Ravens & Crows Will Peck Us to Pieces – Glazed.

The painting has been continuously glazed and cleaned. It has gone through a number of stages and altered by, contradictory in temperature, transparent layers of olive oil and alkyd paints.

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.

In Ictu Oculi
https://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/greta_alfaro_in_ictu_oculi.htm

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!

Dubai Ideathon- Day 2

Inspirational experience in a difficult time!

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.

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 – Video Progress

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.

Feedback from Leo and Fleur

I have asked two of my Foundation students to provide me with further feedback. Their key comments are summarised below.

  • There is an interesting dynamic of placing myself as a lens of a camera inside of a machine, which represents cycle
  • Focus on a relationship between ‘me’ and the nature of my work – interaction with references to monotony
  • It is very relevant to the key events of the Corona virus crisis – combination and juxtaposition of chaos and moments of stillness
  • It is necessary to keep the entire cycle in the video to express my creative intention of waiting
  • Consider using a real washing machine as a working object and experimenting with different cycles and programmes.
  • There is a good level of demanding the patience and feeling of entrapment.
  • Leo really enjoyed watching the entire experience, from start to finish, despite understanding how a washing machine works.
  • It is not just about painting – the focus is on the whole experience.
  • Watching the machine work from the inside has shifted the perspective totally and created the division between the inside and the outside.
  • There is a great relevance on the context of the pandemic through the purpose on the metaphorical meaning of cleaning.
  • It is about putting your own meaningful artwork through this process and getting it transformed into something new without having any control over how it will develop.
  • Both, the video and the audio provide appropriate contextualisation.

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!

DUBAI IDEATHON 2020: COVID-19 CRISIS.

I have submitted the following proposal to the DUBAI IDEATHON 2020: COVID-19 CRISIS. Tee idea is to make a contribution by responding to one of six themes. My chosen topic was as follows:

How can the creative community self-organise? And what kind of public-private collaborations can we explore to help support the cultural industries?

From the creation of talent pools, expertise directories and databases to skill-based collectives and collaborative businesses.

Isolation format does not support the creative community. People with imagination and exciting ideas strive in the environment of collaboration and bouncing ideas of each other. They need to be bombarded with stimulus to allow them to formulate a response. Therefore, the key to success is in bringing people together through online plenaries and lectures; TED talks and exhibitions. Therefore, there is a need to design a platform, which can be roughly based on the concept of Microsoft Teams. However, the format and its key features must be directed at presentation and exchange of visual material, including sound, moving image and video.
Current online galleries try to emulate the physical experience of walking through a building with art in it. An imitation of a holistic effect of simultaneous physical movement, observation, analysis and reflection is totally impossible to be achieved. Kinaesthetic learning cannot take place in front of a screen. Sitting down and looking at pictures is simply boring. Visitors tend to look at the first few pieces before switching off and leaving. Through brainstorming and a dynamic dialogue, there is a potential to develop tools and layouts to avoid this, or at least minimise its negative impact.

One of the most powerful public/ private collaborations is light projection. There are many artists using enlarged displays of text to promote their ideas, such as Jenny Holzer. Video mapping for advertising and the promotion of current issues is in its infancy. These techniques could be used as powerful tools to advertise art, performance and also increase public awareness. I am confident that government bodies would also like to elevate the significance of their messages and public appeals through this medium.
I hope that my propositions go far beyond 3D printing of protection equipment for hospitals and switching the profile of the fashion industry to sewing face masks.

HOW IT WORKS

Dubai IDEATHON is a three-phased project:

PHASE 1: OPEN CALL

Open call to receive proposals that respond to one (or many) of the listed challenges.

PHASE 2: IDEATHON

Six ideation sessions with the participants of the open call will be organised based on the common challenges, and facilitated by specialised design-thinking experts, concluding in well-defined proposals.

PHASE 3: IMPLEMENTATION

Proposed solutions will be put to industry experts to help devise implementation strategies.

