The usage of this method by painters throughout history is extensive. Artists have produced works that arouse strong emotions from the Baroque era to the current age. Among other approaches, the use of symbolism, composition, and color can help to create this emotional connection.
At the forefront of the movement to use photography as a means of eliciting emotion is Daniela Rivera Antara. This young and talented Peruvian artist has emerged as a leading figure in the art world, thanks to her extraordinary ability to capture the essence of her subjects through dreamy, ethereal images. Daniela's work is a testament to the idea that sometimes, to see something clearly, one must learn to feel first.
Born and raised between Lima and Australia, Daniela's unique perspective is informed by a worldview that is rooted in cultural diversity and movement. Her work is a testament to her ability to see the beauty every day, at the same time addressing stories of migration, women’s rights, and social justice. Daniela, who received her B.F.A from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, began her thought-provoking work through experimental filmmaking and performance art.
Daniela's artistic approach is informed by her classical practice in painting, drawing, and classical dance, which she began at the age of 4. Her biggest inspirations were the Italian and Spanish Renaissance periods, and her use of dramatic shadows and points of light is her nod to the chiaroscuro tradition in classical Italian paintings. This blend of classicism and modernity has made her a standout, and her work has been exhibited internationally including her first solo exhibition with the UNHCR in March of this year.
Daniela Rivera Antara found some time to answer some questions about her work, her inspirations, and her plans below:
What defining moment led you to choose photography as a career, and how did your training in painting and drawing influence your artistic approach?
Daniela: I started as a portrait painter but a leg injury stopped my dancing career, so I turned to photography. I found drama in aesthetics outside the studio, thanks to my fascination with faces and architecture. My background in classical arts helped me find symbolism and the right shades to create the shadow and light layers I wanted. My dreamy style was influenced by Latin American magical realism, like the work of Frida Kahlo and Isabel Allende.
At 22, I interned at The Guardian and was encouraged to pursue photography for its painterly qualities. I was curious about the world and rolled with it, developing an eye for beautiful shapes and harmony in any situation.
How does your art and art, in general, contribute to raising awareness and creating social change on issues such as migration, displacement, and women's rights?
Daniela: Art offers a unique opportunity to connect with others on a deeper level beyond facts and figures. It enables communication in a way that other forms of expression do not.
For me, art reflects our experiences and acts as a catalyst for conversation. Storytelling is a necessity, not just a strategy for creating change. Art tells stories and presents experiences that help people connect with themselves and others in a different way. This can inspire people to take action or shift their attitudes toward social and political change
Your series on Venezuelan women migrants in Peru is incredibly moving. Can you share any outstanding experiences from your time working on that project?
Daniela: Becoming close to the women I worked with is a memory I'll always cherish. Through this bond, I was able to convey their experiences poetically, making them accessible to everyone.
Although this work received mixed reviews and perspectives, the message it conveyed mattered most. What truly resonates with me is how effortlessly I formed beautiful friendships with these women. This project also taught me about my limitations and strengths. It came with many challenges, especially dealing with the emotional impact it had on me. I didn't fully realize the risks I was taking while working alone in Lima, carrying expensive equipment to some of the most dangerous parts of the city. However, it's an experience that has helped me grow both personally and professionally.
You have a new podcast that you are working on. What inspired you to pursue this project, and what can listeners expect to hear?
Daniela: This is my passion project, Perspective/Perspectiva. I aim to learn about the world beyond what's covered by international media while keeping my curiosity and romanticism alive. I'll be exploring important topics through personal insights and opinions, rather than news or academic analysis. Listeners can expect thought-provoking conversations in a variety of subjects, and even in different languages as I'll be including Spanish speakers.
You've mentioned that you're working on a new project called "about love." Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind this project and what it aims to achieve?
Daniela: This project is born from my desire to better understand myself, particularly my fears surrounding love. After doing internal work and questioning my priorities, I heard a podcast episode that highlighted the importance of choosing the right life partner. This struck a chord with me and inspired me to confront my tendency to run away from relationships. I created this project to explore my inner world and connect with others around the world about their experiences with modern-day relationships. I started by photographing people in Sydney who shared their perspectives on love, from familial to erotic. This is a series I plan to expand to other parts of the world.
As an established photographer, what advice would you give to young photographers just starting in their careers?
Daniela: A mentor told me that although everything has been done before, not everything has been done through my own eyes. As a photographer, it's difficult to replicate someone else's vision, so I can pursue my fascination with curiosity. Storytelling and art are a dialogue, and there's always room for a fresh perspective, regardless of how many times a subject has been explored. And as a creative, I can pivot and change course at any time. If an idea doesn't work out, I can find an angle that's best for me.
You once said that you wish to be regarded as one of the most influential Latin American artists of your generation. What impact do you hope to have?
Daniela: I aim to follow my creative instincts more freely, rather than conforming to external expectations or desires. I want my work to be more honest, thought-provoking, and daring to make a greater impact. Specifically, I strive to challenge the stereotypical image of modern Latin American women, especially concerning femininity, sensuality, and spirituality. It would be a dream to see my work in collections, galleries, and museums, where it can spark conversations with other artists who are reshaping their communities' past and future.
What's next? Daniela Rivera Antara is excited about exploring new territories beyond what she has accomplished so far. She has focused on social justice projects with a journalistic approach for several years but is now developing work that is more conceptually based, personal, bolder, and explorative. Rather than defining her work by what she is creating at the moment, she is getting to know herself better. She looks forward to continuing to do exhibitions and developing work that is authentic to herself and the person she is becoming through her art, the people she meets, and the experiences she gains.