Declared by the International Art Association, April 15th has become World Art Day. “Celebrations help reinforce the links between artistic creations and society, encourage greater awareness of the diversity of artistic expressions and highlight the contribution of artists to sustainable development”, according to UNESCO.
The day was chosen based on the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci. The artist is considered a symbol of freedom of expression, besides being a name that acts as a synonym for the word “art”. However, there is much more to know in this universe beyond the classic artists, and there is no better opportunity to get in touch with their work than the day to celebrate them. For this, meet six contemporary artists who have much to reveal in their works.
Born in Japan in 1929, Kusama suffered from an early age of hallucinations and mental issues. As a coping mechanism, she started to create art based on her visions, which later led to developing her characteristic patterns: tentacles and polka dots. After moving to the United States in 1957, she got in touch with Pop Art – notable influence in the bright colors represented in her pieces – and met important figures, like Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. In her documentary “Kusama -Infinity”, she relates that, as a consequence of discrimination and her lack of fluency in English, some of her pieces were allegedly copied by these men.
Since the 60s, she has done expositions all over the world of great recognition, such as “Obliteration Room” and “Infinity Mirror Rooms”. The first, composed of an all white furnished space, encourages the audience to glue bright circle stickers wherever they wish to.
The second, varies according to the museum, but always has a composition of mirrors and colorful objects that are responsible for reflexes that simulate an infinity for the viewer. To this day, the artist voluntarily lives in a mental institution and produces art, including poetry.
A gratuate of Ohio State University, Nick Fancher is an American photographer specialized in creating in-camera effects, mostly with minimal gear in uncommon locations. His work, remarkable for its bold colors and high contrast, is very present in the music industry.
For instance, he has photographed the band Muse and Evanescence‘s vocalist, Amy Lee. In addition, he has done shoots for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Other than taking the pictures, Fancher also teaches others how to. He has written four books regarding his techniques and posts on his youtube channel “behind the scenes” videos.
In 2022, Rosana Paulino was granted the Mercosur Konex Award of Visual Arts, an honor given by Konex Foundation of Argentina to the greatest minds of the category over the last decade. The Brazilian artist with an impressive curriculum is also a doctor in Visual Arts by the University of São Paulo.
The main themes of her work include the role of black women in Brazilian society, racism and slavery. For example, in “Ama de Leite” the artist represents, through sculpture and sewing, pain and affection of an enslaved Black wet nurse linked to breastfed babies. Currently, she has an on-going exposition at Inhotim Museum in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais.
Edgar Kanaykõ Xakriabá
Edgar Kanaykõ is a photographer belonging to the Xakriabá indigenous group and an anthropologist by the Federal University of Minas Gerais. His pictures showcase the cultural aspects of his people, while also presenting stunning landscapes.
During the pandemic, he participated in a virtual exposition organized by the same university he studied at, entitled “Siwẽttêt: resistência” (still available for viewers online).
According to a statement given by Kanaykõ, the photographs serve as a weapon to demand important causes for his people, since it “allows others to see with a different perspective of what they are”. In the begining of 2023, when the abusive conditions in which the native Yanomami tribes lived came to public attention, the pictures of a protest against illegal mining and logging in environmental reserves, made in Brasília last year, gained great visibility.
Alison Bechdel is a best-selling cartoonist and writer, credited to be the creator of the “Bechdel test“. It originally came up in a long-running comic published in 1985 called “Dykes to Watch Out”, which featured a scene of a lesbian character explaining that she only ever watched a movie if it had a conversation between two women not centered around a man.
The success of what the author considered “a little lesbian joke in an alternative feminist newspaper” became so relevant that the test is nowadays a critical parameter when discussing gender representation in the media. More recently, Bechdel published “Fun Home”, a coming of age graphic memoir that explores her relationship with her father and with her own sexuality. It was considered by Time Magazine the best book of 2006.
The article above was edited by Mariana do Patrocínio.
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