Issuu on Google+

July 2014

Special Issue

Cristina Ramos (Spain)

SUMMARY

ARTiculA Action ART Feel free to submit your artworks, mailto: articulaction@post.com J

U

2

0

L

1

Y

4

http://articulaction.yolasite.com/submit.php https://www.facebook.com/articulaction.artreview

IN THIS ISSUE

Else Vinæs

(Denmark)

4 "In my photos I show the world around me, whether seen in Denmark or on my many travels. I have a free and open attitude to photography as a medium, and I often experiment with various artistic effects. Reality of photography is suspended and combined into new contexts. I often print on canvas. "

Susan LaMantia

(USA)

18

"I want my work to look spontaneous, but organized - gestural, but not chaotic. I hope that someone viewing my work will resonate with a painting and take delight in the energy of my work. "

Barbara Rachko

(USA)

30

"I am drawn to Mexican and Guatemalan cultural objects— masks, carved wooden animals, papier mâché figures, and toys—for reasons similar to those of Man Ray and the modernists, who in their case were drawn to African art. "

Elena BalsiukaitėBrazdžiūnienė

Lissa Bockrath

(Lithuania)

44

"Making art is a form of life for me. It is often an unpredictable round journey from the inside out. It is the process that requires constant renewal by forgetting the moves already learned, it is the conscious choice to avoid the routine."

(USA)

56

"My new work addresses this change as it is manifested in tsunamis, hurricanes, wildfires and the altered landscape of our planet. I have been impacted by powerful images and firsthand observations of these extreme weather patterns and their impact on earth and mankind. "

2

SUMMARY

(Australia)

70

Amanda van Gils

Essentially my work is concerned with the how we experience and record contemporary experiences. The advent of photography over a century ago caused many to question the place of painting; in recent years the steady rise of accessible digital photography has had an significant impact on progressing this question.

(Turkey)

84

Tamer Ertuna

Tamer Ertuna’s interests and experiences have enhanced his fantasy world and energised him to create. Changes in life influences him deeply. Enthusiasm or melancholy returns his works ironically.

(Spain)

96

Cristina Ramos

My works are a materialization of imagination, a reconstruction inside out of what is deeply laying in mind. Interested in dreams, as the field I consider the greatest exponent tool we have to show our most real ‘I¨, I like to confront what belongs to our subconscious parcel with the surrounding reality, exploring the hidden world that resides inside human being minds.

(Montenegro)

94

Milena Joviceviv

“My work is inspired by everyday- life situations and paradoxes of contemporary society and world we live, that strange place saturated with the media, with an exaggerated production and exaggerated consumption.”

(USA)

96

Jana Charl

“My longest enduring fascination is to capture the human form and psyche utilizing multiple media. Often my interpretation of the female form is anatomically exaggerated, emphasizing the curves that distinguish women as well as define feminine beauty and fertility.”

(Turkey)

99

“ My artwork is based on personal history, on relationships and memory (dreams, space, geography, land). It is broadly related to memory, dreams, space and connotations. These topics are drawn from daily life as much as from unconscious thoughts. Essentially, I’m attempting to create images according to my own psychological needs. “

3

Çiğdem Menteşoğlu

ARTiculAction

Else Vinæs (Denmark) an artist’s statement

In my photos I show the world around me, whether seen in Denmark or on my many travels. I have a free and open attitude to photography as a medium, and I often experiment with various artistic effects. I am particularly fond of working with montage, exploiting the many possibilities of Photoshop. Reality of photography is suspended and combined into new contexts. I often print on canvas. I have been a photographer for 25 years, and my works have been exhibited in Denmark and abroad. It is a unique feature in photography as compared to other branches of visual arts that the camera can register an object in great detail. Anyone working with photography will know how to take advantage of this, but for me the process really only begins here. It is the final result – and the final result only – that counts. The greatest moment is always just now. I am a member of the arts photographers’ group Vingesus (”Whirr of Wings”). For members of the group the camera and digital processing are tools in a creative process, just as brush and canvas are the painter’s tools and notes are the composer’s. Visual arts in whatever appearance is characterized by one common feature – the desire to create and to convey an expression. Members of the group wish to step aside from conventional photography and show reality that never existed and never will. Our pictures do not appear as objects or any reality registered by a camera. Instead, objects are separated and combined so that reality is suspended and a new and fictitious reality is created. The arts photographers’ group Vingesus does not seek harmony and beauty. The group seeks articulation and wishes to show how photography can express itself in new manners. For further information please visit www.vingesus.dk

Else Vinæs 4

Krista Nassi

ARTiculAction

Gold, (background detail) Mixed Media on canvas, 2012

From Identity Lost

2

ARTiculAction

Else Vinæs

An interview with

Else Vinæs Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future, And time future contained in time past. If all time is eternally present All time is unredeemable. What might have been is an abstraction Remaining a perpetual possibility Only in a world of speculation. What might have been and what has been. (From Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot 1935)

Hello Else, and welcome to ARTiculAction. I would start this interview with my usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? And moreover, what could be the features that mark the contemporariness of an artwork?

Else Vinæs

To me a work of art can be defined as the expression of human creative skill and imagination. The artwork may be characterized in terms like mimesis, its reflection of life, expression, and communication of emotion or other qualities. To me, the process itself is very important. A work of art is universal as an instrument of awareness. The work must express a feeling.

In my photographs I interpret the world around me, working in the field of tension between fiction and reality, searching for the tracks and traces that we leave behind. Using experimental as well as conventional means of expression I seek to create a visual language where fiction and reality merge into one new whole. Art should be the eye of the viewer, reflection is important.

Contemporary art is not only characterised by the fact that it is created in our own time and often with unconventional means of expression. It is also created in an interaction between the artist, the spectator and forms of art that already exist. Modern artists are experimenting with new ways of seeing things and with new ideas about the nature of materials and functions of art. Over time, there has been a tendency to move away from traditional narrative styles of art towards abstractions, so characteristic for much modern art. I do not think there is any discrepancy between those two periods of art.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Are there any experiences that have particularly impacted on the way you produce your art nowadays? By the way, I would like to ask your point about formal training... I sometimes happen to ask to myself if a certain kind of training could even stifle an artist's creativity...

I have a degree in literature from University of Copenhagen, but in terms of art photography I am self-taught. However, I have been studying paintings, photographs and the history of art for a long time.

6

Else Vinæs

ARTiculAction

From Nærvær/ Presence

I have worked seriously with photography for 25 years. When I read poems and novels a lot of pictures arise in my mind. Literature is often an important source of inspiration for me.

Formal training is important, but as an artist one must be sensitive. An honest approach to a subject is the most important thing. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

As a photographer you often discuss your works with other photographers. These kinds of discussions are often very inspiring and rewarding. Through the years I have worked with photography as an artistic expression whether in the darkroom or at my computer. In the beginning I made experiments using various analog techniques. Now I only work on a computer with all the possibilities that it gives me.

My photographs may be entirely manipulated, representing a staged reality with a wide range of

7

ARTiculAction

Else Vinæs

From Nærvær/ Presence

expressions where reality is suspended and a new and fictional reality is created. Or my photographs may be based on harsh realism, showing the beauty of decay and disaster whether that be in Chernobyl or in an abandoned building far out in the countryside. Reality is suspended and a new reality created by natural objects. Camera and digital possessing are tools in a creative process. Using experimental as well as conventional means of expression I seek to create a visual language where fiction and reality merge into a new whole. My raw material is often found on my travels. When I am away from everyday life I feel more ‘awake’ and open to my surroundings. It is impossible to tell how much time I spend on making a series of

From Nærvær/ Presence

photos. Returning from Ukraine I waited two month before I studied my photos from Chernobyl. I cannot analyze my photos when I am too much involved. I don’t count the hours when I am working at my computer. Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with Nærvær, an interesting project that our readers have started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article, and I would suggest to visit your website at http://www.elsevinaes.dk/billeder/naervaer/ in order to get a wider idea of it... In the meanwhile, could you take us through

From Nærvær/ Presence

Jennifer Sims

58

Else Vinæs

ARTiculAction

From Nærvær/ Presence

details, and with the special atmosphere of the place you can imagine history from the past 120 years. The buildings were used as a hospital during both World Wars, and later on they were used as quarters for Soviet troops until the early 1990s. As far as I know the place has been put up for sale, but I don’t know what price they ask. I have visited Beelitz several times, but I cannot explain what happens at my computer afterwards. Each work consists of photos from more than one building. Nærvær/Presence also contain photos of old rusty cars from Sweden, and in Identity Lost some kinds of ghosts appear. I find it important that the viewer/spectator is free to decide for himself where to begin and where to end in the field of tension between fiction and reality.

your creative process when starting this stimulating project?

Over the past few years I have worked with prints on canvas to emphasize the atmosphere of some of my photographs, and to some series I have used a special kind of glossy photo paper.

