Capturing Emotions – Interview With Milenna Saraiva

Without a doubt, Art, especially portraiture channels, a better understanding of ourselves and others. It nudges us towards empathy, appreciation of diversity, and the grasp of emotions. From documentation to speculation, the category of portrait art is fascinating as it gives insights to the interior self. As Lucian Freud stated: ‘I think a great portrait has to do with the way it is approached … it is to do with the feeling of individuality, and the intensity of the regard and the focus on the specific’.

Dynamic and vibrant, Milenna Saraiva captures the spirit and the expressions of her sitter with a strong brush of paint in her portraits. Her strength in depicting the likeness inspired by the individual’s narrative and conviction is passionate. She pushes the age-old genre in new directions where the feelings are revealed, and the appearance utters the individual’s true essence.

Princess Diana – Artwork by Milenna Saraiva – Brazilian Visual Artist

Here is my interview with Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: Your story- 

Milenna:  I was born in SÃO Paulo, Brazil. I grew up surrounded by musicians and Art in my family circle, so I was always stimulated to be creative. I recollect always drawing since I was very young. I was a shy child, so drawing helped me to communicate and protected me from the world. I ended up getting into dancing and then gymnastics and became an athlete at 12 years old. I used to practice for 8 hours a day, after school, and travel around the country competing with my teammates. Even then, I continued drawing on the side. When I was 17, I injured myself and decide to stop training. At 18, I decided to go to the US to study Fine Arts, and there I lived for the next 14 and a half years. Los Angeles was an excellent teacher and mother to me, but I missed my real base in Brazil and moved back to my country. I continued my education here with a post-grad degree in contemporary painting. I started to make my way into the art world here, doing all kinds of arts-related activities. One of them was live painting. Once I observed and connected with the visual performance, it changed the way I paint and my approach. It has also given me the confidence I need to loosen up and let my emotions come out with way less restrained. Today I have an art studio that I go to every day and spend at least 8 hours working. I spend my time discovering new ways to express myself through my work, painting commissions, murals, and performing live painting in all kinds of events.

Milenna Saraiva Artwork

Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts-

Milenna: Art is the language of my thoughts. I find it easier to paint than to use words. The lights, the darks, and the layers of depth that come from playing with textures and colors give me a freedom that I cannot find in Portuguese or English. Painting is my quiet way of expressing my heritage and questioning social values. My work has become a tool for me to narrate my life experiences in parables. The paintings I make reflect my personal mythology.

Jupilings: As a portrait artist, you capture aspects of a person’s identity, likeness, and emotions. In your artwork, do you aim to portray the individuals as to how they see themselves, or how they perceive them-

Milenna: I want my portraits to give clues about the portraited people’s energy and essence. I do want them to identify with the works too. For that, I rely on trying to perfect my technique. Portraits are tricky, though, people want their portraits made still, in most cases are surprised when they see the final product. Their expectation is to see themselves as they see themselves and not how the artist sees them. The way we see ourselves is unique to ourselves. There are many versions of us, one to each different person that we meet, so it’s impossible to fulfill that desire unless you are a photo-realistic artist. And that will never interest me. In my opinion, an artwork will always have the artist’s perceptions engraved all over it.

Andre – Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: What are your thoughts on “portraits” to create a visual dialogue to explore social justice, sexuality, race, and many other controversial subjects-

Milenna:  I’m attracted to controversial subjects, clearly, lol. I think portraits have always been fantastic tools to create dialogues, subtle dialogues with those paying attention. Many artists have and are using imagery and symbols to tell stories, to convey hidden or explicit messages. At this moment, I’m not taking advantage of the allegories that painting offers in all its possibilities; instead, I’m investing in the emotions and expressions of the markings, brush strokes and the colors to do all the ‘talking.’ For instance, the portrait of Marielle Franco, a prominent Brazilian human rights activist, and politician, murdered in mysterious circumstances by the militia, I used a very warm color pallet, with red drips, splashes, a well-defined box behind it, and name it “Seed.” I narrated her story in an observable manner, and those paying attention will hopefully understand it. That means my Art allows me to say what I want to say, but only to those who want to hear it. If Art is a form of communication, my paintings are a language.

Marielle Franco – Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

Milenna: It changes a lot from time to time, depending on what’s going on. But there’s a good one I always go back to that says “Live whimsically. Love extravagantly. Dream boldly. Create daily.” 

Jupilings: How do you dial down the negative thoughts & self-doubt- 

Milenna: It’s a constant struggle to balance everything that happens in my mind. But I think I usually sort it all out by painting. Negativity and positivity are only opposite sides of the coin. As well as self-doubt and confidence. I believe that self-doubt is essential for improvement. When I’m questioning myself if something is as good as I could make it, I will keep working on it until self-doubt is gone.

Julian Assange Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: How do you minimize distractions when you are working-

Milenna: I don’t think I manage distractions that well. I could be way more productive If I actually do away with it. I’ve gotten used to doing many things at the same time. Working on several projects at the same time. The distraction is also an opportunity, or maybe a window, to take a moment and then return to something I was very focused on. And sometimes, this little break could give me the answer that I need to finish a piece. So, I guess I embrace them.

Jupilings: How do you deal with criticism-

Milenna: I will only accept criticism from people I respect and have more knowledge than I do. Otherwise, I ignore them completely. Sometimes you need to protect yourself from opinions since every person has a different one, you have to believe in what you believe in. There are many reasons you do what you do and how you do it, that precisely is what makes you unique.

