Self-taught Toronto based art director and 3D designer Vini Naso draws on his childhood in Rio de Janeiro to create developed, eerily familiar characters influenced by carnival aesthetics. His portfolio includes concept designs, short films, and AR experiences for high profile clients across the brand, entertainment, and tech industries - including names like Microsoft and Adobe. In 2020 Naso expanded this into the realms of digital art with his own projects, most notably The Masks We Wear and Kodama. In an interview with Photo Editor for Italian Vogue Chiara Bardelli-Nonino, Naso states his end goal is to create work that is “time-agnostic, and perhaps a little uncomfortable.” To him, art is “(emotion + form) thoughts = Art”.
Naso uses the digital medium to its fullest extent: claiming to have once viewed his art as “less worthy” because of its medium, last year he embraced its ability to give endless freedom and flexibility to explore concepts without the restrictions of the physical world. This complements his commitment to forging a postmodern identity beyond the human form. He concludes his website’s artistic statement with “old notions of identity bind us less when our humanity isn’t attached to a traditionally human form”: in removing the constraints of the human world, Naso can create a vision for the posthuman.
His series The Masks We Wear was featured in Vogue Italia last November as an example of cutting edge artists at the intersection of art, beauty and technology. Fusing traditional folklore with cyberpunk, Naso explores concepts of historicism and posthumanism through vibrant and elaborately decorated masked figures, attempting to navigate traditional culture in a homogenising century to create the “posthuman tribe that embraces the mosaic of aesthetics. Strangely familiar, but alien and futuristic.” Psychology also shapes his work: Jung’s archetypes help inspire the character’s personas.
Masks confront the viewer with the liminality of globalised culture; the characters are at once known and unknown, old and new, digital and physical. Attempting to represent this “point of culture intersection”, this is mysticism for the homogenised culture - a visual history of the posthuman. Viewers will almost recognise one feature on his characters, glimpse a fragment of their own culture or national history - paradoxically, the broad appeal of this work is what makes it unique. The clear representation of historic traditions through rich colours and gold metallics being juxtaposed with bowler hats and trilbys creates a historical uncanny valley in which the viewer feels at once proximity and distance to the characters presented. In blurring the lines between past, present, and future - even truth and myth - Masks forces the viewer to reevaluate what it means to be human in the modern age.
His other acclaimed project in 2020 was Kodama, an exploration of climate change anxiety through Japanese tree spirit mythology. The piece Forester from this collection won the Beautiful Bizarre ZBrush Digital Art Prize. “I brought to life tree spirits that have long been believed to protect their natural habitats.” He currently has three works from Masks for sale on superrare.co.
Find out more about Vini from https://vininaso.co/
Follow Eliott on his Instagram at @venefi_ca