Nærvær/Presence and Identity Lost are based on motives from Beelitz near Berlin. At the end of the19th century an epidemic of tuberculoses occurred in Berlin. Several sanatoriums were built in an attempt to cure the patients. Beelitz, where 1200 patients could be treated, was the largest. It is located in the middle of Brandenburger Wälder south of Berlin.

Although it might seem apparently static a feature of Identity Lost that has particularly impacted on me is a subtle reference to a dynamic human element: so I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process, both for ceonceiving an artwork and in order to enjoy it... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience? By the way,

Endless galleries lead to fashionable halls with decorated columns. Light is “floating” through those wonderful derelict buildings. Here you can discover fascinating motives in structures and 9

ARTiculAction

Else Vinæs

From Identity Lost

how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces?

I believe that personal experience has a big influence on the creative process. My personal background, my feelings at the time, my impressions on the spot and circumstances in general are important for my choice of photographic motives. In places like Beelitz or Chernobyl I get a kind of feeling of the people who once lived there and who may perhaps return – who knows? I don’t think I could have created the same kind of photos when I was younger. Maybe other artists can distance themselves from previous experience,

From Identity Lost

Jennifer Sims 10

Else Vinæs

ARTiculAction

From the Petra series

could be to search the missing significance into a non-place...

but I find the theories by Freud and Jung important in conceiving art. I cannot imagine the creative process being disconnected from experience.

The Petra series is different from some of my other photo series. There is not a living soul or for that matter a dead one – a statue – in any of the photographs. Marc Augé coined the phrase "non-place" to refer to places of transience that do not hold enough significance to be regarded as "places". He has an example from the new Metro in Copenhagen.

It is also very important that the the viewers use their own experience and feelings in their interpretation of works of art. Another interesting works of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on which I would like to spend some words are from the Petras series: this work has reminded me the concept of non-place elaborated by French anthropologist Marc Augé. And even though I'm aware that this would sound a bit naif, I'm wondering if one of the hidden aims of your Art

Petra is a place of emptiness. There is only red and yellow rock and the burning sun. Petra is a historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan.

11

ARTiculAction

Else Vinæs

From the Petra series

The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812. In 1845 John William Burgon described the place as ‘a rose-red city half as old as time’. Even if Petra is all man-made you don’t really feel it that way. Petra is a non-place in the sense that it no longer has any function – apart from being an attraction in itself. Moreover, its original function remains unknown. Could be tombs of ancient kings or perhaps a large complex of temples. We simply do not know. But in terms of its own natural and/or man-made beauty Petra is definitely a place that holds a lot of significance. Ancient structures have collapsed. Erosion has taken place through many centuries due to flooding and harsh weather conditions. Improper restorations of ancient structures have added to

this mixture of natural and man-made beauty. One could say that nature is reclaiming Petra in a slow but steadily ongoing process, thus demonstrating the weakness of man – who incidentally is absent in my photos from Petra. A feature that I recognize in your work, especially in Antelope Canyon, is the perception of the common in our environment and the challenging of it in order to create a new multitude of points of views: I would like to stop for a moment to consider the "function" of the landscape, which most of the times in your works do not play just as a passive background... I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, Jennifer so we need -in a way- Sims to decipher them. Maybe 12

Else VinĂŚs

From the Antelope Canyon series

that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

That could well be the case. In a place like Antelope Canyon one can feel the impact of ancient times, of peoples and cultures that have passed through the place since the dawn of ages. Peoples and cultures known or unknown to us today, maybe expected or maybe unexpected, but all long gone. Every time you take a photo, something new and hitherto hidden or unknown is created, even if you stay for a long while in one and the same place. Light is changing, colours are changing, shadows are changing. This applies to Antelope Canyon as well as to your own back-yard and creates a lot of artis-

From the Antelope Canyon series

13

ARTiculAction

ARTiculAction

Else VinĂŚs

tic opportunities whereever you are. The interaction between man and nature is important for revealing the unexpected sides of both. That is why landscapes are not merely passive backgrounds, to use your own phrase. Instead landscapes are active partners in a ping-pong with humans, often gaining the upper hand. And I couldn't do without mentioning SporTjernobyl, an extremely interesting series that I have to admit is one of my favourite project of yours... I appreciate the way you have been capable of establishing such a synergy between the recall to the disaster and a simple, immediate idea of beauty... as you have remarked in your artist's statement, "reality of photography is suspended and combined into new contexts"...

You are quite right. I did not want to describe the terrible things that happened at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Pripyat is a ghost town close to the power plant where the disaster happened in 1986. The area has been empty since then. It bears the marks of ravages of time and traces of deliberate destruction and vandalism. Nevertheless the buildings are deeply fascinating. In the hotel trees are growing in the rooms and out of the windows. In the concert hall is a lonely piano that played its last note many years ago. In the school books are scattered around and somebody have amused themselves with ravaging

From the Spor - Tjernobyl series

the woodwork room and the library. In the nursery teddy bears and rattles are scattered around.Gas masks lie all over the place. In the Soviet Union they were prepared for a bit of everything, just not the blowing up of a nuclear power plant. When I started working with my photos I found a lot of subtle colours in the midst of the destruction, and the idea of beauty you mention in your question was born. So far your works have been exhibited in several occasions and as your recent exhibition at the Fotogalerie Friedrichhain in Berlin... It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist, I

From the Spor - Tjernobyl series

Jennifer Sims 14

Else VinĂŚs

ARTiculAction

From the Spor - Tjernobyl series

Thank you for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Else. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

I was in Cuba this January and came home with more than 4.000 photos. I am working on some of these photos now, and I intent to have some of them printed on wood. Others may be printed on tiles. In June I have an exhibition in central Copenhagen, and I look forward to meeting people there. I have planned other exhibitions in Den-mark over the next couple of years.

was just wondering if an award -or better, the expectation of an award- could even influence the process of an artist... what' your point about this? By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces?

My husband is also a photographer, and we often travel and work together. The next place to go may be Cyprus or Egypt, but we have not decided yet. I am certain that you will meet us somewhere, some day. Finally, I do appreciate the invitation to answer your questions and allowing me to share a few of my thoughts with a community of art lovers.

Not in my case. Place of exhibition or awards have no influence the process of my work at all. I enjoy discussing with my audience and I had a good time both in Oslo and in Berlin at the openings. People took plenty of time to study the exhibitions. I look forward to participate in the opening of NordArt.

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator articulactionart@post.com

15

ARTiculAction

Susan LaMantia (USA)

an artist’s statement

I believe my paintings - through color, shape, and texture reflect the energy I put into my creative process. I’ve been inspired by the pure colors, distortions and boldness of the Fauves as well as the impulsive and gestural interpretations of the Abstract Expressionists. I want my work to look spontaneous, but organized gestural, but not chaotic. I hope that someone viewing my work will resonate with a painting and take delight in the energy of my work. Making a connection with my work in that manner is a happy thought for me.

Susan LaMantia 16

Krista Nassi

ARTiculAction

Gold, (background detail) Mixed Media on canvas, 2012

Feels So Good, 48” x 60” Acrylic

2

ARTiculAction

Susan LaMantia

An interview with

Susan LaMantia Hello Susan, and welcome to ARTiculAction. I would start this interview with my usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? By the way, what could be in your opinion the features that mark an artworks as a piece of Contemporary Art? Do you think that there's a dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness?

What defines a work of art - for me and my art it is as much about the process as the end product. To approach my process, I have music blasting in my studio, I burn incense, in tolerable weather I have the door open to the outside and can hear the birds song. I paint with my hands, no brushes, therefore the experience of creating then is to have as many of my senses stimulated at the same time. My energy, my passion gets reflected in my artwork. How to define a piece of contemporary art is an artists interpretation of what's been done before but in their own language or form.Would that make their art more “current”? Perhaps. I'm an abstract expressionist, and although that was an art form created by artists in the 40's and 50's, I am creating my own form of abstract expres-sionism which makes it contemporary. By use of the term tradition and contemporariness it already implies a dichotomy. Is tradition steeped in a formalized manner of painting? Is contemporary a break from tradition?

Susan LaMantia

need for a change in another part of the painting and voila! the painting is no longer the same. That's a good thing of course, but I didn't realize that as a young child. I paint in my studio, a 450 sq.ft. building behind our house. Often I will bring in a painting to see if I feel it is finished and leave it in a room so that I can look at it in different light, different times of the day, do changes need to take place? keeping in mind Sr. Stanisia's words about not feeling too precious to make a change.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Are there any particular experiences that have particularly impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks?

Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

At age 10 I took private painting classes from a School Sister of Notre Dame, Sr. Stanisia. What impacted me during the classes with her was not to feel “precious” about making changes in my paintings. I believe that happens when one is just starting to paint. Afraid to make changes because a change on one part of the painting will lead to a

I believe I already addressed some of my process in question one when I spoke to my desire to have all my senses stimulated by incense, music, and the importance of painting with my hands. 18

Susan LaMantia

ARTiculAction

Moon Dance, 30� x 30� Acrylic Mixed Media

I don't remember when I started painting with my hands, perhaps 30-35 years ago. When I paint with

oil sticks, which are large sticks of compressed oil paint, I use them as though I am drawing shapes, 19

ARTiculAction

Susan LaMantia

after the ball 30” x 30” Acrylic

All or nothing at all 30” x 30” Acrylic

but will go in after I have color on the canvas, or paper, and move the color around with my hands. There are handmade pigment sticks that are soft and luscious, using my hands to blend or define an area is a visceral response that adds to my involvement with my work. When I paint with acrylics I apply a layer of paint on either the canvas or my hands, let the color dry on the canvas then add a layer of high gloss polymer medium, let it dry and continue adding color, then medium, and on and on. The polymer helps to seal the color, add depth and keep a clarity to the acrylic. I use liquid gloves on my hands prior to my painting, as well as in between each layer of color and polymer. Sometimes I make a thumbnail sketch in one of my sketchbooks to use as a departure for a painting.

July for display during the month of August, I challenged myself with the use of circles, something I had not used extensively in my work. Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from your Feels So Good and Moon Dance that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to visit your website directly at http://www.susanlamantia.com in order to get a wider idea of it. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of these interesting pieces? What was your initial inspiration?

“Feels so Good” is an acrylic- 48” x 60”. I had gotten several new Charvin and Matisse tubes of acrylic paint and was delighted to be working large with such yummy colors. It was Spring, door open to my studio, nature is beginning to bloom, my jazz music is blasting, incense is being burned and a bird flew into my studio, resting on a table. The bird twisted its head one way then the other, flapped its wings, made a circle in the studio and flew away. It felt so good to be visited by the bird, as though the bird

The spontaneity in my work would be lost if I replicated exactly what is in the sketch. I like to challenge myself in my work. I've been known to do a series of paintings with my non-dominant hand, that series was called “On the Other Hand”. Or to limit the color of my palette. Most recently, for my upcoming exhibition opening at the end of

Jennifer Sims

20

Susan LaMantia

ARTiculAction

From Nærvær/ Presence

All Things Being Equal 48” x 60” 6

Acrylic

ARTiculAction

Susan LaMantia

After All 36” x 72” Acrylic

yours ... I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

wanted to see me in my creative environment. The motion of the birds wings, the colors of Spring, all of it felt as though it needed to be recorded in color and a sense of freedom in the form. Red is a grounding color for me, the addition of cadmium red medium was added as a hint to the explosive chartreuse. “Moon Dance” a 30” x 30” acrylic was a night painting in which I used acrylic “skins” as a challenge to the variety of blues. Painting at night has a whole different feel for me, as well as the difference of needing to have the lights on in my studio.The use of the acrylic skins gives a texture to the surface of the painting as well as introducing colors from my palette that were used in other paintings. It is a dance, of sorts.

Yes, personal experience is indispensable not just for me but I believe for all artists. All of the experiences in my life, good/bad, positive/negative all of it goes into creating who I am as a person & as an artist. I am close to my emotional core, am a passionate person; I want my artwork to reflect that. Of course it is my desire that someone viewing my artwork makes that connection to all the energy in my work too.“After The Ball” a 30” x 30” acrylic, is about the feeling of the build-up to all the dancing and socializing being light and festive, and after the ball there is a bit of a letdown to it all being over. Streamers tossed about, the lights fading, the return to what's next. In “All or Nothing at All” an acrylic that is 36” x 36”, the use of the yellows and

I noticed that many of your pieces, as After The Ball and All Or Nothing At All although marked with a deep abstract feeling, often reveals such an inner struggle and intense involvement, as the interesting All Things Being Equal, which I

Jennifer Sims 22

Susan LaMantia

ARTiculAction

It’s All Relative 48” x 60” Acrylic

flesh colors address how alive we are in the giving & receiving processes of our lives, but it isn't always constant and the dripping blues that flow through the colors are an indication of how unpredictable our lives can be whether we give it all or nothing at all. “All Things Being Equal” is a 48” x 60” acrylic. The challenge for me was to use large blocks of color near each other and find a balance

within the painting using the same colors, so that it all appeared equal. In life when all things are equal it feels to be a good balance. If I did not put my feelings of color, form, life experiences in my artwork my approach would be cerebral or intellectual and I've seen those kinds of paintings. The artist may have a wonderful technique but I find those paintings cold and cannot relate to them.

23

ARTiculAction

Susan LaMantia

Sunday Afternoon In My Head

Another interesting pieces of yours that have impacted on me and which I would like to spend some words are After All and in particular It is All Relative: one of the features of this work that has mostly impacted on me is the effective mix of colors that gives life to the canvas: I have been struck with the way you have been capable of merging delicate and thoughtful tone of colors with nuances of red which turns from a delicate tone to an intense one which turns to saturate the canvas, as in Light Years, and that seems to reveal such a deep tension and intense emotions... By the way, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

paintings of mine. I laid in a warm tone on the canvas before I began adding colors. I wanted the titanium white to play off the warmth of the under color, but only leave a hint of the warmth around the edges, as though to keep all the action composed. The 4 red circles are contained but there are 2 lighter color circles that escaped and play on either side of the blue band. As long as I've mentioned the circle series I would like to talk about a couple of these paintings. The first in the series of circle paintings is an oil painting entitled, "I'll Take the Bitter With The Sweet", with the image of a full circle being a suggestion. It is a relatively small painting at 24" x 36". The sweetness in the yellow, light teal, red, and pink is balanced by the use of indigo, not black. I like the idea of it not being black. My thought is we can't have the sweetness all the time and in order to balance it, we need the bitter. So.… I'll take the Sims bitter withJennifer the sweet…

“After All” is 36” x 72” acrylic and is part of the circle series that I have been painting. I had tried to use circles in paintings in the past and never felt as though the works were strong enough. I love working on a large surface and that helped me to be more successful with the use of circles. The use of the bars of color are forms I've used in other 24

Susan LaMantia

ARTiculAction

From Nærvær/ Presence

Finding the Anchor

The last in the circle series is “With You In Mind”, a 36” x 72” acrylic & gouache. I started with a series of warm white circles of acrylic that are lighter on the left moving towards a series of warm light red circles, again, of acrylic, to the right. The circles are colored in and appear to weave through the light bands of color. Over all the circles & bands of color are arcs painted in gouache. The gouache is applied thickly and adds a texture to the surface of the painting. Layers of paint and medium and texture, like layers of individuals.

of the reds.. I added the black marks to direct the flow of energy in parts and to stop the eye moving in another area. I felt the relatedness of the movement and color created a balance that was all relative. “Light Years” is one of my smaller pieces, 20” x 20” acrylic. The challenge in that painting was its size & to only use red, yellow, blue and white. The blue bands move across the surface of the canvas getting smaller from left to right. The white and yellow getting deeper from left to right, with just a hint of the red mixed sporadically. The tension of light to dark, large to small exists from one side to the other as if traveling through light years would create the same feeling. My palette has gotten All Thingswith Being Equal brighter over the years, as I experiment lighter more vivid colors and the lushness of the quality 48” x 60” of acrylics.

“It's All Relative” is a 48” x 60” acrylic with a variety of reds at the center. It was my intent to express the redness of a painting being embraced by softer colors as they flew across the canvas. In one of the layers of red I dripped a grid to stabilize the center of the painting in holding the interest

Acrylic 25

ARTiculAction

Susan LaMantia

I'll Take the Bitter With The Sweet, 24'' x 36'', Acrylic 26

Jennifer Sims

Light Years, 36''

Susan LaMantia

x 72'', Acrylic 27

ARTiculAction

ARTiculAction

Susan LaMantia

And I couldn't do without mentioning Finding The Anchor and Sunday Afternoon In My Head: these extremely interesting works effectively express what you have once stated when you remarked that you "hope that someone viewing your work will resonate with a painting and take delight in the energy of your work"... and I daresay that there's such a subtle socio political feature in them: I'm sort of convinced that Art these days could play an effective role not only making aware public opinion, but I would go as far as to say that nowadays Art can steer people's behavior... what's your point about this? Do you think that it's an exaggeration?

“Finding the Anchor” a 36” x 60” acrylic was an exercise in the uses of a variety of blues, adding it's compliment of orange. There are bands of color, as well as a grid to pull focus to certain areas. What does it feel like to have a large amount of blues fill your vision and pull you in? It was important to have the grids to anchor that feeling of being pulled in to the energy. I do think paintings can “steer” people emotionally, either have a calming impact or energize by the passion that's reflected. “Sunday Afternoon In My Head” is a 36” x 72” acrylic. My goal was to use a variety of whites as a calming influence of color, then allow blues and yellows to drift through. Sunday is a meditative time for me. I was reflecting on what movement is like for me and how it can be deliberate and exciting and stimulating, all at once. The slender black bars are like stop gaps in a thought process. During this years your works have been exhi-bited in several important occasions and I think it's imortant to mention that you have been shortlisted as featured artist show at Village Art Circle, in July... It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if an award could even influence the process of an artist... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

With You in my Mind

what I paint. But, I truly enjoy hearing feedback about my work... The feedback many times is a reflection of the viewers own experiences, I find that interesting and informative. Awards are good in that there are times when it is important to have a validation by others of the quality of one's work. One of the dearest responses I ever received was from a doctor who had several of my paintings and told me where he hung one of the paintings in his house and how the light at certain times reflected the varieties of color that at first he had not realized were in the painting. It was such a sense of appre-

I don't think rewards or feedbacks influence my process. I have a certain way of painting that I will continue to exercise because I enjoy how I paint and

Jennifer Sims

28

Susan LaMantia

ciation for the nuances of color that I use. I like it when someone viewing my work realizes that one has to be with it for a long time, over different ways of light on the work to always be seeing something new. When someone tells me that I smile and think, “they got it!�. The business of art is tricky.