Malala YousafzaiArtwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: Advice for aspiring artists-

Milenna: If you want to be an artist, study to be one, like a doctor studies to be a doctor. Learn every technique, learn how to draw and produce as much as you can. Only the practice of your craft will allow you to discover your true gift and unique style. Also, be organized with your works, photograph everything, and have an online portfolio since the beginning. It’s important to network, to be part of a group of people who think alike and have the same goals that you do.

Most importantly, what you love. Find out what inspires you and create based on what you love. When you do that, you will want to do it all the time, and you will never feel like you’re working. Know that not everyone will like what you do, and you’ll get many ‘no’s,’ but keep going until you get the ‘yes.’

Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: What is the role of Art today-

Milenna: Art has many roles, in my opinion: To entertain, to express and provoke thinking and emotions, tell a story, shock, and sometimes to simply beautify the world. To me, it’s all of it.

Artwork by Milenna Saraiva
Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupiligns: What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard- 

Milenna: At Santa Monica College, my painting teacher once told me I needed to work harder if I wanted to be an artist and said that “talent isn’t enough.” When I was younger, I was reckless. I used to go out at night and was always come late to painting classes. After that day, something changed in me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Is Kindness?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once described Kindness as the golden chain by which society is bound.’

Generally, Kindness is the interaction that it starts with a feeling and extends to acting upon it! But how do we characterize Kindness? What motivates us to act upon our tender feelings? Acts of Kindness is deeply rooted in human nature and understanding its components gives us a framework on how to be cooperative and connected.

So what constitutes Kindness:

  • Kindness as benign tolerance translates into accepting and having compassion towards others. Sometimes, a slanted eyebrow, a concerned look, or a soft touch fulfill our social pact. Great apes spend hours a day grooming each other, even when there are no lice! Apes groom to forge alliances, reward generosity, or manage conflicts. 
Simone Fugazzotto Artwork
  • Kindness as principled pro-action, a behavior that is honorable and prompts objective measures for effective altruism. In 1873, Leo Tolstoy decided to stop writing Anna Karenina for a year to organize aid for the starving, “I cannot tear myself away from living creatures to bother about imaginary ones.” Many people thought it crazy that one of the finest novelists in the world would postpone one of his best works. But Tolstoy did not change his mind, and again in 1891, he spent two years raising money from around the world and working in a soup kitchen. 

 

  • Another aspect of Kindness is the empathetic responsiveness, which translates into considering other people’s feelings and doing the right thing – In 2013, Ivan Fernandez Anaya, Spanish Runner, intentionally lost the race to do the right thing. His opponent, Abel Mutai, mistakenly thought the end of the race came about 10 meters sooner than it did and stopped running. Fernandez gestured to El Pais to keep going! “I didn’t deserve to win it. I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner. He created a gap that I couldn’t have closed if he hadn’t made a mistake. As soon as I saw he was stopping, I knew I wasn’t going to pass him.” 

Occasionally, Kindness involves generating feelings of openness, humility, non-judgemental, and warmth towards one-self. The bottom line is that Kindness is critical for our species to survive, consequently, we have to make a mental note to embrace daily acts of Kindness. 

Odyssey by Marc Quinn

Being part of the human family is to recognise the need for equality, basic dignity, inalienable rights, freedom of speech and belief for all human beings.  According to the recent UNHCR report, there are about 68.5 million people forcibly displaced and fundamental aspects of life stolen from them. The cruelty does not end in displacement but to be rejected, unloved, unwelcomed and fear the intolerance.

Odyssey, the latest artwork project by British artist, Marc Quinn,  is the response to the “Us vs Them” mentality. The project involves blood donated by more than 5,000 people, with half of these volunteers being refugees and celebrities to bring awareness to the global refugee crises and to raise millions of dollars for people affected by this humanitarian tragedy.

“To me, the refugee crisis is one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies we have ever seen. I feel compelled to make an artwork about it and, by doing so, help the people involved”.  — Marc Quinn

Two identical, metric-ton cubes of frozen human blood, one by refugees and one by non-refugees, represent the belief that, under the skin, we are all the same.  It will be opening in late 2019 on the steps of the New York Public Library.  The not-for-profit work intends to shine a spotlight on the refugee crisis while raising $30m (£23m) for charities working to alleviate it such as the International Rescue Committee (one of the world’s largest refugee-focused NGOs), with the rest distributed to a group of further refugee organisations and programmes.

Partnered with Norman Foster, to design the pavilion and the contributors range from refugees to non-refugees, to celebrities, to scientists, historians to humanitarians including prominent refugees Angok Mayen and George Okeny, as well as others including Sting, David Miliband, Jude Law, Bono, Anna Wintour, Kate Moss.

 

 

Featured image courtesy of Sarah Lee for the Guardian

Interview With Alice Zilberberg – Internationally Acclaimed, Award-Winning Artist

Overblown and imperfect, sensual and symbolic, are layers of different circumstances and conditions that Alice Zilberberg explores in her compositions. An Award-winning Fine-Art Photographer, Alice communicates complexities and possibilities of human conditions in our contrived world. Her visual language merges hallucinogenic scenes and what appears to be a reflection of the reality. She elevates her subjects mythically, however, she does not spare them the fallibility of their entity.

