diego rivera

Artist Profile: Diego Rivera

His name is quite a mouthful, but he was known shortly as Diego Rivera, born on December 8, 1886, to a wealthy family in Guanajuato, Mexico. He had a twin brother named Carlos who did not live beyond two years. At the age of three years old, Diego was already drawing. His artistic talents showed themselves very early in his life.

He began painting on the walls in their house, and his parents put up chalkboards and canvas on the walls. They nurtured his talents by not punishing him but providing him a means to grow himself. He was said to be of a Judaism descent that was forced to convert into Catholic, but he said in 1935 that his Jewishness was the dominant element of his life.

Diego_Rivera,_c.1916,_Maternidad,_Angelina_y_el_niño_Diego,_oil_on_canvas,_134.5_x_88.5_cm,_Museo_de_Arte_Carrillo_GilWhen he grew up, he got married in 1911 to his wife, Angelina Beloff. She gave birth to a son Diego. Maria Stebelska gave birth to a daughter, Marika in 1918 when Diego was still married. In 1922, he married Guadalupe Marin and had two daughters, Ruth and Guadalupe. He met Frida Kahlo when he was still with his second wife.

They later got married in 1929; she was only a 22-year-old student while he was 42. They both stepped out on their marriage which led to a divorce in 1939. December of 1940, he remarried Frida in San Francisco. He married his agent, Emma Hurtado a year after the death of Frida.

Diego studied at the Academy of San Carlos since he was ten. He got sponsorship to study abroad by Teodoro Mendez, the then governor of Veracruz. Diego arrived in Europe, 1907 and went to study with Eduardo Chicharro in Madrid. He then went to Paris where he set up shop and worked with the artists of Montparnasse, mostly La Ruche where Amedeo Modigliani, his friend made a portrait of him in 1914. Marie Vorobieff’s painting honored him and his close friends, a very exclusive group in 1962, the homage to friends from Montparnasse.

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Paris was just starting to see cubism sprout in paintings with painters like Picasso, Braque, and Gris. Rivera studied art at his new school in 1913-1917. He drew inspiration from Paul Cezanne’s work and began focusing on post-impressionism which was pure art forms with bright colors. The bold step started getting him noticed. He was able to show several of them in various exhibitions.

Rivera died in 1957 November 24, still an atheist. He said that he found religion to be a form of collective neurosis. His atheist nature came into question when his Mural, Dreams of a Sunday in the Alameda had Ignacio Ramirez holding a sign that stated God does not exist. The sign became an issue, but Rivera stood his ground and refused to remove the sign. Diego’s painting was kept out of any exhibitions or public showings until he finally removed the sign which was nine years later.

Diego Rivera Career in Mexico

During the Mexican Revolution, when the government began calling back artists to work on Murals depicting Mexican culture, Diego was among the chosen artists. In 1920, he traveled from Paris to Mexico through Italy where he made a quick stop to learn their art. He arrived in Mexico in 1921 and became part of the mural movement together with the two other members of Los tres grande and other artists.

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In 1922, he experimented with encaustic, his first mural of significance in the Bolivar Auditorium in the National Preparatory School, Mexico. He was guarding himself with a pistol during the work from the right wing students. In the same year, he took part in starting the Revolutionary Union of Technical Workers, Painters, and Sculptors. He also joined the Communist party in 1922.

He did his murals using the fresco technique more and more, and he centered his works on the Mexican society and the revolution that had taken place. He grew his unique style complete with bold colors and Aztec influence. Murals in the secretariat of public education had the Aztec influence evident on them.

His art was on the walls of universities, schools and even public buildings. In 1923 and 1927, he was working on Tierra Fecundada, meaning fertile land in Chapingo Universty. The mural shows the struggles and pains of the lower class and the working class. The mural also had his then wife Guadalupe as a fertile, naked goddess together with their daughter Guadalupe as a cherub. An earthquake damaged the painting, but after renovation, it was better.

AMORC Membership

AMORC (Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis) was a cult whose founder was Harvey Spencer Lewis. Diego joined the cult in 1926 and was among its founders. AMORC Mexico City Lodge, known as Quetzalcoatl began and he painted an image of the lodge for the local temple.

