ArtMaze Mag Submission.

I have composed a long summary of my achievements and practice. The purpose of this was to create a submission for the ArtMaze Mag. I have attached a confirmation screenshot below:

Portfolio on Behance and Further Thoughts on Final Exhibition

I have started to work on a new presentation portfolio on Behance.

My work in progress can be viewed by clicking on the following link:

https://pavszymanski.myportfolio.com/

I will continue to update this collection of work as some key pieces are still missing.

This has also given me ideas of how I would like to present my work during the final show. I have exchanged correspondence with Aristotle and uploaded work files into my space on the shared google drive.

I am really looking forward to seeing the work being presented in this simple yet clear and aesthetic format.

All images are of identical height. They are equally spaced, probably further apart than on my rough design. The 7 central pieces are videos (the above design displays only 5) and my paintings on both sides. The order of my work may be adjusted.

The work on the left represents some initial research and experimentation. The pieces on the right are the most recent. Therefore, there is a sense of chronological progression throughout. The idea is to echo my journey, experiences and findings.
Ideally, it would be great to be able to click on each piece to enlarge it.

I am also planning to support each piece with an explanation using either a sound recording or text.

The sequence of my work files is: 7 paintings – 7 videos – 5 paintings.

My Portfolio

Pav Szymanski

pavszymanski@gmail.com

Biography:

I am a fine art painter with 30 years of experience.  I have spent my life travelling and recording human existence in the most distant and exotic locations in 99 countries.  ​

My project is a metaphorical attempt to formulate a response to my observations of people, who are entrapped in waiting, while being suspended in the vacuum of hypnotic repetition. I have gathered substantial primary sources and evidence from destinations across the globe. Perhaps, the most significant research findings were from Haiti and Myanmar and resulted in the production of the most spectacular paintings.  They have inspired me to develop new and innovative ways of working and experimenting with image making, which are appropriate to the subject.  They combine the best of traditional achievements and the power of contemporary thinking and deep reflection.

I work full time as a programme coordinator for Art & Design at a large institution offering a broad range of FE and HE qualifications.  I am also an external examiner for the UAL and AQA.

Artist Statement:

Through my projects I feel that I discover my inner fears, longings and re-evaluate my uncertainties. My work seems to be an attempt to explore and question by metaphorical presentation my response to the hidden truths of the world. The essence of the value of these works is in their inherent meaning and an atmosphere, which manifests itself in the dusk of the space portrayed, thus the light may appear, where the hue of colour fulfils clarity and sounds with harmonious melody.

https://hypnoticrepetition.com/

https://pavszymanski.myportfolio.com/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOq7lHQlrOnKozGz95Hq2CA?view_as=subscribe

https://www.instagram.com/pavszymanski/?hl=en

https://spark.adobe.com/page/fQ9VytzHNpWq9/?hl=/

1.    Masquerade

https://youtu.be/4ZeoPuKLE0o

5-minute video

This video pieces covers a summary and visual outcome of my research, practicalexperimentation and analysis, which I have develop in consequence to my investigation into hypnotic repetition over the last few years.

My work is about an attempt to develop a visual response.  In contradiction to logic, opportunities arise in life to break the mundane phenomenon of entrapment and never-changing routine.

Perhaps, with increased sensitivity of observation, we would be able to free ourselves from this ballast and seek other endeavours and experiences to continue to make progress, develop and flourish.

This crazy pirouette continues forever. One broken cycle leads to another entrapment. New becomes old almost instantly. One fulfilment unexpectantly turns into a disaster and we remain unsatisfied, while travelling on a piece of rock through space – paradoxically, entrapped in a hope that the final destination is anything but death!

However, with great and vulgar arrogance, we continue to refuse to accept that nothing lasts forever and everything will turn into dust.

Dust and darkness (sic!)

