Thinkspace is excited to present DULK ‘Heritage‘ where he brings his worlds of stylized animalia and character creatures. Striking an unlikely balance between the playful ease of children’s make-believe and the prescient threat of ecological doomsday, Dulk’s works celebrate the beauty of nature’s biodiversity while simultaneously mourning the imminence of its loss. Much in the same way that fantasy actively invites collusion with nightmare, Dulk’s extravagantly lush imagination, for all of its seductive warmth, is punctuated by premonitory distress, and poignantly aberrant, if not predictive, details.
Our interview with Dulk (aka Antonio Segura) reveals places he’s explored to find his inspirations for his latest collection, about his safari trips, how he makes a great paella and so much more!
What was your inspiration and process for developing the works within this exhibition? Did all the ideas evolve over the last year, or did you peak into past archives and explore previous sparks of inspiration?
In 2017 I traveled to Denver for a mural project and after that me and my wife decided to spend some days to discover the natural spaces close to the city. A friend of us brought us to the Rocky Mountains and I felt so impressed about the amount of wildlife and incredible landscapes that we discovered there. It was truly amazing. Since then, every time that we came back to the US we took some days to scape from the city and visit the natural spaces that we could find around. It’s incredible the diversity of ecosystems that you can find in North America. It’s probably one the most diverse continents on earth. And it’s the only place where you can find every landscape from polar ice cap to baking desert, and everything in between. To prepare this exhibition I spent the last 5 years visiting and photographing most of the places you can find in the artworks. I visited the natural paradise of Alaska, the mangroves of the Everglades in Florida, the magical sequoias forests in California, the astonishing and unique Yellowstone or the breathtaking volcanoes in Hawai’i among many others. In each place I felt something very special and it’s why I decided to produce a body of works to collect all these journeys and experiences as memories.
We know every piece brings forth its own challenges and tests. Did you ever have to start over and completely pivot with a piece in this exhibition? Do you embrace or resist those types of choices?
Not in this show, but I did it many times. For me being satisfied with the result is essential and if something is failed between it I would never hesitate in restart the concept or whatever. I know myself and I know that every time that I look the artwork I would think, why I didn’t changed it? For this exhibition I spent a lot of time in conceptualizing each artwork, this is my favorite part of the process in a project like this one. It has been the longest process I did ever for an exhibition and I’m quite happy with the result. Each time I’m investing more time in the sketching and concept development so when I take the brushes the main idea is already solid. Some small details can change during the progress but not so much.
Who are some our your favorite nature photographers? Have you learned techniques from them that have influenced your own nature photography?
I’m amateur in wildlife photography but it’s a long time since I’m following the work of incredible photographers as Joel Sartore, Shaaz Jung or Paul Nicklen to inspire my work. It was during my first Safari in Kenya when I discover that this discipline could be the perfect starting point of my creative process. Not only to get a good image with my camera, also living the sensation of being in the place surrounded by the inhabitants of it. Nature has a special power and feeling it in first person is just incredible. For me the most special point about this is living the moment and remind it forever. I really enjoy being in the place in the perfect moment, but at the same time is very difficult to complete with a nice picture. To get one OK I normally shoot dozens of them, but when you get the perfect light with the perfect composition that’s magical.
What helps to ground you in the inherently chaotic and unpredictable profession of a full-time artist?
Creative process is something that I always needed. At the same time I always thought that I could never live from my art so that’s the reason that I pushed myself so hard working day at night to get something with this. At 18 I started my university career in economics and I left it two years later to start with the fine arts. I consider myself very young and I try to not thinking in the future so much and work hard day by day. Art scene is very unpredictable and I prefer to work hard and motivate my mind traveling and discovering the nature worldwide to keep harvesting my labor. If I look back I see a strong evolution in my work and that’s what motivate me to keep working hard. Nowadays for me being an artist is my life, it’s not just a work, it’s a way of life.
You’ve shared before that you do not mean to be an activist with your work but merely provide a catalyst for reflection. However, the state of our planet’s ecosystem is definitely a concern and value of yours. Are there activists or organizations you admire and believe more people should be aware of the work they are doing?
