6 September 2017. I was delighted to find Vik Muniz (*1961, Brazil) on TED talks, a site I love for the creativity of the contributing people. He talks about his development as an artist and the vital differences between creation and creativity, something he, without doubt, will address daily while producing “Art with wire, sugar, chocolate and string” (Muniz, 2003). His talk was everything I had hoped for, seemingly casual, highly intelligent making fun of himself and the tragicomedy of us all. I am convinced that it is greatly unimportant, which media and materials people choose to express themselves in, if they are able to transport messages with such subtlety and love for the world. I do not really want to start repeating here what he says in his talk, because that would be spoiling a treat.
The talk introduced me to the “Stieglitz equivalents”, a world-famous series of photos of cloud formations done by photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946, USA) during the 1920s and 1930s. Equivalence is a theory promoting the idea that abstractions may correspond to inner states, emotions and ideas (american art @ The Phillips Collection, n.d.). This insight I can only agree to, my Assignment 2 umbrella was nothing else (Lacher-Bryk, 2017). So from now on I will go out into the rain protected by a set of Stieglitz equivalents. Don’t know how many people can say that of themselves.
Also, and most importantly, I just realized that, since I am a person who shares Muniz’ view of the world, I am determined to continue my studies with the OCA in exactly that light. No matter what the result at assessment.
6 September 2017. Cornelia Parker (*1956, UK), another Turner Prize nominee, is well known for her concept art and installations, in which she often uses great physical force to transport her interest in transformation and resurrection, as e.g. in “Thirty Pieces of Silver” from 1988/89 (Delaney, 2003) or “Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View” made in 1991 (Tate, n.d.). Parker explains that by suspending the individual objects from the ceiling she takes away the pathos the objects would have, if they were still on the ground (Tate, 2014). It is interesting to note how the position in space of a display of objects will transform its meaning. I think that I would not have understood Parker’s intention, if I had not listened to her audio. To me the suspending of objects can have several meanings, depending on what, and where, is supended. It can add both great drama or lightness, provide a solution or add a complication.
My tutor, however, pointed me to her use of multiples and sequences made of everyday discard materials. In “Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View”, none of these apply really, because what is suspended from the ceiling are the remains of an intentional explosion of a wooden shed. To me the installation looks like a snapshot of one moment during the explosion, frozen in three rather than two dimensions. Matters are different in “Thirty Pieces of Silver”, where discarded silver objects (if silver can be discarded at all) were pressed to make them look similar, then arranged into a grid representing the 30 pieces of silver used by Judas to betray Jesus. To Parker silver feels commemorative (Delaney, 2003), a feeling no doubt shared by most people, so this aspect probably does not need further explanation. The arrangement itself feels solemn, so it supports a subject, which is probably not immediately obvious, in contrast to “Cold Dark Matter”, which leaves little space for misunderstanding.
A general image search of Parker’s work made me realize that some of her suspended work is genuinely beautiful, both on the surface and at heart, e.g. the remains of destroyed churches floating like the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, or the wave-worn bricks of a house, which collapsed due to cliff erosion in Dover (Neither From Nor Towards”). It makes me aware of the all-encompassing truth behind Parker’s resurrections. Everything there is will eventually be transformed, not to be gone forever, but to make something new. A comforting thought and an approach to art I will want to treasure.
6 September 2017. My tutor suggested I have a look at a set within Allen McCollum’s (*1944, USA) famous surrogate paintings, basically empty frames painted in vivid colours and lined up in rows along a wall (McCollum, n.d.). Despite the connection my tutor tied (“where absence and shadow can speak volumes”), I was not attracted. The frames look rough, their colours haphazard. Looking at them again during a quiet minute they reminded me distantly of the multitude of doors leading to the childrens’ bedrooms in the great film “Monster Inc.”. In contrast to McCollum’s frames I find a real purpose to the doors besides serving as symbols for individual lives. Of course I can fill the absences in McCollum’s frames with whatever (shadows) I like, but this I can do with everything that is empty around me, so I do not really need the frames.
McCollum not only works with sets of blank frames, but also with multiples (similar but not the same) of drawings, sculptures or even collections of natural objects such as fulgurite tubes (glass lined hollow tubes formed where lightning strikes sand), which I was not happy to see either. I am having difficulties again with the lining up of multiples of objects into grids and rows, no matter how sophisticated the connection with some important human issue such as a discussion of the mass-produced versus individualized, the issue of a painting being an object representing itself and such like, in the late 20th century (ARTCenterMFA, 2015). At the risk of outing myself, again, as a philistine, the addressed issues feel vastly insubstantial to me in the face of the enormousness of the universe and the mystery of life. The produced objects are sometimes attractive, more often nice to look at, but this is where my interest ends somehow. I believe that most repetitive patterns look attractive to the human mind because they are aesthetically pleasing, but this does not automatically make them qualify as works of art. Is this the same sort of decoration my tutor saw in the first stages of my Assignment 2 umbrella project (Lacher-Bryk, 2017)? I am probably not the best person to judge here, because to me the umbrella is a multidimensional analysis of a highly personal legacy. However, I will be taking my own experience with McCollum’s work as a warning to myself, so that I do not wander, starry-eyed, into the same trap.
