Have you recently sat down and unpacked your thoughts and asked yourself: what are the things you repeatedly do that keep you from reaching your potential?
Why this question? Because how you live your life matters. How you deal with your emotions matter. For most of your life, you acquire knowledge to have a point, to set goals, and lead a meaningful life. You probe into your conscious and allow your intelligence to guide you constructively. You tap into skills & capabilities nested in you due to your education, experience, and privileges in life with its triumph and setbacks.
If your perspective is that the world is in progress, you are a firm believer in growth and advancement. Indeed, this point of view starts with self-progress. A mindset that understands positive thinking is about emotional agility and not avoidance. We all hear disturbing news, and every day there is a painful event happening in one part of the world. However, the reality is that evolutionary progress is taking place, and we are moving forward.
So, next time your enthusiasm is ebbing away, or you feel stressed, sit down to investigate your inner feelings and thoughts. Make sure to remind yourself of the dynamic of your emotions and your ability to wean off the habit of instant gratification with mindfulness techniques. (You can refer to the mindfulness series to learn about the foundations of practice).
Few points to think about:
Recognize the emotions you are facing
Label them – Upset, fear, anger…
Understand that you can step out of the unpleasant situation to gain control and re-energize
Negotiate with yourself on how to express your feelings, whether is anger or worry, at the right time and in what dosage
Re-orient yourself. This process entails deciding to act in a way that is in harmony with your rational self & values.
Align your behavior with your goal and detach your intention from ego
Use your imagination for the best outcome.
It is crucial to control your emotions before taking any initiative as your best judgment is unavailable when you are boiling with anger or scared.
Remember that you choose a path of stagnation that will lead to depression or the sweet sake of manifesting yourself congruently with your potentials and powerful, capable self.
Imagine walking to the deep end of your subconscious and learn about your true desires. Imagine reaching your highest level of awareness. Imagine an extraordinary experience that explores your resilience which flows through the self-imposed boundaries of the intellect. Feel the sensation of the current of your own agency to revive your strength and the superhero within you. Skillfully, this journey is depicted by Antonio Mora. He leads you to discover your absurd, somber, or brave emotions through self-reflective imagery which captures your cognitive clarity to get closer to yourself.
Antonio Mora, a surreal creative and art director, frames the mystery of our pursuit in life and the endless possibilities of our being in an uncompromising artistic narrative. Patching emotions of cultural impressions to the advent of modern life and crushing the overprotective surrogate inner-self to the extent that fantasy becomes a tangible reality is what Antonio Mora offers.
He studied psychology and philology, later completing his training with a Master of Art in Graphic Design and creatively continues to encourage self-reflection and deliberation to summon up the courage to connect with oneself. I had the opportunity to interview him, one of the most expressive artists of the present time, to learn about him and his spirit:
Jupilings: Tell us about yourself and how you got into art-
AM: I have always been a creative person. For more than 25 years I have worked as a graphic designer and art director in my own design studio.
In 2011, after a serious physical crisis, I decided to give free rein to my own creative desires and to leave the work commissioned by clients. I had no options after that long and hard process, so I decided to put all the meat in the grill, overcome my fears and trust in my vision. That’s how I came to this.
Jupilings: Who are your protagonists-
AM: I want to believe that my protagonists are the hybrid beings that appear in our dreams, inhabitants of a parallel world that we only access either during deep sleep or through the use of psychotropic substances, and that nevertheless, we perceive them as coming, like a déjà vu that reminds us that there is more to reality than what we perceive with our physical senses.
Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts-
AM: I think that throughout my work emerges a certain mystical, mythological sense in the classical sense, where the forces of nature take on a human form. Many titles are The Young Zeus, the Cyclops, Nymph, Persephone, Caribdis, Aquarida.
Nature as a soul-endowed force that, when transmuted in person, brings us closer to it. My portraits are often portraits of gods or heroes that we could have been.
Jupilings: As an artist, what role and social responsibility you shoulder-
AM: Although there are innumerable ways of understanding it, I conceive art in the classical sense, the search for intrinsic truth for beauty. In a society like the current one where through social networks we see tons of ugliness, trash, and injustice, my modest contribution is to create beauty that inspires others and that raises a wall against the mediocrity and vulgarity that invades us. I think that is my duty as an artist.