Cold reasoning does not change people. Emotion is necessary, as Jacques Cousteau said, “Man only cares for what he loves, and only loves what he knows.”
That is why I am convinced that my images can help. Shocking, exciting, moving. And with this helping many people, especially the youngest, to fall in love with nature and therefore decide to protect it throughout their lives. I have worked and shown my work in many corners of the planet. In presentations, workshops, murals in many countries. I have seen and heard comments of love, emotion, even tears. It is then when I consider that I have contributed something to the message of change. With art we extol an element, we can do it with the nature.
I consider myself as an artivist. We can educate people and organizations through artistic expression, to convey the importance and urgency of conserving and promoting the wealth of natural heritage.
I collaborated with some organizations like Olpejeta Conservancy in Kenya, Pangeaseed foundation or WWF Spain and I’m totally open to do it more often as an important goal as an objective.
How has fatherhood influenced your art and practice? What element of fatherhood is most rewarding at the moment and most challenging?
Being a father made me view life with another eyes. It has awakened something in me that I did not know and I could never expect in any way. Since then every day has a moment of joy saved for you and that’s magical.
Luckily me and my wife, Sara, are a strong team, personal and professional. She is my manager, so we travel together most of the time. It makes everything easier in terms of organization. We travel a lot and since we are parents it is a bit different because we no longer go alone, sometimes it is complicated but all the times it is a joy to be all together. A young kid demands a lot and it is difficult to balance it with an artist’s life but I think we do our best with him. Sara is the best and she manages the home and the studio as no one could do it. She deserves the best from us. I try to do the best I can do and it’s not easy but seeing how a two and a half years old kid has visited places all over the world makes me look at him and feel proud to be able to offer that to my son. I think traveling is very important to open minds and learn about different cultures and places. Looking at him amazed observing the whales of Alaska, the dolphins in French Polynesia or the sequoias in California makes me shed a tear.
You have ventured into collaborations with clothing brands and jewelry, along with regularly producing amazing sculptures and traveling for mural opportunities. Do you have support for these business ventures, or do you manage both these efforts along with your painting independently? And advice for other artists looking to expand their revenue streams?
We are a team of 5 people in the studio right now. It truly helps to get new goals and expand my work to new places that I could never get working alone. It let me focus myself in the creative process and in the painting development. Collaborations with brands that have on mind the same goals as ours and spread your message make me comfortable of working together. I enjoying viewing my work growing to new directions without losing the essence of itself.
If you could bring any extinct animal back, which one would it be and why?
I don’t have any preference on that. I would prefer choose the option of not losing more. It’s going so fast and it’s real. Day by day we are losing species worldwide and people doesn’t pay the necessary attention. Art is an invaluable tool for create awareness in people about the risks and dangers of climate change, as well as inspiring a commitment to address it. The works can help people to understand the importance of acting to prevent climate change and promote sustainability.
What is one of your most memorable meals? It could be because of the food you ate or the company you dined with, but a meal that has stood the test of time.
If I have to choose one I choose the Paella, we love cooking at home but my work each weekend is cooking it for the family or friends. The Valencian paella is the most famous Spanish dish worldwide and I learnt it from my grandma. I’m cooking it for my friends since I was 15 years old and I never stoped. For Valencians cooking the paella it’s like a religion and I’m not a believer but I think I do it quite well haha.
How do you like to enjoy your time outside of the studio? Do you celebrate the completion of a body of work?
Normally if I’m in town a normal day would be being in the studio around 7 hours, I’m an early bird and I’m much more productive the first hours of the day. The rest of the day is being with my family and do some trail in the mountains. We got a nice house close to there and doing sport makes me release my mind after a hard working day. I enjoy being involved around nature, running or wildlife photography would be my favorite activities out of the studio and of course traveling with my family.
When I finish a body of work is something unique. The feeling of finally see in front of you the idea and concept that you had in mind 8 months ago done is amazing. This time we celebrated with the studio team at home having a lunch party and relaxing a bit after a several months of hard work.
Exhibition on view June 3 – June 24, 2023 at:
4217 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90016