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Meet Berlin – based fashion designer DENNIS CHUENE

By /BLOG/, /INTERVIEW, /NEWS/

Berlin’s fashion scene is buzzing with creativity, and at the heart of it is Dennis Chuene, a designer whose work defies the ordinary. Known for his bold, eclectic designs that effortlessly blend the avant-garde with timeless elegance, Dennis has quickly become a name to watch in the industry. His commitment to sustainable fashion and innovative approaches have set him apart, making his collections a staple on the fashion radar.

Today, we sit down with Dennis Chuene to talk about what drives his creativity, how Berlin influences his work, and his vision for the future of fashion. From his latest collection to his thoughts on sustainability, get ready to dive into the mind of a designer who is not just following trends but creating them.

Could you share more about your journey as a fashion designer and how you transitioned to establishing your brand in Berlin?

I started when I was 17 and remade my dad’s old shirt. I wanted to continue sewing then, but instead, I went to study marketing and advertising at university for a full year, while still making clothing. As you might have guessed marketingwasn’t for me at all so I dropped out.

Thankfully my dad supported my decision. That’s how I started studying fashion. However, soon I was forced to drop out again because I didn’t have enough money to pay for my course.

One of those days a strange lady ran up to me in a mall and I went: “I think you should come study at my school”. I declined straight away because I didn’t want to get any more formal training. She insisted and gave me her business card.

Shana Edelstein, London International School of Fashion. When I saw it, I thought: FUCK YES. It was cool and expensive and I wouldn’t be able to pay for it myself. So, I went to study at the London International School of Fashion in South Africa.

Still, at school, I occasionally got to know the top South African designer, David Tlale. We picked up a conversation andguess what? He started asking me about ME. Because he has already heard about my work from the Fashion Week andmy school. The very same day we went down for a drink and he hired me.

But there was also a brand that I wanted to either work or intern for. Every day for three months straight I would go to Strangelove, knock on their door, and ask them for a job. Every day they’d say no. So, I’d come again.

„Because today it is a “no”, tomorrow it might be a “yes”.

They hired me eventually. I was studying and working 2 jobs at that point.

In 2006 I worked on David Tlale’s Exodus collection with which he went to the Paris Fashion. In that show 70 to 80 % of the menswear pieces were straight out of my wardrobe: the pieces I would design and wear myself. We made a few other items but the majority of the collection was designed by me.

I am sharing this now because I am not the only one who has experienced it. My lecturer came to me after the showand said: “It’s a pity nobody’s ever going to know that that were your designs”. The hard part about being an employee in somebody’s company is that they take all the glory, and you are just a supporting act.

David was a great leader. He got me thinking out of the box and creating pieces within his theme. Nonetheless, the truthis the truth. They were my pieces.

After that still in 2006 I started my own label Vernac while still working for David Tlale. I was making upcycled China tartan bags. When I featured them in the show David told me to protect my idea because people were going to steal it. But I did not care, because

„I was more than one idea.“

Later I resigned and worked for a couple of other designers for a few years. But all that time I felt like I wasn’t being seen as a creator.

Hence in 2010, I moved to Cape Town. I was in a new city with 15 bucks in my pocket, no job, and no desire to do fashion any longer. Because it felt like I had prostituted myself to other brands and got nothing from it.

I started working at a call center. The level of frustration was rising. Those were 2 very bitter years of my life. Up until 2012 when I met my future wife and everything changed. Because she inspired me to design again.She said I was far too talented to work at the call center. She said: “Quit. I’ve got your back”. All everybody needs is just one person to believe in them, she was the person who truly believed in me.

„I will support you regardless, you need to just go back and do it.“

And I rekindled my designs. With my wife’s emotional and financial support, I went into denim and creating bags again,while keeping my job at the call center. I made a decision that I would only quit

when I’d make the equivalent of my salary with my designs. It took me about seven months until I could quit.

It was almost 2013. And I was developing Vernac making clothes and bags. The clothing part was more of a loveinterest and pleasure while sales of the bags kept everything afloat. Bags are easy, it’s just grab and go product. So Idid that.

When did you do your first Fashion Week show? And how did it feel for you?

In 2017 in Cape Town I had my first show. And oh, it felt great.But there was more to it than just my show. Remember how my future wife has been an integral part of what I do?

She was at the show that day. Nobody knew her. She is not a person for the limelight, but she is in the background of everything I am doing. So, when I was about to take all the glory for the show she helped me prepare…

„I proposed to her.“

 At the end of my show, I got on one knee with the ring in my hand and asked her to be my wife in front of 300 people and TV cameras. I had prepared a speech but all that came out of my mouth was some incoherent blubber. Thank God the ring was speaking for itself. And thank God that she said “YES”. I did it because everybody saw and applauded me and my work. But they didn’t know that none of it would have happened if she hadn’t said back then: “Quit. I’ve got your back”.

„I got the girl and I got the show.“

 

What happened afterward?

Cape Town was a transitional place where I found my roots, my way, and my love. But my wife wasn’t happy there anymore. She wanted to move back to Germany.

I agreed Because I’ve always had this idea:

„If I’m about to pivot, I do it on a high and not on a low.“

You got to make a change while you’re still hot. Because if you do it later, it will mean that you are looking for an opportunity.

„And you yourself are an opportunity. Your success is not dictated by your geography.“

So, we moved to Germany in 2017, same year when I did my first big show in Cape Town. But we didn’t move not to Berlin, no, we moved to a butt crack of Germany: a small town in Bavaria.

