Justin Southey is a talented Abstract Artist, Illustrator and Designer and his practice explores notions of landscapes and fantastical worlds that serve as metaphors for more unquantifiable emotional and spiritual spaces.

Maker Series - Chapter 36

An Exploration of the Unseen

Justin Southey, Abstract Artist, Illustrator & Designer, South Africa

Justin Southey is a talented Abstract Artist, Illustrator and Designer and his practice explores notions of landscapes and fantastical worlds that serve as metaphors for more unquantifiable emotional and spiritual spaces.

Acting like ephemeral mirages, the artist's ambition is to explore and capture the intertwining and transcendent quality of the unseen. Capturing momentary feelings in a visual form, these investigations are both deeply personal and also often made in response to his immediate environment. With playful bold swathes of colour, texture and exuberant mark making, there is a push and pull the viewer experiences, directing the eye and stimulating the senses.

Fabrik: Hi Justin! Introduce yourself, we’d love to hear more about you?

Justin Southey: Hey there, I'm Justin Southey, I'm an abstract artist, Illustrator, designer, husband and father to twin 10 month old boys. I currently live in Cape Town, South Africa. As an artist, my practice explores notions of landscapes which serve as a sort of metaphor for unquantifiable emotional or spiritual spaces. I am represented by EverardRead/Circa Gallery group in South Africa and MContemorary in Sydney but I'm always open to more connections.

Fabrik: What was been the inspiration for your 2020 portfolio? And could you tell us more about the creative process?

Justin Southey: I started out 2020 with the random thought that I should take a sabbatical as a creative, and just not be too stressed about making new works, I had no idea how this would be possible practically. Our Twin Boys were born in February which was such a blessing, but way more time consuming than I would ever have thought, and then lockdown happened in March and there was not much that could be done, but be a dad, become a baby burping professional, change and wash those nappies. In the midst of the chaos between bath time and another burp session, I'd sneak out and do a spot of painting.

My 2020 portfolio contains a few different shows, and commissions, so there are various inspirations in there. The day before lockdown we went up to my dads sheep farm in the Karoo, a really rural part of South Africa, and ended up being there for 6 months. It's a vast semi arid part of the country with a raw hidden beauty for those who care to listen and absorb, which seeps into you amidst the silence. There will invariably be influences which will come out in my work for the next while.

Fabrik:  Could you give us an insight into the meaning behind your piece entitled ‘Verve’ of which you currently have exhibited at Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg?

Justin Southey: Although I leave meaning up to the viewer to interpret, I always want people to feel something and have an emotional experience or connection with my works. In this particular case I wanted the feeling of freedom and boldness, standing in stark contrast to the fear and depression that so many are experiencing at present. The piece was created for a show of smaller works (20cmx20cm), which was pretty challenging to do in a weird way as I am far more comfortable in the 2m x 2m size range. Most of my previous attempts at smaller works have been exiled to a dusty corner of my studio for a year or two as try to find a way to resolve them. I somehow just made them way too busy and try to include far too much information. All that said, I was really pleased with the way that these came out.

Fabrik: We have noticed the continuity of colors in specific shades of blue, pink and red. Is there a reason behind this chosen palette?

Justin Southey: Haha, funny that you should mention it. Aside from being a sucker for blue and pink in general, they were some of a few acrylic inks that I picked up at an art store just before lockdown was announced and we left for the farm. They dry pretty fast, so were my go-to base medium for my paper works, considering my time constraints. It's quite funny how such a flippant choice has ended up influencing so many of my works.

Fabrik: Are you able to give us insight on any exciting new artwork that you may have in the pipeline, both commissioned or personal projects?

Justin Southey: I am currently exhibiting in a few group shows with some 2019/2020 works, and have a few potential commissions up in the air. I have been working on a bunch of new works, two of which are inspired by our time in the Karoo but don't have any set plans for them yet. I'll give you a sneak peak of their current progress as they are not quite done yet, although it feels a bit like answering the doorbell whilst wearing only a towel.

Fabrik: Final question. What do you like most about Fabrik? What's your favourite feature?

Justin Southey: I love that it is simple and easy to use, and looks professional.

Check out Justin's portfolio here

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We're always keen to see what you've created. Follow our social feeds and tag your new work with #onfabrik when you're ready to show it to the world. Apologies; we can't add spec work, ads or commercial content to our Maker or Conditioner series.