The images go through mutations, they change in form, become fragile, dramatic or grand. Still, Alice exposes her subject matters in symbolic ways. The confluence represents the unconscious and the notion of seeing one thing through another. Alice Zilberberg taps into her imaginative psyche to open a dialogue about the female power, nature and challenges the philosophical questions about self.

Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg
Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg – I have struggled with insomnia and chronic fatigue in the past two years. Very quickly, my day-to-day life changed from being normal to becoming just about getting enough rest at night so I can stay connected to my creativity and sense of self. Above Water reminds me of all the times I’ve told myself to keep my head up and to persevere through my struggles. It is about that middle point where I could give up and label myself defeated, or choose to look forward and smile, believing that tomorrow will be a better day.

Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg
Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg

Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg
Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg – We often define ourselves by our past, and hold beliefs about what things will be like in the future. It could be difficult to remember that every new day has the potential for change. With every new day, we can start working towards a new goal and a dream. This image is a metaphor for the birth of every new day.

 

Interview with Alice Zilberberg

Jupilings: Tell us about yourself and how you got into art/photography-

AZ: I started drawing and painting when I was very young. I started playing around with manipulating images even before I shot my own. When I picked up a camera in my last year of high school, I saw that I liked the detail that the medium of photography gave me, as well as the dichotomy of the real/unreal that I was able to achieve using digital painting. I’ve been working in this style since.

Jupilings: The fundamental principle in your creations-

AZ: I would say that principles change during different periods in my creation. At the moment I am emphasizing trying every idea that I have, without being scared, and eliminating expectations of what it “needs” to be.

Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg
Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg

Jupilings: What is your perspective on life-

AZ: I always try to keep in mind that we have a limited amount of time here, and death is inevitable. We should try to enjoy and explore things we want to create or do as much as possible.

Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg
Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg – Desert Moon was created from content I collected during my travels through Arizona and California. I was inspired by the surreal and unique terrains, and was fascinated by the diversity of land that occupied this area. Driving through the vast landscapes reminded me of how small I am in comparison to the rest of the world. I found this therapeutic, rendering my concerns and worries less important than before. The oversized moon added in each image represents the calming affect I felt while spending time here.

Jupilings: What are you aiming for in your art-

AZ: My latest work asks questions pertaining to the state of being, particularly our relationships, whether to ourselves or others. In it a find a kind of peace that I hope helps others look inward and find answers about their emotionality.

Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg
Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg – In a transitional time in my life, I felt inspired to create Begin. It reminds me that no matter what happens in life, we can always start again. Wrong paths do not look as a failure to me, but only a path to a new and more beautiful beginning.

Jupilings: What surprises you most in life, even though as an artist/photographer, you narrate dreams, ideas, out of ordinary situations,..through images-

AZ: I’m surprised by different things, and I am used to the surprise. I think it’s important to keep learning and exploring as much as possible in the world. I think being curious and asking many questions is a really healthy thing, which provides you with wisdom for your next step in life.

Jupilings: What motivates you to take pictures, is it an emotional state, philosophy of life, politics or advocacy-

AZ: The creative process is a therapeutic one for me, and I hope that my work inspires others to look inward as well. It’s about trying to make sense of the complex human condition, to provide some sort of relief and even a sense of control over our lives.

Jupilings: Do you have a preference in camera, software or technology ? & why-

AZ: I am not a technology-oriented person. I’ve always been in the mindset of getting your hands on enough to create what you want to create. We often get carried away with all the technology can do, instead of thinking of what we need to do what we already do.

Jupilings: Which photographer has influenced you most-

The works of many photographers inform my work, but I think my ultimate favorite artist is Salvador Dali.

Jupilings: What is your favourite subject to capture-

AZ: I rarely think of my work as photographing just one subject; photography becomes a kind of canvas for me on which to create and paint over, making an image that feels like a digital painting rather than a subject. My favorite thing to work on is whatever I’m working on currently since the excitement, and the possibilities take over me.

Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg
Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg – The series Goddess Almighty is a reinterpretation of the first recorded goddess, Mother Nature. Worshipped in a time when nature was depended upon and respected, she epitomized fertility, the life cycle and sexual freedom, all embodied in a woman. Today, by contrast, we domineer and destroy nature. Our primary religions convey god as a man and traditionally devalue women. Reminiscent of baroque art, the work reestablishes the goddess to her origins, defining her as strong, mysterious and defeating. Dancers are used for their physical strength, their muscles digitally exaggerated.

Jupilings: What does women empowerment mean to you?

AZ: It means being in touch with yourself, your cravings, and needs. Going for it no matter what gender you are.

Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg
Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg

Jupilings: What are your tips about building a brand name as an artist/photographer-

AZ: I think that when you are starting out, it is important to just focus on creating whatever you want, without labels, branding, or anything. As soon as you are put into a box and labeled, it could be restrictive to your work, and you could kill the very creativity in you that drew you to create in the first place. Later on, it might be more important to develop a language around your work that you feel represents you.

Jupilings: What do you do to conquer fear or self-doubt-

AZ: When something overwhelms me, I just take the first step in the direction of trying something. I then try to focus on the next step. I find that if I do this, I very quickly either get into a flow or see that the experiment is not working. I will learn and move on.

Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg
Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg – In the Dark is a representation of the feelings of uncertainty that sometimes linger over me when I dive into the unfamiliar. I try to experiment in my life and in my work by doing new things that intrigue me. This is accompanied by fears and doubts about the future. Feeling captivated, but unstable. I always remind myself that only with experimenting, there can be growing and learning. All experiences, however uncomfortable, teach us something and become a part of who we are.

Jupilings: What are your thoughts about the blockchain technology especially in support of digital art?

AZ: I think different options to sell your art are always great, especially one that addresses the authentication problems for digital artists. I haven’t explored this area myself, but I look forward to seeing the changes in the art market.

Jupilings: Would you consider using the blockchain technology platform to reach global digital art/ photography enthusiasts? What are the problems in your industry do you want these platforms to solve-

I am open to it, I think the blockchain and art relationship is still evolving, and I look forward to seeing how it develops.

Jupilings: What superpower you would like to have ? and why-

AZ: I want to teleport to any place at any time, it would save me so much travel time and jetlag for any projects I’m working on.

Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg
Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg – In a transitional time in my life, I felt inspired to create Release the Sun. I often suffer from anxiety, and through therapy I always remind myself of the sense of flow I get from making artwork, which feels like a ray of sunshine. This image is a metaphor for this

Jupilings: Which movie you would have liked to be the lead actor-

AZ: I would hate being the lead actor in any movie; I am terrible of being put on the spot!

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

AZ: This is your time to do whatever you want to do.

Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg
Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg

Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg
Courtesy of Alice Zilberberg – The Dreaming Girls is influenced by the surrealism movement. An homage to the surrealists working from the 1920s to the 1960s. This projects seeks to channel the unconscious and unleash imagination.

Alice Zilberberg – Alice Zilberberg is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning artist, recognised by curators, collectors, and art patrons across the globe. Born in Tallinn, Estonia, and raised in Israel, she currently resides in Toronto, Canada.
Alice Zilberberg – Alice Zilberberg is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning artist, recognised by curators, collectors, and art patrons across the globe. Born in Tallinn, Estonia, and raised in Israel, she currently resides in Toronto, Canada.

The Art of Afsoon

How to peacefully tackle and question the ideologies, values, and happenings of the 21st century? The disagreements, the conflicts, the foolishness yet the ever-present of innocence and divine are the prismatic reflections in the artwork of Afsoon, a renowned Iranian born,  London-based artist. Her assemblage tells the story of individuals who bare open the vulnerabilities of humanity such as her collection of poets. At the same time, she shed lights to paradoxes of war and allegorical beliefs of our times in an imaginative and whimsical manner.

Poets in Heaven Series - by Afsoon
Poets in Heaven Series – by Afsoon

War Carpets - by Afsoon
War Carpets – by Afsoon

Afsoon explores complexities of our world and takes us a step forward to examine perceptions and tenets. Similar to our pure ideals of love, the original sin, transformation of Adam & Eve, the defiant celebrities to earthlings, or the schisms of feminine experience. Still, hope is in existence. A firm believer of a fairytale, she constructs narratives, she remembers, she solves, and she implies survival of not only the fittest but the one that still believes in humanity.

Adam & Eve - By Afsoon
Adam & Eve – By Afsoon

She makes use of linocut, photography, watercolour, collage, and etching for her multilayered creations. For the most part, she illustrates her deep connection with her homeland while exploring the splendor and the Achilles heel of the East and the West. Afsoon’s works have been extensively exhibited and can be found worldwide in prominent collections and museums, including the British Museum, Los Angeles County Museum and Berger/YSL Collection, among others.

 

Afsoon
Afsoon

Interview

Jupilings: Tell us about yourself and how you got into art-

A: As long as I can remember, I have been making things. From drawings with crayons at a very young age and my preteen magazine collages to film art in my early twenties to work, I do now.

Jupilings: How do you choose your protagonists-

A: I am my protagonist.

Jupilings: What is the fundamental principle in your creations-

A: Storytelling

War Carpet - by Afsoon
War Carpet – by Afsoon

Jupilings: As an artist, what role and social responsibility you shoulder-

A: An artist should be honest.

Jupilings: When you are creating a work of art, you are forging an engagement with a situation or an emotion. Do you aspire to drive public awareness to activism, in any stage of your creation-

A: Emotions are always involved in creating my art. I tell my story and leave it up to the viewers to engage with it in their own way.

Jupilings: What is one undisclosed or mysterious piece of information about yourself, you would bravely share with your audience-

A: I am scared of the dark.

Jupilings: What does women empowerment mean to you-

A: I am a woman and a feminist. Equality is the answer.

Keys from Persian Magic Series - by Afsoon
Keys from Persian Magic Series – by Afsoon

Jupilings: Three tips about building a brand name as an artist-

A: I don’t believe in this brand name and so forth. I am an old-fashioned artist. My only tip is to keep on making art.

Jupilings: What do you do to conquer fear or self-doubt-

A: I make art and write short stories.

Jupilings: What superpower you would like to have-and why-

A: I would like to be invisible to see and hear things that are not meant for me.

Jupilings: Which movie you would have liked to be the leading actor-

A: Nostalgia by Tarkovsky

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

A: I follow Louise Bourgeois with: Art is a guaranty of sanity.

Forough from Fairytales Icons Series - By Afsoon
Forough from Fairytales Icons Series – By Afsoon

 

Ray Caesar – The Artist Who Embraces Gender Fluidity

Ray Caesar – The Artist Who Embraces Gender Fluidity from Jupilings on Vimeo.

Innocent to sinful, unrestrained to attentive, humorous to gloomy, flirtatious to modest, Ray Caesar, the acclaimed digital artist, unlocks his state of mind and his power of imagination through playful and witty themes. He chose to undertake one of the most difficult aspects of life by laying bare his painful and unpleasant life experiences, acknowledging his fears, submerging into his desires and fantasies through art.  His compelling imagery links the dreamy yet self-discovery realities to earthly concerns. He opens up the portals of his multi-layered universe and delves deep into his subconscious and emotional states of being.

Sol - Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House
Sol – Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House

Ray Caesar’s self-observing depictions challenge us, shake us and impel us in unforeseen directions, perhaps to a place where we re-examine our own realities and progressively relate to our world with compassion. As he gracefully and brilliantly indicates:

” My work is about defining myself in my own way and then sharing that as Art….what if we all did that ?, share our unique qualities in an effort to find our commonality.”

Communion - Courtesy of Ray Caesar /Gallery House
Communion – Courtesy of Ray Caesar /Gallery House

Learn about what drives Ray Caesar’s creativity and his intentions, in an exclusive interview with Jupilings:

Tell us about yourself and how you got into art:

Ray Caesar: I grew up in south London in the 1960s in a very dysfunctional and abusive family. I began making pictures as a way to dissociate and cope with a difficult reality. After immigrating to Canada, I started working at a children’s hospital in Toronto in the medical art and photography department and stayed there for 17 years. I had always painted and sculpted, but during these years, I began to once again make art as a coping mechanism as the material I dealt with at work was quite overwhelming. I then worked for several years in the film industry doing 3D modeling and animation and, from there, began making art with digital tools.

Old Wounds - Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House
Old Wounds – Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House

Who is your protagonist?

Ray Caesar: She is my alter ego and a way for me to present a side of the fluidity or ambiguity of my gender. As a child, I used to behave and dress very much like the figures in my work, but an expression of that soon became too dangerous in the volatile family I lived with in the 1960s. It was also unnerving to my father that I talked to dolls and insisted they would talk back. Years of therapy have suggested this is a form of dissociative identity disorder, but I have some ideas of this myself of a slightly more mystical nature. I am comfortable with the idea that my protagonist is a side of my subconscious identity that I had to hide in a paracosm or inner world to survive. Today my images are simply a window into that world that has been growing in my mind for over half a century…an aspect of my psyche of gentleness and femininity and also a way to manage a strange but dangerous inclination that in some way has grown up in a separate world from this one.

Sailor Boy - Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House
Sailor Boy – Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House

What is the fundamental principle in your creations?

Ray Caesar: To explore and heal my own fractured psychology through images by creating my story as if it was a book of pictures. To give the suppressed and partially broken aspect of who I am a physical presentation. I take memory and dissociated emotions and experiences and give them physical form not just in a 2-dimensional picture but as a 3-dimensional virtual environment with a 3-dimensional figure. My protagonist is movable physical doll covered textures of my own skin in virtual rooms and clothing and textures from a variety of memories from my own past. I am writing a story of my life in pictures that evoke feelings I can’t put in words.

You have indicated that your artworks are inspired by your childhood, life experiences and your involvement in Sick Kids Hospital which are the inner force, what about motivation, what is the outside force that compels you to create?

Ray Caesar: To personally see a reflection of who I am. To define myself in my own evolving mind image. We have no control over how others define us …we do have a choice in how we define ourselves and that plays into how we ourselves define others. I didn’t start publicly showing my work for the motivation of profit as I have other skills that could have and did satisfy that need. I certainly don’t do this for motivations of ego as I am extremely shy and uncomfortable making my work public and rarely attend openings and have to force myself to post on social media in fits of agony. For me, my work isn’t Art …it’s a presentation of who I am. A method for self-expression so I can see myself presented in a way that expresses how I feel. I make it public as I have learned that showing work in some strange way “completes it” …it makes that image part of the greater whole and by doing that ….. its meaning changes with each person that looks at it in such a way that I am forced to look at it again as if I have never seen it before …that has always been its greatest mystery and surprise to me.

When you are creating a work of art, you are forging an engagement with a situation or an emotion. Do you aspire to drive public awareness to activism, in any stage of your creation?

Ray Caesar: There is no intended dogma in my work or social commentary other than a very personal exploration of who I am and it is a very self-indulgent process that I need to do for survival. I think of it as a visual diary and personal emotional guide. My work is simply a self-portrait of my own mind and self-image. It’s about my own sense of fluid gender and my inability to comprehend who I am and where I fit in a world of polarized views. I believe we each need a mind view or image of who we are as a template to build our actions and progress and evolve in a strange world. Although my work is very self-indulgent I do think self-exploration leads into how we as a species have to define what it is to be a human being. So much of our problems with race and gender and cultural identity stem from the inability to connect as a species and define our long term goals and aspiration (this absolutely reflects my own problems with dissociation ) ….to take an active role in our own evolution by a series of smaller conscious revolutions that build the template of what a human being is and what it could be and should be. If we define ourselves individually as unique complex individuals with flaws and amazing potential and realize that there has never been another person in all human history just like us and no one has ever had our unique experience…..then that’s how we define others!  Not by our physical sex organs or skin pigmentation or where we were born, or what familial religion or organization we belong to.  We are a species of unique individuals that are attempting to define our spiritual and practical goals and that’s something every single one of us shares. My work is about defining myself in my own way and then sharing that as Art….what if we all did that? Share our unique qualities in an effort to find our commonality.

