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Sunday, 28 November 2010

Landscape and the Body Done So Very Well #1

A small celebration of Ana Mendieta: 

Her work is immediate and magical, strong and ephemeral. Very Interesting.
Ana was born in Cuba in 1948 and exiled to the USA at thirteen with her elder sister, because her family opposed the dictatorship.
Themes of exile, violence and the creation/destruction cycle are prevalent, and her work always uses the form, silhouette or imprints of the female body. A woman emerges from a tree; branches make a woman.
Until the last two years of her life, her work was performance, photograph and video based. Still focusing on the female form, she began making object based art.

She married Carl Andre, of 'Equivalent' fame.

She Fell from a Height in 1985.
 Ana Mendieta's images of human connection to the landscape are both autobiographical and mythic, and this is the briefest look at her remarkable approach.

Why paint when more immediate work is possible? I'm still trying to work that one out...but there are Reasons.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Branching Out

Landscape and the Body
I'm very interested in the ways we inhabit our bodies and relate to our environment.
I see painting as a way of interpreting the information of the landscape through the human experience of the senses, memory, mythic imagination and physical energy. Very much a living process and highly individual. I'd like my paintings to communicate an experience.
I find I work at three types of painting.  Meditations, Encounters and Discoveries. The Meditation paintings are calm and still, based on colour and form. They are simple, less narrative. Encounter paintings are more confrontational and animistic. The Discovery paintings are often based on anthropomorphic qualities of trees.
So, this post begins at the beginning.

People don't grow on trees. Or step out of trees. That is the stuff of myth. Right? Have a look at this placenta. Well. Tree of Life?

I've played with these ideas before (see below), because the placenta is so full of potential. But it needs developing.
Paintings to come...
Landscape and the Body is a huge topic, and has been explored in many ways already. I'm going to look at a few different approaches I admire later in the week.

So, while I rewrite a novel that stalks me with its faults I remind myself that everything is a process. I've grown a branching tree of words, thrown in LOTS of fertiliser with the decent material and now I have to bonsai the wretched thing into something interesting and to the point, rather than an organic meditation on Stuff.

Sometimes you have to branch out and sometimes trim the branches. My problem is my 'thing' for interesting branches. I have a hard time hacking them off, even if I know they spoil the shape of the tree... Pathetic really. Excuse me while I sharpen my axe.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

About Inspiration

                                                               Ask and Embla
In an empty world, three gods wander along a beach, in search of amusement. The way gods do. Not much happening; they check out the detritus on the shore. And this is where it gets interesting. Washed up on the shore are a couple of logs.
   Sense they had not, soul they had not
being nor bearing, nor blooming hue.
You know the sort of thing, driftwood. Trees that had been growing, and one way or another, are uprooted and thrown on the waves. They are probably shaped by their time in the water. One log is ash; one is elm. Odin looks at them and, together with his brothers Vili and Ve, gets creative. He breathes into them and the first people step forth.
Ask and Embla.
I like the idea of something dead being reinvigorated. It seems to be the way the world works; in seasons of waste and renewal. The tree in this image has been eviscerated by the weather, and its slow erosion is underway. Certainly it's in a forest, not on a shore, and I have no god delusions. But with paint, you can breathe a little life into a log. Inspiration, of a sort.
 Next post follows logically: Landscape and the body...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The Most Exhilarating of Powders

Aspirations to alchemy. A ladder to the stars.

Magic powder that can make you happy? Plenty of variants out there. But chalk pastels are the stuff of Dreams. Just look at Redon (see below). Alchemical aspirations are possible with chalks. Here are some Very Good Reasons to play with chalk pastels:

1. They are portable and excellent for using outside
2. Building a painting is very immediate and physical, you press the chalk into whatever ground you're using with your hands. This is childishly satisfying
3. Your hands will look very interesting when you're done and you can avoid food preparation and laundry in good conscience
4. A chalk painting is ephemeral - if you're unhappy with results, you can just wipe away what isn't working, and remake that area.
5. Working with a dry medium, you can travel with your work right away

Yes, you get pigment in your skin, clothes and in your nose, but there's a price for everything. I think my respiratory system can take it.
Working with chalk takes some practice.
"It is precisely from the regret left by the imperfect work that the next one can be born." That's what Redon says.
And clearly, he is in a position of knowledge. He presents a luminous example of What is Possible. Sigh. Maybe next time. I live in hope.

Head of Orpheus  Odilon Redon