Jupilings: “Creative people are an idealist and live a colourful and chaotic life”, what do you think of this statement-
AM: It is a generality and as such susceptible to be interpreted in different ways but in my case, it is correct, although the colour is sometimes of a rather dark hue, and indeed the chaos is a constant in my life, I am messy, often imprecise and erratic. I wrote a long time ago that the artist feels himself with stupor as if he should not be there, as if he were not part of the reality in which the whole world lives. I thought it was a gift and it turned out to be a condemnation, once said an artist friend, my mentor, who died, unfortunately. Someone like him, chaotic by nature, knew how to inspire in me, and in many others (he was an art teacher) that life and therefore beauty arise from chaos.
Jupilings: As a creative individual, you have a reflective nature, hence you are inclined to dive deeper into your fears, insecurities, or setbacks, where do you draw a line to stop and regain your sense of motivation and meaning in life to keep charging ahead? What is your coping mechanism, a routine, a friend, ….?-
AM: My mechanism is the constant creation, the progressive approach through creative work to the idea that I intend to bring to light. This, which often produces a feeling of ecstasy, also in many cases generates enormous anguish. To shake it off, fortunately, is my wife, my children, my dogs, who walk daily through the palm groves that surround my atelier in Elche (Spain).
It relaxes me to cook, to drink wine with my friends. Fortunately, very close to where I live, is the sea and a small and beautiful island where I go very often. As soon as I reach her, my anguish dissipates. In short, my life is the life of a normal person, or at least as normal as my nature allows me to be.
Jupilings: What is one undisclosed or mysterious piece of information about yourself, you would bravely share with your audience:
AM: Hahaha, that question could put me in a compromise. When I was 18 years old I tried LSD, since then my perspective on the world changed. I perceived that there were parallel worlds. No, of course, I did not take it for a long time, it scares me. However, I do allow myself to smoke some marijuana when I am faced with a creative process. It is the key through which I can reopen that door that opened in my youth.
Jupilings: What does women empowerment mean to you-
AM: It jumps to the sight that I am an admirer of the woman, of the power of the woman, of its beauty. More than 90% of my portraits have women as protagonists. As a creator of life and a source of inspiration. I wrote once that the passion of the woman is the force that moves the world, I continue to subscribe. I am sure that the world would work much better if it were the women who governed it.
Jupilings: When you start a creative project, how do you overcome self-doubt –
AM: Fortunately, I have a lot of experience and many years of preparation that allow me to save the initial doubts with a certain ease. However, that doubt always lurks, especially if I will be able to generate something really new and not copy myself.
I receive many custom orders. There yes, the doubts begin, since not only I have to satisfy myself but to manage to transmit my satisfaction to the client and that is not an easy task.
Jupilings: What superpower you would like to have ? and why-
AM: I would be Lucidman. Always able to have immediately the creative response at hand that would allow me to disturb the conscience of others.
Jupilings: Which movie you would have liked to be the leading actor-
It is worth mentioning that we have a social responsibility for the benefit of society and our individual lives to engage, be useful, and lead a meaningful life. To fulfill this obligation, two of the fundamental elements that reinforce our state of mind’s wellness and enrich our experience and life for others are cultivating our strengths powered by optimism.
“When you have come to the edge of all the light you have and step into the darkness of the unknown, believe that one of the two will happen to you, either you’ll find something solid to stand on or you’ll be taught how to fly!”
The point is that there is always an opposite to a condition. Problems – solutions, adversity – opportunity, and the list goes on. Having a healthier outlook in life means transcending stagnation and despair. Fine, disappointments, intense adversaries, or distressing conditions happen, what can we do? We can contemplate for hours, days, or even years blaming situations, people, or even ourselves for being cut off at the knee, drowning in bitterness and resentment, or disassociate with negative feelings and shoulder responsibility to get out of the dark pit.
Like Dory in “Finding Nemo,” befittingly remarked, “When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming.” Agreed, so how do we embark on shifting our frame of mind and capitalize on our possibilities?
