Posts tagged Surrealism
Tropical Utopias: Interview With Fei Alexeli

Fei Alexeli is a digital visual artist, born and raised in Seres, Greece in 1987. While studying architecture in Oxford, she found her passion for visual arts. She completed her BA in Arts and later finished her post-graduate architectural studies at the University of East London. Fei uses photography, photo-montage and digital collage in her practice, and is interested in mixing real elements to create surreal environments and situations. 

Tell us about your creative journey. When did you decide to become an artist?

I'd say it took me a while to believe in the idea and myself, probably when I was studying architecture. School of architecture introduced me to all the creative fields, there was a moment I realized I didn't need to have great drawing skills to become one.

I did finish architecture, worked as an architect for a while, but it was suffocating. I knew I invested a lot to become one, but I had to be honest with myself and go for my passion which is the visual arts.

You frequently introduce tropical elements in your work. What is the inspiration behind your recent series?

Tropical is associated with summer and holidays, happy places in general so I really like to use them for my utopias. And from the other hand tropical evokes something exotic for me. In my recent series, I use a repetitive element, this of the sun. I like to play with the dichotomy of the sun and the moon, and this idea that they both coexist at the same time. Who doesn't love a bunch of palm trees and sunrises on the moon after all?

best ride of your life_fei alexeli_100 x 70 cm.jpg

What would you say your art is about?

Contemporary pop surrealism. I like to create surreal utopias, with a mixture of Americana, universe and tropical elements blended with pastel colors and pinks. It's a form of liberation from the oppressive boundaries of reality.

How do you come up with the imagery and color palette in each piece?

I have a huge library of images, my own, scanned old magazines and online open sources that I use. I start with an idea, sometimes this is just a color palette that I want to use, sometimes it's a quote or even just a feeling, sometimes it's something more solid like I have this concept in my mind very precisely structured. Whatever the case, the result always evolves in ways different than what I have in mind. So I could say it starts from a very conscious place and in the process, I let go to something more visceral.

Fei Alexeli_Facing the Moon_2018_Digital Collage_limited edition of 20_50 x 70 cm_mounted on mdf board_700 pounds.jpg

Do you feel participating in art fairs has helped push your art career forward? If so, how?

Yes, a lot. The reason I am a full-time artist at the moment is because of the fairs I've participated too. The first one was The Other Art Fair back in 2016 in London, I sold a few pieces and there were galleries interested in my work and I managed to collaborate with a few of them. I mean it doesn't always work like this but it worked so far for me. You need to find your audience and your market and fairs help you build your audience although it takes time.

Fei Alexeli_Facing the Tiger_2018_Digital Collage_limited edition of 20_70 x 100 cm_mounted on mdf board_1150 pounds.jpg

What is the best piece of advice you received as an artist so far?

To follow my instinct. As an artist there is no specific path to follow, most of the times there's no right or wrong either, so always go for my hunch.

the fool_fei alexeli_50 x 70 cm.jpg

What do you hope the viewers take away from your work?

When I read Carl Sagan's speech of the Pale Blue Dot for the first time it was inspiring and revealing. When I look in the sky and try to imagine the vastness of the universe, how unknown everything is to us, the endless possibilities of things that might exist, I realize we are ignorant and only here for the short term. This creates a sense of relief and helps me put everything in perspective. Nothing is really important, we are simply here to exist and enjoy. I find comfort in this thought and I want people who see my work to relate to this.

Elisabeth Ladwig

Elisabeth Ladwig is an award-winning photographic artist living in West Milford, New Jersey. Her work is the convergence of a graphic design career, photography, and collage art. A grade-school revelation connecting science, nature, and magic fuels her creations—the idea that all of life’s mysteries fall within the parameters of scientific explanation, that science abides by the Laws of Nature, and that all of it is magical. Today, she offers viewers a variety of metaphors for the miracles all around us, and for humankind's relationship with the Earth and with the Cosmos.

