I am thrilled to have on this week’s Art Talk the photographs of Stephanie Jung. Stephanie hails from Schifferstadt, a small town in South-West Germany and has been creating art through her photographs since her days studying visual communications.
Stephanie’s strong individual perspective and unquestionable skills make this would-be photographer green with envy.Â Her photos capture the distinct character of various cities through the use of multiple exposure photography, a technique she’s been honing since her early years of experimentation. As a result her photos communicate vibration, manic movement, transience and slight shifts in perspective – all as if rendered in slow motion.Â These traits paint a picture of a fleeting contemporary urban life.
To a city-dweller, like myself, these scenes should feel â€śnormalâ€ť as this is the world in which we are surrounded, however Stephanie’s work feels ethereal, transporting the viewer to dream-like versions of her chosen cities. She even breathes new life into cities that suffer from tourism overexposure such as Tokyo, Paris, or New York – cities we are used to viewing on postcards or fridge magnets displayed in many a camera-toting tourists’ home.Â Stephanie’s perspective on these cities is fresh, invigorating, and very much her own.
Tell us, Stephanie, what was it like in the earlier stages of exploring multiple exposure photography?
I realized that I like abstract photography during my internship, where I learned a lot from a professional photographer, she really inspires me with her work. I love how you can show movement with blur, I really love abstract photos and the mood they create.
The multiple-exposure shots was something I discovered when I was in Paris. I spent one day at the La Defense district, which is very busy most of the time. There was one moment when I wanted to increase this mood, so I started to experiment. Although I liked the results, I didnâ€™t continue working on it until I visited Japan one year later. I was fascinated by this country, especially the big cities like Tokyo. Thatâ€™s where I started to work on multiple exposures again, it was the perfect way for me to intensify the feeling of Japan.
Your photographs comment about the transient life in cities so eloquently. As a viewer and a city dweller, I think your work captures theÂ ephemeral part of living in a big city. How easy or difficult was it to arrive at this way of presenting your narrative?
Well, this was a process which I didnâ€™t enforce. I started to focus on abstract photography because I was fascinated about the possibilities you have in photography. Taking classic pictures was something I was bored with in the beginning. During my internship where I spent a lot of time with a photographer and later friend in Berlin, I asked myself why Iâ€™m taking those photographs and why I choose those motives and experimental styles. So I started to think about the things in life Iâ€™m dealing with, what Iâ€™m thinking about and what I was questioning in life. This combined with looking at my early photographs I found out itâ€™s the movement in life which matters to me and which I want to show in my works. So this all happened without me pushing my photographs in a specific direction, it was just something I did automatically.
You’ve also depicted the pulsating, reverberating characters of cities like NY and Paris. You’ve shown quieter sides of Berlin and the calm side of Kyoto. And your Scotland photos exude whimsy. How do you ensure that you capture the variety of characteristics that different cities possess?
This is a very intuitive process. When I visit specific cities, I walk through the streets, see some famous sights but also unknown places which I randomly discover. Every person experiences a place very differently, not everyone likes all facets or a city in general, others do. With my work Iâ€™m showing my personal view of a place, how I am seeing it. To see and feel the varying characters of a city, you simply have to explore it.
Itâ€™s easier for me to capture a city, which Iâ€™ve never been to or which I donâ€™t know that well. For example, I find it hard to portrait my hometown, which I know perfectly. Every time I try to take pictures of it, Iâ€™m not happy with the result. I know every corner of this place, this makes it hard to change my view of it and see new, interesting things which I find worth capturing. A friend and photographer once said to me, if you accomplish to photograph your hometown and be satisfied with the result, youâ€™re a good photographer. Iâ€™m curious about the day I will manage that.
How do you choose then which not-so-familiarÂ cities to photograph?
On the one hand, Iâ€™m taking photographs during my private travels. Not every place is suitable for this kind of photography, although Iâ€™m always trying to achieve a good photo.
On the other hand there are cities which Iâ€™d love to visit and take pictures of to continue my series. These are mostly big cities like Hong Kong or again, New York. What Iâ€™m looking for is an unique, mostly modern, architecture with many structures and a unique cityscape.
My late friend and photographer Sabine Wenzel gave me the advice to not randomly take photographs, just because Iâ€™m passionate about it. Itâ€™s important to find a theme in photography which youâ€™re always working on. To find something which is important to you and what you want to express through your art.
Whatâ€™s the best piece of advice youâ€™d given anyone about their art?
Of course thatâ€™s the best advice I have been given, as I think itâ€™s so important for your art and changes a lot in your process. I would be silly if I wouldnâ€™t share this valuable advice.
How do you see your work evolving? What’s next for you?
