Artist Feature #5 – Natasha Lalla

ART-IS-IN by Chriselda Barretto

About Natasha Lalla

Natasha Lalla has been painting for over two decades. She has developed a distinct style of her own, which involves painting with her fingers. The artist has never owned a paintbrush and makes use of vivid colours to create stunningly abstract pieces that unleash a host of creative and universal energies.

Natasha’s use of colour and her unique style of painting is unmatched. She has a deep understanding of how colours impact one’s overall sense of well-being!

In the Artist’s own words: “Colours have healing properties and the method of treatment that uses the visible spectrum of electromagnetic radiation to cure diseases is called chromo therapy. A centuries-old concept used successfully over the years.”

Natasha Lalla

Hello Natasha, could you tell our readers a little bit about who you are?

I do not know where to begin about my journey.  I think it started as a child.  I just knew I was different and my unconscious would reveal to me what I should do and as I grew up I just learnt to trust it totally. Complete surrender is what gives me this unique gift to do what I do.  I have had no formal training in art but just a love for it since childhood.

I have never been a religious person but a spiritual being. I also believe there are no coincidences in life.

Horizon IV – 89cm x 94cm – Acrylic on Canvas

Tell us about your art style or process?

My canvas is my smorgasbord where I unleash a host of creative and universal energies.  Abstraction in acrylic is what I derive in my paintings which to a lame-eye can be summed up as exuberant harvests of blending colours and finger strokes. 

Where does your inspiration come from?

Painting in free form, stream of consciousness is a form of artistic meditation that reflects the style. I have a unique way of reflecting spiritual and sublime experiences by expressing images from my subconscious onto canvas by swirling finger strokes.

Horizon XXIV – 97cm x 143cm – Acrylic on Canvas

Natasha, are there other artists/role-models or books that have played a key role on your artistic journey?

Kandinsky, one of the first abstract painters, was keenly interested in colour in art and developed many theories on the properties of colour in art and how they are best used. Many traditions and cultures, such as Chinese, Ayurvedic, Theosophist and ancient Greek and Egyptians believe in the healing power of colours, based on the effect their vibrations have on the body and mind. I have a vivid use of colours.

My gallerist and curator Jalpa H. Vithalani draws a parallel of my art style to be something on the lines of the famed artist Rassoulli; whose work has been quoted as “The little realities we can’t see or the art that dances… without dancers”.

Artist Natasha Lalla with Jalpa H Vithalani, Creative Head and Director, Cosmic Heart Gallery

Wow! That is an impressive comparison. How did you learn/acquire this technique?

My technique is completely self taught and it keeps evolving.

How has art impacted your life?

For me painting is a form of artistic meditation. I feel it is important for people to see the artist through the works. Painting centres me and bring peace and balance into my life.

The recent most exciting development, was that Cosmic Heart Gallery was invited to participate in Art Bahrain Across Borders, Bahrain’s International Art Fair. This was under The Patronage of Her Royal Highness, Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, Wife Of His Majesty The King Of Bahrain. Cosmic Heart Gallery was one of the 16 international galleries which had a presence.

My gallerist chose to commemorate the work of two Indian artists at this prestigious exhibition and I was one of them.  I understand that my work was widely appreciated there and is even with the royal family in Bahrain. 

Horizon XIII – 112cm x 86cm – Acrylic on Canvas

That must have truly been an unforgettable experience for you. An achievement actually! What is your current WIP?

I just got in a fresh lot of colours and expanded my pallete and created a beautiful blue and gold work. I always send in images to Jalpa, as I am in the process of creation. This somehow stimulates me and encourages me, to get to my next level each time. I value her feedback and input. She always remarks that this is my work and your gallery.

Horizon XXVIII – 234cm x 110cm – Acrylic on Canvas

What does the future look like for you and your art?

I am completely in the moment, but when you ask me this question I would say the future looks bright. Cosmic Heart Gallery and I share a common vision of bringing beautiful and affordable art into people’s homes. So many people can not only appreciate my paintings, but also afford to buy them. God has been kind and Cosmic Heart Gallery has hosted seven solo shows of my work and curated my art in twelve group exhibitions in a period of seven years. My work has reached people around the world.