His support of Trotsky had seen him tossed out of the communist party. He tried to rejoin the party in 1954 where he had to explain his involvement with AMORC. The party turned him away, and he became a full member of the cult.

After Mexico

Diego worked in many regions of the world. He, in fact, traveled to Moscow in 1927 where he took part in the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution. Rivera met Alfred Barr Jr in Russia, and soon became his mentor and friend. He was also the director of the Museum of Modern Art.

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Diego received orders from the Russian government to paint a mural for the Red Army. It was because he had gotten entangled in anti-Soviet politics. He returned to Mexico in 1929. The same year, the first English language book in Mexico was about Diego was published in New York. It was titled the frescoes of Diego Rivera.

He accepted a job by the American ambassador to Mexico to paint murals in the Palace of Cortes in Cuernavaca. Shortly after, in 1930, he accepted an invitation from an architect Timothy L to paint in San Francisco. He arrived in the US with his then wife Kahlo, and he painted a mural for the City Club for $2500. He made a fresco for the California school of fine art that later became the Diego Rivera gallery.

In 1931 November, Diego and his wife were at the museum of modern art where Diego’s works were on display. In 1932-1933, he was able to complete his very famous series of 27 fresco panels that were called Detroit Industry.

He began working on Man at the crossroads in 1933 for the Rockefeller Center in New York. The painting brought controversy and saw to Diego’s return to Mexico the same year. He repainted the man at the crossroads. In 1940 June, Pflueger invited Diego back, and he came back to the US for the last time. He got the task of painting a ten-panel mural for the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco.

hong yi chopstick art

Hong Yi

Hong Yi, also famously known as Red, was born in 1987.  She was born in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah in Malaysia. Hong Yi is famously known for using unconventional material to create amazing art. She is an artist who does not comply to the paintbrush technique, and uses different material sourced locally to create portraits of people. These materials can be as common as tea bags. This stroke of genius was by accident when she realized that she had forgotten her materials back in Melbourne.

She was unable to work on her art skills while in school as multitasking was difficult at the time. Pressurized by the requirements of school, she put her skills to the back burner and focused on school. She had time however, to jot down some notes and scribble designs, but focusing mainly on her passion for architecture.

She moved from Malaysia and decided to settle in the busy city of Shanghai as she fell in love with the city’s chaotic nature. She is a graduate from the University of Melbourne, where she acquired a Bachelor’s degree in planning and design in 2007. She also went ahead in 2010 to acquire a MA in Architecture from the same university. After acquiring her certifications, she moved to Shanghai and worked for an Australian firm, HASSEL that deals with architecture.

Inspired by her shanghai surroundings, she decided to document her new adventure in Shanghai, uploading videos that soon were to go viral on YouTube.With encouragement from her bossto take a sabbatical, she explored art using local materials.

Her debut to the world was back in 2012 when she recorded a video painting Yao Ming a famous Chinese basketball prayer. The video got over 10,000 views the first week and shot up to 50,000 views after being featured on Gizmodo a tech site. News networks like ABC, picked up the story and Red became the sensation that she is.Since 2013 after quitting her office job, Red has stamped her art presence as one of the most dynamic artists there is. 

Her work and style

Red is known for her brilliance in using different material to attain different textures. Red says “Architecture school taught me that there are many directions, possibilities and techniques out there”. She used materials like sunflower seeds to paint artist like Ai Weiwei, and up to 2000 socks just to make Zhang Yimao’s portrait.

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She used chilli to paint Justin Bieber and chopsticks to make Jackie Chan a portrait that he, commissioned himself. She has used materials like coffee dregs, dyed carnations, and melted tea light candles. She says “I like to use ordinary, mundane objects and materials that may often be overlooked, and turn them into something unexpected and meaningful”. She has also used makeup, candy, food items, flower petals, and continues to explore new materials daily.

