The gallery began working with Danijela Krha and her team at beautiful.bizarre in 2014 as the publication entered its sixth issue. Introductions to Gallery Director Kim Larson were made, and a shared interest in advancing the same caliber and style of artwork was revealed. Over the last several years, the magazine has grown and expanded into nothing short of an international phenomenon. Now in it’s 14th issue, and with well over 600,000 followers combined across their social networks, they serve up a continuous and engaging stream of beautiful and surreal contemporary artwork, which as their name implies—oft trend toward the bizarre. What initially began as a focus on advancing Australian artists on the world stage, became a much larger endeavor as similarities and shared interests were discovered in the US, Europe, Asia and more. Built upon nearly two years of planning and cross-collaboration, this exhibition represents a successful knitting together of a geographically disparate but connected community of artists under a common movement, and another step toward advancing this growing movement in the art world. All images courtesy of beautiful.bizarre and the curator.
Interview by Jessica Violetta.
JV: Danijela, it is very exciting to have you as a group show curator for the first time at Modern Eden Gallery after admiring your magazines on the shelves for a while now. The list of artists you have gathered together for the large group show, “Femme to Femme Fatale” is very impressive. Can you tell us a little bit about the concept of the show?
DK: Thank you I am thrilled and grateful to have this opportunity to work closely with Kim and Bradley whom have been major beautiful.bizarre magazine partners for a number of years.
When Kim and I connected on the idea of a beautiful.bizarre magazine exhibition, it felt like a natural step in our business relationship. It has been a real pleasure working with the directors and owners of Modern Eden Gallery, whom are both extremely passionate and professional.
I agree that the artists that have come together to be part of the “Femme to Femme Fatale” exhibition are incredibly impressive. I am honoured that I, and beautiful.bizarre magazine have been able to inspire such a exceptional and diverse group of artists from various styles and genres to come together and explore the feminine in contemporary art and society. I think this speaks to the wonderful reputation that beautiful.bizarre magazine has built over the last 3+ years as a business that truly respects and values artists, and of course is madly in LOVE with the incredible work they produce.
As I'm sure you are aware, the beautiful.bizarre aesthetic is largely figurative and you will see many feminine faces and bodies, lives and experiences grace the pages of our art quarterly and our web and social media pages. As a woman in the modern world I am grateful to have the opportunities in life that I do, and honour those that fought for our current freedoms. I am also intrigued how my sisters experience the modern age across cultures and ethnic backgrounds - are we all facing similar issues? Hence the theme was born in my desire to have the best figurative new contemporary artists look at the women around them, at themselves and at our society and explore and bring to life the many forms of the modern feminine.
"Femme to Femme Fatale : The Feminine in Contemporary Art"
Woman. She is an archetype, a stereotype, mother, lover, daughter, dominator. Larger than life, hiding her divinity, selfie taking, heart breaking and heart broken.
Uncompromising and comprising, a shaper of society.
Within every woman there is a nurturer, and a wild beast! She can be a maid, a princess and a queen, all at once.
Yet some women are still taught it's not OK to have been born a female. They are punished and treated cruelly, a less than human in some societies. While from around the corner we watch, heartbroken at the plight of our sisters. In this modern age, we fight for those who have no voice, rallying together in full circle. Hoping that somehow we can help them break free from their chains and join us in a freer world, one that is closer to equality for the sexes.
In the Western World we are much closer to gender equality, more free to express ourselves – our passions, our dreams, as well as our struggles and fragility.
We are: tattooed beauties, extravagant and defiant, unafraid to stand up and face the world on our own terms; old and fierce, hardened from the pain of taking on the whole world at once, yet we wear our experiences on our faces and bodies with pride; girls with our faces on every page, trying so hard to fit in, selfie taking, insecure and over confident at once; women who are passionate about the natural world and strive desperately to save it for the future generations we will create; the strong and determined career woman who holds up the world on her shoulders, a brilliant example to us all, yet is often tired and lonely inside.
In one lifetime a woman can be all of these things. Big and small, strong and weak, dominant and submissive, leader and nurturer, she shrinks then expands, she grows and evolves.
The life of the modern woman is still riddled with difficulties. We have worked hard to empower ourselves in this patriarchal society. Some have succeeded and others still struggle. Trying to fit in and stand out, to stay healthy, relevant, career driven and nurturing, who are we in today's modern world?
JV: Just like the intention of beautiful.bizarre as a whole, this show seems to gather artists from all around the globe. Was there something particular that you looked for in these artists?
DK: Indeed, beautiful.bizarre showcases the work of leading and emerging new contemporary artists from around the world, and I feel strongly about continuing this in our physical exhibitions. It is also extremely important that the diversity that is showcased in beautiful.bizarre art quarterly is also a highlight of our exhibitions. I want the viewer to see the pop surrealist painting right next to the fine art painting, next to the emerging artist, beside the widely exhibited artist whose work graces the walls of public galleries and museums. It is this juxtaposition, this inclusive and encompassing mantra that is evident in everything that beautiful.bizarre magazine does and has translated beautifully in “Femme to Femme Fatale”.
I also of course considered all the artists who have been featured in beautiful.bizarre magazine in the past 3+ years and those we would love to feature in the near future!
JV: I’ve noticed that your magazine is open to submissions from anyone. It must be both exciting and overwhelming to fish through and choose what gets published. Do you ever notice having a hand in getting emerging artists to a more established position of their career by featuring them in group shows or your magazine?
DK: We receive hundreds of submissions each week and the task of going through them is passionately and diligently done by my Submissions Manager, Susan Santamauro who loves art and the creatives who bring it to life as much as I do. Susan and I appreciate that all young creatives start at the beginning, and it is through encouragement, practice and experimentation that successful artistic careers are born. It is very important to us to ensure we encourage those just starting their journey and help those that are on the cusp on a new chapter grow and evolve.
