Final Exhibition – Further Updates

In response to my discussion with Jonathan, I have prepared all the necessary text and narratives for 14 paintings and 7 videos. I have also added Ravens and Crows piece to the collection. I have made this decision for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to balance and even out the design of the frontal page of my exhibition.
  2. The Ravens and Crows painting is developed as a response to myself, my inner feelings, fears and longings. I felt that my display would be more complete and provide the ultimate visual appraisal of people, who I have met during my research journey. This concept will be also juxtapositioned against my self-analysis.

The new design proposal and the text are below:

New layout of the frontal page.

Painting 1: Three Haitian Girls in Red.

This painting portrays three young girls in a village in Haiti.  They are immaculately dressed in red in preparation for a Voodoo ceremony.

My main focus here is to create a sense of being “suspended in a vacuum”, while waiting for change. This develops a form of tension and drama.  The colour is dynamic and full of expressive turbulence. The faces of the girls are somehow twisted and deformed.  The logo element of underlay and the text add a sense of unreality by making the composition ambiguous and opened to interpretation. The flowers, symbolic of celebration, can be used as a reward for acting as a change agent, giving hope and enabling positive prospects in life.

Painting 2: Haitian Girl with Butterflies

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.

Painting 3: Disabled Palenque

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.

Painting 4: Fragile Little Dreams

I was on a totally overcrowded coach in Haiti. All seats were broken, ripped and absolutely filthy.  I left early in the morning and with passing time, the refreshing sunrise breeze was replaced by a stinking stench of old sweat and … alcohol fumes.  I was travelling from La Caye to an unpronounceable and mysterious road junction (as noted by a woman in my hotel) hoping to catch a connecting minibus to Jacmel. The day was extremely hot and humid.  The bus was stuck in a traffic jam in scorching heat for over an hour. I kept looking through a dirty window to try to relax in this very claustrophobic and uncomfortable situation.  My attention was drawn to a minibus on my right. There was a young girl staring at me through the window.  She was expressionless, almost deadpan.  The hot sun created an orange glare on the surface of the glass. Her face was somehow integrated with layers of reflections of the surrounding area – mainly bustling traffic.

She was sat there, waiting with patience, stone-faced and humble. I smiled and took a quick and discrete photo of the bus and her.  My fellow travellers got really disturbed by this, annoyed and angry.  They did not understand my intentions. They disapproved of a tourist photographing their hardship. I realised that by displaying an expensive mobile phone to take this supposedly meaningless photograph humiliated the locals.  It created an unnecessary division between them and I. It also reinforced our differences and the diametrically opposite sides of life and the world. However, all this had made no impression on the girl whatsoever.  She remained untouched and unmoved, with exactly the same expression on her face.  I began to plan ideas for a painting.  The same evening, I started to draw and make notes in my little pad. I really wanted to protect my memories from being forgotten, before I return to my studio and translate my observations into a painterly interpretation.

Painting 5: Dreaming about The Island Girl

Dear Island Girl,

I am sailing through the Sea of Celebes

Will you go beyond the horizon?

Where the oceans meet the sea.

Where the waters are immaculate.

And the adrenaline is high.

“Her messy hair a visible attribute of her stubborn spirit. As she shakes it free, she smiles knowing wild is her favourite colour.

She didn’t just walk on the wild side,

she lived there, dancing in the streets

and setting fire to its sky.” J. Iron Word

Painting 6: Waiting for a Cocktail Called Pornstar

This painting portrays Tamar, a very poor girl from Tbilisi, Georgia.  Her special dream is to try an expensive cocktail called Pornstar.  Her desires, ambitions and aspirations are formed by brutal and vulgar contrasts between the opulence and status of the privileged and the suffering of the starving underclasses. This powerful contrast is charged with a broad range of associated high-level emotions and feeling, such as jealousy, anger and a total lack of understanding of the reasons behind one’s faith.

Painting 7: Punhana

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.

Video 1:  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!

This video draws a parallel to the current global crisis.  Isolation and fear are overwhelming. Everything appears to be 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. This video piece 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.

Video 2: Masquerade

This video piece covers a summary of the visual outcome of my research, practical experimentation and analysis.  It was developed in consequence of my investigation into hypnotic repetition over the last few years.

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!)

Video 3: Bye, Bye, Wheel of Fortune Seller

This is my recent attempt to respond to the current situation. My project has redefined itself several times during a very long and turbulent journey through nine countries.  My observations and reflections have substantially changed their focus.

