Posts tagged Figure
Rebecka Skog
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Born in Sweden, Stockholm in 1986.

She likes to travel, discover other cultures and fixation by all the colors found in culinary dishes, in music, and in any artistic discipline.

Rebecka has exhibited in different European cities, (London, Madrid, Barcelona, Vienna) and publications in magazines such as Elle, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire.

She is currently living between the Canary Islands and Copenhagen working on different projects.

www.rebeckaskog.com

Wenyan Xu
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Wenyan Xu began her career in art almost twenty years ago as a BFA student studying in the Academy of Art & Design, Tsinghua University, a top art college in China. In order to further understand contemporary art, she journeyed across continents to study art in the United States. Having completed her M.A. in the Art and Visual Culture Education Program at the University of Arizona, she focused on her artistic process and production. Through the M.F.A. painting program at Indiana University in Bloomington, she is fulfilling her artistic dream. Her paintings had been shown nationally and internationally, including at the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC), China; the Verum Ultimum Art Gallery, Portland, OR, U.S.A; and the M.A.D Gallery, Milan, Italy.

Statement

My current body of work is about space-time and emotion. Through my painting, I invite viewers to experience a journey from space to time, to engage in the interweaving of emotion and reality, and to be aware of spiritual energy versus the limits of daily life.

Space-time is a physics concept, which describes the universe with the three dimensions of space and the one dimension of time. We usually think that we are not able to live beyond space-time and are only subject to reality, yet never realized that our emotions can change the track that we go through. The human emotion is historical, interrelated, spontaneous, unarticulated and passionate in my painting. Emotion, as an innermost power of human, has been spreading the energy throughout human history and contributing to our civilization. How much do we give credit to this internal motivation? Instead, knowledge, skills, and intelligence are regarded as main drivers for the development of society. In my opinion, knowledge, skills, and intelligence can only build a world in three dimensions. Their product can last and add up throughout the length of time but cannot exceed it. However, emotion can go beyond space and time. It can outreach the world of four dimensions, target a location in the chaos of four-dimensional space, and then build a time tunnel, which you had not anticipated but would go later on in your life. Therefore, emotion has a different dimension with reality in my work. It also has potential energy to change reality, the world in three dimensions.

The reality is abrupt and rational, devoting itself to breaking down and rebuilding our emotions. I abstract marks and symbols from daily life to display a sober and unordered present. They represent rules and laws unassociated with personal emotions.

www.wenyanxu.org

Sarah Detweiler
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Sarah Detweiler is a Philadelphia-area based, mixed media painter whose most recent works incorporate embroidery with watercolor, gouache, and oil. Sarah has a BFA from the University of Delaware and a Masters in Art Therapy from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. She has exhibited in group and solo shows in various locations including New York City, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Pennsylvania.

My work explores narratives around themes of feminism, female empowerment, and the human experience through figurative, mixed media paintings. I integrate the traditionally feminine craft of embroidery to challenge the boundaries of feminism. The embroidery allows my work to be revealed in stages and acts as a visual invitation to take a closer look. My art reflects the feminine experience through personal and global issues because, in many ways, a woman's experience is universal.  Whether it acts as a mirror to the viewer or as a window into another person's narrative, ultimately, my art is about making connections.

www.sarahdetweiler.com

Dolls Exploring the Experience of Motherhood: Interview with Nicole Havekost
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By Alicia Puig

Nicole Havekost is an artist living in Rochester, Minnesota. Her own work is varied in media and technique but linked by her interest in material and process. Recently, Nicole was both a 2018 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant recipient and Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council Advancing Artist Grant recipient. She has recently exhibited work in New Orleans, Dallas, and Tasmania, Australia. Nicole earned her BFA in Printmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA in Printmaking from the University of New Mexico. 

I make figures that are doll-like in form. I began making these figures when my son was small. I expected these figures would teach my son about my world, but instead, this work has been a way to teach me about his. These figures are observers, thoughtful participants in the process of discovery. They nurture and protect, yet they are neither beast nor human. These animals are my evolving experience of motherhood; the profound change of body, heart, and desire I never expected and couldn’t control in a new world rich with possibility.

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How did you first become interested in art, and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

I've always loved to draw. I didn't know a person could be an artist, and the only art form I was familiar with was the newspaper comics. So I wanted to be a cartoonist. That interest later turned to fashion design, but after my foundation year at RISD, I realized there were so many other possibilities. I graduated as a printmaker but began making sculptural objects during my senior year. I haven't stopped since.