Do you have any words of advice that you would like to share with aspiring artists?

Believe in yourself and trust the process. I have been lucky to find a gallery and curator who understands my work and believes in my talent. There is huge synchronicity in the way we work together.


*A remark from ‘Cosmic Heart Gallery‘ Creative Head and Director – Jalpa H. Vithalani on Artist Natasha Lalla!

“It is an absolute delight to watch Natasha create one of her signature pieces with her fingers. This is one in a million artists who does not own a brush.”

How can my readers contact you or find your art?

Readers can contact me on my gallery facebook page, my personal page or instagram handle @natashalalla

They can come and see my works at Cosmic Heart Gallery, New Marine Lines.

Readers can read more on – http://www.cosmicheartgallery.info/artists/NL/natashalalla.html

View artworks on – http://www.cosmicheartgallery.info/artists/NL/natashalalla_artworks.html

Natasha Lalla

An Artist Feature by Chriselda Barretto

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Artist Feature #4 – Richard Bernabe

ART-IS-IN by Chriselda Barretto

About Richard Bernabe

Richard Bernabe is an internationally-renowned nature, wildlife, and travel photographer as well as widely-published author from the United States. His passion for adventure has been the driving force behind his life’s quest to capture the moods and character of the world’s most amazing places, from Africa to the Amazon to the Arctic and countless places in between.

Editorial clients include National Geographic, The New York Times, Time, Audubon, The BBC, The World Wildlife Fund, National Parks, Outdoor Photographer, and many others. Corporate clients include Canon, Patagonia, Orvis, REI, Apple, Microsoft, American Express, and more.

Richard was named one of the “Top 30 Influential Photographers on the Web” by the Huffington Post and included in the “20 Photographers Changing the World Through Social Media” by Influence Digest. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than 1 million social media followers.

Richard is a highly sought-after teacher and public speaker who accepts many invitations from around the world each year in order to help educate others on matters of photography, adventure travel, and our natural world.

A group of Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica) huddled along a sea cliff at Dyrholaey, Iceland

Hi Richard, you are an internationally acclaimed photographer, book author, educator, and keynote speaker. Quite an amazing portfolio you have there! But tell us which one speaks to you the most and why?

I would have to say photography, out of everything mentioned above. It’s at the core of my business and my one true passion. In particular, wildlife and wild places are the subjects that inspire me most and speak to me as an artist.

I know that the current focus of your work involves Earth’s endangered species and African wildlife conservation. Could you tell us a bit more about this, specifically why did you choose this aspect and have there been any obstacles or interesting stories from this part of your journey?

Well, given the answer above about where I draw my inspiration, it’s heartbreaking to see our animals disappearing before my eyes. 70 percent of our African megafauna has disappeared over the past 50 years. Let that statistic sink in for just a minute. And I’m not going to speak out and lend my voice in trying to save what we have left? How could I not? I’m particularly disgusted by the greed and stupidity exhibited in humans when in comes to wildlife poaching and the barbaric nature of trophy hunting. It sickens and depresses me.

Alaskan brown bear in late evening light, Lake Clark national Park, Alaska

Your art and photography are stunning, dynamic, eye-catching and so “real“. Tell us about how you go about getting the still that you want and your art style or process.

Thank you. Well, I am trying to evoke some sort of emotion from my viewers. If I can make them feel something – tranquility, peace, power, awe, majesty, melancholy, sadness, ANYTHING really – then I feel I’ve done my job as an artist. In order to do that though, I need to genuinely feel something myself at the time of the capture. I need to be truly inspired when the image is created. It’s not something I can fake.  When I pick up a camera, my mindset needs to be receptive to feeling something so I can translate these emotions through my chosen medium, photography, where others can feel like they’re behind my camera as well, experiencing the scene vicariously through me. 

Where does your inspiration come from?

My gut level emotional reaction to exotic, wild places, and the wild creatures and people that live there. My initial, emotional response to a subject or scene is the core around which I build my image. That’s the heart and soul of the photograph. That’s the energy. Without it, I’m just making pretty pictures like the millions of others out there who own expensive cameras.

