Jesse Draxler and Archan Nair talk about The Anatomy of Human

This interview is conducted as part of SuperRare Exhibition Issue No.2 The Anatomy of Human.

Sep 21, 2021 Artist Statements

3 years ago

This interview is conducted as part of SuperRare Exhibition Issue No.2 The Anatomy of Human.

Jesse Draxler and Archan Nair are two artists whose practices explore the anatomy of the human body and condition. Archan’s psychedelic, color-filled paintings and Jesse’s dark, contemplative collages both give insight into our own being and existence.

I spoke with each artist on their views on identity, free will, technology, and the human, and compiled our separate conversations into the interview below.

On their practice and finding CryptoArt

Archan Nair: I started creating digital art back in 2006, still very early days when most people did not even know about the medium and there were hardly any tools. It was new and exciting! I never really thought about being an artist, but my journey of being in a family business led to a lot of realizations about creation, passion, and finding inner joy. Making art truly aligned me to this exciting new journey of expressing myself and finding true joy through that. I was 24 when I began my digital art journey back then, and to be able to create and express my passion and share it with the planet has been the most incredible moment of this journey.

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Perception of time and all that is arising in the volume of time and space is all but fleeting. This derivative of consciousness is at the centre of our subjective experience. The transient nature of reality seems to be derived from ones experience where consciousness is fundamental. Through conscious observation with the Eyes of the Wise, and breaking down Universal relationships, a clear recognition happens which seems to be the appearance of separation…where the subject and object seem to be separated, but in essence are in complete unity.

Jesse Draxler: I don’t know how far back to start, but I’ve always been creative, since childhood. I did go to art college, but that wasn’t any sort of enhancing experience. I believe I would be where I am with or without it. My creative propulsion was never exterior, it’s always been inherent and immutable, albeit mercurial. 

AN: I never even imagined that digital art would fuse with the blockchain 15 years later through NFTs… wow! but it’s so incredibly perfect, the way we can authenticate digital art is absolutely outstanding. 
I started my NFT journey back in February when I started receiving messages about having my work minted as NFTs. I started researching from thereon and boom, so excited to be here now along with this incredible community and amazing minds!

JD: I first heard about NFTs in January of this year and started researching, but when I first really got into NFTs was when Sky Golpe contacted me around March/April. He approached me through a mutual friend saying he has been aware of my work for a long time and wanted to collaborate. He brought up NFTs and really wanted to collaborate on an NFT, so through him I learned a ton. An opportunity for a group show came up, Unrealism, a show on SuperRare in July, which he was curating and invited me to be a part of. That was my first real NFT experience. I owe Sky Golpe a lot for introducing me to the NFT scene, because even if I got introduced to NFTs on my own I don’t think it would have been the same as if he helped.

Edition 1 of 1

A collaboration between Skygolpe, Jesse Draxler, and Blessend. Annihilation is the process that occurs when a subatomic particle collides with its respective antiparticle. When matter and antimatter come into contact, they annihilate – disappearing in a flash of energy. We can only understand what is allowed by our senses. We perceive the void but we ignore its vivid manifestation. This piece is part of the SuperRare Exhibition “Un-realism: bridging the digital and physical realms”.

AN: I usually try to take it day by day. I feel with practice and discipline and contemplation, [my art] will naturally evolve and get through to spaces it needs to. I love exploring, and that would always be my intention while creating. The whole purpose of art is to shatter all forms of identity and go beyond them.

JD: With my career I’ll go where the current is taking me, and at one point it went into the direction of fine art. At some point, the opportunity to show in a gallery came up and I took it, then more galleries asked, and I kept going down that path, because of the interest from that world. All the while I never stopped doing illustration and commission work, album covers, brand collaborations with fashion houses, whatever would come up. Which was always a weird thing because in the fine art world, it seemed to be frowned upon to be doing commercial work at the same time. [To them] that meant you weren’t at the same level or something. I never understood it. I never understood the [traditional] gallery scene. I still don’t.

For a long time, I didn’t attribute [working in black and white] to being colorblind, I just said I liked it more, and I do, but I had to come to this understanding that it’s because I have this bias. I did an editorial for a magazine and their feedback was: This is great, but why is the skin all pink? And I didn’t know, I had no idea. I realized that this was going to be problematic forever, so I just decided to strip everything of color. It came down to efficiency, just being like fuck it, I don’t need it, but at the same time everything else became stronger. My composition became stronger, the overall impact, the depth of mood, everything. I realized it was because I wasn’t attributing energy towards caring about the color and I was now free to pay more attention to all the things I’m really good at. For client work I don’t really entertain the idea of color, but for my own personal work, and especially now working on NFTs I can do whatever I want, so color is coming back into play in some fun and interesting ways. Before it was color because everything in the world is in color, it just is. But now I see it as a choice, another piece of language to broaden my vocabulary.

