9 Questions With Stefano Bonazzi

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What does art mean to you?

“I attract human relationships. All my work is focused on the individual, on the individual and on its interaction with the social and environmental context in which it is dropped and this is often the main factor in the context of the anxieties , insecurities and attitudes of self-defense that it brings. The human mind is so rich in facets and sides unknown or feared that despite centuries of artistic and scientific research , we are still working hard on these issues and I am convinced that many of the major difficulties of our society, reside in these dark sides and feared. I wish I could have the presumption to say that in my artistic career is also a lot of psychological research and not just figurative.”

What is your background, what is your story?

I am a self-taught. I’ve always had a passion for graphics and design in general. I studied filmmaking at university and have always been fascinated by the cinema in all its forms: from the most commercial to the more experimental. I approached the art with more traditional techniques (charcoal sketch, watercolor, oil …) then I realized they were not the means by which I was able to fully express my creative vision. So I oriented to traditional photographic frame, but even so I was not completely satisfied with the final results. Anyone see for the first time a my image instantly understand that 50% of it is the result of artificial elaborations, so the observer begins a process of curiosity to separate the real aspects from those made via software.”

What inspired your works?

“The images that I compose are the result of sleepless nights or visions come to life in an almost spontaneous in front of my eyes, but I also love to let me inspire and engage the work of many other artists, painters and writers, who somehow manage to touch my sensitivity. I am continually looking for new ideas and ways forward, step entire weekend around exhibitions and nights looking for talented visual. I’m totally fascinated by the atmosphere of Roman Polanski’s movies. I feel very close to visual search and sick visions of the short films of David Lynch, to the surrealism of Magritte and Dali, the constant sense of anxiety which is reflected in huge young faces of Gottfried Helnwein, the human distress of the protagonists in the shots of Nan Goldin or the early claustrophobic video of Floria Sigismondi, plus many other artists who, although with different means of expression, investigate constantly on the individual as the ongoing research projects of Marina Abramović or Sophie Calle.”

How do you feel when you are creating? How do you feel when you have finished a piece?

“Creating is like making love. After the end of a work that satisfies me I feel like after an orgasm: relaxed and at peace with myself. Although this feeling only lasts a few minutes.”

What are you trying to communicate with your art?

“I hide the faces to convey emotions with the body and its postures. Even the background world is very important. Body and ambient need to work together to perceive the final message. I think it’s too easy to use a tearful face to convey sadness or a smile to convey happiness. It is much more difficult to express emotions using only the postures and elements of scenery. The face may be false, hypocritical. The body and the nature instead are not able to lie. I do not think my images represent reality understood as such. The purpose of my images, as I think of all those artists “surrealist”, is to emphasize only certain aspects or feelings belonging to the real world in which we live. I think that surrealism, like a lot of art in general, is a tool to express a range of emotions that you would not see through more conventional means.”

What medium do you gravitate towards and why?

“Currently I only use photography and photomanipulation but I hope in the future to use other techniques to get the job done. I do not care about the type of medium, for me it’s just important that the message I want to communicate is clear”

How do you feel when people misinterpret your work?

“I leave people free to interpret my work. I do a track, but people can choose whether to follow or not. If my pictures are able to reflect and discuss the people, I think has been fully satisfied.”

What advice do you have for other artists?

“Be constant. Do not be discouraged by disappointments or failed attempts and not selling out.”

If today was your last day, what do you want people to know about you and your works?

“I wish people remembered me for the feelings that have tried looking at my pictures. Whether positive or negative feelings I do not care.”

 

10 Questions With Rose Umerlik

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What does art mean to you?

“There is a purity to art; it is the one place you can be honest and courageous, where trusting in yourself has its rewards. Even in the missteps, there is still reward.”

What is your background, what is your story?

“I am a hardened survivor of emotional neglect and verbal abuse. As an adult that is continually challenged to overcome these hardships, I fail a lot. The cycle of failing and trying, the determination needed to constantly re-engage in these struggles, spills over into my work. I am a very dedicated and determined artist and I don’t get swept up in my failures too much. Art has been my outlet since my earliest memories; I would cease to exist if I could not continue to make art.”

What inspired your works?

