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Interview with Juls Gabs

The artist who combines the real and digital modes.

Written by
October 15, 2022

Let's start with a simple question. The subjects of your compositions are very heterogeneous, ranging from figures that refer to classicism to still life subjects, but also extremely contemporary subjects, tell us more.

In particular, I like the compositions of Romanticism, Pre-Raphaelite paintings, compositions from Holland and the Baroque. All these productions were so kitschy at the time and made me think that Stravaganza today, is the classic aesthetic of tomorrow .

The masters of that period influence my compositions a lot, I always try to include some element taken from great masterpieces, camouflaged, not always so obvious. 

In the case of Ninfas' Secret, for example, there is one particular element that I took from a famous painting.

It is not obvious, but I do it mostly for me, I know it is there. 

And how do you reconnect these classical subjects with the digital world?

Although my compositions are influenced by the past, the subjects and themes I deal with in my work are very contemporary. There is always a reference to the past, for example in The Return of Benin Bronzes I focus on the theme of cultural de-colonisation.

In the virtual version of the work, visible through the QR code hidden in the composition, I add details to the story. Details visible to a very careful and analytical eye, like mine. 

In addition, my colour palette comes from the digital world, pastels, various shades of purple and fluorescent. I pay a lot of attention to the choice of colour in my works, I believe that colour is also important in terms of the final experience I want to give the viewer. 

You yourself describe your work as a mix of the digital and physical worlds. When did you start mixing these two elements? 

The digital element has always been very important and present in all my practice. In the beginning, I would always make a sketch of what I had in mind on the computer and then go and make it physically; whether I was making an installation, a sculpture or a painting, my draft was on the digital.
Until I realised that the 'real piece' was always the digital sketch. And it has always been there. 

Then I paused to reflect on the fact that our lives are constantly bouncing between the real and the digital. The apps we use every day to read the news, to communicate, to like posts, to decide where to go to eat and even where to go on holiday.
I love getting lost in this pixelated world and entering this loop. 

Mine are all digital works, works that I print, but they are digital works. When I print them, they become physical works, but I don't want them to lose their digital essence, so in some of them I insert a QR code that brings them back to their reality, the virtual one, and therefore to the digital world.

Other works are real hybrids. In these cases, I always start from my digital sketch, then I print the work. On this work, I intervene manually, then I print it again digitally and go on like this, with this loop, until I am fully satisfied. This process is repeated as many times as needed.In this way I create works that are neither digital nor physical, they are hybrids to all intents and purposes.

Let's talk about your latest work, Ninfas' Secret, which you created especially for the exhibition Blending Boundaries, who are these nymphs?

The Ninfas are a multi-gender group of today's women who play together, telling stories as in a tale of ancient myth. 

One might think that this is very contemporary: the theme of gender fluidity .

But as I said before, a lot of my influence looks back to the past. In ancient Greek and Roman myths, gender was not a concern, but a natural curiosity. It was not taboo. 

That curiosity, that lust that in the painting I wanted to represent with oranges and the fruits that surround them (if you want to know what happens, scan the QR). 

There is so much that could be said about this painting, but I don't want to distract the viewer from looking at it. I just want to say that the people in the painting are beautiful, mysterious and sexy, and that we should be proud of the diverse society we are creating together today. 

Last question, being the technology lover that you are, you have turned some of your digital works into NFT. What do you think about this new technology and why did you decide to use it?

I started experimenting with NFTs during the lockdown in 2020. At that time I was working on my Google Maps Painting. 

Today I use the various NFT platforms to sell some of my digital works and my Google Maps Paintings. . I believe that the blockchain has given great power to artists, in the ability to authenticate and therefore sell digital artworks, and consequently "reassure" the wallets of collectors. 

Most of all I think it is a great solution to market not only pixels, but also concepts.