Online you might have seen the fantastical and horrifying collages of digital artist Arcano XV, or Felipe Froeder. His evocative work melds the realms of familiar imagery with a deeply sinister macabre that permeate your deepest nightmares.
The fantastic motion he conveys with his work makes it impossible to look away, but just as impossible to focus. The subjects of his work have you in their grasp.
It's a rarity and absolutely amazing.
Tell us a little more about yourself & what you do.
I'm Felipe Froeder and I'm a digital artist based in Curtiba, Brazil. Essentially, I work with digital collage and I use old public domain paintings as raw material for my creations. I extract from these paintings the elements that interest me and rearrange them to create new images and narratives, telling new stories. In my works I discuss controversial subjects, which are often seen as taboo by society - such as death and its imagery. It allows me to explore the explore the expressive potentialities of matter in different ways or supernatural manifestations, altered states of consciousness and the iconography of the profane.
The evolution of an Artist is always one folks like to know about. Can you describe a little bit about how you evolved into the creator that you are today?
It's been over a year since I started working with digital art, so it's all very recent for me. I had finished college and wanted to use idle time to create something. I have been fascinated with cinema since I was a child and it was this fascination that indirectly contributed to my love with collage. In a way, movies are also collages, but in motion. One day I decided to create a poster for an old horror movie and I was mesmerized by the whole process of creation and its consequential results. It motivated me to continue creating.
It started suddenly, but not by chance.
I'm basically self-taught but I believe one thing leads to another. Being self-taught says a lot about my particular and constant learning process: I'm a curious being and I am constantly experimenting with new things and try to leave my mind free of noticeable influences when I create so I can have a pure state of creation to learn from everything in front of me. I'm a storyteller in the dark. Everything we create on some level is the result of a mix of references and ideas that we capture through our interaction with the world and people. It's always good to use what came before to create what comes next isn't it? I'd say it's inevitable.
I like the subversive character of collage by using appropriation as an instrument of transformation and experimentation, questioning art and its definitions, turning these works into something new and completely out of their original context. This allows me to move between the macabre and the surreal, between the expository and the occult, between the sacred and the profane, creating an overlapping aesthetic that flirts with diverse subjects simultaneously.
Eclipsis Tenebris courtesy the Artist
Let's talk monikers. It's always interesting to hear why people have decided to do creative monikers over their names. Can you speak to that?
I use the infamous nickname Arcano XC as an archetypal representation of the themes I cover in my work. Besides naming my page, it also says a lot about me, every human being and all of our morbid fascination with worldly things. This arcane, represented by the Devil, speaks chiefly of the temptations that come our way, in order to divert us from our purposes. Therefore, it symbolizes our most instinctive side, representing our fertile forces that we are constantly directing towards the wrong ends. He talks about our loss of control, morbid thoughts, vice, debauchery, wickedness, submission and our delusions. It represents the demons we have within us, our internal adversaries, gathering all that most insidous and grotesque in a universe where everyone constantly seeks virtue. I believe my works seek to portray these demons, but in a kind of black transcendence, where the dissolution of the Ego never seems to occur completely. It's as if these deformed and monstrous characters experience a state of dark catharsis, merging and rising through tragedy, something like a BIG bad trip.
What does Dark Art mean to you?
Well, dark art is a term that can bring up numerous references. It undoubtedly means that we can talk freely about subjects that most people prefer not to talk about, or that generate discomfort, fear and controversy, because they are capable of exposing all human fragility and their inability to deal with the unknown. The inevitably finitude, the supernatural imagery and everything that somehow takes us out of our comfort zone also helps us to know ourselves to our fullest. Everything that brings us discomfort also says a lot about us. Above all, however, it's an attempt to understand human nature in its complexity.
Multiverse of Pain - Prints available on Dark Art & Craft
It's always interesting to see a digital artist really paving the way for dark art in the way that you do. Do you also dabble in more traditional mediums or do you prefer exclusively digital? Why or why not?
Yes, I'm also interested in traditional media! Even my appreciation for painting and its textures led me to choose this type of medium as a raw material exclusively. I have only created digital art to this day, but I have plans for other ways to explore my work such as videos, installations and sculpture. At the right or opportune time I will surely do this. Interestingly enough, a lot of people ask me if my works are paintings, because I apply textures to my arts to create a rustic, physical feeling of the brushstroke, which apparently makes people think my collages are paintings. It's always interesting to know what sensations and thoughts my work arouses in people, as this gives me an external view of these works, enhancing their ability to generate meanings.
If you could channel the creative genius of any of the late and great Artists, who would it be and why?
If I could, I would channel several artists - it's really difficult to choose just one! Perhaps the idea is even a mix between various creative geniuses. But for the moment I'll choose Hieronymus Bosch and his incredible ability to orchestrate chaos harmoniously. Many of his paintings even resemble collages and build a perfect link between the dark and the surreal, creating true nightmares populated by monstrous and caricatured beings, representing human sins and temptations. This interaction between macabre and human being, inserted in surreal situations and places are common characteristics of my works, but emphasized through other forms of expression.
