During winter it’s hard to get your necessary dose of Vitamin D; the sun sets early and the streets turn dark quickly. It’s during these periods that illustrator and collage artist Carlín Díaz craves light the most. His newest series Sun, Sol, Soleil explores this nostalgia for brighter days.
“The series is about light,” he says. “It’s curious because I made it in a moment of the year that we can hardly see the the sun,” Carlín says.
Carlín was born in Venezuela and relocated to Paris just three years ago. Growing up, no one would have thought he’d become an artist – his parents were economists and he always thought he’d follow a similar path, had it not been for skate videos.
“Little by little I just started to get a lot of interest in skate culture and all that goes with that. I was watching videos and I was watching the graphic part of it. Skate culture in that moment was super connected with the art world,” he explains.
Carlín studied Graphic Design but after graduation he found it hard to adjust to his country’s visual culture. “I got super inspired by the colors and the nature, which is magnificent over there. The beach is only 30 minutes from the capital Caracas,” Carlín says. “But on the other hand we have clients with closed-off minds. It was very hard to earn money.”
Because of these frustrations, and the ongoing political and economic crisis in Venezuela, Carlín decided to move.
“My mother was super encouraging. She told me, whatever you want to do, do it well. Even if you want to sell orange juice all your life, make the best orange juice. She even built a gallery in our house; in a big room we have all my collages and limited series on the wall. Like a personal museum for her.”
Carlín is still getting used to the more muted color palettes of France compared to the gloss of his home country. But the relationship between the colors that surround him and the colors that he uses in his work is inverse. When he was in Venezuela he used lots of grey and beige, inspired by skate brands like Toy Machine.
“Now, I’m living in Paris, and because it's winter, everything is kind of grey. I wanted to use colors that catch the light as much as possible.”
So for this series, Carlín used shiny materials that have an almost plastic feel, creating reflections in red, green, blue and gold, and toning down their starkness with a pale pink.
These different types of paper helped him to bring a new layer to his work. “In some cases when I look back at my artworks I feel the naive side is too present,” he says. “Working with new materials helped me to highlight the depth of the composition and the surreal part of the works.” He animated the work too to show the effect the light has on this particular paper.
The series features a wide range of subjects, from an abstract sunflower and a couple spooning in a surrealist bedroom to a group of people pointing at the sun. Even though the themes seem to differ massively at first, each has a common thread running through them. “This series is about going away from reality and into your inner self, to search for the light,” Carlín explains.
For example, Inner Door shows a man who’s literally opening up his body to discover what’s going on inside. In Bedroom, Carlín explains, the couple is projecting its feelings on the walls besides them, no longer holding them in.
“At that moment I was listening to Pink Floyd's Childhood's End. The music was making a message in my brain, and I tried to find a way to represent that graphically. I drew this surreal bedroom, with happiness coming out from the bed, from them.”
So whether your winter is almost over or just starting to draw in, Carlín’s work will either get you through the shorter days, or capture the sunnier months to come.
Words by Suzanne Tromp