Pearl Twink. Lagos, Lekki

I have started to work on a new piece. It is a portrait of a young single mum of 4, who lives in a privileged district of Lagos, called Lekki.

I have started to build up the underpainting using several layers of paint and washes of colour. The next stage will include experimentation with ‘washing’ the under image off. This is a part of my reflections on discussions with Jonathan during my most recent tutorial.

I have also created an extensive mind map of the possible meanings of ‘washing’ in order to embrace the full message contained in this powerful word in a variety of contexts.

Currently, I am working on unstreatched and unprimed canvas. Therefore, I will be able to use varies chemicals and the washing machine to replace the old blasting process.

I will loose more control over and what remains on the canvas following a washing cycle will be purely accidental. The plan includes using different lengths of the washing cycle, varying temperatures and a number of washing powders including stain removers.

This initial image is below:

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Beautiful Stranger

I have finally started on a long planned experimentation with an image of an English girl. Hopefully, this will allow me to differentiate between my foreign inspirations in juxtaposition to a local character.

My creative intention is to continue with the painterly process before overprinting this canvas with a screen with a composition made using silhouettes of PornStar cocktails.

As previously, the interwoven blasting procedure should loosen the image and introduce meaningful drippings of great significance to the uncertain character of my work. The blasting and its uncertainty contradicts the premeditated and preplanned content of the work.

The initial painting is below:

Punhana Dreams About A Family

Punhana means in Azeri a ‘secret’. I have got to know her as she became my guide in Azerbaijan. 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, introvert, beautiful young face with long hair and no makeup.

Despite her excellent education and current employment as an English language teacher, she told me that her main aspiration was to establish a restaurant with healthy and vegetarian food. She insisted that her main ambition was to become a manager of such an establishment.

We spent a fair amount of time together wandering around art galleries, museums and other areas of cultural significance. I felt privileged to be able to invite her for a drink and a dinner. This provided an excellent opportunity to open up and talk.

Having gained a little of her trust and friendship, I started to ask her probing questions about her uncertainties and explored the nature of her anxieties. I was eager to find out what she was really waiting for. What were the most precious dreams and desires in her life.

The true answer arrived with time.

Her main dream is to marry a man and start a family.

Punhana revealed her deepest secret.

She also told me that her faith is to accomplish this desire before the age of 25. ( in less than three years time).

I have, subsequently, started with the process of developing a range of ideas for further exploration of this avenue. To extend on primary sources, I have asked her to send me some photographs of her family and other images from her past.

Secretive Punhana with her dream family.

I would also like to set my line of questioning in the broader context of political, cultural and religious issues, which will have a substantial impact on my visual response.

Low Res – Seeing Collaboration Project. Day 1

This was a true ice breaking exercise, which allowed to erase boundaries between the online group and London based students.  The other benefits included integration of year 1 and 2 students, and most importantly, the project gave everyone an opportunity to expand their horizons and become much more experimental in the development of ideas and discussions of alternatives.  Ultimately, we all become much more sensitive in terms of our observations of the Universe and the attention to fine details.

Following numerous consultations, my group settled on an in-depth investigation of our current individual practices to make the project very experimental. Our creative intention was to develop a broad range of ideas rather than focus on a visual proposal for finalisation.

This proved to work very well and everyone made a valuable contribution to the dialogue of contradictory perspectives and the element of questioning of visual possibilities and their meaning. This process was supported be appropriate enquiring discussions and evidence of critical analysis.

All collaborative participants presented their research findings at the end of the day. We were the only group to remain open minded and approached the task with a truly experimental attitude; focusing on the reflective process rather than on illustrating the narrative.

 

A combination of group efforts put together on Padlet.

 

There are some action shots from the Low Res collaborative day project – Seeing.

 

Little Fragile Dreams.

Memories from a horrific bus journey between La Caye and Jacmel have given me ideas for another painting in this series.  Perhaps, I will reveal the background story for this piece, when I am closer to its completion.

I have initiated the process by working on an under image.  This was then combined with a range of over layers and an ambiguous reflection of a little girl seen through a bus window. For this type of experimentation, I have recycled an old display board, which was covered with green felt.  Subsequently, I started with some expressive colour application to the underpainting.  This has been in turn over-printed with an A1 size screen of a $16 milk bottle.  This is used metaphorically and symbolises how unobtainable this everyday food product is.  I just cannot imagine never tasting milk!

