Artist Naomi Devil combines whimsy and a masterful painting technique in this playful puzzle celebrating difference, beauty, and freedom. Our 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles are thoughtfully commissioned and beautifully designed to offer a screen-free, relaxing way to practice contemplative mindfulness or share a gentle cooperative activity with friends and family.
See our interview with Naomi, below, where she talks about the inspiration behind this piece and her artistic journey.
How did you start painting in this style?
Before my academic studies, my father regularly bought me books to make me acquainted with the greatest contemporary artists. I had had, from the very start of my career, an inclination towards realism, but when I came across Gottfried Helnwein’s catalogue I was completely enchanted by his style. I was fascinated by the incredible subtlety and acuteness of his observations, by his precision, and by the deep social message that characterizes his works. Under Helnwein’s influence, I tried to develop a very precise and detailed technique, and I created all the works that were included in my academy submission portfolio in this spirit. Owing to this underlying global concept, my portfolio for the entrance exam seemed to be the work of a fully-fledged realist painter with a youthful attitude. This need for realism and precision has not disappeared during the last 15 years.
In 2014 I discovered the websites Google Art Projects, Wikimedia Commons, and Rijks Studio, where all museums upload the pieces of their collection in high resolution. I started to use these paintings to create and collage new artworks with a contemporary touch. I place the figures in new environments, add elements to their outfit, and place objects in their hands, so they tell a new story. I also like to add humour to my works; most artists are way too serious.
What is the inspiration behind this piece?
My brother took me to a New Years Eve party at the end of 2017, where he mentioned that he might have gender-dysphoria. He said sometimes he wakes up and feels like a woman, other days he feels like a man. Right after that I created this painting titled Pride I. and another smaller scale work titled Pride No. 2. One depicts a lesbian pride protester, the other one a gay pride protester. To me, these are paintings of acceptance. In October 2018 my brother came out as transgender; she divorced her wife and now lives as a woman.
I decided to paint these paintings because I felt like there was something serious boiling under the surface. My parents didn't understand why I painted gay people with pride flags; I think they were worried about me and they had no idea about my brother. I only told my mum months later what my brother said, when signs started to be more and more obvious. When the news came, we were kind of prepared and not totally shocked.
You can be just what you wish…
Your hat may be adorned with fish!
Celebrate the You you are;
The world’s a stage and you’re a star.
This puzzle is for everyone;
Pull up a chair. Let’s have some fun!