Tag Archives: Painters

The Aspernaut, Curron Kal El Gajadhar On Art & His Angels

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.


DSC_0080AN: If you could pick the brain of any artist or musician dead or alive who would it be?

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.


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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.

To stay connected with Curron Kal EL Gajadhar  check out the links below

 IG: Aspernaut


Glenn Barr’s Post-Apocalyptic Urban Dreamscape

Glenn Barr‘s surreal creatures, specters and tragic characters live in a seedy universe, drenched in the grit and haze of a post-apocalyptic urban dreamscape.

His Detroit work has been labeled Pop Surrealism, Pop Pluralism, Lowbrow, Underground, Regional, Outsider, Ashcan or as he coins the phrase “B Culturalism.” Barr finds inspiration in the city streets as well as from pop and counter cultures that infuse a familiarity in his many parallel realities. With a nod to old master painting, pulp art, comics and animation, Barr’s paintings are mesmerizing in their narrative complexities and technical depth.

Glenn was raised in the Midwest, USA. This working class environment engrained in him a strong work ethic and an affection for B movies, local music and trash culture. Born in Detroit, Michigan, and living throughout its metropolitan area, he graduated from the College for Creative Studies and went on to establish himself firmly in the art world.

Take a closer look at some of our favorite works from Glenn below. And let us know what you think in the comments.

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Who Is Corey Davis? An Art Dealer & Vision Peddler

There was a time when visual artists were rock stars. Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring were known for their infectious personalities as much as for their intriguing visual art. Things changed and artists are back to being behind the scenes. But Corey Davis is one artist that I feel can bring the illustriousness back to being a working artist.

An eminent attribute of Corey is his dexterity in making his name illustrious. Infamous for his unique and diverse marketing abilities, he has found anomalous ways to promote himself. He’s not just a visual artist, not just a designer, not just a tattoo artist, not just a musician and business owner, Corey is an embodiment of an authentic artist. The Atlanta based artist took time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about the scene in Atlanta, art and commerce and his upcoming duo exhibition with mentor Miya Bailey, Windows To Nowhere.



Art Nouveau Magazine: You’ve traveled the world and called many places home, but what is it about Atlanta that continues to inspire your works?
Corey Davis: I love Atlanta because it’s a comfortable place to live, it’s easy for me to get in my creative zone and get lost in it for hours. I grew up in Atlanta so I have a lot of friends and supporters here, who I draw a lot of inspiration them.

AN: What do you think the youth in your area is being robbed of most? Was this the same situation you encountered as an adolescent?
CD: I think the youth are robbing themselves from real-life experiences and personal encounters by spending so much time on the internet or playing video games these days. I rarely see kids running around the neighborhood just being kids, anymore. I gained so much knowledge and inspiration just by exploring the world as a kid getting into trouble and finding different ways to talk myself out of it, fucking shit up and figuring out how to fix it.

AN: What’s the significance of the title “Windows To Nowhere?”
CD: This art show is like a window into our imagination, which really isn’t a physical thing, it doesn’t exist. So it’s “Nowhere.” That’s one of the meanings behind the title, it was a bit random, but we felt like it sounded interesting. Just the sound of it makes you want to see more.

AN: What prompted you to do a joint show?
CD: I’d like to collaborate with all the artist I know in some form or another. We’re both fans of each others work, Miya is also my mentor and I always admired his art, one day we just decided it would be dope if we did an art show together and see how people would respond to the contrast of our styles and subject matters. Although we are part of the same collective, visually our styles are very different, as well as our followings. So we thought it would be a good idea to mash it all up and see what happens,

AN: “Windows To Nowhere” opens on Valentine’s Day, is there a significance to this?
CD: I decided to hold the show on Valentine’s Day because my art is one of the things I truly love and cherish most. Valentine’s Day also just happened to fall on the 2nd Friday of the month, which is when they hold the Castleberry Art Stroll in Atlanta, so we thought it was perfect timing. Giving everyone a pleasurable experience and somewhere to take their Valentine’s date

AN: What can fans expect to see during your show?
CD: Every art show that we have ever produced has been an experience to remember, so you can always expect more than just a bunch of paintings hanging on the wall while a group of snobby people stare at them and sip wine. Miya and I put all of our heart into this exhibition over the past year, more so than ever, so people can expect to see some of our strongest work to date.

