Art has and will always be a spear header of social enlightenment, and the art of drag aptly stands as the poster child of today’s queer renaissance. There’s something fundamentally wholesome about an art form that makes the human body its canvas and the rainbow colors of the imagination its paint stroke. Yet Drag was not always perceived this way. In what feels like ages ago, but sadly dates back just a few years, drag was constricted to the underbelly of queer culture – a derelict dive-bar’s vaudevillian act discarded by most of its queer peers and gawked at with toxic curiosity by heterosexuals with a knack for deviance.
At the time, I had already been exposed to drag in the Middle East by means of Bassem Feghali, a popular Lebanese television personality who performed in drag but who was presented as a comedian/prodigy rather than as a drag queen, and understandably so. How else could a drag queen sore in a society where strict gender roles were cemented by fervent religious beliefs andrampant conservatism? It is only in 2005, when I attended my first drag show in Montreal that I trulywitnessed the magic of drag and felt like I was given a glimpse of what was not only to be the future, but a future I wanted to be a part of.
Well that future is now, curtesy of the illustrious RuPaul. Although Rupaul comes with many trailblazing predecessors, she is solely responsible for elevating the art of drag to worldwide pop-phenomenon status. Celebrated for her multi-award winning reality television show RuPaul’s Drag Race, RuPaul now stands as a powerful ambassador of inclusivity, freedom and open-mindedness - and it’s about time. She has been brazenly championing the cause for decades, challenging gender constructs and preaching the importance of acceptance and self-love to people too overtaken by the Glamazonian oddity before them to even register her words. Her journey has helped create a world now willing to listen and to embrace change – a very noble reward for RuPaul to reap.
Having RuPaul on our cover is a new benchmark for Plastik, but also a reaffirmation that our missionto continue painting our dire world in rainbow bright colors is vital. When asked what advice she had for Plastik’s ten year-old self, she replied “Your gift to the world is beauty, color, magic and imagination. That gift is more important today than ever before. Never forget that”. That is a promise we vow to keep.
— Eli Rezkallah
SPANISH ARTIST FILIP CUSTIC IS THE MASTERMIND BEHIND SOME OF THE MOST INNOVATIVE IMAGES AND VISUAL CAMPAIGNS THE WORLD HAS SEEN IN RECENT YEARS. TRAVELLING BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN PAST AND FUTURE, SCIENCE AND SPIRITUALITY, CUSTIC IS THE 26-YEAR-OLD BEHIND THE WONDERFUL IMAGERY ON ROSALÍA’S LATEST ALBUM EL MAL QUERER.
All is not what it may seem in the work of Petros Chrisostomou. The British artist meticulously sculpts strangely familiar miniature worlds … only to blow them out of proportion again with the simple click of a camera.
TOWN AND CONCRETE
YOU CAN ALWAYS COUNT ON TOWN AND CONCRETE TO BRING MUCH NEEDED JOY AND WHIMSICALITY TO THE OTHERWISE VERY FUNCTIONAL URBAN LANDSCAPE WE LIVE IN. FASCINATED BY THE NOTION OF SCALE, THE ARCHITECT’S DREAMLIKE INSTALLATIONS INSTANTLY TRANSPORT YOU TO AN IMAGINARY LAND WHERE THE WORLD IS A PLAYGROUND, AND LIFE IS A GAME.
CREATIVE DIRECTOR YUNI YOSHIDA IS A MASTER AT MAKING COMMERCIAL WORK FEEL LIKE ART. ARMED WITH A KNACK FOR VISUAL COINCIDENCES AND AN UNCOMPROMISED CHILDLIKE IMAGINATION, YOSHIDA’S STUNNING IMAGERY DRAWS YOU IN FROM FIRST GLANCE WITH ITS CRAFTY DETAIL AND CHARMING QUIRKINESS, KEEPING YOU COMING BACK FOR MORE.
ART QUEER HABIBI
THERE’S SOMETHING INHERENTLY RADICAL ABOUT PORTRAYING THE QUEER COMMUNITY IN ARAB COUNTRIES, ARGUABLY ONE OF THE MOST UNDERREPRESENTED COMMUNITIES IN THE WORLD. THE BEAUTY OF ART QUEER HABIBI HOWEVER, IS THAT SAID REPRESENTATION DOES NOT COME BY MEANS OF VICTIMHOOD NOR LEFTIST POLITICAL PROPAGANDA. INSTEAD, THE PSEUDONYMOUS ARTIST CHOOSES TO AFFECTIONATELY AND UNAPOLOGETICALLY DEPICT THE DAILY LIVES OF THOSE WHO LIVE IN A PLACE WHERE MOST WOULD RATHER THEY NEVER EXISTED.
INDIG0 HAS A KNACK FOR CREATING VISUALS THAT INSTANTLY EASE THE MIND AND SOOTHE THE SOUL. PART EYE-CANDY, PART ETHEREAL PORN, HER WORK UNSWERVINGLY TRANSFERS YOUR MIND TO THAT TRANSIENT STATE WHERE NOTHING REALLY MATTERS AND TIME STANDS STILL.
AES+F IS, IF ANYTHING, THE BIGGEST ANOMALY TO HAVE HIT THE ART WORLD IN DECADES. WORKING AS A QUARTET FOR OVER 30 YEARS, WHICH IS IN ITSELF QUITE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT, THE GROUP’S AWARD-WINNING WORK BLURS THE LINES BETWEEN THE MODERN AND THE TRADITIONAL, THE EAST AND THE WEST, THE OPULENT AND THE DEPRIVED, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, NEVER CEASES TO BE RELEVANT TO NEW GENERATIONS OF ART LOVERS.
ALTHOUGH SELF-PORTRAIT ARTISTS ARE RISING BY THE DOZEN, IZUMI MIYAZAKI’S QUIRKY AESTHETIC, UNEXPECTED USE OF PROPS, AND DOWNRIGHT MASOCHISTIC DRAMATIZATIONS CLEARLY DISTINGUISH HER FROM THE PACK. WHETHER DECAPITATED, DISMEMBERED OR MUTILATED, ONE THING’S FOR SURE, MIYAZAKI’S WORK WILL LEAVE YOU GUTTED.
AMERICAN ARTIST ZOE HAWK PAINTS THE FASCINATING WORLD OF ADOLESCENT GIRLS ON THE EDGE OF WOMANHOOD, AND WHAT SEEMS SWEET AND INNOCENT AT FIRST SIGHT OFTEN HAS A DARKER EDGE TO IT.
As she was born on an island it is perhaps not so strange that sea and water are dominant elements in the work of Thani Mara. Life seems sweet to the young Spanish artist who loves all things Seventies.
Illustration, ideas, drawing.
Humorous, colorful, clever.
Fun, wobbly, tactile.
Intuitive, dreamy yet realistic.