My initial interests were firmly placed on the uncertainties of tomorrow.  The context for my investigation was mainly related to a range of economic disadvantages of people in the countries, which I visited.  I was both: fascinated and terrified to learn how they deal with their daily lives.  How inventive and creative they must become to survive.

Subsequently, I realised that everyone is waiting for a new pivotal occurrence.  Something important to happen and bring about a significant and positive change.  One way of dealing with this lengthy, stagnant and monotonous process is to get subjected by the conditioning of a hypnotic repetition.

My visual exploration of workers, who were suspended in the vacuum of that process, followed.  I become intrigued by creating painterly responses based on analysis of workers in Asia. 

Video 4:  Bye, Bue, Burmese Monks

This video piece provides a documentary evidence of the process of washing of a painting titled: Three Burmese Monks.  It is a metaphorical interpretation of the meaning of cleansing and removal of dirt and stains from the memory. The canvas is cut out from the stretcher and taken through a hot wash cycle.  The outcome is unpredictable and the remains are disintegrated, sparse and fragile.

Video 5: Three Monks

The Three Burmese Monks were captured, while taking a break from their money collecting duties.  They entertained themselves by playing with a large group of pigeons. My primary source for this piece originates from Yangon in Myanmar. I was undertaking some visual research by recording activities in a remote market area of the city.

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.

Video 6: The Bathing of Perl Twink

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.

Heaven can only be with you in it.

Wherever you belong…

You are not the girl with long hair, oval eyes, luscious lips and perfect teeth.

You do not look like the girl on the magazine cover or runway,

Hell, you might even be straighter than an arrow.

But you are the most beautiful.

The way you love hard, laugh with abandon, push your glasses back to your face, wipe the sweat off your forehead, the way that crown dances on your head.

Sure, you are a queen,

Of hearts, of love, freedom, beauty, wisdom.

Your huge heart is large enough to hug all the children of the world.

you refuse to be undermined and wield your sword in the fight for truth.

‘WCW’ by Maryam Atoyebi

Video 7: Dialogue with Pearl Twink

This portrait is hypnotically hovering behind the text – emerging from the writing and vanishing again.  The model is looking down with pride and confidence. She is emerging through the messages and remains deadpan – a distant observer.

The video instigates a sense of a dialogue between provocations and her responses to them.  Despite the attention, she remains undisturbed.

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.

The patterns and colours echo the culture of her native Nigeria.  They are vibrant and dynamic, reflecting the power of pure Chroma highlighted by the tropical sun.

Painting 8: Flower Girl from Batumi

Beautiful girl with pink flowers

Like a secret garden

Soothing sadness and regret

Through the misty silver tears

I reach out my hands to them

Still whispering one sentence

Why did you go away?

Nothing pleases me today

When the dreams were over

Who will heal my heart?

And wipe the tears from my eyes

Smile at me

Maybe among the old memories

Regret will be lost

(Based on text by Janusz Popławski)

Painting 9: 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 stylised 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.

Painting 10: Thai Masseur

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.

Painting 11: Three Monks Begging

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.

Painting 12: 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.

Painting 13: 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. 

Painting 14: 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!

Exhibition Design – Second Draft

I have continued to work with Aristotle in order to develop a more refined plan for the layout of my exhibition. Initially, my idea was to arrange all paintings and videos in a linear arrangement. I wanted to start with a series of work from Haiti, Georgia and Azerbaijan. The centre was dedicated to displaying a series of 7 videos. Finally, the work inspired by my research in Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia were placed on the right.

I have spent a considerable amount of time reflecting in order to establish a sequence of images. My focus was on the cohesiveness of the process of visual communication, underlying narrative and messages, which are questioned by each artefact. Subsequently, I have managed to create a long wall design proposal with a degree of flow and echoing of ideas between the works. There was a sense of a dialogue and interaction between all parts of my research project. The holistic presentation would include a series of 20 pieces.

However, this concept proved to be problematic in technical terms. Therefore, a decision was made to explore possibilities of using a rectangular format. Paintings in the top and bottom rows and videos in the centre. This provides a more clear overview of the entire exhibition and allows to make an overall visual assessment.

The other development is to support every piece with a sound file containing an explanation of each piece. I will use a similar approach to the one, I experimented with in preparation for my Symposium. I will record a computer read text to make the speech clear and understandable.

