I have finally made some progress with my current piece. This breakthrough stage follows a long period of stagnation and uncertainty. Re: living my trip with Captain Ahmed and the danger of the experience of sinking on his little and crude boat has made me realise the importance of hypnotic repetition of daily survival.
I developed a screen with images of fish we both caught while struggling to stay afloat. I proceeded with a complex process of overprinting and stating each layer with ink – somehow trying to imitate the sophistication of glazing while using a range of water based media, including inks and water soluble pastels. More developments will come soon.
I have started to introduce a range of vibrant details in the background space. The idea was to create a sense of cohesion and belonging. I have used a repetitive motif of a baobab tree, which is typically associated with this fantastic island. The current stage of the painterly process is below:
I have gone through a long process of consideration and reflection on my current painting. I was questioning how to make a radical progress with my current painting? On the one hand, the composition is intentionally balanced and scattered, on the other, the image lacks the desired level of depth and mood. My intention was to make it more dynamic and dramatic.
Currently, the skeletal silhouettes are quite rough and crude in execution. The idea is to echo the reality of my primary source – crows and ravens feasting on rotting seaweed, which is tumbled and mixed with rubbish, decomposing plastic and other organic matter, and surrounded by the most repelling possible stench. This analysis of my research findings describes and outlines both the source and the concept, while setting my work in a horrid, dark and depressing context.
Somewhere, in the centre of the compositional entrance, there is a portrait of myself. It is covered with an embedded text in Spanish. The fonts are almost impossible to decipher. My intention was to draw analogies to the final end and death of the most amazing and pure experiences in life. I wanted to question the purpose, sense, direction and destination, while embracing the most powerful existential thoughts and feelings.
Subsequently, I started to experiment with a range of glazes using alkyd paints. I wanted to drift away from the time typically used media in my studio: oil and encaustic media. Alkyd paints are thicker and stronger. They consist of thermoplastic polyester resins made by heating polyhydric alcohols with polybasic acids or their anhydrides. Their main function is to create protective coatings, which are resistant to ageing and general wear. This physical property of this toxic medium creates a significant clash with my need to protect the significance of the past. To experiment with the viscosity and luminosity of the glazes, I have diluted them with the best quality of extra virgin olive oil. The use of a top-of-the-range product, here again, is intentional and carefully thought out. The idea was to depart from commercial qualities of cheap and raw linseed oil. I wanted to replace them with a natural and silky translucency of an opulent food ingredient. It is like feeding the birds and, simultaneously, covering the essence of the subject matter of the under image with a preserving layer of indulgence, luxury and melancholia. The additional purpose of this is try to safe myself from the attack of the cruel and metaphorically important ravens and crows.
I have included below, two documentary photographs of the glaze alteration process. They illustrate a long cycle of the building of the layers. It consists of warming up and cooling down the compositional colour scheme. Ultimately, the developed image will be ‘touched up’ with oil bars in order to continue to increase the vibrancy of the tint and add another element to the piece – texture.
Looking back at the painting process, my inspiration came from both, observation of a primary source and digestion of a piece by Greta Alfaro. I saw her work on display at the Saatchi Gallery. Her 2009 piece called In Ictu Oculi, Single channel video (HDV, 16:9, colour, sound, duration: 10:37) The Latin title in translation means ‘in the brink of an eye’.
She uses birds in a Hitchcock-like, metaphorical way. However, the meaning of her piece is different. It focuses on questioning human desires and has a very dark side to it. I thought that quoting her video and learning from her use of analogies and suggestions was very relevant to my painterly explorations.
Day 2 was also extended to most of day 3. My team – 11B got very passionate about crating a holistic and xcohesive platform. Our concept was to bring people together in a time of crisis, social distancing and isolation.
We produced a very comprehernsive proposal for a range of ideas and supporting online platforms. I was selected by the team to present our proposal to the forum of 174 observes via Zoom videoconference. Our proposal was very well received and the team and I are awaiting further news on a range of possible developments.
The first day of this event was dedicated to getting to know the problem. I was allocated to team 11. It consisted of 6 people from Bahrain, Dubai, Ireland, The Phillipines, India and the UK. Their positions varied and included artists, senior managers, consultans and a student.
Our allocated problem for investigation was to look at the creative industries and identify key challenges in terms of reducing fixed costs of operation. Our task was to go beyond the obvious austerity measures and simply cutting down expenditure.
We used Zoom for videoconferencing and Slack for textual communication. Our team managed to work through a long list of challenges and activities in order to isolate a specific research question and refine it.