2.    One-Legged Pool Player

The One-Legged Player is totally on the task. Her appearance looks frivolous and theatrical to distract from her determination and the fact that she cannot afford to miss any shots. Her outwards image portrays glamour and fame, but the reality is diametrically different.
The One-Legged Player is frozen in a stretched position, suspended in the vacuum of repetition. Every shot is executed in an identical posed pose in a hope to attract attention and increase the stakes, hence maximise profits.
I am hesitant to come to conclusions that there is something repulsive about it. The first impressions of wonder and curiosity are replaced with laughter and astonishment.  The performance continues regardless.

Mixed media on canvas

180 X 110

3.    Coach to Myiek

This piece portrays a coach driver. He is preparing to leave Kawthoung for a 20-hour long journey to Myiek. The road is terrible and unpredictable. His old coach must be in a top condition before the passengers are allowed to board.
The driver looks very tired and substantially overweight. He spends his life driving his coach between those two distant cities in Myanmar.  Mixed media on board, A1 size

4.    Burmese Captain

This work portrays a Burmese captain in charge of a long boat. His job is to transport people and cargo from Ranong in Thailand to Kawthoung at the furthest southern point of Myanmar. His main clientele are poor illegal workers from Burma trying to earn a few baht in Thailand.
Following a long conversation with him, I become one of his passengers. To maximise income, he accepts as many people as possible. He even travels on the very front of the boat to save valuable space. This place is very uncomfortable and rocky. He is also fully exposed there to the power of the tropical sun. He tries to get some relief from the burning heat by hiding under a colourful umbrella.
The image is very clashing in colour – very kitsch. This is further enhanced by his crude and cramped body position.  His ankle reveals a massive tumour.
There is a gigantic growth on his leg, perhaps caused by prolonged exposure to the sun and continued contact with polluted water in the port.
My creative intention was to portray him in his usual setting, while crossing the same water many times every day.
The focus is on him. The beautiful surroundings no longer matter. He cannot see the landscape. He is trapped in his daily routine.
The colour of his shirt blends in with the orange stripes of paint on the boat. The umbrella is feminine and looks absolutely ridiculous.

Mixed media on marine matt

A1 size

5.    Three Monks Begging

Mixed media on unprimed canvas.
168 cm x 118 cm

This new piece portrays three Burmese monks taking a break from their money collecting duties, while entertaining themselves with a large group of pigeons.
In the area, there were large numbers of child monks present. Most of their days are spend extorting large amounts of cash from the hard working, fearful and deeply religious market community.
They are immaculately dressed in pink robes and sarongs. Simultaneously, they walk bare foot to project an image of poverty and humbleness.
However, the truth is different. They have got daily targets to fill their metals trays with a mixture of coins and bank notes to satisfy the needs and expectations of their superiors.

mixed media on two joined canvases

Size: (w) 60cm; (h) 85cm

This is a portrait of a young, beautiful and idyllic-looking Haitian girl playing with butterflies. I met her during my travels through Haiti, where most people survive on less than 1$ per day.

She is totally oblivious of her origin.

She does not understand, why she is consistently ostracised and bullied. Her skin is white, and her eyes are baby blue. She definitively stands out!

She has never heard of Poland. Her home is on a little island called Petit Goave.

She is a descendent of Polish legionnaires, who were sent to Haiti by Napoleon to suppress an uprising of slaves. However, having realised the extent of exploration and abuse, the Poles changed sides and fought in support of the oppressed indigenous people. Subsequently, most of them were punished and slaughtered. A few lucky ones managed to disperse to the islands.

mixed media on board

Size: (w) 60cm; (h) 85cm

This is a portrait of a young Haitian girl called Palenque. She is heavily disabled.  Her arms are distorted and twisted. She is in constant pain.

Today, she is celebrating her 16th birthday.  Her eyes are full of joy and spark of life, and she smiles beautifully.

She is totally overwhelmed by an unexpected present from a stranger – a mobile phone.

5. Punhana

mixed media on board

Punhane, in Azeri, means ‘secret’. I have got to know her quite well. She was diligent, perceptive and intuitive. She made a very positive impression on me. Her outgoing personality was enhanced by a very natural look, reserved and introvert personality and beautiful young face with long hair and no makeup. 