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Tell us about the inspiration behind your artwork or a specific series that you're currently working on.

I currently have two different bodies of work in progress, but they both come from the same place. I am deeply interested in exploring what it feels like to be in a body. The animal dolls that are published in Create! Magazine reference my transition to motherhood and how it felt to nurture another soul in this world. The other work includes mixed media sculpture exploring my bodily experience of sickness, pregnancy, aging, and recently, perimenopause.

Can you talk about some of your favorite works, and what makes them special to you?

My favorite works are often the ones I make at the beginning of a series. I don't yet know what the work will look like, but I can tell we will be the best of friends once it is complete. Often as the work progresses, there are stronger pieces, but that first one always holds a special place. It was there before I saw it, and then I made it. I love creating doll-like forms; my "Candy Lady" series of figures with candy innards are some of my favorites.

What is your process like? Do you do a lot of sketching or make work more intuitively?

I work intuitively. Mostly I keep a list of descriptors related to the series I am working on. I am terrible at planning at planning my work; I get too tight. I like to have to problem solve my way through the process. Natural consequences make the work pretty interesting.

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Do your works often undergo a lot of changes before you consider them complete? How long does a piece take?

My work does change as I make it, but that's because I am responding to the process as I work instead of altering original plans. Because I do so much hand stitching in my work, progress is slower than I would like. But the process is deeply meditative and brings me much joy while I am doing it. I haven't paid attention to actual hours, but I can account for the time in episodic television. Some works take the length of several seasons of a Netflix binge, while other processes are a couple of stand up specials. I can't watch anything I really have to pay attention to when I am stitching, but I can keep track of large narratives. It is the best way to work.

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Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you're currently working on or will be soon?

I am excited to be shipping work to the Southbend Museum of Art Biennial 30 next month as well as the exhibition "Modern Archetypes" at Higher Art Gallery in Traverse City, Michigan. I will be participating in RISDCraft 2019 in Providence, Rhode Island in October and teaching the workshop "The Doll as Storyteller" at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in November.

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Sebastian Riffo Montenegro
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Chilean visual artist that also currently works as an Art Director in Marketing and Advertising. He maintains a solid production of artworks that criticize consumer society and socially constructed beliefs. Faceless figures in raincoats maneuver through deconstructed color-field backgrounds. Working with a selective palette and controlled lighting, reveals the intent of his work through veils of lucid colors and mysterious forms. Absence presents clear criticism of social mores, the paintings provoke the need to discern new meaning and awaken the tacit human condition of free will.

www.riffomontenegro.com

The Stranger, Solo Exhibition by Alex Merritt at Booth Gallery
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Booth Gallery is proud to present The Stranger, a debut solo exhibition by Alex Merritt, on view May 17 - June 12, 2019, at 325 W. 38th St in New York. Popularly known for his large-scale oils and brutal approach to painting, Alex Merritt will be exhibiting 20 new paintings and drawings in large and small formats.

Merritt’s works include a recurring motif visualized through expansive landscapes juxtaposed by isolated figures which directly confront the viewer. In works like “Hermetic Bliss” (detail above), the subject is visceral and haunting yet vulnerably human. A distinct narrative is intentionally concealed and left for the viewer’s interpretation, much like the artist’s process: it is hidden amongst the layers.

Through a constant working and reworking, the paint is scraped down and built up to range from a thick paste to liquid. The sheer physicality of the canvases showing layers of paint 3-4 inches in depth reveals they are as much of an object sculpturally as they are a 2-dimensional image. Subject and object become one, and the finished works represent a direct result of these layers, weaving in and out of one another, often obfuscating the literal.

Merritt’s influences include the likes of Chaim Soutine, Joan Eardley, Antonio Mancini, and Frank Auerbach; Inspired by their bravado to compose large-scale works and to experimentation with surface quality.

Alex Merritt was born in 1981 in Washington, DC. In 2015, he received his B.F.A. in painting from the Mary- land Institute College of Art and in 2018 completed his MFA from The New York Academy of Art. The artist joined Booth Gallery in June 2018; this will be his first Solo show to date. Works from are in numerous private collections worldwide and currently has had a collection of works acquired by liana Gore Museum in Tel Aviv, Israel.

On Friday, May 17, 2019, an opening reception will be held from 6-9pm and is open to the public.