Red’s growth in mainstream art

Red has claimed success by her own right. Her first accolade was back when she was seven, attaining second place in an art competition. She got recognised in 2009 by SONA superstudio, an Australian competition. She has gotten recognition from international stars like Jackie Chan, who commissioned a portrait on his 60th birthday. She has presented her work of “Teh Tarik Man” during the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

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She was named among the Brilliant Artist Award and named among the top brilliant Malaysians by Esquire magazine. She has rubbed shoulders with big names while speaking at the EG conference. She has been recognised by gig publications like TIME, Wall street journal, Huffington post and Fast company. Back in 2015, she gunnerd the ASEAN Outstanding Business Award

She has been part of international campaigns like Nespresso and other international brands like Ponds. She has been invited to speak at TEDxkl and APEC young entrepreneur conference. She was names by Australia Unlimited as one of one of the 19 “future chasers” Perspective 40 under 40 also names her, a shaper of the future design world.

She hopes to change the future landscape of art using her architectural skills that she has gained. Inspired by the quote “Move fast and break things and Keep on shippingshe hopes to push her boundaries even further and achieve bigger and better goals. She takes time to travel the world in conferences and temporary teaching assignments to show others how to encompass architecture and design in their art.

For a trend setter like Hong Yi, the sky is the limit. A strong believer in chasing one’s dreams, Hong Yi encourages upcoming artist to work hard at their craft, and to never stop running after their dreams. Her name has been put up with some of the greatest innovative artists of our time. To see her amazing work, visit her website and let your eyes behold the future.

A worker in orange work suit stands infront of a grey painted wall next to a mural in sao paulo, brazil

Largest South America Graffiti Wall Erased

The beauty of Brazil has never stopped seducing the world into submission. From those white sandy beaches to Pico da Neblina, the country boast both of aesthetics, and football talent that till today captures millions of fans.

Among the charms that Brazil offers, is a beautiful metropolitan, claiming the position of the largest city in South America. This state is rich in culture and free expression. São Paulo, is not be underestimated as it supports 12.04 million people as of 2016.

The culture of the city can be illustrated in the art that paints the city. Along the 23 de Maio highway, your eyes feast on art like no other. The street mural displays the work of graffiti artists over 5000 square meters. It all started with Rui Amaral and 200 artists joining in creating this beautiful piece of artwork.

It’s a tale of love and danger. Amaral started his love affair with putting his artwork out there. What better audience than a highway? Millions of eyes who have nothing else but to look as they wait to get to their destinations. He used this opportunity to protest the injustices he saw were afflicting the society, and in the mean while dancing with the police.

It definitely had an impact on how the society could express itself. It became such a cultural phenomenon, foreigners flooded to the country to see the street mural. It became engraved in the urban history, culture and not to forget tourism in São Paulo. The mural made its debut in 2015, the office of the mayor sang its praises.

The fall

They say changing winds abides no greeting, recently there have been drastic changes at 23 de Maio. In January, sanitation workers got busy exacting orders from the new sitting city mayor, Joaoa Doria. The directive to the sanitation workers, was to paint over the beloved mural. The city woke up to the horror that their mural was no longer going to be part of them.

Wielding a spraying device himself, the mayor took it upon himself to take part in the destruction. The mayor and his sparkling millions has been making a few changes. He plans to enforce a restoration of the city to its original state. Pretty but without all the exciting stuff.

His campaign aims to paint the city one color, replacing broken street essentials like trash cans. The clean-up also includes covering up graffiti on city walls, planting trees, and collecting garbage. Although a noble idea by the millionaire business man, the act put to trial the value of art and if protection of art was a worthy cause.

As situations go, the campaign has collected loyal supporters. Praising the work of the Doria administration who are keen in keeping the city clean and devoid of mixed messages. Fines have been increased to discourage anyone from engaging in graffiti activities in any part of the city.

before and after picture of the mural cover up

There are others who view things differently though. The mayor’s critics suggest that this is all a plan to sell São Paulo off to investors. They claim that the mayor aims to privatize public land, and probably put up city parks for concessions. This sent the twitter world into an angry rant.

Despite this, a trend is also arising in other cities like lima inspired by the ‘Pretty City’ trend. Cities like Lima and New York have waged a war against graffiti on public property. The mayor however retorts that he is pro art. To add on, the office of the mayor put out a statement that some of the art was old and that it gave the city a dilapidated look.

To compensate for this injustice, the mayor has offered to support a museum of street art. The limits are that the murals to be put up, have to be approved by a committee. Also artists who have private funding are to be handpicked by an independent committee. This puts a limit in the freedom of expression, where artists are forced to box down creativity.

