Not Random Art - Page 142

Art can speak more directly to the soul or spirit of the viewer than the endless rituals and doctrine of organised religions or the fleeting political rhetoric, perhaps the fascination with the divine, the strive for ultimate truth, the yearning to fill the emptiness and voids that organised religions and political abandonment have left, never more so than in these modern times, is now being fulfilled and now being satisfied more unswervingly and honestly through art, perhaps the need to be understood, to be recognised to question all of ourselves individually and communally and to see ourselves represented visually and in context, this need, this intrinsic aspect of the human condition that people have strived to experience since the first cave paintings and marks were made in prehistoric times, is now expressed and represented more accurately by those contemporary artists who have the awareness not to compromise and who have the humility to be open to this inspiration, be it divine, spiritual or whatever label used, in the realisation of their works. The duty of the artist is to have the courage to question, to inform and point toward the truth. The belief that we are made in the image of Divinity, creators in our own right, is not a new concept, but add to this the artist as specifically creative, a maker of something new, then these creations become something more than mere matter, but also a reflection of that other aspect of ourselves ‘the spirit' that makes the whole ‘the trinity’. The trilogy ‘The Alpha’ ‘Reloaded’ and ‘The Omega’ series of paintings are my journey of self-reflection, my journey on the road towards enlightenment, my acknowledgement of that divine dimension within all things.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Could you talk a little about experiences that has influence the way you currently relate yourself to your artworks?

I was born in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan a medium sized town near the border of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. I grew up and attended a Christian brothers primary school in the 70’s in a strongly Catholic environment attending all the important ceremonies and rituals associated with that religion, even serving as an altar boy for a period. The church and the priest were held in the highest possible esteem and one didn’t question. It was not uncommon to experience and witness considerable corporal punishment, verbal and emotional bullying from the teachers and Christian brothers, the church then seemed to thrive on guilt, fear and violence, that coupled with the sectarian tensions associated with the troubles in the north which often seeped into everyday life in Carrickmacross left me questioning the sanity of society and in particular religion from an early age. However, I was very fortunate to have amazingly supportive parents who supported me fully and worked hard to give us every opportunity to pursue our dreams. Art became my outlet and to a degree my identity, I could express emotion and question all safely from here, the alchemy of experience into understanding. After reading the poem ‘Lough Derg’ by the great Monaghan poet Patrick Kavanagh I produced a series of paintings and drawings and looking back at them now I can see they were questioning and expressive, the crowds of people clutching onto anything to fill the void within, the symbol of the broken Celtic crosses representative of the changing times of a separation of church and state in the 80’s, the shattering of the old identities that were once held so sacrosanct and giving way like a phoenix from the ashes for me to explore the truths which were lost behind the egos of men. As I progressed through primary and secondary school I could see Art was the most unwavering and constant influence in my life and has sustained me emotionally, physically and now spiritually ever since. All through secondary school and art college I continued to seek answers, through other artists works, poetry, psychology, religious books etc. I knew there was more but I didn’t know what or even where else to look, however several years ago, through a particularly difficult time in my life I came across some of the most profound spiritual writers of our time in particular ‘Awareness’ by Anthony De Mello and ‘A New Earth’ by Eckhart Tolle that resonated a truth to my core. From here I began my journey into that neglected part of myself ‘spirit’ shedding many illusions of what ‘should and shouldn’t be’. Although the road to consciousness or enlightenment is a lifetime quest for the first time I knew the path, the direction. This journey has profoundly changed the narrative and direction in my work.

Could you identify a specific artwork that has influenced your artistic practice or has impacted the way you think about race and ethnic identity in visual culture?

Many years ago, on a visit to the National Gallery, Ireland I came across the painting ‘Grief’ by the amazing Irish painter Jack Yeats. On initial viewing, this large painting appears almost abstract. Pictorially it depicts on close inspection the horrors of war and indeed could be perceived as an eviction, which was common practice in Ireland during the famine, with soldiers on horseback, people in despair and burning buildings in the background, but to me the subject matter was less important, what struck me most was the emotion and atmosphere he created, strengthened by areas of impasto to raw canvas and loose fluid energetic brushstrokes, this work showed me that realism can often be sacrificed for emotion and expression.

However I have never given up the idea to continue, also for a moment, as I before said, my expressive search path. I knew that one day I would been payed from a personal point of view, not from the point of view of the reputation or the economy but personal satisfaction, linked to the artistic results. In my opinion painting or drawing mean, first of all, to be honest, in other words not to try to do something, that you can not to do, but to work hard, so that the acquisition of the technology allows you to get to do what you thought. My vision of the world through the pictorial aesthetic, is the union between a real passion to communicate the analysis of the things, that are around us and the filtering of them through a compositional choice, but above all, is the safety sensation that each brush stroke, every sign, represents the subject of the painting, the main character and the bearer of the message. I can finally say, that in the last years , I am ready to say, here, that these are my pictures, I feel mature and I present them to you.