The current tonation of the piece is vibrant and dramatic.  My creative intention was to create a clash between the background composition and a suggested image of a distant and emotionless child.

The next phase will involve layers of overprints, which are subsequently blasted off with a powerful water jet.  I would like to achieve a greater degree of mixing of layers and blending of individual colour ranges to increase the overall visual complexity of this piece.

What is distracting me at the moment is the purity of colour, which stands out too much and disturbs the overall mood of the image.  I would also like to develop a greater sensitivity of colour.  This should help to make the painting more holistic and melancholic.  Perhaps, I should initiate a further experimentation with glazing and staining the image to increase the role of elements of aging and broken textures.

The image of the girl needs to behave as a distant reflection in the surface, almost with qualities of al fresco.  For some strange reason, ‘The Little Girl’ has some resemblance to Mona Lisa.  This similarity is not intentional though.

Da Vinci, (1503) “Mona Lisa” in The Independent, Farrell, J. (2017)

Ideally, I would like to develop this piece further before the start of Low Residency.

The plan is to proceed with overprinting the existing composition with a range of oranges.  This is to age and patinate the piece and, more importantly, represent powerful and distorting reflections of the hot sun in the translucent glass.

This is what I recorded in my original observations in Haiti.

 

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What Are You Waiting For?

I have done some research with a group of my Foundation Art students. Their ages, backgrounds and life experiences vary substantially.  Following a group introduction and a talk, which outlined the necessity to deeply analyse ‘self’ in the context of the broader needs before formulating and recording key ideas on a slip of paper, which was provided and supported with a number of prompts.

Students’ responses were very original.  They varied from trivial to sophisticated, reflective and meaningful.  I have experimented with the organisation of their responses by combining individual pieces of paper to create a long and vertical format of continuous answers.  This was less effective than the proposal with a looped animation.

I have also tried to explore possibilities for animating their responses using Photoshop.  Initially, all litte slips of paper were scanned and than displayed as a stop frame animation.

I am waiting for.JPG

Begging Children

The main concept, which I am attempting to explore and communicate is the idea of hope.  A glimpse of excitement, which has the possibility of changing everything.  It is not really important, if it results in an improvement or a decline.  The change itself  is of value here, as the presence and the past have been fully rejected.

My focus is entirely placed on the depth of colour of a painterly expression and the dreamy qualities of the layers, their transparency and, almost hypnotising,  vibrancy.  Images of the children are purposefully hardly visible, hidden and camouflaged in the complexity of the composition.  They partially resemble reflections and are intended to appear ghostly.  What is also important is the breaking up and crumbling of the surface.  No-one is really certain what is out there – perhaps simply nothing.

There are reflections and sparks of light, full of secrecy and mystery, almost mystical in character. There is a wide range of bustling questions in my mind.  During the panting process my eyes have begun nervously moving around the composition without acknowledging any breathing spaces to stop and rest while trying to understand the value and meaningful the composition. The memories from Haiti have suddenly become much more vivid, intense and clear.  My heart filled with uncertainty,  nervousness and fear.

What is afoot? What will happen?  Is change imminent?

The character in my work are not here nor there…they are again suspended in the vacuum of waiting with uncertainty of tomorrow…

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Girls in Red

Following my reflection on the most recent tutorial with Jonathan, I have drawn a plan of making progress through an introduction of a variety of quality improvements.  The essence of my work is in its meaning and the visual communication of my creative intentions.

Everyone is waiting for something!!!

I have initiated the process of experimentation with image transfer and painting.  The intentional breaking of the overlay creates a sensitive and gentle quality through making the work feel and look more painterly.  The top layers form a very fascinating “painterly matter” and open new opportunities for further work.  I will update this post with additional developments as I progress with screen printing and blasting of images.

The other idea is to start to differentiate on the size and format of the work and explore possibilities for combining smaller images to increase the volume of the overall composition.

My main focus here was to create a sense of being “suspended in 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.

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The Influence from Kehinde Wiley

I have recently been inspired by the work of Kehinde Wiley.

HAITI

His projects consist of a global survey of countries and their respective traditions and cultures.  He explores and investigates their socioeconomic dynamics and interdependence in the context of globalisation.  His models are random strangers, who are identified during street castings.  His bizarre, balancing on the edge of kitsch images, are a unique chronicle of life and culture, amalgamation of colour and pattern, which is juxtaposition-ed with stylised portraits.   The background repeats are created by manipulations of typical and indigenous vegetation to Haiti, such as okra and sugarcane – products, which were exploited as a cash crop during the times of mass slavery.

