In conversation: 5537=FERR
Fernando Holguin AKA 5537=FERR is a contemporary British artist originally from Mexico whose art practice is diverse, ranging from painting to sculpture, photography, video, installation, writing, film, and performance. The artist's work is a reflection of the surrounding environment and contemporary issues, a mix of contemporary conceptual art and neo-expressionist style, infused with a poetic and humanitarian view. Through his art, Holguin seeks to detach the audience from materialistic and consumerist ideas of happiness and instead find beauty in everyday life.
Insights of an Eco Artist Team
11 de maio de 2023
As an artist, my latest work is a self-portrait that explores the feeling of being transformed into a cucaracha, inspired by Kafka's Metamorphosis and the current socio-political climate. Through this piece, I aim to reflect the sense of personal and collective change that has occurred during the pandemic and current world troubles.The process of creating this self-portrait was a deeply personal one, as I examined my own sense of self and how it has been impacted by recent events. As I worked, I felt as though I was shedding a layer of my old self and taking on a new form - one that was more resilient, more adaptable, and more connected to the struggles of those around me.Through the imagery of the cucaracha, I wanted to capture the idea of transformation and metamorphosis, and the sense of chaos and disorientation that can come with it. At the same time, I wanted to convey a sense of strength and resilience, as the cucaracha is a creature that is often associated with survival and endurance.Ultimately, I hope that this piece will serve as a reflection of the many changes and challenges that we have faced in recent times, and as a symbol of the strength and adaptability that we all possess. By embracing transformation and staying connected to the struggles of those around us, I believe that we can emerge from these difficult times stronger and more compassionate than ever before.
Let's begin by you introducing yourself to our readers. Who is Fernando Holguin?
As a contemporary British artist originally from Northern Mexico, born in the 60s, I am a creative who has developed a unique approach to capturing the essence of life through my art. Growing up in the 70s, I started in my childhood painting and discovered my passion for painting in oil while still in high school. In the early 90s, after traveling through Europe, I found myself in London, where I continued to refine my artistic vision. I am someone who believes in immersing myself in the subject matter and experiencing it fully with all my senses. This approach has led me to participate in rodeos, mountaineering, ski touring, ice climbing, and even Ironman racing. My work reflects this immersive approach as I aim to capture the unspoken truth in every piece.
Your work spans a broad range of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation, writing, film, and performance. Can you talk about your process of selecting which medium to use for a particular work?
While I am primarily a painter, my artistic ideas often lead me to explore other forms of media. For example, when I wanted to represent colors to a blind person, I created "Taste and sound of color" (From the “Quarantine” series) in 2020, using A4 paper with Braille text. Similarly, for "Sixth extinction / right" (From the sixth extinction series) 2020, I used a taxidermy duckling, a yellow plastic glove, a wooden hand, a blue shirt, and a grey wool suit sleeve.
To emphasize the subject by presenting a real dead animal in the hand of a human artificially covered in plastic.
My process starts with a dream, which I consciously try to remember upon waking up. I write or sketch as soon as I can, and then research or place myself in a situation that best gives me a feel for the dream. Next, I create a series of studies on oil or mixed media on canvas. From there, I let the material and the outcome of my research guide me as to which medium best suits the idea. I believe that dreams are a manifestation of our subconscious and are a representation of our daily interactions with the world. I work compulsively, desperately, and certainly, searching for a spark that brings clarity. Sometimes a large painting can take me one sitting, and other times, it can take up to two years to complete. Ultimately, selecting a particular medium is not always about what is most suitable but is a way for me to develop the concept until it is clearer.
How do you balance the need to illustrate your surrounding environment and what you witness in these challenging contemporary times with the need to create art for the joy of doing it?
The two go hand in hand for me. I create art because I can't stop doing it, and I use various media to express the ideas that come to me. Creating is the ultimate goal, being able to create is what it is all about, and the representation of what is created comes directly from the environment and experiences that influence us. As an artist, I try to make the audience reflect on life and think about the present moment when viewing a piece of work. Through my art, I want to inspire people to detach themselves from materialistic and consumerist ideas of happiness and find joy in other ways. For example, in “Unhoplessness” (from “the Sixth Extinction” series) 2022, mixed media on canvas, 450x150 cms, I aim to create stories that make people think about global warming, realize that we are all on the same planet, and enjoy life without consuming.