When and why did you move to Berlin then?

We stayed in that town for about three years. This is where we’ve started our family. But I couldn’t stay there forever learning German and working in a beer garden, I felt like I was losing myself. That’s why in 2019 I registered my business and got employed by someone who needed a seamstress or a machinist to produce jackets. Jackets are my forte, you know, I kill jackets.

I started producing my own clothing again and selling my designs in Studio 183 in Berlin. And my sales were going up. In the meantime, we had a baby on the way and I desperately wanted to move from that godforsaken place. Hence, I threw my weight at my work…

This is when COVID hit and killed my business: stores closed, and sales dropped to the floor. However, my brilliant wife had an idea. She offered me to make masks. I didn’t like the idea at first, but then I made several samples; we tested them and I started sending them out… soon after I was producing 160 to 200 a day masks a day. It was insane.

How did you go from masks back to clothes?

 I was making clothes all this time. But my mistake was trying to produce something cheap. Cheap clothing never resonated with my customers. Because they could tell that this was an act of desperation to make money and my soul wasn’t in it. In June 2020 we moved to Berlin. And I decided to rebrand, there was no more place for cheap items and no more place for Vernac.

I learned how to say Versace, it was time for people to learn how to say Dennis Chuene.

I started putting myself out there and got my studio in Berlin in 2021. My first Berlin Fashion Week show took place in February 2022. But I do not intend to take part in the Fashion Week anymore.

What inspired the rebranding from Vernac to Dennis Chuene and how does the new identity of your brand Dennis Chuene align with your design ethos?

 Living my truth. Before the rebranding, I wasn’t being completely honest about how I felt about things.

I’m a very emotional person and can be even melodramatic at times. And I create out of feeling that’s why I don’t draw: I create with fabric, and put my emotions into each piece. Hence, when the brand was called Vernac it did not translate MY FEELINGS. By opening a brand under my name I could finally be myself and show the process of repeatedly learning and unlearning who I am through my clothes.

Like the jacket I made that says “Dennis who?” has “DC” initials on it. D stands for Dennis, C for Chuene but also is my dad – Charles, and then on each big letter you can read “MARU” which is my son’s name. So that’s three generations of my family on one jacket.

Before I would not create products like that, I would go for an artistic attempt to please people. Now I’m making pieces that mean something.

In what ways does your brand aim to inspire creativity and push the boundaries of the fashion industry?

 

Most brands change their narrative every year. And my truth is never going to change.

„What’s true is true and remains true.“

I aim to create a transcending experience through clothing. I’m selling feelings, thoughts, introspection, and wisdom that’s been there long before me, but I’m recreating them through my own emotional experiences.

I’m hoping to coerce the fashion industry into finding better meaning and value of products instead of selling a fleeting, inconsistent narrative. My brand tells the truth: painful or not. And as Dennis Chuene I aim to inspire people to live their truth.

Can you elaborate on the concept of one-of-one products and how this unique approach resonates with your customers?

When I’m behind a sewing machine I create a feeling. I make my best attempt to translate it into a piece of clothing. I capture a moment. And a moment is a moment, it only happens once, right? It cannot be repeated. All my one-of-one items are created through this process.

“ This way every single one of my pieces tells the story.“

It’s not up to me to find the rightful owner of a piece. A client sees something online and comes to my showroom to pick it up, we start talking, I show something else, and if the story behind that piece resonates a client might leave with a completely different item.

Inside my jackets, there’s a blank space that I leave for clients to write down their feeling, their story and put a signature and a date on it so that both of us can come together as one through clothing. Someday, when both of us are gone we will leave behind a collective piece: I made it, you connected with it and somebody else is going to bear it and continue living.

How do you maintain a focus on craftsmanship and individuality while catering to a wider audience with your tailored apparel?

I do one-of-ones and I also do items that I can reproduce at a higher volume. The one-of-ones are mostly jackets. And shirts are my best-sellers, I can reproduce these in higher quantities. But I add a little tweak here and there every season, I never fully recreate pieces over and over again.

What are some key elements that distinguish your limited edition pieces and designs from mass-produced fashion items?

Hand-stitching is the distinguisher. About 90% of the pieces have hand stitches on them. However, I have three design languages.

  1. Hand stitches are by far the best for me. I love
  2. But I also use another technique that I call “The String Theory”. For this one, I manipulate a string into patterns on the surface of clothing. The technique is inspired by scarification: the patterns a sharp blade creates on
  3. The third language is upcycling. But I never make anything that looks like cheap DIY. Sometimes Iblend all three languages and sometimes I use just

Could you shed more light on your hands-on approach to creating products, such as being involved in the hand-crafting process and using only two sewing machines?

 Well, it’s no longer only two machines. But I wish to be completely transparent, I don’t have a whole team of people working for me. It’s just me. And I do quite enjoy the Japanese approach: one craftsman working on one process at a time. Keep it small and simple.

I’ve always thought that I should not limit what I can create by the equipment I have. When I sew you won’t ever be able to tell that a piece was made on just two machines. Whenever I have the right feeling I simply jump from one machine to another, set it up, and get to work. It makes the process so much easier.

Would you like to wrap up and say some last words for the interview?

 

It’s three words. I am… Oh, it’s four. I am dope as fuck. I do dope shit.

