对话 | 科乔·马尔夫 Artist interview | Kojo Marfo

独立映像:Hi 科乔,可以和我们谈谈你的个人经历吗?是什么让你的艺术成为我们今天看到的模样?
科乔·马尔夫:我的成长环境中有许多手工雕刻者,这激起了我对艺术的兴趣。但对我来说,绘画是按照我个人的理解重新创造图像的更为直接的方式。我用绘画来传递我对社会议题的想法,和这些议题建立对话。我引用传统的非洲阿坎艺术,来强调不平等、宗教、政治和精神主义这些议题。成为艺术家对我而言是表达个人经验和观察、反思社会的有益方式。

《神力》布面丙烯 120x160cm 2020
Divine Energy, acrylic on canvas, 120x160cm, 2020

独立映像:你在《重看》上展出的作品涉及到人物,但在某种程度上而言,并不是我们通常看到的肖像。你曾经说,“我的绘画关注那些来自梦里和童年记忆的形象”。你认为绘画是现实与想象相遇的地方吗?你希望和你的观众探讨哪些信息?
科乔·马尔夫:我的作品是现实与想象的交织。
我希望用作品与人们建立连接。让它成为一种符号,与每一个人联系起来,无论富裕或贫穷,无论幸福或悲伤。无论你在经历什么,无论你住在哪里,我想要用我的艺术帮助人们思考,反思他们的内在生活,他们如何与广阔的外部世界联系起来。我希望人们能和我的作品建立连接,更好地理解我的文化,我是谁,我代表着什么。

《梦碎的镜子》布面丙烯 130x160cm 2020
Mirror of Broken Dreams, acrylic on canvas, 130x160cm, 2020

独立映像:你的画作有着明快的色彩,给人印象深刻。这有助于你传递信息,是这样吗?就色彩和其他绘画技巧而言,你受到某些艺术家或艺术流派的影响吗?
科乔·马尔夫:我的绘画受到了多种影响,从毕加索到巴斯奎特,还有古老的部落艺术,这些都赋予我灵感创造出画作上的人物,这些也帮助我形成自己的风格,并最终走上了当代艺术的道路。
涂鸦艺术对我的影响很大。它让我不再受到限制,大胆地使用艳丽、夺目的色彩。它还给了我追求艺术所需要的信心,而又没有脱离让我起航的文化遗产。

《皇室血统》布面丙烯 130x160cm 2020
Royal Blood, acrylic on canvas, 130x160cm, 2020

独立映像:当艺术家可能充满乐趣,但也不是一件容易的事。你一定很喜欢你的工作。创作一幅作品的时候,最困难的是什么?当艺术家最让你喜欢的是什么?
科乔·马尔夫:开始的时候很困难,我在寻找一份“真正的”工作和成为受认可的艺术家之间纠结着。寻找合适的画廊和平台展示我的作品是巨大的考验。我曾经试着在集市上销售作品,追着画廊卖我的画,但往往不能赚到足够的开销。
2005年的时候,我不得不放弃艺术,从事其他的工作。2010年社交媒体的流行让事情发生了转机。一个朋友让我看看Instagram上其他艺术家的作品,这激励我再次拿起画笔。那时,我在经济上有了必要的保障,可以再次启程了。
通过社交媒体,我把作品推送给更多的观众,寻找到纽约和英国的画廊。
这是我重新建立自己的职业艺术生涯的基石,让我有机会从藏家那里获得投资。我的状况那时已经有所改善了。
与最初的困难相比,现在的挑战已经很小了。

《守护者》布面丙烯 130x140cm 2019
Guardians, acrylic on canvas, 130x140cm, 2019

独立映像:疫情期间,对人类欲望、需求、恐惧你有什么思考吗?是否有新的创作计划?
科乔·马尔夫:我享受独处带来的平静与安宁。呆在家里,一个人练习瑜伽和冥想让我和自己建立起真诚的友谊。很坦率地讲,我曾经对自己过去做出的一些糟糕决定感到非常失望。
如今我拥有理性的希望。我接受事实:我们处在黑暗的境况中,但我也认识到,有很多路标在引领我们走出去。情况可能会变得越来越糟糕,但也有迹象显示,事情开始好转了。我意识到,审视自己的期望时,我实际上是从两个方面来看待,并努力看到好的方面。我发现自己是一个致力于解决问题的人,反应迅速的思考者。
是的,我有一些新的绘画,它们将在疫情之后展出。