World Traveler - Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House
World Traveler – Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House

What does women empowerment mean to you?

Ray Caesar: As someone who is fluid gender and who has never really felt entirely male or female and lives in a mind that could be described as ambiguous and hermaphroditic, I am fascinated by recent events in a gradual growing realization of enlightened women and men that patriarchy is fundamentally flawed. I would love to see our species grow beyond a system that is based on self-centered fear, power, and dominance. It’s time for our species to evolve and acknowledge that we all have masculine and feminine aspects to our subconscious psychology. The balance of Anima and Animus is crucial, not just in the individual, but in the very fabric of human society and the way we choose to govern ourselves and interact in a variety of social levels. In my own attempt to reflect this about myself through my work …it is not lost on me that our own personal struggles reflect the greater struggles of our species and society. The empowerment of women is really a foundation stone in the self-realization of what direction we need to travel for the species as a whole that can ultimately benefit the whole. It is an evolution in progress and from a personal point of view, it is amazing and beautiful to witness. In a hopeful way, I see our planet as a fundamentally feminine thing. Earth or Gaia is a living goddess, a tangible deity that exists and is the giver of life. This thin strip of the atmosphere is like a womb feeding and nurturing and protecting the fragile life that exists within it. Within her is a sea of conscious awareness of millions of species and She is the sum of all the consciously aware life on this small blue world. She is a tangible touchable living conscious Goddess and we are destroying her through our primitive patriarchal arrogance, our fear, and ignorance, and our need for power and dominance. This planet is alive and a living thing! …we are part of this life and not separate from it and our conscious awareness is only part of the sum of existence that lives here,  life on this planet is more than just us. We are part of a caring protective matriarchal ecosystem called Earth and dependant on her like a child is of a mother. We cannot exist without her and our species will have to evolve and learn to treasure this Eden before we are expelled from it.

Kat in Laundromat - Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House
Kat in Laundromat – Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House

Tainted by the sea - Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery of House
Tainted by the sea – Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery of House

What are your tips about building a brand name as an artist?

Ray Caesar: Make the art you love and explore avenues that excite you and that are fundamentally about you. Realize that your own choices and values create your brand as if it is an expression of your world view. If you make what you love someone else will love it too. Network and find people that have the same passion for art or creation that you do and realize you can’t do this all alone. I work with my wife Jane and my friend and manager Belinda Chun as a kind of team or family. We like to think of all this as a collective of different skills, not unlike a fashion house or crew of a ship and we call that “Gallery House”http://galleryhouse.ca/. I make the Art, Jane keeps spreadsheets tracking every single piece and keeps me balanced and Belinda then builds a series of partnerships with galleries and dealers and organizations around the world that become a kind of extended family. It’s no longer a world of just one gallery and one artist splitting everything 50/50. We learn to trust these galleries and they learn to trust us and it all starts to work like a functioning engine that creates work, markets work and puts that work in places that visitors and collectors can view it and experience it online and in real spaces like galleries and art fairs and boardrooms and charitable events. It’s not just about me ..it’s about the different parts of the engine that function in tandem that create something of emotional value from nothing but a concept and a piece of paper and canvas. Dior wasn’t just Christian …it was a house and a company of people who believed in something beautiful and worked together to build something that was more than just a dress…they made that dress a piece of art.

Merchant of Venice - Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House
Merchant of Venice – Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House

What do you do to conquer fear or self-doubt:

Ray Caesar: I don’t as these are valid emotions … I use fear and self-doubt in a positive and creative way ..it’s not so much the conquering of a thing ( that’s a patriarchal practice ) but understanding that my feelings can create a choice of actions and that’s what I absolutely love about emotions …they give us choice. If I am afraid of something I acknowledge it and calmly look at my choices and use the negative energy in a creative positive way that creates a positive result. Bravery isn’t the absence of fear or the control of it, but understanding you have a choice of calm contemplative action despite the fear. I think a wonderful thing to learn is that fear can actually create calm when you realize it’s a way for the subconscious to communicate to the conscious mind that makes action. I think of all emotions like unformed energy that can be modified like a lump of sculptural clay into form …it’s only when we take action and that clay is cast that we will know the result. If I doubt myself that means I need to examine why I am doubting myself and sometimes that doubt is a very useful justified thing and sometimes it is an illusion. I don’t just try and be creative with Art ..I try and be creative with life.

Helios - Courtesy Ray Caesar/Gallery House
Helios – Courtesy Ray Caesar/Gallery House

 What are your thoughts about blockchain technology especially in support of digital art? Would you consider using a blockchain technology platform to reach global art enthusiasts? What are the problems in the Art Market do you want these platforms to solve?

