Influences / painting phase
The subject matter remains the same, as I explore techniques that bring me closer to understanding the nature of man's close connections - the instinct of care. This is why I group these paintings in the same category despite their evolution in visual language. The first two paintings were done during quarantine, which means access to my usual materials of cutting, sanding, and shaping the canvas as a form of representation of loss, was non-existent. The technique was therefore adapted resulting in the phase when the abstract background disappeared into a new figurative style of painting. This technique has evolved since Self Sabotage when it was first introduced. On the conceptual side, I connect this figurative style to past emotional experiences - exploring how memories of traumas seem blurred and confusing to our rational mind, eventually resulting in our own fragmented sense of identity (like a constant fading effect).
Gestural movement and spatial consciousness are two constant presences in my work. I associate the paintings with certain moments of my experience, composing the recurring imagery in all works.
The color palette and scale can differ, in accordance with the space atmosphere, I want to achieve, setting the mood for each painting and how it is presented. I invite the audience to sink in the atmosphere of the painting, leaving the meaning open to discussion and drawing attention to its multiple possibilities.
Influences of my past architecture experience are evident in the first trio of paintings. Richard Serra informs my work continuously in the fields of spacial organization and specific-site related object design. His objects shape the space around them, creating an interesting mix of Art and Architecture. My works use that special characteristic both inside (relation of body and abstract background) and outside of the frame (cutting out the canvas frame). Experimentation as an"empirical practice in which the artist plays with his materials and adopts chance procedures in the expectation that something of value will result" also plays a vital role in the development of my practice, as in Serra's work. My creative approach, at an early stage, resulted from the automated process of drawing, exploring new more individualistic ways of using such method. Paying attention to the particularities of the work created, I looked into developing this methodology on painting, adapting it to a new tridimensional world, and pushing the technical boundaries of the medium. This fueled the development of a new style.
One which comprises more of a graffiti influence, and becomes more evident in the last set of paintings. I started painting on walls before moving to canvas, so rollers and big chunks of paint on messy brush strokes are my go-to tools and techniques. I've found that bringing those hacks into studio painting gave the work a sloppy look that I grew fond of and aim to experiment more once developing in the future.
Richard Serra's London Cross (2014)
Richard Serra's Cycle (2011)
Richard Serra MOMA Sculpture Garden, NYC, 2007
The Failed Project / the rub of the edges
This was painted during the quarantine. I ran out of paint at a certain point and it was not possible to finish it for the assessment. Quarantine was and continues to be, a time of frustration, that leads to slow development of the work. Ideas still surge but the ability to focus is weaker, and stress overwhelms you. I feel I failed this project, I wasn't at the level of my intentions.
I was excited to produce this painting as a representation of a pivotal moment of the practice. One where I believed the rubbing of the edges to finally occur. What I mean by this is, that all my practice up until this moment has been developed through two lenses:
- mine (the carer's view);
- hers (the cared for perspective);
And now, I believe I come to the realization that the experiences have more in common than what I initially thought, that's the point I am mentally at.
Creating this scene would bring together two stories into one. The scene for the painting is a bathroom, where a young girl sits on the toilet in a reflective pose, glancing at a distance, like she is in her head at that moment, lost in her thoughts. The mirror here is a symbol that gives us the information, along with the title, to connect the stories - it's her reflection. But her reflection's gaze is pointed at the same direction, not the usual reflection's opposite - intending that there's a trick of the eye here, that something in this painting is lying to us. This painting's inspiration arises from those times when we lie to ourselves the most, for protection. It's about how we believe, in things that aren't true, how we live in such an illusion that we forget to take risks, to try things, be fearless and actually live life. How is it, that lies are more comforting to us than the truth?
The best teacher is your own experience. If you fail, when you fail you get the opportunity to change the way you see things, to grow. And suddenly all the things that you've convinced yourself of before, aren't true anymore and you realize how you've deceived yourself. That has been, the common edge between my experience as a daughter and carer and my mother's experience as the cared for and carer at the same time, thus titling it Maria as we both have the same name. The moment in life where two pieces of knowledge blend into one, the same experience. Life is, for me, about these moments, because you know that we both evolved.