ARTiculAction

is July 25th. I'm in a group show in September and a one woman exhibition in 2015 at Chatham Hill Winery. I've enjoyed thinking about the questions you posed to me and found my own process in answering them a way of organizing my thoughts.

Thanks a lot for sharin your thoughts, Susan. Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator

You mentioned my exhibition at Village Art Circle for the month of August, the Opening for this show

articulaction@post.com

29

ARTiculAction

Barbara Rachko (USA) an artist’s statement

"The assimilation of styles and motifs from African cultural artifacts into the work of avant-garde artists was a means of challenging conventional western aesthetic values and hierarchies that reflected what those artists perceived as a vacuous and moribund society. In looking to these sources to invigorate their own creative visions, what these artists actually discovered were new ways of seeing and making art. " Wendy Grossman in Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens

I am drawn to Mexican and Guatemalan cultural objects—masks, carved wooden animals, papier mâché figures, and toys—for reasons similar to those of Man Ray and the modernists, who in their case were drawn to African art. On trips to southern Mexico and Guatemala I frequent local mask shops, markets, and bazaars searching for the figures that will later populate my pastel paintings and photographs. How, why, when, and where these objects come into my life is an important part of the process. I take very old objects with a unique Mexican or Guatemalan past—most have been used in religious festivals—and give them a second life, so to speak, in New York in the present. When I return home I read prodigiously and find out as much about them as I can. The Black Paintings series of pastel-on-sandpaper paintings grew directly from the earlier Domestic Threats. Both series use cultural objects as surrogates for human beings acting in mysterious, highlycharged narratives. In the Black Paintings the figures (actors) now take central stage. All background details, furniture, rugs, etc. are eliminated and are replaced by intense dark black pastel. Each painting takes months to complete as I slowly build up as many as 30 layers of soft pastel. The idea for the Black Paintings began when I attended a jazz history course and learned how Miles Davis developed cool jazz from bebop. In bebop the notes were played hard and fast as musicians showcased their technical virtuosity. Cool jazz was a much more relaxed style with fewer notes, i.e., the music was pared down to its essentials. Similarly my current series evolved from dense, complex visual compositions into paintings that depict only the essential elements—the actors. detail from Epiphany, 2012

Barbara Rachko 30

Soft Pastel on Sandpaper 38" x 58"

Krista Nassi

ARTiculAction

Gold, (background detail) Mixed Media on canvas, 2012

Feels So Good, 48” x 60” Acrylic

2

ARTiculAction

Barbara Rachko

An interview with

Barbara Rachko Hello Barbara, and welcome to ARTiculAction. I would start this interview with my usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? By the way, what could be in your opinion the features that mark an artworks as a piece of Contemporary Art?

First, thank you very much for this opportunity to talk with you about art and my journey to become an artist. Whether we speak about dance, theater, film, music, visual art, etc., what all art forms have in common at their core is communication. I personally believe that without the component of communication, there is no art. The expression of human creative skill and imagination becomes art when it is appreciated for its beauty, complexity, emotional power, evocativeness, etc. Therefore, a sympathetic and understanding audience is an essential element in the process. All artists have to create their own audience. I wish it were otherwise, but it’s a fact of life for creative people. So much of an artist’s time is spent educating people (the audience) about his/her work. Whether we start out to be one or not, all artists are educators. Since I am a painter and photographer, I will limit my remarks to visual art. Often visual artists fail to communicate anything. Why? Perhaps they haven’t mastered their medium sufficiently to elicit a reaction from the viewer. Perhaps the viewer lacks the necessary artistic, cultural, or intellectual background to understand and appreciate what the artist is communicating. Maybe the viewer is distracted or preoccupied and not looking or thinking deeply enough.

Barbara Rachko

they are not the same. “Modern art” refers to the period between, roughly, the 1860’s to 1970. Nowadays there are so many different kinds of art – new forms are developing all the time - that practically anything can be considered contemporary art as long as someone, an artist, says it is art. Ours is a fascinating, but bewildering, crazy, and often silly art world. Since I am based in New York, I see a lot that makes me ask, “Is this really art?” and “Why would anyone make such a thing?” I suppose if there is one element I look for in visual art it would have to be a high degree of craft. I want to see something that is well-crafted and that makes me wonder how the artist made it.

There are many reasons. In answer to your second question, “contemporary art” is defined as art made since 1970 by living artists who are still making new work. People often interchange the term “contemporary art” with “modern art,” but 32

Barbara Rachko

ARTiculAction

Incognito, 2014 Soft Pastel on Sandpaper 38" x 58"

Would you like to tell us something about your background? You graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.A. in Psychology and you later worked as a Naval officer. You later took classes at The Art League School in the late eighties studying intensely with Lisa Semerad and Diane Tesler: how have these experiences impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks? By the way, I sometimes I wonder if a certain kind of formal training in artistic disciplines could even stifle a young artist's creativity...

chology, but I did not go to art school. At the age of 25 I got my private pilot’s license before spending the next two years amassing thousands of hours of flight time as I earned every flying license and rating I could, culminating with a Boeing-727 flight engineer certificate. I joined the Navy when I was 29, expecting to fly, but was not permitted to fly airplanes. In the mid-1980s I was a Lieutenant working at the Pentagon and I hated my job as a computer analyst. I remember leaving work and getting into my car and bursting into tears because I was miserable. I felt so trapped. The Navy is not a regular job that you can quit with two weeks-notice.

My road to becoming a professional artist is very unusual. As you mentioned, I have a degree in psy33

ARTiculAction

Barbara Rachko

I began looking for something else to do and discovered The Art League School in Alexandria, VA. I enrolled in classes with Lisa Semerad and spent two years developing my drawing skills using black and white media (charcoal, pencils, conte crayon, etc.). After that I moved on to color media and began studying soft pastel with Diane Tesler. During this time I was still in the Navy, working the midnight shift at the Pentagon and taking art classes during the day. I was a very motivated student! After about three years I was getting quite proficient as an artist, entering local juried shows, winning prizes, garnering press coverage, etc. Prior to my career change, I worked hard to develop my portrait skills. I really didn’t know how I could make a living other than by making commissioned portraits. I volunteered to run a weekly life drawing class at The Art League School in Alexandria, VA, where I made hundreds of figure drawings using charcoal. I spent a semester commuting between Washington, DC and New York to study artistic anatomy at the New York Academy of Art. I spent another semester studying gross anatomy with medical students at Georgetown University Medical School. So I was well prepared to make photo-realistic portraits. I left the active duty Navy in 1989, but stayed in the Reserves. The Reserves provided a small part-time income and the only requirement was that I work one weekend a month and two weeks each year. Plus, I could retire after 13 more years and receive a pension. (In 2003 I retired from the Navy Reserve as a Commander). The rest of the time I was free to pursue my art. For a short time I made a living making commissioned photo-realist portraits in soft pastel on sandpaper. However, after a year I became very restless. I remember thinking, “I did not leave a boring job just to make boring art!”

Broken, 2013 Soft Pastel on Sandpaper

my ability to draw and depict just about anything in soft pastel. What I got from my time in the Navy is more nuanced. I used to think that the 7 years I spent on active duty were wasted. During those 7 years I should have been working on my art. Now I see things differently.

Furthermore, I lost my interest in doing commissions because what I wanted to accomplish personally as an artist did not coincide with what portrait clients wanted. I completed my final portrait commission in 1990 and never looked back. To this day I remain reluctant to accept a commission of any kind. From studying with Lisa and Diane I gaiined an excellent technical foundation and developed

The Navy taught me to be disciplined, to be goal-oriented and focused, to love challenges, and in everything I do, to pay attention to the details. Trying to make it as an artist in New York is nothing BUT challenges so these qualities serve me well, whether I’m creating paintings, shooting and printing photographs, or trying to understand the Jennifer Sims art business and keep up with social media. 34

Barbara Rachko

ARTiculAction

Unforgettable moment (Fraser Island)_2011_ oil-on-canvas_91x122cm

Scene Thirteen: Bathroom, 2002 Soft Pastel on Sandpaper

something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

I enjoy spending long solitary hours working to become a better artist. I am meticulous about craft and will not let a work out of my studio or out of the darkroom until it is as good as I can make it. Needless to say, I believe developing excellent technical skills is paramount. Artists can, and should, go ahead and break the rules later, but they won’t be able to make strong work, expressing what they want, without a firm foundation. Once you have the skills, you can focus on the things that really make your work come alive and speak to an audience.