Revisit your goals or set up a new set of goals and purpose – Knowing that your path towards them will not be on a straight line, and you might need to reorient yourself at times, but eventually, the winding road will take you to your intended aspirations.
Change your inner monologue, make sure that they support your goals, make a positive argument against a negative thought that slithers into your mind. A good practice is to look into your mind as a detached observer to search for what sets you apart from your true potential. Slice your line of thinking and actions into parts. Which one of these parts is more aligned with your abilities, intellect, and motives? The part that regularly criticizes, argues, is judgmental or the part that listens, learns, and knows that life is full of challenges and is tainted with difficulties still it has the nobility to rise above with an admirable footprint. As humans, we are capable of thriving under stress and problems. Why? Because our core being is built to support our transcendence from the stage of apprehension to what we want to be. Hence, stop using half-hearted vocabulary. Your words matter; conscious use of positive talk will bring out your inner courage to pursue goals.
Recognize that as an intelligent being, you can identify your shortcomings and build on your strengths – the idea is to be better than you. You can transform and face undesirable insightfully. Just as you go to the gym to attain your physical fitness goals, the same mentality can support your positive outlook. You start a fitness program with the belief that with discipline, practice, and determination, the plan of action will realize your resolution.
You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however.
Work on having a problem-solving mind – rational thinking is about progress, well-being, and awareness that life has setbacks and difficulties; however, the knowledge gained through scientific findings, reason, and humanity will enhance our perspective to seek solutions and flourish.
Believe that progress is real. As humans, we have come a long way to improve our quality of life from life expectancy to human rights to increase leisure time, and the list goes on. Zoom in; personal growth is tangible. This belief is not fiction is a fact.
Keep in mind that stationary conditions to seek security while you have a fighter spirit will only lead to boredom and boredom in turn to spite and malice. To fight against the negative emotions, go forward in life, and fulfill the ethical duty to create a meaningful life and reach the best version of ourselves is the recommended motivation.
Robert Vanderhorst’s creativity propels us to squint and examine the original or the rational with intention. At that point, you discover the conflict, the unacceptable, the unpleasant or the hidden desire. The imagery gushes over, the psyche is liberated, and the visual stimulus unravels the nuances of our ideas and rules. He is adept at bringing together various mental pictures into a fusion of tenacious conventions, compromised perceptions, and wavering imaginations. His capability to point out that impressions, symbols, and patterns have unrealized possibilities, rattles the viewer. Although he deliberately composes the uncertainties, the freedom of thought, choice and the inclination of progress orbit symbolically and eminently in his artwork.
Jupilings: Tell us about yourself and how you got into art-
RV: My talent comes through my father’s side of the family. He was an artist/graphic artist in Holland, and he continued that profession after coming to Canada post-WWII. Once I understood that art was my passion, my career path was set. Seeing Dali and Magritte’s work for the first time cemented my love for surrealism.
Jupilings: The fundamental principle in your creations-
RV: Exploration and mystery. Keep everyone thinking and guessing.
Jupilings: What is your perspective on life-
RV: Life is short. Be kind and generous, work hard and stay true to your passion, play when you can, travel and experience life as much as possible and keep your sense of humour intact.
Jupilings: What do you sell in your art-
RV: To think outside the box.
Jupilings: What motivates you to create, is it an emotional state, philosophy of life, politics or advocacy-
RV: A desire to create realistic imagery that engages, asks questions and searches for answers where the answers ask more questions.
Jupilings: What is your favourite subject to illustrate-
RV: Time and space.
Jupilings: What does “confusion” mean to you? Also, what about “Normality”-
Jupilings: What does women empowerment mean to you-
Jupilings: What are your tips about building a brand name as an artist-
RV: Develop a unique personal style and stay true to your art. Work your ass off, don’t compromise, network and promote using new and old technologies as much as possible.
Jupilings: What do you do to conquer fear or self-doubt-
RV: Ignore it. Believe in yourself and what you’re trying to accomplish and ignore anyone who tells you it can’t be done.
