Friday, 28 March 2014

Today's thoughts whilst painting: Reality through abstraction

Over the last couple of weeks I have become more aware of my interest in abstracting from observable reality.  Case in point in my observation studies from local rock formations and how my mind makes judgements.  When I paint I extract information from the observed object, through this I make decisions based upon my experiences from the last 25 years. 
The decisive marks made try to capture the moment of decision and evidence reality;  reality grounded in the way our minds' choose particular realities we live by - based on a past that is remembered and the choices we have made which have led to our present moment we are living.
For me painting evidences many realities which are competing for a position of authority and the artist has to make judgements to reign in the authoritative position of the mark and colour, seeking an aesthetic balance between all the marks and results of the decision processes. 
This has led me to the process of abstraction in making, drawing inspiration from the natural world and seeking syntheses between the reality of the observed and the reality of imagination.   We could say, possibly, that everything we see and experience is nothing more than our imagination and it is us, in our denial, who creates a false reality based upon the needs and desires of our inner-self.  Of course this can lead to such problems in our personal reality.   In this case we must get to know ourselves and not rely upon others' ideas of ourselves to construct our reality.

  We are the result of experiential realities, therefore we as a species need to become fully aware of our contribution to society and the world through the interactions we have.
For me the abstract is the only true reality and therefore one must submit to the abstractness of reality and see the world for what it is... abstract information which is used by our ideologies to construct a linear reality grounded in desire.
This is an inescapable truth - we are seeking the pleasure of living - how we find this pleasure is different in us all.  For myself the pleasure gained from seeing something beautiful is the key to syncing out of the time/ space continuum and into the other world - a world of no thought, no ideology and no questioning.  This is possibly, as Krishnamurti in his Flowering of Life booklet makes one aware of: The only true reality is when one gazes upon something of such aesthetic beauty, which is independent of another person's thoughts of 'ideal' beauty -  it can then be possible to say we are touching the edge of the sublime reality of truth and full awareness of 'being'.
  The act of creating something, of seeking the necessary truths of balance, composition and arrangements is the seeking of the divine within all acts of creation.  This goal in seeking a synthesis of various competing realities that inhabit the Universe, metamorphosing into forms which encapsulate the sublime, is possibly an emotive garnering of 'existential realities', moving towards a coherent understanding about what it means to 'be' and what we as 'beings' contribute to the understanding of ourselves, and the world, through the Art we create, see, experience and love.  

Image in progress

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Picasso y mi en Malaga.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Semana 2 & 3 en Malaga.