I Will Find Out What’s On Your Mind
Edition 1 of 1

1642px x 2160px 20 second loopable video – Analog and digital collage.

On how technology has changed our identity and behavior

AN: {Seeing how technology has changed our behavior} has been truly fascinating. I am an 80’s kid , so seeing computers going mainstream to the internet popping in front of my eyes and then smartphones and now blockchain, blows my mind and reaffirms the infinite intelligence we are a part of. For me the most fascinating aspect of technology is that it has taken human consciousness and connected us in ways which we could never comprehend. We are not a global human society.

JD: When I was young, as soon as we got the internet it changed my life. Being an outcast in a very small farm town, getting AOL, getting in chat rooms and finding people to talk to, it was amazing. I was immediately very turned on to the internet, exploring all the ways to further discover my passions and find others with similar tastes. I quickly realized that my reach had gotten much broader, I joined message boards and built website about the things I loved. Then when I was beginning my freelance career there wasn’t much of an art scene where I was irl, so again I was using the internet, realizing that the internet is going to be the place where people see my work more than anywhere else and making a conscious decision to get my work looking the best on screen {over irl}. Back then from Tumblr and other social network at the time, I had joined a collage group, it was this group of international collage artists back when collage had a resurgence like a decade or so ago, they called themselves “we are fucking awesome / wafa”, we had sketchbooks that were travelling the world, you would just add something then send it to somebody else in the collective, wherever they were. 

AN: I feel technology has expanded our identity and personality but also shown that they are transient concepts. For example, when someone is anonymous, we can still connect with them on an energetic level without knowing their race, creed, caste, gender, or even name. 

JD: Is Human an identity? Is identity as basic as species? I don’t know. I don’t know where nature stops and identity begins. To me, Human Being is {the} default, so that wouldn’t be an identifier really. It could be if aliens showed up, so I guess it is. What does a base human look like, unimpressed upon? There’s chosen identity and then non chosen identity. So non chosen identity would be like where you’re from, your ethnicity, your gender, but even some of these concepts are being dismantled. 

On the Abstraction of Human

AN: For me life energy is an abstract energy. It is just our limited perception which tries to make sense of all. But in reality it is wild and unfathomable. If we look at everything around us, it is the same.. including humans, very complex and unpredictable, and so for me the abstract representation is a perfect way of describing what cannot be described through the creative spirit.

Edition 1 of 1
This piece was an expression of a beautiful realization I had.. the universe being a beautiful play, and not just a singular dimensional play but an unfolding in various levels which it plays with itself. Every character, situation and its environment is so intricately interwoven to create stories. It seems even more clear now that consciousness itself loves to manifest as a multifractal complex layered of tapestry where the characters and its environment are lost in its own performance trying to find itself through this mystic play.

My work is a reflection of my contemplations of the divine. While it cannot be expressed through mere words, I love weaving tapestries to radiate the essence of the consciousness we all are and our unity with one another. I honestly have no expectations from any response from the viewer, but definitely amazed by the response while I am creating. if it sparks an emotion from the viewer, truly grateful!

JD: The majority of my work is related towards some sort of fluid internal state that’s not quite able to be spoke or put language around exactly. That is definitely a concept that runs through the breadth of my work. The distortion, the identity-less rorscharsch. Persistent confusion and apprehension of consensus reality. Technology comes into the play through concept and creation in the same ways it has become seamlessly intermingled into our lives. The balance (or lack of) balance in connection/disconnection, input/output. I just want the work to speak for itself, I don’t want to bring the real world into it or put too much language around the work, any politics, any sort of opinion on it. 

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3600px x 4500px 300dpi jpg – Analog and digital collage.

AN: I feel everything in this world works in a dualistic way. There is nothing right or wrong in my opinion, it is just what it is, there is just intention.. and energy .. and it is all based on perception and one’s journey. But I truly feel one should be aware and mindful of their actions, emotions and whatever arises within and around them. and Learning and growing is a key part. I feel everything is energy evolving , and social media and technology are aspects of that. I feel most of everything is good, so let’s focus on that and create a positive impact in and around the world, that’s why we are here. obligation, doubt, validation are not necessarily social media driven traits, but humans being unconscious of their own aspects and understanding. and if one works on that, no matter which situation it can be taken care of pretty well in my humble opinion.