“My work is inspired by the dynamics that exist in families, marriage, relationships and within one’s self.”

How do you feel when you are creating?

“When I start a piece, my emotions are in extremes­; filled with excitement about a line or color I have laid down, and then filled with disappointment at the failures inherent in the process. There is always a point in each piece where these emotions are replaced by a steadiness, an easy flow…this begins when the piece starts to come together and takes on it’s own trajectory.”

How do you feel when you have finished a piece?

“So tired, my body shakes with exhaustion and it takes everything for me to just clean my brushes. After all the brushes are cleaned and the wet painting is secured in the drying racks, I can breathe…and then I am all joy. The natural high from completing a painting will usually last for a few days.”

What are you trying to communicate with your art?

“Emotions, inter-personal dynamics, relationships.”

What medium do you gravitate towards and why?

“I’ve always gravitated to oil paint because to me it is the most challenging. Taking one of the oldest art forms and re-inventing it now, after everything has been done with it, sparks my interest daily. But I also love that with painting, you start with absolutely nothing and create something that is completely your own despite the constraints of a 2-D surface and the painting medium. By embracing these limitations, I have slowly and methodically honed my personal artistic language over the past two decades.”

How do you feel when people misinterpret your work?

“It doesn’t bother me. I try to keep my mind focused on my art practice and let people bring what they need to bring to my work. I don’t feel any impulse to control the viewer. The most important thing to me is that a viewer connects with a piece, however they need to interpret that piece is fine with me. I believe there should be a freedom in that connection. The viewer is important and I invite their personal experiences into my work. As I create my paintings, I am attempting to understand the complexity of my life relationships, and I’m always honored when people bring their own life story to my work.”

What advice do you have for other artists?

“Trust yourself and keep going.”

If today was your last day, what do you want people to know about you and your works?

“I don’t need anyone to know anything about me; I just hope all my paintings find a place in the world where they can be of some influence.”

10 Questions With Reginald Van de Velde

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What does art mean to you?

“I don’t think there’s a clear-cut answer to this one. Personally, art should always evoke an emotion and should raise questions in the viewer’s mind. These emotions and questions will always be a mixed bag of excitement, awe, bewildering, repulsion, serenity, …”

What is your background, what is your story?

“I’m a graphic designer in a big advertising agency. The way I layout stuff and design things for my daytime job can be translated in how I compose and frame my pictures. I’m a sucker for mathematical correct pictures. A horizon should be straight. Even the slightest tilt of a single degree renders the picture into something your mind will label as a flaw. And it’s the same with designing stuff. A good balanced design works. Safe to say graphic design and photography share the same patterns.”

What inspired your works?

“Edward Burtynsky, Andreas Gursky, Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre, for their perfectionism and truly inspiring work.”

How do you feel when you are creating? How do you feel when you have finished a piece?

“In a first stage unrest takes the upper hand. But the more time you spent on a location trying to capture that perfect moment of solitude, peace and calmness takes over. Until the security van pulls over, you switch full memory cards with empty ones, and prepare for The Great Escape in a true Steve McQueen style.  A piece is only finished when it has gone through the proper post processing, printed in large, and seen at full size on a wall. I’m a happy man when it reflects the same feeling I had whilst being at that location.”

What are you trying to communicate with your art?

“I’m showing a world no one ever sees. I’m showing a world that’s right behind your corner: you have passed it a thousand times, but you were never aware of its existence. I’m showing a forsaken world left in neglect, but filled with grandeur & beauty.”

What medium do you gravitate towards and why?

“Photography. I don’t think traditional oil paintings in an abandonment would work: by the time your piece is finished the ceiling collapsed.”

How do you feel when people misinterpret your work?

“People usually don’t misinterpret a picture of an abandoned place. It’s pretty obvious what’s going on. But there are many occasions when people aren’t aware of the amount of time and effort that goes into researching and finding these places. Far too many times have I been contacted by film studios, TV production units and location scouts all asking me one thing: where is this, where is that. On one occasion a film crew just demanded my complete database of locations, like it was a “normal thing to do”. Advertising agencies are also very pushy towards getting info out of me. Couple of months ago I was contacted by an agency that was in desperate need: “we can’t find a bunker for a shoot next week, please help”. ““Try the French coastline””, I replied. ““The one on the West, not the French Rivièra that you know damn too well””.