Iâ€™m currently exploring other fields of photography as well. Since 2014 Iâ€™m also focusing on people and portrait photography. Itâ€™s so different from my usual work, but Iâ€™m having a lot of fun, as I can work with people and itâ€™s always a challenge for me to capture the character of someone. This is something Iâ€™ll keep doing as I enjoy the balance of client work and my personal art.
Also, one goal for 2016 is to combine my art with people photography. I started to work on it last year, but only randomly, so this is something Iâ€™d like to extend in future.
Interviewed by: Jing Palad
Art Pieces byÂ Stephanie Jung
Some of the most interesting and engaging art pieces are those that shift the perspective of the viewer. I find that this is true of Toni Silber-Delerive’s paintings. She often takes us to a different plane – quite literally – showing us aerial views of locations and exposing beauty not normally seen unless we consider her perspective.
Viewing her art, some of which could be seenÂ here or her website led me to askÂ What is this place she’s showing me? Have I been to this place before? I then found myself dissecting carefully positioned elements and colors and then piecing them back together, stepping back, and again looking at the bigger picture. At this point thereâ€™s a certain feeling of awe towards the way in which she presents us with her vision.
In the following interview Toni gives us insight into her work. We learn about her process and the general direction towards which she chooses to take us and her art next.
Your aerialscapes are so effective in how they encourage viewers to considerÂ different perspectives. “Nottinghamshire Coal Mine“, “Oil Fields” and “AustraliaÂ Industrial” for example surprise the viewer, as a mention of these places do notÂ necessarily conjure beautiful imagery. However, your work positions them –Â particularly in the case of “Oil Fields” and “Australia Industrial” – in an intriguing,Â almost abstract manner. How did you start in this direction? Have you always hadÂ this perspective when you started painting?
Although I studied painting in college, in my career in graphic design I looked at theÂ world and meanings of subjects through abstract shapes and colors. When IÂ returned to painting full-time that experience as a designer influenced my work.
Beyond the composition I strive to interpret the world we live in and incite viewers toÂ see it from a different perspective. I attempt to tell my narrative while retaining theÂ character of the location, using a personal perspective to develop a graphic visualÂ vocabulary. I want my paintings to be more than just a recording of theÂ contemporary landscape and express my interpretation and vision.
It’s also particularly interesting how depth is minimized in a lot of your work. What’sÂ the reason behind this approach?
Wanting to depart from traditional landscape perspective, but still incorporateÂ realism, the view from above allows me to combine elements of abstraction andÂ representation, pattern and grid, surface and illusion, as well as observation,Â imagination, and memory. My work can be understood on many levels, from theÂ simple interplay of shape and color to the narrative of the pictorial story.
IÂ enjoyedÂ looking at the composition of elements and the choice of colors inÂ your paintings. Please take us through your process and how you select theseÂ opportune vantage points.
I start with a location that fits my narrative, then proceed to sketch my idea from oneÂ of my own photographs or stock material using the birdâ€™s eye view. The next step isÂ to block out the shapes, patterns and color working with Photoshop to further refineÂ composition and color. Although the color is not realistic there are close similarities.Â Finally it is time to work at the easel.
There seems to be a move towards abstraction in some of your pieces. Is this aÂ conscious decision or do you think this is a natural progression for the kind of artÂ that you create?
It is my conscious decision to move towards abstraction while maintaining an aerialÂ viewpoint. There is much more that I want to explore, there’s really no limits toÂ creativity. The last series I did is called â€śIntersections Quarteredâ€ť. if you didnâ€™t knowÂ they were intersections you probably wouldnâ€™t recognize them.
Apart from your aerialscapes, you paint other subjects such as food and people.Â Which of these subjects gives you most satisfaction and why?
The food paintings, are also derived from the same unconventionalÂ approach as my aerialscapes. While the colors and shapes are traditional,Â the oversized proportions painted from above display the subject in a way that is both original and recognizable.
My figurative work draws on a stylized impression of people. Just like myÂ landscapes they are commentaries, only about people. The most basic ofÂ human needs, desires, dreams are timeless and universal. There’s anÂ added layer of emotions to the portraying of my subjects. These paintingsÂ hint at stories about their subjects, but give viewers room to use theirÂ imagination.
In Atlantic City, two children pose on the sand, buckets in hand, unsure ofÂ their environment, not exactly frolicking and carefree. A reminder thatÂ childhood is filled with insecurities.
And lastly, what does it mean for you to be an artist in our time?