Once an idea is born in her sketchbook, Elisabeth sets out to take the photographs she needs to create the image. Her process is variable and spiritually instinctive; often, an image is well on its way or even completed before its concept is fully understood, and that meaning may vary from one viewing to the next. All of her scenes have a strong natural connection, set completely or partially outdoors, often with an anonymous subject. "Anonymity allows the viewer to take part in writing the story," she says, "and that story is going to be different for everyone."

Upon finishing her studies in Graphic and Digital Design at Parsons, her artistic career began in the music industry, where she designed for the likes of Patrick Stewart, Liza Minnelli, Barry Manilow, and for Broadway and major motion pictures. Her current photo artistry has been represented by galleries from Scottsdale to Rome and was chosen for Presenze, an international exhibition of Women in the Arts 2016. Notable publicity includes Spirituality & Health Magazine, Professional Artist magazine (cover), and Our Berkshire Times Magazine (cover), as well as digital displays in Times Square and at the Louvre.


It was age 11, I think. That’s about the age when I decided adults were wrong: magic does exist.

As I lay in the grass watching pre-tornado skies, I realized it was all around me, hidden behind the sciences of meteorology, botany, astronomy... the warmth of miracles suppressed by experiments and equations and proofs. It became clear that the beauty of science, nature, and magic was indeed one in the same, and it saddened me that the miraculous nature of it all had been dismissed so irresponsibly over time. Photo compositing allows me to create metaphorical reminders of the magic and miracles in an attempt to bring humanity back home to its roots: kin of the Earth. So, with a nod to Mother Nature and her fairytale existence, I work to seek out equal beauty in the storm as in the sunrise.

Michael Dandley

“After we have touched a landscape, the landscape still has a future. These paintings explore lands fatigued from human use. 

Echoes of today resonate within these spaces - looming anxieties of war, environmental disaster, and commonplace infrastructure give the impression that the scenes represented are not too far from our own. 

Many are cast in a future where people are gone, but their footprints remain. Physical structures crumble, yet emotional energies remain - depicted by surreal color and lighting. If places know they have a purpose, Dreamscapes imagines they carry that memory into the future even after we have forgotten them.  

The future includes the past, the human touch; it is hopeful and discouraging, a daydream and nightmare.

Born in 1991. Michael Dandley has lived and worked in Portsmouth, New Hampshire since receiving his BFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst."

Dreamscapes and Inner Worlds by Nicole Gordon

In this body of work, I explore the relationship of a young person set against a backdrop of common, pleasurable experience crossed with destructive events. These seemingly banal activities are set against imagery of destructive forces imposing fury against the quietude. These dreamscapes represent the thrilling and terrifying worlds that we can create within our own minds if given the chance to truly be alone.

I am a painter living in Chicago, Illinois. I received my Bachelors of Fine Arts degree at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I have had solo exhibitions in Chicago (Linda Warren Projects, the Chicago Cultural Center and the Elmhurst Art Museum), Los Angeles (Corey Helford Gallery), Wisconsin (The Kohler Art Center), Ohio (Angela Meleca Gallery) and Boston (Miller Block Gallery). I have participated in group shows around the country and have completed large scale public art commissions for the Chicago Transit Authority and for New England Biolabs in Massachusetts.


When did you know you wanted to pursue art?

I’ve been interested in making art for as long as I can remember. I decided to get a bachelor of fine arts degree in college because I couldn’t imagine my life without art as a central component. I still can’t imagine it.


Tell us about your process. How do you come up with each painting? Do you keep references, sketches or notes before you execute each piece?

I typically come up with a theme for a series of paintings that might include anywhere from 10 to 20 pieces that fit into an overarching concept. I keep an ongoing database of imagery that I draw from to create the narratives within the paintings. Sometimes I come across an image that gets added to my database that I might not find the appropriate use for until years down the road. Since the color palettes of my paintings greatly influence the mood of each piece, I like to work out my color combinations before the painting process even begins.


What inspires the color and imagery in your paintings? 

My narratives are meant to be interpreted as dreamscapes so the hyper-saturated and high-key colors create a out-of-time feeling that isn’t rooted in reality. I try to choose imagery that is timeless and nostalgic.


