Othello De’Souza-Hartley / Anticlone Takeover

In conversation with Othello De’Souza-Hartley.

In conversation with London-based mixed media artist who explores aspects of human expression and its suppression in contemporary society on his attendance at the Anticlone Takeover III.

Masculinity and your identity are clearly a subject matter you explore throughout your works and practice. You have worked with numerous mediums from photography, painting, performance and moving images. What made you explore this medium?

I never want to be limited by any specific medium and continuously want to keep pushing my practice. The medium I chose is dictated by the project.

You have shown at both established institutions as well as independent curated shows. How does it feel in comparison to debuting this new performance for Anticlone & Frieze vs an old institution /space?

I don’t feel a difference, my passion remains consistent in every piece I create, irrespective of the institution involved. I’m constantly making work whether I have an exhibition coming up or not. For me, it’s about my love of making art.

What do you feel your work represents, and what is the process behind your creations? What also inspires you most or influences your work during the making process?

My artwork reflects the current happenings in my life—capturing my thoughts, processes, and inspirations drawn from different sources such as news, art, music, fashion, observations of my surroundings, architecture, and conversations. I like research and have a curious mind. I enjoy exploring things. During the making stage, I have an idea of what inspired the work and the research, but once I start, I embrace openness and freedom, allowing the work to take its own course. In contrast, my photography needs to be pre-planned and organised.

Masculinity aside you also touch base on colourism, through your skin photography work. The subject ‘blackness or black’ can be abstract or direct, what is your direct desire that you intend for the viewer to feel when looking at your work?

It’s not just the photography, my paintings have a black base. In my latest abstract works, I explore various tones of black to encapsulate the diverse beauty of black skin. I guess it’s the beauty in black I’m challenging when historically the association of black often symbolises negativity, the narrative is gradually starting to change, but in my daily life, I am occasionally reminded it still has a long way to go. From the viewer’s perspective, I like when the viewer comes up with their own narrative.

What are we expected to see / feel when viewing your upcoming works for Takeover III for Mandrake & Frieze?

It’s about emotions and taking the audience on an emotional journey.

Anticlone is an independent gallery’s ethos is to blur the lines between established vs emerging. You have shown works with Anticlone and Sade English since it launched in 2020. As an artist, how do you foresee the future of Anticlone’s evolution?

In my view, Anticlone Gallery stands out in the way it showcases the work of black artists, even though it showcases the work of artists from diverse backgrounds. Anticlone Gallery does not limit black artists to a narrow perception of what black artists should be creating. I think in the future Anticlone Gallery will have a permanent gallery space.

What’s your opinion on the avant-garde movement within arts and fashion, where do you place yourself within it, and what inspires you most?

I try not to put labels on myself and not sure I would call myself avant-garde. I like fashion and art and mostly wear black clothes. I like garments that experiment with silhouettes and lack a rigid structure. Yohji Yamamoto is my go-to shop along with Dover Street Market when I need alternative inspiration outside art galleries and museums. Inspiration for me is boundless, arising unexpectedly from various sources. I particularly like it when the unexpected sparks my creativity. Admittedly I am obsessed with architecture and interior design.

Where do you see your future, as a growing artist? If you have any future goals or projects in mind, share and say here… Please mind the possibility to reframe or change the questions. I am flexible, it has to be fun for all of us, so please don’t hesitate to ask me anything. Please try not to be too short with your answers.

I want to keep developing as an artist without limitations. I want to do more international shows, and I would like to be represented by a contemporary gallery. I’m also interested in collaborating with architects to work on art projects outside of gallery spaces creating installations. Currently, I’m working on a film installation project and working on another project with an art director on a proposal for a 3-D sculpture installation inspired by meditation, where I will also exhibit paintings.

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