Revealing her deepest secret could cost her life.

She is Armenian.  Since the war, both countries are filled with hatred towards each other.

6. Thai Masseur

mixed media on stretched canvas

Size: (w) 116cm; (h) 184cm

This is a portrait of a single mum of three.  She originates from a poor village in the North.  Her new life is in Pattaya.  Before the pandemic, her days were very monotonous and repetitive.  She used to work 17-hour long days as a masseur.  Now, in lockdown, her shop is closed.  She dreams about returning to her previous life and the former status quo.

mixed media on terrycloth, A1

Pearl Twink lives in Lagos, Nigeria.  She is transsexual. She fears for her life and her sexuality is her biggest secret. She is a fashion icon. The piece tries to question the presumption within our prejudice and allows us to understand the contradictory point of view – the opposite perspective.  Therefore, forcing us to confront and reflect on our own behaviour in the context of making judgements without thinking and appropriate analysis. We simply devalue the status of a person from a different culture.  Labelling and categorising removes individuality and creates a climate for a lack of our responsibility towards them.

Dialogue with Pearl Twink (with sound)

41-second video piece

GIFs

YouTube

Reflections on the Final Show

I have researched and tested a great number of possible platforms for the final show. Unfortunately, I have found them quite disappointing. The most common concept is to based on echoing a feeling of a physical gallery. Frequently, the software is very slow and clumsy in operation. Additionally, the overall effect is more focused on the look of the space rather than the work itself. Art becomes somehow secondary to the meaningless decorations and textures of walls, ceiling and the lighting.

The most popular online gallery is artsteps.com and https://www.furioos.com/ is best for streaming 3D work.

Other options, which are worth investigating are:

https://www.capterra.com/art-gallery-software/

https://www.3dvas.com/

http://omeka.org/

http://openexhibits.org/

http://collectiveaccess.org/

http://pachyderm.nmc.org

Alternatively, I have considered using a website, which is similar in design to behance.net.

I really like the simplicity, effectiveness and freshness of the front page. There is a grid of large block images, which is inviting and very clear. This website is able to accommodate a broad range of artefacts, including gifs files and video work. Photography on display is relatively high resolution and organised with order and structure.

Our group meets in Zoom on a regular bases to discuss possibilities for arranging the exhibition. All students are very proud and would like to present their research projects to the best of the abilities. Likely, Aristotle, who is one of our students, has offered to help everyone and donated both, his time and the use of his original software.

In preparation for my exhibition, I have carefully considered a range of ideas. My main intention is to make sure that the way, in which my work is displays reinforces its meaning. I would like to avoid using any unnecessary gimmicks and distractions.

In these unprecedented times, it is quite strange for a painter to accept that the final exhibition will not have a physical dimension. Frankly, I am saddened and overwhelmed by a lack of reality it terms of the experience of true colour, texture and painterly mastery of strokes. However, an artist and creative individual needs to seek opportunities in overcoming obstacles. Therefore, my intention is to excel myself and make the online exhibition even better, more refined and sophisticated. I would like for this to be a new learning curve full of controlled happy accidents, experimentation and deep reflection of what is appropriate in term of visual communication – my chosen language of expression.

The digital approach creates a new chance to experiment with a ‘space’, which supports and reinforces my messages in cohesion to deliver a holistic poetry about my painterly and video work.

Currently, I am planing for a long wall with three parallel and simultaneous video projections. This number can be possibly extended to four. I am in the process of working on a painting titled ‘Ravens and Crows Will Peck Us to Pieces’. It is quite likely that I will make sufficient progress to video another washing cycle. This image is different to portraiture. Therefore, I was relatively hesitant to include this image. However, on reflection, it summarises my overall responses to my research findings in a time of lockdown and social isolation. We are all subjected to mortality, vulnerable and fragile. The end of our journey is the only certainty in our lives. Death is the culmination of our waiting, while being suspended in the vacuum of hypnotic repetition.