"That's my greatest fear,
That if I lost control
Or did not have control of life
Things would just, you know...
Conversation about life with mom
Maria's Dillema (unfinished)
Painting on MDF board
Medium: Acrylic and mixed media
Dimensions: 1,20 x 75 cm
As I continue experimenting on non-abstractional, geometric backgrounds I start to define a more realistic way of painting. Another fuel of excitement for me as I am starting new work is always experimentation.
Here, I wanted to continue pushing the boundaries of acrylic medium and paint in a blended way, like it's usually done in oil painting. Based on the style of Paula Rego's characters I took it upon myself to experiment in the girl's skin tones, starting from a base yellow tone for the skin and building the rest of the skin's layers Alla prima (intuitively as I go).
With no use of paint extender or other mediums, just by painting fast, not letting the acrylic layers dry in between. Adding titanium white consecutively, creating lighter shades of the same yellow, burnt umber for darker shadows, or other skin tone colors to warm or cool the palette.
Why Acrylic? Because if I used oils then it wouldn't be a challenge would it? This way, I get to preserve the painting's true color palette for longer, play around with the crisp, contrasting edges of the colors, and force myself to learn new ways of using this medium every day.
Initial sketches were done in loco. I sat down in my bathroom and draw the surroundings as a quick sketch. From there, I kept layering the sketches until it looked polished, with the perspective view I intended. The girl's pose was based on a photo taken of myself - a process I usually use when I have an idea of the scene layout in my head and I just need the reference pose to be able to draw it on canvas. For the reflection, I mirrored the initial picture, on photoshop.
There were many frustrations with this work:
- Getting the skin tone nuances right;
- Getting the values of the background green into fading out;
- Learning how to blend with acrylics;
- Keeping the background somewhat geometrical
- Not working with the same materials as I'm used to;
Regardless, failure is an important part of the process of learning how to paint. I will try this in the future again, maybe at a point where I've done a few more paintings and feel more confident about it.
Technique introduced video / Tape and cut hack
Technique Improvment / atmosphere dimension introduced
"And, y'know, while as I said it can be scary, it can also be a little bit comforting.
Because I've learned that when I get to that point, and I can acknowledge: “Okay, Mi, that's as much as you can do" I can actually... let it go."
Excerps of a Conversation about Life
The Intention behind this painting is to represent a figure firmly embracing a red pillow as the expression of another pivotal moment of the cared/carer narrative.
Feedback informed me that the pillow resembles another figure and, often, it's been said that it is two people hugging. Some even see a Japanese Warrior. What I find intriguing is the fact that a debate on curiosity starts just by looking at the painting. The colors call upon you to take a step closer and the figure is everything but obvious, locking your curiosity. This sparked debate upon the Viewer is why I create this faceless, blurred figure - I have no interest in drawing reality too realistically because I can't add my pinch of poetry to it. So, drawing on the board from a picture reference from my childhood was the method this time - drawing in a flow and not too accurate, just the basic shapes - I wanted to let the color and the blending nuances give the depth necessary when painting. By playing with the figurative, adding poetry to the gesture, and giving the work a title that suggests a play on the word warm (how it's used to define people and the word's similar sound to "woman"), meaning is left open to its multiple views.
It's important to mention the intentions behind the creation in order to understand the title. To me, this painting is about:
- how we, as humans, hold on to things that don't matter to substitute a missing piece of the puzzle, one we can't replace - we hide in the control of shallow things: objects, unhealthy relationships, habits.
- we lie to ourselves thinking it works to fill the void, but really... it doesn't. It's just another reflection of our constant habit to lie to ourselves the most because we are insecure beings.
Inspiration to "talk" about this through painting came after reflecting on acts of obsession and clinginess to objects, that sometimes arise in us like an instinct of survival when dealing with a difficult situation. In this case, it was one object, a red sofa that was part of our House's living room for years, to the point that it couldn't stand on itself but my mother just couldn't give up on it, as any change in scenery would intensify the difficult changes happening in her life at the moment. Like replacing a piece of furniture in the room was equivalent to replacing memories from her past that she did not want to let go of.
