Arjun Kamath

Born 1987, India

Lives in: Bengaluru, India

Describe your art in 3 words: Vivid, aesthetically-rich, thought-provoking

See More Work:  https://kamatharjun.com | Instagram@arjunkamath87

My mind, a shining guillotine

"At large, my photographic works revolves around fascinating faces and characters. To put it simply, I love photographing people. My projects range from documentaries to fashion portraiture and advertising campaigns to tasteful weddings. But at the core, I enjoy telling stories and portraying the unique flavor each person brings to the world. At times, these stories are simple and endearing, taken during my travels, on fashion assignments while I collaborate with artists of the Indian film industry, or during wedding projects. At other times, they are complex and drive a social message. My photo stories called ‘Avani’, ‘Color of Our Skin’, and ‘The Anxiety Series’ are a testament, exploring grim realities of gender discrimination, racism, and mental illnesses through pictures and prose."

What themes does your work involve?
At large, my photographic works revolves around fascinating faces and characters. To put it simply, I love photographing people. My projects range from documentaries to fashion portraiture and advertising campaigns to tasteful weddings. But at the core, I enjoy telling stories and portraying the unique vibrance each person brings to the world. At times, these stories are simple and endearing, taken during my travels, on fashion assignments while I collaborate with artists of the Indian film industry, or during wedding projects. At other times, they are complex and drive a social message. My photo stories called ‘Avani’, ‘Color of Our Skin’, and ‘The Anxiety Series’ are a testament, exploring grim realities of women subjugation, racism, and mental illnesses through pictures and prose.
Describe your creative process.
It begins as a vivid thought which I translate into a final photograph. I start by listing ideas on paper, after which I research and read to ensure my approach is genuine. I also take the time to understand what about that story is important to me. Then comes the pre-production stage. I etch out the theme and story, which are accompanied by the mood board and storyboard. Then, it is all about blending all elements to craft a picturesque mis-en-scene. For fashion portraiture, it’s the make-up, wardrobe, and the overall setting and colours in my images. For photo stories, I have to build intricate worlds through characters, colours, sets, and props. Finally, after multiple inspections and revisits, when I still find my work aesthetically appealing, that’s when I know it is finished..
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
As an artist, this beautiful world that we live in, full of vibrant colours and stories, is my greatest inspiration. My work is also profoundly influenced by my roots and my connection with them. I like telling stories close to home because relating to them gives me the biggest playground to create. A third factor that plays a part in impacting my work is any kind of imbalance in society. Because then, I wish to talk about it in a way that touches people and passes on a message of hope, love, and empathy. To know that I have created something, that will hopefully become a part of history and be remembered is a humbling and elating thought, and it helps me to keep going at the end of the day.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
I honestly don’t think art can be so simply defined or segmented. Any genuine artist creates from the bottom of their heart and soul, so putting it into any bracket is not ideal for me. As long as artists are creating with their heart and soul, and staying true to the form, it is likely that the art they make will transcend all barriers, and somewhere in the process, become timeless. Even if the work of art ends up impacting a small bunch of consumers, it has done the magic it was made for. And for me, that is the bottom line– if your work inspires, moves, or changes even just a single person in a small way, it is a great piece of art.
What is the role of the artist today?
I believe that the artist’s role today is to recognise that people are consuming more art now than ever before, thanks to the power of the internet. More importantly, as responsible citizens, artists need to be mindful of what they are putting out into the world. Your art should be a relevant and breathing piece, born out of awareness. And when I talk about art in itself, I think every artwork should be a building block, thereby strengthening the world of art in its unique way. There is no stringent rule about what function it should have, but I encourage that your art evokes emotion. Even if you’re making art about something that’s dark and dreary, in the end, it should be a conversation starter or something that is able to stimulate feelings and help awaken one’s emotions from slumber.
The little boy from Hampi
The societal gambit: marriage over happiness
Holding on...
Congruence

 


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist


Nyle Major

Born 1983, New Zealand

Lives in: Auckland, New Zealand

Describe your art in 3 words: Traditional. Time. Timeless.

See More Work:  https://major-art.com/

Repulse - Oil on canvas 50 x 100 cm

"Realism is charming when it borrows a gleam of poetry from the imagination." - Sigfried Nettement quoting William Bouguereau, 1906

