Mexican artist Gildo Medina creates a new dialogue for the world of surgically-perfect by making the familiar unfamiliar and unfamiliar familiar
Considered as one of the most successful and important illustrators from around the globe by TASCHEN in the last edition of 100 illustrators, Mexico-born Gildo Medina is an international award-winning artist and photographer whose creative works are informed by an artistic trajectory of influence from the different cultures in the world.
Some of his twenty-five notable awards include 8 Quorum Prizes, the EFFIE Prize in France and a MTV Music Award in the United States for Best Video.
Known for his simplistic and elegant aesthetics, Medina, who currently works and lives between Paris, Madrid and New York, coined his distinctive approach as a merger of modern references and a historic style; of realism and surrealism, as well as traditional techniques and deeply superficiality.
This allows him to explore the emotional paradoxes of the human condition and mortality, and thereafter, documenting their struggles, especially in his pencil drawing and watercolour series ‘Beauty Knows No Pain’.
In our interview with him, we uncover the rationale behind his subject’s pained look on her face and the thought-provoking nature of the artworks:
JY: Why did you choose to title your series of works as ‘Beauty Knows No Pain’?
GM: I wanted this series of drawings to talk about those horrible feelings of hurt, pain, sadness and emptiness for trying so hard to become beautiful, especially with the evolution and availability in the types of surgeries, face-liftings, botox injections and hair extensions these days. Over-makeup without the actual taking care of one’s soul, feelings and human quality is also something that I was interested to explore.
JY: Have you met anyone who personifies the subjects you have drawn?
GM: Yes, in my experience as an artist and a photographer for several years in Paris, I have worked with some of the most beautiful people. I get very appalled when these people actually complain to me of being fat when they only weigh about forty-five kilograms. They also complained that they are old when they are only at the mere age of twenty-five or younger. In my opinion, they may not be one of the most well-off people on earth but at least they have some of the most exciting lives and that, to me, is already amazing enough. So I really don’t get it. Why do they need to fight so hard to become beautiful, if at the end of the day, it will hurt them and make them feel miserable? I would rather they focus their energy in a pursuit to becoming a better person. These include activities such as meditation, self-cultivating through reading, and being more at peace with themselves. This is the reason why I believe beauty shouldn’t be something that comes from hurting the soul and the body.
JY: There is a plastic, glossy sheen to the female figures in your drawings from that series. What is the rationale behind this technique?
GM: I used this technique in order to showcase the plastic lives that my subjects lead; how they feel fake with empty feelings by basing their trusts on superficial solutions to solve their insecurities, by undergoing plastic surgery and other extreme measures that might even cost them their lives.
JY: You sound like you are really against surgeries.
GM: I’m actually not against plastic surgeries that are used to ameliorate or arrange parts of our body to make us feel better. I’m talking about how some people would rather choose to be addicted to those treatments rather than facing the problem heads-on and tackling it.
JY: How would you describe yourself as an artist?
GM: I would describe myself as more of an storyteller who uses different supporting mediums, such as drawing, painting, photography, design among others, for create my narrative. I actually think of myself as a multidisciplinary artist.
JY: Where do you normally look for your inspirations?
GM: I love the human being and their complexities. I find my inspirations everywhere since I travel non-stop around the world. As I do so, I love to collect stories and moments, and then translate them into visual metaphors through my illustrations or photographs.
Original Artwork titles (from top to bottom):
- ‘Just Bitch’
- ‘Just Plastic’
- ‘Just Me and Myself’
- ‘Just Ugly’
All by Gildo Medina
This article is also available in PEEK Magazine Vol. 1 by Jessica Ye
Check out Gildo Medina’s website for more of his works: http://www.gildomedina.net/