Am I warm enough for you?
Painting on MDF board
Medium: Acrylic and mixed media
Dimensions: 78 x 72 cm
(say it out loud)
Me holding my sofa's pillow
Technique video (above) Detail picture (below)
Technique wise, I feel this painting was a successful step towards the style I choose to keep experimenting in the future.
After a glance at Jenny Saville's work at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, in 2018, I was intrigued by her technique but not yet captivated. It was after learning to paint and re-visiting her work recently that I recognized the artistry of her brushstrokes. The violence and messiness of the brush stroke without losing realism to the depiction interested me as it contained emotion from the artist in addition to skill and control of the paint. I could sense the anger towards the theme and the passion she put in each painting - I thought, with my research question, this was something to experiment on. As I navigate through a research question based on my personal experiences I cannot detach myself as an artist from the work.I wanted to see how I could execute in my own creations. What was curious about this painting was to see the past graffiti influence of style emerge in my work (sloppy style of painting ).
The video doesn't capture the brush strokes but it shows something just as important. It was during the creation of this painting that I made my first attempt at blending with acrylics, completely leaving behind the geometrical background.
I didn't use mediums, as I wanted to keep the painting quick with the brushstroke, but in order for the sofa to have the nuances of red that give depth I needed to blend the colors in, contradicting how acrylics acted, for this purpose, therefore:
- I prepared the three shades of red beforehand (not alla prima this time) and added a small portion of water to dilute the paint.
- Then painted the first even coat of red and added the other shades at certain points, blending them in with a humid cloth.
By this time I had painted five paintings and felt comfortable. I wanted to push what I knew of acrylics at that point.
I started to think about atmosphere in my paintings. I wanted it to be strong and emotional - I tried this at first not expecting much, but when I saw it worked I was pleased to continue with acrylics. The experiment of painting quickly was a challenge but it was fulfilling to see the result, and as much as I enjoy taking my time with painting, I enjoy being able to produce paintings more quickly as well. As for texture, the thickness of the medium helps in achieving the fading effect experimented before in the Self Sabotage painting.
Jenny Saville's Red Stare Head IV (2006-2011)
Jenny Saville's Pause (2002-2003)
End of the Abstract Background
Experimentation on The Decision painting
Clique each picture to Enlarge
Palette trial (setting the atmosphere)
New Technique Warm Palette
Palette change to cold
Taken by me, to reference the gestural pose of the painting
The Decision (cooler palette)
Painting on MDF board
Medium: Acrylic and mixed media
Dimensions: 59 x 50 cm
This work is transitional. It show's a little of the two worlds (abstract and figurative). I want to talk about the moment when my father had to decide - to lie or to tell the truth about my mom being ill to a child. Life is about making tough decisions at times. Regardless of what we think. What I have learn is we must act more at times because that's what people need, someone that is not afraid to lead.
There's a relation of body with space (background), heavily acknowledged in my work, but it stops being centerpiece here and the gesture acquires more importance - becoming the focal point of the painting. The abstract shifts to the body, here, continuing the experimentation legacy of my projects.
Representation, although much more controlled in the figure, still has figurative traces in the man's facial expression - the intention is not to be too realistic, it is to see if I can tell the story, once again, by capturing the most informative moment of the narrative.
At this point, I was defining my modus operandi and experimenting between a looser approach to paint and a more controlled technique. Drawing from a picture reference continues to be the method from which the painting imagery is born. But the reference picture is only good to structure the pose of the figure I'm imagining. When I don't have time to waste on drawing several sketches, layering them, and mounting the pose intuitively, I usually photograph myself or a friend in the pose I'm imagining and go from there.=, in this case, my dad was the avid volunteer.
After deciding that I want the atmosphere to inform the Viewer that a tough decision-making time is in place, I then, start to experiment. I have to lock the pose in drawing, as it must reflect this drama of growing up, making though decisions, and sticking by them. I take pictures of friends or myself posing and I draw sketches until I come up with a suitable outcome. The background is done always in last, drawing straight lines from the figure, going intuitively from the focus point (the body). This time, similar to Am I warm enough for you? the movement in the gestural pose is where I want the Viewer to rest the gaze, so the background should be simple, one-colored, or composed by minimalistic geometry.
