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Curated Conversations: Ayla El Moussa

Above: “Allegorical Determine of Day & Night time” by Ayla El Moussa, 2022. 

Curated Conversations: Ayla El Moussa

6 months in the past

Ayla El Moussa is a surreal artist whose visible vernacular juxtaposes conventional compositional parts of nude portraiture with nature. Her self-portraits draw her viewers right into a contemplation of the worlds inside. Ayla traces her love of mythology and the fantastical to her magical upbringing on a farm on the western coast of Canada, explaining why her work typically appears like a snapshot of a for much longer and grander story. She is each the artist and the muse, thus difficult the ability dynamic of nude portraiture by reclaiming company over her personal physique and welcoming her viewers to expertise intimacy as she defines it. Ayla’s work has been featured at Christie’s. She is among the 6529 Meme artists, has collaborated with Playboy and with SuperRare Labs on quite a few events

Linda Dounia Rebeiz: Scene 3 of the Painted Muse Sequence has a painterly texture that hasn’t been seen in your work to this extent. Components like this texture, the selection of garment, and the mannequin’s pose seem to be a nod to the Renaissance.

Ayla El-Moussa: My analysis of the Renaissance began with the Century Sequence and additional expanded with the Painted Muse Sequence. The bear market was the right time for me to dig into a few of my influences from the Renaissance and discover them in my apply extra formally. The connection that painters from the Renaissance had with mild has all the time been very fascinating to me as a photographer. Whereas beginning the Painted Muse Sequence, I wished to offer myself room to discover a few of these curiosities and actually take the time to experiment.

Scene 1” by Ayla El Moussa, 2023. 

LDR: What are some stylistic references from the Renaissance or in any other case that we will count on to see in Scene 3?

AEM: Caravaggio’s strategy to chiaroscuro, balancing wealthy darkish tones with stunning moments of sunshine to information the attention by a portray, is one thing that I used to be very intentional about in Scene 3. And since I used to be engaged on portraits, I saved coming again to John Singer Sergeant’s bravura brushwork and his use of white paint to create gorgeous portraits with out too many wonderful particulars. I truly did lots of portray on Procreate on this sequence. I took my time to experiment and get the methods proper.

LDR: Your viewers was launched to your portray just a little bit with the Nude Abstracts. Is the Painted Muse Sequence a continuation of that journey?

AEM: Nude Abstracts was my first alternative to color in Procreate. The Painted Muse Sequence is extra figurative, however I feel individuals will see the stylistic hyperlinks between the sequence. Introducing portray to my apply has been a manner for me to increase it and discover methods to play with supplies I’m identified for, like silk, water, and rock.

LDR: What was the concept behind the composition of the Painted Muse Sequence’ artworks?

AEM: Scene 1 was an experimental piece. I used to be enjoying round with studio pictures in Procreate and didn’t actually have an finish purpose in thoughts. I used to be so pleased with the outcome that I made a decision to increase the scope with the following piece, Scene 2, and work on a much bigger scene. In it, there’s a determine reclining together with her again to the viewers, similar to lots of my work in that it’s an nameless lady. I don’t prefer to create an id so to talk for my characters. I favor the viewers to depart their preconceived concepts and challenge themselves into the character. Scene 3 was fascinating as a result of I’ve not often achieved a frontal pose. The one one I’ve achieved prior to now was The Allegorical Determine of Day and Night time, which additionally makes use of silk as a fabric. In Scene 3, I’m wrapped in silk however the therapy of the fabric in Procreate makes it appear like marble. I’d nearly say that Scene 3 is essentially the most erotic piece I’ve labored on. There’s a thriller about what I might be doing. Am I posing for somebody? Is there somebody watching me? The best way the sunshine penetrates the silk and is mirrored by it’s unimaginable but in addition intriguing. Have I simply completed doing one thing with a lover? To me, it was good to finish the sequence on intrigue as a result of there are such a lot of questions on what I might be doing.

Scene 2” by Ayla El Moussa, 2023. 

LDR: You didn’t essentially begin with a narrative in thoughts, however finally every bit within the sequence results in the opposite. That in itself is an excellent testomony to experimentation – one thought constructing on one other till one thing bigger emerges.

AEM: The method of experimentation to make this sequence was very fulfilling for me. It’s unimaginable to step again and notice that a good looking story has written itself by the method of attempting new issues and, additionally, see how far I can stretch my apply to discover new grounds whereas preserving the sensation of my work.

LDR: Components like water, sand, or rock are very current in your earlier work, however within the Painted Muse Sequence, they’re stripped again and your character is an empty area. What was the considering behind this new route?