Jupilings: The disruptive blockchain technology is addressing the problems of transparency and authenticity for artists; it will increase art sales, democratize art investment, and last but not least allow artists to be fairly paid. What are your thoughts about the blockchain technology especially in support of art? Would you consider using the blockchain technology platform to reach global art enthusiasts? What are the problems in your industry do you want these platforms to solve?
RV: I am not versed in this platform and at this stage not particularly interested in another tech learning curve. Everyone should be paid fairly and on time, artists, in particular, considering they are often taken for granted and put at the bottom of the list. If this tech addresses the issues you’ve stated above effectively, then I’m all for it.
Jupilings: What superpower you would like to have ? and why-
RV: I’m happy as is.
Jupilings: Which movie you would have liked to be the lead actor-
What happens when you achieve to liberate your mind, when you weave memories, capture purely personal feelings and unfold your experiences in colour? Beyond doubt, beautiful imagery! Nothing is as fulfilling when you come to terms with your repressed unconscious. Latvian pop surrealist artist, Jana Brike is the epitome of this awareness. With Masters in the Art, she transforms taboos, despairs, pleasures, desires, and vulnerabilities by channeling the energies to discover her true self and create a sublime art. Unassumingly, she explores her life story and feelings, re-creates and allows us to re-live the stimulations.
Unapologetically, she has put aside manuals, instructions of social behaviors and codes of hierarchical society by refusing to accept conformity without examination. In spite of that, she believes in the naivety of human soul and purity of love in an unconventional manner. She touches on existential life question, embracing with harmony and awareness her transformation much like the cosmic ocean cocooning planets and stars which continually create new forms even if they are interdependently connected and travel in similar paths.
Jupilings: Jana Brike, tell us about yourself and how you got into art:
JB: Honestly, I’ve been an artist as long as I remember myself. I always was the kind of “beauty would save the world” person and knew I would do something creative. As a little child, I loved art exhibitions, ballet performances, theater, reading books, looking at book illustrations, watching movies and especially animations. It felt like these expressions transcend the human condition so beautifully. So I knew I would do something in that field. I disliked stage though and loved spending countless hours hatching and brewing something creative in the quietness of my room. So painting choice came naturally.
Jupilings: Who is your protagonist?
JB: It is always me, in a broader sense. My work is my visual poetic auto-biography through which I look at my experiences, at what it means to be human, I change these experiences and conditions into something meaningful, they become like stages of initiation into a broader and more profound self, for myself and hopefully others.
Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts:
JB: Personal truth and love. Lately, it is also something more fragile, like naked vulnerability and hope. I feel that the spear that destroys your armor and injures your hardened skin can itself break in the gentle softness of your open heart. That fierce gentleness and complete openness, I want to channel it into my work. Even if living like that in a world like ours is not yet always possible.
Jupilings: As an artist, what role and social responsibility you shoulder:
JB: I don’t think it differs much from the role and social responsibility of any human being – to experience the wonder of life to the best of your ability, in the way that expresses the best version of your self. Otherwise, the role differs from artist to artist, there as many forms of visual expression as there are individual personalities of artists out there. I personally always felt that role as some peculiar form of shamanism, for me the work always involves a deeply meditative state, certain transcendental energy, even a sense of ecstasy, specific sensing of and work with the future possibilities like in dream states and more. Work with collective archetypes, with collective daydreaming like in myths. In an as aware way as I currently can. I don’t know if it’s the same for other artists.
Jupilings: What narrative transpired in your latest collection and especially “two angels in the deep dark wood”:
JB: I feel my work less like a linear narrative and more like a piece of visual poetry. Those are stories very much about intimacy – towards your own body, your soul in the first place, and then between you and another. Also, about playfulness, joy, discovery of your true nature, the pleasure of being alive.
Jupilings: You create defiant art, exploring social and cultural pressures, how do you preserve the standards of propriety while discussing and weaving your visual narrative:
JB: I don’t think my characters defy public opinions or propriety; I feel more like they live as if there were no outside opinions or pressures to consider, as if one’s freedom and integrity and love was the only law to live by – maybe that is what gives this slightly utopian feel to my work. And I don’t think on much else while I paint, and definitely not the collective standards and expectations. If any rules guide me, it’s my personal sense of ethics and my own deeply felt experiences.