ARTCenterMFA (2015) Allan McCollum, Graduate Seminar 2/3/2015 [online]. Department of Graduate Art at Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles. Available from: https://vimeo.com/118767506 [Accessed 6 September 2017]
Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017) Assignment 2: “An Umbrella Project” [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA blog: Understanding Painting Media, 17 August. Available from: https://andreabrykocapainting1upm.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/assignment-2-an-umbrella-project/ [Accessed 6 September 2017]
McCollum, A. (n.d.) Allan McCollum [online]. Allan McCollum, New York. Available from: http://allanmccollum.net/allanmcnyc/ [Accessed 6 September 2017]
20/21/22 August 2017. In order to gain the most from my research, I decided to get a quick overview over the artists listed in the research point on p. 66 of the course guide (Open College of the Arts, 2015), then select those with the best connection to my own work and look at these in depth.
Annie Kevans (*1972, France/UK)
My impression is that Annie Kevans’ technique of portraiture with thinned oil paint (Kevans, n.d.) on canvas always follows the same principle. Human perception is selective and Kevans appears to highlight those parts of a face, which our perception is most attracted to and can gain the most immediate appreciation of gender and mood, that is eyes and mouth. Also, the portrayed persons mostly look directly into the eye of the viewer, which is fascinating in its own right, because it is possible to stare back without breaching a social convention. Apart from the more detailed parts of a face Kevans leaves the head as a loose and rough, though highly sensitive, sketch. The paint is used in various degrees of dilution and the light brown mix used to paint the initial sketch combines the colours used in the highlights. Both result in harmony and allows the viewer to focus on the message the faces send. It should be possible to draw on her technique in my first attempts at creating a monotype self-portrait.
Here the technique of creating a monotype portrait as described in the course guide (Open College of the Arts, 2015, pp. 67-74) comes to mind. When I place a photo under my glass plate, paint that photo and make a monotype print, the result will be a mirror image of the original. This means that the likeness of the printed portrait may suffer. In case I want to use a photo I should take care to print the photo as a mirror image first, then use that as basis.
Alli Sharma (*1967, UK)
When I first saw the work by Alli Sharma at the start of this course, I did not feel too much connection except for some of her black and white oil portraits (Sharma, n.d.). Their style is quite different from that of Annie Kevans. The persons invariably look away from the artist, an approach that has been, in my opinion, used excessively by too many artists in recent years. What makes them interesting are not so much the facial features but the distribution of light and dark and the coarse brushstrokes using dilute oil paint. With some experience the latter are probably a good basis for a beginner’s series of monotype experiments.
As we are required to produce a series of self-portraits using ink, I will have a variety of brush sizes ready, including a wide flat one.
Eleanor Moreton (*1956, UK)
Again I could not find monotype work, but only the skillful application of dilute paint, which can again be used as a basis for planning my own painting work in preparation for printing. Her work reminds me of Annie Kevans. This is especially evident in her “Absent Friends” series (Moreton, 2013-14). One particularly haunting painting is “Bet/h I, 3”, an oil on canvas portrait from 2008. The portrayed person comes in the colours of a clown, but since it is so blurred I am left with an assumption. I have never been able to enjoy what clowns are and do. Their bizarre behaviour and painted grin belying the true mood of the person in the clown’s costume are enough to leave an uneasy feeling. Apart from that the technique of applying paint here may be well worth trying in monoprints.
I might try and develop my own idea of using coloured shadows in my self-portraits in that direction.
Geraldine Swayne (*1965, UK)
As with all artists I researched so far in the list I could not find any work declared monotype. Swayne specializes in miniature paintings on enamel or metal surfaces, although on Saatchi online (n.d.) some of these paintings are listed in the printmaking category (although not monotype). Superficially her portraits may look somewhat traditional, but on second glance they leave an unsettling afterglow. Swayne’s use of paint is far more prolific than in all of the above artists and the intiguing effects created with enamel paint on metal are something to remember.
Although we are advised to use oil paints for making our monotypes, I need and want to stay with my acrylics and water as well as gloss medium to dilute. For Practice of Painting I made a still life (Lacher-Bryk, 2016), where a certain degree of dilution and application to a dry layer of acrylic paint caused the paint to behave in a way similar to that of the enamels used by Swayne.
David Bomberg (1890-1957, UK)
I found some fascinating, coarsely painted portraits and self-portraits, whose weird combination of colours to depict light and shade I want to remember. My favourite among the portraits I saw was “Talmudist” (Blomberg, 1954) (Fig. 1 below).
Tracey Emin (*1963, UK)
As suggested on p. 66 of the study guide I had a look at the drawings available online from Emin’s monotype collection “One Thousand Drawings” (random images coming up in browser). To be honest, I am not too happy with what I see. The drawings look like careless scribbled notes capturing thoughts passing through the mind. It is very obvious that Emin would be far better at drawing than that, and she is not doing justice to herself here in that respect. Of course I am aware that many contemporary artists use deliberate neglect to raise attention, but I am not advanced enough at developing a reliable critical view to be able to see a further purpose behind her particular style.
