A LOSS of Innocence is the solo exhibition by Costa Rican artist, John Paul Fauves. Exploring hedonism and redemption, this show opens today at the infamous Guy Hepner gallery, NYC (who also shows artists such as Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol) and is curated by the Tax Collection. Running for the month of March, the collection consists of 13 paintings and 350 hand-painted masks.

Running for the month of March, the collection consists of 13 paintings, that see the icon of innocence, Disney’s Mickey combined with notoriously naughty famous figures, such as Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. Sitting alongside these paintings are masks, all 350 of them hand-painted by 36-year-old Fauves and they are encouraged to be worn during the show.

Known as a “neo-pop expressionist” Fauves wants us to question humanity as we mature, becoming increasingly desensitised as ultimately, we grow further away from our childhood innocence. His aim is to throw light on the dark underbelly of society and highlight the many layers of the human form.

 

John Paul Fauves Self Portrait John Paul Fauves Self  Portrait

What is your earliest memory of art?
I remember drawing since I was really young; I still have the image of an apple tree I drew when I was five. It was hanging on the fridge of the house – it made me feel proud. I kept drawing as I grew up, but it wasn’t until I was in High School that I was recommended to join the IB (International Bachelor) Advanced Art Program. Joaquin Rodriguez del Paso became my teacher, a renowned artist that was arriving from Parsons NYC who opened my artistic potential.

Storypic_Hello Marilyn By John Paul FauvesHello Marilyn by John Paul Fauves

What is the concept of the show?
This collection talks about the loss of innocence in humanity. Mickey, as world iconic figure represents that, and I turn him more into a hedonist Mickey, it looks for pleasure no matter the consequence. I have lived my life through several experiences and come to realise that excess will never fulfill you. I question that in this collection, even using several known figures like Jim Morrison, James Dean and Marylin Monroe symbolising this innocence lost, as it ended in death.

Story pic_Queen MI By John Paul FauvesQueen MI by John Paul Fauves

What is innocence to you?
I think innocence is the essence of our soul and who we truly are before we start becoming this label of the egocentric world. It is what we were before the system and society got to us. I think that we never lose our innocence, we just don’t see it because of all the layers of existence we created. The idea is that through evolved choices, we redeem and go back to our natural state.

Tell us about the “ego”…
Ego is a tricky bastard, it grows in you to the point you become it. We live in a narcissist world where most of us think happiness is all about self-image. Everybody is looking for approval and if you are not a part of the trend, there is always a judgment that feeds this EGO. The need of control and to be a part of a society is a shaken feature of the ego. It never stops and is always in search of appreciation and attention. You get the idea of who you are by others opinions, making you become a product of the system, and not by living a direct experience of your true self.

 

Marymick By John Paul FauvesMarymick by John Paul Fauves

Your exhibition includes 350 masks as well as painting, how does a mask change you and how do you see it changing others?
In my case the mask makes me feel protected. Once it’s worn long enough it’s like an alter ego. You disinhibit and detach yourself from the mold of the system for a while. What I expect in other people’s perspectives is for them to start focusing on themselves. If any different action in their personality comes up then it’s an opportunity to change. One thing is for certain, with the mask on you live an inner journey experience.

Where do you get your inspiration from? Is it emotional for you?
I go with the flow and try to let my emotions govern my art style. To never lose what’s important to me, which is to “express” no matter the style. Daily actions govern my inspiration, I believe that our brain is like a radio antenna and that you have to tune into the right frequency, then the inspiration arrives from a higher power.

A Loss of InnocenceA Loss of Innocence neon sign for show

What’s your method of working?
I’m constantly searching for new ideas; I have learned that it’s in the simple daily stuff that much can be learned. Once I have an idea or vision of what I want to create, I usually sketch it first and bring to life what is in my head. Then I bring this to a big format on canvas and use acrylic paint, mostly with spray paint, Chinese ink and most recently resin. I love texture so I use a lot of paint and energy in expressing my strokes.

What does the rest of 2017 have in store for you?
I am preparing to take this show to Belgium, showing for the first days of June and then hopefully onto 2 more destinations to close the innocence art tour.

by Felicity Williams

Instagram: @lefauves