Diana Rosa Latourt | From Cuba with Love

Posted by Bethan Street on 20th February 2019

Diana Rosa Latourt is a Cuban artist based in Canada who paints groovy figurative works. Tropical elements lend her paintings an exotic quality that is reminiscent of her Cuban heritage, where she was closely connected with the natural landscape around her. She is interested in how humans interact with the environment, animals and each other. The artist uses the versatile medium of acrylic paint to explore this.


Diana painting a mural.


Diana’s style is simultaneously youthful and elegant, spontaneous and sophisticated. The artist showcases her work regularly at art fairs and exhibitions in the UK and Canada. She has also exhibited pieces in Hong Kong. We catch up with Diana to find out more about her process and exploration of human relationships.  


Back Up Plan by  Diana Rosa Latourt


What inspired you to become an artist?


My Great-Grandfather, Gerardo Fernandez, was a Cuban musician and music teacher. Growing up and witnessing his passion for the Arts inspired me to become an artist.


Forest #1 by Diana Rosa Latourt


What drew you to studying Art History at uni rather than Fine Art? And what impact has this had on your artistic practice?


I studied Art History at the Oriente University in Cuba and worked at the Contemporary Art Centre in Holguin, Cuba, as a curator for 7 years. This had a massive influence on my artistic practice. I then emigrated to Canada, where I explored the relationship people have with the urban environment.


Forest #2 by Diana Rosa Latourt


What inspired your groovey and caricaturesque style? How did this develop?


I’m influenced by modern masters like Matisse, Paul Gauguin and Henri Rousseau. These artists inspire me to envision and create new aesthetics that use shape and color in contrasting ways and without boundaries. To be raw and experimental has shaped my style.


Never Alone #4 by Diana Rosa Latourt


Your art is reminiscent of your Cuban roots. What specifically about your heritage has influenced your art?


My work has the dynamism, rhythm and color of the Islands and the Caribbean.  It comments on the tropical landscapes full of light and exotism and the nostalgic of the elegance of the palm tree.


Red Deer by Diana Rosa Latourt


Your work explores human interactions with the environment, animals and one another. What about this interest you?


I explore the relationship between humans, animals and the environment because we live in and share the same world. I love my work to be symbolically rich and encapsulate the fantastic scenery the world has to offer. I like to think my art is magical, to explore human nature, the possible, the impossible and to investigate the beautiful as well as the odd is quite special. I wish to illuminate the norms in an environment and reveal it’s universal and layered patterns.   


Royal Bath by Diana Rosa Latourt


What drew you to working with acrylic paint?


Acrylics are water-based and very quick to dry, they are not reliant on any toxic solvents and can be applied to a wide range of surfaces. This means acrylics are versatile and allow me to experiment regularly in my work. When dry, acrylics are lightfast and permanent, and the surface becomes strong and flexible.


Beauty and The Beast by Diana Rosa Latourt


What are your ambitions for 2019?


In 2019 I would like to create something inspiring - to make a statement that leaves lasting impressions on people’s minds and souls.







Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele | Masters of Sex and Death

Posted by Bethan Street on 14th February 2019

Given that it’s the week of Valentine's Day, what better opportunity is there to discuss the riveting and nonconformist love lives of some of the most influential artists of the 20th century? Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele's desperately passionate, expressionist work pushed the boundaries of art and depicted the human figure in radical ways.


Reclyning Woman by Egon Schiele, 1917

(Image courtsey of dorotheum.com)


Klimt, born in 1862 was an Austrian symbolist painter and lead member of the Vienna secession movement. The artist also had influence on Viennese expressionism, a movement spearheaded by his biggest devotee Egon Schiele. Schiele, born in 1890 and 28 years Klimt’s junior, was an Austrian figurative and expressionist painter. In 1907, Klimt became Egon’s mentor and they developed a close relationship.


Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele

(Image courtesy of artsper.com)


Klimt is unique in that his art is omnipresent yet his personal life is nearly invisible. Much discussion around his life is speculative and drawn from his art and from rumour. What we do know is that he loved women. The artist once said, “I am less interested in myself as a subject for painting than I am in other people, above all women.” And with the exception of his early work, Klimt painted portraits only of women.


Gustave Klimt, 1908

(Image courtesy of wiki.org)


It remains a mystery whether or not his models were lovers and whether his companion, Emilie Flöge, a fashion designer that features in much of Klimt’s art, was a lover or a friend. It is thought he fathered 14 illegitimate children and (not surprisingly) had numerous lovers, including musician and femme fatale figure of the 20th Century, Alma Schindler.  


Woman in Gold by Gustav Klimt, 1903-1907

(Image courtesy of wiki.org)


Regardless of rumour, Klimt’s art speaks for itself. It expresses an intense and heartfelt connection between the artist and his models. Klimt's most iconic piece, ‘The Kiss’, currently held in the Belvedre in Vienna, manifests this connection and love exquisitely.


The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, 1907-1908

(Image courtesy of wiki.org)


It depicts a couple locked in embrace, surrounded by a shower of gold. The male figure (thought to be Klimt) leans over the female figure, holding her face while placing a kiss on her cheek. The female submissively leans back and wraps her arms around him. She faces us with her eyes closed.


Danae by Gustav Klimt, 1907-1908 

(Image courtsey of wiki.org)


A sense of the spiritual is created through the shimmering gold abyss that forms the background. They are removed from the norm of everyday life and situated in the elevated moment of ‘The Kiss’. The divine is implied through the gold cloth placed over their heads, replicating a halo and paying homage to classic religious art.  


Hope II by Gustav Klimt, 1907-1908

(Image courtesy of wiki.org)


The geometric patterns within the piece reflect the perfection of the romanticised moment. The gold cloth draped around the figures is adorned with patterns, erect rectangles on the male and soft round circles and flowers the female, alluding to sexuality. Klimt’s sumptuous fresco oozes luxury, love and transcendence.


Act of love, study by Egon Schiele, 1915

(Image courtesy of theartnewspaper.com)


Schiele differs to Klimt in that his life is as notorious, intriguing and famous as his art. Even from a young age Schiele’s life was controversial, with suggestions that he had an incestuous relationship with his younger sister. In 1912, he was arrested for allegedly seducing a minor. During the court proceedings, it was his art that came under scrutiny. Much of his art depicted young girls in an unapologetically provocative way. It was considered pornographic - and the judge burnt one of his works.


Self Portrait by Egon Schiele

(Image courtsey of christies.com)


In 1911, Schiele met the seventeen-year-old Walburga (Wally), who lived with him and served as a model for some of his most striking paintings. Wally and Schiele lived together for four years until he ruthlessly discarded her for a financially beneficial marriage. Out of this heartbreak a masterpiece was created. Schiele’s ‘Death and the Maiden’ is currently held in the Belvedere Museum in Vienna.  


Portrait of Wally by Egon Schiele, 1912

(Image courtesy of wiki.org) 


The piece nods to Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’, but the dramatic and tormented scene is in fact it’s antithesis. It depicts a couple cleaving onto one another, surrounded by a devastated wasteland. The male figure is a self portrait depicting death, Schiele’s grey face and black eyes hauntingly look out at us. Schiele, like Klimt loved women, however his primary subject and greatest interest was himself. He was a narcissist and obsessed with his own visceral experience of life.


Death and the Maiden by Egon Schiele, 1915-16

(Image courtesy of independent.co.uk)


Wally is depicted as very much alive and her pink dress brings a splash of colour to the piece. It has been suggested the contrast between them represents the collision of pre and post WWI Vienna. Schiele’s genius is his ability to express ugly and personal emotion while reflecting on the universal suffering of war.


Self Portrait with Physalis by Egon Schiele, 1912

(Image courtesy of wiki.org) 


Schiele created a lumpy, awkward and fragmented scene and in doing so acted as a catalyst for the modern art movement that rejects the ideal nude. Schiele and Klimt use the human form to express raw emotion, often through physical distortion. Both artists are early exponents of expressionism whose work was highly influenced by their lives and experiences of love.