My process is slow and labor-intensive. First, there is foreign travel – often to Mexico or Guatemala - to find the cultural objects - masks, carved wooden animals, paper mâché figures, and toys - that are my subject matter. I search the local markets, bazaars, and mask shops for these folk art objects. I look for things that are old, that look like they have a history, and were probably used in religious festivals of some kind. Typically, they are colorful, one-of-a- kind objects that have lots of inherent personality.

Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers 35

ARTiculAction

Barbara Rachko

Scene Fifteen: Living Room, 2002

Stalemate, 2013

Soft Pastel on Sandpaper

Soft Pastel on Sandpaper

How they enter my life and how I get them back to my New York studio is an important part of my art-making practice. My working methods have changed dramatically over the nearly thirty years that I have been an artist. My current process is a much-simplified version of how I used to work. As I pared down my imagery in the current series, "Black Paintings," my creative process quite naturally pared down, too. One constant is that I have always worked in series with each pastel painting leading quite naturally to the next. Another is that I always set up a scene, plan exactly how to light and photograph it, and work with a 20" x 24" photograph as the primary reference material. In the setups I look for eyecatching compositions and interesting colors, patterns, and shadows.

Sometimes I make up a story about the interaction that is occurring between the “actors” (as I think of these folk art objects). In the "Domestic Threats" series I photographed the scene with a 4" x 5" Toyo Omega view camera. In my “Gods and Monsters” series I shot rolls of 220 film using a Mamiya 6. I still like to use an old analog camera for fine art work, although lately I am rethinking this practice. Nowadays the first step is to decide which photo I want to make into a painting (currently I have a backlog of photographs to choose from) and to order a 19 1/2" x 19 1/2" image (my Mamiya 6 shoots square images) printed on 20" x 24" paper. I get the print made at Manhattan Photo on West 20th Street in New York.

Jennifer Sims

36

Barbara Rachko

ARTiculAction

Scene Twenty: Living Room, 2006 Soft Pastel on Sandpaper

Typically I have in mind the next two or three paintings that I want to create. Once I have the reference photograph in hand, I make a preliminary tonal charcoal sketch on a piece of white drawing paper. The sketch helps me think about how to proceed and points out potential problem areas ahead. Then I am ready to start making the painting. I work on each pastel-onsandpaper painting for approximately three months. I am in my studio 7 to 8 hours a day, five days a week. During that time I make thousands of creative decisions as I apply and layer soft pastels (I have thousands to choose from), blend them with my fingers, and mix new colors directly on the sandpaper. A finished piece consists of up to 30 layers of soft pastel.

My self-invented technique accounts for the vivid, intense color that often leads viewers of my originals to look very closely and ask, “What medium is this?� I believe I am pushing soft pastel to its limits, using it in ways that no other artist has done before. Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from Domestic Threats, an extremely interesting series that has been evolving for more than a decade and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. I would suggest to visit your website directly at http://barbararachko.com/gallery_paintings/web/gall ery_paintings2.htm in order to get a wider idea of it... In the meanwhile, would you like to tell us 37

ARTiculAction

Barbara Rachko

Almost There 2012 oil on linen 91x122cm

A Promise Meant to be Broken, 2007

Sometimes He Still Tried To Restrain Her, 2005

Soft Pastel on Sandpaper

Soft Pastel on Sandpaper

something about the genesis of this project? What was your initial inspiration?

The painter, Rufino Tamayo, and husband and wife photographers, Manuel and Lola Alvarez Bravo, were from Oaxaca. (Manuel Alvarez Bravo founded an important photography museum there). I already had been a fan of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo and other artists associated with Mexico, and had a longstanding interest in pre-Columbian civilizations. I knew some Spanish from classes in high school. I began reading everything I could find about Oaxaca and Mexico and soon became fascinated with the Day of the Dead. In 1992 my then-boyfriend, Bryan, and I made our first trip to Mexico, spending a week in Oaxaca to see Day Sims of the Dead observances and Jennifer to study the Mixtec and Zapotec ruins (Monte Alban,

In 1991 my future sister-in-law sent, as a Christmas present, two brightly painted wooden figures from Oaxaca. One was a large, blue and white polka dot flying horse, the other a bear, painted with red, white, and black dots and lines. At this time I was looking for something new to paint with soft pastel, having found portraits deeply unsatisfying. I had never seen anything like these Oaxacan figures and was intrigued. I started asking artist friends about Oaxaca and soon learned that the city has a unique style of painting, the self-titled Oaxacan school. 38

Barbara Rachko

Scene Fourteen: Kitchen, 2005 Soft Pastel on Sandpaper 6

ARTiculAction

ARTiculAction

Barbara Rachko

Yagul, Mitla, etc.). We spent another week in Mexico City to visit Diego Rivera’s murals at the Ministry of Education, Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, and nearby ancient archeological sites (the Templo Mayor, Teotihuacan, etc.). I began collecting Mexican folk art on that first trip. I still have fond memories of collecting my first mask, a big wooden dragon with a Conquistador’s face on its back. Bryan and I found it high on a wall in a dusty Oaxacan shop. The dragon was three and a half feet long and three feet wide. Because it was fragile, I hand-carried it onto the plane and was able to store it in the first class cabin (this was pre-9/11). I chuckle to remember that we covered its finely carved toes with rolled up socks to prevent them from breaking. I have been back to Mexico many times, most recently in March when I visited the Gulf coast area to study Olmec art. I travel there to study preColumbian history, archaeology, mythology, culture, and the arts. Mexico is an endlessly fascinating country that has long been an inspiration for artists. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, the imagery is autobiographical and very personal, but has universal associations: I have been always fascinated with the re-contextualizing power of Art, and with the way some objects or even some concepts often gain a second life when they are "transduced" on a canvas, or in a block of marble... so I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Trio, 2010 Soft Pastel on Sandpaper

Personal experience is an indispensable and inseparable part of the creative process. For me art and life are one and I suspect that is true for most artists. When I look at each of my paintings I can remember what was going on in my life at the time I made it. Each is a sort of veiled autobiography waiting to be decoded and in a way, each is also a time-capsule of the larger zeitgeist. Everything finds its way into the work.

need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

I agree. Artists in general are more sensitive to these sorts of hidden ideas, feelings, emotions, etc. in ways that most non-artists are not. It’s a cliche but it’s true.

By the way, I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we

Another interesting series of yours that has particularly impressed me and on which I would

Jennifer Sims 40

Barbara Rachko

ARTiculAction

on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

That is a great question! I think you are correct that my palette has darkened. It’s partly from having lived in New York for so long. This is a generally dark city. We famously dress in black and the city in winter is mainly greys and browns. Also, the “Black Paintings” are definitely post-9/11 work. My husband, Bryan, was tragically killed onboard the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Losing Bryan was the biggest shock I ever have had to endure, made even harder because it came just 87 days after we had married. We had been together for 14 ½ years and in September 2001 were happier than we had ever been. He was killed so horribly and so senselessly. Post 9/11 was an extremely difficult, dark, and lonely time. In the summer of 2002 I resumed making art, continuing to make “Domestic Threats” paintings. That series ran its course and ended in 2007. Around then I was feeling happier and had come to better terms with losing Bryan (it’s something I will never get over but dealing with loss does get easier with time). When I created the first “Black Paintings” I consciously viewed the background as literally, the very dark place that I was emerging from, exactly like the figures emerging in these paintings. The figures themselves are wildly colorful and full of life, so to speak, but that black background is always there.

like to spend some words is your recent Black Paintings. It goes without saying that the pieces from this series are darker than the ones from Domestic Threats. However, one of the features of it that have mostly impacted on me is the effective mix between dark background and the few bright tones, which established such a synergy rather than a contrast, and I daresay that all the dark around creates a prelude to light: it seems to reveal such a struggle, a deep tension and intense emotions... By the way, any comments

Big Wow, 2011 Soft Pastel on Sandpaper

41

ARTiculAction

Barbara Rachko

A feature of your works and in particular with these ones (we are referring to the ones from Black Paintings that will be published in this spread of pages) that has mostly impacted on me is your capability of creating a deep intellectual interaction, communicating a wide variety of states of mind : even though I'm aware that this might sound a bit naif, I have to admit that in a certain sense some pieces of this series unsettle me a bit... I can recognize in them an effective mix between anguish and thoughtless, maybe such a hidden happiness... I would go as far as to state that this work, rather than simply describing something, pose us a question: forces us to meditation...