The side walls of the gallery will be dedicated to the display of the actual paintings. I should be able to exhibit between 8 and 10 canvasses.

It is all very exciting!

Ravens and Crows Will Peck Us to Pieces – Painting Progress

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.

Ravens and Crows Will Peck Us to Pieces

During my exercise yesterday, I managed to take this disturbing photograph. On the one hand, it reminded me of my primary source for Three Burmese Monks piece. On the other, the black crows drew references to a novel by a Polish writer Stefan Zeromski.

Ravens and Crows Will Peck Us to Pieces – is a relatively short book by a literature Nobel Price winner . It consists of three parts and has references to the atrocities of the partitions of Poland between Germany, Russia and Austria. These birds have also other common connotations. It is usually believed that that the crow is a symbol of bad luck and death. I am not superstitious, but this seen has terrified me.

Subsequently, I have developed an idea of using the crows as an overprinted pattern on my next piece. The idea is to compose a twin image to Three Burmese Monks and use our current pandemic predicament to create a painting about myself, while responding to the broader contexts of the crisis. I am waiting while working in isolation in front of my window.

Optimistically attempting to contradict Zeromski while waiting in a hope that ravens and crows will not peck us to pieces!

Only Waiting, Not Working…

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.

Bye Bye Burmese Monks

I have made some real progress today. I set up a video recording session of the washing of the Three Burmese Monks piece. Everything was arranged in the print room. As the DLSR run out of power, I had to result to using my iPhone XSMax with a tripod.

Following a discussion of details included in my storyboard, Georgie, our technician, agreed to help with the washing performance.

My picture frame was purposely wanky and crocked. I wanted to include a glimpse of a fire extinguisher and PVC pipes in the view. I also thought that bleeding stains on dirty floor make a valuable contribution to the overall impact of captured images, their meaning and the recording.

The raw footage is relatively long and full of accidental disruptions. They will all need to be edited out in order to create a cohesive video piece. The details of my plan will emerge soon, and continue to evolve and grow.

I enclose the final washed up image of the Three Burmese Monks piece and some raw and culminate footage below:

New Face

Following a long period of consideration and reflection, I have restarted work today on the Thai Masseur piece.

The main issue was to complete painting the face. On the one hand, I wanted for the portrait to be recognisable, on the other, I have struggled with solving a number of ethical issues regarding a possible reaction and rejection of my work by the model. I experienced this kind of a situation with one of the former pieces. Subsequently, this unpleasant episode had let to the destruction of my own work and several alterations to other experiments.

My new idea is inspired by deeply glazed and moody flemish paintings. I am especially inspired by Metsu and his self portrait. He positioned himself inside a window arch. This implies a composition within a composition. I am also using a double rectangular. My creative intention is to achieve a sense of ambiguity while drawing all attention to the centre – on the masseur. I want to rely on a visual suggestion of portraiture rather than a descriptive portrayal of a woman. The plan is to leave her facial features undefined, like a ghostly outline of what is really there.

https://www.rct.uk/collection/405943/a-self-portrait

GABRIEL METSU (LEIDEN 1629-AMSTERDAM 1667)

A Self-Portrait c.1655-8 Oil on panel | 37.7 x 31.4 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 405943

To give the surface more vibrancy, I used water solvable oil pastels. ‘Dancing’ with a crayon on top of the painting allows me to achieve a sense of mystery – secret light, which brings out parts of the skull and the jaw – all in the dusk of the space portrayed.

The next stage of the painting process will be to glaze the overall piece with a variety of transparent layers of an acrylic medium, perhaps combined with some watered down PVA glue. This is to prepare the surface for the overprinting stage using the silk screen technique and enhance a feeling of unity between the different formal elements and parts of the composition.

I have already prepared a new pattern based on decorative elements, which I have isolated from the interior of the massage salon. I will use this design to create a random over-image. This, in turn, will have a dual function. The first is to help to engage the centre in the overall painterly illusion. The second aim is to increase the amount of detail and enhance holistic and expressive qualities of my piece.