AN: Who or what inspires you?
CD: I’m inspired by a lot of things, but at the moment my paintings drew a lot of inspiration from the cartoons and video games I spent so much time partaking in as a kid. You can see this in my “Fantasy Adventure” series where this kid is battling these colossal creatures and monsters. My “Beauty” series was inspired by pop culture and idealistic beauty, like the models you would find in the spread of a high fashion magazine, they are beautiful and emotionless. I’m also inspired by the art scene on the Lower East Side of New York from the 1980’s when Keith Haring and Basquiat was doing their thing, I see something similar happening in Atlanta now.

AN: What’s the proudest moment of your career to date?
CD: I’ve done a lot of cool things, but I always wish to achieve more. Just recently we put together our first art exhibition for Art Basel in Miami and had an amazing turn out. In the beginning it seemed so impossible to pull of with our budget, but we made it happen! Secondly, I would say premiering my debut film, J is for Junkie, at DD172 in New York would also be one of my proudest moments. I tattooed in Europe and toured across the states performing my music, it’s just always awesome when you find out people know about you in different pockets of the world.

AN: If you could tell yourself five years ago anything what would it be?
CD: I used to be a little arrogant five years ago. I was one of those people who thought the was humble, but I really wasn’t, which caused me to miss out on a lot of opportunities and money.

AN: On the flipside of the previous question, Where do you see yourself five years from now?
CD: I see my art in different museums across the world, I also see myself producing feature films. Another one of my goals has always been to introduce new talent into the world. So those are three things I’m focusing on right now.



AN: You’ve mastered bridging the gap between art and commerce. What advice would you give to young artists that want to make a business out of their art?
CD: Stay true to yourself, don’t worry about following whatever is trending at the moment or what’s cool. Instead focus on creating something that can become truly classic and everlasting. Unique to you and friends lifestyle while also having a balance of universal appeal. Of course you shouldn’t be focused on making money while you making art, but you should be thinking about how that piece of art is going to make you money. Make prints, put it on t-shirts or buttons or stickers. Study other artist and see how they sell stuff to making a live.

AN: If you were a cartoon character who would you be?
CD: I would probably be Finn from Adventure Time, if I can bring my dog along for the ride too, than Zoe would be Jake and we would go fuck shit up. They are pretty awesome, I envy the fact that that show didn’t exist when we was kids.

AN: What’s next for you?
CD: After Windows to Nowhere, I’m going to start shooting this short film I wrote with my friend, Sean Fahie, called A Day in the Life of Tim Friday. It’s a dramatic comedy about this hipster kid who gets his fixed gear bike stolen and is forced to venture across the city on foot. You can look out for that this April.

Windows to Nowhere opens Friday, February 14 at Nelson St. Gallery. Click here for more information.

Where Violence and Style Intersect, You’ll Find Ian Francis’ Worldview

Working in mixed media on canvas, Ian Francis combines abstraction, figuration, and elements of both painting and drawing to create distinctly contemporary works. He draws his inspiration from cinema, pornography, street culture, and images sampled at random from the Internet, synthesizing these sources into a quasi-literal vision of the “mediated landscape.” Amid high-color washes and jagged brushwork, Francis depicts semi-clad figures who loll and mix in casual groupings—some scenes are intimate, others hedonistic. These figures are recognizable, the young and beautiful denizens of a particular media fantasy fueled by sex, death, and celebrity. Abstraction and figuration mutually support the artist’s suggestion of a worldview where violence and style intersect.