Regardless of the time, I believe my raison d’ĂŞtre as an artist is to share my vision ofÂ the world. I want my aerialscapes to be a commentary on our lifestyles andÂ environment, a collection of urban and suburban way of life as well as aÂ representation of the natural and industrial worlds. I will be satisfied if my paintingsÂ encourage people to step back and see our world as affected by humanity in aÂ different light.
Toni’s website isÂ www.tonisart.com
Interviewed by: Jing Palad
Art Pieces byÂ Toni Silber-Delerive
This week we continueÂ our conversations with some of todayâ€™s most promising artists, turning our focus to Haydee Torres and her work.Â Haydee combines the strength and diaphaneity of her colors with the gritÂ and gentleness found in the women in her portraits.Â This careful balance helps her work exude both fragile beauty and stability, and makes it hard for art lovers to resist.
I’d like toÂ go into detail about your work but first, please tell us more about you.
â€¨Where are you from?
I was born in New York, but my family relocated to Puerto Rico very early on in my life.
Where are you currently living and working?
I am currently living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; my studio is located in my home.
How did you get your start as an artist?
I first discovered my passion for art while completing a fashion design program at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. While taking my required courses, I found a particular interest in fashion illustration and my instructors further encouraged me to develop my drawing skills. This was a very important and exciting time for me. These were the first encounters in which I had found those around me referring to me as an artist which was a huge moment of revelation for me. Later on, I began taking drawing classes at a local college. One of my professors told me that he believed I had reached a high enough skill level to justify selling my work, which was an idea that both intimidated and exhilarated me.
Please describe to us your process and your approach.
Before I begin a piece, I take time to formulate a kind of mental image of what I would like to translate onto the canvas. There hasÂ to be a certain sort of craving to use a specific medium, which is the part of the process that I find truly exciting. The rest of the process is planning and is oftentimes very calm and almost ritual, but it can also be an extremely fast and disorganized process. I prefer to be listening to music, mostly piano such as Phillip Glass.Â Most of the time I find myself wondering and having this mentalÂ discussionÂ about almost everything. I always been a thinker andÂ preoccupiedÂ with existence, purpose and the differentÂ experiencesÂ that a person goesÂ thoughtÂ duringÂ their lives. As the pieceÂ develops, I take many photos to fix Â mistakes and make sure that the composition works and the colors are well balanced.
Women figure prominently in your work. What is the reason behind this? and what are some of the characters of the women on these portraits?
My work is very selfish becauseÂ it is about me. Not physically but about the female in me. My women are representing a modern woman that has a real battle to get where she stands. That isÂ why they are beautiful, tall hair like a crown and strong. I work from photos most of the time but sometimes my daughter will pose for me.
Because of your approach to color it would be easy to connect your work to fauvism. How do you feel about this association?
I can understand the connection. My approach to color is veryÂ spontaneous. I also associate my usage of color with expressionism, but I most definitely find that connection to be an extremely valid one. I like to leave a sense of mystery to my pieces so that the viewer can interpret them in their own unique way, so I really do think my work can be connected with several different styles.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your thinking?
When I started painting my may influence was fashion. As I evolve I haveÂ became more interested in contemporary figurative work and expressionistÂ art.
What fascinates you most about the work that you do?
TheÂ process. Because I don’t have formal painting education I have a very unorthodoxÂ way of painting.Also acrylicsÂ are quite challenging when it come to the figure ,I have to figure it out as I go.
In your statement, you mention that your work encourages the viewer to develop their own narrative. What has been the most interesting interpretation of your work that you’ve come across?
I will say that a lot of my female customers they connect with the painting in a personal level and they can seeÂ themselves as the figure in the canvas. When I had have the opportunity of meeting my customers in person they have this curiosity about theÂ feelingsÂ of the woman in the painting.And that is when the narrative begins. For some people it is about just questioning for other they explain to me what is going on, so it is wonderful how everybody has a different narrative.
Interviewed by: Jing Palad
Art Pieces by Haydee Torres
For this inaugural edition of Art Talk, we focus on Canadian artist Melody Lynn Madden‘s work. Melody’s dreamy landscapes and emotive cloudscapes take us to a place of lightness and calm. The openness of the skies and pristine lands of Muskoka, Ontario figure prominently in her work which transports us to the place she calls home. A welcome virtual trip for this city dweller!
Learn more about Melody Lynn, her approach to art and her diverse sources of inspiration. Here’s a tip: She’s fond of the Justins.
I would like to talk about these serene, beautiful paintings, but first, I would like to talk about you. How did you get your start as an artist?
Growing up my grandmother instilled in me the value of working with my hands… a creativity that may have never manifested itself if not for her. She was an embroiderer and to watch her fingers move the needle effortlessly through the fabric when she sewed …as if through water .. silent and smooth was simply beautiful. I worked in textiles for fifteen years because of her influence and then moved to paint five years ago.
