Not Random Art - Page 33

Hello Scott, and welcome to NotRandomArt. The current issue is revolving around the problem of communication and identity. 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?

The environment I live in affects who I am, what I look at and how I translate my perception. Currently I am documenting my immediate surroundings both through painting and photography. This interest in local ecology has intensified my study of biology and has led to incorporating phenomena from physics into my message. My work is currently a collection of images from the area I live in and is a record of the global warming and environmental changes that are in progress. Because the denial of science is raising it’s ugly head, I feel it is imperative to create environmental statements. One example is my painting, Fear of Fracking, which deals with the potential damage to our ground water from hydraulic fracking.

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 where you are now?

I grew up in a small Oregon town in the middle of the Willamette Valley. It is an area with very rich soil, a great growing season with a large variety of crops and a rich diversity of wildlife. I was able to sleep out under the stars at night, explore the woods during the day and swim in the many lakes and rivers. This closeness to nature set the path I have been traveling on since. Early in my realism career I did a series of drawings and paintings of crumpled paper. Drawings like, Four Color Square, became topographical studies of the paper’s surface and how light delineated the valleys and ridges. It became an environment of my own making but one that was suggestive of the surrounding mountain ranges in Oregon. I discovered the enamel paint medium I use today when I was in high school doing

custom painting on cars. This self-taught skill was formative because I learned how to make abstract pinstripe marks and how shape these marks to relate to the space being embellished. Enamel gives a brilliant glossy color that has become part of my painting vocabulary. Color is where I start a painting and it influences all of the following decisions as the painting progresses. I often place color bars in my paintings like, Sumac Energy Field, to reinforce the importance of color. This interest in color firmly took hold at the Art Center College of Design, Industrial Color class taught by the renowned color authority Albert King.

Could you identify a specific artwork that has influenced your artistic practice or has impacted the way you think about your identity as a participant of the visual culture?

I can’t really point to a specific piece but rather to art movements that influence my current direction. In my early career I explored Op Art, Pop Art and later Photo Realism. These three genres are now part of my everyday creative process and weave in and out of basically each painting.

While I look at the work of other artists the one piece that made the most influence on my current direction was a painting I did in 2006 titled, Tricknology. Before beginning this painting I told myself that it was ok to draw on the entire vernacular of my creative past as a designer, illustrator and fabric pattern stylist and that these skills could be folded into my fine art. I was no longer going to render images in their actual setting but instead create a made up environment to project the narrative that I wanted to portray. This was a game changer that allowed me to say more than, “this is just an interesting image.”

What is the role of technique in your practice? In particular are there any constraints or rules that you follow when creating?

I have an substantial vocabulary of techniques that have been developed over the years of working in both commercial and fine art. I use certain tools that work well with enamel paint such as ruling pens and compasses. Because of my past pratice of Op Art and my knowledge of how to create vibrations through the use of complimentary colors I often rely on a compass to help me achieve this visual phenomenon when I create energy circles. A ruling pen allows me to get the crisp stright lines seen in the background of, Concidering Global Warming. The Chrysler building in the background was done in four shades of blue with the technique of hand cut stencils.

My current approach to painting is entirely different than it was when I worked in a pre-determined realistic style. As mentioned earlier I start with a color background that is basically flat or sometimes combined with various begining marks. Next comes, what is generally, an iconic object that has a monumental stature, a holdover form my realism days. When the main image is mostly complete I resume working on the background. The background developes in a more abstract manner of putting down marks and images that are reactions to what was previously applied to the canvas. It is a totally intuitive method and a very freeing approach that allows me to add a more inclusive narrative. The painting, Power Poll 37.5+, is an example of where I started with the blue background, added the power poll and than brought in the energy symbols.

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.