They are all staged, unnatural and almost suspended in vacuum.  Superficially, his oil on linen paintings appear to be of only decorative value.  Are they though?

This has given me the idea of isolating individual characters from my photographic library of documentary photographs from Haiti and superimposing them with a range of painterly and printed backgrounds, which I have recently developed, including video records of blasting prints.

The three images below are my initial visual thoughts, which I am planning on developing further towards a more refined stage, possibly involving animation.  I would also like to link these ideas to my experimentation with exploring the process of waiting through a gradual appearing and disappearing of objects of need, necessity and desire.

I am considering image manipulations using Photoshop and Premier to discuss possibilities of initiating working using physical processes of painting, screen-printing and, perhaps, image transfer.

I am using an image of three  young Haitians girls, dressed up in preparation for Christmas celebrations.  They appear to look into their future with uncertainty, almost being afraid of disappointment.  The white gloves and flowers are symbolic of purity and innocence, and their eyes are full of hope.  The viever, however, immediately knows that their futures are very uncertain.

The special and theatrical clothing emphasises further the contrast between the farshness of their daily lives and the the hope and smiles on their innocent faces, just like on “Afgan Girl” photograph by Steve Mc Curry.

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‘Afghan Girl’ Is Arrested in Pakistan, in 1985, National Geographic Photo, Steve McCurry

haiti girls

orphans from haiti

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LOUIS XIV OF FRANCE , 2014
OIL ON LINEN 60 X 48 INCHES

PORTRAIT OF DYOUANY BERETIE VERLY , 2014
OIL ON LINEN 36 X 28 INCHES

JUPITER AND THETIS , 2014
OIL ON LINEN 84 X 63 INCHES

THE MARCHIONESS OF SANTA CRUZ , 2014
OIL ON LINEN 36.5 X 72

The Lost Hope in a False Promise

When reflecting on my most recent experiences from Haiti, I have specifically started to analyse the idea of “a false promise”.  There appears to be a general feeling of entrapment in a transient state of passivity.  This means accepting whatever happens without any physical possibility to influence change or control life.

When being approached by touts, who try to sell items in desperation to survive, refusal is unacceptable because is seen as definitive and therefore, can be dangerous.  Giving false promises instead is much safer.  It creates and illusion of achievement, gives a glimmer of hope and allows to avoid conflict and confrontation.   It diffuses negative energy and silences nagging. It is an easy way out of an unwanted and undesirable situation.

Strong refusal simply equals aggression and harassment.  It can be also potentially dangerous.  It is threatening and can lead to acts of violence, assault and robbery.

I have started to develop the idea of incorporating words, which are associated with false promises into my painted and printed images.

TOMORROW

LATER

NEXT TIME

DEFINITIVELY, BUT NOT NOW

 

To extend on my critical understanding of the concept of false promises, I have read a paperback titled “Kant: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals” (2012) .  Following the digestion of the content of this document, I reflected and summarised my thoughts below.

Kant argues that, as a principle, it is crucial to treat others as you would treat yourself. This is his Golden Rule and it is central to his philosophy.

He also states that you should not use other people in ways to which they would not consent.  He totally rejects manipulation and control of people for the purpose of self-benefit. Therefore, all people should be treated as having dignity. This is Kant’s view of the ideal moral community using the conception of respecting others. The perfect community is a “kingdom of ends” in which people are never merely used by others.  No one acts on principles to which others could not consent.

Kant extends on these thoughts and proposes that certain ways of behaviour are wrong by definition and in every context.  He refers to the idea of false promises as always wrong, because they are not intended to be kept. Therefore, it is absolutely impossible to accept the idea of making false promises as this would lead to a total breakdown of trust. False promises are unacceptable, simply because there are not promises – they are dishonest lies.

Honesty and trust are the backbone of all human relationships.

The essence of life is about being able to establish and maintain these relationships.

Comparision of Abundant Spaces

When reviewing my research journey, I have noticed that the view from my lounge window has an astonishing resemblance to a slum outside Port-au-Prince.

It was raining quite badly and the entire valley was covered with a thick layer of condensation and trapped moisture in the air.

The image of Torquay is dark, gloomy, wet and almost monochromatic.

The photograph of Port-au-Prince is highlighted by the hot sun, which emphasises the colours of the environment.

Both were shot roughly at the same time of the day.

I find it very surprising that despite both destinations being densely populated, there is no sign of humans.

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