessed with replacing their rapist with something else. It’s a complicated feeling. Some survivors see their worth in sex, others see power. “Illuminate the dark corners of my night with digital lights pulsating with the names of men I’ve pushed out through my veins,” a woman sighs, “Tell me I’m pretty.” It’s haunting, beautiful and tremor inducing at the same time. This is one of the first honest examples I’ve seen of this concept within film.

The film ties the past and present together intimately, and the most amazing aspect of this is that Bouyett portrays it without words. The viewer watches a man as he starts to have sex and continuously ‘wakes up’ to no one being there, over and over until he is standing alone in his room wondering what happened. Is his partner a memory? An ex? A nightmare? Whatever it is leaves a vague sense of both empty and overflowing. It’s a juxtaposition between the comfort and pain, survival and healing.

The many layered approach to a depiction of sexual assault is something new. These men and women are somehow the same person. All of them are surviving their own way. “It's all cyclical,” Bouyett writes on his website, “the names and the faces change, but it's always the same dance.” And it’s a beautiful dance. One that could only be told by someone who has experienced and survived it.

Armando Cabba: A young artist in Paris by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Camila Craig

This past Friday 3rd, Armando Cabba celebrated the opening of his gallery on 3 Rue de Vintimille, in the 9th district of Paris. The atelier opened its doors at 7pm to close friends and admirers, who timidly fluctuated in and out, marveled by Cabba’s paintings. Guests were warmly received by a beautiful hostess, glasses of champagne, apéritifs, biscuits, lively background, and the artist himself. 


Armando Cabba was born in 1990 in Montreal, Quebec. He studied painting at Concordia University and later moved to Florence, Italy in the pursuit of artistic evolution and enculturation into classical painting. Before moving to Europe, Armando was a realist-driven painter, but after studying for a few months in Italy he realized there was a conflict between the system and the way he originally worked. Independent, and always creating at his own pace, the artist began to work in his own atelier for the first time.

“That’s when I evolved into the artist I am today” Armando recounts “Artist that I never cared for or understood suddenly made sense and I grew.”

He spent most of his post-academia time in Florence, experimenting with different styles of painting and themes, and meeting new interesting people. He felt this was a very important time for his visual voice and aesthetic development, and thus doing shows and expositions were at the bottom of his priorities.

“It definitely required me to be selfish” Armando confesses humbly.

After three years living in Italy, the idea of moving to Paris started to grow, as there were times where his artistic growth was impaired by isolation and lack of cultural empathy. “Being in Florence pushed me to make that dream become a reality”, says Armando. “In a city known for its classical representative art and the students that devote themselves studying it, I was the black sheep.” Armando had visited Paris several times during his teenage years, and always found something new to fall in love within the city.

This is how we find Armando Cabba in 2017, a bright young artist whose main source of inspiration is people. Witnessing his loved ones create and experiment with art, odd Parisian characters, even other painters like Toulouse-Lautrec, Condo, or Rauschenberg. For a painter who wants to conquer the art world capitals (such as London and Berlin), moving to Paris has been a remarkable step in his journey. Indubitably, Paris has always been home to great artists of all sorts, and in Armando’s own words: “If Paris was good to Picasso and the rest of the lot, then why shouldn’t it work out for me?” 


Find him on his website and Instagram.

Artist spotlight: Janice Chung by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

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In the series Please Come Back Soon, New York native Janice Chung travels to Seoul for the first time, following her mother to reconnect with their family and her roots. The intimate scenes explore the family dynamics and slight tensions that unravel as Chung’s mother begins to make up lost time with her family after 30 years worth of memories untold and 10 years of long distance phone calls.

Find more on Janice's website.

Alexis Jamet by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

Alexis Jamet is a french graphic designer and illustrator currently based in Barcelona.

His work can be simply described as colourful, textured with simple lines. Alexis’ main inspirations include Etel Adnan for the beauty of landscapes, David Hockney for the bright colors, and Henri Matisse for the balance of purity and serenity.

For more, visit his Tumblr and Instagram.

Alexis Godard by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

Alexis Godard is a 19-year-old student of animation at EMCA in France. He loves, among other things, women, flowers, and nature, subjects he uses in his work in order to create skits or simple stories.

"Animation is a good way for me to tell what I want, I have total freedom on my creations. I do not like what is too complicated or extravagant, I prefer to create simple and subtle things."

For more, visit his Tumblr

Artist spotlight: Emil Handke by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

As a child, I would often sleep with the TV on so that when I woke I wasn't startled by darkness. I could see the room, make sure I was alone. The fuzzy faces on the screen provided some strange comfort. What I experienced at night put everyone in shadow and I questioned the intent of those I encountered. A child is at the mercy of what surrounds them.

How does a child cope with a world they feel is inherently unsafe? How does it form who they become?

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Find more of his work on his website, Instagram and Tumblr

Artist spotlight: Malin Gabriella Nordin by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

If one called painting by its name, Malin Gabriella Nordin would probably have it respond with the voice of rocks: of stones that fluently speak their own language of shapes and ciphers and glow with multiple colours in the dark. Nordin gives abstract forms a unique presence that is subtly spooky, animated by the silent laughter of beings from other dimensions. 

– Jan Verwoert, 2013