M-Lon is an architect and is self-taught in fine arts and illustration. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, he is now based in Sydney, Australia.
SK: Tell us about your new series of sculptural masks.
M-lon: The name of this series is: "Distraction 2.0”, this is because I always have thought that diverting the attention can translate into a source of external stimulations, as well as inspiration and creativity. The mask represents the distraction as part of a collective or individual phenomenon. Their colors, shapes and expressions interact in a daily environment, thus unleashing the imagination of the viewer.
SK: Why do you use the name M-Lon?
M: Since I was very little I’ve been called Miguelón. At first as a kid, I struggled against this, then you get use to everyone calling you that way, so I decided to play along and just shortened it to 'M-lon'.
SK:What are your experiences of living and making art in Venezuela?
M: Well, living in Venezuela is an everyday adventure (literally), so I think this determines my inclination for art.
I used to have an architecture studio back in Caracas - Venezuela (with two partners), and this career expects you to be 100% precise in your decisions and actions towards a project, and especially dealing with clients. Also having partners and a team, forces you to always mold your ideas to fit everyone’s expectations. So I found out that after every day at work, getting home late at night, and being able to make something for myself - was an amazing relief.
Making art in Venezuela is not that easy, first you can’t always find mediums to work with, so you have to work with the little that you can find. In my case, I had to paint at night, so I had to get used to darkness, and realize the next morning that the colors were all wrong. But it wasn't all bad, people in Venezuela like new things, and they like art, and appreciate it, so now that I think of it, I don’t know why they like what I do, hahaha. It was definitely because of them that I kept working overtime until I decided to quit my office job, dedicate full time to art, and then move here to Australia.
Sounds ironic, that last part, right? Well that’s a whole new story.
SK: Take us through your art-making process.
M: I often spend too much time thinking about a concept, and how can I make something that people could understand individually. I like the idea that everyone sees, feels and interprets different things from ech other, so I like playing with that. I then make sketches, and start the piece. During all these steps, I listen to a lot of music, play some ukulele, play with my two favorite people (Gaby and Cami) and with my dog Elvis, walk by the beach and eat Tim-tams…
SK: Who are the characters that you often depict?
M: These are beings I see everywhere. I see them in trees, in mountains, in the water, in the city and even in people’s faces. But they all have something in common, doesn’t matter if they are strange entities, babies, people-like shapes, or even animals, they all come from a deep reflection of how each of us interacts with society.
SK: You work over several different mediums - from 3D, to computer illustration to actual painting - what are some of the differences and similarities you often experience?
M: The differences depend on the medium. For example, when I work on the computer I know which tools to use, and even though I like trying new things, I always end up working with what I can control best. This is different to painting onto canvas, where there is no 'undo' button or layers that you can turn on and off, so it's more straight forward (and sometimes way more frustrating), but when you get what you want, no other medium beats that.
I would say the similarities in the different mediums is the concept. I always try to play with elements and behaviors that affect and interact with a society, thus inviting the viewer to a deeper reflection.
SK: What is your personal art collection like?
M: Oh, I have some of my most influential artists and designers hanging on my walls and on books everywhere at home. Starting with Venezuelan artists like Pedro Leon Zapata, Roberto Weil, Armando Barrios, Rafael Barrios, Patricia Van Dalen, Gabriel Mesa; going north to USA artists like Blaine Fontana, Jeremy Fish, Ryan Burkhart, Adam Warren, and then Australian artists like James Jean, Shaun Tan and Ben Frost. Sorry if I left someone out.
SK: What else do you have planned in 2014?
M: Well first and most importantly, I'm ooking forward to a new start for my home country Venezuela - which is going thru one of the most critical stages in their history, as we speak. They are fighting against a dictatorship as well as for their rights as human beings; so as someone who left their home country, but cannot leave it behind, I am working on a series of artworks (paintings and illustrations) that reflect our current situation. I want to make work that is direct - with a conceptual framework that every Venezuelan - no matter what their political or social background would relate to. I also invite people from other countries to be aware of what is happening outside their frontiers. Hopefully I’ll make an exhibition of these works here in Australia. - SOS Venezuela -
~ Interview by Ben Frost