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Bella Harris’ first experience with a paintbrush came when she realized Turpentine wasn’t her Nana’s Chanel N°5

Bella Harris is a self-taught artist whose first experience with the paintbrush came when she realized Turpentine wasn’t her Grandmother’s Chanel N°5. With a background in medicine and an Associates of Applied Sciences, it wasn’t until October of 2010 that her personal journey into the realms of illustration, painting, and the dynamics of mixed media experimentation began. Through continuous reflection, the whimsicality of her feminine subjects empowers a perceptual foundation of untouched emotion and an atmospheric dreamscape that balances an edifying belonging to one’s self.

In 2011, Bella launched her debut capsule collection, Designs by Bella: Vintage Lollipops x Magazzini Del Sale, showcasing five original designs. Her work has also been featured in a number of online and print media, including the Kiernan Gallery Exhibition Catalog, Vogue.it, Nasty Gal, Anormalmag, Socialyte.Collective, Unicorn Dream Magazine, and The Scribble Project. Her first Gallery Exhibition is in August of 2013 at Mad Art Gallery.

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Listen to the art of Yann Couedor

When it comes to the work of Yann Couedor  it’s all about Music on Canvas. He’s been driven by two very lively passions since 1990. As an artist and a painter, he’s in total awe of the Afro-American history and music of the 70’s up through more  contemporary sounds… Listen to his art.

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Flying Planes and Talking Paint With David Molesky

I met David Molesky on a flight headed out of San Francisco to Atlanta. Somewhere between ascendance and landing, the two of us got to talking. Although naturally subject to the gloss of travel-laden body heat and far too cramped quarters of the airplane, I managed to acquaint myself with the D.C. native turned San Franciscan that sat next to me. He told me of his years as a painter, sharing anecdotes of the artistic journey and where he found himself situated today. Only when the wheels at last touched the Georgia turf did we cease the conversation. Days later, I found the words exchanged still on my mind. I felt compelled to share their resonance, the personality behind, and the accompanying, captivating body of work he called his own.

Before even seeing his paintings, it was quiet obvious that Molesky was a credible artist. As far as I am concerned, the character of the artist is just as valuable as the art; in his case, neither team seemed to be lacking. He painted as much a verbal picture as he did with that on the canvas. So, when the iPhone was finally pulled out and the paintings themselves were at hand, the enthralling visuals fell not short of my expectations. Matching the actual depiction with his prior descriptions – the raging waters, engulfing fires, busied cities, lone owls, or mystical horses that he had spoken of – all translated with a graceful ease and bountiful brush to the canvas.


Telling of long days and mad nights painting in his San Francisco studio, Molesky’s passion feels more like a forever rampant force. With years of painting and traveling behind him, a Berkeley education in Fine Arts and Molecular Cell Biology to boast, and a mass of work that has touched continents and art aficionados worldwide, the breadth of the artist resides as enchanting as the art itself.


The rest, I leave to the artist himself to share. Read below as I talk with David Molesky about his art today, his inspiration, and the craft that he can’t seem to contain.

Art Nouveau: How did David Molesky the artist come about? When and where did you plant your artistic roots?

David Molesky: I was a serious but goofy kid.  I sometimes wore a tie and blazer to elementary school.  I cleared out my parent’s coat closet and converted it to my private studio, after squeezing in my toddler-sized desk.

I got into painting in high school.  Me and my friends would hang out and paint together.  The learning curve was the quickest then and I still pretty much paint the same, only I have more tricks up my sleeve.

I went to UC Berkeley for undergrad to give my passions for art and science and equal chance.  Painting won as it always does.  Later I moved up and down the west coast following loves and art and landing in different scenarios by magical chance with one great practitioner of painting after another.


AN: What was a particularly defining moment for you?

DM: When I was living on the Big Sur coastline, I fell in love with painting water and this is where I had my first taste of real commercial success.


AN: From where do you draw inspiration? 

