Rankin, artist Johny Dar and model and actress, Tuuli Shipster, have teamed up to produce the stunning calendar, Tuuli by DAR. Inspired by the artist’s art series, DAR the BOOK, Dar hand-painted his designs directly onto Tuuli’s body, transforming her into twelve different forms that were captured by Rankin. Dar cast his beautiful designs across Tuuli’s bare skin, tailoring every brush stroke to her body, and to her emotional response to each colour and pattern. Aesthetica speaks to the artist about his approach to this unique project and his plans for the future.
A: You could be referred to as an artist, designer and stylist – do you feel a particular affinity with one role?
JD: An artist. I feel more at home with being an artist than all the others. Just because I am able to be an artist without needing much to express my art – it’s possible for me to realise it at any time, at any stage, with any medium. I see life as artistic possibilities.
A: Can you explain the ideas behind your project with Rankin, Tuuli by Dar?
JD: The idea was to show the transformational aspect of women. It was about diving beyond the skin, going deeper and revealing the various layers and emotions and aspects of the feminine, all coming through one woman, one model. So that was the idea – to invite women to explore the various aspects of their personalities and emotions and feelings, and at the same time for the masculine to be able to have a visual, to have a glimpse of those hidden emotion and desires. I usually find that a lot of the struggle is in the connection between the masculine and the feminine. For the female her emotion is very real and she can feel it and express it, but for the masculine it is hard to get in touch with that feeling, with that emotion. So I wanted to visualise it, I wanted the images to be an insight or invitation for men to realise that there is more to take off than just the clothes to get to that naked body. And once they get to that naked body, there are even more layers for them to take off in order to really explore the various aspects that make up a woman. So for me it was a challenge to express what I did on canvas with DAR the BOOK on flesh and skin, and make it more of an accessible reality than an imaginary state of being.
A: For this project you painted straight onto the model, Tuuli, did you plan the artwork beforehand or just improvise?
JD: We planned the colour and the direction of the shoot. But my focus was really to bring out Tuuli’s feelings and unveil her hidden layers. And that doesn’t really come through me already planning her layers or planning her emotion of the day. So naturally I had to just step into that moment and engage Tuuli where she was at on that particular day. I wanted us to paint it together, so my brush was moving to the movement of her emotions, and allowing them to appear on the surface. That’s the reason it wasn’t possible to have it already planned, because that’s emotions – they are constantly changing.
A: Are there any other artists or photographers you would like to collaborate with?
JD: I really appreciate Mario Testino’s work, his timeless elegance, and Lady Gaga’s spirit of transformation and what she stands for. I would love to do something with the two of them.
A: What do you have planned for the future?
JD: I have a vision of a new renaissance for this century and I have dedicated my time and energy to realising this through different mediums. So the plan for the future is to develop my artistic style and expression in as many forms of life as possible, from art to fashion to media, even to architecture and installation. I’m a dreamer that wants to share his dream with the rest of the world in real time and real life. So coming from the dream to bringing the dream to the audience usually takes a lot of time – there are different stages. The artist dreams it, expresses it, and then time passes and society progresses in its perspective. And later an architect comes along and turns that painting into a building, or a potter turns it into a vase. For me, I don’t want to wait. I don’t want that gap. I want to continue what I am doing, expand to different expressions within it, and start working on my movie trilogy that I have been dreaming of for as long as I can remember.
Tuuli by DAR is published by Rankin Photography and distributed by Turnaround Publisher Services. It is currently being exhibited at ANNROY, Rankin’s London Gallery.