The Anonymous Retro Art Whiz
Which is more interesting? Art from Doha that puts the focus on images that we love and are nostalgic about, from roundabouts to roadside cafes in Corniche, all beautifully represented in a retro theme, or the anonymous artist who presents all this through the social media handle @retroqa.jpg. Find out more about the art and the artist through this expose. By Sindhu Nair
While Covid19 and the subsequent lockdown brought to focus the latent talent in many, Doha perhaps, had a massive influx of creativity.
New forms of art, unseen and unknown in Qatar, sprung up, and people confined within the four walls of their home, lapped it all up. This can perhaps be termed as the best years of art in the history of the country.
One such work that gained recognition during these times is retro art; an art form that is referred to as a genre of pop art developed in the 1940s and 1950s. The style was created to cater to the needs of bold and eye-catching graphic design that can be easily mass-produced.
But more interesting than the form of art is the identity of the artist or the lack of it.
SCALE brings the spotlight on a new form of art that has sparked curiosity with not just the ingenuity of the work but also the mystery surrounding it.
Lucid Credo aka retroqa.jpg, is the artists’ pseudo name and he (or she?) wants to remain anonymous for the simple reason of keeping the focus on art rather than on the person and the personality behind it.
We wonder if the reason for anonymity is the need to entice followers, but the artist is emphatic as he (or she) denies: “Not really, the whole idea is to make my followers focus on what I do, not me, my last name or my gender,” Lucid reveals that he/she is an introvert, “I am not a social person,” says Lucid, “I love doing what I do, and I do it as an escape from my negative energy. I am not here for recognition, fame, or spotlights.”
And the mantra. the artist follows: “Keep it simple, stay humble, but be creative.”
LUCID: When it comes to collage retro arts, I’ve been a fan of it my whole life! I always loved these retro illustrated advertisements, aesthetic retro photos, but the idea of creating Doha based retro collage arts photos came to me last year when the COVID-19 pandemic took over.
Being a photographer, I wanted to go out and take photos but I couldn’t because of the quarantine and all that, so I started visualising scenes and locations in my head and then merged them with retro photos since they are the only public domain photos you can get, and that is where the whole page idea started.
I think, I created 6 photos then posted them on my page but I never thought my page would get noticed. This popularity is something I never have had before when I posted something artistic years back, like paintings, photography no one seemed to care but for some reason this time my work got really viral! So yeah, I did start creating these photos in quarantine. It is during this time that the whole idea popped, like a week or two before my first upload.
SCALE: How did this new art form gain your interest and how did it come to your mind? What inspires you to come up with new ideas?
LUCID: I am a classic movie, music, and sci-fi lover, if you combine all of that, it makes you want to create something you’re interested in.
Collage art is surreal and an out of the box art form. You need to be imaginative to be able to create these photos. They might seem easy, but you definitely need good basic knowledge in understanding perspectives which makes your pictures look so realistic that you cannot even tell it’s photoshopped!
The history of retro art and the resources to get the stock images, are all subtle knowledge that helps you as you work at your collage artwork. I like complicated things that seem easy but are not so easy to create in reality. My ideas gather when inspired by classical music, dreams, or my current mood at that moment when I am trying to figure out different creatives. I do not do custom art; it does not go with what I like and this makes it difficult for me to work with some people.
My work is very spontaneous, it responds to creativity around me, which could be either music or artwork.
SCALE: Which of your work was the most popular? Which is your most favourite work?
LUCID: The most popular photo is “Everything that went viral in the summer of 2020 so far” and it had around 25,000 reach with about 2400 likes. It was about the things that got popular during the Covid-19 pandemic like beach picnics, bike rides, buying the new Land Rover Defender, ice cream, cheese platters, etc, and it got really popular, trended on Twitter, Snapchat, and on all social media channels.
This photo opened up so many opportunities for me and the first one was an offer to collaborate with Rolls Royce to do my first retro collage art gallery at their showroom since I used a Land Rover Defender and the photos were seen by Al Fardan group staff and they loved it!
My favourite is “Doha Diner”, which is also a popular one and it’s so close to my heart because it inspires me to open up my own retro diner in Doha, since food and cooking is my passion, combining that with my love for diners and the classic music. Perfect diner owner if you ask me.
SCALE: Tell us more about the collaborations you have had?
LUCID: I have collaborated with Qatar Foundation, Rolls Royce, local businesses like Minis ice cream to promote their new classic ice cream truck, Walters Coffee shop, le petit Camion, and Venus Karma for a limited-edition clothing line. I have now stopped doing collaborations because it’s too much pressure. A lot of people don’t actually understand what I am trying to do or have no knowledge about retro art so they suggest absurd ideas that can not be done! I want to focus my energy on creating my own work, ideas, and stay that way until I am ready to do collaborations again.
SCALE: Have you always worked on retro art?
LUCID: I paint, mostly comic book characters, abstract arts, and I am a professional photographer too so I do street, landscape, and portrait photography. Retro collage arts is what I love to do.
SCALE: What are your insights on art during Covid19 times? Did you feel that the art community has come out and is shining in Doha right now?
LUCID: Covid-19 is the reason why my page exists today. If it weren’t for the pandemic, I would’ve never thought about creating my page.
I believe during this time tons of artists came up with very creative ideas during quarantine since there was not much to do but keep yourself occupied by doing what every you’re good at. Even if the pandemic made life difficult for many and also took so many lives, it did bring out hidden talents that grew to become big names in the art community today.
SCALE: Have you ever felt the need for an exhibition? What will happen then?
LUCID: It is really hard for anyone to offer me the chance to do exhibitions since I am an anonymous artist and I don’t really like to reveal my name or my face to anyone. If I did get the chance to do more exhibitions, I will always be anonymous and nothing can change that.