Name a few of your influences. 

I have been influenced by varying periods of art history throughout my artistic practice. I am currently very inspired by the female Surrealist painters who were creating works in which the subconscious mind was explored. Dorothea Tanning once wrote, “Keep your eye on your inner world.” This statement resonates conceptually with my newest body paintings that depict the thrilling and terrifying worlds that we can create within our own minds if given the chance to truly be alone. New York based artist Valerie Hegarty is a big influence on my art making practice because of her incredible ability to work in a variety of media and she continually explores new materials throughout her career. While I consider myself primarily a painter, I like to challenge myself to take my work off of the 2-dimensional plane and into the realm of sculpture and installation.


What is the Chicago art community like? Do you feel it has had an effect on your art and career?

 I have been working and living in Chicago since graduating from college so there is no question that Chicago art community has been a huge part of my career development. The first galleries that I ever worked with are in my hometown. The Chicago Cultural Center still rates as one of my top recommendations for seeing amazing and diverse art exhibitions. The Chicago art community has been changing a lot over the last few years and there is such a renewed and exciting energy about the city with a lot of experimental spaces popping up all around the city. 


How important is fun and experimentation in your process?

Experimentation is a very important component to the way that I create my imagery. I create narratives and combine imagery from so many different sources that it requires a lot of experimentation with how the various layers of imagery relate to each other. I have a lot of fun with the process of creating these narratives in which I strive to contain both an air of whimsy as well as darker undertones that reveal themselves the more time that is spent with the work.

Last Resort.jpg

What advice would you give other artists just starting out?

My biggest piece of advice would be to stay true to yourself and make the work that you are passionate about. I think it's important to not focus so much on what's trending and popular but rather on making work that you feel deeply connected to.

Anna Di Mezza 

Anna Di Mezza is a painter from New South Wales, Australia. She has a background in the study of graphic design and has also worked in the television animation industry as an inbetweener for Walt Disney. 

Her current body of work is Surrealistic in nature. They are collage-like arrangements of chance encounters, old Hollywood lovers and anachronistic retellings of history. Her work displaces characters from their homes in vintage photographs, jettisoning them into cold-washed, mountainous landscapes or setting them in front of fresh hewn crystals, displacing them into Alice in Wonderland irregular proportions. 

Her work is greatly influenced by the filmmaker David Lynch, whose films are like a journey to a parallel universe, which is a theme she aims for in her own work. The aim of the paintings is open to interpretation, as they seem pointedly unresolved. 

Interview: Dean Reynolds

Dean Reynolds is an american artist who's work can be described as Psychadelic Surrealism. His work explores ideas of mythology, religion, psychology and surrealist ideas. His work is a mixture of humor, Dr. Seuss, Alice in Wonderland, and the complex ideas of Carl Jung.  His work combines seriousness with the silly.  Images that are accessible and yet still a mystery.


Your artwork exhibits incredible technical skill in both drawing and painting. Can you tell us a little about your artistic journey? When did these skills develop?

I have always found the approach to making work with great technical means both challenging and intriguing. Challenging, because it’s a skill, or a set of skills, that needs practice, honing, experience, and diligence. Intriguing, because you always come across limitations, things that you don’t have any previous knowledge of.

While in undergrad, I wanted to develop those skills of rendering form, space, and light via painting and drawing.I spent a great deal of time sketching and doodling in sketchbooks that I always carried with me. Outside of class, I went to open studio figure drawing sessions and open figure painting sessions as much as possible. My education was in service to a very traditional way of painting, which allowed me to create a window to a world by understanding perspective, anatomy, light, space. 

It was in graduate school that the pursuit of technical skill became a way to create a world on a two-dimensional surface that was not about being realistic.


Tell us about your artistic process. Your paintings are incredibly complex. What goes into developing and planning each piece?

It begins with an idea, from reading something or an image that comes to me. It generally arrives from doing thumbnail sketches or quick sketches. From there, I prepare a canvas and make a small, quick oil sketch of the image. I tone the canvas a dark brown and from there I draw out the basic forms with a white charcoal pencil. I lay down the basic forms. The drawing is just a guide, not something that I will follow exactly as blueprint. 