I’m sure you and other viewers will see all kinds of states of mind, like anguish, happiness, etc. in my paintings and I think that’s wonderful because it means my work is communicating. Sometimes people have told me that some of my images are unsettling and that’s fine, too. I would never presume to tell anyone what to think about my work. Some of this is intentional, but much of it is not. All of my life experiences, what I’m thinking about each day, what I’m feeling, what I’m reading, the music I’m listening to, etc. get embedded into the work. I don’t understand exactly how that happens, but I am glad it happens. This work does come from a deep place, much deeper than I am able to even explain myself. After nearly three decades as an artist, the intricacies of my creative process are still a mystery. Personally I am rather fond of mysteries. 9) During these years your artworks have ben exhibited in several occasions, both nationally and internationally... It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if the expectation of a positive feedback- could even influence the process of an artist... and I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces?

I can’t say that I think at all about audience reaction while I’m creating a painting in my studio. Of course, I like people to respond favorably to my work. Generally, I’m thinking about technical problems – making work that is exciting to look at, well-composed, vibrant, up to my exacting standards, etc. When I finish a painting, it is the best thing I am capable of making at that point in time. 42

Jennifer Sims Blue Misterioso

Barbara Rachko

ARTiculAction

I think and look at it so long and with such intensity, that it could not possibly have turned out any differently. There is an inevitability to the whole lengthy process, going back to when I first laid eyes on the folk art figures in a dusty shop in a third world country. Looking at a newly-finished painting on my easel I often think, “Of course I was drawn to this figure so that it could serve this unique function in this particular painting.” Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Barbara. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

Captions A

In September I will be exhibiting at the Perkins Center for the Arts in Collingswood, New Jersey. Next year my work is scheduled to be in a group exhibition that will travel throughout museums in Spain. Details are still being worked out. I have been experimenting with photographing my Mexican and Guatemalan figures using an iPad and one particular app. These photos allow me to take the same subject mater and treat it in a completely new way. Unlike my other work, they are quick and relatively simple images to make. I am intrigued and excited by the possibilities so have been sharing them on social media. People seem to like them. I invite people to connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/barbararachko) and subscribe to my blog (www.barbararachkoscoloreddust.com). I recently published my first eBook, “From Pilot to Painter,” on Amazon. Links to everything can be found on my website (www.barbararachko.com). Thank you very much for your extremely interesting questions, Dario! I’ve enjoyed speaking with you.

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator articulaction@post.com

43

ARTiculAction

Elena Balsiukaitė - Bra (USA) an artist’s statement

Making art is a form of life for me. It is often an unpredictable round journey from the inside out. It is the process that requires constant renewal by forgetting the moves already learned, it is the conscious choice to avoid the routine. I have always appreciated that point of instability in the art by others that prompts a creative act, even having the minimal means of expression at one’s disposal. This is the reason that my works are very different stylistically. I am strongly inspired by extreme situations in life, and because of that I often provoke myself during the creative process: I adopt different strategies, I put aside my fears and insecurities and take risks. In my studio I lead my real, most authentic life by engaging into a dialogue with myself and hence with the external world. The most controversial moments of the daily life acquire shapes, colours and forms in the pictures. When I am working on a picture, I am in charge of what happens in it, I control the situation. Yet at the same I am also changing myself; most likely, I do identify myself with the characters in the paintings. It is the specific inner theatre where I can try all the roles. Then comes the difficult but enormously igniting and venturesome moment: HOW? This how is resolved in the process of creating an actual picture. Here the adventure but also the trap is waiting. Today I can reveal the reason for my works being so varied stylistically, why I cannot adopt one artistic method, contemplate it again and again. I start a picture as one person, after a while I approach the canvas as another person, add something or place accents on it against the already existing artistic logic of the painting. This is what art allows me to do: to change the trajectories, strategies, set up new rules. At the same time, it is the game including losses and torment; I both rejoice and mourn when I paint. As F. Nietzsche wrote in Beyond Good and Evil, “ He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.” I am not afraid to complete each picture in such a way that the picture remains rooted in my timeless present time, my today. I am very happy I can do it. Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė June 2014 Šančiai, Kaunas, Lithuania

44

Krista Nassi

ARTiculAction

zdžiūnienė

Gold, (background detail) Mixed Media on canvas, 2012 Business & Pleasure 7 Mixed Media, 2011 Kiti Veikejai / Other Characters

2

ARTiculAction

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė

An interview with

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė Hello Elena, and welcome to ARTiculAction. I would start this interview with my usual ice breaker question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? By the way, what could be in your opinion the features that mark an artwork as a piece of Contemporary Art?

I think that the work of art is a metaphor of the World. Each period has got its own unique visual language. Today we speak differently than it was done earlier. Generally, I think that a contemporary work of art is characterized by eclectics, suppressed Romanticism, the absence of pathetic and canons. Would you like to tell us something about your background? Are there any experiences that have particularly impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks? By the way, I sometimes I wonder if a certain kind of formal training in artistic disciplines could even stifle a young artist's creativity...

At Vilnius Art Academy (former Vilnius State Art Institute) I studied painting during the times of the Soviet occupation – from 1981 to 1989. I did not study under very influential professors, and it is just for the best. The basis for our studies then was the analysis of nature, but most of all we, the fellow students, were learning from books and from each other. 30 years ago painting in Lithuania was rooted in the Expressionist tradition, and it is still very present. The essence of the Expressionist visual language does not deal with reflections of calm introspections. Its gist is the coarse expressiveness of the Northern anxiety and the reality altered by the heated palette.

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė

granted the permission to come back and to complete my studies; in 1988-1989 the discipline of Marxism-Leninism was no longer a part of the curriculum at the Institute, - the Soviet system started to collapse. But after the graduation I had to sort these experiences out and forget them. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

However, the method of Socialist Realism was obligatory during the entire Soviet period at the Academy. Actually, I was expelled from the Institute in 1987 because I was caught cheating during the exam of Marxism-Leninism. One year later I was

My studio is located in the buildings originally

46

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė

ARTiculAction

Šančių angelas / The Angel of Šančiai, 2012

erected as military barracks in the very end of the 19th century. They housed the military too during the Lithuanian Independence of the 1920s and 1930s, during the Soviet occupation of 1945-1990 there were solders too, from the entire USSR, there are names and home cities carved into the walls. I moved into that space in 1993, the same year the Soviet Military left Lithuania. The neighbourhood is austere but it inspires me.

Then I photograph it and start to analyse the reduced image. And I have got one ritual: I light a candle for my RIP parents and ask them to send me some luck Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from Like Hamlet, that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: an I would suggest to our readers to visit your website directly at http://balsiukaite.wordpress.com/category/to-be-seen/ in order to get a wider idea of your Art... In the meanwhile, would you like to tell us something about the genesis of these pieces? What was your initial inspiration?

The preparation for the creative process can sometimes last longer than the process itself. I often start with covering a canvas with an obnoxious colour or write a phrase on the surface. I draw, paint, model, and the work gets stuck.

A few years ago from the studio of the artist who passed on I brought a doll-mannequin to my studio.

47

ARTiculAction

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė

Pretend (Adam and Eve), from the LIKE HAMLET series

It has no gender. It is neither a child nor an adult. Its ability to move is restricted by construction joints, but the face is senselessly optimistic and pretty. Well, he is a hopeless rebel. I named him Like Hamlet. I had been thinking about the Hamlet Syndrome before that; about the person who annoys everybody with his questions, moves against the system, condemns himself and other to anxiety, and cannot make the decision to act. In the picture he is holding a piece of chalk and tries to draw himself, to complete himself. Out of this work, others have emerged, and it has become the series of works about the passion for action and petrifaction in rhetorics, about the triumph of circumstances and weakness. In other works Hamlet metamorphoses into Ophelia (Ophelia), the Father’s Ghost (E=mc2) or Adam and Eve (2 Pretend). The positive character vanishes. 48

Kaip Hamletas Jennifer Sims / Like Hamlet. 2012

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė

ARTiculAction

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, when underline that when you are working on a picture, you are in charge of what happens in it, you control the situation. Yet at the same you are also changing yourself; most likely, you identify yourself with the characters in the paintings... I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

The most interesting thing for me is that I always discover something new about myself during the creative process. So my answer is very straightforward: the personal experience is indispensable from the creative process. By the way, I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

The World is full of meanings, - they are there each day, each moment.

Jennifer Sims Vaikystė. / The Childhood.

49

ARTiculAction

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė

ABOUT THEM. Girls.

The tiresome view through the window, things on the table, a stone under your feet can tell so much. An artist in way is awakening the reality. I myself sometimes like to paint as if I am asleep, as if I am trying to remember a dream.

illusion of an image. The objects that are being depicted is very real and recognizable but its rendering is sometimes floating and dwindling. The creative process of these works for me is like walking gropingly in the unknown territory, touching gingerly in order to fix the drawing. Then you follow the mode, or sensation, of approaching – or receding sometimes – something very important, something essential. I call it “To grasp the internal nerve”.

Another interesting pieces of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on which I would like to spend some words are from your About Them series, an extremely interesting project effectively challenges the dichotomy between the perception of the real and the onirical dimension...

I started About Them in 2007 when my two sons were teenagers. It was very important for me to keep the relation, contact with them. But who knows, it can be just an illusion.

