Canadian artist Brendan Fernandes uses language, dance, video and sound to highlight the complexity of cultural identity in context of globalization and migration. Born in Kenya of Indian heritage, Brendan Fernandes immigrated to Canada in 1989. Fernandes has exhibited internationally at the some of the world’s leading galleries and art biennales, including The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Art and Design New York, The Andy Warhol Museum, and The Third Guangzhou Triennial. He was nominated as one of five finalists for the prestigious Sobey Award in Canada in 2010 and his work was recently acquired by the National Gallery of Canada. His work is represented by Diaz Contemporary, Toronto.
How did you make the leap to being an independent artist? I began to work full time as an independent artist as I wanted to focus on my work, my practice. I could not work another job and dedicate myself to my art. I applied for a few grants and after being successful I took the plunge and have not looked back. The grants gave me the opportunity to be productive and focus, from there I made new bodies of work that have allowed me to extend my career.
What is a typical day like for you? A typical day for me is to wake up and go to my studio. In my studio my work can take many forms, including reading and researching, editing video, making drawings, fabricating work to having studios visits. I travel a lot and so having studio days can be rare. At night I usually go to openings where I meet up with other artists and curators and see art.
Do you enjoy your work? Why? I enjoy my work so much. As an artist I make work that I feel engages within a conceptual framework, my ideas are in part political where I am creating dialogues through a creative means of expression. This is important for me.
Where do you find inspiration for your work? I find inspiration in my lived experiences; I use my surroundings to speak to what I have to say. Through my travels I use those experiences to give me inspiration for projects. My work also speaks to my cultural identity and history of migration.
How do you keep focused on doing something unique & true to yourself? I stay focused by giving myself deadlines and keep tracking of things. I have a busy scheduled and so I also try to give myself down times so that I can recoup before jumping into the next project. It is important to take care of one’s self.
What sort of skills do you need to do your work? I think you need to be opened minded and be able to think outside of the box.
Do you have one piece of advice for other aspirant creatives? Take challenges and risks; allow yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and to never give up. The field is tough and so one must always be ready for the challenges that may come.