Credits 

photographer – Inna Malinovaya, @inna.malinovaya
styling – Sasha Chumachenko, @shura_delo_govorit
clothes/designer – Dennis Chuene, @dennis_chuene
shoes/accessories – designer’s property 
Interview by Irina Rusinovich @_irina.rusinovich_

Interview with multi media artist Azia Maria Sammartano

By /INTERVIEW, /NEWS/

Text by Irina Rusinovich

Interview with multi media artist Azia Maria Sammartano

In a world where art is often a reflection of the artist’s soul and experiences, Azia Maria Sammartano, known as Essereilnonessere, presents a unique blend of self-taught artistry and academic prowess. Based in  Turin, Azia’s journey through various disciplines such as human communication, neuroscience, and neuropsychology has shaped her artistic vision in profound ways. Despite her academic background not being conventionally tied to the arts, Azia’s dedication to self-improvement through courses in drawing, painting, and theatrical improvisation speaks volumes about her commitment to her craft.

Join us as we delve into the artistic universe of Azia Maria Sammartano, as she shares her journey of self-discovery, creativity, and the profound meaning behind her arts. 

Can you tell us about your background in both medicine and art, and how these fields have influenced your artistic practice? 

Many in history have been scientists and artists, just think of Leonardo, Michelangelo, A durer or Calder and not least the legendary Brian May, guitarist and NASA consultant. Combining art and science has always been the goal of research for cosmic harmony. I graduated in medicine in 2009 and chose to specialize in Phoniatrics out of extreme love and interest in the study of human communication, an aspect that the medicine I practice deals with. Sign language was my first great love, I had been drawing for a long time and I have always liked experimenting with different styles and many techniques. I then understood by studying and being interested above all in non-verbal communication that it itself was an intimate part of art. Communication and art are intrinsically intertwined, forming a powerful union that transcends mere words and strokes of a brush. It is through communication that art finds its voice, and through art that communication becomes a vibrant symphony of emotions. Each brushstroke, each word, each note, carries a message that reaches beyond the surface, resonating deep within our souls. The beauty of art lies not only in its ability to captivate our senses, but also in its power to connect us on a profound level. It is in the shared experience of art that we find solace, inspiration, and understanding. Through art, we can express our deepest fears, our greatest joys, and our most profound truths. It is a medium that allows us to communicate the unspoken, to bridge the gaps between cultures and languages, and to create a universal language that speaks directly to the heart. Art has the power to unite, to heal, and to ignite change. It is a testament to the indomitable spirit of humanity, a celebration of our creativity, and a reminder of our shared humanity. Let us embrace the intimate connection between communication and art, and let our voices be heard through the power of artistic expression.

How do you integrate scientific concepts and research into your artworks? Can you provide some examples?

Research in communication brings with it the desire to experiment with new ways of conveying messages, overcoming personal barriers and therefore those of humanity as a whole. I often bring the exploration of different modalities into my works, combining techniques that are not always associated. I like to use materials in an unconventional way, manipulation is often an integral part of the creative process. I always aim to use at least two different types of materials and styles. Just as human communication cannot be one and only, the work of art must use different communication channels. The pen combines with oil paint, newspaper and wire, with collage. Take for example ‚Belly‘ or ‚Panta Rei‘, his works are very different but exemplify scientific and artistic research. In the first work I initially used a part of my body, I modified it and then I divided it into different sectors just as Todd’s social networks are used. Each sector is a part of the human being, representing dreams, nightmares, desires, thoughts and relationships. The choice of the color black is an example of the oppression of women over the centuries, as can be seen from the description of the work. In the second work ‚Panta Rei‘, I chose to use modeling paste, acrylic colors and plastic support all tied with steel cables. The idea is precisely to create abstract living beings with pasta, each with its own color, bearer of a message, but each initially locked in its own sphere and place, chained in cables, but with each exposure the work can change having changed the individual addends and this leads to new balances, exactly like in human relationships. Furthermore, I almost never use noble supports because, just like human communication, it is often improvised, so the supports I use must also reflect this aspect.

copyright Azia Maria Sammartano

What inspired you to explore the relationship between human communication, neuroscience, and neuropsychology through your art?

Often in the part of research in the sphere of human communication we work with people who bring with them a whole emotional, cognitive, relational and linguistic-communicative baggage. Language is only one part of communication and paradoxically it is the least important. Nonverbal communication, which includes gestures, posture, facial expressions and tone of voice, can often convey more information and emotions than words themselves. It has been shown that the majority of human communication is non-verbal, in fact only a small percentage of communication occurs through words. Nonverbal communication can be more accurate and authentic than verbal communication, as it is often involuntary and reflects our emotional state and intentions more directly. It is therefore important to pay attention to non-verbal communication during interactions with others, since how we are interpreted and compressed can be very important. My field of work and constant research in non-verbal communication is visible in all the works through the use of different supports and materials as well as the unconventional way of using colors, to express that communication and art are two pillars of human expression that intertwine in a fascinating dance, creating a symphony of emotions and connections. Through the strokes of a brush or notes I try to communicate the depth of the human soul, transcending linguistic barriers and cultural divisions. Art becomes the universal language that speaks directly to the heart, evoking powerful emotions and inspiring change. Likewise, communication is an art form in itself, requiring mastery of human communication skills to convey thoughts, ideas and dreams. It is through the power of effective communication that we bridge the gap between individuals, fostering understanding, empathy and unity. In a world where words can both heal and harm, we have the opportunity to harness the transformative power of communication and art to create positive change. Let’s embrace the energy and vitality that these two beautiful forms of expression possess and use them to ignite passion, inspire creativity, and build a world that thrives on open dialogue and mutual respect. Together, we can shape a future where communication and art intertwine to create a vibrant tapestry of understanding, love and hope.