Ray Caesar: One of the reasons Belinda Chun and I developed a different method of working with galleries is that I had so many problems being paid by previous galleries that sold my work. I have had many problems with my work on consignment not being returned. We now only partner with good trustworthy galleries that work fairly with artists and in doing so we make sure we work fairly with them. Blockchain holds a promise of improving that situation by giving greater clarity of any sale and transfer of work in any gallery in the world and letting everyone involved know when and where it happened. I am also interested in the potential for providence in terms of a digital form of a certificate of authenticity that can make providence absolute and travel from collector to collector. Blockchain is sort of like a digital Antiques Roadshow that carries the history of each item along with it and that history becomes part of the fabric of the art itself and can ultimately even increase the value or story of that particular object. As a printmaker of an unregulated commodity, each piece of an edition is very much like printing currency and in doing so one faces the problems any currency faces. Many years ago I was surprised I had absolutely no control over the price of my work …it developed a price based on demand or more accurately, someone’s guess or gamble of its demand. If I held the price down on my work, dealers bought it all and sold it for a higher price. I learned how the market creates the price and value of a limited unregulated edition whether it is a stamp, a dollar bill, or a piece of art.

What superpower you would like to have ? and why?

Ray Caesar: The ability to become consciously aware of subconscious aspects of my own reality and move towards a greater awareness of not just my own existence but a greater awareness of our species and the multidimensional universe we live in … it’s a superpower I am currently learning to cope with and not like trying to cope with X-ray vision or with the difficulty of wearing a spandex mask and tights and high heels and a troublesome cape that tends to get caught in revolving doors.

Which movie you would have liked to be the leading actor:

Ray Caesar: From childhood, I always wanted to be Emma Peel in the old British Avengers TV spy series…I loved her outfits and how she finished each show drinking champagne. She laughed at fear and always took humorous control and action in any difficult situation. She was a spy and secret agent, a lover, and a sculptor and was probably one of the first strong independent female characters on television. I have modeled myself on Emma Peel since I first saw her as a child in the 1960s….it’s a bit tricky to get into a leather outfit now and zip it all up but I suppose Diana Rigg has the same problem… I also think that she was the basis for M in the recent James Bond films …in fact in She was even referred to as Emma and Bond himself almost gave it away when he said he was mistaken when he thought M was a random letter.

Silent Partner - Courtesy Ray Caesar/Gallery House
Silent Partner – Courtesy Ray Caesar/Gallery House

What is your life motto?

Ray Caesar:: Pick yourself up ..dust yourself off ..and try again….keep in mind the only way out is through and leave by the same door you came in….also Fibre is good but too much Fibre isn’t so good.

Home Coming - Courtesy Ray Caesar/Gallery House
Home Coming – Courtesy Ray Caesar/Gallery House

Bound - Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House
Bound – Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House

Precious - Courtesy Ray Caesar/Gallery House
Precious – Courtesy Ray Caesar/Gallery House

Blessed - Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House
Blessed – Courtesy of Ray Caesar/Gallery House

Natalie Shau – Digital Art

Natalie Shau is a mix media artist and a photographer from Vilnius, Lithuania. Influenced by religious imagery, fairytales illustrations and eclectic art world, she taps into the myths, dreams and steers the play of thought to where there is no rational boundary. She explores the complexities of human emotions, by suggesting vulnerability and strength of her surreal and extraordinary creatures.  Natalie renders fantasy and reality themes provocatively and elegantly.  Besides her personal artistic projects, she rigorously creates artwork for musicians, theatre, fashion magazines, writers and advertisement campaigns.

Forest Baby by Natalie Shau
Forest Baby by Natalie Shau

Powder by Natalie Shau
Powder by Natalie Shau

To learn about her and her vision, I had the opportunity to ask her few questions:

What inner force inspires you to create? 

Inspiration is usually the beauty of nature and art (any kind, literature, painting, photography, cinema).

What about motivation, what is the outside force that compels you to create?

Motivation for me is when people like what I create and support my artwork.

Secret Emotions by Natalie Shau
Secret Emotions by Natalie Shau

Do you aspire to drive public awareness on current social or political issues when you are creating a work of art?

Some social issues sometimes, but political absolutely not. Everything nowadays is extremely polarized. And you are running a risk to get into a lot of trouble if you were to express your opinion, freely. I am certain many people prefer not to talk about what they really think nowadays. Specially when you are a public person. 

Mon Plaisir by Natalie Shau
Mon Plaisir by Natalie Shau

What is your dream project? 

I would be very interested in creating a movie & a crazy photography set based on some dark fairytale. 

Justine by Natalie Shau
Justine by Natalie Shau

Snowflake by Natalie Shau
Snowflake by Natalie Shau

And, do you have a particular designer / brand / production that you would like to be involved in their’s marketing campaign? 

Well maybe Gucci? That would be nice. 

Do you have creative patterns, routines or rituals?

Yes, I usually work at night. Daytime I just can’t concentrate.

What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative?

Listen to your inner true self.

What does women empowerment mean to you?

Don’t be a victim and fight for your goals.

What are your tips about building a brand name as an artist?

Just a lot of work, people develop styles only by creating and working.

What do you do to conquer fear or self doubt:

In such circumstances, I always think that I have so much while many others don’t even have basic things. So I must not complain. 

What are you thoughts about the blockchain technology specially in support of digital art? 

Well, I have not yet looked deep at it, yet, however, I am very very happy that there will be more possibilities for artists.

Would you consider using blockchain technology platform to reach global art enthusiasts?

Absolutely!

What are the problems in the Art Market that you would like these platforms to solve?