Artist Interview: Mojo Marfo

Independent & Image Art Space: Hi Kojo. Could you please let us know more about you and your experience, which leads your art to the way we see today?
Kojo Marfo: Growing up, I was surrounded by people sculpting and carving and this piqued my interest in the arts. However, for me painting seemed to be the more straightforward way to recreate images in my own understanding. This became my outlet to express my thoughts on societal issues and spark a conversation around these issues. I reference traditional Akan art to highlight social issues such as; inequalities, religion, politics, and spiritualism. Becoming an artist was a good way for me to express my experiences and observations, holding a mirror back to society.

Independent & Image Art Space: Your paintings exhibiting at RE-SEE are about human figures, but in some way, they are not exactly portraits we are used to seeing. Just as you say, “my paintings are focused on figures from my dreams and childhood memories”. Do you think your paintings are where reality and imagination meet? What messages do you want to communicate with your viewers?
Kojo Marfo: My work is an intersection between reality and imagination.
I want my artwork to create a connection with people. To be a symbol for everyone to relate to; the rich, the poor, the happy, and the sad. No matter what you are going through, or where you live I want my art to help people think and reflection their inner lives and how it relates to the wider world. I hope people will be able to connect with my work, and leave with a better understanding of my culture, who I am and what I stand for.

Independent & Image Art Space: The vibrant colors in your paintings are very impressive. They can help to deliver your messages, do you agree? In terms of using colors and other painting techniques, were you influenced by some artists or art schools?
Kojo Marfo: My paintings are confluence of influences – from Picasso and Basquiat to archaic and tribal art – that inspired me to create these figures and helped me to structure and ultimately set myself on the path towards contemporary art.
The graffiti scene has had a great influence on my work. Working in this form enabled me to break down resistance to using vibrant, striking colours. In addition, it gave me the confidence needed to pursue art without departing from my own cultural heritage.

Independent& Image Art Space: Being an artist may be joyful, but not easy. You must like your job. What is the hardest part of creating a painting? What is your favorite part of being an artist?
Kojo Marfo: In the beginning of my career, times were hard and I was torn between finding a”real job” and being recognized as an artist. Finding the right gallery and the right platform to showcase my work was a significant challenge.I tried to sell my art in marketplaces and had to chase galleries to sell my work, but often I couldn’t make enough to live on.
It got toa point in 2005, when I had to give up art for some time to take up other jobs. In 2010 when social media took off things began to change, a friend called me to have a look at other artists’ work on Instagram and that motivated me to start painting again. By that time I had the financial security necessary to give it a go once again through social media I was able to push my work to a wider audience as well as find a few galleries in New York and the UK to take me on.
This was the stepping stone I needed to reestablish my career as it gained the reach to attain investment from collectors. This is when things improved for me.
The challenges these days are very minimal compared to those difficult early days.

Independent& Image Art Space: During the pandemic, do you have some reflections on human desires, needs, fears? Are there any new painting plans?
Kojo Marfo: I enjoy the stillness and silence that solitude brings. Being home and just hanging out with myself through yoga and meditation have helped me develop a sincere friendship with myself. To be completely honest, I used to be very disappointed in myself for a lot of terrible decisions I’ve made in the past.
I have embraced being rationally hopeful. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the situation we are in is genuinely dark, but I also acknowledge that there are so many signposts leading up and out. I acknowledge that things are likely to get worse but there are contexts in which things are beginning to get better. I’ve also realized that I actually try to look at both sides and thrive better when I manage my expectations. I also just learned that I am a problem solver and a quick thinker.
Yes, I have new paintings which I will be showcasing after this pandemic.