I guess I should be specific and use the painting Pychopomp Manabohzo as an example. It coincided with reading a great deal of Native American mythologies and sacred narratives. This image started out as a basic little thumbnail sketch in graphite pencil. It is a small drawing of a rabbit-like creature on a path. Tentacles emanate from the creature’s head, which also has a human face. In the distance, circular clouds form in the background horizon.

I built a somewhat square canvas, toned it, and began to draw out the basic design. From there, I began with the sky. I worked on the clouds, building up form by direct painting, scumbling and glazing. When I got to the forms on the horizon, I wanted to do something different from the small sketch. I then worked on some more small sketches of what might be there instead. I made some sketches of flower figures that were not flowers. I then made refined pencil sketches of these flower-figures and then made a small oil sketch of these forms. I went back to work and worked those out on the canvas. Since the color of the work was dominated by cool blues and violets, I made the choice that some warmer colors needed to be introduced. I made the path a reddish hue to pull the viewer through the painting. The path has a strange texture of either broken plates, or some might say raw meat, but it offers a visceral texture for the eye. With the rabbit figure, I knew that I had to paint every hair, every hair had to be visually felt. What also was informing the work was the images, symbols and figures of Native American mythos. The rabbit, or the Manabohzo, is a trickster figure. The rabbit is a creator figure that brought forth the Elk and was the guide to the spirits of the dead. The rabbit never runs straight, but in a zig-zag pattern as is the path in the painting. Since it is the master of knowledge and giving life, the two tentacles balance two symbols, the acorn and a key. The acorn is the symbol of life, potential, and birth, and the key unlocks doors, doors to knowledge and wisdom. The reason it has antlers is reference to its creation of the elk. The image is one of turning and of cyclical progress. The clouds and landscape contrast each other; the clouds turn upward and the land downward. The word Psychopomp is an obscure word. It means a spirit guide. The spirit guide is not just the guide of the spirits of the dead but a guide to transformation, to transition, to wisdom. 


You have described your work as being influenced by the ideas of Carl Jung, psychological and surrealist ideas. When did your fascination with psychology begin? What aspects of these theories have inspired your work the most?

My interest in Jung has been with me for several years. It began with great vigor when I attended grad school. He is not the easiest to read and that is why I find his work intriguing. There are Jungians like James Hillman and Marie-Louis von Franz who are more approachable in their explanation of Jungian ideas. Unlike Freud, Jung saw the mind or the human situation as not just mechanically fixed but as organic, transformative. His ideas about the collective archetypes, the idea that we all share common themes, expressions, and symbols through our mythologies, religions, even rituals have always captured my interests. Jung was interested in many areas that would be considered irrelevant or not worth investigation, such as Alchemy, the Occult, and the I Ching; the ideas of the Anima/Animus (the masculine/feminine), the shadow aspect of the psyche (that which is hidden or suppressed) and the complex subtly of the approach to the individual; and then lastly his active imagination as a method of understanding.

My work is very inspired by those ideas, and the things that Jung and other Jungians delved into. Mythologies, The Occult, numerology, other religious, and the symbolism with all of those areas. The complexity of Jung is something that is happening in my work. The work I do is invested with those interests, the masculine and the feminine, the symbolism and narratives of mythos, and the use of imagination for understanding. Jung was working through language, and I am working primarily through the visual. I always find new things in Jung’s work that surprise me and add to my visual vocabulary. The work becomes otherworldly and it is worth several viewings to plumb some deeper discoveries. My work is about making those discoveries for myself, and I hope the viewer also gains something. 


In 2015, you received the Griffin Art Prize, which included a four-week residency in London. Tell me about your experience with the London art scene. What impact did this experience have on you an artist, as well as your artwork as a whole?

The London art scene was much like the city: big, cosmopolitan, and surprising. I had the opportunity to attend the London Frieze Art Fair, the Tate Modern, the Gagosian and White Cube Galleries, as well as small out of the way galleries. Like the city, there was always something around the corner. It was a constant surge of people, visitors, you name it. 