Would you like to tell us something about your artistic as well as life background? What inspired you to be in this artistic point in your life when you are now?

I was lucky enough to have as a teacher and friend, a great Italian artist and master of the woodcut as Tranquillo Marangoni. The first thing he taught me, and that I will always take inside me is that we need have hurry, you need to take care of every detail so that what you present to the audience, is really what that you want to show of your intentions. So, in order to do that, you have to be prepared in the artistic discipline and in the medium, that you have to learn, so that an artist or a painter or a designer can build through manual techniques , a painter or designer has different possibilities of interpretation.

Each technique must be studied in order to understand its meaning. Michelangelo, Picasso and Bacon are the painters that I love, they have focused their artistic expression in the study of the human figure , and especially every deep aspect of the Aristotelian view of the world, but my interest is, above all in the feelings that a human being receives from his senses.

It becomes for me the same meaning of the painting, and everything that I do on the paper or canvas, is represented by the sign, that expresses the final product of the artistic work. Meaning and significance are mixed in the representation of a very fragmented world, confused and disoriented. The computer screen or smartphone is a multiplier of images, and I sometimes wonder, if they need also my image. I answer yes, they need, because the representation, in this limited space in height and length, but not in depth, has to be investigated, in order to represent the vision we have of this fragmentation, this deafening silence of humanity overwhelmed by events and immersed in a seemingly unknown context.

For this representation, I choose different ways , I paint a natural or urban landscape, an abstract painting, or something it can remind a sort of surrealism, because using the painting as a medium, I can represent the different souls of nature around me.

Each technique expresses the representation. And the representation expresses the passage of time.

The relationship between my hand, the medium and the surface, a result obtained by means of the time, that I dedicate to the revelation of what is my summary on the colors and shapes, and through what I have seen and undertaken as, then I transfer it on canvas or sheet of paper. Time is the true protagonist, represented by the technique of the whole represented image.

My paintings and my drawings to be appreciated in all their fullness, should be observed very closely, in the same way that I conceived them. You have to put the viewer in front of the work and let him to explore it, like you are in a place and if you want to see everything that is around, you have to move your eyes in every direction.

I suggest this way to view and appreciate every work, but especially mine, whatever the way and the mean used.

What in your opinion defines a work of art? And moreover, what could be the features that mark the contemporariness of an artwork?

II must admit I find this question incredibly hard! What defines a work of art??? I keep coming back to “originality” and “passion”. I think if someone has created something from scratch with his own hands, with passion, with heart and soul, whatever and wherever that spiritedness and desire stems from, no matter how beautiful or how ugly, you could call it art.

As for the contemporariness of an artwork, I don’t necessary believe there is a specific feature which defines the work modern. All art at one point in time was “contemporary” in comparison to what came before it.

Is there any particular way you would describe your identity as an artist but also as a human being in dynamically changing, unstable times? In particular, does your cultural substratum/identity form your aesthetics?

Definitely being female in this day and age influences my aesthetics. I guess you could say I am a feminist artist, not the bra burning, sign wielding type, but I certainly believe in equality for women, particularly in art. I empathise with women involved in the art world of history past and am awed by their courage and how far female artists have fought to shine through… but it still isn’t over yet. Through my art I believe I am conveying a woman's sense of self. Her individualism, her beauty, sensuality and mystery, her sexuality, strength and heart.

Your art seems to be a quest for “balance between abstract and realism, manipulating lines and colours to create a kaleidoscopic feel while remain a meticulous sense of order using acrylic and mixed media.” What is the role of technique in your practice? In particular are there any constraints or rules that you follow when creating?

The very beginnings of inspiration for a new painting is to look for a pose. I will often troll through images of Avant Garde fashion photography, ballet, dance, naked portraiture and/or body-scapes to find just the right one. Once I have the pose that strikes me (YES!) I take it from there, drawing up a rough sketch adding patterns and geometrical shapes which contrast the lines of the main silhouette.

From there I sketch my plan on to a blank canvas (always making changes and additions to the new layout). Once I am happy with that I start to add colour. My fine lines are all executed without masking; using a small brush, even hand, and steadfast concentration. Then I apply layer upon layer of colour until I achieve beautiful unyielding saturation and impeccable print-like quality.

How do you see the relationship between emotional and intellectual perception of your work? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience?