What advice do you have for other artists?

“Reach for the moon. And if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars.”

If today was your last day, what do you want people to know about you and your works?

“That I have tried to show the lost grandeur, stark beauty and sheer momentum of our fragile abandonments.”

10 Questions With Alan Coulson

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What does art mean to you?

“It’s about indulging myself by trying to make things that are engaging and visually stimulating.”

What is your background, what is your story?

“I’d always had an interest in drawing and painting, but didn’t get along very well with art school and never considered it as a career or in fact make any work until around 7 years ago. I’d been working in fashion retail for years and was fed up. I left and starting painting, put on a small exhibition locally, received a couple of commissions and started thinking I could potentially make a living doing this.”

What inspired your works?

“Lucian Freud, Stanley Spencer, David Hockney, visits to the National Portrait Gallery. Loads of contemporary realist painters. Oh and Tretchikoff!”

How do you feel when you are creating? How do you feel when you have finished a piece?

“Painting is a frustrating battle for me, it’s not something that comes easily. I have differing feelings about every finished piece, sometimes pride sometimes I never want to see them again!”

What are you trying to communicate with your art?

“It’s purely about the aesthetic. I’ve no particular interest in narrative in my work, I just try to make sensitively made, honest representations of people I meet.”

What medium do you gravitate towards and why?

“Oil, I think because it allows me to push things around until I’m content.”

How do you feel when people misinterpret your work?

“I tend to think that if you make your work public then you have to accept varying opinion.”

What advice do you have for other artists?

“I’m not sure I should be giving out any advise, just dream and do what makes you happy!”

If today was your last day, what do you want people to know about you and your works

“I haven’t a clue what I’m doing but I tried hard.”

10 Questions With Nir Arieli

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What does art mean to you?

“Art is my access to intimate moments with strangers, art allows me to experience beauty.”

What is your background, what is your story?

“I grew up knowing that I’d make art one day. In my teenage years I experienced with different mediums. When I was 18 I was drafted to the Israeli military in which I served as a military photographer for three years. I gained my BFA from SVA and my first solo show will open on January 16th 2014 at Daniel Cooney Fine Art gallery in Chelsea, NYC.”

What inspired your works?

“I’m an observer. I consume sights and ideas all the time but I’m also surrounded by talented people. I have friends who are amazing directors, dancers, designers, painters, musicians… And I got great education that led me to follow the work of great photographers, some of them have been around for a while and some are making their way up right now which is very exciting.”

How do you feel when you are creating? How do you feel when you have finished a piece?

“Creating is not a choice for me. I find myself doing it and it feels like a great mission that I have to fulfill in this life. I can’t say that it comes out of me easily, I spend a lot of time thinking about it and questioning the ways I do things. However, when I’m finished with a piece I feel great catharsis. Creating can change my mental state drastically. I feel very lucky that I can utilize it in that sense.”

What are you trying to communicate with your art?

“I never have a clear message that I’m trying to deliver, I think it will fail the art if I did. I believe that the admiration I have for my subjects and the field I’m working within (dance) are communicated to the viewers. However, the specific ideas I have are not and should not be expressed. I hope that my work evokes just a flavor, a beginning of an ideas that the viewer is able to expand on, and take it to their own path.”

What medium do you gravitate towards and why?

“I married photography in the military and even though I’m flirting with other mediums, like video, once and a while, I truly think we will never bore out each other. I’m not sure why but nothing else I’ve tried felt so right and allowed me to connect to people at the level photography does. We simply understand each other.”

How do you feel when people misinterpret your work?

“I don’t know if I believe in misinterpretation. I mean, of course I’ve seen headlines in the press that aggravated me and comments I disagreed with but at the same time I realized why it is important to open these ideas to discussion. I don’t think any reaction that the work evokes is wrong or bad.”

What advice do you have for other artists?

“I feel like I’m too young to give advices but if I have to, I’d say that it’s always good to be full of doubts and hesitations but you have to keep on going. Creating is a state of being, it’s dangerous to step out of the cycle because you or anyone else don’t have faith. Stop when it’s doing you bad, if you’re thinking of an outcome instead of a process then your thoughts are navigated towards the wrong direction.”

