gaby sahhar, the hba and yeezy model making dystopian art
Get to know the half French, half Palestinian London based artist as he explores the human condition.
Ever since his mom bought him some art supplies, Gaby Sahhar has been thoroughly into art. As a kid he'd replicate famous impressionist works, often selling them after school. When he wasn't putting paint to canvas, however, Gaby spent his formative years jumping off things with his twin and pretending to fly like the superheroes he so admired. Fast-forward to today, and the French-Palestinian artist and Goldsmith graduate is still painting every day, only he's now added filmmaking to his artistic repertoire, while the subjects he explores are a lot darker than the work of his youth. Taking technology and the human race as his focal point, Gaby's work presents a dystopian view of the future. While you might not yet be familiar with his art, you may well recognize his face, having cropped up on a couple of catwalks including Hood by Air, Vetements and Yeezy. Basically, this is one very cool kid you'll be seeing a lot more of.
What is it about creating things that appeals most to you?
I think when you create something you have the ability to do anything you want and I can't think of any other industry that allows you to do that. You have the power to visualize your thought process in your hands. I think it becomes really exciting when that thought process is challenging, or if you are dealing with something that you can't imagine. It's exciting and I get an adrenalin rush from making, and it also lowers the stress and general angst I get from daily life.
What is it you're trying to achieve with your work?
I'm really interested in pushing boundaries in my work whether that be with the process of making or the concepts I deal with. I'm really concerned with the post-human debate. I want to understand the new developments or problems affecting the human race in London, whether serious or stupid. I want to voice the struggles of what it feels like to be a human and also to question the role of humans as our society evolves. I question how free we really feel when we are constantly being monitored and regulated - always being told what to do and how to function.
Who or what inspires you?
I am literally inspired by so many things. Here are just a few! Streatham, South London, Central London, clubbing, injustice, political injustice, animals, internet culture, The Thames barrier, Japanese anime and manga, storytelling, modern life, satellite dishes, cable, fibre optics, reading, drawing, sci-fi, paintings from all eras, living, branding and advertising, French films, domestic life, family life, drinking green tea, nighttime, mobile phones and tablets, speaking to other young creative, gay culture, color, the universe, stars, planets, magnetic strength, wildlife, food, horror, alternative spaces, feeling unmotivated, the world, beetroot, conversations, landscapes, aesthetics of all kinds, lakes, people, the Eurostar, airports, informal or boring conversations, logistics, office culture, working mentalities, death, I could go on…
Your work is primarily concerned with the many facets of the human race. Where did this interest come from?
I've always been interested in evolution and science. I have been brought up in London and I have seen its landscape change so much already in my life. I am interested in meeting people from all walks of life and even up until now I often question whether the human race is still evolving. Today's climate makes it so hard to live. Though we are more connected than ever before, we are also incredibly separate and divided. This would often make me question what the purpose of being human or being associated with a "race" in the 21st century means.
What is the significance of using shock and dark humor in your work?
When a piece of work deals with dark humor / shock, you experience the work in a different way. You have a more intense alert reaction. I feel like this creates a more immediate and direct effect on the viewer, which is an idea I like. Using shock tactics or dark humor shifts the register of engagement to something more honest.
What do you think is the most profound effect technology has had on the human race?
I actually love technology, and the way it is branded and sold to humans in this world fascinates me. I think the most profound and lasting effect of technology is that it allows people to be who they want to be and not obey prescribed rules of gender, social constructs, class, disability, sexuality etc. As a human you are able to re-invent yourself through technology, whether that be online or literally in reality, although of course the line between online and offline is now really blurred. Technology is everywhere even in ways we don't know or understand. But like anything 'great' it's important that we keep questioning it.
How would you describe your artistic process?
My thought process is very driven by human injustice I feel and see around me on a daily basis, on a personal or political level.
What piece of work are you most proud of and why?
The fictional 27 minute animation 'Shard Species' is a good example of my practice I think. It was filmed between Tokyo and London last year. 'Shard Species' was about a man who was born from The Shard, on the day of the launch of The Shard, during the laser light show. He was born without skin. The film follows his journey as he tries to live a "normal" life in London, for example getting a job, buying a house, getting around London, the public's reaction to him. By the end of the film, he ends up in Tokyo where he gets a job on a club door because he looks like an anime; but that doesn't last long as he dies of a nut allergy. It's quite chaotic; the narrative is quite hectic and impulsive. I wanted to question what it meant to be a human being in the 21st century and address current issues that are happening in London like the housing and job crisis.
What do you stand for?
Equality, being motivated, making change.
What's the bravest thing you can do as a young person?
Stand up for your beliefs and follow your passions. Do what you really want to do in life.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am continuing to paint every day as always, and working on a new film which I think will be called Upgrade Me. I am also doing some set design for a friend's night that will be launched during London Fashion Week in South London, if everything goes to plan. I am working on a group show with other artists who I share a studio with.
Text Tish Weinstock