How do you bridge the gap between the inner and outer worlds in your artwork? Can you share some techniques or approaches you use to achieve this?

For many years now, I have been following yoga, meditation and personal awareness courses. It is interesting to note that finding yourself immersed in a period of meditation or deep introspection often leads to the personal production of significant works. This silent reflection often allows you to delve deeper into your emotions, thoughts, and experiences, ultimately leading to the creation of something meaningful. Emotional intensity can serve as a catalyst for creative expression. I always draw inspiration from emotions, be it joy, sadness, anger or love, sometimes even those of the people who are closest to me emotionally. These intense emotions can ignite an inner spark, pushing me to express my feelings through art. Furthermore, the society in which one lives just as often greatly influences my creative output. Social events, cultural movements, or significant changes can serve as a backdrop that shapes perspective and provides a unique lens to display emotions and ideas. When I observe or experience the impact of such events, I am often driven to create something that reflects the perception or reaction to these circumstances. The connection between meditation, emotionally intense events and creative production is a deeply personal and individual journey, but always leads me to productions that audiences perceive as highly engaging. it is a testament to the power of introspection, emotional exploration, and the ability to channel these elements into artistic endeavors.”

Azia Maria Sammartano at (UN) FAIR 

Your works often leave space for personal interpretation. How do you strike a balance between conveying your intended meaning and allowing viewers to bring their own experiences and perspectives to your art?

Art is a boundless realm of creativity and expression that has the power to ignite our souls and transcend the boundaries of reality. Within this vibrant world, abstract art stands tall, radiating energy, motivation, and optimism. It dares to challenge conventional norms, inviting us to explore the depths of our imagination and unravel the mysteries of our emotions. Abstract art bursts forth with vibrant hues and dynamic forms, exuding an electrifying energy that captivates our senses. It is a symphony of brushstrokes, shapes, and textures that dance together in perfect harmony, resonating with the beating of our hearts. Each stroke carries the artist’s passion and the viewer’s interpretation, intertwining to create a captivating narrative that speaks to the very essence of our being. Abstract art is a powerful force that pushes the boundaries of our perception, inspiring us to see the world through a kaleidoscope of possibilities. It embraces the unknown, encouraging us to embrace uncertainty and embrace our own unique journey. Through its mesmerizing presence, abstract art ignites a flame within us, urging us to pursue our dreams with unwavering determination. It whispers words of encouragement, reminding us that even amidst chaos and uncertainty, there is beauty to be found. It invites us to step outside our comfort zones, to explore uncharted territories, and to embrace the magic that lies within the realm of the unknown. Abstract art is a beacon of hope, a source of inspiration, and a testament to the boundless potential of the human spirit. Let it fill your heart with joy, ignite your imagination, and propel you towards a future brimming with endless possibilities

 Could you discuss some of the abstract and cryptic elements in your work? What messages or emotions do you aim to convey through these choices?

This is one of my favorite questions. Art is a boundless realm where creativity knows no limits. It is a powerful medium that allows us to express our innermost thoughts, emotions, and ideas in ways that words alone cannot capture. The beauty of art lies in its ability to transcend rationality and embrace the unconventional. By using elements non-rationally, artists can free themselves from the constraints of logic and light a fire in their work. For example, in some works such as NORIC which will soon be on display in Milan for ARTEMIDA, I chose to reuse an old VHS and join it in a collage with the idea of a way that now, if we don’t do something, it will only decay and implode. The idea of combining different colors and materials in that work left me free to imagine the world transforming, from a shapeless and devastated mass to a lush garden of a villa, if we all voted together for change. It is this courageous and bold approach that brings my creations to life, infusing them with energy, passion and meaning. Art has the extraordinary power to shake the depths of our soul, evoking a range of emotions that can only be described as transformative. It inspires us to think beyond the ordinary, to challenge social norms and embrace the extraordinary. As in the ‚Stromboli 2023‘ series, human and non-human forms come together to form wombs, humans that become flowers, flowers that transform into tentacles and tentacles that take root in the earth, mother earth that welcomes us and supports us and gives shape and the strength of being here. Or for example, in the latest works I am trying to explore different ways of analyzing the human time line within the circularity of history. The project is called THE LINE and expresses the difficulties of life, the small steps forward, the great emotional chasms that stop us, the hand of a friend or the strength of will that takes us beyond those barriers. All in constant black and white as a reminder of yin and yang, symbol of harmony, balance and energetic interaction. Through the unyielding spirit of art, we are reminded that there are no limits to what we can achieve when we dare to dream and create.

copyright Azia Maria Sammartano

Follow Azia Maria on INSTAGRAM 

Interview with an art collector, art advisor Sonia Borrell

By /INTERVIEW, /NEWS/

Meet Sonia, a versatile individual who wears multiple hats in the art world – art collector, art advisor, and entrepreneur. Originally from Barcelona, Spain, Sonia’s educational background in Law from the University of Barcelona laid the foundation for her artistic journey that began in 2008.

Over the years, Sonia has meticulously curated the Tryson Collection, transforming it into a vibrant showcase of contemporary art that reflects her personality and tastes. What initially started with Spanish artists has now evolved into a diverse collection encompassing Pop Surrealism, Urban Art, and Contemporary works, with a focus on emerging talents from countries like Japan, South Korea, United Kingdom, Indonesia, and her homeland Spain.