Hola, Buenas Tardes.
 It has been a very busy two weeks since last I wrote - Firstly I'd like to apologise for the time it has taken me to upload this text as promised - The time has flown so quickly whilst here.  When having fun the time moves quickly.  Three weeks in and I have been busy creating many sketches and writings, formulating ideas and bringing together research that I have done so far.  I have been learning Spanish and slowly it is sticking - I feel a little part of my mind creating a special area and finally can start to see how the words fit together and how the grammar works. It takes a while but once you see how it fits together then it sticks in the mind.  It is exciting when things begin to click... practica makes perfecto.
 I have been visiting many museums and galleries in and around Malaga and soon I will be travelling further a field to explore Sevilla, Cordoba, Cadiz and more to finalise research on La Historica de Espana for the intended murales (mural).
 I hope to begin the actual piece from Lunes 10th March - at which point I will be in the room most days from the afternoon through until the late evening.  I am itching to make a start - but I need to research a little more the region of Andalusia and its history/ mythology to form into the images that I proposed to produce.
 Currently I have been taking lots of photos, although I do not rely on photography to create my work - mainly I use my sketches and memory - drawing and painting the variety of objects and observations I have made so far.
Vallo from Estonia
 On Saturday 22nd February we visited Grenada and the Alhambra - WOW!  Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to take many photos due to circumstances out of my control - though thankfully a pencil and a sketchbook is generally all I require and my memory too.  The day was amazing and the opportunity to visit Grenada with the other artistas and estudiantes de Malaca Instituto was an great opportunity to know many I had not yet had the opportunity to converse with before.
 One of the problems with drawing though is not keeping up with the rest of the group and in this case I managed to lose the group on a few occasions and towards the end of the visit too - which was embarrassing to say the least - although it all worked out okay in the end, but it was still an event I do not wish to repeat again.  The moral?  Draw fast without looking at the paper, bring spare batteries for the camera and stick with the group. ;D
 The Alhambra is amazing and no words can really describe the experience of standing before such a great piece of work.  The intricately designed and constructed geometric designs are simply breathtaking using Nasrid Proportion.  The amount of work and time put into the majesty of the palace is overwhelming and begs for several visits to absorb everything.  Even so, with the reality that all of the work was made by the hands of people and not machines is something I am sure is not possible today, due to the loss of skills and/ or the cost involved in producing something on this scale.
 The geometric designs reminded me also of the Celtic designs from my home county/ country of Cornwall (South West England).  The way the lines interweave between one another, connecting elements of various areas into a cohesive whole - creating form and shape; like frequencies of sound creating form.  This abstraction brought a sense of the hidden reality or realm beyond our normal vision.  I equate it to how the world might seem if we saw the world without the mind which brings form to the vibrational patterns of energy.  Here the Islamic design makes apparent a reality that both exists and informs the material, without relying on 'recognisable' imagery of people, animal and nature - yet in the design the forms of nature come through the intricacies of the Nasrid designs.
Celtic Design
 Through the images and observations I have done thus far I intend to experiment with applying the techniques of the Nasrid Proportion to my piece in some way - although firstly I will need to research and create work exploring this style of proportion.  I will apply elements of nature to the design, using the many flora and fauna I have accumulated over the last three weeks and in my final piece/s on the wall (Pared) I will apply this proportional technique to the structure of the design, as this appears to be an underlying architectural and artistic reality to Spanish design from the past - the Islamic influence within the culture of Spain and a clear demonstration of how cross-fertilization of ideas, design and artistic creativity enhances the creative culture in the region of Andalusia.
 Throughout history we observe the way 'outsiders' influence and enhance another culture - using the best of both to form new synthesis' of artistic creativity, in turn pushing the evolution of art, design, architecture and ideologies into new areas of investigation - leading towards a new cultural enlightenment.  As a maker of 'stuff' (artist) I respond to this form of energetic creativity and it is one of the key factors for travelling to other countries, exploring at first hand the influences of the past upon the present and the seemingly indeterminable future.
 Below are some sketches I have been working on.  In these you can see that I have over-laid many images, creating a saturation of information from various subjects.  Each intersects and connects with one another, abstractly, from various 'eras'.  This exploration in the effects from the past and how it relates to the contemporary is key to my research, as well as using elements from the environment that I am currently surrounded by and taking part in through observation of space, forms, ideas, cultures, learning Spanish and its history. 
 I am also influenced and inspired from the local landscape via abstracting colour and form from local rocks - something you might have seen during my time in Cyprus.  In a sense my work becomes a form of history painting, set within the style of the collage with an interconnectedness between different eras/ times, through chance elements and intellectual rational.  My goal is to seek a synthesis between the past and the present and how these influence the development of our identity and our relationship with the past.  More on this later as I develop this line of inquiry.

 To finish I will also be exploring the use of a limited colour palette -  introducing black line work, bringing a mix of drawing and painting together, using the colours influenced from what I see in Spain (Grenada and others).  In this case the colours will be: Red (Rojo), Green (Verde), Gold (Dorado), Blue (Azul) and the tonal values of Black (Negro) and White (Blanco).  Again, more on this in another posting.
Hasta Luego.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Malaga, Spain: Week One