Loreal Prystaj
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Loreal Prystaj is a visual artist from New York now based in London. Presently she is attending the Royal College of Art, to obtain her MA in photography, and previously received her BFA in photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City. Surrounded by a thriving “fashion environment” she planned on becoming a commercial photographer but chose to take a Fine Art direction where she felt she could express her ideas more freely.

She has had three solo exhibitions and participated in over thirty group exhibitions, including Arles Photo Festival (2018), MIA in Milan (2016) and selected to show with LifeFramer's travelling exhibition (2017).  Her work has been seen in galleries throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and China, and she presently has pieces included in the permanent art collection at the Erie Art Museum, Pennsylvania, since 2014.  Prystaj’s archive of work has led to guest lecturing at accredited universities, such as NYU, FIT and Columbia, in New York. She has been awarded jury prizes from more than ten photography competitions internationally, including Ashurst Art Prize (2018), ArtSlant (2017), Neutral Density (2016), and TIFA (2018), alongside with being published widely, from The Guardian (2018), The British Journal of Photography (2018), My Modern Met (2017) to multiple articles in L'oeil de la Photographie (2017, 2016, 2015).

Statement

Her work often exposes the relationship between a specific time and space, with a juxtaposition of the human form and its environment. She expresses ideas through her photography and uses the medium consistently - in installation and interactive pieces - as well as using herself as a character or form in her images, performance and video work.

Jamie Bates Slone
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Jamie Bates Slone is a sculptor living and working in Norman, Oklahoma where she is Assistant Professor of Ceramics at the University of Oklahoma. Jamie received her MFA from the University of Kansas and her BFA from the University of Central Missouri. Her work addresses the fragility of the human spirit in relation to her personal history with physical and mental illness.

Statement

Through conjured memory, I revisit my personal history with physical and mental illness. My current work is a reflection of those memories with an emphasis on the relationship between human biology and human emotion. By using the figure as metaphor, I am able to reflect the sentiments often correlated with feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, and loss.

In my studio practice, anxieties about my own physical and mental health and obsessions with mortality manifest themselves in the choice of scale, charged surfaces, and uneasy body language within the figures. My surface choices are derived from diagnostic imaging of the human body focusing on their color and visual texture. My intent is for one to imagine the surface of the skin as a reflection of what is happening inside the body and mind. These are ideas that are continuously shifting and evolving as I think about how I want these objects to be perceived

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Erin Fitzpatrick
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I am constantly inspired by patterns and prints, my travels, summertime, Instagram, interior spaces, my immediate surroundings, fashion magazines, textile design and meeting new people. I have an iPhone full of screenshots, and sketchbooks, notebooks and a studio wall covered in notes and clippings — my collections of visual stimulants. A seed from these images, a West African textile, a languid Miu Miu model, a Slim Aarons photo of poolside decadence, inspires the vibe for each painting. I plan each piece around this initial idea by creating a storyboard depicting wardrobe, model type/look, textiles, and setting. I source my models from my peers and social media, import textiles, shop for wardrobe, and build a set. I style my models and chat with them as I take hundreds of reference photos. The model becomes the focal point in my world of clashing patterns, textiles, and plants.

I’m a Baltimore native and graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art.  I started painting portraits in 2008 and this body of work now contains hundreds of paintings and drawings of artists, musicians, business people, my peers, and commissioned subjects. I have collectors all across the US and around the world.

www.erinfitzpatrickportraits.tumblr.com

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Nadia Waheed: Wearing Your Braid as a Badge
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Wearing Your Braid as a Badge: Challenging Expectations and Finding Your Place

By Christina Nafziger

Through the female body and cultural iconography, Nadia Waheed’s paintings explore dichotomies present in her own life as well as those that affect the female experience, one that forces women to navigate through the unrealistic, and often contradictory, expectations from others. Originally from Pakistan, and now based in Austin, Texas, the artist has lives all over the world, with her artistic practice being the space where she can claim agency and be her true self, away from judgment. The blue, pink, and orange women in her paintings often sport henna on their skin and long braids, both strong and beautiful, nodding at her cultural roots. Recently represented by the London-based gallery BEERS, Waheed shares honest advice on how to stay focused on what is truly important as an artist. Join me as Waheed opens up about her struggles overcoming personal obstacles, and discusses the challenge of balancing the two sides of East and West in her work and life. 

www.nadiawaheed.com

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Have you always considered yourself an artist? When did you first feel like you had found your voice artist voice? 

