Not Random Art - Page 33

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?

My identity as an artist is inseparable from my experience as a human being because I exist within the framework of the cultural and historical context into which I was born. This framework informs everything that is fundamental, from values to how seriously (or not seriously) I take life, my relationships with others and the creation of my art. My art is the truest expression of thoughts and emotions that create connections between my identity and the world outside of me. As I change, grow, and struggle with personal and political dynamics my art reflects the thought process and struggle; it can’t be helped or controlled—creating work that is true to its source is the difference between art and propaganda.

My aesthetic foundation is tethered to my Mexican roots, giving me thousands of years of history and culture as my own, from foods and colors to political ideologies and social conflicts defined by race and economics. However, this cultural substratum is only the beginning and serves as a point of departure. What I make of myself or my art is something that is furthered influenced by the deep process of reconciliation between the love and pride I have for my origins, and feelings of shame, displacement, and insecurity I feel as a foreigner in a land that looks down on just about everything that I am: immigrant, Mexican, dark, small, female, LGBT, and artist. At times the juxtaposition between the societal standards of art, beauty, and norms with all that I am and represent is jarring. The current state of affairs in the United States, with the election of Trump, pulled the rug from under our feet. By “our feet”, I mean all human beings because it stripped our humanity and reduced it to simplistic and unproductive dynamics that marginalize people by simply defining them as opposites: the have and have-nots, black and white, rich and poor, gay and straight, corporations and communities, male and female, etc. In addition, Trump’s ascend to the presidency exposed the naked intentions and goals of an elite segment consumed by greed and power. As a human being and an artist, I am enraged and terrified. However, I am also firm in my belief that all human beings are equally deserving of respect, rights, and access to opportunity. My work reflects this by delivering compositions that engage viewers in discourse—the first step in effecting change.

We would like to ask you a question about your background: how does your cultural substratum relate to the way you connect with art making and its aesthetic?

I can trace my aesthetic explorations back to my childhood, to endless days playing in nature, finding pre-Columbian artifacts and examining them with care. These days were filled with transforming the pistons of the jacaranda flowers into imaginary, bellicose animals, and creating toy animals using small papaya fruit with sticks for legs and horns. I learned about light comingled with scent, and I was inundated by colors and shapes, in particular by shapes erected next to, and almost on top of one another as pre-Columbian, colonial, and contemporary architecture emerging from jungles. Then came a new visual language and references brought on by the accelerated availability of TV, advertising, movies, and technology, especially the internet. In my self-didactic aesthetic education I found myself coming full circle with my cultural cradle. For example, one day I was home in Xalapa and I went to the museum of archeology. The museum is uniquely designed to follow the contours of the hill into which it is built. Each strata is a gallery dedicated to a specific period of time and area, and so as viewers explore the museum from the top strata to the bottom they are taken from ancient Olmec history and culture to recent times and newly-emerged cultures. I had with me loose paper that I had toned with coffee and three pencils, a charcoal black, a white, and a brown. As I stood in front of colossal heads, and other sculptures, I quickly sketched them and then moved on to the next. I sketched human skulls, and hieroglyphics of human skulls as quickly as I could because the museum was closing. When I got home I put the sketches away and forgot about them. When I was working on “La Lucha” series, which depicts a pregnant Mexican woman wearing a kitschy wrestling mask with her mix-race child who is also wearing a mask, it suddenly occurred to me that I had seen the exaggerated skull shapes on the masks before and outside of the context of the popular Mexican art of Lucha Libre. I dug through my sketches from the museum and there it was—the reference linking popular Mexican culture to its deep and ancient past. I compared the sketches of the skulls depicted in hieroglyphics with the design of the popular Lucha Libre masks, and suddenly thousands of years of cultural linkages made sense to me. I’m sure this observation has been made before, but at that moment, for me as an artist, the realization was a pivotal point in the series and the subsequent narrative about what I was painting; the history of my mother culture and her children cultures.

On another occasion, when I was studying in London, and was still quite young and had never seen many masterpieces in real life, I literary (or almost) ran into a Henry Moore sculpture. I looked at it for a long time and from as many angles as I could manage. My first thought was that “this” was not like other western art. His deep influence by nature echoed the sculpture that I knew growing up in the form of Mayan and other indigenous sculptures. The ability to see how similar we (humans) are gave me pride and confidence that what we create as “minority” artists in non-western, and non-white cultures, is just as good, , and valid as any other art method and expression in the world.

er 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.