Curron Kal El Gajadhar has always had a very anthropological perspective of life, often resonating with the identity of an astronaut, alien, landlocked surfer or a weary, reincarnated, old soul. Corinne Stevie sits down the artist to talk about art, inspiration and the search for god, meaning and relativity in our modern times.
Art Nouveau Magazine: Who are you?
Curron Kal El Gajadhar: Sonder-tripper, part time solipsist, full time creator, introvert trying to fight my own typecast. Trini. A not so human being with obstinate ambitions to be a renaissance man in every sense of the word. I’m learning how to take part in this thing called civilization but I am in fact a landlocked surfer.
AN: Where are you from?
CG: Trinidad and Tobago.
AN: Is Curron Kal El Gajadhar your real name?
CG: The ‘Kal El’ turns my head when people say it but it is not recognized by the government lol. I latched on to the Smallville series that came out in the early 2000’s. At that time in my life it mirrored a lot of the confusion I was feeling about my humanness. To think that such strength and ability could lie under all that angst the character had of his own identity spoke to me of my own potential yet to be seen and my priority to wrap my head around larger existential challenging thoughts that I had no mentor ship for. Several aspects of alienation that were present in his depiction was the only relevance that I found for myself in anything. Beyond family, religion, and friends I identified more with this comic book character, waiting to see my equal and learn from his struggle every Wednesday at 9pm. I took his original name in recent years to remind me of the proof; even in a fictional character I have a sympathizer.
AN: When did you know you were an artist?
CG: I drew and built things out of cardboard throughout my childhood but at that time I was keener towards a career in industrial design. It wasn’t until high school and a good push from a great teacher that I felt pulled towards a more traditional sense of art for art’s sake.
AN: What themes do you focus on in your work?
CG: Awe, allurement, glorification, and the relationship between man the beast yearning towards his transcendence.
In my work I focus on the relationship between the eponymous character the Aspernaut, and his angels. It’s a persona I coined to act out the part of me that is trying to make sense of his present incarnation, placement in time, and life journey. He’s trying to make sense of his urges of curiosity towards a sensation of familiarity with the paranormal that he doesn’t quite understand yet. Because his yearning hasn’t been met with the epitome of a confrontation or audience with god or actual spiritual beings, he creates works personifying the movements in his peripheral visions with deities that rise out of the content of the urban landscape, like a protrusion that takes a shape of a beautiful escort to the unknown. He does this repeatedly to invoke further interactions with who he doesn’t see but knows is in his presence.
Dramatizing my own story in this way leaves a doorstep to the experience and world that I am trying to build a relationship with. Our existences are somewhat of a performance that gives a grand drama to be followed by the origins. There is a distance between the main dichotomy of myself concept, and an almost enslaved version of myself that carries out his life, responds to stimuli, eats, defecates, has a job, looks for love, has preferences goals, friends, family, an idea of a mission, fears and a somewhat ridiculous notion of self preservation . On the other hand there is just an observer that sits in the space between his temples watching his life play out in a reactive fashion.
I’m trying to pull these intelligences together through mimicry and dramatizing the experiences of the viewer, (that is the higher mind or witness) by making physical artifacts for the lower mind to gain the ability to empathize with that version of self observation. This leads him to question the bottle necked nature of his existence and by default an urge in him to find his way out. It’s a joint effort of two points of perception to me. Returned to the base of existence I have been cast from as a proverbial scout. To encourage suspicion in my own existence provides the catalyst for a searching and yearning behavior that will eventually lead me back to this higher dimension if I obey it. It’s a hodgepodge of existentialism really. To put it simply I’m trying to prove to myself that I am in a fishbowl, not leave it necessarily. The truth of my life’s plot and what I can do from that stance to benefit everyone in this place is my goal.
The deities are other individuals that have already gone through this inquisitive process and have become self realized. Their alluring natures and sexuality are employed as a driving force to my search. Sexual energy is the strongest of the urges that we experience but when given the appropriate attention sourced from a learned maturity you realize that the allurement is a tool to draw people together for other purposes. That compilation is simply the most effective way to hold your attention. The viewer is drawn to some of my works for just that, the most basic of reasons; because these women are beautiful you look at them and you get a taste of how my ritual affects me. Since I began this process I have fallen deeper and deeper into a monk like approach of servitude to my process and my artworks. The allurement serves me as a encouraging factor in my consistency and I care less and less about anything that has no direct benefit to the process of me creating more and more of it in a rapid succession. These are love letters to my sonder.
AN: Throughout art history the female figure has always been the muse to the painter. What else inspires you?
CG: I practice parkour seasonally, typically during the warmer months. Learning how to control my body’s movements throughout the urban landscape allows me to pulse along over and through most structures barriers and lines of demarcation of any urban areas grid like blueprint of physical organization. I can be organic within the grey finding my way around where it is proposed that most do not have the physical competence to tread. In this way I am free. The ability to roam this way gives me a perspective of the city that makes the whole piece conceptualization into a full on ritual that includes mp3’s and Ardens garden fuel walkabouts. I can scout new clashings of intersections, road paint markings, old signs and pathways to bring elements of it into my mind, back to the studio and thrust it in my work. I subconsciously think of myself as a reincarnated hunter gatherer that goes about his business throughout the day hunting (Kroger and fast food) gathering (taking pictures) running half mile sprints in-between that cut across streets into parking decks down into ramps behind bushy knots and so on back home. And at night I paint what I have seen through the day my wilderness/city, and what has sustained me, my angels. I understand that my relationship with these imaginary figures is very much a placebo, but they sustain me. I create art about my little cult and I don’t harm anyone else. I figure I’m doing a lot better than most that have picked up more damning habits.
