“Inhale. Exhale. Art is always there”
Daniela Yohannes is a creator of worlds. Born to Ethiopian and Eritrean parents, raised in North London, her practice speaks to this inherent multiplicity of identity; imbued with a sense of both yearning and nostalgia.
Her journey as an artist has been unconventional; a path that meandered through disciplines before leading her to her current sense of focus and purpose. Much like her childhood, her work is therefore marked by the influence of multiple worlds. Her love for the arts began with dance but, overcome with shyness as a teen, she retreated to painting as a way to express herself; to find her truth. However, she found formal studies of art and illustration frustrating and it was music that called next; leading to a career in jazz working with some of the world's most illustrious musicians.
Her painting, when she found her way back to it, was by then a place of not only expression, but of dialogue. She describes her oft-solitary figures as incarnations of herself, each one in conversation with their environment, traversing vast and frequently dream-like planes. They are raw, stripped to the core of the soul; each one dictating their own story to Yohannes. Like Jazz, her method is both improvisational and instinctive, giving her pieces an innate freedom and intrinsic humanity that is hallmark of her style.
Art” Yohannes says, “is always like life; how you think and feel is constantly shifting and developing”. And as she herself has moved, so has her work. Now based in the Caribbean with her young family, Yohannes has realised a lifelong dream to live by water – and, in doing so, her surroundings have found their way into her creations as much spiritually as aesthetically. She describes her inspiration as that of the invisible; the forces and concepts that drive and surround us: unseen but constantly at work on our bodies and minds. Her paintings are witness to the expression of nature; explorations of the intimate experiences that are shared only with the elements: earth, air, water, magic. She confronts themes of consciousness and ancestry, the ethereal nature of the cosmos and plurality of the individual.
My work explores the relationship between the Inner and Outer life and the complex nature of the human condition. I am especially drawn to a person’s ability to navigate these two realms. My work is influenced and informed by my interest in creating new mythologies, my deep connection to the oneiric world and observations of my environment. I rely on my intuition and dreams as a direct source of storytelling. My practice allows me to explore fictional narratives, which enable me to remove all concrete limitation and boundaries - In this way I truly liberate myself from social constructs.
I make art to try to understand myself, my environment and the greater world beyond. I am drawn to the threshold between life and death and my work often project this duality. I paint characters that investigate and confront the unknown. I paint characters that are facets of myself, but not earthbound. I paint characters that stem from a distant, lingering yearning for freedom.