Final Evaluation – Refinement Stage

I have almost arrived at a point, where I feel that my summative review is sufficiently mature and balanced. In the next stage of this beneficial to learning process, I will include the recent yet powerful impact of the current crisis on my research, experimentation and thinking. The outcome of this life-changing pandemic will be long-lived and affecting all spheres of life. However, before I am in a position to discuss this aspect in my final evaluation, I need to reassess my journey of exploration and progress further.

Current version of my review and evaluation is below:

I have thoroughly enjoyed an exciting, life-changing and broad-ranging research journey during this course.  All my creative experiences and activities have been thoroughly recorded in my blog and, to date, I have published well over 200 posts.  In order to give a structure to this ongoing document, I have organised all entries using the following key categories: critical analysis, reflection and experimentation.  The others covered methods of visualisation, gathering of primary sources, viewing of exhibitions, reflection on tutorials and self assessment of progress.

As a result of my world travels, I had a wealth of resources and unique observations of the dynamics of life across humanity.  However, I was oblivious to an universal truth, which reveals a common link across nations, cultures and races. My initial research was concerned with the clarification of my creative intentions and learning to understand the potential and value of my learning process.

During reviewing my primary sources and research findings, I noticed reoccurring characteristics across the different data.  Therefore, my focus begun to be placed on investigating and questioning the concept on waiting for change in a hope for improvement.  I recorded numerous people entrapped in poverty, who were suspended in vacuum of detachment, frozen in a bizarre inactivity without any chances for progress, development and achievement.

Waiting was a form of a coping mechanism, a form of dealing with tepee truth of their world as it really was.

Experimentation with interrogating an amalgamation of painting with a running narrative followed. This possibility was further extended by looking at denial and considering the dimension of time, which was required in order to make things happen and earn the necessary monetary funds.

I tried to remove from my images all symbols of luxury and wealth, which are taken for granted and, simultaneously, remain unobtainable.  Gradually, I refined my research question and focused on the space in between certainty and uncertainty.  I experimented with video pieces inspired by Bruce Nauman. I started to to alternate a violent act of blasting my paintings off with a powerful jet of water and the repainting process, always uncertain of unpredictability embedded in this method and never satisfied with early of superficial success and accidental effect. I forced myself to persevere and become consistent in my approach.

I took this idea further to a more extreme and aggressive stage by introducing machine interventions.  I produced a range of video pieces with impact and potential for further development.

My research findings confirmed that there is little certainty in life and the only constructive way forward is to persevere.

My work has begun to become sophisticated and evolved during a long period of exploration of media, materials and processes, always trying to discuss alternatives and extend the intellectual properties of my current debate and discussion.

My experiences, at this stage, were continuously updated by ongoing visits in search for new primary sources, references and inspirations. At this stage, I was very intrigued by a newly discovered characteristics of uncertainty in the context of waiting.

Hypnotic repetition gives people to loose themselves in an opiate-trans like entrapment in daily routines and automated activities.

This brain numbing approach allows for hope to flourish and despair to depart.

I have also looked at repetition in a variety of contexts and locations to triangulate date, increase authenticity and reliability of my research findings and observations.

I immersed myself in working with a range of characteristics across different cultures, who were subjected to surviving, while being lost and oblivious to reality.

The outcome of this experimentation started to be more exciting than the original piece. It also communicated my concept and creative intentions through the repetitive spinning of a machine without thought, further analysis and reflected the behaviour of the entrapped people through mimicking automated and unconscious actions.

I painted a piece titled Burmese Captain, who was in charge of a ferry and totally disengaged with his passengers. The next significant painting depicted a Pool Player, who was forced to perform to perfection with no end in sight of relieve and portrayed a Snake seller determined to keep her market stall open.

There were also other works, including Wheel of Fortune trolley and Burmese Monks collecting donations.  Finally, a large scale painting depicting a foot masseur.  Perhaps this recent attempt to extend my discussion by observing the mundane ritual of repetition in a Thai massage parlour made the most significant contribution to my thinking and visualisation.

Subsequently, I developed a meaningful plan for a range of options for my final exhibition.  The essence of my ideas was reveal the nature of this universal condition using hypnotic and repetitive tactics.

I am excited for my work to be shared across to allow for a broader understanding of the world and human resourcefulness to keep their spirits high and without self pity.

Their paradox is, perhaps, most revealing that the people with the least have the most.

My project is on course to continue to develop and expand beyond the scope and time boundaries of this course. I have already planned for a trip to Madagascar and Ethiopia to gather more experiences to respond to and enhance my current understanding and interpretation of the leading research question.  I will attempt to develop a further perspective on related issues and observations.  My approach and explorations will remain open-ended and without presumption of excitement and uncertainty of tomorrow.