AEM: Most of my work is both shot outdoor or consists of parts of nature. I wished to problem myself and strip away as a lot as I might however nonetheless maintain recognizable references to earlier work. For the Painted Muse Sequence, I shot every little thing within the studio for instance. The thought was to then use portray methods to offer the character the phantasm of being a marble statue. I’ve all the time been drawn to stone, sculptures, and the concept of cementing one thing, like a legacy. It’s a giant phrase however in a manner, I really feel that artists on the blockchain are cementing their contributions to artwork by minting it, in the identical manner sculptors immortalize their work in marble. The therapy of the silk on the character’s physique was instrumental in getting that marble impact. The silk additionally fluidly wraps round her, water-like. So in a manner, nature remains to be current on this stripped-back model of my work.

Allegorical Determine of Day & Night time” by Ayla El Moussa, 2022.

LDR: You defined earlier how this assortment was a nod to the masters which have impressed your work. I’m interested in your relationship to them, and to artwork historical past normally, and what it means to you.

AEM: It’s an necessary query for me as a result of we’ve uncovered that there are such a lot of unimaginable feminine artists who have been overshadowed by their male counterparts in artwork historical past. Artemisia Gentileschi was some of the influential artists of the Baroque interval, however she shouldn’t be as well-known as Caravaggio right now, for instance. With this sequence, I’m nearly inserting myself again into this era of artwork historical past and attempting to reclaim it. On high of that, I’m utilizing my very own physique. I’m the artist and I’m additionally the muse.

LDR: In a manner, the ability construction that exists between the male artist and his muse is in no way current in your work. Because the artist and the muse who additionally occurs to be a girl, the method of creating your work is empowering you.

AEM: I really feel very fortunate to have the ability to be each. Whereas portraits throughout that interval of historical past channeled a sure gaze on girls, I’m able to have interaction in dialog with myself. It helps me study myself as a girl and articulate what I wish to say as an artist. It’s very intimate and it additionally feels very secure. I don’t have anybody me whereas I work. I’m myself and selecting to permit my viewers to see me in the best way I current myself. That’s empowering to me. I’ve been requested many instances by colleagues to pose as a mannequin however I’m such a clumsy individual. If another person is taking {a photograph} of me, stepping in entrance of the digicam could be very laborious for me. As quickly as I’m alone, there’s a full shift. It’s like I’m coming to life and I draw power from feeling possession over my physique.

LDR: The historical past of nude feminine portraiture is unquestionably a sophisticated one. It’s nearly pure to marvel who we’re , how they felt through the expertise of being painted or photographed, and whether or not the outcome feels objectifying or not. These questions don’t really feel mandatory together with your work.

Canvas II: Yorkshire Moor” by Ayla El Moussa, 2022. 

AEM: It’s fascinating that nude portraits have been traditionally made for boudoirs and different male areas prefer it. That explains why there’s a voyeuristic aspect to them, to create a fantasy or the concept of sexual worship. In my work although, I’m selecting what to point out, find out how to pose, and find out how to compose the piece. I maintain coming again to this concept of ‘previous’ scenes with new particulars. Which means that I’m not essentially creating new poses or compositional references, however it’s my context, as a girl working with know-how, that’s the novelty.

LDR: Utilizing Procreate to this extent is new for you. What was that have like?

AEM: I’m going to offer a shout-out to my brother for introducing me to Procreate as a result of it’s been a tremendous expertise. I used to color quite a bit in highschool, oil work principally, earlier than I began pictures. Procreate has actually introduced again a number of the foundational rules I discovered then, however it’s additionally opened up some utterly new dimensions for me. I can channel the embodiment of a portray whereas nonetheless having whole management. It was the right program for channeling my analysis. I’d take a look at how John Singer Sergeant approached brushstrokes or how Caravaggio treats mild on folded materials and attempt to emulate them on the pill. It was time-consuming however it was positively well worth the effort. It was additionally superb that I might nearly carry my work on my pill. The whole lot I wanted for this sequence was excellent there. I began engaged on the Painted Muses Sequence in California the place my studio is, however I completed it in London whereas touring to see my household who’s primarily based right here.

LDR: The place to from right here? Is Scene 3 the final act of the Painted Muse Sequence? Are we going to see extra of this stripped-back model of Ayla transferring ahead?

AEM: This assortment is a bridge to a brand new route. It’s research-based and likewise explores the supplies I’m acquainted with in a brand new manner. My urge for food for experimentation has grown and I’ll maintain increasing in these new instructions. The Painted Muse Sequence specifically, although, is a brief story. Scene 3 is the final act of that story. To me, it appears like a prelude to what’s subsequent.

Nude Summary #37” by Ayla El Moussa, 2023. 


Linda Dounia Rebeiz

Linda Dounia is an artist, designer, and curator primarily based in Dakar. She is interested by how know-how reinforces techniques of inequity, investigates the philosophical implications of technocapitalism, and desires of solarpunk, degrowth, and decolonized futures. She is a curatorial editor at SuperRare.



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