DM: I draw inspiration from the act of painting and drawing mostly.  Reading also introduces new ideas that I might not have otherwise.  And now the internet, even just my Facebook news stream from my many artist friends packs a punch of interesting ideas.  But I never feel more inspired than when I am in my studio, laying out a new palette, starting a new painting, with music going, good lighting, some warm espresso or matte.  That’s really the best.

AN: How do you formulate and expand on the content of your collections? 

DM: As I am working on a series of paintings, I begin to hone into certain aspects and qualities more than others.  For me, a sun nap on the roof after lunch is often the best time to have dream up a new idea.


AN: What are you working on at the moment? 

DM: Finishing the painting Girl with a Dead Raven.  Its going into a show in less than a week.  After that, I’ve got to make some new paintings for a show at the Long Beach Art Museum that will provide a transition to a new body of work with an apocalyptic theme.


AN: Who or what is your muse? 

DM: Nature

NEGUS in Paris, for real

Excuse my French…But Fahamu Pecou is back in France. And this NEGUS is for real. #Imjustsaying. The Atlanta based artist’s latest exhibition entitled NEGUS in Paris is set to open this Thursday, at Backslash Gallery in Paris, France. In these latest paintings and drawings, Fahamu addresses the representations of black men in modern society, engaging in particular with the idea of Négritude as famously symbolized by Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor.

Black Americans can cite numerous anecdotes about the various uses of the word ‘black’, one striking example being actor Gwyneth Paltrow’s description of hip-hop superstars Jay-Z and Kanye West’s West Watch the Throne Tour. Paltrow posted a photo of the pair on her Twitter account, accompanied by the message “Niggas in Paris, for real”. Her use of the word “nigger” created a storm on her Twitter account although she was simply repeating the word “niggas” used by Jay-Z and Kanye West as part of the title for a song off their eponymous album. Often heard within black American society, the word when written down by a white person raises questions of legitimacy, and the matter was very widely debated. Is it possible for a white person to use the word “nigger” in the light of history’s heavy burden of racism and slavery?

The NEGUS in Paris exhibition, inspired by Jay-Z and Kanye West’s song ” Niggas in Paris”, constitutes an acerbic analysis that challenges a certain conformism, particularly that displayed by Black American culture, which can distort the image of Négritude within the public debate. With his characteristic wit and feel for satire, Fahamu Pecou offers timely observations on the various conflicts relating to black iconisation as triggered by this debate and their influence on popular culture….Pecou replaces the terms “niggas” with “Negus”, an Amharic word used to describe Ethiopian royalty in general, and Haile Selassie in particular. He uses this wordplay to subvert the endless hate-filled insinuations that surround use of the word “nigger”. The works in the exhibition feature a series of black Americans famous for their contributions to the history of Parisian art and culture, exploring their influence and distinction.

NEGUS in Paris
runs through January. Take a closer look at some of the works from the show below. And if you’re susceptible to the Persian Persuasion make sure to stop by the opening this Thursday. Click here for more information.




Derek Gores stays afloat in a sea of images

In a sea of images, Derek Gores is making unique pictures that stand completely on their own.  Their blend of abstraction with such interestingly familiar portraits and stills create a dichotomy that really works.  Derek took a minute to sit down with us to talk about his process while getting ready for Miami this year.  If you are out here be sure and stop by to check out the amazing details in his work!

Art Nouveau: You are in Florida right?  Do your surroundings play much of a roll in the images you create?

Derek Gores: I’m sure somehow… I’m in the unique spot on the planet where humans reached out to the moon and could also go to the beach. There’s a combo of problem solving and patient daydreaming around all the time that gives me new fuel.

AN: I have heard you say like to see how far you can deconstruct your subject.  Can you talk about your process some?  Do you sketch your work out or work spontaneously?