Exhibition Design – First Draft

Following an exchange of messages, Aristotle has worked really hard in order to visualise my ideas for the exhibition. Initially, I wanted to display my artefacts all in one line. My intention was to have them equally spaced and presented on a white and plain wall with no shadows and other unnecessary distractions. For technical reasons, this was impossible to achieve. The first draft is based on a grid, which consists of three rows. Every individual image can be enlarged for viewing. I am very impressed by its simple, clear and aesthetic look.

I have posted the following two questions for a further discussion with Aristotle:

  1. Will videos play looped in small windows or only, when individually enlarged?
  2. Will I be able to add text/ sound files to accompany and explain my work?

This is necessary for me to ascertain in order to continue with additional preparation of appropriate text and narrative.

Screenshot of the overall page
Screenshot of an enlarged individual piece.

I am very happy with the progress of the design proposal for the exhibition. I am excited to see how it will continue to develop and evolve until a final resolution is achieved and refined.

Final Evaluation – Version 3.0

I have engaged again in the process of review and evaluation. The current version is included below:

I have thoroughly enjoyed this exciting, life-changing and broad-ranging research journey during this course.  All my creative experiences and activities have been thoroughly recorded on my blog and, to date, I have published well over 200 posts.  In order to give a structure to this ongoing document, I have organised all entries using the following key categories: critical analysis, reflection and experimentation.  The others covered methods of visualisation, gathering of primary sources, viewing of exhibitions, reflection on tutorials and self-assessment of progress.

As a result of my world travels, I have a wealth of resources and unique observations of the dynamics of humanity across many countries.  However, I was oblivious to a universal truth, which reveals a common link across nations, cultures and races. My initial research was concerned with the clarification of my creative intentions and learning to understand the potential and value of my learning and experimentation processes.

During a review of my primary sources and research findings, I noticed a number reoccurring patterns and characteristics across the different data.  Therefore, my focus begun to be placed on investigating and questioning the concept of waiting for change in a hope for improvement.  I recorded numerous people entrapped in poverty, who were suspended in vacuum of detachment, frozen in a bizarre inactivity without any chances for progress, development and achievement.

Waiting was adopted as a form of a coping mechanism and dealing with the truth of their world as it really was.

Experimentation with interrogation of primary sources through an amalgamation of painting with a running narrative followed. This possibility was further extended by looking at denial and inclusion of the dimension of time, which was required in order to make things happen while working hard to earn the necessary monetary funds.

Through overpainting in black, I tried to remove all symbols of luxury and wealth from my images.  These are frequently taken for granted and, simultaneously, remain unobtainable.  Gradually, I refined my research question and focused on the space in-between certainty and uncertainty.  I experimented with video pieces, which were inspired by powerful recordings by Bruce Nauman. I started to alternate a violent act of blasting my paintings off with a powerful jet of water, with the repainting process, always uncertain and full of unpredictability embedded in this method.  I was never satisfied with early or superficial success and accidental effects. I forced myself to persevere and become consistent and methodical in my approach.

Distraction become the essence of my creation.

I developed this idea further by taking it to a more extreme and aggressive stage through an introduction of machine interventions.  I produced a range of video pieces with impact and potential for further development.

My research findings confirmed that there was little certainty in life and the only constructive way forward was to persevere.

My work began to become sophisticated and evolved during a long period of explorations of media, materials and processes, always trying to discuss alternatives and extend the intellectual properties of my ongoing debate and discussion.

My experiences, at this stage, were continuously updated by a large number of research expeditions and visits in search of new primary sources, references and inspirations. Subsequently, I was intrigued by a newly discovered characteristics of uncertainty in the context of waiting.

Hypnotic repetition gives people an opportunity to loose themselves in an opiate-trans like entrapment in daily routines and automated activities.

This brain numbing approach allows for hope to flourish and despair to depart.

I have also looked at repetition in a variety of contexts and locations to triangulate date, increase authenticity and reliability of my research findings and observations.

I immersed myself in working with a range of characteristics across different cultures, who were subjected to surviving, while being lost and oblivious to reality.

The outcome of this experimentation started to be more exciting than the original piece. It also communicated my concept and creative intentions through the repetitive spinning motion of a washing machine without thought, further analysis and reflected the behaviour of the entrapped people through mimicking their automated and unconscious actions.