TIMELINE

THURSDAY APRIL 2

8am: Dubai IDEATHON submissions open for receiving ideas

SATURDAY APRIL 4

12am: Submissions close at midnight

SUNDAY APRIL 5

10am – 2pm: Groups are assigned and participants are sent workshop links

TUESDAY APRIL 7

10am – 4pm: First set of ideation sessions

WEDNESDAY APRIL 8

10am – 4pm: Second set of ideation sessions

THURSDAY APRIL 9

Collating ideas and proposals into a final list

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.

Tehching Hsieh – ‘All Art Comes From Life’

Performance 1: Tehching Hsieh | MoMA
https://www.moma.org/calendar/performance/322

https://www.tehchinghsieh.com/artworks

I have recently come across the work of a Taiwanese artist – Tehching Hsieh (1950). He is best known for his five One Year Performances: between 1978 and 1986.

Marina Abramović described him as a “master of performance”., when commenting on his video documenting the whole year of being locked inside a cage and, another one, punching a time clock every hour. His other pieces include an attempt to live solely outdoors for the period of 365 days. In another famous piece he tied himself to another person. Finally, he struggled to avoid any art related activity for another year.

His fascinating pieces shed a completely new light on a new understanding of the emerging concept of self isolation and waiting. This thinking is of significant relevance to my own visual investigation. Although his thinking is very similar to my project, there is one crucial difference – his work is time bound. I have researched people, who are entrapped and suspended in the vacuum of hypnotic repetition in definitively. It is impossible to predict, when their daily struggle will be over. They also do not know, when they will be allowed to return to their former life ‘cages’.

Lockdown with The Wheel of Fortune Seller.

Tumbling around with my thoughts – lockdown in a dark and claustrophobic chamber of an expanding pandemic – waiting for the end!

The aim of this post is to present my work in progress in order to methodically review my practice, refine my thinking and creative intentions. It is essential for me to reflect on how my visual investigation has developed, altered and evolved, especially in response to today’s global crisis.

A fragment from The Pianist, Release date: 24 January 2003 (United Kingdom), DirectorRoman Polanski

The above video draws a parallel to the current global crisis. Isolation and fear are overwhelming. However, The Pianist had his resource, his instrument. He was afraid to touch it and play music. My situation is contradictory – I have a lot of time in loneliness, but cant access my work and studio. Everything appears to by suspended in waiting for the return to my former hypnotic repetition of daily routines and distractions!

My project continues to change with a degree of unexpected persistency and without unnecessary overreliance on resources.  The above video clip reinforces that what really matters is the act of creation; whatever the circumstances.

My role as an artist is to comment on and respond to an ever-changing, dynamic and turbulent environment.  

Therefore, my principal function is to observe the world with great sensitivity and translate my research findings into art, which communicates my thinking and reflections.

My work, in turn, acts as a beacon, pointing out at new possibilities of how to understand, digest and embrace the world!

I need to accept that my initial project ideas have been altered, distorted and, perhaps, contradicted in the light of the current, brutal and rapidly progressing events.

Tutorial

Friday, 20th March 2020 at 9.30 with Jonathan Kearney.

Notes from Skype Tutorial with Jonathan Kearney.
Friday, 20th March 2020 at 9.30

This was a very unusual tutorial. It was a very personal and untypically long deep conversation in definitely extraordinary circumstances. We were both deeply concerned about a continuously expanding pandemic and all its brutal implications on all contexts of our life.

The current situation is unprecedented and overwhelming. It has an enormous impact on all aspects of our existence. Therefore, it would be at least arrogant to assume that I had no radical influence on my creative intentions and the direction of my visual interrogation.

I have explained to Jonathan the sensitivities involved in my research journey so far. Subsequently, we discussed the sudden and unexpected turn in my project, which is deeply routed in the power of the Coronavirus.