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Interview with fine art photographer Xinyu Gao

By /INTERVIEW, /NEWS/

Text by Irina Rusinovich 

Interview with photographer Xinyu Gao

Discover the creative world of visual artist, photographer, and researcher Xinyu Gao as she discusses her innovative approach to fine art photography and experimental image-making. Having garnered recognition in renowned international competitions, exhibitions and festivals, Xinyu shares her unique perspective and experience since graduating from University College London. Join us as we delve into her journey through the lens of artistry and research in the realm of contemporary photography.

How would you describe your overall artistic vision and what drives you to create?

From the sensitivity of senses and aesthetics, I am obsessed with visibility and invisibility, and the possibility beyond. The aesthetic and cultural diversity are my original pursuits throughout my creation.

Inspired by echoes from pictorialism in initial exploration, I constantly pricked from the perception of embodied senses, experience, emotion and memory. As I break the boundaries of categories and dive into fine art and conceptual photography, my work grows in observation, perception and reflection around critical issues. Recently, I have been thinking about the way of seeing in an era of attention and spectacle and keeping changing the point of view from viewfinders to conversations, from scenes to thingness, to any possibility.

Can you talk about any specific artists or photographers who have influenced your work?

It is quite difficult to mention a full list.

I admire pioneers including Eva Watson-Schütze, George H. Seeley, Jane Reece, and Claude Cahun, Sara Moon. Work by Paul Cupido, Constantin Schlachter, Alexander Tkachev, Laura Makabresku and Masao Yamamoto inspired me in a very early stage, especially in atmosphere, emotion and conceptual mind. Moreover, I am deeply attracted by diverse vitality from masterpieces by Alex Prager, Neil Krug, visual artist Stephen Mackey, and other masterpieces beyond the mentioned above.

I am so fortunate to encounter the pure aura of art in my journey. It is lucky to grow up as their audience.

How do you approach the process of creating your photographs, from conceptualization to execution?

From the beginning, instinct is everything, as the aura, the haze, even no consciousness and no method to learn. In most cases, inspiration comes at random moments.

Exposure to talents and masterpieces drives me to touch the world and gradually learn where I am. Based on observation and perception, I attempt to absorb multiple spirits from reading, and artwork without limitations. Meanwhile, the process of academic research at college in anthropology and media study influenced me to develop critical thoughts with a solid background.

My experience in ethnographic research takes me to fields to connect to the real world and the diverse cultural meanings behind it, which take me close to the earth instead of staying with structure. However, these are the only paths that build and support my mind in realistic aspects.

The most essential thing is, to keep the sensitivity, instinct and insight forever, and keep the initial hope and passion, no matter what kind of experiments of methodologies, reality and adventures.

The project „The Night We First Met“ focuses on underground ballroom culture. What drew you to this subject and what is the message you hope to convey through your photographs?

Influenced by my field experience rooted in anthropology spirit, diversity led me to queer communities, where individual representations are the most unique and sparking, in pure love and support from each other.

This project comes from the night when the most beautiful souls of humans and nonhumans meet each other in the first voguing ball open to the public in Beijing, embracing everyone and every difference, without judgment and limitations. The senses of materials in leather and feather, metal and skin reflected under the disco ball bring me to the imagination where subjective creativity grows from nonlinear time and broken spaces.

It is a remarkable honour to create a conceptual series with unseen stories in highlights, celebrating freedom and love as the never-ending light above us. Through these moments, I also hope to reflect on how images serve as anchors for archives and history, as well as the invisibility and appearance of images in the public domain.

The First Night We Met © Xinyu Gao

Your series „Beyond the Borders“ showcases scenes from different corners of the world. How do you capture the diversity and fusion in these images?

 How to make something different in both the aesthetic and conceptual aspects is always my study and thoughts around this cultivate my curating mind that is never satisfied with presentations that already exist. I started my adventure with traces recorded during my journey and found the magical connection and echoes between corners, where the possibility of fusion became visible. Initially, shapes and colours spread and overlap with each other, as images speak for themselves, in the spirit of celebration of diversity. I am touched to keep the image in the state of self-telling, my pursuit as always, and to present aesthetic perception and humanistic spirit.

Your project „EastCoastRide“ explores the perception of memory through images. How do you convey the emotional structures and aesthetic atmosphere of memory in your photographs?

It is a kind of instinct that I can’t help to immerse myself in the perception of embodied senses, experience, emotion and memory. The specific moments inspired me to create the abstract and universal representation, in a tension between every touch and the infinite distance out of imagination. In this way, I try to reflect the alienated texture of perception in contemporary contexts, especially influenced by time and space tension.

The series ‘EastCoastRide’ constructs the landscape based on the shading and shaping of memory. From the most familiar places in sensory perception rooted in daily experience, images reach the geographical and environmental atmosphere, with distant and intimate, obscure and detailed, alienated and mutual touch, to present the perception of memory in emotional structures and aesthetic atmosphere.

East Coast Ride © Xinyu Gao

Could you discuss the inspiration behind your series „Blue Lullabies“ and „Scenic Poem“? How do these projects explore the themes of childhood, emotions, and nature?

During that period, I was obsessed and influenced by pictorialism and willing to present the aesthetic scenes and lands in my mind. Observation and immersion of scenes and landscapes evoke my initial inspiration for stories in a way of visual painting, for pure aesthetics. The picturesque nature of Tokyo Garden and Kew Garden in London bring me to distant and surreal dreams.

