Have you ever been so incredibly depressed and sad that you found yourself freed from the bounds of insecurity and self-doubt? Is it possible that our darkest moments can also prove to be epiphanies or turning points? In 1901 after losing his best friend, Carlos Casagemas, Pablo Picasso began painting portraits and scenes in shades of blue and green. He found himself going between Barcelona and Paris. The artist even began an affair with the woman who had been his friend’s lover. Picasso’s grief led him down a dark path that could’ve ended him and his burgeoning career. Instead, he found in his pain the inspiration to make some incredible works.
Earlier this year photographer Kristina Lewis, in collaboration with Lonewolf Magazine, did a series inspired by Picasso’s Blue Period. The model was placed in front of an ocean-blue scenario, with an expression that combines disregard and despair. It’s as if the series is asking us what it means to dive in melancholy.
In Kristina Lewis’s words, “I was super excited to realize this project, as I have always been fascinated by Picasso and found it very challenging to interpret the mood of his paintings into a fashion story.” One interesting element of the series is how breathtaking and ethereal the images are. In a world where we’re constantly told that beauty and material elements can keep us content and safe, placing couture in a depressing state raises questions on why our current society seems to be always looking for a new high.
Lewis not only photographs but also paints, and some of her other works are a combination of both arts: “I want the outcome to be a shade of beauty with a feeling of calmness and sensitivity, resting in the moment, no matter what I create, no matter the visual interpretation, be it in paint on canvas or through the lens of my camera.”
Our current society has a paradoxical obsession with melancholy: we avoid unhappy situations at all cost, while also reveling in nostalgia for the past. When asked about that, Lewis responded, “My opinion is that it (nostalgia) distracts from being present, since it creates this longing for beautiful things past. A bit is helpful, too much can rob you from the beauty of the life you are living.”
When we try to hold on to a moment that’s gone, we don’t notice all the other chances we’re blinding ourselves to. By living in memories, we cease to actually experience life and the present.
We asked Lewis about the role social media plays in the career of emerging young artists. How apps such as Instagram have proven to be outlets for creators to present their work to the world. “Social media opens the doors to so many talented creative individuals, that otherwise may never be discovered. It gives you the chance to see their work and can be inspiring, motivating, or you may even (get) connected to them.”
However, Lewis is a little wary of the methods artists sometimes need to resort to in order to continue being seen. “New artists are being discovered this way, and for this reason I like social media. I'm not a fan, however, of this whole system of collecting followers in order to be someone. The number of followers often does not correlate to the quality of the profiles presented. Too often, it feels to me, people put themselves on display in order to hunt for followers or virtual affection. The search of these followers (is) dictating their direction instead of any personal aesthetic or creativity.”
This last situation is another paradox of our society. We want to know, and like, the person behind the art we are experience. We need to know who they are. The problem with this is that often we might want the person we follow on social media to be our friend in real life, and by doing so, we fall into the predicament that we could say we’re fans of their work even if we’re not. We’ll tell everyone we know about the artist we love, but not regarding their narrative or esthetic, because we’ve only focused on the persona they display to the world.
In other words, we’ve become a world that loves to reminisce on time gone by and feel that we’re friends with people we’ll never meet. No wonder why we’re depressed. This is a clear example of how we live in a constant delusion of who we are and what drives our passions. Lewis presents this through her work, which is both impeccable as it is thought-provoking. It’s a beautiful mirage of what we believe to be true.