Akira Liones

Tell us a little about yourself, your story and how the fuck did you get into art?

I didn’t really plan to be in the art world, it rather just naturally happened. I was born in Berlin and lived practically all my whole life in Brazil, where my mother is from. I worked in restaurants as a sushi chef and thought I would do that my life.

Art was just an escape from reality sometimes, almost like a copying mechanism to deal with life, like it is for most people. The more I started to actually share my works on social media and little exhibitions I got more and more people relating to it, until I got to the point that I was able to survive from it. As a learning artist I would say I am discovering myself from time to time, being in constant evolution. Literally growing at the same time I’m answering this interview, it’s all happening together.

You’re a multi-talented artist. Where do you get you references from? What are your influences?

For me everything is simply expression. It doesn’t matter if it’s a painting, a photograph or a video I put together… It all kind of walks hand-in-hand for me, I just simply do it without over-analysing it too much and go with the flow of creative process.

Since we are all constantly bombed with information 24/7, I find my inspirations mostly in music when I just put my headphones on and zoon out, especially Brazilian music from Bossa Nova to Funk de Favela. Or with a good conversation with my closest friends, my friends are definitely an influential inspiration.

As for references I would say Egon Schiele probably and Francoise Gilot in painting. For the state of mind reference in art, I would say also Baudelaire, Sartre, Freud… I think in my paintings it all reflects the moment that we live in, in times like these how can you be an artist and not position yourself in politics and reflect the times?

You have a very unique and distinguish style, how did you develop it? And how is to create over such different subjects?

I was doing my course at the New York Academy of Arts in 2015, when my professor said I should focus more on a minimalist aesthetic. That’s when I started to study the one-line style, and trying more and more having an information so elaborated and bring it to a canvas in the clearest way. I don’t completely agree with that anymore, and my style has been evolving a lot these past year to a more expressionist way.

How did you came up with the themes for your series and projects? What catches your attention?

No fucking idea. I might need a therapist.

Besides your paintings and artworks you also have your work with fashion. How did it started and how does it works to translate your art to clothes?

As I said before, I like to experiment every art form that I’m into that specific moment. My fashion project happened actually by accident, I just wanted to make some self-propaganda by painting on clothes and putting them, literally, walking on the streets. So I can have my works in exhibition all the time, in a humorous sarcastic way. It turns out people started to buy them more and more, very fast I was giving speeches about slow-fashion and am learning a lot from this Industry. I will release my 3rd collection this year still. The project is called YAYOWEAR and is very experimental.

We live now at the highest level of digitalization of our lives. How do you see the art world on this reality? How is to create actual physical and real art in a such a digital world? How do you deal with it?

I think especially with the Covid-19 situation of galleries and museums closing for several months, the Digital events where booming. Constant “live” events on Instagram and Facebook, festivals are changing their way to approach the situation, concerts, exhibitions… I think that might be the only good thing in this all. We can now participate of something that is going on in the other side of the world.

Although we, and me too, have to keep in mind that art isn’t happening on Instagram. Social media is just a good business tool.

Your work constantly refers to bodies and shapes. How do you see nudity and the use of bodies in the art world these days?

In art I always liked to explore about woman’s love and confidence to her body and self, outside the norms put by society (especially men), and our freedom to pleasure and sexuality without being called this or that. In a discussion with my sister the other day for example, we talked about how it’s often hard for a woman to enjoy oral sex on herself. It’s not because we don’t like it, but because it takes courage and time to break that mind block that was put in our mind since early age, that the vagina isn’t beautiful, that menstruation is disgusting, that you have to buy 10 products to have a certain smell. So letting someone go literally face-to-face with your whole life’s complexity, that’s a lot. But it’s marvellous when you free yourself from that stigma. And that is what I often paint, just freedom.

Paraphrasing Picasso, “All art is erotic.”

I’m loving to see more and more woman in art expressing what they want to. I must say I don’t really bother to give much attention to male artists who use the female form in that same way.

I rather look and give voice and attention to female works, especially in the art world.

Do you have any plans or projects coming up next?

Yes, I am working on a new series of paintings and aim to have my first exhibition in Europe soon, alongside a new YAYOWEAR collection and side-projects and collaborations with other Brazilian artists, which is my main goal, to bring Brazilian artist to Europe.

Is there anything you would do differently back there if you knew the things you know now?

Guess a lot would be different. But I am happy about the mistakes I did then so I can be (or try to be) more sure of myself today.

I still make sushi every now and then, though.

You believe in God?

Yes she is black and uses YAYOWEAR.