In the project ‘Scenic Poem’, the silence of pine trees and rock, and the flowing of water drops present the metaphor of oriental philosophy, in the acceptance of transience and imperfection.

‘Blue Lullabies’ starts from the blurry atmosphere of girlish memory, the gaze and whispers behind the gauze, with shadows in the breeze floating on it. From the senses between visibility and invisibility, images take us back to the pure emotion and innocent touch of summertime memory.

What is your favorite project so far and why?

I think there could never be a clear answer to this. However, thanks to this question, I am encouraged to look back and think about the truth and the core spirit of my work.

For me, every project is my exploration in diverse stages. It is closer to the reception of my journey and traces of growth, from the inner self to the observations, and conversations inspired by our living and creating environment.

Blue Lullabies © Xinyu Gao

What are you woking on at the moment?

 I am currently developing my conception project ‘WindFall’ accumulated for years with a draft shaped during my study in London. I hope to present it in a photo book, also for the potential opportunity of exhibitions.

This project explores the ordinary secrets and secret ordinariness in stills of everyday life and the existence of pieces influenced by how the way of seeing changed in the era of attention and spectacle.

As the viewfinder turns from scenes to thingness, this series could be regarded as a fight against society gradually shaped by accelerationism. Escaping, retreating, seeking and hiding into the details of everyday life, by breaking the speed and concreteness, texture and image, the image seeks to immerse and resist the ever-increasing sense of temporal tension and information implosion through perception, in softness and sharpness.

I am confused about this alternative way between photography and collage, especially because of its unusual and surreal presentation. Enjoying the sharpness and softness on the same surface, it easily falls into to boringness of format. I wish I could keep experimenting and share it with you in the near future.

Follow Xinyu Gao

on Instagram here 

her website 

and LensCulture 

In conversation with VANESSA ONUK

By /ART/, /INTERVIEW, /NEWS/

Text by Irina Rusinovich

In conversation with artist Vanessa Onuk

In a world where art and science collide, Vanessa Onuk has found her unique artistic voice. Born and raised near Frankfurt am Main, Onuk initially pursued a path in medicine before following her passion for painting in 2022. With a clear vision in mind, she uses acrylic paint to create layers of textures and vibrant color gradients in her artwork. Experimenting with different canvas substrates, she discovered that working on pure, unprimed linen allows her to achieve the perfect mix of bleeding colors and precise applications. Onuk’s abstract landscapes aim to capture moments that mesmerize us, where we want to linger and absorb the beauty of our surroundings. By reducing her works to shapes, colors, and feelings, she invites viewers to bring their own experiences and memories to the artwork, creating a uniquely personal connection. Onuk’s intuitive approach offers a framework for emotions and memories to arise individually, resulting in a captivating and thought-provoking experience for each viewer. We wanted to know more about Vanessa and her approach..

Can you tell us about your journey as an artist? How did your upbringing and education influence your decision to pursue art professionally?

The interesting thing about life is that it always takes different paths than you planned. I am a trained doctor, still run a practice with my husband, and have already worked in one of the largest prisons in Germany in my career and am currently a forensic doctor for the police. This more scientific way of life is something that I would never want to miss, but I always missed the creative part of my life. My uncle is an artist and I have been fascinated by art since I was a small child. As a young woman and mother, I was unable to pursue artistic independence for many years. At the beginning of 2023, my husband gave the impetus to publish my pictures. I have now come to terms with the fact that I need both parts of my life to find inner peace.

What inspired you to start experimenting with acrylic paint and different techniques to achieve layers, textures, and strong color gradients in your artwork?

I have always been magically fascinated by bleeding colors and natural color gradients. At the beginning I had a lot of problems achieving these effects, let alone using them specifically, because the paint rested on the canvas instead of sinking into it. Due to the lack of unprimed canvases, I started experimenting with substrates to achieve the desired effect. While experimenting, I accidentally noticed how wonderful the color changes appear when the colors are applied in layers and I specifically tried to recreate these effects. From my point of view, this technique gives my images a lightness and transparency, overall the finish is matt with a strong vintage effect, especially when looking closely at the canvas, which reveals the unique structure.

Vanessa Onuk Catharsis acrylic on linen 160x80cm 2023

Why did you choose to work exclusively on pure, unprimed linen as your canvas substrate? How does it contribute to the desired effects in your paintings?

Part of the question has already been answered in the paragraph above. When choosing the substrate (cotton or linen), the difference is that the denser and evenly woven cotton allows very even, controlled transitions to be achieved and at the same time sharp, clear lines can be achieved. The end result is always a little sharper, less abstract. Pure linen absorbs the color more strongly, they dry much more transparently and brightly overall. At the same time uncontrollable bleeding effects occur at the edges. the application of paint on linen is more raw and leads to extremely unique, abstract effects.

How have your artistic experiments and discoveries evolved over time? Have you encountered any challenges or breakthrough moments in your pursuit of your artistic goals?

The artistic breakthrough for me personally was the moment when I was able to understand colors and backgrounds in their reactions. At the beginning of my artistic journey, effects were often products of chance and the actual idea behind the image was only partly possible. Over time I can assess the advantages and disadvantages of the bases of the colors and can influence them through the different degrees of pre-watering of canvas and paint in order to achieve my desired effects. This means that I have been able to offer corresponding commission work for a few months now, which I really enjoy.

