Interview: Dewan Craven | ITSLIQUID

Interview: Dewan Craven

Interviews | December 2, 2022 |

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Image courtesy of Dewan Craven

Interview: Dewan Craven
Luca Curci talks with Dewan Craven during BODYSPACES, first appointment of CANVAS INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.

Dewan Craven’s diverse religious background greatly influences his work. He is fascinated with mystic, metaphysical, and esoteric subjects, which have opened up new avenues of expression for him in both his personal and professional life. Growing up in Johannesburg in the later 1990s, he was surrounded by people who sought to express themselves authentically. Antoinette Kruger, a close family friend, became his early mentor and taught him the fundamentals of painting and drawing. Dewan is a multi-talented individual who has trained and worked as a chef and in interior design. His current work seeks to delve into mystical elements, religious fervor, and his own experiences as an artist. He recently completed an 8-month residency in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he created the artworks on display in collaboration with Johan Nissen at Canvas Bodyspaces 2023.

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Image courtesy of Dewan Craven

Luca Curci – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
Dewan Craven –
I do not believe that I have a “current practice” as it is constantly evolving and changing. I am heavily influenced by my environment and the energy of the people and spaces around me. Physical objects like crystals and tools that I use in my immediate space absorb, attract, and manage energy flow. As a result, I prefer to keep to myself and am far more selective these days about who and what I allow into my spiritual fields. I am drawn to working with various shamanic plant spirits and medicines, and when I am in this space, my practice involves channeled processes for self-initiation and growth, as well as a means of expression.

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Image courtesy of Dewan Craven

LC – What are your thoughts while you paint? Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
DC –
My practices are constantly evolving along with me, and my thought processes and projections vary greatly as I learn from and work with different medicines and mediums. My creative process is a means of release and meditation for me. It provides an opportunity for healing and expression and is a journey that I take. My life is largely driven by creativity through practices such as interior design, fashion, and art, which are always evolving. 

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Image courtesy of Dewan Craven

LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
DC –
Yes, my style has changed in various ways. At art school, my work had a very erotic subject matter and was approached with more control. Over time, I became more aware of and embraced my androgynous asexual nature, using art as a means of self-healing and insight. I have noticed a stronger inclination to let the mediums guide the process, resulting in a more abstract and androgynous expression of self.

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Image courtesy of Dewan Craven

LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or instinctive process?
DC –
My subject matter is mostly driven by instinct and influenced by different experiences and perceptions, both positive and negative. It is often motivated by the desire to summarize and close certain chapters.   

LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the exhibition or as a part of preexisting works?
DC –
The artworks displayed in Canvas BodySpaces were created about a year before the exhibition in collaboration with Danish artist Johan Nissen. Sadly, Johan passed away in a car accident in Swaziland in 2022.

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Image courtesy of Dewan Craven

LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
DC –
The artworks presented in Canvas BodySpaces were produced during an 8 month residency in the inner city of Johannesburg. The heavy energy manifested in the artworks speaks of betrayal as crime is rampant in the city, and it is almost guaranteed for one to fall victim to petty crimes in these inner-city communities. This is especially true of other artists as people are in survival mode and many are also illegally in the country. Your phone and general possessions tend to become fair game in such an opportunistic environment, especially if your skin is white. There is a strong undertone of ancestral healing in the justifications thereof. These pieces are also UV-activated and have some inspiration from Jean-Michel Basquiat and Irma Stern. 

LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
DC –
Regarding cooperation with ITSLIQUID, it’s too early to give a full answer but thus far, the experience has been positive.

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Image courtesy of Dewan Craven
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Image courtesy of Dewan Craven
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Image courtesy of Dewan Craven
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Image courtesy of Dewan Craven

Image courtesy of Dewan Craven

Image courtesy of Dewan Craven

Image courtesy of Dewan Craven

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