Reflecting on Experimentation / moving on from this style
I learned important aspects of my work with this experiment:
- that I do better by painting slowly and in a controlled manner as opposed to fast in an attempt to blend acrylic paint.
- that by painting slowly and deciding the surrounding palette as I go, I am more in control of the outcome.
- that making palette studies on secondary paintings, after the initial sketches, helps me align the idea with the imagery better.
The intention is to keep using this method in the future for producing paintings - keeping drawing as an important auxiliary step but experimenting more on atmosphere based on palette but not to paint fast in an attempt to blend. Painting slowly is more enjoyable to me, perhaps because I reflect more on what I'm doing and plan ahead better as opposed to rushing and being free - it was a challenge and now that I learned from it it's time to readjust.
Concluding, I was happy with the atmosphere presented in the first study - I feel it captured the intention of a tense situation slightly better than the finished one.
Although the last alteration made, from a tone of brown (warm color) to a greyish green (colder) on the first portrayed work, convinced me of the outcome.
Ultimately, it's two different experiments on two different styles of painting, comparing them might be deceiving as each has their shortcomings - what is important for me is to know both sides so I can bend the rules to my liking.
Blending Technique process video
The body in space/introduction of gestural movement
But see, little girl, if you don't say something, speak up for yourself
They think you weak, you know what I'm saying?
We get so lonely sometimes we forget our worth
You.. see you, you stand your ground.
Excerps of a Conversation about Life
Cut out MDF board
Sketch done in canvas
Cut out MDF board
Painting on MDF board
Medium: Acrylic and mixed media
Dimensions: 82 x 61 cm
Self Sabotage was created with inspiration in Bill Viola's work. Fascination with Viola's play on gesture, as a means to express emotion, started at this point and continued to be experimented on until the last painting I produced.
Silent Mountain (2001) was one of the works that inspired me the most, due to the poetry in the gestural act. Without the need for sound, one can perfectly understand and even feel the intensity of the emotion portrayed - this is the type of effect I aim to achieve from my audience.
Jeff Wall's staged photography, particularly his work "A sudden gush of wind" (1993) inspires the work in regards to movement. The way he captures the assumed narrative by the characters moving posture in a frozen image is the type of poetry and magic I seek for my painting. Wall's attention to detail and thorough study of composition are traits I identify with as methodology for my practice (for example, in the staging of my photographic references for pose)
The painting depicts a person fallen back by the strength of a piercing arrow, surrounded by an environment of controlled shapes and lines - a representation of a constrictive society. This painting is about hurting myself; about a time of confusion and self-doubt. It's a reflection of how fragile we are as humans, how lonely we feel and our crave for acceptance.
Loss, here, is represented by the cut-out part of the board, as to symbolize a loss of judgment - I don't trust myself and am no longer making the right decisions. While thoughts travel around in my head I recall quotes from conversations with the voices of experience in my life. They inform and give insight into the phases of my work (imagery connected with life experience).
For the first time, the initial sketch was done directly on the board, through use of the automated process mentioned in the first category of drawings (a recurring method used with layering, until I'm satisfied with the result). I asked a friend to pose like he was playing the Limbo game, while I draw and took glimpses of his posture. The painting method here is done with layering as well (one lighter shade layered after the base color and consecutively)
The fading technique emerged for the first time, disappearing against the background, as if our identity is slowly lost to our loss of grip. This also pinpoints the first attempt on cutting out the MDF board, a different way to symbolize loss, as if a piece of us is lost somewhere, with no replacement. Taken from the dualism in the word puzzle, the idea here is to play with the definition, juggling between the act of feeling confused, and the notion of pieces of a bigger picture that have a fitting somewhere, only these cannot find their fit, so they fade away (disappears from the canvas). The MDF was chosen so it would be easy to transform the piece into the shaped puzzle piece, and became my prefereable surface to paint on for most of my work.