Vanessa Onuk Gentle Reduction 

Can you share your experience of being nominated for the Finalist Awards in several art competitions and being featured in magazines and art magazines? How has this recognition impacted your career as an artist?

First of all, I obviously felt very honored, especially because I didn’t expect it after such a short time in the business. The really positive effect, however, is the increased visibility as an artist. Because in my opinion, the biggest obstacle as a “new artist” is the lack of visibility. Especially with the changes in the algorithm in social media and the flood of artists on large platforms, it is a good opportunity to set yourself apart.

What can we expect from your upcoming exhibitions? Can you give us a glimpse into the concept or theme of the exhibition and the artwork you will be showcasing?

I would be very honored if I had the opportunity to have a solo exhibition of my pictures in the future. Since I paint both abstract landscapes and figurative abstract paintings, an exhibition of one of the motif forms would be the perfect opportunity to present my way of representation in a larger collective of images. My big dream would be to be able to exhibit large formats as well, as I find the effect in large dimensions to be very impressive.

How do you feel about having your art represented in a respected online gallery? How does it influence the reach and exposure of your artwork?

Although I think that art is always best judged when it can be viewed in person, I strongly believe that online galleries offer the form of representation of the future to easily connect art lovers and collectors worldwide and make art more visible. For this reason, being included in a reputable online gallery is another of my artistic goals.

 

Thank you, Vanessa, and good luck with your artistic goals!

Official website 

Vanessa Onuk on  Instagram 

Interview with Fashion and Portrait Photographer Dmitry Bulin

By /INTERVIEW, /NEWS/

Text by Irina Rusinovich 

Interview with fashion and portrait photographer Dmitry Bulin

Purplehaze Magazine is excited to feature Dmitry Bulin’s photography on our recent cover and took the opportunity to interview Dmitry about his approach to his art. Born in a small village in the southern part of the Krasnoyarsk region, Dmitry moved to Moscow in 2002 to study directing at VGIK (Russian State University of Cinematography). Inspired by cinematic images, he began capturing his college friends on a vintage Zenit camera, originally belonging to his father. As he received his first digital SLR camera as a gift after graduation, photography evolved from a hobby into a fully-fledged profession.

 

Images by Dmitry Bulin 

Images by Dmitry Bulin 

Upcycling Fashion

Follow Dmitry on his INSTAGRAM 

In Focus | London based artist Emma Coyle

By /ART/, /INTERVIEW, /NEWS/

Text by Irina Rusinovich 

In Focus | London based artist Emma Coyle

Renowned artist Emma Coyle is captivating audiences with her vibrant and graphic paintings that challenge traditional artistic conventions. Her unique style incorporates elements from advertising, magazines, and fashion, resulting in visually striking portrayals of stylish people. Having established herself in London in 2006, Emma Coyle’s technicolor paintings pay homage to the legacy of Pop Art while also breaking new ground. Departing from the historical conventions of the movement, Coyle utilizes bold contours and pastel palettes to depict her subjects, who exude self-assuredness while posing for the viewer. Notably, her work counters the long-standing influence of the male gaze by presenting dignified and fashionable women who reclaim their narrative.

In this exclusive interview, we aim to delve into Emma Coyle’s creative process, the inspiration behind her art, and the challenges she faced in redefining traditional notions of female representation.

How has your fascination with 1960s Pop Art influenced your artistic journey over the past 20 years?

Initially, it was the ‘look’ that first intrigued me. I have a strong interest in many art movements, but the impact of bold colours and even the size of some of the works which were created in the 1960s really interested me. In particular, James Rosenquist’s larger-than-life paintings and the soft sculptures of Claus Oldenberg.

Over the years I chose different themes to work with but kept a Pop Art style, images from Hollywood’s Silver Screen or Japanese advertisements of the 1920’s. In recent years I have chosen to contemporise Pop Art using current print media advertising images as my starting point. Returning to what first inspired Pop artists, an interest in using imagery that is familiar and current to create art.

Can you tell us more about your recent solo exhibition titled ‚The Best Revenge‘ at the Helwaser Gallery in New York? What was the inspiration behind the artworks showcased?

The Helwaser Gallery exhibition was a real turning point for me, to exhibit with such an accomplished gallery on Madison Avenue. The paintings on exhibit represented a growth in my studio work. A few years prior I had challenged myself to work on larger canvases, and experiment more with colour and compositions. Some of the work featured for the first time, off-centred figures, white painted backgrounds that contain small amounts of pigment, and collaging images together on the canvas.

Copyright | Emma Coyle 

How do you approach combining contemporary fashion magazine imagery and advertisements with traditional painting techniques to create your figurative work?

Preliminary work is especially important to each of my paintings. I constantly collect print magazines and every few years start tearing out hundreds of images. I spend months drawing and tracing, manipulating images, and combining groups of images together. Minimizing details and considering the possibilities of which colours to use can be a long process. Although an extensive amount of work is done before I move to the canvas, I can still mix paint on the canvas or rework lines throughout the painting process.

Could you share your experience of being represented by various galleries in London, such as Arte Globale, Contemporary Collective, and The Marylebone Gallery? How has this exposure contributed to your artistic career?

Expanding my audience has always been my drive for working with galleries. I have been very fortunate to work with some incredibly supportive galleries in London. Their continual hard work promoting my paintings online or including work in exhibitions has helped me to focus on the studio side and further develop my paintings.