JD: {Technology has changed the human experience} in every single possible conceivable way. I had become very disillusioned in the last couple years with social media. When I started to realize that, if it wasn’t for instagram, I wouldn’t have nearly as many connections to clients and customers, it made me feel like shit. What if instagram just bans me one day, where does my network go? What if any number of things happen. I didn’t even enjoy the platform any longer. I dont want to be dependant on fucking Facebook. The other part of it was that I was constantly pushing myself to make the best work I could, and then for the most part the outcome of that was to put it on Instagram. I hated it. I thought about it all the time it started crushing me. I’ve been withdrawing from Instagram over the past year slowly, just inherently, even before I knew what NFTs were, and before I knew that there were greener pastures ahead, I was just inherently doing that to get away from the mental health detriment. 

On Free Will

AN: {Choosing who we are and what we do} is such an individual decision and calling than a collective one even if it’s influenced by various factors around us. It completely depends on how each individual would like to maneuver their journey even if there is no free will on a subtler level. But this is such a personal choice and depends on each human being in their personal journey, and how aware they are, and how they feel like designing their life. The outcomes are never in our control but if one truly understands that identity is nothing but limiting and life is way more expansive and beyond than the chains we tie around us which usually dictate everything.

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This piece was created right after I moved to Berlin. Moving to a new phase in my personal journey, new energies and new stories.. I find it fascinating how the environment around us and within weave beautiful tapestries and manifest into this beautiful synthesis of life.. bursting.. moving and creating symphonies. Appearing and disappearing into nothingness.

JD: I don’t think many of us are thinking about if we’re able to choose who we are and what we do consciously. How conscious are we on a day to day basis {of that} when we make decisions. {But} that’s what makes us, the decisions that we make. You put all those decisions together and it creates you in a way. Are those decisions influenced by everything you just saw while scrolling social media for 5 hours a day? I don’t know. You could go out to the woods and not talk to anybody, and not have any connection to anything, and see what you become, you could be non influenced. As soon as a child is brought into the world, we’re impressing upon it nonstop, and in the end at an adult age are you able to say if you made yourself or if other people made you, did you create your identity or did other people make it for you. How aware are you of the way you’ve been impressed upon? Then it comes into the whole idea of trauma, so much of one’s identity is stripped away or stunted through trauma. In those cases, if you’ve gone through trauma and you’re dealing with that, you start to think: am I creating myself or am I a creation?
I want to say we all have a choice to just choose and be what we want, but do we? You’re never going to figure it out, but I think being aware can be a start. Being the observer of yourself is as far as you’re going to get in figuring that out, stepping outside of your programmed identity in objective self reflection.

On what it means to be human

AN: A human is a conceptual creation in this infinite conscious energy field which has manifested itself as one species among the various infinite forms. This self aware energy plays and dances through having interactions with itself, and one of the forms where it becomes self aware of itself and its source energy is called a human. It is only an apparent concept which derives another apparent conceptual story we call identity. The entire creation itself is art or creative spirit and it uses the human manifestation to expand and express its creative love and also its own understanding of itself through self reflection called art. Being human simply is to recognize this universal self we are.. our true identity and this in all there is.. to realise the unity and love of all there is.

JD: Human Being is flesh and consciousness, because you need to distinguish from other animals. Because we’re animals, so how are we different from other animals? Consciousness. So what makes a human? Consciousness, but identity is a whole other can of worms. There’s a zen quote “Identify with nothing”, it undercuts a lot of drama in life. If you don’t identify with anything, {if} you identify as just Me, {then} you don’t get upset as much. So I love the idea of not identifying with anything, and the idea that you can just choose not to. So many people are living in a different world because of the way they view their identity. We are all each our own little universe made up by our own identity. We each project our own world and everyone is projecting something different – everyone’s got this version of the world in front of them that they made up and it’s somewhat different from everybody else’s. 

AN: I feel the concept of identity and spirit is just a concept created through the limited human interpretation and compulsion of understanding the world. It’s like an inherent nature of duality where one energy is flowing, moving and interacting with itself and in order to do so has to work through apparent concepts and ideas. Identities lead to separation which is an illusion, when everything is already in unity and oneness with each other. This unity itself is spirit or universal mind/consciousness beyond all forms and concepts, in which all arises. Even though we might feel constant separation but part of that is living without awareness and through art, meditation, psychedelia we can transcend our localised consciousness to experience the vastness of the cosmos.

JD: I don’t think that darkness is inherently negative. The void can be a very scary concept to some people, but when I think of it, I think that that’s where everything comes from. That’s where every thought is birthed from. The idea of darkness to me can often times be very optimistic, endless possibility, rich with inspiration. To me that’s the most positive thing you could say about something. The darkness is where all the stuff is. I can’t wait everyday to wade into the darkness and see what I come back with. There’s tons of beauty in the darkness. There’s just as much as there is in the light, if you want to be dualistic. In my opinion there’s even more.



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