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Kayla Buium parodies the human race through expressive paintings and surreal creatures

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Kayla Buium always knew she wanted to pursue a career in art. Her first ventures as an artist began at a young age, which involved taking commissions from friends at school. “I remember in second grade we used to use pencil ‘tips’ as currency. I would make flash pages of drawings and charge kids different ‘tip prices’ for the drawings,” says Kayla. “During recess I was always busy trying to keep up with commissions. Not much has changed since then.”

Kayla now holds a degree in visual arts and presents a diverse portfolio that delves into sculpture, painting, street signage and illustration. “My life is often very cinematic,” says Kayla. “So I end up philosophising mundane things like going to the laundromat or meeting new people.” These small moments are what Kayla finds the most inspiring; in order to document what she sees, her process involves intertwining an essence of humour with a fast-paced method of note-taking and sketching. “In these moments I’d get a flash of an image in my head and I’d have to open up my sketchbook and do a quick drawing so I wouldn’t forget,” Kayla tells It’s Nice That. “The scenes are usually based on cool retro bathrooms, laundromats or bars that I would stumble into. It’s neat looking back at each work because I could name which country and which cafe I sat down in when making them.”

Around two years ago, Kayla developed a distinctive character that would continue to form the premises of her work. This character is called Nuknuk: it’s part of a “species that parodies the human race,” she explains. Roused by her own insecurities and view of the world, these creatures present an observation of daily struggles, concerns and obsessions — which go hand-in-hand with her experiences at the gym. “I was so fascinated by these big burly men who would go [to the gym] every day to improve their body like it was some sort of medallion, like fashion, and not for health. So I made these creatures that did the same thing, except their boobs would get saggier and their stomachs would get fatter instead of muscular,” Kayla says. “I chose their bodies to look this way based on my own insecurities. I always thought that my boobs were too saggy and my nose was too big, so I figured if I drew a character that over exaggerated these features I couldn’t be ugly in comparison. It actually really helped. Now they have evolved as a vessel to express my own ideas and thoughts on the world.”

These characters are placed in familiar settings where they are decorated with a conceptual theme. Anxieties, insecurities and time tend to be the most prominent throughout Kayla’s work, which has resulted in a highly expressive diary-like approach to image making. “I think this body of work has just turned into a diary of a young artist trying to figure out the world and where I fit into it. Each individual drawing I make has a rich history of its own,” says Kayla.

“An example of this history comes from the Disconnected Lovers painting. I have found that most peoples’ interpretation is a criticism on our generation living through our phones — which is fine, you can interpret my art however you like. But the intention was actually more positive. I had briefly fallen in love (whatever that means) when I was doing an artist residency in Berlin and I had to start backpacking soon after. It was rough — we’d try to hitchhike to each other when it was convenient, but it was rare. I remember sitting on my coach and texting him and it was almost like we were together in the same room again. I guess when it comes to long distance relationships, phones are kind of a lifesaver.”

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Wm-ri_list Features / Art Wayne McGregor and Random International ask: what does it mean to be human?

The Royal Ballet’s controversy courting resident choreographer Wayne McGregor and experimental artist collective Random International’s Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass have been exploring technology and emotion together for nearly a decade. Their latest collaboration, +/-Human, opens tonight at the Roundhouse, London. The immersive installation harnesses the talents of team of musicians from Warp Records and renowned lighting designer Lucy Carter.

Mushpit-interiority-complex-itsnicethat-1 Work / Art Mushpit explores social media anxiety in new exhibition Interiority Complex

For one night only, Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts have expanded the satirical pages of their self-published zine Mushpit into a physical art installation held at the Galeria Melissa on Thursday 10 August. Titled Interiority Complex, the event aims to explore the issues and uncertainties surrounding social media anxieties.

Reiko_matsuo_paintings_art_itsnicethat2 Work / Art Surreal and comedic acrylic paintings by Reiko Matsuo “give people a little chuckle”

Artist Reiko Matsuo looks for surrealism in everyday life. Her subjects are familiar: a man scoffing a TV dinner next to his cat, a girl dancing in her room (also with a cat), a curtain-twitcher spying on sunbathers with binoculars, all depicted in chirpy acrylics with comedic expressions. Some get a little weirder, such as the family surrounded by woodland creatures, and another family calmly watching a tiger on their kitchen table.

Greg-burak-art-itsnicethat-list Work / Art Greg Burak’s narrative-based paintings depict a mysterious world with a 70s vibe

New York-based artist Greg Burak’s interest in art was first sparked by book covers, album art and movies and television growing up, but it wasn’t until college that he started to look deeper into art history. The artist’s work is based heavily in narrative using shapes, colour and figures to tell his stories. “Lately I’ve been in love with early Renaissance painting. The more I look at them the more exciting they become, both in terms of the logic in constructing those paintings but also how they depicted supernatural narratives,” the artist says of his inspiration. “I keep going back to Stanley Kubrick’s films as well -– they are so particular and almost hypnotic.”

James-bartolacci-art-itsnicethat-1 Work / Art Painter James Bartolacci memorialises LGBTQ parties and their significance in the Trump era

From a small city in Pennsylvania, a family of athletes and a conservative upbringing, James Bartolacci, a once competitive swimmer for 10 years, managed to break free of expectations to begin a life of painting. “At the time, I felt a lot of frustration and repression from my conservative surroundings, and painting gave me a tool to express myself,” he says. “I had no idea then that painting was something I could practice seriously.”

Suzannahpettigrewicu1list Work / Art Tim Noble, Gary Card, Campbell Addy and more explore mental health in new exhibition

According to mental health charity Mind, 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem every year. 5.9 in every 100 people suffer from generalised anxiety disorder, 3.3 in 100 suffer with depression, 4.4 in every 100 people with post traumatic stress disorder and 7.8 in 100 with mixed anxiety with depression. Many, many more mental health problems go unreported.

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