Copyright | Emma Coyle 

Congratulations on receiving the International Art Market’s Gold List award. How has this recognition impacted your artistic practice and reputation in the art world?

Awards have a significant impact on any artist’s career and encourage you to work even harder. Whether an artist’s artistic drive is to achieve awards or they are received as nominations, the results are helpful to achieving international attention. The Gold List Award helped me to create sales, have work acquired by renowned collectors, and also helped achieve solo shows internationally.

How do you incorporate ideas of abstraction, minimalism, and negative space into your figurative paintings?

These are three very important aspects of my figurative paintings. They are aspects  achieved in my preliminary work for each piece. When making drawings for months on end, my main focus at this stage is to minimalize chosen images.

I want to almost flatten each figurative form as much as possible by taking away line work. By focusing on creating negative space and abstract space within each drawing it creates a minimal form.

Can you tell us more about your previous exhibitions in Ireland and the recognition you received as a promising new artist? How has your work evolved since then?

I received huge interest and support for my work in Ireland when I graduated in the early 2000’s. I was awarded funding, I had a solo show in Dublin’s Central Bank and I also exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy. My work was picked up by newspapers and I enjoyed the success of my early paintings.

My work has hugely changed over the years and has steadily evolved each year from my dedication to my studio work. I find my colour pallet constantly changes, the work is still very painterly, being able to see brush strokes on the canvas or paper. The themes of my painting series have changed throughout the past twenty years and the size of my paintings on canvas have grown. My recently completed one year painting project titled ‘Collective Selection [1]’ reached 366cm/144inches, the largest painting to date. My studio work progresses because of my interest in challenging myself in the studio.

We’d love to hear about your ongoing painting series ‚Sw16‘ based on contemporary print media images. What concepts or messages are you exploring through this series, and how do you hope viewers will interpret your artwork?

My ‘Sw16’ series is currently represented by Covent Garden’s Arte Globale Gallery. The paintings are very bold, bright and exciting. ‘Sw16’ series is a continuation from my ‘12.16’ series which is represented by Helwaser Gallery in New York. This new series is again exploring the use of colour, line work, and composition. When I am working on a painting or in a series I do not think of the narratives within the painting. This is something I leave to the viewer. For me my paintings are about the act of painting, composing a visual on a canvas or paper.

Thank you, Emma and good luck with your artistic endeavor!

Connect to follow Emma here and here 

Meet the artist: 5 Questions to SANTO

By /ART/, /INTERVIEW, /NEWS/

Text by Irina Rusinovich 

Meet the artist: 5 Questions to SANTO

 

Please tell us your artistic vita in a few sentences.

My education in design began at a design school in California, known for its intensive curriculum. This experience broadened my understanding of various design aspects, eventually leading me to roles in art direction, animation, and abstract painting. Over time, I found a special affinity for abstract painting. It resonated with me as it allowed the freedom to explore my own ideas rather than adhering to prescribed briefs.

Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your passion? 

To be honest, since I was a kid. Art has been a part of my life since childhood, a realm where I felt most at ease, at peace – especially when other subjects in school didn’t come as naturally.

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

My creative process involves thoughtful reflection on ideas that capture my interest, often stemming from personal experiences or observations. In my approach to visual art, I try not to overthink, allowing the art to flow naturally. Experimentation is a key part of my process, sometimes leading me to try new materials or techniques, which can bring unexpected depth to my work. I’ve learned to embrace imperfections, finding that they often add a unique character to my pieces.

© SANTO 

What does art mean to you personally? Is there a goal you’re trying to accomplish?

To me, art is a personal meditation as well as an outward expression, a way to share aspects of myself with the world. Goal; It’s rewarding to think that my art might positively affect someone’s environment or mood, whether it brings tranquility or energetic inspiration.

What are your plans for 2024?

For 2024, my aim is to keep exploring and growing as an artist. I’m excited to try out new methods, play with different colors, and continue developing my own voice in the vast world of art.

Discover more about SANTO and her ART at HAZE.GALLERY

Interview with YAN JUN WHITE

By /INTERVIEW, /NEWS/

B I O G R A P H Y
I am a painter who studied arts at the Luxun Academy for Fine Arts in Shenyang, China. My paintings are a reflection of my versatility, as I experiment with different tech- niques to express my inner self. As a resident of Berlin, I am inspired by the vibrant
art scene and constantly strive to push the boundaries of my own artistic expression

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Interview with photographer Diana Smykova

By /INTERVIEW, /NEWS/

Meet Diana Smykova, a talented visual artist whose work seamlessly merges documentary and fine art photography. Through the incorporation of video and text into her projects, she skillfully captures the essence of her subjects and the stories they tell.

Born in the Far Russian North, Diana has dedicated herself to exploring the culture of the Arkhangelsk region and delving into her own identity through her photography. By immersing herself in remote northern villages and traversing her homeland, she has been able to shed light on the personal narratives of local people, as well as explore intimate themes such as sacred landscapes, beliefs, and folklore.

Currently residing in Turkey, Diana lives as a nomad and is in a constant state of travel. Her latest project delves into the concept of home and how it is perceived by people from different countries. Through her lens, she tackles profound topics such as trauma, migration, and identity.

A member of esteemed organizations such as Women Photograph and the Russian Photography Society, Diana Smykova is a rising star in the world of photography. Her unique perspective and dedication to storytelling make her work truly exceptional.

Read our exclusive interview, where we delve deeper into Diana’s artistic journey, inspirations, and the stories behind her captivating images.

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