Venezuelan artist Johnatan machado Tepper has just exhibited his intricate works made up of different weaved patterns, at katara art centre. a creative who considers himself a painter and a weaver, this talented Doha-based artist loves to mix concepts through non-conventional materials. Fact caught up with the man behind this intertwining artistic vision to talk tools, techniques and inspirations…

Hi Johnatan! Tell us about your journey into art… I began my career as a photographer, specialising in low light photography, and focused on theatre pictures, especially ballet and contemporary dance. I was always inclined to take artistic photography, and this is where it all started. I have been an artist for over 12 years. My first serious painting was done for the admission test in the university where I studied and graduated in arts (painting). I was 22 years old when I started to take pictures and realised that a conventional job was not for me. Being an artist is a profession that requires perseverance and self-trust, it has its ups and downs, but the most important thing is that I use creativity every day, creating things that weren’t there before and best of all, having people enjoy your work.

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What do you love most about being an artist?

The chance to work anywhere in the world, doing what I love to do. This is one of the things I love the most about being an artist. Being able to go anywhere in the world, enter museums and galleries and work with their people. This gives me immense joy. Art is infinite and it has no borders.

Describe your artistic style for someone who is viewing your work for the first time…

Although I consider myself a painter, during the past few years I also have to consider myself a weaver, a weaver of concepts and materials, not collage, not painting, but both at the same time. My intention has always been to mix concepts through non-conventional materials. And so, my work lives in the gap between collage and painting. Social issues have also become a part of my artistic proposal. I touch common ground in which we can all feel identified using the symbols of the materials I use and their meaning for any community. Tradition intertwines with contemporary craftsmanship and is woven with industry. Topics are mostly on the transformation of everyday life in a piece of art. Social issues lie between technique and aesthetics, I talk about processes of change, of unifying differences, and engaging my surroundings into one piece of work.

Tell us about some of the materials, tools and techniques that you use…

I have “knitted” 35mm film, canvases, and now my latest series with Sedu, the traditional Bedouin fabric. I’ve put my energy into transforming the main use of materials, loading them with a different meaning. It is a work that talks about the process, the systematic accumulation and repetition of the elements in the piece.The weave gives birth to kinetism. In the “35mm Weaves” I conceptualise the death of the analogue era and the overwhelming arrival of the digital era. A few years ago film was sacred, now we throw it out as garbage.
As for my “Woven Canvas” I wanted to play with kinetics with a technique that would transcend painting. In this case, I transform the meaning of classical painting into a contemporary hybrid. My last series is made with Qatari traditional fabrics. Here, I transform traditional materials into contemporary pieces of art with a social meaning that people can relate to.

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Describe the art scene in Doha…

It is a very active scene. Many cultural things happen here in Doha. There are many events focused on the development of the Qatari identity. As a contemporary artist, I perceive it as very focused on traditional art. There are only a few galleries where you can find contemporary art.Katara has many spaces in which most of the art that is presented is from the region, but they also open their doors to international artists, as does the Anima Gallery.As for museums, you have the Mathaf, for me the pillar of the Qatar Museum Authority on contemporary art.
They are connected with the international contemporary movement and in the museum you can see exhibitions of the world’s top artists. Thanks to these expositions, the domestic art movement has been enriched.

Who or what inspires you to continue producing art?

What inspires me to continue is the feeling of being unique, of making others happy and interested in what they see. As an artist I am the king in a castle of creativity, I create my world, I transform my surroundings into something that only I can see. I am my boss and my own server.
Art is a daily challenge, it is a continued transformation, and the responsibility falls on me alone. Sometimes I fear making mistakes, but I’m able to overcome this fear every day. The feeling of success in the creative realm leads you to states of happiness that only an artist can understand. Everything is beyond what is seen, being an artist fills me with fear and happiness at the same time.

What’s your advice for budding artists?

Work, work, work. Only you really know your work, but to do so you have to work a lot. It is not just a matter of techniques and skills;it is about what you want to say through your work.The most important
thing is intention, and to truly know your intention, you need to work and work.

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