Armands Freibergs’ experimental works recreate surrealist paintings as 3D environments

The KABK grad combines his backgrounds in graffiti, classical fine arts and graphic design in his unique portfolio.

10 March 2020


Digital artist Armands Freibergs thinks and sees in images, patterns and textures. At times, he’s even caught himself saying “this looks like 3D,” to a friend when pointing out a real object, “meaning ‘wow, look it is so shiny like it has a nice material on it, like in 3D’,” he jokes. With this kind of immersion in a medium naturally comes absorbing work and Armands’ portfolio is full of pieces which take references from the real world and turns them into slick, confusing and intriguing artworks.

Like many, Armands path to working in the creative world began with graffiti. “I was obsessed with it,” he recalls of a fixation which led him to study at a local arts high school. There he learned the traditions of fine art, creating classical paintings of still lifes and nudes. “I was never really good at it, but I managed to get through it. During these years I also really started to develop my taste in graphic design, games, fine art,” he tells us.

This led him to the graphic design programme at the Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague where the seed was planted for his unique practice. Armands' classical training mixed with design and he discovered the digital world, exploring new techniques and refining his workflow. “I really enjoyed the mix of analogue and digital,” he says. “It is still very important to me in my work, but it has developed to not be so literal anymore, it can also just be suggestive.”

When creating a new work, Armands draws on a plethora of inspiration from different visual cultures including gaming, fashion, nature, fine art, cartoons and subcultures. These then combine in expressive and multi-layered creations. “My working method lately,” the artist explains, “is just collecting as many references, textures, shape references as I can about the subject and place them around my workspace and just look at them and really observe, study and re-engineer the material or subject I’m working with.”

GalleryArmands Freibergs: The Threatened Swan Interpretation


Original angle


View 2


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Recently, this has culminated in an ongoing series interpreting famous paintings in an exploration of the relationship between 2D and 3D. Armands will start by picking a painting – a Max Ernst or a Dali, for example – and will then recreate it as a 3D environment. “It’s like a month-by-month obsession with a different painting until it is done because I just imagine how good it would work as a 3D environment,” he adds. It is also a chance for the artist to look at and appreciate a painting fully, however, and the best part of the project for him is “being able to pan the digital camera around to see a well-known painting from a never seen before angle and give it a completely new life. I like to think that surrealists of that time would really be great 3D artists and take full advantage of this medium.”

The results are not perfect copies but instead do what a lot of Armands work does – introduce something which we know is familiar but in a way that means you can’t quite place it. He also introduces references to contemporary culture and the modern world into the works, straying from the original content and compositions. “For example, L’Ange Du Foyer one is between two subtle plastic bags instead of the original draperies, it is just a little twist and a sign of our time where the Floyer is living now, I guess,” he says.

Another recent work sees Armands experimenting with a new toy: an Oculus Rift S. Using the Oculus Medium to freely sculpt, he’s been returning to his graffiti days and the things he loved so much about the medium back then: “It is great to be able to express yourself freely and draw with your whole body as you do in graffiti, but still produce 3D shapes, which has always been a bit of a restricted process of clicking and sitting. There is a connection of expression that gets lost when using a mouse or a tablet, especially when trying to imitate something so expressive as graffiti.”

Underlying all of Armands’ work, no matter which visual culture it is referencing, is an attitude of experimentation, particularly when it comes to combining different media. For him, he finishes by telling us, “it is important that the images I produce have a certain atmosphere to them. Whether fictional or realistic, I want it to give a feeling of space and environment that the viewer feels immersed in even if it’s just a still image.”

GalleryArmands Freibergs


Dali Interpretation


VR Van Gogh


Suggestive 3D Graffiti


Ernst Haeckel Interpretation


Yves Tanguy Interpretation

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Armands Freibergs: Max Ernst Interpretation

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.

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