Meet Seychelles’ young, local artists: |07 April 2021
Karyn Zialor – A fine art specialist influenced by nature, people, colour, music, history, consumerism, politics & travel
Today we meet Karyn Zialor, 25, a Seychellois artist who specialises in abstract and mixed media paintings.
Following her school years at the International School Seychelles, Ms Zialor studied at the University of Westminster in London, England for 3 years, graduating with a degree in Fine Art Mixed Media BA.
Currently, she works at the Seychelles National Museums as an assistant curator where she hopes to get more of an insight on the operation of museum spaces.
Seychelles NATION: Tell us about your artwork.
Karyn Zialor: To pinpoint one thing that my work is about would be almost impossible. I like to call myself a fine artist as I enjoy the freedom of being able to work across many different mediums, and the feeling of always learning and bringing different techniques together to create mixed media pieces.
I specialise in abstract and mixed media paintings, candid street, creative and landscape photography, silk screens, and digital printmaking on fabric to imitate textiles, using my own print designs that I make using my photos and paintings. I also have an interest in including more film, sound and writing in my work in the future.
I am greatly influenced by nature, people, colour, music, history, consumerism, politics, and my infinite love for travel – where you see all those things in motion.
As cliché as it may sound, my practice has many layers. Sometimes I focus solely on colour, texture, repetition and application. I've been told I use such a colourful palette and this has clearly been inspired by my surroundings, growing up with the sea, sun, foliage and sunsets.
Other times I have more specific themes that I want to explore. What makes us who we are? Our history, race, environment, cultural heritage, pop culture, current events and society, are the layers that determine our ever-evolving identities.
Being from an island nation, it can easily feel like we are in our own bubble and I want to think about us in the context of the world. We have been colonised. We are made up of many cultures. We had slaves. Our natural beauty is not just for tourism purposes. Our stories are important.
My working order is; deciding colour palettes, artists who are inspiring me in the moment, thinking of materials, choosing a medium(s) – analogue or digital / paper or canvas / digital or silk screen prints, what issues are currently on my mind/what do I want to experiment, sketchbook pages. I can then usually start piecing together a moodboard and music playlist (an absolute must) that will guide me through a few trials before settling on a project idea.
I don’t currently have an actual studio space to work in, so my veranda is my workspace. The best time to work is after 4pm which is my favourite time of the day, as I am accompanied by beautiful skies.
My goal as an artist is to be able to exhibit my work (locally and internationally), to continue my studies as I don't feel that you ever stop being a student of Art, do a residency somewhere with a very good art scene and to be able to travel the world, experience new cultures, which would in turn influence my work.
Selling my work was very much an afterthought but since I've been back and started my Instagram account, the encouragement to sell has been felt. I currently have a series of paintings available, and photographs and prints of works coming soon.
Your work becomes a part of you. I don’t make work to sell, I make work that I choose to sell. It’s not a swift decision made to part ways with your work. A lot of people have asked me why I am not selling my work or why am I selling a print and not the real thing – well often they are part of a series which is telling a story.
I want them to remain together and they are key to my development as an artist, therefore though I’d love for them to be exhibited, they’ll stay with me. Other times, I like to reimagine work or reuse them in new projects, something I’ve done in the past and ended up with even better, more layered pieces of work.
What’s unique about my work is me – the artist. I think that applies to all artists. Though we may all be doing similar things at the end of the day, like the themes in my work, we have so many different influences, techniques, backgrounds and upbringings, and those are the things that contribute to your identity as an artist.
At the moment I have quite a few exciting projects that I am working on – which are all in the development/ trial stages.
My series ‘el paso’ (emulsion and acrylic paint on raw canvas) is currently available for sale as well as a few other original paintings, and from April 1, I will be accepting commissions and have prints available of my artworks and photographs.
Seychelles NATION: What inspired you to become an artist?
Karyn Zialor: For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be an artist. From my Reception 2 teacher, Miss Fox, who had us printmaking and using marbling inks; Ms Ansell in Year 2 who enjoyed a papier mache session and Miss Vivienne's after school art club which I was a part of every year until I went to secondary school. The International School Seychelles definitely was a huge influence on pushing me towards keeping that dream and showing me the many ways in which creativity can be expressed.
I also remember having a massive fascination with sunsets, who doesn't, and growing frustrated that I wasn't able to capture them; the flip phone my grandma had gifted me could only do so much, though in the moment, they were everything. I started to catalogue all the colours I would see and put them into what I called 'background' pieces.
Traditionally speaking, I was never great at drawing; my composition was always off. As a teen, I thought if I couldn't draw, then that was it for me. However after receiving my first compact digital camera, a few conversations with Mr Martin Kennedy pre IGCSE about the many possibilities art has, I realised photography and abstraction is where I was most content and found much happiness in.
