After what seems like an eternity of waiting, Rihanna recently broke her silence concerning her eighth studio album, Anti. After three years, Rih Rih revealed the artwork for her album cover at the MAMA Gallery and introduced the man behind the genius.
For a name like Anti, it was only assumed that the artwork was going to have that Rih-bellion and style. And that’s exactly what the world got. The piece features what appears to be a young Rihanna holding a balloon with a crown covering her eyes. The image is printed over a Braille poem.
The man behind the paint brush, whom the bad gal herself describes as a “genius” who sees “things beyond the surface,” is New York-based artist Roy Nachum. At the art gallery showing, which Rihanna hosted, Nachum let the art speak for itself, but he recently spilled everything concerning its meaning, thoughts on interactive art, and working with Rihanna to Billboard.
On its meaning:
“I’ve been doing experimental work of human perception and sight. So for the last seven years, I’m writing Braille poetry, which encompasses sculpture in it on the canvas, and then I paint over it. So I kind of want to open people’s eyes to the real things in life … so I close my eyes. The process for that was me closing my eyes for a whole week to experience how it is to be blind. If I want to do art, if I’m going to do an experiment with sight, then I need to close my eyes and start from that. That’s the first step I need to do. So I did it for a whole week, and since then, I started creating. I started creating all those paintings and installations, sculptures.”
On interactive art:
“One of the more radical works that I’m doing is basically I’m burning the frame until it becomes charcoal. So the canvas is completely white on white. … I brought blind people to my studio, and I was able to have them experience visual art for the first time. Once they touched the art and read the Braille and touched the burnt frames, it stained their fingerprints with charcoal [on the canvas]. … Rihanna really loved the idea, and we talked about that. So it’s kind of like an interactive work, like a group self-portrait, you know? The work is always alive. It’s never finished. I started that. Those paintings, actually, I decided to do with her — with a person who can see, basically. I blindfolded Rihanna and she started touching the work, so you can see the result. She touched it. I started it. And that’s her fingerprint on that.”
On working with Rihanna:
“I think it was a year ago [I met Rihanna]. She watched me. She saw my work at Jay Z’s — he collects my work — so she saw my work in his private collection and she knew, she immediately knew that’s what she wanted to do. … I’m bringing a message. My goal is to leave a mark as long as I live. So it’s kind of like, you’re just bringing it to a whole different crowd and making it so that a lot of people can see it and connect with my art, so I really appreciate it.”