The city clean-up also puts the administration at a bad position as to where the homeless shall be taken. The homeless have been suffering since the city suffered fires between the 70s -80s leaving a large population stranded.

There has been action to protect the remains of the historic mural. The city department dealing in historic preservation, got a judge to cease the repaint of the city mural. This of course put a stick in Doria’s ‘pretty City’ mechanisms. There are rumors however, of the city setting up legalized areas where graffiti can be expressed freely.

It’s a case of compromise for the society. They get to live in a better environment, and still have access to their beloved graffiti murals, at legal, designated areas.

iris scott finger painting in gallery

Iris Scott Paints with her Finger

Iris Scott, is a Brooklyn based, phenomenal artist that is taking the world by storm. Born in 1984 and named after a Greek goddess, Iris Scott lived a pretty normal childhood in a tiny farm located near Seattle. While her hipster parents took care of the household, Iris had plenty of time to expand her creative horizons and dive into drawing books which she got from the library.

Undistracted by television, Iris was left to indulge in other forms of entertainment. She imitated images that she got from other photographs and paintings. Surrounded by woodlands that entranced their farm and unending variety of pets, Iris and her sister were never bored.  Since practice makes perfect, she spent hours on end horning her craft. She was to bend a few art rules in the future, despite her unawareness at the time.

She progressed towards high school expanding her craft. After attaining a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art from Washington State University, she moved to Taiwan, where she opened her mind to her creative juices away from the stifling life in Seattle. She was eager to merge her two passions of art and photography.

By sheer laziness, Iris Scott stumbled upon finger painting by accident while in living in Taiwan back in 2010. As the story goes, she was painting some yellow colored flowers when she realised all her brushes were dirty. Eager to get the painting done, she took a few swabs of oil paint and used her fingertips to control the paint. A light bulb went on and she realised that she had discovered and mastered the technique that was finger painting. She set out the next day to acquire surgical gloves that would be part of her now famous trade.

Her style of painting

Iris Scott is known to have adopted her own unique version of textural impressionism. She says “I want my paintings to be both an escape from our everyday life, and an intensification of the recognizable.” She is known to combine over 100 colors at a time to attain vibrancy and fluid movements. Her heavy set finger painting technique allows her paintings to portray normal life as dreamy and dynamic.

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She has inspired millions of artists all over the world to abandon their expensive painting brushes and use their fingers. Due to the time spent in her childhood home surrounded by animals and rainy days she is able to portray any kind of flora and fauna with utmost intensity. She said herself, “There’s a denseness to those woods that has stayed with me. The trees were draped in moss, and play days were drenched with rain, animal and plant life blooming from every nook.”

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She is especially known for her “shaking dogs” where she captures the motion as if frozen in time. She likes travelling to different parts of the world in order to capture different scenes and color pallet. Armed with her camera and surgical gloves she is an unstoppable force of art.

Growth and Success

Iris Scott has now become a famous artist having her paintings hang in different high profile galleries. Her art shows sell out as she has acquired millions of fans. Her paintings have received recognition from big multinational companies like Microsoft and Coca Cola, who have in turn bought her paintings. Her works have graced Swedish Medicare centers and children’s hospitals as away of cheering them up and as a form of therapy.

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Though she is overly busy due to various bookings, Iris Scott makes time to teach others. She released a how- to book back 2016 titled Finger Painting Weekend Workshop, to aid others into the world of impressionistic finger painting art. She is passionate about her work and she shares all on social media platforms like Instagram, Youtube and Facebook so that her fans can learn from them. She is like the mother Teresa of finger painting.

She also does her very best to make her prints available as she is of the notion that hoarding  does not respect the future of art. Scott does not believe in over charging for her paintings. She says she has been steadily increasing the price of her paintings from 2010 and only charges high but fair prices when available prints are overwhelmed by the number of demands.

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With her trail blazing antics, Iris Scott is set to be one of the 21st century most influential artists. Her work is in such demand you have to book her a year ahead, if you want a project done by her. We as the art community salute her for her brilliance and trend setting ways.  Her name will surely be stumped among the legends of art throughout history.