Since then I've wanted to be a fashion designer, fashion photographer, candid/street photographer, collager and abstract artist.
My list of favourite photographers and artists are endless, and they interchange depending on what particular project I am working on. However, notable people who influenced me throughout my IGCSE & A Level years and therefore have a huge part in how my work has progressed since, include Diane Arbus, Robert Rauschenberg, Irving Penn and Jackson Pollock, among many others.
Seychelles NATION: What does one require to practice this form of art? We imagine a lot of patience?
Karyn Zialor: Everyone thinks that they can be an artist. I would argue that artists, especially abstract artists hear ‘I could do that’ at least once a month. It’s definitely frustrating that in 2021 people are still able to pass these comments off and not understand why they probably should not.
Yes of course you could do that, but you didn’t. Yes you could get a urinal like Marcel Duchamp and sign it with a different name. But you didn’t. Yes you could throw paint at a canvas like Jackson Pollock, but you didn’t. Being an artist encompasses more than just the finished product that you see before you.
It’s the patience, it’s creating work that has probably already been done before, but still making sure it has your stamp of originality on it. It’s being ready to dedicate months or years of your time on one piece. It’s knowing when to stop, or when to keep going. It’s being your own critique and motivator. It’s taking criticism from others. It’s needing to travel for research for the work. It’s not being happy with your work and starting again. It’s having endless bouts of creativity and finding inspiration at anytime, from anywhere. It’s being able to take yourself out of any creative block.
So I would say, creativity, research; patience, inspiration and interest.
Seychelles NATION: How do you feel while working on your pieces and while looking at the end results?
Karyn Zialor: I never paint or edit photos when I’m in a mood. I always choose to approach any work with good vibes. It’s something I love doing and I’m always my most content when I am being creative in any capacity.
Looking at your work can be a stress-filled moment. Whether you are a perfectionist or not, I think to some extent, all artists must have a little bit of that quality. As you stand away from your work, or look at your photos, you’re able to see what is wrong, what could be better, what you can fix and, on rare occasions you’re happy with it straight away.
There is no mean point I reach to know when I am finished with a piece. I see my work as a constant continuation. It works as a domino effect, that I take each piece and start something new with what I've learnt to be good or not great. So really, I never technically reach an end point.
I have many times been finished and satisfied, and then in a few months come back and decided that something needs changing. It’s a combination of both joy and stress.
Something else that I usually keep in mind is that very rarely, if ever, will the work that I’m producing be the first of its kind. I am not making anything groundbreaking. I’m certainly not the first person to throw paint on a canvas, and I won’t be the last. Some people might see that as putting one's art down but from my time at university, this actually allowed me to take the pressure off, as I wasn’t left trying to be like and where everyone else on my course was. I did my own thing and set my own boundaries. In a way you end up having real groundbreaking moments that actually benefit your practice in the long run.
Seychelles NATION: How would you like to see this form of art progress in Seychelles?
Karyn Zialor: I would love to see the responsible bodies for Art just do more. More attention, more organisation, more participation, more engagement, more education and more opportunities. Seychelles has an abundance of talent of all ages and we need the correct support to be able to achieve what we want in our own individual practices.
Personally, I love museums and going to exhibitions was one of the best parts of my university experience. It would be great to see more exhibitions being held locally – it's a great way to familarise yourself with other artists’ work as well as to network!
Something I would love to see is the normalisation of art as a part of our culture and heritage. Art is so much more than just an accompaniment to the needs of other occupations held in higher regards. If people wish to study art at university level, they should not have to jump through hoops and wait for the opportunity to come much later in their careers. As a nation, we should be at a place where we notice that an artist's contribution can be useful for the development of the country.
Seychelles NATION: Are there any particular ways you would wish for people to think about and feel when they view your artwork?
Karyn Zialor: People sometimes struggle to look at a piece of work and not have all the answers, that is, how did you start this piece, what is this photo, why, what is it showing, I can't see, etc… and I truly believe if you are one of those people, my art is not for you, and I'd go as far as saying Art isn't for you, unless you are willing to be more open minded.
As mentioned, some of my artworks do have themes they are trying to convey or explore, and other times it’s more a colour and technique study; how each individual interprets my work is part of the process. I do not wish to tell people how they should feel, what they should be seeing and even whether they like it or not. With each interpretation, a new layer is added to the work – which is what I want.
Some pieces are more obvious, while others are ambiguous. I encourage everyone to view art with an open, empty mind and allow yourself to fully immerse. When I view art, I alternate how I go about it. Sometimes I will look at the art first then read what the artist has to say and go back for a second look and vice versa. Sometimes I will view the work more than once, each time I see something new – this is how I wish people to view all art.
To see more of Ms Zialor’s work, follow her page on Instagram: karynzialor, and send a direct message for more information.