Art Madrid'24 – EVANS MBUGUA: THE ARCHEOLOGY OF EMOTIONS

Evans Mbugua. Courtesy of the artist.

ARTE & PALABRA. CONVERSATIONS WITH CARLOS DEL AMOR

There is a work by Evans Mbugua (Kenya, 1979) titled Live life as a celebration that could serve to define the work of this African-born artist who, before he was twenty, moved to France, integrating what he was, what he lived, what he is and what he lives in his art. In this work in which he appeals to the celebration of life, we see a boy playing or dancing - it doesn't matter if it is one thing or the other because playing and dancing is celebrating - and happy, and this is intuited in the rest of the works, happiness is vindicated through small and inconsequential big things. A chat, a ball, a place.

Evans' work is made up of bits and pieces of what he has been living and collecting, throwing into an imaginary suitcase from which, at a specific moment, he extracts the concrete experience of a lived experience to transfer it to the canvas. We are what we are because we come from where we come from and we are what we are because on the way we transform ourselves in an imperceptible but constant way. For this reason, and continuing with the play on words, in order to define what we will be, we must keep in mind what we were and at the same time not be afraid to build ourselves a little every day with the reality that surrounds us and molds us. Roots, origins, happiness, everyday life, essential ingredients in the vital adventure we undertake every morning.

We are all Spinning around the Same Sun 1. Oil and acrylic on methacrylate. 2022.

If you had to define your art in one sentence, what would it be?

My work is a contemplation on humanity from the perspective of a Kenyan living in France.

Every artist is what he is because of where he comes from, because of his origins and roots. Could your art be understood without your roots?

My work could be understood without necessarily my roots, because our lives are made up of lived experiences. And I pick out memories which are important to me, and I translate them into artwork. So my roots give me a certain perspective. But I am interested in topics, in ideas, in concepts around the world in which we all live in. So anyone can be able to identify with a childhood gimmick, with a couple dancing, or with a friend taking a selfie.

What is the clash between Kenya and France, and how do they coexist in your work?

There are many differences between Kenya and France, and the most obvious one being the language. I'm an anglophone living in a francophone country. So what I'm interested in is the influence that these differences have on the person that I am and the person that I'm becoming. As time goes by, I believe that our DNA, our human DNA, is embedded with cultures and traditions and histories which have been passed on through generations. And so we are never just one thing. So I'm interested in the contemporary hybrid identity that we become, especially today, accelerated by the Internet, social media, etc, etc.

We are all Spinning around the Same Sun 3. Oil and acrylic on methacrylate. 2022.

It's curious how everyday, the acts that are part of the routine like a boy playing football or a conversation can be a gesture as exciting as any other and be elevated to the category of art. What importance do you give to the little things?

I'm interested in the everyday, mundane, lived experiences, because these memories construct who we are. Art plays an important role in informing us of human feelings. But I think that art can also be a tool to help us heal, to help us learn how to love. It can be a tool to restore and affirm our humanity. And I think that's what I would want, to use my art to participate in our life, in what we are becoming today. Well, at least I hope that art can be useful to healing.

Is happiness an important ingredient for creation?

Yes. I think I always want to be happy with what I'm creating. In any case, we all want to be happy, and we have a right to find happiness. The Dalai Lama says something like that, and I totally agree.

We are all Spinning around the Same Sun 2. Oil and acrylic on methacrylate. 2022.

How much of your work is "emotional archaeology"?

It's a new term for me, although probably most of my work adheres to this idea of emotional archaeology, because emotions are the heart of my work.

You have to live to create, should art be a lived art?

For me, every form of art is a living expression. And so for art to exist, it has to be experienced by living beings. So I think one exists because of the other. Art cannot exist without being experienced.

We are all Spinning around the Same Sun 4. Oil and acrylic on methacrylate. 2022.

Where do you think your art is going?

My art has evolved a lot recently. The works I will be presenting at Art Madrid 2024 are part of the conclusion of a series about childhood that I started around 2017 called Back to the Future.

From there, I'm going to continue a series that I started recently, in a gradual way, where I'm exploring adolescence or young adulthood. Through a character who is on the African continent, probably in Kenya, and who I would like to place in a period between the sixties and seventies, to also help me dig into my own family history. It is a project that I am very excited about at this stage of my creation.

On the other hand, I want to move from the flat surfaces like paper or methacrylate that I have been using to other more sculptural supports. I have begun to experiment with soft sculpture and textiles, as well as ceramics and bronze.