I painted a piece titled Burmese Captain, who was in charge of a ferry and totally disengaged with his passengers. The next significant painting depicted a Pool Player, who was forced to perform to perfection with no end in sight and portrayed a Snake seller determined to keep her market stall open.

There were also other works, including a story of a Wheel of Fortune trolley man and Burmese Monks taking break from their duties of collecting donations.  Finally, a large scale painting depicting a foot masseur followed.  Perhaps this latest attempt to extend my discussion by observing the mundane ritual of repetition in a Thai massage parlour made the most significant contribution to my thinking and visualisation.

Subsequently, I developed a meaningful plan for a range of options for my final exhibition.  The essence of my ideas was to reveal the nature of this universal condition using hypnotic and repetitive tactics.

I am excited for my work to be shared, to allow for a broader understanding of the world and human resourcefulness to keep their spirits high and without self-pity.

Their paradox is, perhaps, most revealing that the people with the least have the most.  There is a significant difference between reflection ‘in’ and ‘on’ action. Events in life happen very quickly.  Therefore, it is important to capture unique ideas and observations, before they are lost forever.

My project is on course to continue to develop and expand beyond the scope and time boundaries of this course. I have already planned for trips to Madagascar and Ethiopia to gather more experiences to respond to and enhance my current understanding and interpretation of the leading research question.  I will attempt to develop a further perspective on related issues and observations.  My approach and explorations will remain open-ended and without presumption of excitement and uncertainty of tomorrow.

Final Evaluation – New Progress

I have continued with the process of refining my final evaluation and review. The pre-pandemic part appears to be appropriately developed and covers the entire period of the ‘physicality’ of learning, research and experimentation. Additionally, it gives an outline of my personal and professional ambitions for the future.

The next step will be to focus on looking at how the context of lockdown has redefined my thinking. My new findings appear to contradict the former status quo.

Version 1.0

I have thoroughly enjoyed an exciting, life-changing and broad-ranging research journey during this course.  All my creative experiences and activities have been thoroughly recorded in my blog and, to date, I have published well over 200 posts.  In order to give a structure to this ongoing document, I have organised all entries using the following key categories: critical analysis, reflection and experimentation.  The others covered methods of visualisation, gathering of primary sources, viewing of exhibitions, reflection on tutorials and self-assessment of progress.

As a result of my world travels, I had a wealth of resources and unique observations of the dynamics of humanity across many countries.  However, I was oblivious to a universal truth, which reveals a common link across nations, cultures and races. My initial research was concerned with the clarification of my creative intentions and learning to understand the potential and value of my learning and experimentation processes.

During a review of my primary sources and research findings, I noticed a number reoccurring patterns and characteristics across the different data.  Therefore, my focus begun to be placed on investigating and questioning the concept on waiting for change in a hope for improvement.  I recorded numerous people entrapped in poverty, who were suspended in vacuum of detachment, frozen in a bizarre inactivity without any chances for progress, development and achievement.

Waiting was adopted as a form of a coping mechanism and dealing with the truth of their world as it really was.

Experimentation with interrogation of primary sources through an amalgamation of painting with a running narrative followed. This possibility was further extended by looking at denial and inclusion of the dimension of time, which was required in order to make things happen while working hard to earn the necessary monetary funds.

Through overpainting in black, I tried to remove all symbols of luxury and wealth from my images.  These are frequently taken for granted and, simultaneously, remain unobtainable.  Gradually, I refined my research question and focused on the space in-between certainty and uncertainty.  I experimented with video pieces, which were inspired by powerful recordings by Bruce Nauman. I started to alternate a violent act of blasting my paintings off with a powerful jet of water with the repainting process, always uncertain and full of unpredictability embedded in this method.  I was never satisfied with early of superficial success and accidental effects. I forced myself to persevere and become consistent and methodical in my approach.

Distraction become the essence of my creation.

I developed this idea further by taking it to a more extreme and aggressive stage through an introduction of machine interventions.  I produced a range of video pieces with impact and potential for further development.

My research findings confirmed that there was little certainty in life and the only constructive way forward was to persevere.

My work begun to become sophisticated and evolved during a long period of explorations of media, materials and processes, always trying to discuss alternatives and extend the intellectual properties of my ongoing debate and discussion.

My experiences, at this stage, were continuously updated by a large number of research expeditions and visits in search of new primary sources, references and inspirations. Subsequently, I was very intrigued by a newly discovered characteristics of uncertainty in the context of waiting.

Hypnotic repetition gives people an opportunity to loose themselves in an opiate-trans like entrapment in daily routines and automated activities.