I haven’t always considered myself an artist, actually. I hold that word and title in very high regard and I don’t think that everyone who makes “art” is an artist. Artist to me implies a very high level of commitment to a certain type of work and practice. Mentally, it is not a “part time” relationship; the thinking about the work becomes something that’s always there, processing in the background of everything you do. It’s everything. I wasn’t comfortable calling myself an artist until I realized that this really was my only purpose in life. I could’ve taken another route after graduating with my BFA, but I felt so empty without my work, it was a clear sign that making paintings is an inherent part of my identity and that I could never be a functional version of myself without it. 

I grew up drawing and that was my primary method for communicating myself artistically. When I moved to paint in 2013, I didn’t at all have the same fluidity or finesse as I did with line. I believe I found my artistic voice many years ago when I was young, but it’s been a years long process of honing it. When my mentor Kevin Wolff passed away in early 2018, his death rattled and pushed me to the brink emotionally—it was like a rebirth. I lost my apprehension and stopped thinking about painting and just did it. Everything clicked into place and this body of work is what came out; Blue Portrait (Sisyphus’s Boulder) is the painting that started it all.

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Originally from Pakistan (born in Saudi, but from Karachi), how has your cultural background affected your artistic practice? Are there aspects of your work that are influenced by cultural elements or iconography?

I think it’s affected everything - it has always been something that I’ve responded to. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere, so my sketchbook was always my sanctuary. I could be my unadulterated myself, outside the sphere of judgment from Western or Eastern culture. My practice was born from a need to belong and be understood as myself, and my studio became the space for me to do it. I am heavily influenced by the styles and themes I see back in Pakistan, and am so in love with miniature painting and Islamic architecture, but I only draw from the pieces that feel mine. The things that I’m most excited by, or scared of, are the things that you’ll see in my paintings. The weight that I see carried by women, the different weight of expectation that I see carried by others and myself. Iconography aside, I’m interested in the social dynamics of the East and West - what’s “societally appropriate,” primarily in regards to the development of young women. The difference is incredible, and balancing the two has been a challenge for me. 

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There seems to be an emphasis on hair, specifically on the braid, in your work. Can you speak a bit to this?

The braid has become a metaphor for so many things. Connection, worth, beauty, vulnerability... but maybe the simplest answer would begin with me saying that I wore a long braid similar to the women in my paintings for many years. I felt it was a tangible connection to my culture, a badge I could wear that said, “This is where I come from.” Long braids are symbols of traditional beauty in Pakistan and I pay homage to that tradition in my paintings. It’s a heavily layered symbol, a liberation and simultaneously a huge weight. It can be your pride and your greatest vulnerability; the interdependence of opposites is something I think about all the time. My grandmother’s nurse in Karachi has an incredibly long braid, down to the back of her thighs. She says she keeps her hair wound away and hidden when she’s in public because she’s afraid that her hair is going to be cut off by a jealous woman or a man who thinks she’s being shameless about her appearance. She says it’s happened before to others. I don’t think I’ve fully unpacked it, but to me, the braid says, “I’m trying to be a good Pakistani girl.” It’s totally contradicted by the nudity, but that’s my point - we can have both and still be good.  

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Can you tell me about the presence of the female in your work? Are the scenes in your paintings allegories or are they perhaps reflections on your own thoughts or experiences?

I’d say a combination of both. I love women. I love men too (I love all humans!) but I’m amazed by women every day. So much is put onto us, and for generations women have persevered, raised families under constant abuse, broken countless glass ceilings and fought for respect in society and from our male counterparts. In my paintings, all my imagery is very personal; a lot of it is a surrendering, the resignation and the waving of a white flag. Someone looked at my paintings and said that none of my figures were empowered, that this work doesn’t empower women. I still grapple with that today, but I don’t disagree. Some of these figures are not empowered. It’s because sometimes I don’t feel empowered. There is an idea of “conditional” love that I see everywhere in my world which panics me - why is our worth and value as an entity dependent on our appearance or our paycheck or our marital status? I paint women because I am a woman, and mitigating the endless layers of complexity surrounding femininity and vulnerability and whatever ideas are thrust onto us, hoops we need to jump through to be given “worth”... these are all questions I’m painting through. At this point I have no definitive answers, rather I’m more interested in the question and the idea.

