As the world reawakens; we’re tentatively working out what the ‘new normal’ means for our daily lives and experiencing the joy of seeing friends and family again. To mark this unique time, here at the Affordable Art Fair, we’ve decided to explore the theme of ‘human connection’, reaching out to some of our talented roster of artists whose work delves into the myriad facets of our daily experiences.
Gabriel Isak is a Swedish artist, represented by Contempop Gallery who studied Photography at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. Drawing from his fascination with surrealism and his personal experience of depression – Gabriel’s hypnotic work invites the viewer to envision themselves as the subject.
MEET SURREALIST ARTIST: GABRIEL ISAK
Hi Gabriel, could you tell us a bit about your practice?
I use photography as a metaphor for experiences of the soul where solitary figures are often portrayed in surreal and melancholic scenes that symbolize our unconscious mind. Ever since I began photographing, I have been inspired by surrealism and the inner world of dreams and psychology and try to incorporate that as much as I can into my work.
Are you trying to reach out to the viewer with a particular message?
About 13 years ago I faced a long-lasting depression. When I came out of the depression, 7 years later, I unconsciously began portraying fragments of living with depression. Since then it has become important to me to shine light on mental health Illnesses through my work, as well as portraying the inner world of the soul which I find so fascinating and inspiring.
You’ve exhibited all around the world, from your home city of Stockholm to New York, Los Angeles and Melbourne. Do you think the appeal of your work is partially due to your universal subject matter – one that we can all connect to?
I believe everyone has a connection to their inner self and their soul, two subject matters which I’ve heavily incorporated into my work. I think everyone can relate to this at some stage, depending on how deep they allow themselves to explore their inner world and what lies beneath the surface of being a human being.
Do you think there is an element of the surreal to humanity?
To me, just being human is already a surreal and out of this world experience. To live in the vast universe on a blue planet, where we all question our existence, where we came from and why we are here… Existentialism covers many of these questions and I try to explore answers by digging deep into my inner self and expressing myself through photography.
These past few months have been even more surreal than normal, how has the global pandemic impacted your practice?
The last few months have made me work more privately and use social media less than I would normally do. When the pandemic hit, it felt as if the whole art world went into a pause mode, a moment which has allowed me to take a little break from the online world and allow me to explore a new series in peace and quiet. So, I’ve been working on a few new projects which I will share once they finished.
What advice would you give to any aspiring artists reading this interview?
To keep exploring yourself through your art practice. Stay true and honest with yourself so that you can create authentic and unique work. When you make that happen, people will notice and praise you for it. And finally, follow your inner voice. This advice has led me to where I’m at today, which I’m very grateful for.
Thanks to Gabriel for such an honest insight into his practice. Follow this link to see the full range of Gabriel’s works, or for even more surrealism, browse hundreds of pieces on our online marketplace.
Gabriel Isak alongside his artwork.
Featured art from first to last:
Profile image of Gabriel Isak
Gabriel Isak, Me You And The Moon , 2016, Photograph, Limited edition of 10, £2,400, Contempop Gallery.
Gabriel Isak, After Life , 2016, Photograph, Limited edition of 10, £2,400, Contempop Gallery.
Gabriel Isak, Illumination In The Dark, 2016, Photograph, Limited edition of 10, £2,400, Contempop Gallery.
Gabriel Isak, Let Go, 2016, Photograph, Limited edition of 15, £1,900, Contempop Gallery.