The Paris-based artist, Fabian Edelstam, showcases a series of his inimitable Eastern-inspired portrait work at OKKU Dubai’s lounge area, titled ‘Fact & Fiction’ from November 28 to December 1, 2016.
This show is a collection of impressions that I have created from travelling to the Far East and other inspirational destinations. A fusion between East and West; Jing & Jang; meeting in the melting pot of Dubai.
You may have seen his work at the Swedish Embassy in Paris or Ferrari at Silverstone. If you’re exceptionally lucky to have viewed private collections of the rich and enthusiastic, chances are you’ve seen a piece by Edelstam.
It’s a safe bet you would recognize his work at a glance. The curious mosaic format paired with iconic contemporary portraits or even long-forgotten historical photographs make visually compelling images.
Highly aware of the perception of his pieces, he uses the jigsaw-style as a metaphor “for the subjective and collective memory function,” he says.
Each piece adds to the whole picture. Some pieces are missing. This method adds a movement to the image, which almost becomes musical.
Portraits, in the age of Instagram filters and a flood of self-photographs, is remarkably poignant as a form of cultural commentary, but his work serves another noble purpose: it gives renewed vivacity to old images.
Working on instinct, he’s always on the hunt and knows instantly when he sees an exciting photograph that “makes sense.” He’s fluid with his selection process of subjects, saying:
They could be long forgotten images found in old family albums that I give a new lease of life to.
He moves between the past and present effortlessly – even when it comes to his influences; he mentions Warhol, Kees Van Dongen and Anton Van Dyke.
The parallels are easy enough to make; Warhol’s celebrity culture and treatment of colours, with the old masters’ precision and compositions in the familiar portrait format.
Even in choosing his media, he combines acrylic and digital – using a computer to produce a basic image and working manually for the most part.
Raised in a family with a history of recording Swedish culture through art, Edelstam’s future as a professional artist was quite obvious at a young age. He received formal training at Beckmans School of Design and Fashion from ’86 to ’89. He says “there was no fighting it,”:
.. and after a successful show in Paris solo in 1993, I embraced it and never looked back.
Perhaps this inevitability is what gives him the singular focus to faithfully use the themes he describes as being ‘an anachronic bridge crossing towards the past.”
Fabian about the best piece of art advice he ever received:
Always expand your comfort zone. When you start entering in terra ingonita, creative thin ice, you are on the right track. There are no short cuts in life.
Among his many career highlights, Edelstam has created commissioned portraits of Giorgio Armani, Ralph Laruen, and QueenSilvia of Sweden.
He fondly recalls a tender moment:
Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden received a portrait of her God Mother and favourite aunt Princess Lilian as wedding gift, commissioned by a friend to the Royal Family. Princess Lilian was at the time old, with a declining health and unable to attend the Royal wedding. When the Crown Princess opened the portrait, she burst into tears, clearly very moved which in turn moved me.
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