ΛλOWGLI OΛλARI - Interview for Sinka & Weiss - In the Rukh
Have you always wanted to become an artist?
Not at all, the first major interest I had was just wildlife, in particular dinosaurs, I wanted to be a palaeontologist for most of my early childhood. I remember drawing a lot though just with felt tips and coloured pencils it was an activity that was really encouraged by my parents. It was not until a dropped out of my A level studies and started a Fine Art course at the local college that I really began to understand the creative freedom that ‘Fine Art” course could offer me.
What does your name refer to?
It is a direct reference to the Character from Rudyard Kiplings Jungle Book tales. Mowgli for me highlights the fact that we are part of nature, which is something often forgotten, we perceive nature as something that we are above or outside of in today’s culture, and that is a theme I try to address in some of my work. Mowgli’s story is about growing up and leaving the wildness of childhood behind, and at twenty-one I feel like I am at a similar point in my life now, I have always been very reluctant to grow up. Omari means “God the Highest” and is a reference to my catholic education, and provides a relevant discord to the mathematical symbols and practices I often use in my name and works.
Why did you choose to name your exhibition In the Rukh?
“In the Rukh” is the first book that the character Mowgli appears in, and I want to create a narrative wherever possible with my work.
How do you create the pieces for Neg Print? What procedure is involved in your selection for the pictures?
The Neg series consist of collages created by inverting the image, cutting a shape that I feel corresponds to some element of the image, then layering the cut over the original so that visually it reads the same yet it has this often bold geometric intervention. Selection wise It can be weeks or months after I have bought a book before I know what I want to do with the images, I normally just look through them in the evening with some music on and if an idea comes to me a will write it down and pursue it the next day.
The different animal pictures in Neg Print indicate an exotic and partly foreign world. Why did you choose those subjects? And why didn’t you choose human beings?
If I am creating a series I very rarely use more than one book to create the images from, purely for consistency. The book I used for this series was one called “Animal Kingdom” that I have had since I was a child, and the mysticism that surrounded these exotic images has never faded. I prefer to work mainly with animals because they are in touch with the earth in a way that most people have not been for a long time. I may choose to work with people in the future though but right now they just don’t really interest me.
Apparently your work Neg Print consists of several found images. Why do you make use of them and where do you find them?
Yes all my collage work to date has been made from found imagery, almost always I buy them from the charity shops in my home town or the markets in London’s east end. Both my parents worked for publishers most of my childhood so I used to just be able to ask for a book about whatever I was interested in. I have stacks on stacks of images around my room, its really getting out of hand.
In several pieces of your work one can recognise rap musicians such as Jay-Z or Kanye West. Is there a certain reason why you have picked them? What does Hip-Hop mean to you?
The works featuring hip hop musicians are from an older project where I was comparing musical icons to religious figures, I am in the process of reworking the series this summer. There is something about Hip Hop that really speaks to me, it gets me in that zone I need to be in to create work. When I collage Its always to Hip Hop, Jazz, Soul, or Funk. Funk is amazing to collage to. There is this whole collage movement that appears to be happening on the internet right now, its really amazing to be a part of it, and I think that the nature of Hip Hop has really helped in making people more open minded about sampling as a legitimate art form.
In what way one can notice a certain relation between your work and your residence London?
I live in a very multicultural area of London where there is a lot of exotic imagery and sound around every corner and I take a lot of inspiration from this.
Do you get inspired as an artist? If so, where do you get this inspiration from?
I get inspired mainly by my friends, most of them are involved in creative projects and its really refreshing seeing what they are doing and it pushes you to do more with your own work. I have been talking to a lot of people about the idea if starting a collective that brings together artists I know working in London and people from my hometown. Other than this its mainly music and films, I have never been very good at reading unless its fantasy fiction, that’s something I’m addressing this summer though as my dissertation is next year.
Have you ever thought about collaborating with another artist resp. with other artists (if there has not been a collaboration yet)? I am in contact with some people about collaborating over summer, and I have some work that I did for JUKE magazines music section that should be out soon. Other than that I have not really had time to consider it too much. It is something that will definitely happen. More than likely with somebody off my course; there are some insanely talented dudes that I would love to create with.
Is there a certain artist or are there any artists you would like to work with in the future?
Not that jumps straight to the front of my mind, I always fantasize that when I get the Hip Hop Religion book finished, somehow Mr West would get hold of a copy and ask me to work with him on something.
What are your future projects?
Future projects are top secret I’m afraid. There is a little snippet of some of the work to come in the show, and I have mentioned the Hip Hop project that will be finished over summer. I have big plans for installations when I get back to college in September, and I want to share more of my photography on my blog too.
Where would you like to exhibit one day?
Definitely somewhere nobody has exhibited before, perhaps for a tribal community. It would be amazing to hear their views and see how they react to the work. Yeah I think that would be the ultimate.