Here we should talk about the optic and concrete

Jennifer Sims 50

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė

8

ARTiculAction

ABOUT THEM. Laura.

ARTiculAction

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė

ABOUT THEM Afterparty

Now an entire gallery of these portraits have come about because I had a very strong internal momotivation to create these works. Their faces have changed, the rebellion cooled off. The degree of conformity is unavoidable. Some of them are no longer with us, they have passed on, but their portraits remain.

During these years your artworks have been exhibited in several occasions, both in your homeland and abroad, and you recently had your solo I am dr. Love at the Vilnius Art Academy... It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if the

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė

ARTiculAction

ABOUT THEM. One Man Army

expectation of a positive feedback- could even influence the process of an artist... and I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think

to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces?

If we engage in this game, in this tradition – creating, exhibiting, selling-collecting works of art – then there is no way out, we have to deal with the market too. I get some comments told or written

ARTiculAction

ABOUT THEM.

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė

ABOUT THEM. Žygis

from my viewers. But the saddest thing is that fewest comments come from the colleagues. In our latitudes you fell as a corpse after you have put an exhibition up – either positive evaluations or nothing. Nobody comes and says, “What kind of nonsense have you made? Why are you doing like this? What’s happened to you?” Or let me put it in yet another way. I miss discussions, in which it would be possible to rumple each other a bit. Is there something lingering about among people?.. We have lost the ability to discuss, perhaps we are afraid to get cross with each, afraid of saying something to an artist because he might get offended. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Elena. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

I have never turned away from studying nature, and now it is the season for plain air sessions – I will be working at the Bikuškis Estate in the North-East Lithuania this year again. Like Hamlet might decide to become someone else at any time too. Recently, I have formulated it for myself: each work for me is an adventure, I am not forecasting it, so who knows what can happen next but there will be more pictures. Thank you Dario for having me at ARTiculAction.

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator articulaction@post.com

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė

ARTiculAction

ARTiculAction

Lissa Bockrath (USA)

an artist’s statement

My current body of work is a direct reflection of our changing environment. It is impossible to overlook the profound link between man’s impact on earth and the volatile weather we are experiencing. My new work addresses this change as it is manifested in tsunamis, hurricanes, wildfires and the altered landscape of our planet. I have been impacted by powerful images and firsthand observations of these extreme weather patterns and their impact on earth and mankind. Some pieces depict the tension from a momentary confrontation while others reflect the aftermath of this tumultuous conflict. Once inspired by these natural occurrences, I work from a stream of consciousness that often takes my work in unexpected directions. These landscapes seek to accentuate the balance between the turbulence of our altered atmosphere and the peace that emanates from the landscape’s inherent beauty.

Lissa Bockrath

Mystic Veil 48x60 56

Krista Nassi

ARTiculAction

Gold, (background detail) Mixed Media on canvas, 2012

Feels So Good, 48” x 60” Acrylic

2

ARTiculAction

Lissa Bockrath

An interview with

Lissa Bockrath Hello Lissa, and welcome to ARTiculAction. I would start this interview with my usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? By the way, what could be in your opinion the features that mark an artworks as a piece of Contemporary Art? Do you think that there's a dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness?

Thank you so much for including my work with this amazing group of ecletic artists. A work of art, visual art,to me is an aesthetic physical manifestation of creative expression. The primary purpose would be to stimulate, engage and entice the viewer through a visual form. Contemporary Art is not as easily defined as previous movements throughout art history. Artwork from the 70’s until now has not been very linear. Art is branching in so many directions a simple blanket term “Contemporary Art” seems somewhat inadequate. Contemporary art at the minimum is work that is current and relevant to our immediate lives with emphasis on social consciousness.

Lissa Bockrath

on how tall the corn had grown. It was a safe and isolated place that was untouched by most of the modern world. I was drawn to art or anything creative from a very early age. It was my escape, my passion and connection to that around me. However I never thought it could be a viable profession. I came from a working class family that had their own struggles through their youth.

I think there most definately is a dichotomy between Traditional and Contemporary art. Traditional art has an emphasis on the mastery of materials whereas Contemporary Art doesn’t adhere to traditionalism and can be expressed in limitless forms.

So my parents instilled in me to pursue the highest level of acheivement that I could. As a Junior in college I finally succcumbed to the draw of my creativity and realized there was nothing more important or fullfilling than creating. I chose to take a leap of faith and pursue my passion even though this was outside my comfort zone.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? You hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts that you have received from the Cleveland Institute of Art: how has this experience impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks?

I grew up in a small town called Norwalk, Ohio. Its a remote farm town surrounded by cornfields. As a child I knew what the time of the year was based

CIA was a great fit for me as an artist. I knew I wanted to pursue painting and I loved the open 58

Lissa Bockrath

ARTiculAction

Electrical Lure 30x30

cess of the evolution of art. You were given a lot of freedom. Each artist or painter was treated as an individual and encouraged to follow their own path. You were guided but never told detailed steps as to

approach that the instructors took. In the first two years you learn the fundamentals. Which I place great value in. I think its important to learn the fundamentals in order to better understand the pro59

ARTiculAction

Lissa Bockrath

how to convey your message. One of the greatest messages that was taught to me is to keep stretching outside of your comfort zone. As an artist it is imperative that I continually challenge myself; always strivng to grow and broaden my perspective. One of the most valuable things I got out of Art School was developing a thick skin. Critisism has never set well with me but going through art crits you have to swallow your pride, listen, maybe respond or possibly do nothing. It’s imporant to not allow the feedback to throw you entirely off course. Everyone has an opinion and if you let those voices overwhelm you it is easy to get lost in a sea of ideas/ directions. A great lesson for me was when I was a 3rd year student in a 5 year program and in very prestigious show. I submitted two works, a painting and a sculpture. I won first place in both. The next year I didn’t even get into the show. It confirmed for me that I have to follow my own path and disregard the criticism. I can hear what is being said but I have to decide what is ultimately the best path for me. If I let sales or awards guide me I’d be lost in a sea of voices, I have to follow what internally drives me. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

I start each painting without a preconceived idea of what the final image or end result will be and instead my process becomes a stream of conscious-ness. Working with the inherent natural elements in the process of painting is what I relish most. The spontaneous reactions of the medium inspire me. When I trust my instincts and work intuitively, the images produced are more believable and powerful than anything I could have worked to consciously produce.

Magnetic Extraction 30x30

I begin with the canvas flat on the ground. Before painting I decide on the general pallete. I then take the tube oils and thin them down with various oil ba-

sed thinners. Sometimes I will use enamel house paint for this initial process. I then begin to drip, splash and maneuver the paint.

Jennifer Sims

60

Lissa Bockrath

ARTiculAction

Often a horizontal canvas reads as a landscape but I don’t want to get tied up on the literal aspects of the painting. Once the painting has a good foundation I begin to see images appear within it. Whatever I am subcon-sciously obsessed with somehow begins to appear in the painting. The nature of working in oil is that I have to deal with drying times so you can only do so much at a time on each image. I typically have 10-30 paintings that I work on at a time. Its a building process and they all come to light.... hopefully...in the end. I am rather impatient and prolific so that is one of the reasons that I have so many works going at the the same time. They are built up over the course of months. But sometimes a painting will form quickly and often these end up being the strongest works due to the fact they have spontaneity and are the product of an almost effortless feeling as I painted them. Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from Electrical Lure and Magnetic Extraction that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to visit your website at http://lissabockrath.com/paintings/ in order to get a wider idea of it. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of theseinteresting pieces? What was your initial inspiration?

Although the impetus of the work is inspired by our changing enviroment and the unprecedented extreme weather, its the surface that often takes precedence over the subject matter. “Electrical Lure” and “Magnetic Extraction” started the way most of my work does; by dripping, pouring and manuvering the paint. “Magnetic Extraction” formed quickly into into a literal vortex. I knew I wanted to preserve the linear vein like qualities that organicly happened. I also wanted to juxtapose the cyclone’s downward force with a reactionary upward movement creating a type of fierce synergy. “Electrical Lure” has some similar thread like elements that started to read as powerful electrical forces moving upward into a explosive, electrical surge .

In the beginning I treat the work as pure abstracts. I typically work in the square format so that it is open to what direction the painting will go in.