Bill Viola Silent Mountain (2001) video
Jeff Wall's Sudden Gush of WInd (after Hokusai 1993
Beginning of the Abstract phase
Uncensored Portrait is the first painting made. I wanted to push the boundaries of my practice from drawing to painting. The drawings were calling upon a need to escape the two-dimension caged reality. I had to change and begin my quest for depth through painting. Shapes and lines reflect my perpetual connection with Architecture and my fascination with intersecting lines, continuously, almost obsessively, until something is revealed to me.
Here, in an initial phase of the research, the palette and construction of the geometric world surrounding the figure are purely visual. The work evokes visuals of Russian Constructivism posters but only aesthetically because the concept couldn't be further from its ideals. I later experimented with this technique in two other works, to see how the visual dialogue between an organic human figure and geometry would affect the narrative. I urged, since the beginning of the practice, and I wanted to challenge myself by learning to paint, without bringing old habits or premeditated techniques into a new skill.
A young woman is depicted in the portrait revealing her double mastectomy. This painting was important for me to create, as it marks the time when I decided to be honest about this experience as a carer, digging deep into a time of my life that wasn't and remains to this day hard to accept. But this is ultimately not about me, or my family, but about the experience, and how growing and evolving are necessary steps of life.
This is about the bravery it takes to take off one's womanhood, to unclothe one's self towards the World, and to be honest and unapologetic about one's inescapable reality. Loss is represented in each painting in different ways: here, there's no need to cut the canvas, the loss of youth is what's represented, in plain sight. This is not only a painting of someone I admire for this act but also an idea of someone I inspire to be in the future.
Painted from a photograph of my own mother (that she wishes to remain unseen), the intention here was to be creative with the girl's skin. Quick and full of paintbrush strokes compose the texture of the girl's skin. By attempting to blend the skin with the background (mirroring the background's colors as opposed to worrying with portraying the skin's true properties), I proposed an interesting mixture of the abstract and the figurative, a "dance" between body and space that I would explore through most of my paintings.
Painting on MDF board
Dimensions: 51 x 41 cm
The Dualism Experiment / defining concept in the practice
A3 format paper
Through Unit II, experimenting carried on in order to find the connection between the rub of my mother's story and mine.
When I was introduced to Bill Viola and his life's work, I found interest in the fact that he dwells in many central themes of human consciousness and experience, birth and death included. This dynamic is what he calls Dualism - the idea that the comprehension of a subject is not possible without it's opposite.
I took Dualism as I saw it and started to develop a series of works on how I portrayed it in a figurative way. I thought about the possible connections and the past works I've done and concluded it would be interesting to place the opposites in the same scene as two versions of the same story. I ask myself:
- Are they opposites completely or do they impose a connection between them?
- Where do the edge of the carer starts and the cared-for begins?
- This connection, what I call of rubbing of the edges, what happens when they finally rub?
These are questions that I aim to answer in the following stages of the practice. Whit this project, I started to define the research subject that delineates all my work.
This is something that I wish to work on since Unit I when I started thinking about space and how artwork can relate to the space its placed - I wanted to do something that would act in the sense of a portal. This would be an interesting way to bring the Viewer close to the Artist's ideas. And also represent my belief in these dualities, and this constant travelling between conscious and subconscious, life and death, making subjects that are harder to grasp into an experience that is more easily understood.
Bill Viola's artwork turned game, shown at the digital art gallery SIGGRAPH in 2007 - The Night Journey - is, in my opinion, a captivating and creative attempt to construct a possible experience for the viewer to dive into a complex journey of an individual towards enlightenment, creating a bridge towards understanding Violla's own deep interest in mystical traditions. Contrary to this belief in religious strains, my aim with this series is to create that same bridge between the Artist and the Viewer, involving the audience in an exercise meant for them to discover what the connection between the figures in the drawing is. Is it the same person? Or two different people merge together?
Night Journey (2017-2018) inside the Game storyline shots , Bill Viola
Automatic process of Drawing I
Automatic process of Drawing II
This project represents yet another experiment on Automatic drawing, this time adventuring in the realms of big scale. Pushing the limits of scale, this was done on the wall of my soon to be repainted friends house in London. I wanted to have enough space for my arm to stretch and hand to flow freely along a wide area of space, with no limits to the creativity. The drawings were later passed to paper while looking at the wall experiments, tweaking any necessary detail.