What themes does your work involve?
Classical realism is a driving force behind this painting. Coupled with a contemporary framework, the work is drawn from traditional inspiration & methods to replicate and expand on the 19th century French art movements, while using a theme familiar to traditional art.
Describe your creative process.
As with any new work, it spawns as an idea or concept, sometimes you can visualize an end product, sometimes you can't. A developmental process follows where composition and colour palette are worked out which goes a long way to illustrate what is expected in the final art work.These are usually conceived and created as a series of works, as I think it is important that they read well together and bounce off each other when being exhibited together. Therefore, there are usually elements present in these paintings which flow with other paintings in the same series. The paintings go through an underpainting process followed by a second pass. This is usually where a painting is complete, though extra work often goes into finishing it off to a high standard.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
Art is always something that has made sense to me. It just helps that a little technical aptitude has been learned to make it a strength. I'm inspired by the greats who came before us and the desire to replicate the harmony their paintings have. Artists such as William Bouguereau, Alma Tadema, and Gotfried Lindeaur. Being able to make art is a huge joy that has come from years of perseverance, and my art practice is now reaching a point where the work I have completed inspires the next one on its own merits.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
Asking what good art is can be a touchy subject, as it is ultimately subjective.. The definition of art has morphed and changed so much in the last one hundred years. I have always believed that art requires time and skill in order be called 'art'. The end result needs to be able to provoke a reaction in the viewer- for better or worse, and whatever the idea is in the artwork that the artist is trying to convey- needs to be seen and understood by as many viewers as possible.
What is the role of the artist today?
The role of the artist hasn't changed in essence. It is to communicate an idea through (in this case), a visual means. How art is seen by others is where contemporary society has changed what an artist creates. As mentioned, I believe art requires a level of talent that sets them apart from everyone else, but the modern definition of art is a lot broader now than in the past. Therefore while art is to still communicate ideas & provoke reactions, contemporary art has diluted the intensity of those ideas, therefore making the art of the past more revered and inspiring.

 


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist


Michael Herbert Dorn

Born 1961, St. George's, Bermuda

Lives in: Kraainem, Belgium

Describe your art in 3 words: Post-contemporary art

See More Work:  www.michaelherbertdorn.com | Instagram@michael_herbert_dorn_artist

David's Oath of the Horatii (David's Le Serment des Horaces) - Oil on oil primed linen 140 x 110 cm

"The painting series entitled, SYLLOGY, combines "traditional European painting techniques" and intermedia elements including the use of digital mobile devices to view the exhibited paintings as "color-inverted" digital images. This new painting series appropriates "canonical" European paintings in order to create and vitalize a new context for art historical and contemporary representation."

What themes does your work involve?
One of several thematics involved in my work is a question regarding the fundamental truth value of the received historical records that are used to validate modern concepts of reality. A leading concept within my work is the singular idea that a metaphysical inversion has imprisoned all possible conceptions of reality. I use canonical representations of European history and mythology as a visual jumping-off point to set up conditions for a pictorial argument about the racialization of historical representation. But, the thematic of race is really just a primer.
Describe your creative process.
My process begins with a search for a suitable classical or canonical painting. Whenever possible, I do try to study the painting directly from life, making my own sketches and photographs during that session. However, COVID restrictions have made this nearly impossible. So, now I either purchase or locate free high-resolution images online. The images need to be high resolution. Using Photoshop, I'll make adjustments to the saturation, color temperature, and other image aspects. After this, I create the inverted image of the subject painting. I usually make one or two poster studies with the added figure. From the very begining of the process I am thinking about the placement of the additional figure. I use the "story" of the painting to help guide me.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
Today, the artist's ability to actually engage their sensitivities with the events happening in the world are the primary measure of good, great, and worthless art. True art goes beyond self-expression or any financial interest.
About my current work, and what is the Post-contemporary?
I call myself a “post-contemporary” oil painter. What I mean by post-contemporary will become more apparent as I briefly describe my working processes. My current painting project takes a look back in art history. It appropriates (or expropriates—depending on one’s viewpoint) the view of a particular foundational oil painting of the early renaissance, northern renaissance, mannerism, baroque, or the neoclassical periods of art history, respectively. I use both religious and secular themed paintings. Using digital images of these paintings, I essentially recreate these “classical” works of art as color-inverted images—they appear as what used to be called a (film) “negative” in the commercial heyday of photographic films like Kodak, Fuji, and Ilford. But that’s not all. I have painted an additional figure within the negative field of these images—a so-called “racially-black” figure. I usually place this “interloper” figure within a pictorial space that appears to me to be inactive in the original paintings. This creates a new, two-way visual context.

