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Eat Work Art SPOTLIGHT: Hazel Florez

Influenced by the tradition of magical surrealism; artist Hazel Florez creates imaginary worlds that allow her to dispense with the logical and predictable order of things.

A resident of Hackney Downs Studios co-working Heartspace studio, we got the chance to catch up with Hazel ahead of her upcoming 'Alchemystic' exhibition to find out more about her creative process and mystical inspirations.

Artist Hazel Florez

Could you tell us a bit about what you do and your journey to pursuing art as a career?

"I am a painter, my style of painting would probably be best described as 'esoteric surrealism'. I sell fine art prints, drawings and originals as well as doing image licensing for Bridgeman Images."

Where do you draw inspiration from for your pieces?

"I draw a lot of inspiration from the female Surrealists of the 20th century. Some of these esoteric painters such as Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo are now finally getting the attention they deserve.

I research different esoteric and occult theories and am influenced by Jung, Hermetic philosophy, magic and mythology. I enjoy exploring how these symbolic traditions relate to the world of biological, psychological and spiritual transformation. I am influenced by looking at drawings on manuscripts by old alchemists and looking at the online archive of old alchemical manuscripts and rare books at the Ritman library collection."

Hazel florez intricate artwork

Can you tell us about your upcoming exhibition 'Alchemystic'? What themes can we expect?

"I work with a lot of detailed symbolism and am interested in the Jungian concept that symbols are the natural language of the subconscious. I invented the word 'Alchemystic' as a portmanteau of the words 'alchemy' and 'mysticism'.

A central theme of the show is the interrelation of magic and feminism. I am fascinated in how historically the witch was a demonized and tortured figure, representing the socially ostracised female creating her own forms of healing, philosophy and spiritual practices away from institutional religious orthodoxy. I think it’s interesting how more and more, especially within the context of the 21st century, the witch is being reclaimed as a potent symbol of feminine empowerment.

The father of modern medicine was a 16th century Swiss alchemist called Paracelsus, he identified 12 different chemical processes by which one substance can be transformed into another. Amongst other works, there are 8 panels of alchemical transformation series on display in this Hackney Downs exhibition. I consider this show to be the 'warm up' exhibition, to my month long solo show in Lauderdale House on the 18th January 2022 where I hope to exhibit the full set of 12 Paracelsan stages of transformation."

What's your experience been like working in Hackney Downs Studios 'Heartspace' co-working area?

"I like the fact that it provides community, getting a lunch break or coffee break with fellow residents when I need to connect. Also there’s generally a very peaceful vibe in the Heartspace so I can get my head down and crack on with work when I need to.

I like having a work/home separation as it keeps home as a place to relax in at the end of the day."

Heartspace co-working studio

Finally, have you got any recommendations for things to see and enjoy in the Hackney Downs/East London area?

"I really enjoyed seeing the 'Phantoms of Surrealism', a small free exhibition at the Whitechapel gallery, which looks at the role of women in the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition. There is also a lot of interesting surreal and esoteric art down the road on Mare Street at Viktor Wynd's Museum of Curiosities."

Follow Hazel for more updates here.

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