You mentioned that you want the audience to find a little joy in their lives by detaching themselves from materialistic and consumerist ideas of happiness. How do you incorporate this idea into your artwork?
I try to incorporate this idea into my artwork by creating stories that make people reflect on life and think in the present moment when viewing a piece of work. My goal is to create awareness and inspire viewers to find joy in the simpler things in life, rather than material possessions.
Has been said that art that makes us think creates a sense of happiness.
Can you talk about your take on neo-expressionist style and how you incorporate it into your work?
I enjoy the intense subjectivity and rough handling of materials that is often associated with neo-expressionism, as it suits my compulsive method of working. I am very much a figurative painter, but I like to rebel against representational art. I have been trained in oil painting since a very young age, and I enjoy the freedom of working in a rough and emotionally charged way. I believe that this method allows me to create more impact on the subject, and the cartoon-like imagery I use is like my own handwriting.
Your latest self-portrait explores the feeling of being transformed into a cucaracha, inspired by Kafka's Metamorphosis and the current socio-political climate. Can you talk about how you came up with this concept and the process of creating this piece?
The concept for my self-portrait came to me in a dream, or more like a nightmare, where I was transformed into a cucaracha (cockroach). In my dream, I was repulsed by my own transformation, but somehow, I was accepted and understood within society. I believe that the current socio-political climate, as well as the changes we have experienced due to the pandemic, have caused us all to transform in some way, both physically and mentally. I created this piece to reflect those changes and the feelings of repulsion and acceptance that come with them.
Your self-portrait is a reflection of the many changes and challenges that we have faced in recent times. How do you believe art can help people process and make sense of these challenges?
I believe that art can help people process and make sense of these challenges by creating awareness and allowing people to reflect on their own experiences. Art can also provide a space for people to connect with others who are going through similar challenges and to feel less alone in their struggles.
You push for your highest level of contribution to create work that meets a significant need in the world. Can you talk about a specific work or project that you feel has met this goal?
I believe that my series "The Sixth Extinction" has met this goal, as it addresses the impact of human intervention on the planet and the resulting extinction of many species. This series aims to create awareness of the impact of our presence on the planet and to promote a long-term sustainable plan for the future.
Your artwork often addresses socio-political issues. How do you navigate the potential challenges of creating art that is both politically engaged and aesthetically engaging?
When creating politically engaged art, I try to focus on pouring my emotions into the piece and making it aesthetically engaging for myself first. Then, I judge the work based on external factors, such as composition, contrast, balance, and tonality, and seek the opinions of peers. I have a large network of peers and belong to groups that help me improve my judgment. I also have works that I have never exhibited and commissioned works that have never seen the light of day, as they did not meet my standards for both political engagement and aesthetic engagement.
Lastly, is there any artist, podcast, book, or platform you would like to recommend?
Too many artists to recommend, but name these just as it comes to my mind, Erick Beltrán works tirelessly and his pieces show it, and Richard Bell, is honest, and true and some works are incredibly complex with humor. A book, “The sixth extinction” By Elizabeth Kolbert, and ArtQuest is absolutely great when it comes to peer mentoring, they organize meetings and promote peer mentoring groups.
Know more about the artist here.
Kiss by 5537=FERR. Image courtesy of 5537=FERR.
I am a contemporary British artist, originally from Mexico, my practice spans a broad range of media including Painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation, writing, film and performance.
I would describe myself and my work as the need to illustrate my surrounding environment and what I witness in these contemporary challenging times.
I seek to separate the normal thinking, the assumed idea. And the subject, conceptual or not,
matters as a defining case
I create art for the joy of doing it and not as a means to an end.
I feel deeply inspired by humanity’s concerns with our increasingly globalized media-driven world and the tribulation with in the rapidly advancing technological biosphere of today.
I push for my highest level of contribution to create work that meets a significant need in the world.
I want the audience to find a little joy in their life, by detaching themselves from materialistic and consumerist ideas of happiness. finding beauty in everyday scenarios of ordinary life.
My work is contemporary conceptual art with a poetic and humanitarian view in a mixed media and or multidisciplinary format with my own take on neo-expressionist style.
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