Giraffes reflected in sunset light, Etosha National Park, Namibia

Have there been other artists/role-models or books that played a key role on your artistic journey? 

There have been too many photographers who have influenced me to some degree to name here. The influence of the late Galen Rowell was at the fore when I was initially learning and growing as a young photographer and artist, especially his writing in books like Mountain Light and his monthly columns in Outdoor Photographer magazine. 

Now I find artistic inspiration in other places such as the works of master painters, music, writing, and other forms of creative expression. There are examples all around us in our daily lives if we pay attention.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

My biggest challenge is staying focused and conserving my time. In addition to photography and traveling, I’m also running a business and its day-to-day demands can suck a ton of creative energy from my life. I have learned to say no to requests and impositions on my time that in the past I couldn’t or didn’t do. 

Coastal seastack formations of Reynisdrangar near Vik, Iceland

Which project/work has given you the most satisfaction from all your endeavors?

As I stated above, I try to make an emotional connection between my photography subjects and my viewers with me being the conduit. This is essential to creating a successful image, in my opinion. So when I do create a compelling image of a threatened or endangered animal, for example, and my viewers are able to connect emotionally and empathetically, I get satisfaction in knowing that my photograph, if even in a small way, might help in its ultimate survival. Our wildlife needs as many constituents as possible and if my images can help in that regard, it provides additional satisfaction above and beyond just the joy in creating.

How has art impacted your life?

It’s enabled me to see – to really see – the world around me in a different way. It’s opened me up emotionally as well and taught me how to express myself better on a personal level. That’s something that I probably wasn’t able to do very well when I was younger or before art became the central part of my life. 

Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua), Paradise Bay, Antarctica

Tell us about your last work.

My last major piece of work was writing a book, Wildlife Photography: From First Principles to Professional Results. It’s basically a how-to book on wildlife photography with guides to traveling and where to travel for wildlife photography. It went on sale in October of last year and I’m told it’s doing well commercially. 

What is your current WIP?

My current personal projects involve traveling and pursuing wildlife that are threatened by illegal poaching and trophy hunting. That will be an ongoing project for many years and will, unfortunately, never end. I will also be doing speaking events, photography assignments and leading photo workshops and tours all over the world.

Gray langur monkeys (Semnopithecus entellus) Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

What does the future look like for you and your art?

I just want to pursue photography subjects that inspire me. That’s my guide. If at some point my interests shift to other avenues, then my photography will follow those paths. It’s that simple. I have no desire to focus on anything that I am ambivalent about or doesn’t inspire me. For example, I have never photographed a wedding and no amount of money can motivate me to do it. 

Any words of advice to aspiring artists?

If you must choose a career in a creative field such as art or photography, do it for love – not money or fame or public recognition. 

Iguazu Falls and the Devils Throat, Iguazu National Park, Brazil and Argentina.

Richard you lead photography classes and workshops for photo hobbyists and fellow travellers. Could you give us some more information on this?

I lead photography workshops and tours all over the world. More information can be found here: https://www.richardbernabe.com/workshops 

How can our readers contact you and find your amazing art/books?

The best and easiest way to contact me is through my website, www.richardbernabe.com.

Richard Bernabe

An Artist Feature by Chriselda Barretto

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Artist Feature # 3 – ALEXANDER RADTKE

About Alexander Radtke

Alexander Radtke is a young contemporary artist, with the main distinctive feature that he provides an unconventional approach to analyzing and interpreting art movements and directions. His story of the spiritual in painting begins with the series «Stillness Speaks» in 2016.

Radtke was born in Shadrinsk in 1989, graduated from Shadrinsky University, where he studied information technology. In 2011, after completing his studies, he moved to Yekaterinburg, where he started working, however after a while he decided to give up his career in this field and devote himself entirely to painting. Radtke began self-study drawing and painting, and was engaged in the theory of art receiving expert advice from local artists. After a while, he participated in the general exhibition of the English Museum of Everything, where he received a good response to his drawings with watercolors from curators. He traveled a lot looking for his own style of drawing and painting.