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Congratulations on your gallery recent representation with BEERS London! Do you have any advice for artists seeking gallery representation?

Thank you! It was an incredibly serendipitous occurrence and I couldn’t be happier about it, BEERS has been one of my all time favorite galleries for years and I’m so thrilled to join the team. 

Advice wise, there is only one thing that matters: making a good painting. We all know it’s a very difficult thing to do, so that honestly should be the only thing on your radar. If you try to curate your authentic voice towards a particular gallery or type of gallery, you are doing yourself and your work a massive disservice. The only thing an artist needs to be doing is making the work the best and most authentically that they conceivably can. There is no timeline. There is no falling behind. The only thing that matters is the quality of the work. If you can proudly stand next to your art and say, “This is me, this is mine,” then that’s all that matters. Everything else will come. Any young artists out there who are feeling anxiety, take charge and tell yourself this, “as long as it’s not impossible to do, it can be done”. Even a 1% chance is still a chance. Commitment is key.

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Do you listen to anything (podcasts, music, etc.) while you paint?

I used to listen to music when I worked, but I’ve switched to NPR and podcasts in October 2018. I’ve placed really stringent restrictions on the music I listen to because I’m just so overwhelmed by it now. Commercials make my heart race and make me cry, any music that’s too emotive takes me too deep inside myself and my vision warps. It’s almost funny how strongly I react to it! Pretty much the only music I can tolerate without weeping is lo-fi hiphop, very calm music with few words, and nothing too emotionally charged. I’ve become a really big fan of On Point and Fresh Air on NPR, and the podcasts Philosophize This! by Stephen West and Making Sense (formerly Waking Up) by Sam Harris, and also, The Adam Buxton Podcast. I highly recommend all three of those. I deal primarily in ideas, so these are great podcasts that explore a particular idea or person in each episode, a deep dive into the nuances of a certain topic. Nothing in this world is black and white; I love being exposed to shades of grey I hadn’t thought of before. 

Can you tell me about a time where you had to overcome an obstacle, either in your art career or during your painting process? 

Things in my personal life during 2018 overwhelmed me to the point that, at the tail end of the year, being alone with myself in the studio became dangerous. I prefer working without natural light so that I don’t see the passage of time and I can just get lost in the flow of the work, but things in my life were happening one after the other and I was drowning. Going into my studio and being alone in a windowless room for 10 -14 hours a day was so isolating. My studio was slowly becoming this echo chamber for all my terrifying thoughts and feelings: of failure, of worthlessness, of hopelessness - but I couldn’t stop working. More than being alone with myself, I was afraid of not painting, I couldn’t stop. If I stopped I was afraid that one day would become two, that two would become three, and that I’d wake up one day and it had been a year and I hadn’t painted. Even thinking about it now is terrifying. My practice is about communing with myself and my deepest thoughts about different ideas, if my mind is full of fear and anxiety, it becomes intensely amplified in the studio. Learning how to mitigate the part of me that is compelled to paint and the part of me that was terrified of being alone with myself is something I consider to be one of my biggest accomplishments.

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Do you have anything coming up this year that you’d like to share?

At this point in time nothing in particular besides a group show in Toronto and my two-person show in May with BEERS! I’m very excited to make a whole new body of work for that show and to see what comes out. I’ve got some really good ideas rattling around in my noggin and while they’re very labor intensive I think they’re going to look super good. If you want to keep up with my work or get more insight into my process, feel free to follow me on Instagram at @nadiakwd.

(And thanks so much for reading!)

Tracy Murrell
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Tracy Murrell is an Atlanta-based artist and curator.  A graduate of Centenary College, she has been a fixture in the growth and development of Atlanta's arts community.  Murrell assisted Louis Delsarte in the creation of the 125-foot mural “Dreams, Visions & Change” honoring Martin Luther King Jr., and studied under the direction of renowned artist Michael David as a member of Fine Arts Atelier (FAWS). 

Murrell has shown in numerous group, solo, and juried exhibitions.  Her work is currently on view at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport through January 2019.  Her work has been featured in ArtVoices Magazine and Studio Visit Magazine Issues 29, 35, 38, and 41.

Murrell is a board member for Burnaway, Atlanta-based digital magazine and advisory board member for ChopArt, a non-profit serving middle and high school youth experiencing homelessness through multidisciplinary arts immersion and mentorship.

