Not Random Art - Page 95

Hello Robb 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?

Thank you very much for this opportunity. I do agree, wholeheartedly, that these are quite unstable times…I must admit that dynamic changes are my wheelhouse. I’ve run the gambit when talking about my past; I spent my youngest years spoiled, knee deep in my every request. My adolescent years found me bouncing from couch to couch; relying literally on the kindness of others. In my adulthood, I’ve been broke to the despite point of selling my belongings to get food and cigs…After all the ups and downs, I’ve managed to find a nice balance, simply taking it one day at a time. I owe it to my unique set of survival skills acquired by my less than conventional “family life”.

That being said my cultural identity has a large part in the formation of my aesthetic. To put it in “my language”, breaking down each piece by their material cost would equal a pack of smokes, a red bull and a box of cat food (all daily essentials)….The real value of my work comes from MY identity which is equal parts juvenile humor (at times), gritty attitude and honest emotion. As an artist in the vast and uncharted visual art world I am still not quite sure who I am …I’m sure I am easily viewed as a tourist by the visual elite , and it’s a fair assessment. Though with each new work I create, I am confidently coming closer to that answer…

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 am from the small town of Oswego. It is located in upstate New York, on Lake Ontario. I came to Philadelphia, which I now call home, to attend college at The University of the Arts which I graduated from with a BFA in theatre arts. So I must admit the visual arts realm is still somewhat new to me. I guess I would say I tripped over the “visual” line as a sort of self-diagnosed therapy (which it still very much is) about 3 yrs ago. Initially I was inspired by a book I came across at AIDS thrift (a popular thrift store in Philly). The Book was called Gig Posters, Volume 1 : Rock Show Art of the 21st Century by Clay Hayes. It featured band posters by an array of different artists. They were all so edgy and visually hypnotic and obviously inspired by the essence and soul of each band they were created for. I was hooked, I wanted to put the same kind of face melting electric footprint out in the world…or at the very least my living room.

I was faced with a few problems in the beginning. One, all I can paint…are walls, and my drawing skill ends at stick figures. Fast forward now past a few failed attempts at 3d found art…. I tried my “hand” at hand cut collage which over time has been the best way of bringing my narrative to life.

Without a doubt from the very first moments of me travelling in to the realm of visual art, Music is and will always will be the most inspirational factor in my artistic creativity.

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?

That is a difficult question, being a collage artist there is SOOO many artists that inspire me …after all it is thanks to them that I have a medium in which to cut and paste. One particular artist does come to mind however, Tomer Hanuka of Tropical Toxic, an illustrator and comic artist. All of his images are gut punching, by that I mean he creates such fluid momentum in stillness. Total rock star…he also lives in my preferred color pallet…brilliantly bright and saturated. He can literally depict a man looking out a window,and it will pull me so far in that I’m wondering what the guy had for breakfast…. This is my aspiration; to lead my viewers, unbeknownst to them, into their own vivid mental pinball machine.

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.

The short answer to that is I use the memory as a jumping off point to create. I think the best way to describe it would be to first tell you that growing up I lived and died for MTV (back when it really was music videos). So as far back as I can remember I would create mental music videos to every song I heard and hear….it’s my interpretation of that song…likewise I do the same with each piece I’m working on.. I choose a story or statement I want to tell. My next step is to create a soundtrack for that story or statement. Now with the playlist running, I begin the search for the best images that are going to best bring the story or statement to life.

As you can see, I start with a specific memory or experience of mine and break it down to its basic essence and then start rebuilding on that to create my pieces.

g 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.