All previously taken for granted status quo had to be refined and re-evaluated. This process continues and builds up on speed. The certainty of the past has become the opposite, possibly the most uncertain. Right has changed to wrong and vice versa. The world as we know it has been turned upside down and brutally destroyed. This overpowering situation has a pivotal impact on the way, in which we live and perceive the surrounding Universe. This radical change has vulgarly and violently twisted every context and area of our inhabitation of the Earth.

My current observation is that people around the world are anxiously waiting for the return to their old hypnotic routines. They beg for entrapment and look forward to going back to their previous existence.

Subsequently, we have focused on discussing the impact of this global crisis on our final show and the arts in general. The main issue is to rethink how to display the work in a virtual environment. The idea is to try to reinforce the meaning of the project. My biggest worry was to avoid diluting my intentions and messages.

I explained to Jonathan that I would not like for the form to unnecessarily overgrow the broader meaning of my visual investigation. We continued to elaborate on a number of possibilities. Jonathan suggested that I should consider editing my films together to create an entirely new piece. Therefore, I would take my current work to a completely new level. I argued that I was attempting to avoid producing a media film, rather than a video artefact. This part of our debate was very stimulating and thought provoking. I made a number of notes – a photograph of this page in my sketchbook is included at the top of this post.

Finally, I pointed out at an exhibition of work by Emily Prince, which I saw at the Saatchi Gallery. She dealt with a visual portrayal and organisation of a large sample of data. Her drawings were colour coded, structured and displayed in two separate formats: daily columns of deaths and the map of the USA indicating the origin of killed soldiers.


Emily Prince – American Servicemen and Women… – Saatchi Gallery Project Room – London – 7 January – 7 May 2011
http://contemporaryartlinks.blogspot.com/2011/01/emily-prince-american-servicemen-and.html

I could employ a similar approach and continue filming the process of washing of my paintings. This would result in a large projection split into a large number of individual screens.

I also referred to the painstaking and methodical approach employed by Roman Opalka. He photographed himself every day for 45 years, while wearing the same shirt and and holding identical facial expression. This was in addition to the series of his Counted Paintings, from 0 to infinity. I included his quote as his words are of a special significance today.

20140419144816-roman_opalka_portrait1
Roman Opalka, 1965 – infinity, Self-Portrait
https://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/5638-roman-opalka?tab=PROFILE

Roman-Opalka-2

Roman Opalka (1931-2011)

“Time as we live it and as we create it embodies our progressive disappearance; we are at the same time alive and in the face of death–that is the mystery of all living beings. The consciousness of this inevitable disappearance broadens our experiences without diminishing our joy. There is always the omnipresent idea of nature, of its ebb and flow of life. This essence of reality can be universally understood; it is not only mine but can be commonly shared in our unus mundus.”

Roman Opalka – “Rencontre par la séparation”, AFAA, Paris, 1987

http://www.repeatingdecimal.com/roman-opalka/

My ultimate plan is to project three videos. Additionally, I would also like to restreatch the washed paintings onto their original frames and include them in my exhibition.

However, in response to the rapidly evolving and changing global crisis, I have decided to continue to evolve my ideas. My ultimate creative intention is to formulate a response, which is the most current, insightful and communicate the intrinsic qualities of my work and thinking.

I am focusing on the development of work with a strong feel of the zeitgeist. This is to elevate my role as an artist and to respond to the current issues, which affect our society in a dramatic and powerful way. I would like for my work to be an intelligent, though provoking and erudite comment. My pieces are the leader of critical analysis of reality. They point at and identify new ways of embracing our fragile lives in the context of devastating change. I am an observer of our history being made out there, here and now!

After all, we are travelling through space on a piece of rock; simultaneously spinning around and rotating at a great speed. Our existence is bizarre and impossible to imagine for an outsider.

Let’s hope that our journey is allowed to continue, develop, prosper and flourish!

Tutorial ended at 11.20