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.
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!
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.
This has been a very intensive and exciting day. Matt Edwards, who run this workshop is an expert with a fast knowledge in this area. The purpose was to initiate experimentation with filming and editing footage in an intentional and meaningful way. A strong focus on the overall idea is very important in order to develop a holistic and professional piece.
In order to ensure consistency between individual workshops and experimentation, I have decided to create and record a mini pop-up show of my screen prints.
I used a Nikon D90 camera and a tripod. The idea was to capture a broad view of an art studio. All work in progress provides the frame with detail and sets the seen, while contextualising the video. I practiced with recording myself, while continuously displaying prints on a white wall to form a large rectangular composition. Subsequently, the pieces were removed one by one. White wall as a start and the same white wall as the end. This concept has provided my with the boundaries for my action and narrative.
I have experimented with a range of possibilities and considered a number of unassuming angles for shooting. My creative intention was to ‘go’ beyond a simple use of a documentary or media approach. I wanted to create a short art film.
Simultaneously, this provided me with an excellent opportunity to photograph my prints using a digital SLR.
As soon as all images and video footage are processed, I will include them and other visual material in this post.
Premier Pro is an advanced piece of sophisticated video editing software, which allows for a superb level of control, manipulation and intervention.
To aid my memory, I made a number of notes. I hope to use them as guidance in further experimentation. I am excited about taking my current ideas further and this process will begin shortly.
I feel that I have learned a lot about the impact of colour changes on video and the way in which it is perceived and understood by an audience.
Surprisingly, there is a similarity to how this applies to traditionally developed imagery.
I created a number of clips and sequences and experimented with additional effects including the use of alteration layers.
All in all, the day was very successful and demanding. I have benefitted from being challenged, especially in the context of experimentation and risk-taking leading to the development of new ideas and discussions of alternatives.
I am looking forward to the next stage of refinement of the work, which I have started to produce today.
A screen shot of my notes is below:
I have just completed the last day of a repetitive activity experiment. Every morning, for seven days, I walked exactly the same way to the same coffee bar. I left my hotel at exactly the same time and tried to cover the distance at an identical pace. I ordered the same coffee and a bottle of sparkling water. I was lucky to use the same seat and table. I was welcomed by the same waitress. Finally, I spent exactly the same amount of time there.
All days started to blare and it became quite difficult to distinguish between individual events and moments.
My perception of the entire week was substantially skewed, affected and distorted.
On my return home, this image will inspire my next piece.
It has taken me a long time to realise that I am fascinated by erosion and destruction. This is what transforms a surface to make it exciting and more evolved. I am actively engaged in observing and recording this magic and rapid transition. Superficial new becomes old and worn almost instantly, practically overnight.
Memories implanted by transience and the patina of time leave their stunning traces on everything, while staining, crumbling, disintegrating, glazing with dirt and human interventions.
I have spent the whole day exploring some rough parts of Gran Canaria’s rotting buildings and places. I was shocked to learn how mesmerising they all were! I have experimented with these ideas, while searching for effects of destruction in my own project through blasting my paintings with water jets and spinning my work in washing machines. Paradoxically, both art and life are about turning something special, into dust and nothing. New becomes old; young ages and wrinkles, swish and desirable turns into shameful and unwanted rubbish.
Vive la destruction!
There appears to be a sense of cohesion between life and science.
When one considers my visual responses in my project, it becomes clear that the predicament is universal.
In some small way, we are all trapped in the cycle of work, life, and existence; oscillating between certainty and uncertainty.
This can be, perhaps, best interpreted by Bruce Nauman in his ‘One Hundred Live and Die’, 1984. He boils down the essence of our being to the basic activities of life, without location or possessions.
When analysing my primary sources, I made some exciting observations:
– The less you have got the more certain your life appears.
– Contemporary life in a western society superficially looks certain.
– In reality, it is full of surprises and the most certain things become a nightmare.
– The more you have the more you want, and the less satisfied you are in life.
Points for discussion:
• Can uncertainty become inspirational?
• If the future was predictable would you have less motivation?
I have started to work on a new piece. It portrays a mature Thai lady, who is naturally talented at playing the pool. She is rich. Her body is dripping in golden jewellery and adornments. Her supporting team celebrate her successes and support her in every possible way.
When aiming at a ball, her body position is bizarrely stretched, resembling an ancient Mayan warrior – immaculately dressed in white, with a serious facial expression and flowers in her hair. This appears to be contradictory to the time-typical technique and makes it very difficult to calculate precise directions of the shot and predict the associated geometry of angles and forces.
This unusual ritual is repeated every night.. Many people depend on her performance and the related income.
I am working directly on a large scale unprimed canvas. The red colour scheme is gradually evolving to enhance my overall creative intention to portray a theatre and show of mastery of skill and class.
This is the first layer of colour and glaze, and the process of development will continue. I am currently working hard to develop images for a screen to be used for overprinting this under image.
It has taken me a long time to sort out and organise a broad range of images for further development. Despite contracting Chickungunya, my research trip to Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia, has proven to be very successful in terms of both: life-changing experiences and gathering primary sources.
I have started working on a new piece. The 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.
I am very excited to have started working on an alternative direction of my project. My new piece is a portrait of Pearl Twink, a girl I met in Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria.
The concept for this piece is to instigate a dialogue between my reflections on her definitively uncertain life, and interweave them with her responses to my provocative statements. The plan is to use a range of processes, including painting and screen printing. This will be possibly extended and developed through video and Gifs. The narrative element continues to be very important. It reinforces the ambiguity of the message I am trying to communicate and questions it’s place in the broader contexts.
The previously overused blasting process will be now replaced by a machine intervention. I will experiment with using a variety of washing powders, temperatures and lengths of cycles to remove the under image and the overprinting layers of text.
All my new work will be created on unprimed and unstreatched canvases. Currently, I am using Calico and synthetics. However, during my forthcoming trip to Burma, I intend to collect a variety of materials and appropriate, locally produced fabrics, to increase the element of authenticity of my project.
I have already started to develop an under image. It is still a recognisable portrait of Pearl Twink. This part of the process is associated with deep reflections. My thoughts are jotted down all over the piece as rough notes and the most important content is just below the image.
Subsequently, I have refined this text and its content. I wanted for my message to be more provocative as well as form a discussion between her ideas and my judgements.
A copy of the refined text is below. I have also experimented with different ways of making the text less readable and partly invisible.
Subsequently, I was faced with a dilemma: should I use a handwritten text on top of the under image or develop a typographic silk screen?
The screen idea has worked very well and the inking process was very fulfilling. I felt that this process has began to work as I had intended.
Additionally, the overprinting has started to take shape and created fine details and a sense of layering.
The message containing Pearl Twink’s response is also ready to be transferred onto a silk screen. As soon as this is done, I will initiate the overprinting process, which will be subsequently washed off by experimenting with machine intervention.
This is intended to reinforce the element of uncertainty and waiting in anticipation; worries and anxieties of what will happen during the ‘washing’ cycle. There is no stopping it whilst the process is started. All I can do is to wait to see the result and assess the accidental value of my risky approach. The potential of loosing it all is real!
As an alternative idea, I am also considering to develop an animation, or perhaps, a video piece, and include the flashing and alternating of individual stages of the overprinting process and the messages.
I could not resist to record the last attempt of blasting the ink off to reveal the content of the screen and its message.
I feel very nostalgic!