“Each mind is a world unto itself,” says one of those maxims that hold all the ultimate knowledge of the universe, and I couldn’t agree more. Our minds are complex, nearly fantastical realms where all our visions of life, our fears, our concerns, emotions, and even those issues we didn’t think existed, inhabit. It’s an ever-changing space that is ruled by both logic and nonsense. Yet we're the ones incapable of reconciling them while praising the first one and neglecting the latter. But what would happen if we could just let some of that nonsense guide us? I’m pretty sure we’d be surprised by the amazing lands and places we could explore, and more importantly, by the reach of our imagination when we let it run free.
This is precisely what comes to my mind whenever I look at the works of amazing artists depicting the unique worlds they’ve created and explored. It’s not only the artistic ability of their hands, but also the impressive work of their minds. Naturally, this applies to basically all artists out there, but those who catch my attention the most are those who portray alternative worlds that defy all our conceptions of logic, just as in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: worlds of nonsense where “nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn’t.” With that in mind, the artist we’re going to talk about presents us with characters and spaces that could only come from imagination and the mysterious realm of the unconscious.
“If my characters are wicked, then they are also gentle, highly intuitive, and tender. It is impossible to stuff their emotional and psychological complexities into a single descriptive word.”
Grace Milk, an emerging American artist based in New York, creates paintings that, more than being individual and unrelated works, can be seen as descriptive scenes of this place. So, let’s talk about this realm, about those who inhabit it, their impulses, how they live, and what made them come to life. In an attempt to escape from the harsh reality we live in, Milk created this land in her mind and materialized it through paper and paint, but more than just being a random place to hide, this one is based on her own experiences and indulgences, ruled by strange and complex characters driven by their passions. This land invites us to unveil our own sensuality and share our most intimate thoughts with them.
“Sensuality, idleness, and intimacy are major themes that I explore in my work, so removing the gendered aspect to an erotic drawing made me feel more interested in my characters as potential anomalies.”
What makes them more interesting and appealing is their complex nature. Yes, they can show us an unknown aspect of our desires, but at the same time, they can also unveil a macabre and dark side we didn’t know we had. Mostly inhabited by androgynous and hybrid characters, this land is fueled by Milk’s dreams and recollections. She actually wakes up every morning and starts recording right away, not only as a documentary exercise, but also as a way of letting her still sleepy mind be free in her recollections. That’s where these strange hybrid creatures come from. But no matter how fantastical this realm is, each creature still comprises all the emotional baggage of the artist, and by externalizing them in her work, we can actually relate to them and use them as mirrors that reflect our own experiences and fears.
“Being mindful of my dreams motivates me to make work in response to them.”
Milk’s paintings tell a story. Her techniques, style, the spaces she creates, and the characters she portrays tell us a story we all know. No matter how fantastical and strange they might look compared to our reality, they convey all the emotions and interactions we feel every single day, as well as all those thoughts that come into your mind while walking through the streets, when we're feeling happy, sad, or angry. Somehow they end up reflecting how we show affection and our urge to feel it, it’s all about exploring our needs as human beings and that emotional dimension we sometimes tend to conceal from the outside world.
If you want to have a look at more of this enticing and fantastical realm, this is your free ticket: @tulipwax
If you want to see more emerging artists take a look at these: