by STIRworldApr 29, 2021
Art and cinema have always been the mediums to explore nuances of the human condition. In celebration of the 93rd Academy Awards - a ceremony held under particularly unique circumstances owing to current concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers commissioned a diverse group of seven artists, designers, and illustrators to develop key visuals for the event. Keeping in line with this year's theme - 'Bring Your Movie Love', the artists illustrated their relationship with cinema through the visual medium, alongside interpretations of what the iconic Oscars statuette, and films by extension, mean to the industry as well as the general public at large.
STIR takes a look at these seven international artists, representing varied disciplines, styles, and backgrounds, behind the key images of the Oscars 2021 that were held at Union Station Los Angeles and the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood.
Temi Coker's contribution is an homage to the contributions of black actors in film, drawing from his own cultural roots and love for the African diaspora. A multidisciplinary artist who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, he now works out of Dallas, Texas. "Movies mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but to me it’s about creativity, inspiration and the art of storytelling. As a Nigerian-American, I love watching movies that have people that look like me who tell our stories from our perspectives," writes Coker in his artist statement. The artwork features a glossy black statuette with vibrant blotches of colour against a backdrop of monochromatic spiral motifs. He adds, "I wanted this artwork to be visually striking and colorful because that’s what I feel when I watch movies that have people that look like me. This representation transcends past film and into our lives. Black representation matters and always will. I pray we never lose sight of that".
"When thinking about what movies mean to me, I realised that the most important aspect is that it works as an escape from my reality into a different world," mentions Petra Eriksson, a Barcelona-based illustrator, originally from Stockholm, in her artist statement. Her design touches upon the state of otherworldly immersion that one experiences through film, through the help of flowing lines and bold colours and a stylised silhouette of the Oscars statuette representing the viewer. "With my image, I wanted to create the feeling of being in a state where you are surrounded by notes of this other world, whether that’s a specific visual style, a photo so vivid you can imagine the scent of the scenery, or a song that brings out a certain emotion in you by reminding you of a forgotten memory," writes Eriksson.
Magnus Voll Mathiassen
Magnus Voll Mathiassen is a Norwegian graphic designer and co-founder of the agency Grandspeople. Regarding his image for the ceremony, he writes: "I see movies and movie fans as an interconnected being. This ecosystem of you and me and the film industry—a complex patchwork—is connected on all levels. It is film physiology: an organism where magic flows through its system. It is distilled chaos and complexity, often made to enlighten and bring clarity, and that is what makes it art". This idea manifests through the gleaming upper section of an Oscar statuette, with irregular reflections in rich hues that contrast and complement one another in an unexpected manner.
A self-taught artist with African and Korean American heritage, Michelle Robinson took inspiration from the 'structures that sheltered the genesis of movies - theatres'. Robinson explains her inspiration in the statement, "There is much to be admired about the stunningly ornate amphitheaters that were built during Hollywood’s golden era of the 1920s and ’30s". Her image employs bold contrasts and geometrical patterns exhibiting bilateral symmetry. She adds, "I envisioned the Oscar silhouette encapsulated in an intricate framework that exemplifies the theater; a renowned figure centred proudly as the heart and soul within this architectural body".
"My explorations were inspired by the ideas of harmony and unity," writes Karan Singh - an artist and illustrator based in Sydney, Australia. He adds, "Although it’s been a tough year for us all to be together, film has helped entertain, distract, console and inspire". Envisioning the Oscars as a commemoration of all the diverse viewpoints that cinema brings together, his art plays with vibrant hues and hypnotic motifs that defy notions of depth and motion. "My visuals are a celebration of these different walks of life. I have explored how we can visualise different elements coming together to create a unified form within and around the form of the iconic statue," says the artist statement.
A textile artist from Guadalajara, Mexico, Victoria Villasana's work delves into cultures, history, and human expression in a post-digital world. She does this with a surreal, unfinished style that contemplates the inherent transience and shortcomings of the human experience as seen in her distinct, woven motifs using primary colours and monochrome. Villasana explains, "When I was younger, I was really into fashion and I used to get a lot of inspiration from movies. They inspired my style". She continues, "I think movies are an excellent vehicle to take you out into another world, it gives you the opportunity to put yourself in other people’s shoes. Movies create a bridge of communication, and it makes us understand deeper truths about our connection to each other as humans".
With regards to her image, New York-based independent artist Shawna X writes, "An eye is illuminated behind the silhouette of a statue. This visual is direct and to the point: We watch movies. What we absorb has an effect on our dopamine levels, whether it’s for pleasure, excitement or inspiration". Renowned for her vivid, vibrant displays incorporating psychedelic imagery across multiple media, she often explores issues of cultural identity, the creative process, and more recently, motherhood. "Abstract patterns that reference energy arise from around the statue and eye, creating a shroud of colours," she adds.
(Text by Jerry Joe Elengical, intern at STIRworld.com)