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Interview With Shoval Faibish

Shoval Faibish discovered his interest in art, as many artists did, at a young age. In his home in Israel, Shoval began drawing  and later discovered digital painting. In 2013, the 18 year-old downloaded Instagram, the tool that would expose his quietly complex works to the world, out of boredom. He saw the abundance of photographers on the social media platform and suddenly knew what he wanted to do. 

In the beginning, he took only self-portraits simply because he didn’t have anyone else to photograph. His followers fell in love with his stoic expression and fantastical editing effects. Soon, he became a well-known name in the world of Instagram photographers.

Faibish now takes self-portraits for artistic reasons. “I think that it allows me to challenge myself more in some way, because I have to constantly find new creative ideas so my photos won’t look the same.” And find creative ideas he does- his Instagram page (which can be seen @mmmmokay) is a plethora of characters and worlds. In one, his head is surrounded by a halo of flowers that suggest purity and tranquility. In another, war paint streaks across his eyes as his solemn face looks towards an unseen enemy. 

Shoval shared with me that his favorite artist is Oleg Dou. I had never heard of the Russian artist/photographer, but soon discovered I had seen his work countless times. Dou’s artwork captures an eerie moment between subject and viewer by making the viewer self-aware through the work’s omniscient gaze. Faibish does something very similar, but in reverse- we viewers feel as if we’re the ones doing the exposing. A barrier is crossed that feels almost taboo. Who is this determined character who at one moment can be seen lying in a bed of flowers and the next ready to destroy?

But why is Shoval’s work modern? I asked him and he told me his art was defined by  “Simplicity belied by artistic intricacy.” Simplicity disguising the true emotional and aesthetic complexity of his work is what makes Faibish’s work an example of modernity. Additionally, his artistic journey was spurred by social media- what is more Generation Y than that?

When asked about how his attention on Instagram has changed his life, he comments, “The positive attention has definitely helped boost up my confidence. I have become more social and outgoing. It really did shape me as a person.”

It is exciting to discover such a talented artist at such a young age. Teen Eye will be able to grow up with  a potentially legendary photographer and keep up with him along the way. Shoval Faibish is surely not going anywhere.

Interview conducted and article written by Zak Cannon. See more of Shoval Faibish's work at @mmmmokay on Instagram.