CG: No one really stands out, artist wise; I don’t think any of the safe greats that most people choose knows that much more than the other. I think what really gave most prolific artists their renown is their stubborn consistency, the self determinism, and the realization that they are very much a vessel and you have to let “it” all just come through. I’d have to go with Tesla.
AN: When I chatted with you on Facebook you mentioned dropping out of art school. In what ways did dropping out of art school affect your art and life?
CG: I finally had time to make art! It was a blessing in disguise. I dropped out for financial reasons against my will at the time so it curdled in my soul for a good year, pining over the fact had to leave prematurely. That’s what happens when you’ve had it pushed into yourself concept from every angle that life’s track can only succeed through one mandatory assembly line. People are the biggest spokespersons for this thing called culture. Their ideas, priorities, and totems of fulfillment have been taught to them and we continue to pass it on through generations or between associates. Leaving school was a way for me to fall out of that “grand design”. I had time to stop schooling and start learning. I said to myself “hey I make art, I’m a dropout, I have a job and I’m pursuing a goal that there is no designated, insured, and guaranteed 10 year projection for. What do you know? There is life to be had here too”.
I realized in the middle of my anthropology class that in many subtle ways the structure of school does not benefit the advancement of the individual. By advancement I mean your own uncultured aims; goals that you would foster for yourself that has nothing to do or relevance the functions of your current culture. A lot of what we do we do is because we have to or it has been taught to us that this thing or another has to be held at a certain priority and level of importance ‘or else’. We comply to what a lot of people speak of as “just the way things are” because there is 3rd party reward system that is connected to our physical survival and the ability to trade our compliance for a skill or our skills for money all of which allow us the ability to collect objects and experiences that we desire. You still get an education you are still exposed to resources. The education that you receive is only self fulfilling as a secondary effect. Outside of what will prove to be relevant for society or version of executing our creativity and intelligence that are waiting to be filled. Don’t get me wrong because this perspective is usually summarized as “down with the system!” when brought up in conversation. Education has value and so do the institutions that provide it, but I’m sure we can all agree its format is long overdue for an upgrade. The world finds a way. For example the crash of 08’ brought on a wave of new entrepreneurs and a generation under my own that is learning the value of understanding your personal brand and its value. Lectures migrated online for free, sites and services like skillshare, thumbtack, skillpages and incentive systems like adsense from Google started popping up to support the new crowd sourced infrastructure that is on the rise. Now those that understand this new cultural dynamic are the most sought after. I see all this change all this flux…and I take notes.
AN: How has social media helped or harmed you as an artist?
CG: I don’t get around as much as I’d like to, to all the events mixers; functions etc, so social media helps supplement a lot of that in-between. Even if I’m not there but my work is seen in a space there’s been this trickledown effect in conversation of my very specific aesthetic. I started an [Instagram] last year and it’s been doing pretty well. In a strange way its limitations make it a better module to express my personality. I want people to see that I don’t just make things to sell and I am very much human and my work is very close to my heart. You get to see my workflow; muses, fitness, and experimentation with other forms of expression that my friends are very kind to me about (singing) even my laziness at times. I like it, it has helped a lot. It’s nice to walk around at an event feeling sheepish because you know no one and hear “Aspernaut?”
AN: What do you like to listen to when you’re in your art studio?
CG: SOULECTION. I wanted it give them this space by themselves but there are far too many local acts that have become my soundtrack to my late nights. There’s a producer named Ethereal that makes this sound that makes me feel like I’m speeding throughout the different connecting highways in Atlanta on a jet powered long board; because there are such things in whatever dimension he gets his inspiration from. If you listen to the releases from beginning to end it creates a setting, and atmosphere. Red lights from his collab with Merian Meeraba makes me evaporate and I can’t help but play it on repeat. It sucks because I might be sick of it after a month of doing so, but I’m the type to get high off of a song. I have to put myself in a inspired trance like fertile atmosphere, otherwise I’m just pushing paint. If I’m not feeling it I have to walk away, so music is an essential part of my creative process.
AN: Motto you live by.
CG: There is a way there is always a way.
AN: What’s next for you?
CG: I’m under new management so having someone to take care of everything else that is not the hand to canvas part of my work. With this room and help I can get my work farther further and more frequent from my studio and that will create opportunities for me to do the same. I really want to travel to a larger metropolis and work there for a while letting that urban landscape seep into me to create something based on that city. Eventually I want to make the release of certain collections into a suite; an experience that carries the same anticipation of an album release. I won’t go into the details, don’t want to give away any of my secrets but you’ll know it when you see it. Once I have the art machine well oiled I’ll start moving on to sharpen my other interests and talents. This rain dance had to come first.
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