I feel that when I left London for home I had a better understanding of my work and myself. I do not think that I could live and make work in that environment. The work I do is done in a form of isolation, away from the hustle and bustle of a loud city. If I were twenty, I could see myself in that kind of environment, but now I need to be away from the distractions. To be clear, my work is not about being on the cutting edge, but on something altogether different, the edge of the conscious mind. 

Your paintings, like The Cosmic Dharma of Bears, have such bizarre imagery that do not appear from this world, as if from a dream. Do you discover the imagery from your paintings in your own dreams or psyche, or are they influenced by outside sources?

It very much depends on circumstances. The Cosmic Dharma of Bears came out of my interests in Buddhism. This is not to say that the painting is a direct translation. Rather it was from allowing my mind, imagination, subconscious to explore the ideas. It’s starting in one place and then ending up in another location. I am taking a journey across country at night with only the head lights of the car to guide me. The work is from the psyche and outside sources. Each work has connections to other sources, ideas, and influences. 

In what aspect of your daily life do you find the most inspiration and motivation for your artwork?

I am basically a homebody. I read books and listen to music. The time most valuable and meaningful is in the evening. When all is quiet, the sun is down, and I am sitting in my apartment/studio around my work, studies or drawings, listening to ambient music or something that has an evening vibe.

What surrealist artist do you relate to the most and why?

here are so many to mention. It would be hard to say specifically. I will say that there was a time Dali was interesting, but I have moved on to others of the classic period of surrealism. I have become very interested in the work of Max Ernst. At first, I was not really attracted to his work, but I have grown to really like the striking images he has created. I have come to really delve into his book of surreal collages, Une Semaine de Bonte.The work of Remedios Varos provides more great images for me to ponder. These two artists have done things that I find surprising, original, and difficult. The work intrigues me. I want to see if I can manifest such work from myself as they. 

There is a contemporary surrealist artist, if we can use that term, for an artist from Thailand. Prateep Kochabua, an astoundingly skilled painter with stunning imagery that mixes surreal with the mythological and cultural of the southeast Asia. His craftsmanship is superb, and the images are so well handled and composed. I see him as someone whom I can learn from. He is doing things I wish I had thought of. His images contain depths of cultural symbols of his background in a way that is otherworldly. I could sit in front of his work for hours. He makes me want to be a better painter and believe there are still many possibilities to the visual that can be communicated. 

Shari Rubeck
American Artist, Shari Weschler Rubeck aka Sumo Bunni, holds a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, with a concentration in painting and art history. Professional experience includes retail, studio assistant, Artist-In-Residence and elementary arts education through her company Artrageous Adventures. Rubeck currently resides in Rhode Island USA where she operates a gallery and curates over twelve exhibits a year. Additionally, she administrates for a real estate brokerage with management of marketing, website development, social platforms and event planning.

Recent solo exhibitions include Woodman Shimko, Carver Hill, Candita Clayton & Alexey Von Schlippe Galleries. Group exhibits include Bunnycutlet, Skylight & Dacia Galleries and Call For Bushwick in NYC, Nave in Boston MA, Love Art Fair in Toronto,

Canada and AAF Stockholm, Sweden. Publications include Fresh Paint Magazine, Visual Overture Magazine, 6YL Magazine 2014 and 2015 accompanied by two pop up Australian exhibitions & a six-page feature with Emboss Magazine in July 2016. Rubeck will now join with Retrospect Galleries of Australia beginning in September 2016 and a round of Affordable Art Fairs in Europe & Asia.

My work focuses on unveiling the multiple levels of human and humanness. My goal is to create visuals that push thought into a new realm and transcend obvious assumption. As a species, we are evolving at an intriguingly fast pace with limitless trajectory. I am passionately interested in quantum mechanics, the psyche, theatre, animal nature, technology, communication and ancient history. Illusion and truth travel in unison – as an artist, it is essential to reveal some of those intertwining moments.