We have many examples of beautiful.bizarre’s influence in the art community - it is a wonderful and humbling testament to my team's passion and hard work. Many emerging artists that have been featured in beautiful.bizarre magazine have seen their artistic careers take off following their exposure through our publication and media network both in relation to salability and exhibition rosters. I am ever grateful that I am able to help others in this way!
JV: On the other hand, I am sure you are able to establish relationships with artists that you work with on ongoing basis. Would you say that your curated shows, like this one, are primarily made up of artists whom you have already worked with?
DK: Oh yes, as I mentioned above, all the beautiful.bizarre curated exhibitions feature artists we have worked with in the past, that we love and respect. As well as those we wish to create that enduring relationship with. I am very fortunate to have been able to build an exceptional network of artists, gallerists and of course art lovers/collectors that are supportive of beautiful.bizarre’s mission and vision.
JV: Being based in Australia, I know that you are fond of bringing Australian artists to light. Are there any Australian artists showing in “Femme to Femme Fatale”?
Great question and thank you for raising it. Being an Australian company, it is very important to us that we do our best to raise the profile of Australian new contemporary art and artists both locally and internationally. To encourage their creative process and support their careers. We do this in multiple ways, including features in beautiful.bizarre magazine, sharing their work on our socials, articles/interviews on the beautiful.bizarre website and of course inclusion in our curated exhibitions.
I have a huge sense of pride and am extremely honoured that we have a number of exceptional Australian creatives in the ‘Femme to Femme Fatale’ line up including Bec Winnel, Graeme Balchin, Julia deVille, Marie Larkin, Nicole Watt (aka Mahlimae) and Pippa McManus.
I am very excited to have this opportunity to introduce their work to the San Francisco art scene.
JV: With the intention of focusing more on alternative forms of expression, it is fascinating that beautiful.bizarre has made such a presence for itself within the current art scene. Does it come as a surprise to you that so many people are interested in art that is more “bizarre” than mainstream?
Actually no, since I myself feel this way I am not surprised that many others do too. I always thought I couldn't be alone in feeling uninspired and bereft when I left many of the more traditional mainstream galleries. I didn't feel a connection with much of the modern work being shown. However, we have seen significant change in the last decade and the art scene is still evolving thanks largely to social media. We are seeing a returned focus on representational figurative art which is beautiful.bizarre’s main aesthetic, and to work that acknowledges and celebrates the mastery of artistic skill. We as consumers of the visual world now have a powerful voice through social media to shout from the rooftops what touches us - what we love! We no longer have to accept what others tell us we should appreciate.
beautiful.bizarre embraces many forms and genres from fine art to low brow, from the beautiful to the bizarre, however what is clearly evident is our love for figurative art. We the viewer can see ourselves in the work, how the figure sits or interacts with the the scene/landscape - we project our own experiences, emotions and values onto the piece - this is why figurative art is so engaging and so powerful. I believe our focus on figurative art is one of the main reasons beautiful.bizarre has grown so quickly in the last 3+ years - because we can connect with it as human beings.
I hope you don't mind, but I would like to take the opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank my management team whom are the most passionate, dedicated and amazing people I know! beautiful.bizarre wouldn't be where it is without each and every one of these exceptional people. I am incredibly fortunate and thankful to have them all with me on this exciting and rewarding journey: Richard Purssey [Co-Founder & Technical Director], Bella Harris [Online Editor], Jeanette Bartholomew [Finance Manager], Susan Santamauro [Submissions Manager], Miu Vermillion [Public Relations Manager], Hieu Nguyen [Designer], and finally my brilliant Executive Assistant Kylie Dexter who has helped me bring this exhibition to life. I would also like to thank all the beautiful.bizarre Online Authors and Guest Contributors for sharing their love of art/photography/music/film/wearable art etc with the world through the beautiful.bizarre website.
JV: Do you have any personal all-time favorite artists/creatives or pieces?
I have WAY too many favourites to even begin recounting here, but let's just say that ‘Femme to Femme Fatale’ is showcasing a large majority of my current “Art Throbs”.
JV: What initially drew you to the task of curating gallery shows?
DK: To be completely honest with you our major gallery partners/advertisers have in each circumstance approached me with the offer, and I believe it is a wonderful and natural extension of our close partnership.
Plus of course it is a real thrill and an honour for me personally. I am humbled by each and every artist’s original creation for “Femme to Femme Fatale”. Their time, energy, creative vision and expression is something I value extremely highly.
JV: We are looking forward to having you here in San Francisco. Besides the opening, do you have any fun plans while in town?
DK: WOW myself and Richard Purssey, beautiful.bizarre’s Co-Founder/Technical Director and I are incredibly excited about our visit to San Francisco! We leave just after our wedding and will arrive early in the week prior to the opening on 17 September. So San Francisco and the opening will be part of our honeymoon!
I am thrilled that so many of the exhibiting artists will be attending the opening and I will finally have the opportunity to meet them, and Modern Eden Gallery Directors Kim and Bradley. At this stage we have not yet made any “touristy” plans but I have been googling like a mad woman, so would appreciate any/all recommendations re what we should do and see while in town.
I can't wait to see all the fabulous folks of San Francisco on 17 September at the opening of ‘Femme to Femme Fatale: The Feminine in Contemporary Art’. Please do stop in and say hello, I would love to meet you and hear what you think of this, the first beautiful.bizarre exhibition the US!
Femme to Femme Fatale will open September 17, 2016 at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco. The exhibition will be on display through October 8, 2016.