His themes are different: from portraits to landscapes, from phantasmagoria to realism, it was then that the familiarity with pastels and oil occurred. After a while oil became the main tool of the artist. By 2013, Radtke created 3 different themes for the development of his painting, but the main unifying key between them is expression. The painter considers classical painters like: Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Titian and Ingres as his teachers, but he also draws his inspiration from the works of Francis Bacon, Amedeo Modigliani and Edvard Munch. In 2014, Radtke received a proposal for a festival in Germany. Immediately agreeing, he moved to Berlin. There he got acquainted with a completely different level of painting, visited exhibitions of a huge number of artists (Picasso, Bacon, Van Gogh, Turner, etc.), he also faced enormous friendly competition and joined the community of the European Gallery group. After many festivals and exhibitions he got acquainted with Abstractionism.

Beginning of 2015 marked the transition to the Abstract. Inspired by abstract art — Kandinsky, Rothko, Pollack, Richter, etc. Radtke returned to Russia, and began to study formlessness and color, dominating the aphorism of Picasso: “Painting is a lesson for the blind. The artist does not paint what he sees, but what he feels.”

2018 marked his access to the international arena, joining the community of US artists and featuring at exhibitions in New York. He also cooperated with the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation in the presentation of Russian contemporary art at various venues worldwide.

Air and Fire (abstract landscape), oil on canvas, 70×100

Hello Alexander! Could you tell our readers a little bit about who you are in your own words?

Who am I…  A rather complicated question, not because I doubt how to answer it – on the contrary, my sincere full answer may seem confusing. I will say this: I am a space of awareness, but the line of my activity is painting and this is the main business and passion of my life. I’ll also add this: the artist has the ability to see the invisible, touch the intangible and draw something that has no appearance. And I am completely immersed in it. Speaking in more exact terms, I can say that I’m just a person with my own life attitudes and principles; I love listening to music and contemplating nature, so I travel a lot.

Olfusa 1, oil on canvas, 60×60

Tell us about your art style or process.

My style is alla prima, I make pasty brushstrokes on the canvas and from chaos I try to create a holistic story, emerging from somewhere in the background of thought in a space of shapeless emptiness.

But the process itself is very difficult to describe in words. The moment I find myself in front of the canvas, I try to completely disconnect from the world – although there is always a connecting link in the form of classical music in the background. I always paint standing, I fix the canvas on the wall and never get distracted, never leaving until I finish the painting. It’s quite a strange custom of mine, once I spent 31 hours painting non-stop.

Fly’ja the Escape (abstract landscape), oil on canvas, 60×60

You work with different themes from portraits to landscapes, and phantasmagoria to realism! Which style speaks to you the most?

Portraits and realism I still paint sometimes, mostly to revive the very rules that I break :). But in fact, I find the biggest response and satisfaction working in the style of abstract expressionism in landscapes – my newest series of paintings are in this genre. I really like to show the landscape from a point of view that people don’t notice, barely perceptible moments of colors, transitions, the intangible inner silence – especially precious in our age of technology and constant fuss. 

Tomorrow’s flame, oil on canvas, 60×80

Where does your inspiration come from?

Inspiration comes from many different things, mainly from travel, nature, ocean. Sometimes from people, often from various forms of art – music mostly, sometimes books, etc. Inspiration is always with me, and I never really lose touch with it, because the world is so huge and wonderful; we all are surrounded by translucent air, the ever-changing face of the sky. The artist after all paints not because he wants, or because he can – but because he cannot do otherwise. Painting is a whole separate world, expressing its own multiverse with its own physics, that’s why it attracts people. That universe wants to be contemplated, and the artist is the very instrument to perceive and then transmit it to the viewer.

Time, (abstract landscape), 60×80

Tell us about other artists/role-models or books that played a key role on your artistic journey

I will name the few main figures whose work greatly influenced me. First of all, Vasily Kandinsky and his books – “Point and line on the plane” and “Spirituality in art”. Then, William Turner, who is probably my favorite artist to date – I consider him the first abstract landscape painter in the world, under whose brush the abstract style first emerged on canvas; his reflections on light are also very helpful for my work. Then comes Ilya Chashnik and his paintings based on the book of Kazimir Malevich – “Shape, color and sensation”. Last and most importantly – Francis Bacon who broke and twisted the form like no other in our world. To be fair, the list is much longer, but this is the basis upon which my own style has developed.

Himalayas, oil on canvas, 60×60

Considering you had a career in IT, what made you decide to become a full time painter? How did you learn/acquire this technique?

I wouldn’t say I made a career in IT 🙂 In fact, while still studying at university I tried myself in various creative endeavors, for example, I played as an actor at drama theater – and I did well, but then decided to go farther. I pursued the production of my own plays for a while, but then my play turned into a small novel, on the basis of which I was shooting a short film. I may come back to writing sometime 🙂 I also played guitar in several bands, etc. I came to painting by chance, led by an internal state, when something is lacking in the soul. I was suffering a long depression at the time, and on one of my birthdays someone presented me with a canvas and oil paints. After a while, on January 13, I accidentally wrote a portrait of Edgar Allan Poe, and this was my beginning of becoming an artist.

At first, I painted portraits of writers and musicians, and later I began to paint shadows, or states of soul as I call them. As I immersed myself in this world and became acquainted with artists, I realized that this is the passion of my life; I quickly achieved solo exhibitions, and subsequent participation in the Berlin festival.

The Distant Blue, (abstract landscape), oil on canvas, 55×60

How has art impacted your life?

Positively. For me, the canvas was like a personal free psychotherapist, initially a very natural inclination. I became very calm, learning to immerse myself in the practice, transferring my feelings to painting. I realized what great power I had. In fact, each of my paintings contains a clue in the title.

Olfusa II, oil on canvas, 60×60

Tell us a bit about your last work.

My most recent work is called Trick of the Light. In it, I emphasize the interrelation of the visual (landscape) and the spiritual, inner world (consciousness), which results in an abstract composition. A lightning strike may be blinding, but it also gives the opportunity to perceive something beyond, in its brief flash. And just like that in this painting, initially you pay attention to the lightning only, it blinds you to its surroundings – but eventually disappearing, it allows a completely different landscape to emerge. Buddhists call this “fiery vision” + there are other key symbols, such as the rainbow etc. 

I won’t give out all the secrets – the main principle of my art is to convey its message wordlessly, for the viewer to look at the canvas without interpretations, just stand and watch giving all their attention. It is at this moment that the picture will tell everything about itself and begin to come alive.

Sleeping waves, (abstract landscape), oil on canvas, 70×70

What is your current WIP?

At the moment I am starting to work on a series of paintings. To be honest, right now most of my time is spent stretching & preparing canvases. I make canvases for myself so that the stretch is individual, also finely tuning many other aspects important for me – such as priming, preserving the grain of the canvas’ texture and so on — these are the technical issues that I’m currently solving. But as soon as I finish this, I will continue to paint 🙂 !

Running to the Edge of the world, (abstract landscape), oil on canvas, 60×60

What does the future look like for you and your art?

This is a very interesting question. I can’t say exactly, but I can share my dream that I’m working very hard to achieve: a dream that the Louvre would once again break its rules and host my personal exhibition during my lifetime (this happened only once in history, with the artist Mark Chagall). But in general, I think everything is going well for me so far, I’m moving forward at a good pace – soon an exhibition in New York, hopefully before and after that more offers of personal exhibitions all over the world will follow. I also have an ambition to exhibit at Tate someday 🙂 !

Talking of my artistic output, I’d say I’m very productive; for example, during a year I write about 100-150 paintings.

Any words of advice to aspiring artists?

If you already started, then win. Do not stop. Break the walls of space.

Tell us about your concept/journey based on a book named «The Power of the Now» by the German philosopher, writer, and spiritual speaker Eckhart Tolle?

The concept itself is difficult to convey without quoting the whole book, especially since I’m not a spiritual speaker or Eckhart Tolle himself. I will say that his teachings and practices that he offers in the book “The Power of the Now” are very close to me and my worldview. In my artist’s statement, I quote some of Tolle’s words about silence, form and essence of a person. This is a philosophy of seeing the world happen now, in the present moment, with a clear unclouded look, without egoism, without concrete thought, as Eckhart writes – with the “inner consciousness”.

Here is my favorite line from the book – “Is stillness just the absence of noise and content? No, it is intelligence itself — the underlying consciousness out of which every form is born”.

Eyjafjallajökull, oil on canvas, 60×60

Would you like to share any more information with our readers?

Bring to the world only kindness and happiness as far as possible.

How can our readers contact you or find your art?

I can be found on Instagram (@alexander_radtke) – all the contacts are in my bio. I also have a website (art-radtke.com) with all the series of paintings and links to all social networks where you can ask any of your questions.

Alexander Radtke
Video – Making “A trick of light”

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Artist Feature # 2 – AMATE

ART-IS-IN by Chriselda Barretto

About Amate

Angella  Atwine is a photographer based in Kigali. She goes by the name ‘Amate‘. She loves to refer to herself as a creative activist because she is passionate about causing change using her art.

She is a self taught storyteller with a camera in hand photographing the poetry she cannot write. She believes in UBUNTU – a philosophy that addresses human kindness.

When she is not doing all things related to photography, she is probably at her work desk designing PR campaigns, listening to music or a podcast, watching basketball or documentaries!

Celebrate

Hello Amate, could you tell our readers a little bit about who you are?

I’m a 24 year old Ugandan-Rwandan photographer staying in Kigali. Very passionate about humanitarian work especially children.

We rise together

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from within; usually I have an attachment to my subject or the person I am going to shoot. I always feel there is a story I must tell through every picture and every other time I see something and get such feelings, I just bring out my camera and shoot (I walk with my camera everywhere).

Child Warriors 1

Tell us about your art style or process.

 We live in a world of great contrast in society; black and white and barely a visible grey area. This is why I take silhouettes and black and white images. Most of my photos are Dark subjects with usually a bright goal. I hope my art inspires someone out there.

Till the end

Have there been other artists/role-models or books that played a key role on your artistic journey?

Insert J.Cole’s… No role models hahaha but anyway, everyone out there doing something to make the world better for anyone, I look up to you. You inspire me. However my parents have been instrumental in my journey. My dad bought me my first camera which I still use right now. They are so supportive and every other thing I do, I do it for them. To make them proud.

Child Warriors 2

I have met so many people that have inspired my art. I remember in 2014 before I took photography seriously, (I knew I was passionate about it but would do it later in life) I had an encounter with a street child in Kampala who against all odds was working hard to leave the streets. I was going back to a good home, food, name it that evening.

Nostalgia

I remember sitting on my bed and telling myself that if that kid who was not so privileged was so determined to chase his dreams, what was stopping me from pursuing my passion. I started doing photography a few days after that. I did not have a camera then so I started off shooting with my phone.

A family that plays together

How did you learn this/your technique?

I am self taught. I knew I was passionate about photography so even before I acquired my own camera I was using my phone to shoot.  After my high school , I met people who shared the same interests and they were already experienced so they drove me to learn even more.

To a far place

How has art impacted your life?

 I see life differently to be honest. I have met many people, advantaged, disadvantaged and their stories have changed my perception on life. They driven me to want to do more change with society and also appreciate everyone regardless of social status, race, etc. I have learnt that in every person there is a world and we have to appreciate that.

Dance into light

Tell us a bit about your last work.

My last work was at a childhood cancer survivors’ camp in Uganda. This was last year in December. The camp brought together children who were cancer survivors and some of were still on medication. It was so inspiring. It was life changing.

Child Warriors 3

 It must have truly been life changing! What was most challenging for you when you worked at the childhood cancer survivors’ camp in Uganda?

Prior to the camp, I volunteered with children with cancer for 4 years . It is very hard and challenging to shoot sick people. You don’t want to portray them as nearly dying , you want to break the stereotypes around certain diseases so it takes a lot of patience. You have to wait for the moment. It could take days or more to get such a picture. The camp was easy for me to work at because I was so fond of the children and also since they were survivors , it was much more easier.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is you-are-the-light.jpg
You are the light

How do you connect with your subject? How do you control your emotions when you realise something about what you see touches you?

I usually interact with the subjects first because it is easier to connect with the subject when you know their story, when you have established a form of trust , when they are free with around you . About controlling my emotions, I’m very emotional , sometimes I want to cry but I have to fight it so that I don’t create awkwardness around the conversation or topic. 

Child Warriors 4

What does the future look like for you and your art?

I just need a new camera hahahhahaha… I am honestly excited to document more of people’s stories. There is a thing with photos; they bring out different emotions in people and such emotions drive people to bring change. The world is going to get better; I am just looking forward to every day.

We fly together

Any words of advice to aspiring artists…

Don’t be comfortable; strive to grow in your art. Establish your niche and perfect that.

One people

How can our readers contact you or find your art?

My instagram  https://www.instagram.com/amate_angelle/

Amate
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Artist Feature #1 – Yoshi Shimizu

ART-IS-IN by Chriselda Barretto

About Yoshi Shimizu

Yoshi Shimizu is a professional freelance photographer with 30 years of experience, half of which have been spent in the field in developing countries, covering humanitarian and social issues. He has travelled to over 75 countries, collaborating with the Red Cross as well as other humanitarian NGOs and international organizations. He is also a gifted artist and has developed a large collection of personal work, including portraits, street photography, landscapes, cultural and abstract themes. For the first time, he is making these more intimate photographs available to the public.

Yoshi Shimizu grew up in Japan and, at 19, went to study in the United States. He studied fine art photography in San Francisco where, as a staff photographer for his university newspaper, he also trained in photojournalism. His professional career began in the late 1980s in New York City where, after assisting several established photographers, he worked as a freelance editorial and corporate photographer.

He moved to Europe and became a chief photographer for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1995 to 2000. Since then, he has been working with the Red Cross as a freelancer, as well as with other organizations, such as Survival International, UNAIDS, the Global Fund, WHO, UNESCO, the World Scout Foundation and WWF, among others.

Yoshi Shimizu has covered the fates of ex-child combatants in Sierra Leone, victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami, indigenous tribes in Africa, Asia and Latin America, street children in Bangladesh, Kenya, El Salvador and Honduras as well as other social, health and development issues around the world.  His abiding empathy for his subjects is reflected in the compelling humanity of his photography.

Along with the convulsions of the planet, he has also been documenting humanity’s yearning for peace and harmony. His personal Intangible Cultural Heritage Photography Project, to preserve the fragile heritage of Indonesia, Bhutan and Bolivia, was exhibited at the United Nations European Headquarters, as well as private galleries in Geneva, between 2008 and 2011. This was endorsed by UNESCO, with technical support from Canon Europe. The Linden-Museum in Stuttgart, Germany presented some of his intangible cultural heritage work during an exhibition called “The World of Shadow Theatre” in October 2015.

In an exhibition held at the Cite du Temps in Geneva, Switzerland in the fall of 2015, Yoshi Shimizu captures the blooming of young violinists, aged 3 to 18, into full-fledged musicians. 

His photographs have also been exhibited at the United Nations in Geneva, the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden, and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Yoshi Shimizu’s photographic world extends to portraiture, landscape and fine art photography. He is also exploring new dimensions of visual creation such as multi-media production.

He currently resides in Europe.

1. Hi Yoshi, you are a professional freelance photographer with an amazing portfolio! I especially found the ‘Ex-child soldiers of Sierra Leone’ quite moving. But tell us which of your work was the most fascinating for you to shoot?

You’ve got it… it was indeed the ex-child soldiers. It was extremely sensitive. For the first time it my life I thought I will not be able to photograph because of the sensitivity of the subjects. First, I spent two days at a rehabilitation center without camera. Then, I spent time talking to them. Most of them had never been photographed before. Then, finally, I asked them who would like to be photographed. Out of 30, 15 agreed. For this shooting, since they were extremely nervous, I decided to use an old twin-lens reflex camera, so that I was not facing them frontal. Doing so, they didn’t feel targeted.  For this photo session, I used a small room with natural light coming through one window and photographed one individual at the time while the rest waited outside of the room so that each child won’t be intimidated while being photographed.

2. You have travelled to over 75 countries, collaborating with the Red Cross as well as other humanitarian NGOs and international organizations. Have there been any obstacles or interesting stories from this part of your journey?

Many obstacles… and mainly during preparatory phase or upon arrival in countries for assignment. When you photograph in foreign countries, especially in the field, the only persons you can really rely on are the locals, the drivers, fixers… Those working in offices, giving overall directions about photoshoot and subjects to cover are often so far away from reality. In the field, you must be flexible all the time, creative, problem solver therefore be ready to find alternatives in case planning isn’t what you were expecting.

3. Your art and photography are stunning, dynamic, eye-catching and so “real”. How do you go about getting the still that you want and what are the processes involved?

I shoot by feeling, I take time within the limited time I have, I talk to people. I have learnt to communicate without languages (especially when you are photographing portraits and you don’t speak the same language). I can spend hours talking with communities if time allows me, understanding their life, sharing food, playing with kids… I need to feel their environment, how they live, what they endure every day. Then, shooting comes automatically. Often I don’t have luxury to have a great deal of on each location when I need to cover 3-4 locations  per day. In any event, I put 150% of concentration while shooting which exhausts me completely by the end of the shoot. During the move from one location to another, I always go through what I should or could have done to get better shots. This revision process will never end as long as I keep photographing in my life.

4. Where does your inspiration come from? 

My childhood in Japan: I came from a rural area. I always dreamt I could once leave Japan and discovered the world. In summer, every day, I was lying down in the field near my parents’ house, watching  planes flying far up in the sky, wishing I could be on that plane and travel around the world. Today, inspiration continues because there are unlimited places and people that you can discover within my lifetime and learn a great deal from their lifestyle. After over 40 years of travels around the world, this continues to fascinate me tremendously.

5. Have there been other artists/role-models or books that played a key role in your artistic journey?

Irvin Penn and Robert Frank 

6. What has been your biggest challenge so far?

The most challenging was the assignment in North Korea early 2000. In those days, it was heavily controlled what we can and cannot photograph especially if you are a foreign photographer.  Covering the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami disaster and street children in many big cities around the world were the difficult ones as well.

7. Which project/work has given you the most satisfaction from all your endeavors?

The intangible culture heritage project in collaboration with UNESCO and Canon Europe was a very challenging yet very rewarding project. From the fund raising to the finished products as photo exhibitions, each heritage I covered took a year of work. This project gave me the rare opportunity to visit places and meet people that we normally do not have access to. 

8. How has art impacted your life?

Art becomes a passport to express FREELY my feeling and vision about life in general. Some people appreciate my work others don’t…BUT that’s life.

9. Tell us a bit about your last work.

I was documenting Rohingya refugees in Cox Bazar and the street children in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  I will go to Mongolia at the end of June (this month).

10. What is your current WIP?

My ongoing project is entitled “A passage to death and beyond…” to document the process of death and thereafter.

11. What does the future look like for you and your art?

Don’t know what the future holds but I am happy being able to do what I love to do NOW. I hope the state of my art won’t stay stagnant but keeps evolving with the experiences I have in the future……whatever that state might be…

12. Any words of advice to aspiring artists/photographers?

Put 100% of your energy and concentration and do your best on the next shoot and not to worry about future which we do not have much control over anyway.

13. You have documented humanity’s yearning for peace and harmony with your personal ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage Photography Project’, to preserve the fragile heritage of Indonesia, Bhutan and Bolivia. Truly amazing and priceless work! Could you tell us some more about this? 

After having documented mainly misery on earth, it was great and rewarding to document the positive side of human life which is also the reality of life.

These projects also made me understand that the importance of intangible cultural heritage is not the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next. The existence of these men, women, children and places became an undeniable fact to the world through the power of photography.

14. You are also exploring new dimensions of visual creation such as multi-media production. What does that entail and what makes it interesting?

I am having few projects in the pipeline with my son Jun, who is a film producer and my daughter, Tessa who is a photographer. I cannot tell you more about it… we are still in production phase, but I am delighted to work with them, the young generation, exploring new medium and approaches!

15. How can our readers contact you and find your amazing art? 

Through my website easily: https://www.yoshishimizu.com/home

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/yoshishimizuphoto/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shimizu_photo

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