DG: I do some wet drawing work that starts from abstraction and sometimes becomes an object, often figurative or spacial. However In the collage work I work it backwards, from a photo reference in a space I breathed, and then I do start with a simple sketch with a sharpie marker usually and then layer in the abstraction of the pieces of paper. I am after the essence of a real figure, often hinting at elapsed time perhaps, but I build the figure out of opposites. I like using linear, sharp, man-made elements you wouldn’t think of as art, like a schematic or a map for example, so that the life and the space you find is that much more surprising when it hits.

AN: Have you always worked loosely or is this a theme in your work?

DG: I was super tight as an 18 year old, but once I saw the end of that particular path I’ve loved anything that can distract or get in the way of that kind of accuracy. Water, using two hands, all sorts of outside influences, collaborations with the subjects, etc.



AN: It seems like this push towards abstraction is what allows your viewers to insert there own interpretation?

DG: True, I love ambiguous spaces and all kids of references in the recycled elements, so that viewers can use their own memories as they interact. The spacial play I would say comes especially from Franz Kline’s abstractions, and the Klimt/Schiele play with flattening spaces as a way to make their figures pulse out at you.

AN: What have you been pursuing in your most recent work?

DG: Two things especially. Lately I’ve been playing with transparency in the pieces, where shadows see through to another space. Also, this year I have played with a more involved narrative, even if it isn’t clear what’s happening. I’d say my subject has become the study of ‘fierceness’- the admiration of a strong individual woman whose beauty is the result of her choices and actions and lifestyle. The first several I’d say showed a weight in her eyes, and my most recent show the fun of living.

AN: I know you aren’t crazy about the word ‘collage’, what else have you been calling it lately?

DG: Cleverness, Advanced Scrapbooking, and it gets a little cooler with some European influence, see look: ‘cøllage’

AN: I know you have been really busy lately, what shows or projects do you have coming up?

DG: Select Fair at Art Basel Miami! Huge! and next big awesomeness is a show in the Spring at Thinkspace Gallery in Los Angeles. And another in Barcelona. Details on the way…

AN: That will be awesome, are there any artists or galleries you are looking forward to seeing at Art Basel?
DG: I must locate Hush. My other favorites: Christopher Maslow, David Burton, Jeff Filipski. Check ‘m out!

Every Hour, Every Breath has Come to This
48″ x 48″ collage on canvas
Cleverness du Chat
48″ x 48″ collage on canvas

Hide your dictators, kill your idols…

Pete Kirill‘s North Korea oil series investigates the relationship between communism and capitalism by representing both ideologies on canvas. The Miami based neo-pop artist highlights the parallels between dictator worship and celebrity idolization, anchored by the physical gestures of the enigmatic, iron-fisted North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il. Kirill’s work investigates the fractured relationship between Communism and Capitalism employing tongue-in-cheek depictions of North Korean pictorial and military tributes featuring Kim Jong-il. With his death by largely unknown causes in early 2012, Kirill’s work opens complex possibilities and associations from within and without the culture surrounding a man, rendered as a deity by his own ruling elite.

Pete’s immersion within a Communist state prompted a continued, focused visual study of infamous dictators and their accompanying cults of personality. Kirill’s first solo exhibition was held at Myra Galleries, Miami in October 2011. The attached works Kim Jong-rodman and Kim Jong Ill’n are pieces that depict the North Korean leaders as a hip hop artist and NBA basketball star, drawing parallels between dictator worship and celebrity idolization.

“Portrait of Kim Jong il and Kim Jong Un”


Art Nouveau: What inspires you?

Pete Kirill: Reading books, watching documentaries, following current news on the DPRK and its leaders, as well as broader primary research. I usually find whatever appears strange or unfamiliar in the image. Once I find a suitable subject, I add one or two capitalistic elements to it. Sometimes, these elements instantly appear within the image. At others, ideas emerge after deeper contemplation. I also draw from my experiences living in Havana, where I witnessed the propaganda machine of the Castro regime firsthand.


