Spectacular, alarming, colourful, surreal or even surprising, the graphic universe of Spanish artist Al Mefer impresses us as much as it worries us. And it is the desired effect: the artist uses his camera – and sometimes his computer – to give life to post-apocalyptic natural landscapes where the beauty of the world seems in danger, with a certain sci-fi visual poetry. This prolific and emerging talent has seen his work shared a lot in 2018. We asked him a few questions to find out more about his artistic vision.
Hi! Tell us more about you. Which path led you to be a photographer?
My first approach to artistic expression was drawing. I started drawing as a child, mostly portraits, and I’ve been doing it for my whole life. I always found it meditative and liberating, spending hours on one artwork without noticing the passage of time, hunger or thirst! When I was a teenager and was first exposed to the internet, I used to spend a lot of time on art communities, and I discovered art photography to be something valuable to self-expression. I especially enjoyed how it merged with digital techniques.
Some years later, I was given a compact camera by my brother and started experimenting with portraiture. However, as I went to college, I wouldn’t take pictures anymore, and I’d draw even more rarely. With the need to have this meditative process back in my life, I bought myself a camera in July 2017 and started this journey. I didn’t plan to make anything out of it. I didn’t think I’d do landscape photography nor have this much exposure, I just wanted to enjoy creating again.
How would you describe your universe in your own words?
When I first started taking pictures, my primary goal was to fulfill my aesthetic expression without pretentiousness. I didn’t have in mind what kind of style I wanted to dive into, but I knew I wanted to make of it its own universe, with some linearity in its aesthetic value. My pictures turned to be lonely and mysterious, with atmospheres full of strangeness, tinted in saturated and unnatural colours. I like to think their calm environments invite the viewer to stay meditative, considering of other possible worlds where perception occurs differently.
Indeed, your work is always a bit futuristic and enigmatic. Can you tell us more about the topics you explore in your different series?
As I was mentioning, this strange feeling emerging from the photos is my favourite tool to challenge the viewer. Whether it’s a depressive or anxious perception, the disconnection felt by people in big cities or the possibilities of the future, with natural and political challenges ahead, my main goal in to use these tiny worlds in forms of series to present some hypothetical scenario in which a discussion about the dissimilar and the future can take place.
As a visual artist, you mostly work with your camera, but you’ve also created images with CGI [Computer-generated imagery]. What’s your point of view on that?
CGI has opened a world of possibilities for me. As I said, I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a child, but I’ve also been interested in poetry and art installations. My focus is not the technique as much as being able to deliver some vision. With CGI, one can represent almost anything with the help of compelling software. I’m currently learning to code, and partially I do it to merge it with the arts and make interdisciplinary work that gets ideas out of my head.
What would be your dream project?
I’m currently working towards a short film, and I’m also planning to do some portraiture series with a very provocative idea I have in mind. I’m happy to say for now I’m doing what I dream to do!
Follow Al Mefer on Instagram.