Artist of the week: Rory Midhani

Rory Midhani’s crazy, beautiful cardboard puppets of queer Berliners will have you fall in love with them in no time. In his work, Rory is creating character-focused pieces with a strong sense of place and story, inspired by real-life situations. Appart from his trademark cardboard creations, he is also working on high energy murals and narrative drawings. He has shown work at a variety of exhibitions and festivals across Europe and North America. 

You have very specific aesthetics. How would you say it developed?

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been hit by a bazillion influences along the way. I’ve gobbled up comic books, and films, and paintings, and drag shows, and they’ve all impacted how I go about making an image. These days, I’m interested in making painted murals, cardboard puppets and journal sketches. What brings them together is that I’m very driven by fun, and I want to make art that’s fun for me to make and for people to look at.

Have you always been fascinated with cardboard puppets? How did they find their way into your work?

My practice is very playful and the cardboard stuff, in particular, comes from the joy of playing with these small scenes and characters. I have always really liked making tiny props! My favorite toy when I was little was a ‘Cool Shaving Ken’ who came with this mini bottle of Old Spice, and Ilooooved him, and I spent a lot of time making him miniature props from paper, cardboard and plasticine. Like lots of little food things and household objects. Maybe it comes partly from that.

There is usually some storyline in your work. Are those stories or phrases from your life or things you hear from friends, or make up on your own?

Most of the drawing work I do is things that really happened, then the cardboard scenes are imagined. I keep a regular drawing diary where I draw the things I do, and those real life stories for sure influence the characters and situations I depict in the imaginative work I create. All the characters I make are people you might meet on a night out on the Queer scene.

Could you create the art you create anywhere else in the world?

No, not like this. The work I make is a lot of times influenced by my experience of the party scene here. There are particular types of people that interest me that are kind of sleazy but sweet- Berlin at night is full of those kinds of characters. I think people often make the mistake of thinking the “edginess” of this city is its appeal, but actually those kinds of drug-fuelled, sex-heavy, dance-party environments that you can access so easily here cant exist in the way they do without people being very kind with each other. I think it’s Berlin’s kindness that is actually what sets it apart from other cities that have comparable party culture.

How was your latest exhibition experience?

It was brilliant. It was a lot of work to put the show on, which I couldn’t have done without the help of the gallery (r_1992 artspace), and some willing friends who helped me put the whole thing together. The opening party was a blast and I got to meet a bunch of people I didn’t even know had been following my work!

What would you like to work on next?

I’d like to work on more film stuff. I made one film recently (Platform Patty, below) which was kind of an experiment, and I’d like to get more into that. All the cardboard characters I make are fully posable so it would be great to have them perform !!