My process begins with the search for a suitable “classical” painting. Whenever possible, I try to directly study and take high-resolution digital photographs of the actual painting. Museum visits have become nearly impossible with the manifestation of COVID-19. So, now I either purchase or locate free images online. Within Photoshop, I then make color adjustments to the image, including its color inversion. In addition to color inversion, I will sometimes alter the images overall color temperature, and in selected areas, the color saturation. After that, I will usually make one or more small freehand color “poster-studies” in oil paints to explore the color relationships and the composition. I carefully study the color relationships between the reconfigured and color-inverted oil painting and the virtual image captured on the mobile device’s screen. In these sketches, I include all aspects of the inverted “classical” painting and the added “non-color inverted” (color-positive) figure. Once I am satisfied, I will then make an underdrawing on my canvas using blue Staedtler Lumichrome drafting leads. I’ll then apply a very thin layer of semi-transparent titanium white and marble dust paint to the entire canvas. This scumble layer is referred to as a “half-paste.” This half- paste becomes what in the early Italian method is termed the campitura layer. Over the dry half-paste layer, I begin to apply my color upon the now faintly visible blue lines of the underpainting, modeling the forms as I go along. I work each section very close to the final finish, except the central background, which I’ll generally lay in during the final stages. Of course, this is a very fluid process, and it never follows—one-two-three—like I’ve just written.

Both my creative process and the ideological foundation of my project depends upon digital media. Of critical importance in this painting series is the spectator’s use of their digital mobile device to provide an active digitally color-inverted view of each of the paintings displayed within the actual exhibition space. Viewing an analog painting with the aid of a mobile digital-media device is explicitly a new way of encountering and extending a painting’s semantic potential by challenging the conventional notion of how we (traditionally) experience or view a “painting.”

This project came about as I began to explore and question the development of European and Eurocentric racial ideologies (namely, white-supremacy) that were concurrent with the development of many of the aforementioned art historical periods and many confluent Eurocentric philosophical systems. My current project also resonates with my questioning of how contemporary political, social, and cultural ideas interact with the plastic arts from the European past.

Some artists/writers might classify the post-contemporary as an aesthetic or a critical construct. But I am doubtful of the limiting framework of those terms. Other writers have called the post-contemporary a movement akin to the Baroque redux or Neoclassical redux. Not me. By post-contemporary, I do not mean the widely held consensus that post- contemporary artworks merely or mainly exhibit the traits of skillful execution, creativity, and expresses some degree of “empathy.” I would say that there are many works done by some of the most well trained and technically skilled artists in the world that are not post- contemporary. I’m afraid I also have to disagree that what is being called post-contemporary art is some newfangled way of positing traditional, global, or universal values—as opposed to contemporary art, which they claim pertain to transient (or spurious), topical, or local values.

For me, the post-contemporary artist holds a generous view upon all the myriad forms of what we call art history. By generous I mean two things. First, the totality of art history is taken as a barometer of both the global and national social, political, and cultural environment. Second, this generous view is taken as through a holographic lens. It is a view enabling a capacity towards moral imagination, that distinct quality of understanding (a work of art) within the general and specific context of its creation. Above all things, beyond this said specific context, the post-contemporary implementation proceeds as a form of inquiry into how historical (Eurocentric) visual culture has been used and is being used to inculcate, delineate, underscore, and establish the political, social, and cultural artifacts of our age. The post-contemporary artist is not at all interested in the so-called art historical tradition for the sake of hegemonic notions of tradition and the idea that “it was better back then.” The post contemporary artist understands that art history is foremost an ideological political field. For me, post-contemporary artists must make an in-depth inquiry into how the visually received narratives function within our contemporary milieux to create injustice, lies, and outright (psycho-cultural) deceptions. Within this post-contemporary sphere, my primary interest is in exploring and challenging the ideas fomented by the representation (or lack thereof) of non- white peoples in classical European art.

 


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist


Jan Williams

Born 1958, New Zealand

Lives in: Brisbane, Australia

The artist at work

"My art is like a drug, I create art because I need to create art. My favourite artists are works by Mailloil, Giacometti, Brancusi and...... Paleolithic art."

What themes does your work involve?
"Most of my art is figurative and since about 2010 has focused on large body forms. A fairly large proportion of the population where I live, is overweight, so in a politically incorrect way (not derogatively) I like to use their their formal qualities, creating personalities and using them in a language portraying a variety of ideas, explained in their titles..Their titles are important, like 'Night', 'Black weather', Life at the cafe' 'Symphonic etc..."
Describe your creative process.
My initial inspiration can come from looking and working from other artists ideas, or just observing life on public transport for example. The thought process is usually quite slow, turning over in my head for a long time. Once I've begun modelling in plastercine, the process is still slow, changing, sometimes restarting and fine tuning forever. Eventually I consider it complete, and mostly it will still be based on the origional idea. The plastercine piece will be plaster waste molded. A mix of polyester-fibreglass mixed with powdered iron is then painted into the mold. When finished, it will be soaked in salty water until a rust patina is established, then dried and sealed. Earlier work is made with just a simple pigmented polyester fibreglass mix.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I became an artist naturally, because most of my family are artists or otherwise connected to the visual arts. I'm inspired by the people who live around me. Actually, I'm inspired by all sorts of things from the natural and human world, anything that can be expressed using the human body format.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
What is great art is indeed difficult to define. Great art can be intriguing, smart, inventive, dynamic or introverted...I don't know if I can define it, but I think I would recognize it without being told it is great art.
What is the role of the artist today?
I'm not really concerned with the role of the artist today, I create my art for myself only.
Women wearing an iron hat - Iron-polyester-fibreglass, wood 60 x 33 x 33cm
Iron lady 5 - Iron, polyester-fibreglass 38 x 20 x 20 cm
Iron lady 4 - Iron, polyester-fibreglass 40 x 20 x 20 cm
Iron lady 3 - Polyester-iron-fibreglass 40 x 15 x 15 cm
Coffee table sculpture 2 - Coffee, polyester-fibreglass 42 x 18 x 18 cm
Wide poet  - Iron, polyester-fibreglass 43 x 50 x 15 cm
Dark - Polyester-fibreglass 35 x 20 x 20 cm
Iron lady 2 - Polyester-iron-fibreglass 40 x 15 x 15 cm