AN: Tell me about the North Korea oil series. You’re obviously making a large statement. Why depict North Korean leaders as hip hop artists?

PK: The North Korea oil series is a study that draws parallels between the way Communism and Capitalism are practiced in their respective cultures, although the core of their ideologies are vastly different. North Korean leaders, particularly Kim Jong-il when he was alive, over-indulge on many Western luxuries, with the rate of consumption rivalling American hip-hop celebrities. Kim Jong-il was one of Hennessey’s biggest consumers, for example, reportedly spending more than $800,000 on the cognac brand per year.

I attempt to illustrate the complications between the principles Kim Jong-il and other Communist leaders imposed on their citizens (and still continue to do so) and what is actually practiced by those in power.

AN: Tell me about “dictator worship.” What parallels do you see in American Popular Culture?

PK: Dictator worship is similar to hero worship, arising when an individual uses mass media tools to create an idealized public image channeled through unwaivering praise. In North Korea, their “Dear Leader” is portrayed on larger-than-life billboards and murals as a divine but likable figure, always smiling down on his people. A glamorous pose or gesture is evident in a similar fashion to Western film and music celebrities in its media churn. While the North Korean citizens blindly worship an ironclad leader, they expend their energy into honoring an idol, or image, that is nonexistent. Fans of pop icons like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Marilyn Monroe create mythologies about them based only on rumor or soundbites. These parallels between dictator worship and celebrity idolization is something I’m continuously exploring.


AN: What does the term “neo-pop” mean to you? And how does your work fit in with this?

PK: Neo-Pop art is Pop in a decidely Postmodern moment, roughly coagulating during the late 1980’s referencing Pop Art’s practical, critical and commercial revival. This term described works from artists such as Jeff Koons and Ed Ruscha. I have been fascinated with Pop ever since I was a teenager. I was immediately attracted to the use of bright, strong color and their comic book-like sensations. I would not say Neo-Pop was a deliberate practical path for me.

What’s next for you?

PK: I’m working on a new series called “The Dictator Hall of Fame,” focusing on famous dictators worldwide. A strong connective tissue joins dictator worship and celebrity idolization, as these these leaders increasingly resemble American Pop icons versus heads of state. “Muammar Jackson” is one example. The recently-deceased Libyan dictator Gaddafi acts like Michael Jackson.

“Kim Land”

It ain’t about A SALARY its all about REALITY

“It aint about A SALARY its all about REALITY…”

Fahamu Pecou expands upon his 2011 exhibition in Paris, HARD 2 DEATH, by utilizing his familiar trope of self-portraiture to challenge and dissect society’s representation of black masculinity in popular culture today. The title of his upcoming solo exhibition at Lyons Wier Gallery in NYC,  All Dat Glitters Ain’t Goals, is an obvious play on the quote from William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, “all that glitters is not gold.” As with all of Pecou’s exhibitions, the artist’s masterful word play is the root of his exhibition.

Extrapolating from a broad range of popular culture resources, Pecou sifts through rap music, hip-hop culture, and mass media to provide a visual reference that exaggerates and calls into question the persona and “hype” that serves as a bar upon which an entire segment of today’s society measures their worth. The “thug life” lifestyle encompassing exotic cars, “iced out” jewelry, sexy women, drugs and countless non-culpable accounts of criminal exploits litter the lyrics of popular songs and music videos, ultimately infecting the overall perception of “success” in contemporary black male culture.




These ideals contrast starkly with the realities of most black youths, but often become the goals that many aspire to. Some would argue that this display of decadence and disregard is merely entertainment, however to many on the outside looking in, there is no suspension of disbelief. The reading and performance of black masculinity is often greatly dependent upon the reflected images of black men in the media–where hip-hop culture becomes the demonstrative construct.