My grandfather loved film. He took me to my first movie when I was 5 years old.Â Mary Poppins. The memory of that scene in the park with Burt .. Jumping into the paintings.. I feel like I paint places I would like to jump in to.
Those two pivotal moments in my life, my grandmother teaching me the value of working with my hands and my grandfather showing me the magic of places I could createÂ – places I could jump into … Places of comfort. It’s taken me all this time to see how those early exposures to art in two different forms planted a seed in me creatively.
Please describe to us what your process is like. Do you work mainly outdoors or primarily in the studio?
I am a studio painter. Mine is surrounded by large windows which overlook 3 acres of the Muskoka landscape.Â I walk the property every day and in the winter I cross country ski on the pond. This inspires me and fuels the ideas for new work. Lately I’ve been waking at 5 a.m. and heading into the studio, picking up a paintbrush, watching the sun come up and just feeling so damn grateful to do the work.Â I use a lot of glazing in my art as I am quite taken with the luminosity and depth I can achieve with that process. I never draw anything on canvas/panel before I begin because I feelÂ it limits what may present itself.Â I just go with what I feel and trust that will be enough. I also never premix my colours, preferring to do it on the canvas/panel.
There is always music on in the studio…I don’t remember a time when I painted without it .. Everything from Imagine Dragons, Etta James, Guns n Roses, Drake, Moby (big love for Moby) Van Morrison and the Justin’s (timberlake/beiber).
Strangely enough another part of my process is choosing the title of a piece before the art begins.Â Itâ€™s triggered by something Iâ€™ve experienced in my own life, a feeling,Â an unanswered question or something Iâ€™ve read or seen that has a profound emotional impact on me.Â I write it down and it influences the work right from the very beginning.
I love words … the lyrical way they are strung together … like paper hearts.
The sound and flow of the spoken word … words that can soothe a broken heart, comfort a weary soul, inspire those in need of inspiration and give us hope when we need it most ..
I love the space they hold..
Words connect us, through our struggles, our joys, the never ending challenge of trying to find our place in the world.
The words, the landscape and the art … itâ€™s a full circle experience for me.
The place where you live and work (Muskoka, ON) seems to be the persistent character in your work. What for you are the characteristics of this region that figure in your work?
I was born and raised in Toronto but moved north seventeen years ago. I still love the city and am there often but the connection I experience here in Muskoka, it creates an emotional response that shapes the work.Â The lakes, the trees, sunrise and sunset … Oh, and I am so emotional about the sky.Â To me, the sky holds untold stories.
How do you feel about working in different cities and exploring different landscapes?
That idea is the future vision I have for myself and my work. Travelling and experiencing life in different cities, exploring new landscapes? It would open the door to a new level of creativity that would enhance my paintings and allow me the possibility to explore new forms of inspiration.Â I have a big love for Northern California, the sky, the beach and those gorgeous redwoods. It would be a dream to paint and teach there.
I’ve recently begun teaching at The Orillia Museum of Art and History .. A drop in art group for youth. I have found it to be incredibly rewarding in ways I had never fully anticipated. The opportunity to collaborate with young people, share ideas, talk art and learn … I always want to be open to new experiences. If I ever decide I don’t want to continue to learn, it’s time to pack up my paints and go home.Â So I imagine if you asked me what I could see myself doing a few years from now I would say “paint, travel and teach”
Your art often exudes calm, openness and a sense of freedom, how important is it for your disposition to be the same when you’re painting?
I’m emotional every time I pick up a paintbrush … It’s like this flow of everything I’ve experienced in my life to this point … Pouring out onto canvas or panel ….
I believe there are pivotal moments in your life that change you … shape you .. push you to strip away the layers to discover who you are and what your really made of … My work is an exploration of that.Â At times that may translate to a calm, still sky or as of late, something much more dark, stormy and powerful… There is an incredible beauty to both.
You have your own website through which you sell some of your work. For a lot of artists this has been an increasingly popular way of selling art. However there are still those who feel that selling online is impersonal, especially those who are intrigued by the new owners of their work. By selling your work online is that sensation all lost? Especially that part of interfacing with people who shareÂ your vision?
I have found selling online a great way to connect with new buyers as well as previous collectors who currently own my work. I can totally understand the hesitation of that initial purchase though. Buying online from an artist you’ve never met or spoken with can be daunting but I do my best to make it a good experience and to be open, honest, engaging and communicate well. Many buyers have sent me a photograph of my work hanging in their home … I’m am so honored by that gesture.