 


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist


Ophelia Redpath

Born 1965, Cambridge, UK

Lives in: Higham Ferrers, UK

Describe your art in 3 words: Surreal, narrative, colourful

See More Work:  www.opheliaredpath.com | www.instagram.com/opheliaredpath | www.facebook.com/opheliaredpath

British Domestic - Oil on canvas 30 x 40 cm

"My work is currently centring on the relationship between the wild world and the human world, with an emphasis on the sharp distinction between natural life forms with their motivations intentions, unique characteristics and colours, and the synthetic world devised by human beings, which is rapidly eclipsing and confusing our planet. I pose questions as to what is natural at this point in time."

What themes does your work involve?
My work revolves around the theme of what in our human civilisations our wild world can cope with, and what has deviated from the natural links which are life-sustaining . I try to empathise with the state of our flora and fauna, and the confusion and threat we as another species are inadvertently visiting on our fellow creatures, and on ourselves in the name of speed, convenience and progress. I am interested in contrasting our clever, grand but synthetic inventions with our real and natural humanity behind scenes, whether in our domestic settings or in our travels or in our thoughts. I like to be an advocate of anything that has a pulse, and, through paint, to portray its needs its place, its dilemmas and its character.
Describe your creative process.
Ideas seem as wild as any seed landing in the garden by chance. I need to be open to anything, be it a scrap of nonsense or of something profound. I find nuggets of them in political essays, in greetings cards, via eavesdropping, in humour, in sermons, on the radio. Visually I will be arrested by details - a child in the snow wearing a teal coat., an impassioned musician at Ronnie Scotts, or in the black and white stripes of a lemur against an indigo sky. Sometimes they appear in my head ready-made. This is rare but heady moment. The work itself is much more straightforward and involves being at the drawing board many hours a day and working by trial and error until I'm happy I've conveyed the original spirit of the idea. I draught out the design and then paint using oil on canvas.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I am inspired by sincerity of any kind, be it in the wisdom in the eyes of a whale, the grief of a lost soul, the passion of a street artist, or the agony and humour of marital strife. I search for what I feel is genuine and not synthetic, and draw attention to it in my use of colour, contrast and composition. I am influenced by wildlife programmes and commentaries and approach subjects as though I were a wildlife photographer stumbling on a scene and witnessing creatures behaving unselfconsciously. Because of my wish to see people as one of many different, this extends to human beings. I have a need to question our relationship to the natural world. Artistically I am very influenced by the jewel-like work of the early Renaissance painters, Magritte and Samuel Palmer.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
Art covers so many categories - visual art, music, literature, drama, dance. Each discipline works with a difference sense, and some with a combination of senses. I feel that good visual art needs to germinate in the eye of the artist and convey the original idea to the eye of the beholder. But in order to be great art, the idea needs to reach further, via the visual, to the intellect and soul of the beholder. The same applies to music arresting the ear through rhythm, harmony and melody. It is good music if it stimulates the ear, but great music if it links the depth of the composer to the depths of another human being.
What is the role of the artist today?
I guess there are as many roles for an artist as there are drives to create. My personal view is that Art has the function of keeping us out of mischief. By mischief, I mean laying too much emphasis on "progress" without consequence and without taking time to process life. I have an analogy of someone on a motorway, driving full-speed, to get somewhere quickly without fuss, but without involvement in the world. The object is achieved, but nothing else is noticed. Someone else may travel on a country road, without hurry, and arrive in the same place, having been involved in every bump and geographical reality. I see the role of the artist as someone who takes the country road, softens or sharpens each frame and each second and adds their experience to the collective digestion of life.
A & E - Oil on canvas 100 x 75 cm
Not in a Million Years - Oil on canvas 75 x 100 cm
Sorry - Oil on canvas 100 x 75 cm
Happy Families - Oil on canvas 65 x 85 cm

 


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist