Artist Feature # 8 – Javier Casanueva

ART-IS-IN by Chriselda Barretto

About Javier Casanueva

Javier Casanueva was born in Avila the 17th April of 1995. He graduated in Fine Arts at Salamanca´s University. That degree allowed him to study the Painting Master of the Basque Country University, Bilbao and later to continue studying his PHD.

His first exhibition was in Avila, at the Jose Hierro´s exhibition hall, in the Episcopio, when Javier was 21. Commemorating that exhibition the book “Shapeless” was published. In that book, Javier collaborated with the poet José María Muñoz Quirós, which lead to a close friendship. They have since collaborated on many other occasions in the magazine called “El Cobaya” and in other publications, like the “2017 Poetic Round of Ávila”.

Since the first exhibition, Javier Casanueva has done three more solo exhibitions in different cities, like Vitoria and Pontevedra, and has participated in some collective shows, like the Painting Biennial of Ourense or “Caminos y duendes” – an exhibition where other participants included Jesús Mari Lazkano, Joseba Eskubi and Genoveva Linaza, to name a few.

Recently, Javier has worked as an Invited Artist at the Bodin KDA Skole, Bodo, Norway; where he taught a Creative Painting Workshop and made a benefit auction with his painting to assist the center with their humanitarian work.

Beltza 195x162cm

Hi Javier, could you tell our readers a little bit about who you are?

Well, I am Javier Casanueva. I was born in Ávila, a small city close to Madrid, Spain. Since I was a child I have been always interested in drawing, painting and anything I could do with my hands; so I studied the Art Degree at Salamanca´s University.

Currently I live in Bilbao, where I´m doing my PHD studies that I combine with my exhibitions and art production.

Colorida art gallery

Tell us about your art style or process.

I started painting landscapes, so there´s where everything started. If you look at my first series, Shapeless and BrokenShapes, you will find abstractions that are almost landscapes. After that I started to go deeper in meta-painting, I mean, gestures, textures and composition, so I took some distance with the nature. Now I am more into pure abstraction, close to minimalism.

About the process, I paint in an impulsive way. I usually start and finish pictures without pauses, just observing the changes that appear in the surface of the canvas and working on them. Then I reach a point when I feel is finished.

Shapeless 1. 100×80, oil on canvas

You have collaborated with the poet José María Muñoz Quirós for the book “Shapeless”. Could you share this experience with us?

José María was my teacher when I was 14. He is an important poet here in Spain and I have always admired him. When I was preparing my first exhibition, I invited him to my studio, and we decided to make a book with his poems and my pictures. The experience was great because we shared most of the process and pieces, fitting and creating new things.

It was so good that for my second exhibition at Ávila, “La Pompa Negra” (The black bubble), we decided to make another book, “black and white”, where you can find one of my texts talking about painting, pictures, drawings and of course José´s poems.

Quiá, 50x70cm, Oil on canvas

We have also collaborated in different art magazines and we are preparing a big project for the 100 years from Miguel Delibes birth. Collaborating with him is always great, I learn a lot and have fun also.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I understand inspiration like a part of the work. I remember a phrase from Pablo Picasso, who said: “Inspiration comes, but it must catch you working”. My inspiration comes from the own process of painting.

Shapeless 08, 100x100cm, Oil on canvas

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

I have a lot of reference artists, from the great artist like Rothko to teachers I had at the University, like Joseba Eskubi. One artist who changed my way of seeing art and image was José Ramón Amondarain. Blinky Palermo is a great artist to look at too.

Talking about books and theory; Antonio Machado and his writings about intra-time are a pillar of my thinking. Gilles Deleuze has also great books about painting. Ortega y Gasset has an essay talking about Diego Velázquez that has also impacted me. There is a lot of great books I have read for my PHD, I couldn’t choose just a few of them.

cubes. 100x450cm mixed media on canvas

Javier, you have worked as an invited Artist at the Bodin KDA Skole, Bodo – Norway, teaching a Creative Painting Workshop? Could you tell us something about this?

Yes. This was something amazing, definitely one of my best experiences. All started when I went to Norway with my family to visit a friend who lives there. On that trip I visited the Bodin KDA Skole and the quality of Norwegian education surprised me, so I started to talk with the school to plan the workshop. I based the classes on the creative process of the students and we made a little exhibition with the works at the school. In addition, I made a painting for the school in order to do a benefit auction. I hope to go back again soon, but my PHD also takes up a lot of my time.

Sandpapers, 10x15cm, Mixed media on sandpaper

How did you learn/acquire your technique?

I started painting and drawing classes when I was five or six years old in a small academy. When I was 11, I started to go to the Ávila´s Autonomic Art School, where my three teachers taught me a lot. Later with the Art Degree and with a lot of practice I learnt the rest.

How has art impacted your life?

Art changes any life. I am thinking about my series, my concepts and looking for more and more, all day . I think that art gives you a different point of view and it is a job totally different to any other. I can’t explain it, but other artists will tell you the same.

Shipshapes 002, Mixed media on canvas, 225x150cm

Tell us a bit about your last work.

My last finished work is Beltza. Well, I want to continue with it, but trough sculpture. Beltza means black in Basque. I was looking for the painting that is not image at all. The purest abstraction trying to find a way to reconnect with the primitivism of the human being, investigating about painting as a human fact.

Beltza, 30x30cm, Óleo sobre lienzo

What is your current WIP?

As I said, I am working with José María Muñoz Quirós for the 100 years from Delibes birth. I´m going back to landscape through the humanism and intimism of the author. We are doing a reflection about Delibes work using painting, drawing and poems. You will see more soon, at this moment I only can say that it will be a book and two exhibitions, but we are talking with the promoters and still working on it.

Exposición Galería Musart, Pontevedra

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

My closer personal project is the thesis. I want to finish my PHD because I love to teach and I would like to be a University Teacher in the future. For my art, I am preparing two exhibitions for the Delibes projects and I am also investigating with sculpture and installation. It is difficult to imagine a far future because I work on it daily and changes are very progressive.

BrokenShapes 9, 100x81cm, Oil on canvas

Any words of advice to aspiring artists?

My first advice is to be patient. Art is something really complex and needs lot of time to develop the skills and the knowledge that it requires. But being patient also means to be a hard worker; you need to be focused and accept critique.

My second advice is to enjoy. Art is a marvelous world, don’t miss the process looking at the goal.

BrokenShapes 2, 100x81cm, Oil on canvas

Your art is amazing! Which project has been the most difficult or satisfying?

Beltza. It was hard to find a balance between esthetic and using black with no mixture, but it was also the most satisfying.

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

Just tell them to keep an eye on this year 2020. Great things are coming on the projects.

Fragmented paintings, 50x70cm, Mixed media on paper

How can our readers contact you or find your art?

They can see my finished projects at my website:

If they prefer to see my daily work, they can follow me on Instagram: @javiercasanuevaartist

And if they have any questions or are interested in my art, they can find me at:

Also, if they like a work on my website and it´s sold, or is too big or too small…I take orders too, so I can make something similar for them.

Javier Casanueva

An Artist Feature by Chriselda Barretto

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Artist Feature #6 – Murielle Xhrouet

ART-IS-IN by Chriselda Barretto

About Murielle Xhrouet

Murielle Xhrouet is Belgian living near Liège, claiming ownership to that spontaneous, warm city.  She turns 52 this year and has been a stewardess for over 30 years.  Murielle thinks that she was really made for the job as she prefers meeting new people from all over the world. She is passionate about other’s lives, she learns and grows through them. She has two children; a boy and a girl aged 19 and 22. She started painting about 3 years ago and it has changed her life.

Her grandfather and her father painted. As one of her two brothers is blessed with the talent of drawing, she never dared to express herself and considered ‘the place’ to be already taken!

Until she got depressed a few years ago and needed something to get out of it.  Murielle started to paint at night (so no one could look at her), on the freshly repainted white wall of her living room. She cut, ripped, glued, painted and at first, it surprised her kids in a bad way! But when it was finished, they loved it including her partner, who immediately bought her some canvas. Her brother saw the wall and said : “Murielle, You are the artist of the family.” Those very simple and innocent words gave her the boost she needed. She finally gave herself the permission to become an artist!

Hi Murielle, welcome to ART-IS-IN! Could you tell our readers a little bit about who you are?

Hi Chriselda! My high sensitivity has made me suffer a lot but I am working in the acceptance of it. I know it gives me my creativity. I am very extravert but getting older has given me a quieter personality and I can sometimes be very discreet to give place to others. Humour is one of the most important thing to me, I am always looking for fun or even wacky people. I have no patience and everything has to be entertaining at a certain point with the risk of losing my attention. To get bored is the worst for me. If no one makes jokes, I will take the place. I have no confidence in myself and even suffer from the syndrome of the impostor because I am a self-taught artist. But I love to laugh about myself, it de-dramatises everything. I need emotions and art is the best place for them.


Tell us about your art style or process.

I like to say about my paintings that they have a high filling rate and it is your turn to decide if it is chaotic, tiring, tormented, troubled or on the opposite colorful, peaceful, telling stories, joyful.  One sure thing is that one painting has two sides : one from far and one from close.  Being far from it gives you an expression of an emotion and being close reveals a lot of details sometimes shocking, sometimes fun, sometimes serious. I usually use collages and acrylic together.

My photos are different, they are more simple and I take pictures of things you would never make a picture of.  I am not interested in nature or large views.  I love to add a nano-fiction that I write myself, it is a little text, like I took it out of a novel. I really would like to make a book out of it. The combination of a photo and a short text gives a higher emotion, at least in my work. 

I have many projects and I have decided to stop exhibitions for a while to concentrate on the phase of creation.  I am busy at the moment with some new collages that I will put under a plexi in a smaller size of what I usually do.


Where does your inspiration come from?

I paint the moment, I paint my feelings and my emotions.  I don’t calculate anything.  If I don’t like what I have done, it is simply that it is not finished.  I express myself spontaneously.

I am very much of a feminist in the sense of women should have the same respect and consideration as men, as simply as that.  I find religions not helping women.  But as a paradox, I love religious art and I love to mix my anger and my love of its art. I have never understood how people can truly believe that their religion is the right one, that the god they pray to is the right one.  Isn’t it arrogant to be sure that the other millions of people are wrong when you have chosen your side?  I am an atheist but I am not sure if I am right. 


I also like putting sex in my paintings because it is too much a taboo.  I also have a problem with Mickey Mouse and I love to mock him and Disney in general as a symbol of the right-thinking people and as a symbol of the easy solution to make your kids good little soldiers in the capitalist world. It is also a way for me to mock us, parents giving too much to our kids without being able to say no. Saying “Fuck Mickey” is refusing things that are too smooth, too conventional.

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

Abstract expressionism is my first influence.

With my job, I have been walking everywhere where I could find art.  Museums, exhibits, galleries, streets, shops… It is impossible to say who I love, there are too many but Egon Schiele comes first with Gustav Klimt.

 If I had to choose two contempory artists it would be the Japonese Chiharu Shiota for her delicacy and patience and the Brazilian Henrique Oliveira for the strength of his art and the complicated task he has.


How has art impacted your life?

Other’s art have always had an impact on me. I cried in front of some paintings, art is one of my reason to live.  When I enter a museum, I get excited like when I was a kid just before going on vacation. 

My art has a good impact of course but it is still too new for me. It gives me joy but don’t imagine it makes me happy. It gives me pain too when I am falling asleep with my doubts and my questions. If I have one hundred people saying what I do is beautiful and one saying the opposite, I will keep in my mind on that one.  Even if I know that not everybody can like my work it is still painful when I have a bad critic. Sometimes, I wish I wouldn’t see the people looking at my paintings.


My biggest dream would be to be able to live ( at least a little bit) with my art but to get known is a very very long way and exceptional.  You need talent (and talent is not even enough), originality, chance, opportunities and a good contact network. To be in a good gallery, you need to be famous. To get famous you need to be in a good gallery.  Do you see the difficulty of it?  I will probably never be famous at all, it is not the objective. All I want is to share my emotions … and sell a little bit so that I don’t have dozens of paintings in my little house!

Tell us about your last work.

My last painting is completely abstract. I really enjoyed making it because it gave me the pleasure of being completely spontaneous and of feeling free.  I didn’t have to think, I just grabbed the coulours and let it out.  I want to start again, that’s for sure.

One of the pictures I published on Instagram was taken at an exhibition and I took a photo of a photo (a naked woman laying on a bed base, photo taken by Nathalia Edenmont) with the reflection of my partner and me in it.  It gives a strange feeling like we are watching her…like peepers, like voyeurs. That’s our world now. And the text I added is quiet cruel.

What is your current WIP?

Like I mentioned earlier, I am busy making some collages that I put under a plexi.  When I travel, I always come back with some old and dirty posters that I take off the walls.  I never touch a new one, I only take ripped and damaged ones.  I use tape too and even fabrics sometimes.  What I love is giving something raw with no finishing touch.  Women are usually my main subject, but only pieces of them.  I love to rip papers and cut the real picture my way.  I would love to use my own pictures but it is not possible.


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

I need to work and work more.  I am a too young artist to have a legitimate claim to a precise future. My dream is really to work with a real gallery and to publish my photos-nano-fictions.


Any words of advice to aspiring artists?

How could I give any advice as I need some myself…except this : Let it all out!

How can my readers contact you or find your art?

My web site :

On FB : Murielle Xhrouet and my page is “But Darling your hair is pink”

Instagram : Murielle Xhrouet

Murielle Xhrouet

An Artist Feature by Chriselda Barretto


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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 –

View artworks on –

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: 

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

The best and easiest way to contact me is through my website,

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 ( 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!


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.


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


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An Artist Feature by Chriselda Barretto

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