Ray Caesar is a digital surreal artist who lives and works in Toronto, Canada. His biography has a bit of surrealism too: “I was born in London, England on October 26 1958, the youngest of four and much to my parent’s surprise, I was born a dog. This unfortunate turn of events was soon accepted within my family and was never again mentioned in the presence of polite company“.
Using three dimensional modeling software, Ray Caesar creates characters that are cover with painted and manipulated photographic textures “that wraps around them like a map on a globe“. Each model is then set up with a invisible skeleton that allows Caesar to pose and position the figure in its three dimensional environment. Digital lights and cameras are added with shadows and reflections simulating that of a real world.
As one of the most recognised representatives of pop surrealism, we are passionate to ask some questions to Ray Caesar.
Ray, where do you get your inspiration?
I am almost 60 years old and a great deal of my inspiration is taken from my past and childhood. I grew up in a volatile and abusive environment and making images became a coping mechanism and now more than half a century later it is a thoughtful reflection on my own past that has an endless source of impetus for what I do.
Which is the reletioship and influence beetween your cultural backgorund (country, studies, etc.) and your artworks?
I grew up in England and eventually immigrated to Canada and met my wife when I was fifteen who is from Japan and have lived loosely within her culture for most of my life. I spent 17 years working in a difficult job in a children’s hospital and many years in the film industry. All of these things and my own fluidity of gender and psychological trauma from childhood not only add to my work but are the foundation of why I communicate in pictures …my work is an absolute reflection of how I view myself and my past memory and hope for the future. In some ways my work is no different from writing a diary or book of my life….. I just don’t know the ending yet so I will have to keep working on it until a good ending presents itself.
What are you much focused in?
My work is an attempt to define myself. We have no control on how others define us but we can make an attempt define our own existence and that leads into how we define others. I use images as a way to present a positive spiritual mind image of who I am and an expression of how I see my world.
Have you encountered any difficulties when you first started your art/freelance career?
Only from myself. I chose not to show my work for over 25 years as I didn’t understand my obsession with making images. For many years I thought this practice was unhealthy as I used each waking moment in some sort of endless obsessive daydream trying to make images of what I eventually understood was a paracosm I developed as a coping mechanism in childhood. After the death of several people in my family I quit a very lucrative job in the film industry and just started making pictures for myself again and it was during this time I also underwent many years of psychotherapy…..and that was the most difficult thing I have ever done. There have been other minor challenges in living this way but I have enjoyed and embraced those as I was finally doing what I loved for better or worse.
Over these years, what is the most important thing you have learnt from your profession?
To not think of it as a profession or as a career! I think of it as an extension or reflection of myself. This is what I do …even when I can’t do it! and have to do other things. I keep in mind that making art as a reflection of who I am is the essential fabric of my existences as it helps me understand this strange wold we live in. I can’t stress that it’s so important to follow what you love to do …what if this is the only life we get ? do you want to spend it doing what you hate or what you love? …even the effort to try and do what you love is better than giving in to doing what you hate…trust me on that!
Do you think that a creative job is just creativity or it’s discipline too?
Discipline is important in all aspects of life but so is having fun and doing what you enjoy. Discipline is quite simply a practice of small routines that you can develop and keep or change based on wether those routines help you or hinder you. When I am at my creative best I am playing ..I play like a child who is oblivious to anyone or anything else and creates without thought or fear or judgment. You can discipline yourself to abandon fear for an afternoon and spend a few hours playing by drawing or thinking or just daydreaming. Discipline isn’t always about doing more work or sweating over something to get it done. Discipline can also be about giving yourself time to create intuitively in an environment without judgement or fear and just letting yourself go.
Are you currently work on new projects?
I will have upcoming shows with Damien Roman Gallery in the Hamptons, and Kochxbos Gallery in Amsterdam and James Freeman in London and Dorothy Circus Gallery in Rome. In all of these endeavours I work very closely with my manager and friend Belinda Chun of Gallery House in Toronto.
“In some ways my work is no different
from writing a diary or book of my life…..
I just don’t know the ending yet
so I will have to keep working on it
until a good ending presents itself“
“Do you want to spend it doing what
you hate or what you love?
…even the effort to try and do what you love is better than giving in to doing what you hate…
trust me on that!”
“As my work is printed I am often asked about my original, but it exists only in the computer in a dimensional world of depth, width and height. I am fascinated by the concept that this 3 dimensional space exists much as another reality and even though I turn the computer off, I am haunted by the fact that this space is still there existing in a mathematical probability, and the space that we live in now might not be all that different“
Artist Website > www.raycaesar.com
Instagram > @raycaesar1111
Twitter > @raycaesar1
Facebook > www.facebook.com/raycaesar1111