This brain numbing approach allows for hope to flourish and despair to depart.

I have also looked at repetition in a variety of contexts and locations to triangulate date, increase authenticity and reliability of my research findings and observations.

I immersed myself in working with a range of characteristics across different cultures, who were subjected to surviving, while being lost and oblivious to reality.

The outcome of this experimentation started to be more exciting than the original piece. It also communicated my concept and creative intentions through the repetitive spinning motion of a washing machine without thought, further analysis and reflected the behaviour of the entrapped people through mimicking their automated and unconscious actions.

I painted a piece titled Burmese Captain, who was in charge of a ferry and totally disengaged with his passengers. The next significant painting depicted a Pool Player, who was forced to perform to perfection with no end in sight and portrayed a Snake seller determined to keep her market stall open.

There were also other works, including a story of a Wheel of Fortune trolley man and Burmese Monks taking break from their duties of collecting donations.  Finally, a large scale painting depicting a foot masseur followed.  Perhaps this latest attempt to extend my discussion by observing the mundane ritual of repetition in a Thai massage parlour made the most significant contribution to my thinking and visualisation.

Subsequently, I developed a meaningful plan for a range of options for my final exhibition.  The essence of my ideas was to reveal the nature of this universal condition using hypnotic and repetitive tactics.

I am excited for my work to be shared across to allow for a broader understanding of the world and human resourcefulness to keep their spirits high and without self-pity.

Their paradox is, perhaps, most revealing that the people with the least have the most.

My project is on course to continue to develop and expand beyond the scope and time boundaries of this course. I have already planned for trips to Madagascar and Ethiopia to gather more experiences to respond to and enhance my current understanding and interpretation of the leading research question.  I will attempt to develop a further perspective on related issues and observations.  My approach and explorations will remain open-ended and without presumption of excitement and uncertainty of tomorrow.

New Ideas for the Design of My Final Show

I have created two plans for the arrangement of my work in preparation for the final show.

The 5 central pieces indicate video projections. My paintings are displayed on both sides and organised in their chronological order of research and production.

I shared the following thoughts and reflections with the group:

‘Having carefully considered many different options, I have made a conscious decision to use a website-like display for my exhibition.

This is to ensure clarity, aesthetics and sophistication of my visual communication without any distractions, additions and unnecessary decorations.
I would like to avoid, at all cost, the form overgrowing the meaning.

I am inspired by the design and organisation of presentation offered by platforms like Instagram and https://www.behance.net/

I would like to present my research project using a white page with a grid of ‘windows’ representing individual paintings and videos. Viewers will be able to click on each individual piece to open it up and view larger details in a pop-up window. My video pieces will play exactly in the same way – when enlarged.’

The more refined thinking is as follows:

‘I have copied an idea into my folder on google drive. All images are of identical heights, and are equally spaced, probably further apart than indicated on my design. Central pieces are video projections, and my paintings are on both sides. They are arranged in the chronological order of creation. Their sequence may be slightly altered.’

Refined version of proposal covers 7 paintings, 5 videos and 5 final images:



This is an earlier version showing some technical glitches and inconsistencies:

Planning and thinking:

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

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!)

Considerations for My Final Exhibition

Having carefully considered many different options, I have made a conscious decision to use a website-like display for my exhibition.

This is to ensure clarity, aesthetics and sophistication of my visual communication without any distractions, additions and unnecessary decorations.
I would like to avoid, at all cost, the form overgrowing the meaning.

I am inspired by the design and organisation of presentation offered by platforms, such as Instagram and https://www.behance.net/

I would like to present my research project using a white page with a grid of ‘windows’ representing individual paintings and videos. Viewers will be able to click on each individual piece to open it up and view larger details in a pop-up window. My video pieces will play exactly in the same way – when enlarged.

I have identified all paintings and three videos, which I will include in the display.

The recording for my final video will take place this weekend.

Evaluation – Development Stage 2

I have done quite a lot of thinking about my progress during the course. I am trying to develop a further link between my former achievements and my current ambitions regarding my personal and professional development after the course.

The key question is – how do I plan for my further research to ensure continuation of my project and extend on visualisation of alternative ideas.

I have typed and annotated my initial reflections. I carry this document with me during my evening walks along Sunset Boulevard in Torquay. This gives me an opportunity to reflect further on its content and give me additional possibilities for consideration.

I have included scans of this document below. I will continue with this method of refinement until I reach a stage , when I feel that I can make progress with the evaluation process.