I do love galleries. I’m talking to a few right now and would love to be represented as well as represent myself … I believe as artists we can do both. I currently sell with two online galleries, Zatista and Saatchi.
Do you remember what it felt like to be called an artist for the first time? And what does it feel like to be called an artist now?
Honestly, the first time it made me uncomfortable probably because I couldn’t claim it.Â I did a group show with much more seasoned artists than myself, artists whose work I was in awe of. Maybe I thought I didn’t deserve it, I hadn’t quite earned it yet. Today I fully own it and stand proudly in that space. I believe we are all artists, each of us uniquely creating, through our daily lives, a way to express who we truly are.
And finally, what are you working on these days?
“The Fine Thread of Connection That Winds Around My Heart” which is an acrylic/ oil piece.
I’m finding the revealing of layers has begun to show itself in my work and I’m quite enjoying the transition between reality based skies and a more abstract landscape. The process of scratching away the surface on a painting to reveal what’s underneath is deeply satisfying to me as I find it symbolic for life.
While working, I keep a passage from one of my favorite books on my work table … for me it keeps it real.
Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner
Do your work and then step back
The only path to serenity
(Tao Te Ching, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
You can visit her website:Â melodylynnmadden.com
Interviewed by: Jing Palad
3 Money-saving tips for buying art on limited budget
One of the first things I learned when I wasÂ working for an Art consultancy company was to always ask aÂ prospective client “What budget are we working with?” This question is at the top of the list as itÂ gives us anÂ idea about the project’s scope — what is affordable vs. what is out of reach, how many art pieces are we limitedÂ to, etc. While it’s often music to an art consultant’s ears to hear the words “Money is not an issue” or “I don’tÂ have a set budget, as long as I like what I see” this comes as often as a unicorn sighting in the middle of a busyÂ intersection (at least when you are sober).Â What is not unusual, however, is coming across a client soÂ informed and interested in art that their taste tends to tip the scale of their budget.
Everybody goes through penny-pinching at some point when it comes to acquiringÂ art, not just the consultants, soÂ here are some techniques Iâ€™ve learned onÂ how to avoid going over your budget but still get theÂ desired experience.
Pick out the qualities you like most about the high-priced art you’d been eyeing and scout for similarÂ approaches in less established or less renowned but talented artists.
The best art consultants you will ever meet have the deepest bench of alternative suggestions for everyÂ client’s artistic preference. Part of this is because one has to be ready for options should a work of art for soÂ many reasons – budget especially – don’t work out as planned. So, here’s my suggestion to you: If you find thatÂ youÂ like a certain high- end artwork, say a Yayoi Kusama paintingÂ (which has fetched up to US$1.1M),Â askÂ yourself what it is about a her work you like. Is it her contemporary take on pointillism that excites you? Is itÂ her approach on color? Is it her voluptuous sculptures?Â Then do some research and exploration.
DigÂ through aÂ host of less established artists who are influenced by her,Â or are doingÂ something similar.Â For most of us passionate about collecting, thisÂ is the most fun part of the process. I live for art school graduate exhibitions, gallery openings and art collectiveÂ exhibitions. This is where I see what is out there, and before I know it, I suddenly have several options when IÂ only had one when I started.
If you must absolutely have a piece by the artist, would other versions of the piece suffice?
Takashi Murakami and Jeff Koons are just two of the blue chip artists who create limited editions of some ofÂ their iconic pieces. The enterprising Murakami, through his company, Kaikai Kiki creates limited prints out of hisÂ canvas paintings (Some of which can be purchased through our website).Â Jeff Koons has produced miniaturesÂ of his record breaking art Balloon Dog. Fans of these high-selling artists are fortunate as they have an option to buy moreÂ affordable versions of the works.
However, as the artists chose to reproduce theÂ original, albeit in a limited number, these editions are less rare and will be significantly less when it comes to valuation. That said, if the intent is to include work fromÂ these artists in your collection and you’re working with a limited budget, theseÂ editionedÂ works are anotherÂ avenue to consider.
Be adventurous. Explore works early in an artist’s career.
In the 60’s Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings would sell for as low as $300+. Christopher Wool’s works in the 80’s to theÂ 90â€™s couldÂ often be purchased for less than US$10,000,Â but nowadays his works would easily command millionsÂ of dollars. There is a certain gamble in buying works by emerging artists, as not all artists go on to becomeÂ famous,Â so do prioritize buying what you like.Â I would however, always suggest keeping your ears tuned into the bestÂ art or design schools in your cities and attend their graduate shows.Â This is one of the bestÂ placesÂ to spotÂ young talented artists whose works are still very affordable. Galleries know this andÂ frequent these venues looking for upcoming talent.
Written by Jing Palad