Hence, Fahamu Pecou is The Shit! The Shit is Pecou’s alter ego who exploits the hip-hop vernacular to address the oversaturation of false images and mislead ideals of wealth and success. The Shit appears as a blinged-out, tatted-up rapper gracing the covers of art and pop culture publications. The over-exaggerated persona and swagger of The Shit is further heightened by the use of subversive commentary, wordplay and colloquialisms scrawled atop Pecou’s large-scale works. These quips directly engage the erroneous posturing proclaimed by today’s black pop culture icons and role models.

Punctuating each painting in All Dat Glitters Ain’t Goals is an original rap song written and performed by Fahamu Pecou. By presenting a familiar and easy entry point via music, the audio component allows an unprecedented immersive experience into Pecou’s work. The music assists in the cyphering the content of the work allowing the artist to conceptually transport the viewer to and through the meaning of All Dat Glitters Ain’t Goals. The entire collection of tracks will be streaming live in the gallery and available via QR codes. There is also a Limited Edition Collector’s EP. To hear a sample track listen below.

Fahamu Pecou’s ALL DAT GLITTERS AIN’T GOALS opens Sept 6 and runs through October 6.

Drapery, Battle Axes & Giambologna, The Many Powerful Individuals That Surround Christopher Lucania

Christopher Lucania is a young, passionate, self-taught artist who works primarily with mixed media on canvas. His work is void of personal meaning, rather he focuses on the emotional contrast of victory, redemption, and hope despite tragedy, judgement, and ultimate annihilation.

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Tobias Keene Believes In Art

World renown painter Tobias Keene reemerges onto the art scene with his first solo exhibit in six years. The message is “beauty, sadness, [and the] inevitability of death and innocence lost.” As I converse with Tobias Keene, just before the opening of his new exhibit Black is the Beauty of the Brightest Day, the Los Angeles based painter speaks of the story within his new show, currently on display at Los Angelesʼ LeBasse Projects.

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Art and Aesthetic Aces: A Peek Inside Michael Shapcott’s Studio

“The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.”
Marcel Duchamp

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There’s Always A Need For New, Weird and Better and TokyoThirteen Arts Plans To Supply

Painter Darryl “13” Bennett of TokyoThirteen Arts was born on Friday the 13th, and sure enough, luck has nothing to do with his success as an artist in his native Washington D.C. Taking the number and its negative connotations, and using it as a symbol for something positive and uplifting is what Bennett is all about. He says he paints from a surreal world he’s created in his mind, where a host of seemingly unrelated influences come together. Much like the city of Tokyo, a place that he connects to on an artistic and personal level. Tokyo is a city where traditional values and progressive ideas merge, and where so many varying subcultures like video gaming and tattooing have found a home. This massive convergence of ideas is the foundation of his brand, which he created in 2007.

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Art and Aesthetic Aces: Mohamed Khouadji–Like A Surgeon

Juggling a passion with a day job can be taxing on an Artist’s soul. Trust me, I know. But the artists that have to live this life usually create vigorously when they get the chance. Take for instance French painter Mohamed Kahouadji. By day Mohamed is a maxillo-facial house surgeon. By night, he’s a passionate painter spending the remainder of his time creating vibrant neo-pop inspired works. Take a closer look at Mohamed’s work below.

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Art and Aesthetic Aces: Zofia Bogusz colors the dynamic between the individual and the external world

Polish born artist Zofia Bogusz paints women against bold and dramatic landscapes, in which natural elements such as water and sunlight color the dynamic between the individual and the external world. The New York based artist strives to render the balance of effortless beauty and strength that exists within the female form. Zofia’s paintings are inspired by individual histories, memories, and experiences. Pop culture imagery also plays a crucial role in her work, creating a grounded sense of the everyday. It’s no wonder her work has been used by numerous magazines as illustrations. Take a closer look at some of our favorite pieces from Zofia below.

Is Rinat Shingareev the Best Artist Alive?