At this stage, I am considering using a range of gold and crimson tones. This initial plan might be subsequently altered in favour of a more spontaneous and instinctive decisions and reflections in action.

I am enclosing photographs of the final stages of work today and a close up of the ‘New Face’

Time-lapse & Hyper-lapse with Colour Grading Workshop.

This has been a very intensive and exciting day. Matt Edwards, who run this workshop is an expert with a fast knowledge in this area. The purpose was to initiate experimentation with filming and editing footage in an intentional and meaningful way. A strong focus on the overall idea is very important in order to develop a holistic and professional piece.

In order to ensure consistency between individual workshops and experimentation, I have decided to create and record a mini pop-up show of my screen prints.

I used a Nikon D90 camera and a tripod. The idea was to capture a broad view of an art studio. All work in progress provides the frame with detail and sets the seen, while contextualising the video. I practiced with recording myself, while continuously displaying prints on a white wall to form a large rectangular composition. Subsequently, the pieces were removed one by one. White wall as a start and the same white wall as the end. This concept has provided my with the boundaries for my action and narrative.

I have experimented with a range of possibilities and considered a number of unassuming angles for shooting. My creative intention was to ‘go’ beyond a simple use of a documentary or media approach. I wanted to create a short art film.

Simultaneously, this provided me with an excellent opportunity to photograph my prints using a digital SLR.

As soon as all images and video footage are processed, I will include them and other visual material in this post.

Premier Pro is an advanced piece of sophisticated video editing software, which allows for a superb level of control, manipulation and intervention.

To aid my memory, I made a number of notes. I hope to use them as guidance in further experimentation. I am excited about taking my current ideas further and this process will begin shortly.

I feel that I have learned a lot about the impact of colour changes on video and the way in which it is perceived and understood by an audience.

Surprisingly, there is a similarity to how this applies to traditionally developed imagery.

I created a number of clips and sequences and experimented with additional effects including the use of alteration layers.

All in all, the day was very successful and demanding. I have benefitted from being challenged, especially in the context of experimentation and risk-taking leading to the development of new ideas and discussions of alternatives.

I am looking forward to the next stage of refinement of the work, which I have started to produce today.

A screen shot of my notes is below:

Raw Footage for Editing during the workshop

Cyanotype Workshop – Day 1

This year’s Low Res programme started with a cyanotype workshop run by Matt from the British Library.

Following an introduction to the process and a range of discussions of possibilities, we proceeded with practical experimentation. Most participants collaged photocopies on acetate of sources from the British Library. With Jonathan’s help, I managed to download and print two copies of my paintings.

During the coating stage, my intention was to contradict smoothness and eve was of the chemical film on the surface. I wanted to achieve a more uncertain and unpredictable effect. I used sponge brushes in a spontaneous and dynamic way, trying to create a layered and broken effect.

Unfortunately, the light from the strip lights was powerful enough to begin exposing the paper before it had a chance to dry. I resulted to aiding this process with a hair dryer and protected the pieces from further damage by storing them in a black plastic bag.



The next stage was based on preparation and further enhancement of the acetate photocopies. I used permanent black pens to refine the images and emphasise both the shapes as well as stains and textures. Here again, my intention was to create images with are non visually descriptive. I wanted to achieve effects of ambiguity leading to curiosity and a range of possible interpretations.

Subsequently, after exposing my work in UV light boxes for 15 to 20 minutes, the results have exceeded my expectations. The work is mysterious and has poetic and spiritual resemblances.
I will definitely experiment further with this images to refine them further using a digital process, perhaps even moving image trials and animations.




New Screen

Following a long process of digital manipulation, I have finally developed a satisfactory image. It portrays a form of a spin painted splash. This echoes the flow of marks in the background.

Subsequently, a new screen has been exposed, processed and washed. I am very excited about a range of new possibilities for overprinting using this device next week.