modern art

Peter Hristoff & Djinn by Jonathas Nazareth

On my first day at SVA, I had a class called the Artist's Journal with Peter Hristoff. It was described in the course book as a drawing class. Having taken many drawing classes before, I was a nervous about the experience. I have always drawn, but I never really considered myself any good. I enjoyed the exercise, but never gave it much thought. It was easy to look around and see people whose talents exceeded my little stick figures. 

I was very apprehensive about my first class being a drawing class. I wasn't really sure at the time what I was doing in art school, or what I hoped to achieve there. On our fist day we had a nude model and warm-up exercises like most classes. Peter would come around and give you little comments. When he came around to me, he simply said "beautiful." I was shocked but that put my guard down, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the class and have fun. Peter would make us fill 2 to 3 sketch books in one class. He once told me over the course of the year, that his biggest fear was to have a class where students all walked out with the same drawing. I followed Peter and attended his classes as a student, as a participant in his drawings marathons, and simply when I would get a text from him "Where are you? Come draw." I think Peter deserves a full post, which I will publish with his portrait later.

This post is about his drawing class. Peter made the class room into a work of art. He would pick themes, make costumes, and bring in the most unusual props. Once, he brought in a pig's head and had the models hold and pose with it. His models have been working with him for over 10 years and they all give themselves to his created worlds with such enthusiasm and a quiet seriousness. The students are transported into the magical world of Peter. I have always wanted to capture his classes with photographs and film, but we weren't ever allowed to use recording devices. 

When Peter became the artist in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, he gave me the biggest gift. He asked me to shoot one of his drawing marathons at the Met. The the theme was borrowed from the Seljuks (Read more about Peter and his Residency here). He had begun collecting fabrics and making the props nearly one year before the class. I had the privilege to make this short little video that documents his drawing marathon. 

O Curupira by Jonathas Nazareth

O Curupira, 2014. Carved wood block (in my bathtub) I made a limited edition of prints, later turned this into a painting. I learned about the Curupira as a kid in school. The Curupira is a mythological creature responsible for all living beings and the forests of Brazil. He is usually depicted a little boy spirit with fiery red hair and inverted feet. This is my own rendition. I became interested in the Curupira after returning to Araruama nearly 20 years after I had left and saw the state of destruction the area had experienced due to an oil boom and increased real estate development. 

Since then, I have made many versions of the Curupira including the two below. On a very personal and mystical level, I made curupiras as a way to ask the spirits to protect these areas that are so dear to me. It also became a way to bring back the folkloric figures and raise awareness about the ongoing deforestation of Brazil. 

The Pieta, 2016 by Jonathas Nazareth

I was in Kathmandu, Nepal earlier this year and I found these really interesting tin figurines in the Thamel Market. From what I was able to understand, people buy them to put at the temples to ask for blessings or better health for the sick. They also are used to ask the gods to help the recently deceased find their way. I was especially drawn to them because they reminded me of how I normally draw figures. 

I bought maybe 20-30 of these. 

I bought maybe 20-30 of these. 

I was so inspired by them that I wanted to make a very short animation while I was there. I used only my phone and Instagram to make it. You can view it here @_hey_jo

When I came back home, I lost the little tin guys and recently came upon them while cleaning my studio. I wanted to make something quick again. I find that if we try to plan too much, especially when it comes to video, things never get done. So, almost as if I were working in my sketchbook, I made an animation sketch. I cut out a lot of images from newspapers and magazines to use in my paintings, this one reminded me so much of Michelangelo's Pieta and I wanted to use it. I was in a small art fair in Brooklyn last month and I found the necklace of daisies. I explained to the artist who made it, that daisies were a major element in my work. I bought the choker necklace and I kept it around my picture frames in my living room, always waiting for the excuse to use it. 

Below is a little watercolor drawing I made based on the image. I often do little studies like these before the photographs I collect become patterns or paintings.  

Page from my sketchbook

Page from my sketchbook