Jupilings: What is one undisclosed or mysterious piece of information about yourself, you would bravely share with your audience:
JB: All my important personal feelings, thoughts and human experiences are shared through my painting with no reserve and no holding back, truly. At the same time, to me, there is something numinous to the painting process, as if I transcend my trials and tribulations in an in-depth emotional sacral process while I paint, so the finished painting is a sort of personal icon to me. This process is mysterious, even to me, I know for sure that I emerge healed on the other end. The particulars of my life facts don’t matter.
Jupilings: What does women empowerment mean to you?
JB: Definitely, the first step is finding your own personal power, a broad sense of self-worth, self-love, self-respect, self-care that doesn’t require external validation. I honestly believe that the way you treat and think of yourself, the world will reflect that right back to you. How worthy of the love you consider yourself. And having this personal base foundation strong, the next step is to reach out and help the sisters, to share, support, encourage. The changes in the society do not star from outside and from the top as law as much as they grow from inside – you change yourself, spread it to the family, closest tribe, and then outwards, to the society. From the center of your heart outwards.
Jupilings: What are your tips about building a brand name as an artist?
JB: I think it is first a very honest work with yourself as a human, “brand name” comes much later; first, you need a very solid substance of who you truly are, something to attach that brand name to. You have to find yourself, to dare to be yourself and stay true to yourself, celebrating your uniqueness, your individual view of the world. To dare to speak about what is important to you personally, about what makes you burn, what is your bliss, what is your passion. Then comes very serious, very responsible and professional work ethic and very committed work on the necessary skillsets. And just after all that can you think of brand names. Of course, vice versa is possible, you can come up with some loud noise of a brand name to cover up the emptiness behind, and it would work for one day, but it wouldn’t give satisfaction, nor serve any worthwhile purpose with a capability to last.
Jupilings: What do you do to conquer fear or self-doubt:
JB: Self-doubt is also a kind of fear – that you may fail, that you won’t be good enough etc. – so it’s a question about fear.
To me, the answer is almost constant self-observation. I look at, and question every thought or emotion that rushes through me, and I question where it’s coming from, and what purpose does it serve. And in the very base, I feel there are two basic emotions, or energies – that of love, and that of fear (which further feeds anger, hate, etc.). So I question my motives, viewpoints, decisions, thoughts daily, asking myself where they come from and what I will choose today – love or fear. Every single day. All the time. I don’t think there is any other way. It’s a daily work, daily hygiene – like wash your dishes, make your bed, brush your teeth and also weed out your soul and mind and motivations and keep them clean.
Jupilings: The blockchain technology will remedy many issues linked to provenance, transparency, copyright, ownership, valuation, and authenticity in the Art Market. And indeed, it could make it easier for artists to get paid and get known. What are your thoughts about this technology which is about unconstrained collaboration, & promise of fair rewards for the artist? Would you consider using blockchain technology platform to reach global art enthusiasts?
JB: I haven’t investigated its potentials much beyond what is commonly known about new types of currencies, but I am excited about new possibilities and growth, and this new era we live in with new kinds of sharing and exchange. These are exciting times.
Jupilings: What are the problems in the Art Market do you want these platforms to solve?
A lot of issues are already being solved by just internet, like artists complete dependence on the establishment, necessity for some person who is a mediator between viewer and artist and on whose good grace and evaluation an artist depended – it’s nearly gone, you as an artist can find your public even if you don’t have a gallery or a magazine which would publish you. Also if you stand way out and beyond what the establishment considers a value. I think it’s a big gain all in all. More will be changing I expect, so it’s good to have one’s senses keen and alert.
Jupilings: What superpower you would like to have ? and why?
JB: I’d like to be able to fly; I think that would be a thrilling sensation.
Jupilings: Which movie you would have liked to be the leading actor:
JB: Lead role in my life’s story is enough for me.
Jupilings: What is your life motto?
JB: Stay true to myself, live with an open heart, accept myself as I am – that’s the basic guideline. Although I don’t despair if some days I can’t manage this.
