Welcome to the technicolour world of Reza Hasni, a Singapore-born and Berlin-based illustrator and motion designer. Bursting with bright colour (colour which sometimes moves in swirling movements) Reza’s vibrant practice brims with patterns harking back to sacred geometries. This, combined with a contemporary injection of internet pop culture, splurges out the illustrations that we see before us.
“My works are a contemporary reflection of our world and its unseen energies,” Reza tells us. He uses his art as another mode of thought, a way to express the stories stirred up in his imagination. In this way, his work can be seen as a visual representation of an alternate world. As the illustrator puts it, “a form of escapism.” Digitally collaging a myriad of references, Reza pastes together an illustrative picture of internet searches, fantasies, past destinations, cultures and experiences.
They accumulate in his head, bubbling away for however much time they need before manifesting themselves through Reza’s signature language. Speaking more of his process as to how these final images come about, the illustrator remarks: “My process involves deconstruction and reconstructing.” Part of the success regarding these two motions, for Reza, involves the fact that his imagined worlds are filled with infinite possibilities. “They’re filled with good energy and use the internet as a canvas,” he expands. “In my alternate world, we’re not limited by the constraints of the physical such as geography or gravity.”
Cryptic messages are often sublimated within his bright and positive works. With a hint of the spiritual about them too, Reza aims to push the viewer in their understanding of the work, prompting them to “dare to dream” by contemplating the contemporary mystical scapes. In a further testament to this, and how he hopes his audience will interact with his work he “encourages them that it is okay to be pushed out of comfort zones or patterns and they can explore the unknown.” The illustrator is a strong believer in how “dreamers can change the world,” the curious mind propelling us forward by seeing alternate world as a way to relearn individual realities.”
In his own way, since lockdown, connecting with nature has allowed Reza to reflect on his own life. Nature has quickly become his biggest source of inspiration in turn, rounding on environments he can physically engage and finding solace (like many of us) in the outdoors during the pandemic. Speaking on the pandemic, for Reza, it has forced him to use his medium even more creatively. He’s honed a talent in expressing lines of thought through illustration, learning from industry greats from the likes of Alejando Jodorowsky films to Suzan Pitt, Jean Giraud and Jack Kirby.
With this in mind, Reza talks us through two recent projects. The first, “the most fun project” he has done all year, involves a music video for musician Sam Barker. Contacting him through Instagram to create a video dedicated to his family, Reza was allowed full creative control of the film. Using personal family footage, Reza layers his unique style of illustrative animation over the familial home videos upending in a deconstructed then reconstructed take of Reza’s signature aesthetic; a cosmic movie adventure which was a “dream come true for me”.
In other work, he’s collaborated with interaction designer Screensavers and curator Mama Magnet to build an audio visual experience comprising of six different realms where users can travel to using a desktop. Marking his second solo exhibition and titled Centre for Altered Togetherness, the project was built during the first lockdown, a virtual collaboration building a new experience for walking through art and participating in it. A challenge to execute given the remote working, Reza remarks how the overall experience was empowering as it marks an online world for anyone to escape to and a place to deal with the lack of physical contact.
Uniting differing personal encounters, the online exhibition explores how individuals face a social experience together and how individual contexts can inform a wider joint experience. Highly relevant given the ensuing nature of the pandemic, this physical-digital hybrid observes “the dualities that lie between the virtual and tangible.” Wrapping up a busy year, 2021 is hoping to be just as busy for Reza. From mid-January, he’s exhibiting as part of Singapore Art Week, showing a physical audio-visual experience titled Inner Like The OutAR. Combining augmented reality, set installation and sound design to comment on how we currently consume nature, the project marks Reza’s bold adventures into working with new mediums and modes of communication, something he hopes to continue in the future, and hopefully, in person.
Reza Hasni: Inner Outar Forest (Copyright © Reza Hasni, 2020)
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.