Well the biggest problem nowadays for independent artists is of course how to fund themselves and have the possibility to acquire new materials for their art projects. 

What super power would you have liked to have ? and why?

Being able not to sleep. So I could create more and visit many places. 

Which movie would you have liked to be the leading actor?

La Reine Margot 

What is your life motto?

Stay true to yourself.

Fashion Photography "Snow Yak" by Natalie Shau
Fashion Photography “Snow Yak” by Natalie Shau

Fashion Photography "Kristina" by Natalie Shau
Fashion Photography “Kristina” by Natalie Shau

Cradle of Filth 1 - Music Art Works by Natalie Shau
Cradle of Filth 1 – Music Art Works by Natalie Shau

 

Natalie Shau has collaborated with many brands, please refer to her website: https://natalieshau.carbonmade.com/about

 

Selling your Artwork on Blockchain Technology

In today’s culture, we are inspired or entertained digitally, we are all digitally connected, and we narrate our life stories with digital images. So what is digital art? Connecting the dots, science and art have been blended to improve, stimulate, or influence our lives for better and at times wickedly. Technology has phenomenally enabled artists to express their imagination with computers rendering ultimate realism to alluring fantasy.

LaTurbo Alvedon - SITTIN' UP IN MY ROOM
LaTurbo Alvedon – SITTIN’ UP IN MY ROOM

Yet, the anxiety of copyright and monetizing lingers in the digital sphere! Being fairly compensated for a work of art and the happy hunting ground for all and sundry are liberally ideal! Once again, technology is a positive force that reinforces this concept. The blockchain technology provides the artist with an excellent platform to protect and be awarded deservedly, conveniently, and transparent to the art world’s opacity.

Whether the digital and the new media genres are in our computers or part of our living or working space, it is significantly expressive of our culture, social observations, or just feel-good indulgence. Simultaneously, the fluid creativity that appears in digital work and new media from pointing out the inequalities, oppressions, fighting for justice, questioning mindless behaviors, or beliefs to inspire and improve our ways of life can be viewed, shared, and owned prolifically. Being able to own such artwork that moves you, the provenance is clear, and it might go up in value is appealing to many of us.

Eva Papmargariti - In ‘Always a body, always a thing’ Papamargariti, examines transformation and morphological/ontological fluidity through a series of bizarre incidents – actual or imagined – whose common thread is the ingestion and embodiment of plastic by living beings (fish, frogs) that end up mutating, as well as the appearance of a host of amorphous masses in natural settings (meadows, lakes).
Eva Papmargariti – In ‘Always a body, always a thing’ Papamargariti, examines transformation and morphological/ontological fluidity through a series of bizarre incidents – actual or imagined – whose common thread is the ingestion and embodiment of plastic by living beings (fish, frogs) that end up mutating, as well as the appearance of a host of amorphous masses in natural settings (meadows, lakes).

What’s more, blockchain technology addresses many critical questions for the artists and the whole art world! It transforms the way art is distributed and owned. It tackles the seriousness of censorship by decentralizing. It gives the artist sufficient power over the ownership or use of the artwork, especially by institutions or groups of people whose ideas oppose the artist. Galleries & museums are our contact points with the artist, but what about the ones located on another continent, or are they not mainly household names? Blockchain technology means a significant change in the fairer distribution of wealth and having a democratic choice in our societies’ matrix.

Few online art projects and sites applying blockchain technology:

Dadiani Fine Art is the first gallery in the UK to start accepting cryptocurrency for works of art. Accepted currencies are  bitcoinethereumethereum classic, litecoinripple, dash and NEM.

The left gallery produces and sells downloadable objects.

Cointemporary an online platform for exhibiting and selling artwork.

Ikonotv.art offers a free art stream for internet and SmartTV users.

Featured image by: CARLA GANNIS’S work examines the narrativity of 21st century representational technologies and questions the hybrid nature of identity. (Transfer Gallery)

Jen Mann – Relationships & Emotions

Jen Mann is a Canadian artist who explores how relationships form and develop. She delves into “self “concept, the realization of being a separate entity and how our shared experiences whether in the form of harmony or conflict, condition our ways of life.

Fireworks by Jen Mann
Fireworks by Jen Mann

Her compositions manifest the prevalent social trends in digital narratives with incredible hues. The unnatural colours that embody her work relate to her storylines and formulate into strong emotions.

PLZ
PLZ ❤ Me – Jen MannJen Mann

She tackles the existential questions by taking a satirical, intellectual and honest approach to our conventional values.

Emoji - Jen Mann
Emoji – Jen Mann

Venus - Men are from Mars Women are from Venus
Venus – Men are from Mars Women are from Venus

Wet Dreams - Jen Mann
Wet Dreams – Jen Mann

The concept of real or constructed self identity is portrayed in her creations to make us aware of our cultural attitude towards individualism. She is her own muse and captures her identity in different conditions by being conscious of her interrelationships with self, others and her environment.

I don't feel blue, I feel delft blue - Jen Mann
I don’t feel blue, I feel delft blue – Jen Mann

 

Single Tear - Jen Mann
Single Tear – Jen Mann

The Facade - Jen Mann
The Facade – Jen Mann

The side I don't see - Jen Mann
The side I don’t see – Jen Mann

 

Jen Mann’s contact: http://www.jenmann.com/info