Murrell served as the curator for Hammonds House Museum (2012-2017), the President of African Americans for the Arts (AAFTA) for two years and is currently the visual arts consultant with the National Black Arts Festival.

Statement

As an artist, I am drawn to the lines of the feminine form and source images to create figures personifying grace and strength.  I explore the use of silhouettes by re-contextualizing images from popular culture to use as entry points for deeper conversations on gender, race, and the perceptions of beauty. 

In my current body of work, I am focusing on the themes of identity, migration, and displacement in the human narrative by incorporating hand cut patterns and specialty papers with the silhouettes.  Painted in high key color, my paintings are reminiscent of Pop and post-pop Masters such as Lichtenstein, Katz, and Hume, prompting the viewer to question their own beliefs about race and gender.

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The First Love: Interview with Jenni Stringleman
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Interview by Sarah Mills


After twenty years of working in graphic design and animation, Jenni Stringleman has returned to her first love - working in oils.
 
Based in Auckland, New Zealand, she paints contemporary, bright expressionist florals, fresh, abstracted nudes and portraits.
 
“For me, painting is an expression of joy. I simply love the act of applying oils to canvas, and this has lead me to explore a heady mix of thick oils, and semi transparent washes of colour, high detail combined with gestural strokes.”

Jenni's recent pieces focus on the figure drawn from life in charcoal, erased, rotated, and attacked with brayers and solvents with slabs of flat colour finally applied to obscure and reveal. 

Jenni sells and exhibits at Gallery De Novo and Endemic World Gallery in New Zealand, as well as shipping pieces to international collectors.

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You came back to painting after 20 years of working in graphic design and animation, what drew you back to oils?

I painted almost religiously at high school, partly to get out of PhysEd but mainly because I was obsessed with art! At our school, we had hessian or paper stapled to walls and never-ending acrylic paint, and it was heaven. I wanted to be a full-time artist but decided to go for something practical - graphic design. I assumed I’d paint in my own time after work, but I never did! Instead, I worked on a bungee jump for years, in New Zealand and the UK, then painted murals and eventually ended up in graphic design in the City in London. I was having too much fun to remember to paint (or practice the flute, but that’s another story)!

Eventually, after 11 years in London, I returned to New Zealand, got married and retrained in animation which I adored, but after falling pregnant with my eldest daughter, I decided to give up work for a while. I played a domestic goddess for some years, then sadly a friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only a year to live. It was absolutely tragic as she was a mum of two, and it made me reassess my life choices. I felt it was too late to retrain as a brain surgeon so instead I decided to jump back into painting to leave a legacy for my two young daughters. It was one of the bravest things I ever did, walking into a painting class under the tutelage of artist Robert Campion, however, he was nurturing and kind and downloaded his years of education and experience into my brain, and from there I had a new career!

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You work with such a wide variety of subjects ranging from florals to portraits to abstract work. What do you see as the connecting factor between all your work?

Yes, I do! I am probably like that as a person. I want to be trying new things, learning, stretching myself. Most people call me a colorist, and I do love color, it’s hugely instinctual for me, I feel what goes where and get great joy from the marks and drips and combinations. My first love in painting is the figure... life drawing, nudes, faces. But my mum asked me to paint hydrangeas for her, and they were my first sales to friends and locals.

The nudes were put on the backburner for a while. The galleries who approached me, came to me for my semi-abstracted florals, so that’s where most of my energy went. I painted a portrait of my daughter just for fun then ended up getting commissioned to paint other kids. I love the opportunity they afford me to sit down for once! I like being challenged to capture the real essence of this child, in a more classic way that will stand the test of time. They take ages, and they give me a break from the physical effort of the large pieces. Last year I studied under Martin Campos, and he inspired me to combine my love of color and paint with my charcoal sketches of the figure. A new aspect to my work developed, and now I think of myself as working happily across these three strands.

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Where do you draw inspiration from for your work?

Definitely nature, usually in the small details of plants and the effects of light. Also all of human life. I store away images from magazines and TV, fashion shows, of people on the street. There’s not enough time in my day to paint the things I want to. I screengrab so much of Instagram. Today my art hero Andrew Salgado posted a shot of himself in an orange raincoat against an orange wall, and now that’s all I want to paint! As well as the pieces I sell through galleries, I paint on A3 size Arches paper and that’s where I experiment, and they’re all stacked up in a cupboard! I need to have a sale.