If today was your last day, what do you want people to know about you and your works?

“I don’t know if it’s important that people know anything about me, but I do want and hope that the work gets to as many eyes and touch as many hearts as possible. I’d say that even if it’s not my last day, I think it is every artist’s wish. In a sense, any work of art has the possibility to become immortal and that what makes it so much stronger than us.”

10 Questions With Oriana Fenwick

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What does art mean to you?

“Art is the best way to make visual the elements of life or thought that are not easily accessible through words or gestures. Through art whole new worlds can be brought about.”

What is your background, what is your story?

“I grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe surrounded by a very artistic family. I used to watch my mother for hours making her pictures in her studio. I remember being especially fond of her pencil drawings and from an early age desperately tried to be as good as her. Practicing my own drawing skills on every surface – much to my parents dismay – I slowly but surely got better. My obsession never stopped. I loved challenging myself to capture my surroundings just as they were.

My mother and I moved to Frankfurt, Germany when I was in my early teens. I’m sure the change of surroundings had an influence on my art, seeing as I became more and more interested in the human form and generally organically shaped objects as motifs. My ability to draw always played a role in my life though I never really thought I would seriously pursue art or illustration as a job later. After my A-levels I applied to the art college (Hochschule fuer Gestaltung) in Offenbach, more for fun than anything else thinking that I would be better off studying something “serious” such as medicine. When the admittance to the art college came through I felt unexpectedly different about the situation. It suddenly made much more sense to pursue a job that incorporated my talents and true interests. I haven’t regretted my decision since.”

What inspired your works?

“I feel mostly inspired by the human form and other organic shapes. I also find that banal objects put into different and unusual contexts can be very interesting. Sometimes it is the odd expression in someone’s face that can be unexpectedly inspiring or the gloss of a person’s hair.”

How do you feel when you are creating? How do you feel when you have finished a piece?

 “The actual process of drawing is to me a way to let go and relax. The feeling you get when you know something is working out just the way you planned it is hugely thrilling and captivating. I usually strive for scientific perfection whilst working on an illustration. 

Depending on whether I’m really totally satisfied with my work or not usually determines how I feel once I have completed a piece.”

What are you trying to communicate with your art?

“Unusual and unexpected visual experiences using what I find in my surroundings. I love the unexpected “WOW” effect.”

What medium do you gravitate towards and why?

“I almost exclusively use pencil for my drawings. I love the depth you can bring into a picture using just different shades of grey. Pencil is also very forgiving – if not entirely satisfied with something there is always the possibility of reversing what it is you don’t like, it gives you more control over the situation than paint for example. So many people are strictly against the use of erasers, but I don’t see why they should be prohibited when trying to achieve a desired effect.”

How do you feel when people misinterpret your work?

“I don’t believe in misinterpretation. I like to let people see what they want to see with regard to my pictures. I don’t like telling others what to feel but far more try to grant them the freedom of using their own imagination.”

What advice do you have for other artists?

“Do what makes you happy and stay true to yourself. Find out what your own talent is and go with it. Don’t compare your work to that of other’s – easier said than done but very important. Only this way can you avoid distraction and develop your own visual language.”

If today was your last day, what do you want people to know about you and your works?

“I hope I managed to make the one or the other person happy with what I do.

 (A platitude on the side: I always start with the left eye when drawing faces)”

10 Questions With Kelly Blevins

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What does art mean to you?

“I believe art is one of the main substances of life, and a unique attribute to human nature. It’s how we connect or disconnect with each other with it’s infinite roads of possibilities.”

What is your background, what is your story?

I was born in Tucson, AZ, 1984, mostly grew up on the Eastern cost of the U.S. I have been living in Pittsburgh, PA for about 10 years and this is where I’ve grown and developed into a full-time artist. Now I work in my studio day to day studying the disciplinary arts of creation.”

What inspired your works?

Many things have inspired and do inspire my work. Inspiration is this independent being of it’s own, and most of the time it comes when I’m sleeping or about to sleep. It’s a fragile thing,almost secret. So, if I’d have to say what inspires me the most it would be the pure mystery of living as an artist. I’m always looking for new things to learn and see to keep a fresh perspective. Also, my morning coffee is also inspirational.”

