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Oscar Joyo Harnesses Color and Pattern With Latest Works

Vibrant and bold, Oscar Joyo’s latest body of work which was exhibited at Thinkspace Projects in Los Angeles, vibrates the retina; while delving into his childhood memories childhood in Malawi and themes of Afrofuturism.

We interviewed the artist and discussed his fascination with color, chromesthesia, and more.

HF: Is your approach to painting a mural different from a work that is shown in a gallery setting? Is gallery work more personal somehow?

Oscar Joyo: Not really. My creative process is the same for both mediums. Both gallery and mural work are equally personal to me.

Does scale or location play into your decisions on subject and composition?

When I come up with an idea, I’m so attached to that vision that I make sure that I can adapt to any scenario. There’s so many ways that a singular vision can flourish.

Your paintings have areas that are ultra vibrant and colorful while other sections are depicted with deep, dark colors….What role does color play in your work?

To me, each colour has its own unique personality and trait. Personifying them adds to the vibrancy that I see in my work and everyday life.

One painting incorporates a bright yellow green bursting through a recent multi- faced portrait…

Oh, were you referring to IN GROWN or OVERCAST? Yeah, I really enjoyed making those pieces…..Both of those pieces come from similar head spaces from songs, paintings or media depicting forms or phases more vibrant than the one before.

Speaking of which, please describe how your chromesthesia (the ability to see colors when hearing sounds) factors into how you create! Is it activated with certain types of music than others? What sounds make the most vibrant colors appear? It must be highly distracting or wonderful, depending on your mood/situation..

All types of music inspire my chromesthesia. If there’s a particular sound or effect that I hear in a song, it’ll give me a certain texture, colour palette or vibrancy to work with. Though I’d like to think that all kinds of music make vibrant colours, math rock and experimental music help me bring out the foundation of a piece. Recently, it’s been Genesis Owusu and Three Trapped Tigers. 

Have you seen a doctor about your condition?

(Laughs) Sadly, no but I’d love to see a doctor or a professional about chromesthesia and explore the other various parts of my condition. I heard there’s a myriad of conditions tied to synesthesia that’s latched onto the many senses of the human body.

Afrofuturism instills hope to our community, a sentiment we need now more than ever.  We also take elements of the past and use that to pave the way for evolution and spiritual connection. 

Your works are increasingly textural, especially with the recent use of resin in your paintings. Are the textural areas thought out in advance?

Yes it is.  Since I haven’t been using resin as often as I’d like, I’ve been applying more texture to my pieces to circumvent the lack of resin in my recent works. The adding of texture is thought out early on as a way to emphasize depth within each painting I work on.  Although sometimes I’ll improvise and see a space where I feel texture could enhance it.

Does the texture add to a desired feeling you are going for?

Absolutely it does!  It brings a tangibility to the piece and it heightens the viewer’s senses, which is always a goal of mine as an artist.

Thematically, figures are in traditional clothing yet your pallets and compositions are new futuristic; colors usually found in cyber neon scenarios and sci fi. What are your thoughts on afrofuturism? and any favorite influences in this department?

Afrofuturism instills hope to our community, a sentiment we need now more than ever.  We also take elements of the past and use that to pave the way for evolution and spiritual connection.  I aspire to be a part of moving forward as a people, and doing my art makes that possible. 

 My favorite influences would have to be Black Panther.  I’ll never forget when I saw it in theaters, and saw a bunch of other people like me come together to experience a movie that celebrates the advancement of technology with spirituality. 

Music artists such as Thundercat and Flying Lotus serve as further inspiration, with their intergalactic takes of IDM, soul, funk and jazz.  Visual artists like Nyame Brown fuses Black pop culture and stories from the African American diaspora, and has motivated me to blend diverse elements of my life into my creations.

Oscar Joyo’s latest show Ubuntu was hosted at Thinkspace Projects

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