Dervin Batarlo is a UK-based collage artist who is creating by hands a new vision of gay pornography. The artist is also sharing his own personal view on how the male body is nowadays idealised and portrayed in magazines and social media.
KALTBLUT: Tell us about your creative background – when did you first start with your collages/what really pushed you to do so? Dervin: I was trained in fashion design. Creating shapes and cutting paper stemmed from that training but my obsession with collage started back in 2011, after seeing John Stezaker’s exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery (London). Stezaker’s aesthetic is completely different to mine but it encouraged me to play with images and paper to create my own collage. I started creating collages with women’s fashion in mind but my focus slowly diverted towards my fascination with the male form.
KALTBLUT: Do you work with original pictures and images that you find on the internet? Dervin: I mainly work with original images that are submitted to me via various collaborations with photographers and models. I still use pages from magazines, from time to time. I actually collaborated with Boner World Magazine back in 2018 and they sent me tons of magazines to work with, which was exciting. I still have loads left to use.
KALTBLUT: Could you take us through your creative process? Dervin: To get me inspired, I go through the submitted images and select which ones I would like to print/include in the collage, which can be quite meditative. Laying the printed images on my desk and seeing which images shout at me helps me to prepare. I find that working with paper can be tricky at times, and so, I have to plan in my head what I would like to see in the finished piece.
KALTBLUT: How much time do you spend on one piece? Dervin: Once the series of images are printed, I give myself at least two days for one piece. I leave the spray mounting until the second day, just in case I want to make some changes.
KALTBLUT: Where do you get most of your inspirations? Dervin: Most of my inspirations come from various sources. I love looking at organic objects for their shapes. The same goes to aerial photographs of nature for the abstract shapes and forms. I also look at various artists and art movements, such as Henri Matisse, Francis Bacon, Henry Moore, Constructivist graphic design and Bauhaus posters.
KALTBLUT: What message do you want to get out of your art? Dervin: I’m interested in conversations about the ever-changing ideal male body. My work reflects the current idealised body that can be seen across the social media platforms. I’m intrigued and interested in what the ideal body would look like in the future.
KALTBLUT: Have you found any other work/artists to be really inspiring currently? Dervin: There are few artists on Instagram I have been following for their exciting work – John MacConnell’s layering technique of his portrait drawings/paintings over landscape scenes. James Robert Morrison’s homoerotic textiled collages. I’ve also been following Lorna Pridmore for her use of textile and colour.
KALTBLUT: What is your ultimate goal? Dervin: My own solo show and a coffee table book of my collage archive would be fantastic. In the meantime, I want to continue to explore and elevate my style. I have been pondering about turning my work into a 3D installation as well as introducing paint to my work. I also want to learn how to knit and/or crochet and apply that to my collages.
KALTBLUT: How do you spend your days now with the quarantine? Dervin: I have a pretty good daily structure during the lockdown. I am at my desk Monday – Friday, then I use the weekend as an excuse to be lazy on the sofa, with my partner.
KALTBLUT: How is this situation affecting you, and your work? Dervin: I am actually enjoying the lockdown. I am using this as an opportunity to do more art, in-between conference calls, which is fantastic. I have a daytime job, and so, I used to squeeze an hour or two to work on my art before going to bed. Also, travelling to work and back can be exhausting. So, this lockdown is benefiting me. I’m getting more sleep, which is great for my health. I get to read more books and spend a lot less money.
KALTBLUT: What do you wish for the future? Dervin: I rarely think about the future. I suppose this ties in with my ultimate goal of expanding my art practice. Also, the area where I live now is getting busier, I would like to live somewhere quieter. I recently visited Canterbury, a cathedral city in southeast England and have been obsessing with the thought of moving there. Maybe I can move back to the Philippines and set up a studio there, by the beach, when I’m older and retired.