This is not what I would want to test in my own monoprint series, but I may want to think about including text.
Michael Craig Martin
The most important message to take from Martin’s 1995 essay “Drawing the Line: Reappraising Drawing Past and Present” is probably the one found in an extract shown by Occasional Press on their homepage as part of advertising the book “Drawing Texts”: Martin emphasizes the observation, which is not at all surprising, that drawing as a distinct art form can only be appreciated as such in our time, when finished artworks are supposed to exhibit all that drawings have always contained, i.e. “These characteristics include spontaneity, creative speculation, experimentation, directness, simplicity, abbreviation, expressiveness, immediacy, personal vision, technical diversity, modesty of means, rawness, fragmentation, discontinuity, unfinishedness, and open endedness” (Occasional Press, n.d.).
I will try and get hold of the whole article. It will probably contain an explanation for the praise Tracey Emin receives for her drawings.
Albrecht Rissler (*1944, Germany)
He was a lecturer in one of the courses I attended at the Bad Reichenhall art academy some years ago. Rissler is a fantastic draughtsman (Rissler, n.d.) and introduced our group to a very simple monotype technique. Although it was based on drawing I still remember the great effect of having a more or less uniform dark grey background (printing ink as far as I can remember) into which Rissler drew with some added pressure on the back of the paper, while it was still on the glass plate, a little valley reminding of an ancient hollow-way.
Although I am aware that we are expected to use monotype in a much more painterly way, I might try and include drawn marks into the prints once I have acquired a certain minimum knowledge in preparing a suitable bakground.
Kim Baker (?)
I am not sure whether I found the correct Kim Baker, since there are several of them. The only one I think comes anywhere near the subject of Part 3 creates series of colourful flower “portraits” with bold brushstrokes, owls and other birds (Baker, n.d.). A few other Kim Bakers are painters in the USA, but none of them makes portraits or monotypes either. Will leave her for the moment.
Overall this research helped me to define a first idea of how to approach my monotype experiments. Again I will remain with my reduced colour palette and carry over my subject of shadows. In this respect the approach by Alli Sharma would be quite suitable for me, but I would probably try and carefully include colour in places in a way similar to Annie Kevans, but at the same time testing the unnatural, e.g. coloured shadows, and their effect on the character of the portrait (thinking of the Marilyn Monroe print series by Andy Warhol, but less gaudy and with a psychological message to the colours, if possible). I think that this way a strange series of self-portraits might emerge. On Pinterest I found a number of wonderful monotype portraits and techniques, including some brilliant ones by Edgar Degas. These I will not discuss here, because they will appear as printouts in my sketchbook and I will have a closer look at them while I work on my monotype series. Some of the above connect in a way to my Assignment 2 umbrella project (Lacher-Bryk, 2017) and might help me in planning my approach.
30 July 2017. I had been looking forward to this study visit for weeks. Every since I had read in the local newspaper that William Kentridge would be working for the Salzburg Festival this year and at the same time show his work in the Salzburg Museum der Moderne (title: ‘Thick Time’), I had been determined to learn more about the artist who stimulates my starting development like no other. Yesterday there was another article in the newspaper with an analysis of Kentridge’s main concerns and a preview walk through the exhibition (Panagl, 2017), so we took the opportunity of having a day off to go and see it on the first day it was open to the public.
The exhibition comes in two parts, shown separately in two museum buildings, one in the main museum on Mönchsberg, the other in the town centre. As my main interest was in Kentridge’s films and installations, we went to see the part on Mönchsberg only and the right decision it was. There was far too much to see in what I felt may have been an attempt at showing everything there is, too much noise, too many flickering images, too may films crammed into a huge but still limited space, stealing each others’ shows.
Usually I am fascinated by the sensitivity in Kentridge’s approach, the wonderful, subtle harmony of visual and audio effecty in his charcoal animations. In this show this was swamped by gigantic screens and sound turned up to a maximum. I understand that every visitor wants to see and hear, even if the museum is full, but here I felt that the attempt damaged some of the key elements in Kentridge’s work. As also there was little to see in the exhibition that is not available online, I decided to go home again, sit in front of my computer screen, turn down the sound level and enjoy.
On the way out, in the museum shop, my husband found a German language book by Kentridge, Sechs Zeichenstunden (2016) (Six Drawing Lessons). It contains the transcripts of a series of lectures Kentridge held, explaining his approach to work, and looked like just the thing I had been hoping to see in the exhibition. We bought it and I will report on it when finished.
Kentridge, W. (2016) Sechs Zeichenstunden: Die Charles Eliot Norton Vorlesungen. Verlag Der Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln.
Panagl, C. (2017) ‘Ein Bild ist erst der Anfang’. Salzburger Nachrichten, 29 July, p. 9.