Born in 1964, Edmonton artist Steven Csorba is a painter, printmaker and master of visual remix. During a ten year span (2004-2014) Steven used visual art therapy as a tool to help survive cancer. He created a vast and unprecedented body of work that celebrates a bold expressionism and optimistic edge. His goal is to use all means of art making and appropriation in an attempt to transgress the broadest possible comprehension of our world today.
Sketched-out, handpainted, old-school meets new, re-mixed, digitally re-composed and negated, painted and textured, re-mixed again, recycled and so on. His process of art making is a fluid and organic process where the daunting task of visual remix presents an infinite amount of options – unique, powerful works of art that represent a boundless energy, a cultural recombination of images from all corners of the world. He borrows images from the depths of art history as well as from art influences and trends that are only minutes old and often original to the artist himself.
For Steven it’s all about taking the positive energy he can find and through his art and persona – elevating visual experience to higher levels. The powerful energy seen in his art represents the heroic struggle all cancer survivors go through and projects the drive and depth of a person who knows life is precious.
I like to push the limits of art making.
My work has evolved from a mashing of referenced pop art and iconic imagery into elaborate multilayered portraits and scenes that depict a more personal interpretation of my life experience and battles. The process of making the art as well as the meaning of it, are both integral parts required to evoke the emotion of the piece.
I love combining traditional mediums like painting with acrylic with digital media. For me making art using technology – a mouse and photoshop, is as fluid and organic as it is with traditional medium: paint, canvas and brushes. Working like graffiti artists, who gain their identity by quickly “bombing” dozens of pieces in one evening – I’ll bomb or mash dozens of pieces in one session – creating a Warholian cache of varied compositions based on a single theme or subject. It is a very fluid act of visual remix based on an endless supply of appropriated images.
I use the internet as “my wall of appropriation” and elements borrowed represents a cultural recombination of images from all corners of the world. Graffiti art from Poland, Spain, Australia, the U.S., pop and post modern art elements from online portfolios, throw in some Miro and Paterson Ewan – nothing is safe anymore – I don’t want it to be.
By composing and mashing layer upon layer of elements used in previous works, the various procedure of remix, application and cancellation allow me to obscure the liminal traces of previous elements, putting reproduction and negation to generative use in forming new compositions and possibilities. These mashed compositions represent a shifting sequence or series of sensations as well a rigorous and endless cycle requiring an aesthetic sensibility to find an endpoint – but there never really is one.
My themes range from masked beings and fantasy animal portraits that hover in a space between anguish and a calm stillness. In a fugue of gestural restraint and release each expresses a shocked optimism as they transitions through surreal battlescapes.
If I am building a "myth" or painting a "picture of reality", I don't really know. These remixed combination’s create individual works that either fall apart to the point of death or survive to form a "rebirth". I’ve learned that something new will always come about when you push things hard enough and the result is the revelation of a “new identity”. I want to lead the observer to dramatic action and not let them withdraw from it. I want to put them on the edge between what we know and what is unknowable. The motivation for me to keep going is to gain an understanding of how this “new identity or rebirth or truth” actually reflects my life as well as the world we live in – or not.
Helping others make you strong. I feel lucky that I was able to draw on this strength which helped me with my battle with cancer and the harsh side effects of it's TREATMENT.
As a longtime Edmontonian Steven has devoted countless hours of community service and encourages others to give back and make community strong. If he has a chance to help others, he does so with all his energy – like it’s the last day of his life.
There as focus in every waking moment, a kind of deep-truth view that gives cruisers-through life pause for thought. In a nutshell, he’s an artist who grew stronger as a result of battling cancer and believes the idea of “community” should be redefined as “the abundance we all have inside ourselves to help others”.
As the chair of iHuman’s capital project, All In! Edmonton he led and convinced countless corporate sponsors to come together to build a safe place for endangered traumatized youth to turn their life around through creativity and community building.
During the past ten years – through the donation of his art and as a dedicated savvy do-gooder, Steven has helped raise over $5 Million for a variety of charities in Alberta. In 2014 an original work of art that he donated to the Buchanan Centre for Parkinson’s Disease – auctioned off for $260,000.