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What is the first thing you do when you sit down to start a new oil painting?

So this depends a little on which one of my themes I’m working on. For the big textured botanical pieces, I almost always start with a fast, loose acrylic underpainting. I stand, listen to podcasts or music, move around and go on instinct. I may use a ref photo but often don’t. I start from a position of wanting to use certain colors or shapes, and this informs what I’m working towards. For the portraits and nudes, I tend to sit at the table and use a desktop easel. The nudes are from life or ref photos, I sketch multiple times in charcoal, rubbing out marks and rotating the support. Eventually, I will introduce a limited palette of oils. With the portraits, I dive in from a ref photo. I don’t grid up or anything. I paint the whole face at once and gradually refine.

Your paintings have a beautiful textural quality to them. What is your process like to achieve that texture?

Thank you! That came about mainly through laziness. I use so much saturated oil color that washing out my brushes each night was doing my head in. I tried a painting knife one day and got hooked! I rarely use a brush now except for the portraits. It helped me simplify, and I love the geometric quality.

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What is your favorite part about working with fluid paints?

Oh, it’s just so fun, it’s exciting. It’s a proper thrill to squeeze paint from a tube, mix it with the knife. With the washy underpainting, I love the unexpected blends. With my oils, I enjoy the thick texture and sheer glazes. The only thing I don’t like is how messy I am. Each tube is lidless, covered in paint, etc.

What advice do you have for our readers who are struggling to change their artistic paths?

My week with Martin Campos did genuinely change my life. I’d say if you can afford it, seek out artists you love and admire and try and study with them. Even a weekend will help! Give yourself permission to play, don’t feel the need to show everything. Expect changes to take time. Your audience may take time to catch up to your new style. Imagine you had a year left, what would you do with it? What is your true passion? But be practical! You need to survive, and there’s no shame in working for money to allow yourself the luxury of time to explore.

Monica Ikegwu
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Monica Ikegwu is a 20-year-old Baltimore based figure painter. She has been awarded as a first place winner in the XL Catlin Art prize (2018), a Young Arts Finalist (2017), a Gold medal winner in the NAACP ACT-SO National competition (2016), and as a Scholastic silver medal portfolio winner (2016). Her work was recently displayed and exhibited at the Reginald F. Lewis museum, as well as at Ida B’s Table in a joint show early in 2018. She now attends and studies at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) as a Junior.

Statement

Monica Ikegwu’s work is structured upon the portraiture and depiction of African Americans. She displays figures rendered in the three dimension while accompanied with two dimensional design elements. Her work brings to focus subtleties that she notices in the black community, as well as her personal life. Living in Baltimore and the way that she experiences it plays a big role in the ideas that she develops for the work. Taking feelings and aspects from her surroundings, she presents them in a way that is not only captivating but also unconventional. The figures presented in her work are often times her siblings and family from whom she draws most of her inspiration from as she watches them progress through life.

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Andrea Castro
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Andrea Castro is a visual artist from Spain with a thing for odd and unusual stories. She began taking art lessons when she was 14. Later she studied Fashion Design and discovered she would never befriend the sewing machine, so she ditched it and committed herself to full-time painting in 2015. In her recent series of work, Andrea paints all those strangers we spot at the street but never pay closer attention to, asking herself the most bizarre questions about those people. "How many times did I walk past a killer in my life?" Questions that lead to even more peculiar stories she makes up in her artwork. Her paintings are featured in several online and printed magazines and owned by collectors from all over the world.

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Eunmi Mimi Kim
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Each of experiential researches (4.0) are part of the self-experiment series that focus on sensory isolation in order to explore atypical, eccentric, but rather introspective methods that enable me to establish a diverse spectrum within my own comfort zone to get away from a state of the overwhelming external world.

(As people become more and more concerned with the psychological ramification of (an) overwhelming digital world, we may finally be ready to explore /the real benefits of taking-a-vacation from the senses.) — Meehan Crist, Postcards from the edge of consciousness

I am a solitary being who can easily be pushed into ‘sensory overload.’ As such, Me-Time 4.0) aims to align my mind and body back into balance by reducing sensory stimuli. This is a series of self-experiments that use eccentric methods of REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) to explore my conditions of hyperthyroidism (a hormone/stress-related disease), hypersensitivity, and meticulousness. Being isolated while experiencing contemplation and self-reflection, but remaining aware of the external world, is for me a form of mindfulness.

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