Russian artist Rinat Shingareev‘s Facebook page proudly proclaims he’s the “best artist alive.” I know, I know, you’ve heard that before. Rinat may or may not be the best, especially when legends like Ron English, Banksy and Kehinde Wiley are still well, alive and very productive. But the 25-year old artist, is on to something very extraordinary.

The world according to Rinat is bright, rich and filled with visual references to the biggest memes and artists in pop music and culture. Politics and Music collide as Rinat renders Lil’ B as a martyred Jesus smiling as the American Flag flutters in the background, GaGa in the nude, a tearful George Bush, all in a striking realistic oil technique. Take a closer look at Rinat’s work and read our interview below.

Art Nouveau: Where are you from? Where are you based?

Rinat Shingareev: I’m from Russia, but for 10 years I have lived and worked in Italy. I’ve never stood still and a lot of traveling. New places, cultures and people have also influenced my art.

AN: You’ve painted GaGa, Madonna, Lil’ B and Nicki Minaj to name a few, music is an obvious influence in your work. What are you listening to in your studio these days?

RS: Music has always played a big role for me and is the main source of inspiration. I was educated with Breakbeats, Jungle and Hip-Hop. Sometimes I like to listen to classical compositions. Next was the era of Trance and Progressive House. I remained a fan while the genre did not evolve. It was a time of night clubs and festivals. Now in my studio I listen to  hip-hop, Dub Techno and Deep House. Right now I’m playing the new Ski Beatz album.

AN: You’ve been called pop-successor, how important is Andy Warhol and his legacy to pop art to you and your work?

RS: At the Art Academy I learned a lot of material and was very impressed with Pop artists, even my thesis has been devoted them. I’m especially close to art and the philosophy of Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. Andy Warhol was a genius and advanced for his time. His vision of the things and ideas were revolutionary, that forever changed the art.

AN: You’ve begun to translate your art to t-shirts and hats. What signaled this idea?

RS: It was a very successful experiment! In the Academy I studied fashion and design and for a long time and planned to be engaged by fashion design. I recently released a small line of t-shirts and caps with my work, which sold for a few days. I still get messages from people who want to buy my t-shirts. This is a great way to go beyond the painting and present my art outside of the galleries, the Internet and books, but a simple image on clothing. Now I’m very busy with other projects, but in future I will continue to develop this idea.

AN: How important is achieving realism to your work ?

RS: Achieving realism is not the main purpose of my work, but bright and rich colors, various transitions and a large amount of detail help me to tell more in detail my personage and to transfer the basic idea.

AN: A lot of your work borrows heavily from pop culture. Why do you feel it important to highlight these references?

RS: I believe that the basis of Pop Art will always be actual, only the tendencies will change. I consider myself a Pop Art successor and try to develop as the classical ideas and introduce new elements.

AN: What’s next for you?

RS: I have a lot of ideas that I would like to realize. At the moment I’m work on my solo exhibition. It will be very big and very special event. Also, I will continue my experiments in fashion design, photography and video.

AN: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

RS: I’d like to underscore that I have nothing but respect to the personalities in my paintings, and that I do not render political beliefs through my work.

19. Touché, Kehinde, Touché

The silhouette or shadow of any particular culture is ever changing and can be misleading if judged just by what you see on the wall. If the sun is too high, the shadow stretches. If the pose is just right you might appear more statuesque. In our world, the media is the mirror and the flashlight that all too often simplifies and reveals these shadows and silhouettes for what they really are. There seems to be no group more simplified or more revealed in the past few years like gay men, specifically black gay men.

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Art and Aesthetic Aces: Scott G. Brooks Finds Beauty in the Grotesque

Scott G Brooks lives and works in Washington, DC. His subject matter ranges from simple portraiture to intricate narratives. In his paintings, he takes social, psychological, and political issues and injects them with a dark sense of humor. Anatomical distortions separate the figures from the photographic ideal, which gives him the freedom to create his own distorted reality. His work is described as twisted and offbeat, sentimental, and disturbing.

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