Re-activating the experimental work of Surrealist Automatism artists such as Joan Miró, André Masson, and Salvador Dalí, the aim of this project was to let the confusion and blurred edges of both carer and cared-for experience lead and speak for itself. Joan Miró felt the need to transgress the limits of drawing in a sequence of works that progressively expanded the field of conceptual and formal possibilities of a new technique, undoing previously established techniques in painting. Upon arriving at a moment of my practice where conceptual contextualizing was in need, and identifying myself with this previous need to transgress drawing boundaries, I aimed, with this project, to loosen my hand and push my own boundaries into the more organic realm. The drawings no longer have what I call a "tangled strings type of look" about them because the initial method in this project is different: instead of drawing lines until they intersect into shapes, the hand was set free, accompanied by bodily movements that consequently create more organic and flowing shapes. But much like Mirò, the intention is to continue pursuing my own interests in the art world, so this is an experiment that finished here, in the organic sense at least.
Contrary to Mirós painting, I did not carry this process into painting in the form that he did as I felt it was too restrictive. I decided to either go back to my personal approach to automatic drawing or paint with my photography work as a reference.
Miro's two examples related to Automatism: The Birth of the World (1925) and The Beautiful Bir Revealing the Unknown to the Pair of Lovers (1941) Painted years apart the paintings show a shift in automatic drawing: earlier work being more related to the unguided hand let loose in a surface: and the 1941 work inspired by the events of the Spanish Civil War, bringing together the technique w/ imagery and concept (the same with my experience)
Timeline / conceptual approach to the practice
Automatic process influenced by Architecture experience
Automatic process - more intuitive flow
Introducing concept (helping to contextualize the work more)
Introducing Narrative into the work
(Body and Space - continuing influence of Architecture evolving)
Atmosphere influencing color palette
The Drawing phase - overlapping evolution
The Painting phase - overlapping evolution
The 3D Experiment / a new tridemensional dimension to the work
First representations of my emotions as a carer
Describe your image
Sketch of what I intended it to look like
Layering for the third time, cleaning the drawing
Describe your image
Drawing on paper and first ideas
Medium: Charcoal (above)
Dimensions: 42 x 29.7 cm
This phase is characterized by a layering - a modus operandi I have adopted since the beginning of the year but now facing new light. Automatic drawing perpetuates, achieving a more organic flow of lines each time I apply it to my ideas in drawing form, only with this project, ideas were established before drawing, in an effort to organize my emotions into the best gesture that would reflect them - I would rite the keywords and the most common gestures associated to them so I would remember the intentions behind the drawing. At this moment, I was digging deep into my emotional experiences and attempting to transport them into paper in a figurative way. I regret not documenting the process in this phase as I was doing work much more intuitively than recently, focusing on comprehending the concept behind my work and taking the first steps to contextualize it, all the while feeling confused about the emotions. Going back and remaking them didn't make sense to me - because the automated process comes naturally, forcing it did not seem right. Hence, the consequent exhaustive explanation: Starting from drawing circles (being commonly connected to confused feelings; a merry-go-round of emotion) with the compass tool, from different points of the paper, I then start to intersect them, creating diverging lines from the tangent point (those flowy lines you see in the edges of the drawing). This is when the Layering comes into effect. After drawing circles and diverging lines repeatedly, I then start layering more lines until I start composing shapes, then adding more lines and shadow to create depth, giving volume to those shapes. Afterward, I start "cleaning" the drawing - in this case I used photoshop to organize the layers and start connecting the shapes and lines, but other times I use engineering paper on top of many versions of sketch. Here, the technical aspects dominate the work as and concept is only introduced, fully structured, in the Dualism Experiment. Exploring the dimensions of my emotions as a carer throughout the friction between the two stories (the carer and the cared-for) is what I see as taking the first steps into the conceptual dimensions of the practice - leading to the evolution of the research question later established in the Paintings phase.