Some of the themes that one could pick up from browsing your social media feed is religious iconography, demonic possession and a hell of a lot of eyes. Can you talk more about those themes in your work and why you're drawn to them?
I believe my attraction to these themes goes with me for a long time and again has to do with cinema. When I was a child at the age of seven my mother showed me a movie that definitely marked my childhood: Evil Dead 2. It was all so real, so visceral and bizarre; I couldn't breathe until the movie was over. I was fascinated, and had definitely never seen the human body exposed in that monstrous way, or heard those distorted voices. The 80s and 90s are full of body horror and splatter movies and I remember every movie I watched as a child such as The Fly, Scanners, Videodrome, The Thing and even the classic/controversy The Exorcist. This was something really intense all my life, and my macabre curiosity about the horrors of human flesh wasn't just about movies. Whenever a fatal accident occurred near me, I went to see them. It was a real opportunity to witness what the movies had showed me. This may seem macabre, but in the not too distant past people had closer contact with decaying bodies and death and thereby witnessing the physical transformations of this process. Today we give destiny to bodies, and funeral rites allow us to glimpse human corpses only while they are intact and preserved. You realize how fragile our existence is, and this confrontation with our finitude grounds us.
Religious iconography was closely related to Christian doctrine until the middle of the 16th century, and it's only fair that centuries later we can attribute new meaning to the imagery, even meanings that are contradictory to their very nature. I like to see elements in my work as continually transforming. I Both the sight of demonic possession, the shadowy depiction of infernal specters or any other form of genuine evil manifesting, are ways of bringing to life the monsters and ghosts created by the human imagination, giving them form and appearance and providing self-induced and usually unlikely approach between people and the object of their fear.
If you could be active in any artistic scene, contemporary or otherwise, anywhere in the world at any time, where and when would it be?
Honestly, I think the best time to create is now, and I like to contemplate the contemporary and its chaotic nature. I like to be inserted in our time. But if I had to choose another Art scene from a different time, I'd say expressionism shortly after the early twentieth century. It is a fantastic artistic movement that proposes a subjective and intuitive view of reality, highlighting the expression of feelings as opposed to a simple representation of reality.
We always ask people for five contemporary artists you want everyone to check out right now. What are your recommendations to our audience?
With so many amazing artists its really difficult to just pick five! I'll start with one that certainly couldn't miss the list, which is Congo-born artist Olivier de Sagazan. He is one of the most amazing performing artists I have ever met. His practice is hybrid, involving techniques such as photography, painting, sculpture and performance to create macabre, distorted and disfigured figures that bring a deep reflection on our own identities (IG: @sagazan).
Another simply magnificent artist is Nicola Samori with his obscure baroque endowed with destructive aesthetic violence, contrasting perfectly with the unfinished realism of his works. He has no Instagram, but here is his website: nicolasamori.com.
I also greatly admire the work of Norwegian painter Henrik Aa. Uldalen, known on IG as @henrikaau. Abrstract shapes and smudges of paint overlap with classical figurative painting, creating a perfect interaction between the dark and the beautiful.
The works of the enigmatic Japanese artist Takato Yamamoto are fantastic, dark, complex and beautiful! Through the exploration of various themes such as vampirism, death and eroticism he brings to life a dark and mysterious universe in his arts, always full of beings that metamorphose with the environment, in a perfect interaction between the macabre and the serene. You can see more of his work on his website: yamamototakato.com.
I couldn't fail to disclose the work of a Brazilian artist, especially because she is someone so special and talented, my partner in crime Caroline Murta (IG: @carolinemvrta). I really like her illustrations and detailed black and white works, mainly because I know her extensive research on the subject of death, tomb iconography and other fantastical themes.
It's the future, we are long long dead. What do you want people to say about your work when they see it?
"What the fuck is this?" would be a good reaction! Haha!
Honestly, I don't think it's so important what people in the future about my work. I want them to feel! If my Art can touch the cold hearts of some lost souls already it seems enough. The important thing is to generate a reflection, generate discomfort. Creating is a transgressive act, to give movement to nothing or to find stability in the chaos. Something in me creates as I stumble on the meanings. I want people to feel part of it; I want them to be able to look, even for a moment, at the dark and unknown abyss within them. And if that reveals something to these people, my task will be accomplished and my message will have been passed.
What is some advice you have for budding artistic hopefuls who are reading this interview?
KEEP CREATING! Never stop! If that's what you like to do, do it tirelessly, because the best way to perfect your technique is by creating! Allow yourself to make mistakes too and try to overcome yourself. Try in several ways. Become a sponge and absorb everything around you. Read, watch movies, and watch the world! Inspiration is omnipresent. You need to hold on to what you do, to do it on purpose. Be your greatest admirer!
Also, talk about your work to people to help other gain visibility! Don't think it's easy to make a living from this, remember that it takes a lot of dedication and a little luck to make it work. And yet it can go wrong. And if it goes wrong, it doesn't mean it's the end of the line. It means you must try again other ways.
Thanks to all those who support my work!