The emotional and intellectual relationship of my work always begin as two very seperate things. At first glance, my art may seem frivolously aesthetic .The colours are vibrant, and deliciously arresting. But then you look a little closer, even through the simplicity of the block colour and basic lines of geometry and pattern, there is always a story within… and that is when the emotional and intellectual perception of my art merge and the true beauty is discovered.

olted by the Thought of Known Places… Sweeney Astray” by Joan Jonas was one of the first performance installations that really made a huge impact on me. I was living in Paris during this time, in the early 90s, with a lot of influences from different cultures. It became the starting point of my own work. Joan Jonas practice has explored ways of seeing, the rhythms of ritual, and the authority of objects and gestures. Jonas continues to find new layers of meanings in themes and questions of gender and identity that have fueled her art for over thirty years. She is a great inspiration still today.

It is impossible to avoid the topic of body consciousness, embodied emotions and the image of body and personal identity that we see in your practice. What is the function of the identity appearing in your artworks – is it a canvas used to present your ideas or rather the subject of the art? What inspired you to use this as a theme in your practice?

I have been developing my visual imagery since I began studying art and film - from conceptual thinking, composition, using light and colour in different ways, through all the different techniques I've utilised over the years in my work and in my collaborations with stage artists such as dancers, musicians and actors. My approach is always developing through exploring these things. Visual imagery in essence is your way of experiencing what you see and transforming it. This is my world that I want to share and express through my art. The body consciousness, embodied emotions and the image of body and personal identity is part of this visual imagery, the emotional essence in my practice. Always present and always developing in different themes and projects.

Marina Abramovic stated: You see, what is my purpose of performance artist is to stage certain difficulties and stage the fear the primordial fear of pain, of dying, all of

which we have in our lives, and then stage them in front of audience and go through them and tell the audience, 'I'm your mirror; if I can do this in my life, you can do it in yours.'Can you relate anyhow to these words?

de-identify myself, by losing my roots, my culture, I would be very happy. Unfortunately the human being does'nt choose the place where he is born. He grows up in a society that automatically identifies, through education, culture, family... More than ever I think it's more important to go on a way of self-knowledge with the aim to meet “the other”.. This other without which we can not exist. It's the same for the artist. It is more important for me to be focused on my practice than to try to define it according to esthetic criteria of identification. It's probably the reason i like to remember the painter Matisse who said or wrote that an artist must never be prisoner of himself, prisoner of a style, prisoner of a reputation.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Could you talk a little about experiences that has influence the way you currently relate yourself to your artworks?

All my way is influenced by encounterings.

It began by the meeting with my professor of literature at school. More than giving French or Literature classes, she brought us to discover texts, movies, plays, visual artworks and to think about on what we saw or read.. Thanks to her that I met Pierre Vincke, a theatredirector who was worjink in the tradition of Grotowski ... Both of them have led me to go to theater school. In this school I had meetings. Meetings with artists but also and especially human beings that made me discover. I always need o discover rather than to master a practice. It's probably the reason my encounter with Monica Klingler and Boris Nieslony was decisive for me and led me on the path of Performance Art which is a form still difficult to define. Each performance artist has a different definition of what it is...

Could you identify a specific artwork that has influenced your artistic practice or has impacted the way you think about race and ethnic identity in visual culture?

No I don't have a specific artwork that has influenced my artistic practise but many.

I'm influenced by some philsophers as well as poets or musicians or dancers or visual artists but also by some places or landscapes or atmospheres ... For some years, I was used for example to go to India where I was used to follow some traditionnal muscians or to learn bharatanatyam and practice vipassana meditation... Of course this experience has impacted my art work.... This brought me to think and work differently... My experience in India brought me to discover traditionnal strong art and paradoxally to the way of Performance Art. But there I see one common point: to make no separation between art and life and to be here and now, without projection on the future.

It's difficult for me to speak about race and ethnic identity. But I can say that today we miss more and more this notion of “to be here and now” which is more present in some cultures ... By practising Performance Art, it's my way to be connected to this way of thinking. And even in this field actually it's more and more difficult. The society and the art world brings us more and more to plan in advance, to define our work, more than to do. Just to do. To do what we deeply need.

And of course, my encountering with Black Market International and later the notion of Open Source or Open session via PAErsche have also a big impact on my work. When we go on that, each of us perform by sharing time and space but without trying to convince each other on some common way. This is for me a wonderfull way how we can meet each other, regardless of our origin, our race or our “identity”...

Many of your works carry an autobiographical message. Since you transform your experiences into your artwork, we are curious, what is the role of memory in your artistic productions? We are particularly interested if you try to achieve a faithful translation of your previous experiences or if you rather use memory as starting point to create.

My memory is clearly a starting point to create. I don't have any autobiographical message. I use my personnal experience ( what I feel , what I see, what I learn, what I ear...) to work. It's a motor or a material. I'm not able to paint, so I can't do something with red or white or yellow or black colors. All I have is life, a body alive. And I need to do something with that...

My sensation about life sometimes is too intense then I need to transform this intensity in some action. Some artistic action... If people can take something from this action this is great... but I don't want to give them “a specific message” or to control the translation of my experience.