Titles are introduced in a more conscious manner, relating more directly with the concept in construction. Ray of light appears as an extension of the latter Turmoil in both conceptual and technique-wise, continuing the story of metamorphosis from the initial turmoil nightmare to the reaching man's rebirth. Exploring this automatic technique was somewhat enjoyable for me as it was a new skill to dominate at this point - past years of Architecture School drawing has taught me to use drawing as a mechanical tool to visualize space and objects. But now that I was practicing my hand to do was the opposite. I couldn't help but feel intrigued by the technique, thus getting trapped along the lines of it. Almost like I was entangled by all the lines, that's how I saw my emotional experiences at the time. Creating without thinking was thus at its peak, so exploring these techniques felt like the appropriate match.
Richard Serra is a predominant influence even at this stage. Conducting space through organic lines in the objects he creates, inspired me to do the same with drawing, like the swirling lines in Ray of Light guide your gaze upwards when the emotion is most accuratively depicted with a figurative expression of anguish. Not completely faceless this figure but the face is fading away in the swirls. I believe that's the closest way to depict my emotions in the rollercoaster that has been my experience as a carer. Twisted thoughts, emotional rollercoasters that go from up the mountain to the underground in ten minutes, feeling like your composed of tiny pieces that seem to slip away every time you try hard to stick them together all compressed into one depiction isn't easy to achieve and it's something I struggled throughout the practice. At this point much more confused than any more recent works, but at the start of something that is beginnig to take form.
Ray of Light
Drawing on paper
Dimensions: 42 x 29.7 cm
The Crypt / beyond the paper
Medium: MDF wood
Dimensions: 42 x 29.7 cm
“Neither painting nor sculpture” - the expression with which Donald Judd identified most of his recent work. assists me in explaining the realms of this work. Calling it “Specific objects” seems appropriate, in the light of Judd's definition of three-dimensional works that were in fact neither painting nor sculpture but “related closely or distantly, to one or the other”. I interpret this sentence as the artist's attempt to stress the importance of site-specific objects in sculpture. As in the sculptural object only "ticks" all of the sculptural prerequisites if it's made with attention to space where it's meant to be installed. If not, and it's made out to be aesthetically pleasing, then it's more closely related to painting. This project falls into the first category. Once I saw the conduct hole in the wall in a first site visit to The Crypt Gallery, I knew that I wanted to work with that space. I felt that was one of the most interesting spaces available so I never understood why nobody really paid attention to it. For me it was perfect and I didn't matter if it was close to the entrance area or the "bar" area, I knew I could work magic with it - and I believe once you feel that with a certain space, you know that space spoke to you. For me, a beginner in the sculpture scenery, that's what sculpture is about - the space complements the work, the idea plays along with the space - they act together building the piece of art.
This also characterizes that pulsing ambition to transcend the bounds of paper, leaping into bigger scales. This marks a pivotal point of my practice, when a new dimension to my drawing practice was finally added, after battling against the confinements of two-dimensional frames. Hence, the reason why I include it in the archive.
Layering plays a crucial part in the creative process and production of the piece - you can read more about this here. It is a method that has accompanied me since architecture school for years and has consequently transgressed itself on to my fine art world. By taking things in steps, steady and slowly, I found a new way of working that finally fit me and my practice, adopting layering in different forms, as a recurring way of working. Maybe because I am so familiar with the method that I can easily "slice" the work into layers for a better understanding of the final product. By working this way I have learned that a piece of art, like an architecture project, develops over time, and that this compartmentation of an idea works just as well for practical than it does for intellectual. Breaking big ideas into small steps makes it easier for the goal to be achieved, and keeps motivation at a high point - it also made me learn about strategy in a piece of art, something I thought more to be from my old experience and certainly didn't expect to find in making paintings,
So, thanks to this system, the ambition to go big is easier to achieve. This is the system I continue to apply consistently in my work, in different ways according to medium and scale.
