James Plays in Porto – progress stage 2

James is probably Portuguese. He has no real name nor identity. He is homeless and badly battered by hard and brutal life. He is eking existence by basking on cold streets of wintery Porto. The only pleasure and companion he has is a bottle of rough spirit, which is partially hidden behind in the doorway behind him. His voice is very delicate, somehow broken and fragile. However, his beautiful tone and squeaky, whisper-like sound of his guitar, allow passing by strangers to dream about everything they miss.

He is still in the gutter, but looking at the stars.

Alejandra – All the Dreams I Once Have Had.

Alejandra is a stunning women. She is a mother of two and appears to be successful. She lives in Guadalajara and travels twice a month to Tijuana in Baja California Sur. Once upon a time, her heart was full of love and she had a dream to have a perfect family. She did everything possible to orchestrate happiness. However, her daily reality is harsh and in a total contradiction to her earlier ambitions, aspirations and desires. She has now reached her mid-30s and cannot see any potential for change.

Heavenly Ariel – Work in Progress

I have continued with the painterly process while repeating Aries’s body in a rhythmic movement. The intention is to arrange a sensation of grace and ballet in the context of anxiety and worries. After all, Ariel has bend her moral spine and made her principles vague and ambiguous. What is she going to do next?

Research Showcase at University Centre South Devon

I was invited, for the third time, to deliver a presentation about my research project. When designing a structure for my talk, I divided the supporting PowerPoint into two distinctive sections. The first part was devoted to my recent achievements, exhibitions and awards. The second, focused on my last pieces. I have decided to cover the most current period of the last 18 months only.

UCSD Research Showcase Pav Szymanski.pptx — Read on testmailsouthdevonac-my.sharepoint.com/:p:/r/personal/pszymanski_southdevon_ac_uk/_layouts/15/Doc.aspx

A recording of my presentation is below:

https://web.microsoftstream.com/video/db5b1042-a3fa-4c3c-81d4-cc5bcb897869

Malagasy Queen

Micheline lives on Madagascar – an island, which is famous for its wildlife and beauty. She is stunningly natural, pretty and used to be called a Malagasy Queen. Before the pandemic, she had a respectable job, good existence and worked as a teacher of French. Now, the dynamics changed. She is trying to rebuild her life, while looking for employment in foreign call centres. The beautiful background is a constant, but the reality can be a nightmare.

Captain Ahmed – Work in Progress

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.

La liberté ou la Mort

https://www.historyofinformation.com/image.php?id=6982

There are different schools of thought regarding the highest values of humanity. Some say that the phenomenon of life is absolute and unquestionable, while others argue that it is freedom. I support the latter. All our heroes fought hard, and subsequently, sucrified their lives in order to fight for liberty. This document and its philosophy supports my motivation for painting the Haitian series of images and from other countries.

Malaika Mzuri

Malaika is a young, tall, slim and beautiful woman. A unique composition of Ethiopian, Masai and Tanzanianian genes has made her body perfect and her face original, exotic looking and absolutely stunning.

She is a single mother of two and has no permanent residence. One daughter has a disability. She has no contact with the other child. Due to her turbulent upbringing, she received no education and is now struggling with basic reading and writing skills. She has no realistic chances of getting any meaningful employment. To survive, she has few options: the most lucrative is to marry a rich foreigner, the other other choices are less appealing.

Her life has been filled with pain, abuse and hardship. A long chain of continuous disasters and predicaments has started to affect the “perfect” look. At 33, her outstanding natural beauty is vanishing rapidly while making her future more and more uncertain.

A1, mixed media on aged board

Symposium – Reflections

Jonathan presented my 5 minute video to the group yesterday. I received a broad range of opinions, questions and suggestions. I was inspired by a constructive dialogue and several intriguing interpretations of my work. I would like to respond to the main comments as follows:

Matt – is the Venetian mask making its way into paintings too or are the sequences of you wearing the mask in this video taken from a piece in itself – where did it come from? I’m curious.

Yes, it will be a part of a future painting. My intention was to create a sensation of an outsider, alien like character, who observes and comments on the nature of the human condition from ‘out there’.

Alexis – you have mentioned that the voice in the narration is as though an alien, it is another and not you. What do you see is the relationship between the voice of the narrator, the text and yourself?

The alien like voice creates a clash between my observations and those of an outsider, who is trying to formulate an objective and detached analysis of the situation and predicaments.

Danielle – I’m interested to know whether/how hypnotic repetition is embedded into your painting process?

Using a washing machine as a creative tool is repetitive in its own right. Watching the spinning of the drum has hypnotic qualities. The slow and very precise process of portrait painting is also monotonous and mind-numbing. It is passive and based on observing the process of destruction without any possibilities for intervention and influence.

Aristotle – Do you see your artistic identity as an alter-ego?

Not at alter ego. The intention is to initiate a dialogue by introducing another perspective, an angle, which is unbiased.

Matt – This is something, which I remain interested in – I asked similar questions during our group tutorial at low residency in terms of the point at which a painting becomes fixed, concluded, or left, and the cycle is broken – is this point at which it becomes a story?

My work is based on an evolving and sequential dialogue, a commentary on the human condition in the context of predicaments of daily survival and turbulence of existence. It is not an object of craft, which forces a question about the work being completed. It is not a piece of embroidery – you do it and than, it is done.

Kelda – is (your project) about discovery? With the travels. With your artwork? You have been experimenting with process like using the washing of your artwork…

My research is focused on an attempt to develop a deeper understanding in order to establish and analyse the discrepancy between what is on the surface and what is really going on underneath the facade. The process is metaphorically important. The underpinning thinking is of primary significance, as always.

Alexis – The washing of the canvases is clearly an important element in your process, how does it function in the concept of hypnotic repetition and does it have a personal significance?

The spinning motion of a drum of a washing machine has hypnotic qualities. Its metaphorical function is to confirm and reinforce my observations about the repetitive nature of peoples’ lives and the entire structure of their existence. There is no escape from this entrapment. The destination of every attempt to break free from this cycle is failure. It becomes consumed by it and integral to the entire existence.

Danielle – (hypnotic repetition is embedded into life in its entirety) through habits?

I am not talking about rituals and acquired habits. My project explores the essence of being and its overwhelming impact on the most basic form of existence – dealing with life without thinking about it – getting on with perseverance.

Ben – I find it interesting that the washing, really does not wash away anything. Merely smears and alters the original image into something new.

It is very much a part of an uncontrollable, uncertain and unpredictable creative process.

Jonathan – the washing process is obviously connected to washing and cleansing but in this case it is also very destructive, as it removes large amounts of the painted surface, how much of this is about your giving up control or giving over control to the washing machine in this case, is it in any way an empathetic action with the stories of come of those you have met?

Yes, it is in a way, because there is a bizarre similarity, a parallel between the nature of my process and the lives of the people I paint.

Kelda – It is also retelling the story (of the painting, or the people whose stories you are seeking out), the ‘truth’ is distorted with every telling.

Absolutely, it is twisted and distorted, just like their lives and existence – nothing is certain.

Leah – Regarding “new normality”. I have a question about this. What is the difference between the new normality and the old normality? What on earth can completely change our inherent state? If it is only changes slowly over time. So can it be said that “change” is what we call “normality”?

The key point is that everyone has a different normality and a unique perspective on life and existence. My work reinforces this concept and celebrates this thinking.

Matt – There is a great richness and depth to your storytelling in conversation. Pav – maybe the layers of paint form a mask that invites inspection without the spoken word?

Yes, possibly, but the narrative is very important and forms another layer to the understanding of my perspective and research findings.

AxAsh – just sharing my personal opinion,I feel there might be some violence element in your work Pav. I meant,did you attempt to make it or it is just a random result?An interesting saying is that art making is another form of crime. Some film directors have the same explanation. This can be a way to heal their trauma?How do you think?

The character is not violent, may appear to be sinister. This is, however, a part of a bias and interpretation from the observer and depends on his own insecurities. It is designed to draw attention to the situation.

Friederike – [It is also retelling the story (of the painting, or the people whose stories you are seeking out), the ‘truth’ is distorted with every telling]
Yes, exactly and therefore is very well in tune with concept of the mask, which can hide identity but also retells a story like in theatre.

Repetition stops you from thinking and analysing your own life, ambitions, dreams and aspirations. You hypnotically and simple ‘get on with it’!

Altiba9 International Exhibition.

I have submitted my work to the prestigious Altiba9 international exhibition. I have also composed a new portfolio saved as a PDF file, especially for this purpose.

I have attached a screenshot of the email 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.

Symposium – Development of Presentation.

Presentation in Progress:

Refined proposal:

Image remains:

This is a holistic and conclusive summary and visual outcome of my research, practical experimentation and analysis, which I have develop in consequence to my investigation into hypnotic repetition over the last few years.

I have attempted to portray my research findings as unreal. In the context of the current crisis, my ability to travel appears to be nothing, but a distant memory. The seriousness of the situation is reflected in a ‘torture like’ visual metaphor, which is intentionally ambiguous. The title implies a false show or pretence. The opulence of the Venetian mask has an important function here. It depersonalises the character. We are all entrapped in the vacuum of hypnotic repetition, regardless of status, age and location. The yellow and gold tonation imply a form of celebration, perhaps a masked ball, which allows all participants to misbehave without any possibilities of being recognised and punished. It creates a feeling of safety and removes all unnecessary barriers and limitations.

The process of washing is also of significance here. Its aim is to cleanse, purify and remove a burden of recollections and reminders of the past. It is a perfect time to move on and embrace the new normality in the brave and contemporary post pandemic world.

The narrative has a purposefully confused and partially non-sequential timeline. The underpinning idea is to disorientate potential viewers and make them question the purpose of the existence through an interpretation of the meaning of my video.

The spinning cycle of the machine has hypnotic properties and enhances the overall feeling of absurd, repetition and induces a fatamorgana of safety and cosiness.

In contradiction to logic, opportunities arise in life in order 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.

The masquerade of ‘head-spinning’ continues, while we are all waiting for something to change and happen.

This crazy pirouette continues forever. One broken cycle leads to another entrapment. New becomes old almost instantly. One fulfilment expectantly 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!)