I have somewhat of an inner protest to things like verbal mottos; those tend to turn into self-imposed laws like a box you can’t get out of it. I live as I live, I am what I am, I have my inner compass that guides my path, and it doesn’t depend on pre-conceived mental constructs much.
The new modern luxury roars freedom, flexibility, and eccentricity. The collaboration of stylish streetwear with luxury brands, genderless approach, quirky brand images and the flair of uniqueness rattles the traditions. As our planet moves towards positive partnerships and collaborative sentiments to create flourishing communities, the luxury style is powered by acceptance, inclusion, affiliation, and sustainability.
Undeniably the luxury lifestyle is being emblazoned by street art & fashion, sportswear brands, social and political uncertainties, technology and personal sentiments. The acceptance of this cultural shift, influenced by emerging designers that have been brought up by the influence of Hip Hop and Rap culture and conspicuously merge authenticity with creativity is apparent throughout luxury brands. At the same time, the majority of growth in this particular market is driven by the change in wealth distribution and the shift in consumption of luxury goods by affluent millennials. As for the luxury industry, it’s attempt to be relevant and represent this mindset demands adventurous creativity and savvy business approach.
The zeitgeist of our times values unexpected collaborations and distance itself from flying solo. This particular trend has been successful to motivate the affluent millennials. To engage and consume the intangible image created by luxury life and style is about seduction to the extent that the sense of belonging and acceptance in this particular community is not an option but essential. This idea might appear two-dimensional; however, the underpinning notion of blurring the hierarchy lines between different brands in its way is the language of progress and social inclusion. Distancing from the old styles and introducing fresh attitudes bring brand awareness to a diverse audience.
In 2017, Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with Supreme is undeniably an endorsement of inclusion. Supreme has all the elements of a valuable affiliation due to it’s young demographic, genderless designs and limited editions. Consumers from different realms of taste, behaviours and dress codes where brought together by their shared interest in fashion honouring their differences. Together the two brands created a tribal affiliation and an exclusivity hype resulting in a sold-out experience.
Another good example is the collaboration between the luxury fashion house Gucci and Spanish artist Ignasi Monreal. For the past few years, Gucci has appealed and secured an affiliation to millennials thanks to their design evolution and remarkable online presence. Their narrative illustrates mythical and surreal universes and underlines quality and uniqueness of their brand. The combination is Super Cool!
Having social-conscious values and adopting responsible environmental practices add the desirability quality to the luxury brands. They need to take a principled stand to gain favour among the millennials, the growing segment of the premium consumer market. Cultural diversity, labor practices, philanthropy or environmentally conscious lifestyles foster respect among the customers.
For instance, delving into luxury hotels, the ultra-exclusive Nekupe Sporting Resort & Retreat, built by the American Nicaragua Fund, is an innovative way that offers high-end luxury experience. The ANF, founded by Alfredo and Theresa Pellas, a wealthy family that believes in creating opportunities, self-sufficiency, and dignity for the poorest sectors of the population through the partnership model. They have reforested their 1,300 acres by planting more than 14,000 trees, hoping to restore natural habitat, increase local employment and their income. The ANF has contributed to well being of villages by building homes, creating access to health care, education and water management solutions. An Eco-Friendly resort that offers luxury experience with a clear conscious.
Last but not least, enabling consumers to live a lifestyle true to themselves and being responsible towards community are the pillars of a brand’s authenticity. Successful representation of the authentic perception of your core values to technology savvy consumers involves meaningful digital narratives as well as offering instant gratification through mobile and e-commerce.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust
Canadian pop surrealist artist, Alex Garant, stimulates our senses from fully experiencing to witnessing a state of mind. The queen of double vision brings us back to being aware where we can see a thought. The duplication effect in her portraitures emerges from symmetry and patterns yet leads us from coherence to a world without walls and restrictions. She stimulates our psyche to reach higher consciousness.
The profound symbolism of eyes in her imagery places our conventional and abstract human conditions side by side. Her art encourages us to see our strange responses to unfamiliar, to experience a situation and to re-examine our reactions.