This is were our group split into teams A & B.
Team A focused on legislation.
Team B (my group) started to explore ideas for the creation of a creative community and a supporting network. The plan was to start with by preparing for a prestigious event to axchieve clout ans broader recognition. Suceess is addictive.
I have gone through a long journey Exploration, trial and error with this piece. Initial observational and crude sketches of crows in hard pencil, were gradually transformed into dynamic and terrifying black silhouettes of individual birds in a herd. There is definitely something raw about this piece, which portrays a bizarre world with no source of light nor gravity. The mood is overpowering and depressing, perhaps overwhelmed by dirty browns and broken yellows. My painting echoes achievements of strange yet famous Munich grave painters, who limited their palette to the use of dirty colours and broken chroma. This was the main discovery of and I have decided to refer to their learning on the composition on my experimental composition.
Initially, I collaged a self portrait into the painterly space. I have carefully chosen this photo to make sure that it was personal Ly significant. Subsequently, I immersed myself in the creation of an arrangement, which contained energy and drama. Through scraping, glazing and overlaying, I managed to increase the element of a secret atmosphere, mood and, therefore, forced a reflection on a viewer.
The sipping light through the colour layers will later become subdued. I will use an overall glaze of a mixture of crimson Alizarin and Prussian blue. I will also consider using an oil based coat in order to ensure that there is an appropriate translucency and depth of the overlaying colour.
The final stage will be concerned with scrapping of the glaze and, perhaps, imprinting further textures into the existing layers to reveal a mysterious illusions of secrets underneath.
As a part of the process of development of my painting, I have decided to sidetrack it and experiment with digital possibilities and ideas. Yesterday, I devoted my time to drawing crows from observation using a pencil and paper. Subsequently, I moved on and transferred my source sketches onto the canvas using rough black marker pens. The next step was to consider a balanced and rhythmic composition. My creative intention was to achieve a sense of being overwhelmed and taken over by a herd of terrifying black birds. I started to increase the density of drawings, initially with small repetitive silhouettes and gradually increasing their sizes and numbers. My animation begins with a scan of a photograph of me. I have chosen this image carefully. It represents a personally significant moment of my life. In steps, it is replaced by some of my sketches, and than, moderately transforms itself into a black screen. This has some resemblance to the current crisis. It all started with just one mutation, which in turn has expanded enormously to create a global pandemic.
Crows and the use of black are of a metaphorical importance here. They symbolise emptiness, vacuum and nothing, but destruction and death.
I purposefully repeated this sequence and reversed its speed and direction. It grows and withers, reducing itself to a dead screen. This process is looped in order to create a feeling of entrapment and bizarre predictability. We all know, what is going to happen . The cycle has now been thoroughly researched and explored. The meaning of the world is created by a clash of the opposites and juxtaposition of contradictions. Life cannot be just one-sided. Life and death, growth and decline, light and darkness.
At this stage, the overall tonation of my painting is kept in ochre and dirty yellowish greens. In consequence to my digital experimentation, I plan to increase the amount of bright yellowish stains and bleeding patches, in order to over-glaze the entire surface with a deep wash of Alizarin and Prussian Blue. The aim is to enrich the depth of colour to enhance its impact on a viewer. Perhaps, removing parts of the over-layer will allow me to reveal some key elements of the space underneath.
Following a period of stagnation I have moved ahead with full steam. I have developed a new screen. The images comes from a repetitive Royal Thai pattern. It is of cultural significance and has resemblance to the glory of this country. I managed to wash out the light sensitive filler with great precision to reveal all sensitivities of detail.
However, my creative intention was to use the screen in a much more spontaneous way. I overprinted the colourful frame around the masseur. I tried to echo the existing colour scheme in order to achieve a sense of cohesion, unity and flow. To destroy an effect of a decorative motif, I used a wet sponge to work into the prints and make them bleed.
I continued with using rich alizarin crimson based colours and royal blues. Ultimately, the painting reached a very gloomy and dark stage. The central section with masseur begun to shrink and partially disappeared. The peaceful and relaxing interior of the salon was overwhelmed by the aggressive background , which had watery qualities and resembled an angry and powerful waves of an ocean. The collage of spin paintings has been lost under a build up of new layers of colour and strokes of a sponge and imprints of a towel.
I have reached a stage, where I can do nothing more but let the canvas dry.
The only question in my mind is – when will I see my work again. A repeatedly ringing thought, which is brought about by the current predicament.