How do you feel when you are creating? How do you feel when you have finished a piece?

I am usually manic when I’m working on a new piece. Not just on an emotional basis, but intellectually as well. Almost as if every drawing is a therapy session and when I’m finished I’ve learned so much about myself and others. Each drawing is an internal revelation for me.”

What are you trying to communicate with your art?

With my drawings I’m generally creating a presence more than a statement to communicate with. They mostly have a direct contact with the viewer and if the they establish a communication, it’s on their terms. My work is there for people to step into or out of.”

What medium do you gravitate towards and why?

My medium of choice is charcoal. I love the unruly behavior and it’s near impossible erasing inability. I take the challenges it gives as an opportunity to create unique works of art. The direct nature of charcoal is something I relate to and find comfort in.”

How do you feel when people misinterpret your work?

People have yet to really misinterpret my work. I find others thoughts and interpretations to be interesting because it is a reflection of who they are. I feel it’s a good thing to allow an audience to develop their own visions, they’re going to do that anyway. So, it’s nice for me to go back and forth with ideas as the artist with the viewer.”

What advice do you have for other artists?

My advice to aspiring artists is to never stop what you’re doing. Sometimes it might feel pointless, but there isn’t always a point. It’s mostly about just creating and making a bunch of points.”

If today was your last day, what do you want people to know about you and your works?

If today was my last day, I would be really sad! I’d like for people to know that I really love coffee and chocolate. And as far as my work, I’d still leave that up to them. Mysteries are what make life interesting.”

10 Questions With Kameron Richie

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What does art mean to you?

“That is a hard question to answer, I guess I’d start with saying that art is a philosophy housing infinite ways of thinking. With the making, sharing, and the discussing of art the artist doesn’t have to write a book for a viewer to understand one’s aesthetics, beliefs and thought process. That person just has to experience what someone has made. Even then not everything translates exactly to the next person, original meaning both lives and dies in the chasm between the maker and the audience.”

What is your background, what is your story?

“If you grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, you wouldn’t have much to say about it either.”

What inspired your works?

“Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ series is continuing to inspire my most recent prints. It’s a cerebral experience to read his books and not understand or be able to predict much of anything. Even still, you’re being given clues to the larger plot on every page. I find that really fascinating.”

How do you feel when you are creating? How do you feel when you have finished a piece?

“When I’m creating I honestly have tunnel vision, I’ve given myself many limitations while printing and also many are already upon me that I don’t have to think about anything other than finishing the print. Once I’ve finished a print, pulled it from the press and put it on a wall is when I first experience what I’ve made. Whether I love or hate what is on the wall, seeing a new print is always like getting glasses for the first time.”

What are you trying to communicate with your art?

“I’m trying to convey a place where you’ve been given enough information to make a guess at what is happening but never enough to be sure of what you’ve concluded.”

What medium do you gravitate towards and why?

“I gravitate towards intaglio, and more specifically towards aquatint. I know that means nothing to most people, essentially I’m melting tree sap onto a copper plate and then dropping it into a bucket of acid. It’s not by any means a safe process but it makes a mark that isn’t possible in any other 2D process. Intaglio is frankly something I understand. I spent a lot of my time in school trying to figure out what I wanted to make and how to make it, and printmaking is where I found my niche.”

How do you feel when people misinterpret your work?

“That’s totally fine. Part of the point is to not understand and you only would if you read the titles of the prints and associated them to the books I’m reading. I’m working just as hard on the aesthetics of my work as I am orchestrating meaning into the compositions, geometry, and color palettes.”

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What advice do you have for other artists?

“I would say to keep a critique group close, not yes men (or women) but people who will tell you your work sucks when it does. People who are trying to make you a better artist and not pump up your ego. Also, as much as our generation fawns over the Internet, apply to juried shows and residencies. Go to gallery openings, see art, and meet people. Build up your CV, and have a solid portfolio. These things are just as important as having a cool website.”

If today was your last day, what do you want people to know about you and your works?

“I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be considered important or have my art make it into the art historical canon, but if today was my last day I can’t say there is anything special I’d have people know about me or my work. If today was my last day and I knew it, I’d be on a road trip far from here.”