I think it will be a very exciting future in which I will embark on new projects whose forms of representation occupy a different space than what I have done before, so I am very excited.

Thank you Carlos!

<a href=https://youtu.be/sdc44RTotRk?si=ZUyP-spplJp0e5L1> Artistas Art Madrid'24



Suncityboy. Courtesy of the artist.

ARTE & PALABRA. CONVERSATIONS WITH CARLOS DEL AMOR

It is always difficult to create one's own universe, this complication increases when this universe is populated by characters known and recognized by all, who are part of the imagination of many, inventing on what already exists is doubly difficult. Suncityboy (Tver, Russia, 1984) has invented a world inhabited by fairy tale characters and cultural icons who share a common denominator: they are formed by small balls that assemble an impossible body with an emoji face and, despite the initial strangeness, immediately evoke empathy and familiarity.

Color overflows all its scenes and we meet Alice in Wonderland (or more precisely in Suncityboy's country), Dorothy in OZ, the seven dwarfs a bit changed or even a very particular interpretation of Vermeer's "Milkmaid". But they all stop being them to enter a new life where humor, irony, acidity and a huge dose of energy renew our view on things, theoretically very seen. From Marilyn to the birth of Venus, everything is susceptible to be "rounded" and to provoke a smile in us. If we have to choose between the angry emoji or the smiley emoji, his works will make us send the smiley emoji, and that is to be appreciated.

Aliceâs Adventures in Wonderland.Tinta y témpera sobre papel.2023.

How would you define your art in one word? Or better in an emoji.

It’s joy.

What is your favorite emoji?

This smiley (the artist points towards a painting behind himself).

What are the requirements for the characters of stories or famous works that you endow with a new life? What should they suggest to you or how do they reach you?

My characters are funny, many of them want to get into my pictures. From the world of Plato's ideas, heroes go to different outdoors, but almost all of them want to get to me. They take a turn and they are waiting for me to capture them. Not all of them, of course, because I'm a very busy person. I create new meanings for the characters: they stop living in everyday life. I think they are much more interested in the spherical world than in their non-spherical world. I can say, sure, I don't force anyone. If the hero doesn't like it, I don't keep him. I respect their rights.

Svinedrengen. Gouache on paper. 2023.

Why the spherical, the round?

The sphere is a symbol of the universe. We all encounter spheres and circles in everyday life. Circles and spheres are the main form of my paintings. These are the stars in the sky, the atoms from which everything is made, and even money, the coins with which we pay took their form in the process of evolution, because everything tends towards the sphere. My task is to speak the language of spherism, to promote this knowledge to the people.

It was not for nothing that Hokusai wrote in his lost letter to Hiroshige on the road from Rome to Edo to Kyoto, "Suncityboy, if the future embodiment of world spherism, the personification of modernism through imaginism.”

The letter was stolen from his workshop because it had value for world culture.

Do we take everything too seriously?

The seriousness of our world is evidenced by the constant dispute of objects and forms in composition. We must understand that everything is much more serious than we think. There is a constant confrontation between forms. Circles have always competed with triangles for the main rights in composition. We see this in the images of ancient Egypt. Then they were joined by squares. A square character often creeps into my paintings. He tries to dispute the spherical harmony. But, to his great regret, he makes the composition more successful. You just have to look for it.

Amazons. Gouache on paper. 2023.

Drama or comedy?

The subjects of the paintings of spherical imaginism show the relationship of particles, shapes, and ideas. Characters can be both the meaning and the category of cognition. This is similar to the metamorphosis of temporary spatial transformations, when a character becomes an object and nature becomes a thing. This is the drama of the works. But at the same time, it's also comical because of this metaphor.

Roof Girls. Gouache on paper. 2023.

What role does music play in your creative process, I understand it is important.

Music is a circle of vinyl. It penetrates into all beings like neutrinos. Without music, it's difficult to achieve a good result. If you don't have a music player, you need to add something of yourself with your inner feeling.

You can imagine yourself with a large cello or saxophone. Music is the building material of creativity. In my case, these are bright-colored construction balls. Sometimes they turn into caramels.

Where is your art going (You can answer with an emoji if you wish) 😉

My art is moving into the future. It looks like a large spherical airplane. On board are my favorite heroes. I will appear as captain sometime during the flight. I walk between the isles and serve them drinks and treats. I think you can see this for yourself.

Thank you very much, Carlos. 😉