My first week in Malaga and I have enjoyed every moment.  I have been made very welcome and the staff and teachers at the Institute have been amazing.  When I first arrived in Malaga it took me a while to find the correct route to make my way to the Malaca Institute from the airport - but no sooner I had got off the plane I was on the bus into the city centre (centro).  Once there I walked around for a bit, getting my bearings - locating the number 3 or 11 bus.  After much translation problems I opted for a taxi and got on well with the driver.  This was my first opportunity to test out the little Spanish I had been teaching myself the week previous (thank you to my Sister for buying me an early birthday present - Talk Spanish from the BBC) - and I didn't do too bad and the driver would tell me the correct pronunciation ;D
 When I arrived at the Institute I met the receptionist and they gave me the key to my room and promptly headed so I could unpack and rest.  Later that Sunday afternoon I went for a walk around the area, Cerrada De Calderon, and to the beach, which was only 5 minutes away.
  Sitting on the beach I took in my surroundings and took in the view of the city and the mountains in the far distant.  I took out my sketchbook and began doing some quick drawings - helping me to take in what I was seeing.  After six months in Cyprus making work, getting to know the people there, it was time to move forward and begin my journey here.  Cyprus had prepared me for my travels and being relaxed about living in another country, something I love to do and making work which responds to my experiences in places.
 On Monday morning I had breakfast in the restaurant here at the Institute and met a few people who were there - but not knowing that most of the students where in class learning Spanish.  Whilst there I wondered when I would meet the other artists on this residency, and as I thought this Nieves and the other artists had come into the restaurant. 
 We introduced ourselves and found out we could begin learning Spanish from Tuesday, after sitting a little test to find out how much we knew.
 Later in the day a group of us took a tour bus into the centre to have a little tour of Malaga, seeing the Cathedral, introduced to famous buildings and figures of history and tried a glass of vino from a bar frequented by Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, when they are in town.  Myself, Marina (Italy), Felipe (Chile) and Stefan (Germany) took to a walk around the city and the marina - talking about where we have come from, the art we do and hat we would each be making here over the next three months in the rooms we have been assigned.
 This week has been amazing and I have enjoyed every moment.  Learning Spanish (although remembering new words does not come easy to me) in the mornings and walking about in the afternoons.  I love the way they approach teaching here - we have a different tutor each hour, each with their own way of teaching, keeping lessons fresh and exciting - and I like the fact with each of their different teaching strategies and handwriting, you are able to take in the various ways to remember words, sentences and the grammar.
 I have to put in the practice to get better with Spanish - when I was in school and learning French I took to it well - although today I know very little.  However, I believe that the way in which we are being taught and the practice that I will have to do to remember the verbs and nouns, I hope to be able to speak and listen to Espanol and know how to respond.  It will take time - but one of the reasons for wanting to do this is to learn the language well and be able to converse with people where ever I travel to, getting to know more about the country etc... without having to rely on an English book or English translations.  Knowing the language and taking part in activities like Flamenco lessons will add to my experience and infuse elements into the work, the painting, I will do in the assigned room here at Malaca Instituto.
 After only one week I already know I am going to enjoy this experience and I can already imagine this country being one of the places on Earth that I would enjoy living in for longer in the future.
 Last night a party was put on to welcome all of the artists and I had an amazing night talking to others about what I was going to do - and even though we were speaking different languages, we could still communicate with my little Spanish I have learned this week here, and most speak English too - although as the weeks come I hope that less English will be spoken by me and more Spanish will replace it to become my major language here.  I am determined, even if it takes me a while to do.  ;D  There was an amazing buffet with a variety of lovely food and the champagne & Vino Rojo was wonderful.  There was a DJ and music and I danced and enjoyed myself.  There was a performance by a performer who had been body painted to be a Jaguar, some interactive art using OHP projectors and a speech by the Director welcoming us and introducing us to everybody here.  A brilliant night - Thank you.
 I wish to thank all the Personal, Tutores and Estudiantes for making me very welcome, relaxed and giving me this opportunity to share my work with you and to create something for everyone to enjoy in the months and years ahead.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Looted art found

Exhibition in the Cornaro Institute in Larnaka

I was asked recently by Andreas Efstathiou to supply some paintings for an exhibition he was curating with his work, Stass Paraskos' and others at the Cornaro Institute, Larnaka.
Thinking about which ones to put in I decided upon one that I did in the first week of arriving in Lempa and one from later on. 
The first is a portrait of a man playing backgammon in Paphos.  This was worked from a sketch I did in my sketchbook and memory; the second is from the still life observations I am doing from local rock.  The formal portraits is a way of creating a portraiture of the Cypriot community,  and the rock paintings is my exploration with the environment and erosion. 
I have been drawn to the idea of erosion and its link as a symbolic signifier for the state of the Cypriot economic problems, as well as its history. 
The portraits are linked in the way the Cypriot people socialise and play backgammon, building and strengthening social bonds and an underlying theme concerning the Greek Orthodox Icon, considered in this religion as the real seen through a window or wormhole into the spiritual reality, and not just an image representing the particular Saint.  There is also an element of the Prometheus mythology that I have been drawn to and a relation to the Kafka poem of the same name - particularly the Second Aspect.
These paintings have been framed using reclaimed pallet wood and stained with serpentinite rock powder,  which is made from filing the rock and then using turpentine as a carrier and olive oil as a binder.  Being here forced me to change the way I work, for the better,  and there has developed an emphasis on using found objects and local natural materials which have been discarded and is becoming more prevalent in some way in my work.   This seems to have a symbolic reference to the economic downturn and our contemporary lifestyle,  as we need to shift from the throw away culture to one of reusing and reforming objects, through using skills and techniques to make do and mend, making stuff.  Maybe there is a way through our era by creating a skills based system of exchange rather than one based on the exchange of paper and metal that only serves bankers? (See South West Dorset Lets)
There is something going on with my current practice and an interesting thread seems to be developing from these various explorations I am making at this time.  More on this as I reflect and become more aware of this underlying thread.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Landscape painting through the still life.

Here are some paintings I have been doing over the last few weeks . These are studies from rocks taken from the landscape of Cyprus.  I have been looking closely,  creating a representation from the limestone, sandstone, and serpentinite.   These take on an abstract quality which is also reminding me of cave paintings and how the artist in those days used the natural marks and features in the rock to create the imagery of animals and people.  I am not quite sure where this is heading, but I am interested in the way the weather erodes the rock and stone work from the landscape and buildings around cyprus and I am becoming interested in ideas associated with entropy.