Philip Tyler’s Take on the Nude

Posted by Bethan Street on 07th February 2019

“How do you paint the female nude without it being sexualised? And how do you paint the figure in a fresh and exciting way?” Sky Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 quarterfinalist Philip Tyler investigates these questions in his current body of work.


Triangles by Philip Tyler


The British artist has explored the nude for the last 20 years. His first nudes explored grief and loss, prompted by the loss of his mother. Later, Philip became interested in the sculptural presence of the figure in space. We ask Philip about his life as an artist and his interpretation of the classic nude.


100 Days by Philip Tyler


What about life drawing appeals to you and how have you reinterpreted this classic style?

Life drawing is an endlessly fascinating subject. The figure is complex, it moves, it breathes, whether nude or clothed it is never the same and it always provides a new challenge. How I look at the figure and respond to what I see is central to my artistic approach. The history of life drawing is a rich resource and inspires me to push myself and never be content.


Off Centre by Philip Tyler


You explore many themes in your work, including grief and loss. What do you explore in your life drawing specifically?

Death has featured heavily in my work, as I have lost both my brother and my father in the last six years. I am near the age that my brother died and I am conscious of my own mortality. I carry an emotional weight that impacts my work.


Forest by Philip Tyler


Since the mid 90’s I have explored the nude, and in its first incarnation, my male nudes explored ideas of grief and loss through gesture, lighting, colour and atmosphere. These were all naked self-portraits full of despair after my mum had suddenly died from a heart attack.


Covering Up by Philip Tyler


My female nudes came much later as I was interested in looking at a different physicality other than my own. I wanted to think about the sculptural presence of the figure in a particular space. Colour became something much more sensuous, more about beauty.  


Lyndsey Lying Down by Philip tyler


I took some time away from painting the nude but returned to the subject seven years ago. I did a lot of experimentation with oil paint as I never felt that I had fully got to grips with it and considered questions such as how do you paint the female nude without it being sexualized? And how do you paint the figure in a fresh and exciting way? This informed the writing of my first book “Drawing and painting the nude”.


Johanna at Jakes by Philip tyler


Can you tell us about your process?

I take thousands of photographs on my phone. I store my photographs and they often sit for years as embryonic ideas waiting to hatch. Some might never manifest into work whilst other images might be returned to again and again.


Looking In by Philip Tyler


What are the motivations behind the titles of your nudes?

Titles are funny things. I have been a massive fan of Richard Diebenkorn since the mid 80’s and always loved the fact that he would use the same title for a body of works. For a while, my works were called ‘Untitled’ but this made it difficult to catalogue. I then used generic themed titles such as ‘Orpheus’ or ‘Daedalus’. Recently I have been using song titles as well as specific titles which relate to my models.


Bend by Philip Tyler


My studio is quite small so I have to resort to working from photos. I am quite shy and it takes time to get to know a model well enough to ask them to be photographed. This is only something that can come from a position of trust, and the best photo sessions happen when my model comes to the session with ideas in response to my work.


Curve by Philip Tyler


The faces of your figures tend to be blurred. Is there any meaning underlying this?

I am interested in the whole body as a presence in space. These are not portraits and I have always loved how Sickert’s nudes communicate everything you need to know about  that experience without resorting to painting intricate features. If I can find a shorthand to express the gesture eloquently I am happy.


Lyndsey's Coast 2 by Philip Tyler


What are your ambitions for 2019?

Last year I was a quarter finalist on the Sky Portrait Artist of the year, where I painted Michael Ball. After losing out to the eventual winner on my round I was inspired and painted or drew every sitter that appeared in S4 and S3. These paintings are made purely for my own pleasure. I have just entered the BP portrait award and I am sure that I will be entering the Ruth Borchard self portrait prize, The ING Discerning eye and any other competition that might strike my fancy.




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