From Microsoft Paint to printmaking: Graduate student artist finds digital niche

Update, 3:30 p.m., Sept 16, 2016: A clarification was added to a statement by Gabriel Madan.

Gabriel Madan, a  first-year graduate art student in UM’s College of Arts and Sciences, is already establishing himself as a professional. His work is on display alongside four other MFA students’ pieces in the 2016 UM Incoming Graduate Student Exhibition. For more information, read our accompanying Edge story.

The Miami Hurricane: Has being an artist always been a dream of yours?

Gabriel Madan: I use to play on the Microsoft program called Paint when I was a kid, but I never really dreamed of being an artist or took it seriously until recently. It was only after I was studying accounting at FIU for two and a half years that I took a digital-media class and I decided this is what I want to do. Since then, I have been seriously studying art for five years now.

TMH: What type of art do you mainly focus on?

M: I focus on printmaking. There are three different forms, but what I do is digital printmaking. That is where I create a digital piece of art on the computer and print it directly onto the canvas. I stretch the canvas on a wooden stretcher like you would normally do in a traditional painting except, instead of painting on it, I print on it.

TMH: What is the process of making one of your prints like?

M: None of my prints ever come out as planned, and I intentionally want that to happen. The art on the computer translates differently to the canvas because I fold the canvas in half when I put it through the printer, so automatically there is a white space that is not originally there. I then put the canvas through the printer multiple times and adjust the speed each time. It creates this blurry quality to the print.

TMH: How would you describe your work?

M: Fun, yet disturbing. [I like to use disturbing images mirrored and contrasted with the beautiful ones].

TMH: Are you excited for the upcoming art show in September?

M: Yes, I did an art show for my BFA when I first started working on canvas, but this will be my first show where I get to display my printmaking on canvas, which is exciting.

TMH: Have you chosen what art you will display?

M: Yes, one of the pieces I will be showing is called “Loser Loser” and it is actually a towel rack. I got the idea of it from Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain,” where he had put a toilet as a fountain on display at a museum. But unlike Duchamp, I want to bring the home into the gallery instead of making his home the gallery.

TMH: Do you have any role models?

M: I was exposed to Wade Guyton while I was still at FIU and he really inspired me. He does the same thing, printmaking, which is how I found out about it.

TMH: Where do you see yourself in the future?

M: I definitely want to expand into working with virtual reality. I realize that with the growing technology, we one day won’t be going to museums anymore. The space that museums take up will be needed for something else. Through virtual reality, someone can experience all the great artworks and be able to walk through a museum, which would be great. Art always matches history, so since we are shifting into the digital age, so should art.

This Q&A is part of a series on the artists featured in the exhibition. Can’t make it to the gallery? Check out Gabriel’s art on his Instagram, @gabrielmadan_art.