Video of the Layering process of production
The Drawings / Introducing Context in the practice
Layering in it's most unpolished form
Context appears with the Exhibition
Sparks / The First Exhibition
Medium: MDF wood
Dimensions: 42 x 29.7 cm
Titles emerge for the first time since the on-site visit to Legge studios where Sparks Exhibition was held. Another turning point in my practice as we organize and structure the curation of an exhibition off university grounds independently - thus focusing the work for public viewing. It constitutes the first experience we had as a group organizing an art event solely by our initiative. Right from the beginning of this two year development, sensibility in regards to artwork presentation, mounting, curating the space, and group action was required from us. In this sense, my work turned a page, finalizing a period of time when my creations were mainly architectural exercises with attempts at contextualizing, but rather poorly. With the need for a title that would inform and frame the artwork to an audience built from mostly art and sculpture students, the pressure was upon us to structure the artwork in our vision.
Finch Deconstructed, a caged bird was the title given to this depiction of a bird that looked from another world. The play on the dual meanings of the words starts here and perpetuated untill the last phase of my practice. The intention was to pay attention to the exhibition site aesthetic and the studio's business motto - building metal structures and jewelry. Both parts immediately connected with my work - the site walls in old brick composed the perfect aesthetic for my style of work and the motto allowed me to contextualize the idea within the frames of incarceration, more specifically in metal cages.
The concept here is to play with the idea: how can a dead bird be caged when it's dead, hence finally free. So this contradiction frames my artwork and informs the crowd of the duality belief in the sense that birth and death, opposites per usual, are here contra posed in the same frame. This play on what it is to be caged, despite rather unpolished at this time, remains the proof of the first step towards a more conscious approach to making art when an object is made with a strategy, then developed from an initial concept and at last reaches a final product stage that harmoniously adaptes to the site it's designed for.
A really long nap / automatic drawing introduction
Drawing of the Bird Alfredo
Medium: Graffite on Paper
Dimensions: 58x40 cm
Fish out of water
Drawing of a fish skeleton
Medium: Graffite on Paper
Dimensions: 58x40 cm
I group these drawings together as both represent the same phase. This set of drawings epitomizes the beginning of my practice as I understand it. Up to this point I had only drawn from an intuitive source that fueled my productivity. When this course started I began to understand the importance of making within a concept of research.
José Saramago, a Portuguese writer/ winner of the Nobel-prize of literature, touches, by means of storytelling, a known Freudian concept from book "Civilization and it's Discontents" (1929) that argues that the so-called human instinct is predisposed for death, and states that society's need for restrictions is an amplifier of this suppression of animalistic instinct. In Saramago's book "Essay on Blindness", due to a pandemic that causes people to go blind, society loses all rationality and becomes chaotic and orderless. This is an interesting scenario created to illustrate how rationality as a human system, when it's put to test during adversity, gets overshadowed by animalistic instincts of survival.
The connection to animals is mirrored in this series named A really long nap, a metaphor for the numbed animal instinct inside all mankind.
Both drawings came to be by means of the same process, upon visiting the National History Museum in South Kensington, my favorite Museum in London. As I read deeper in the research texts on animal skeletons I found out that much can be learned about life, from death. There was an Emu skeleton, that I was drawn to, because of the fact it was classed as a bird that could not fly. But a bird that also was the pre-historic origin of all birds known today. Through the process of Evolution, it acquired the anatomy to eventually fly. I sat down in front of the skeleton and try to draw it, drawing lines, at first, that intersected with each other creating shapes and forms that started to resemble a bird figure. I then started accentuating those forms and creating others, always connecting and creating more lines as I go. Interestingly, what happened was that, at some point, I stopped looking at the skeleton and ended a drawing that resembled more a parrot that an Emu. This happens to be what I loved most about this drawing: the fact that I let my thoughts drift and ended up with a different result than expected. I started to think about how animals could evolve to do amazing things like flying or make sounds. I realized that drawing a parrot was perhaps more intuitive to me than an emu, and that made perfect sense because Emus are not often strolling around beside us in the street, but I recalled a parrot in my childhood street that I passed by every day on the way home from school called Alfredo - a memory that I had not accessed in years. The parrot used to call me to curse at me and it made me laugh every single time. So the fact that I did not draw exactly what I saw at that moment did not matter because it was a trigger to an old memory that lead my hand to draw a much more interesting outcome.