61

ARTiculAction

Lissa Bockrath

The Swell, 30x30

By simplifying the backgrounds in each of these works I was better able to relate the experience and the nuances that happened organically. I think these two paintings are great examples of having the right balance of control. I noticed that many of your pieces, as Mystic Veil and The Swell although marked with a deep abstract feeling, often reveals such an inner struggle and intense involvement, as the interesting Celestial Awakening, which I have to admit is one of my favourite pieces of yours ... I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience? Celestial Awakening 30x30

I do feel personal experience is an inseperable part of my creative process. Art to me is the ultimate form of personal expression. It is one of the most intimate and pure forms of communication. In order to manfiest an authentic set of emotions, it is impos-

sible to seperate it from some personal expereices or observations. It is within the context of this history that we are able to create a original dialo-

Jennifer Sims 62

Lissa Bockrath

ARTiculAction

my canvasses. Being centered and in the moment helps quiet my mind so I can better channel a genuine and personal artistic expression. As I am working I am careful to acknowledge and utilize the natural reactions that the paint might have on the surface. “Mystic Veil” happens to be one of my favorites from my more recent series of works. It is a near perfect example of allowing my process to become my muse. The majority of markings and surface of this painting could never be reproduced. During the creation of this work, I got lost in the detail of the visual texture, yet it still reads as a cohesive landscape. It emerged very quickly and I think the spontaneity that sometime occurs in my process is evident in this piece. I used thinned down oils and enamel paint for this painting. The melding together of these components seems effortless and I relish how it created an atmospheric, organic landscape. “Celestial Awakening” is an example of a piece that took months of work to arrive at an evolution of a piece that I was happy with. At one point in this development, it became too literal and controlled. This in an example of removing myself from the tract I have begun on and recreating a painting. I applied a white wash over the background and it was immediately transformed into almost an etheral, celestial image. I am fascinated by the ferosity of mother nature and have continually been drawn to the beauty of wildfires. The orgin of this could be from my direct experience as my studio burnt down several years ago due to spontaneous combustion. When I was led by the fireman into my studio to survey the destruction, although devestaded, through tears I noted how beautiful the patterns of smoke danced acrossed the walls. I am in awe of nature and this respect helps to motivate this work. There is always a beauty within nature; even in its most destructive of times. I find myself continually fascinated by this dichotomy. “The Swell,” “Saphire Plunge,” “Thor’s Wrath,” and “Cobalt Decent” are all quite abstract yet still engage the viewer into the illusionary field.

gue through our work. I wouldn’t use the word disconnected to describe my initial approach to paintings, I enter into a meditative state as I begin 63

ARTiculAction

Lissa Bockrath

Thor's Wrath, 30x30

In fact in “Thor’s Wrath” I was not sure until the last few brushstrokes if it was an explosive wildfire or a celestial combustion. As an artist I continually want to challenge myself. I find my process a constant balance between the literal and the abstract. This tenstion is integral to the fulfillment of my vision. It is based upon the study of study of literal images of nature that I am then able to interpret it in my own way; creating a unique yet believeable perspective. Another interesting pieces of yours that have impacted on me and which I would like to spend some words are Touch of the Eternal and in particular Thor's Wrath: one of the features of this work that has mostly impacted on me is the effective mix of colors that gives life to the canvas: I have been struck with the way you have been capable of merging delicate and thoughtful tones of colors with nuances of red which turns from a delicate tone to an intense one which turns to saturate the canvas, as in The Swell, and that seems to reveal such a deep tension and intense emotions... By the way, any

Touch of the Eternal, 30x30 comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

Sims I love theJennifer impact that color can create! Early on, 64

Lissa Bockrath

ARTiculAction

was not what I wanted to convey. As you clearly understand, I do enjoy saturated hues but I think it is important to balance them with more subdued tones as well. I don’t want the painting to fight itself. Thus, you have to be selective as to which components you want to highlight. And I no longer believe muted tones are the only way to express emotional complexities! My goal is to create an image that allows the viewer to physically enter into and engage the work. I think color can contribute to that sense of that illusionary familiarity. I draw my color inspiration primarily from nature but I often like to take a section and enhance the tones in order to amplify the visual intensity. Also, in order to balance some of the intenisty I typically like to incorporate a mix of warm and cool tones. “Touch of the Eternal” is a great example of how I seek to use color. The Prussian blues help the gold tones to really vibrate and explode off the canvas. “Thor's Wrath” is another good example of utilizing and manipulating color. I feel one of the reason it does have the visual intensity is that I was selective in my use of the vibrant reds against a sea of muted tones.

my paintings were much more muted in tone as I saught to create an emotional intenisty. I shied away from saturated hues as I felt overly colorful work can appear somewhat whimsical and that

Worlds Collide, 30x30 65

ARTiculAction

Lissa Bockrath

Tumultuous Beauthy, 30x30

Sapphire Plunge, 30x30

Your current body of work is a direct reflection of our changing environment and as you have remarked in your artist's statement, the landscapes seek to accentuate the balance between the turbulence of our altered atmosphere and the peace that emanates from the landscape’s inherent beauty... so I would like to stop for a moment to consider the "function" of the landscape, which most of the times seems to be just a passive background... I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

Nature, to me, is never a passive background. It is a living, breathing entity with forces beyond comprehension. As I work, I often become voracious in my process in order to properly harness the energy I want to convey. “Sapphire Plunge� is a great example of that energy manifesting itself into a visual form. Somehow the more physical I become the quiter my mind becomes thereby allowing me to better channel the subconscious. I think as artists we all work to better understand ourselves and the world around us. Its a way for us to make sense of the missing, overlooked or unexplainded details of our world around us. My process begins as a self centered induldgence... or perhaps a selfish necessity. However, ultimately I want the work to become a vehicle to stimulate, provoke and engage others. So not only does the work serve to challenge my awareness, it also serves as a source of connection to a wider audience.

I think,in some way, everything can be answered by nature. From the great expanse to the most cellular of levels. The closer we examine our surroundings the more that is revealed to us. One of my current goals as an artist is to search and explore these natural occurances.

During this years your works have been exhibited in several important occasions and I think it's

Jennifer Sims

66

Lissa Bockrath

ARTiculAction

Darkness Pending, 24”x24”

Delusion of Grandeur , 48”x48”

important to mention that you have recently had a Solo at the Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery, Cleveland... It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if an award -or just the expectation of positive feedbacks- could even influence the process of an artist... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

My goal as an artist is to convey a perspective yet leave enough room for individual interpretation. Ultimately, I hope to engage and simultaneouosly challenge my audience. This may not be a typical response but I don’t want feedback until a body of work is complete. Showing work that is unfinished makes me feel somewhat vulnerable. It feels like giving someone an intimate glimpse of myself sudeenly and without any preparation. I am also concerned that the crticism or suggestions may deter my vision and throw me off my natural creative path.

I used to own an art gallery where I exhibited my own work as well as represented other artists works. It gave me an opportunity to hear feedback about the work from a wide audience. Most people didn’t realize I was also one of the artists so I was privy to many unfiltered conversations. It always amazed me how differently people would perceive the work. Everyone comes with their own layered history. Therefore each person interprets the work uniquely.

Once the work is resolved and I have been able to process the image, I encourage, enjoy and appreciate feedback. I value all feedback, not just from art contesures but anyone. I am not of the train of thought that you have to be formallly trained in order to fully comprehend art. Sometimes my best feedback comes from my 11 and 9 year old kids! They have such a pure perspective and are completely unfiltered! 67

ARTiculAction

Lissa Bockrath

When I create, I concentrate on the paintings and the process. I don’t consider who my audience will be or wether it is sellable. I have often been asked to reproduce a painting, or do commissions. I always decline knowing that anything forced will never have the same power that the unconstrained creativity produces. I know intuitively that if I am producing strong work that I believe in, the work will ultimately be appreciated. Sales are an ultimate compliment. Often people ask me if it is hard to physically let go of a painting. I never feel a sense of loss or wanting because I feel if that collector was willing to buy it that it really spoke to them and the work will be appreciated and enjoyed in their home for years to come. I also enjoy that the paintings take on a life of their own. Hearing that someone was at a party or went to a friends house and saw my work is quite rewarding. It often ignites great conversations and surprising connections. One of the great things about selling work is that upon installation it becomes a constant visual advertisement for the artist. I admit postive feedback, sales, awards, accolades can all feel good but I never let that affect my direction. You can have tremendous talent but if you don’t have a strong work ethic and are unwilling to promote the buisness of your art, you will never make it in this field. As much as I dislike dealing with some of the logistics such as entering shows, updating mailing lists and websites, I understand that it is as important as producing the work if I want to maximize my exposure. Thanks a lot for your time and your thoughts, Lissa. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

I actually have quite a lot coming up this month. My current show “Unbroken “ at the Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery will be closing July 15th, 2014. July 27th my painting “Mystic Veil” will be exhibited at the Butler Museum of American Art, for the 78th National juried art exhibition in Youngstown Ohio. Also I was seleceted to be in Artists Portfolio Magazine’s 17th issue which will be in book stores this month. The section will be entitled “Matt Derezinski, Kassandra Matina and Lissa Bockrath: West vs Midwest competion.” This year has been a really big year for me. I feel like everything is coming together and a lot of hard work is being realized. I plan on continuing to submit my work in exhibitions and contests so that I can maximize my reach and exposure. I will also be producing all new works for my next Solo Exhibition at the Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery in 2015. An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator articulaction@post.com

9

Lissa Bockrath

ARTiculAction

ARTiculAction

Amanda van Gils (Australia) an artist’s statement

Essentially my work is concerned with the how we experience and record contemporary experiences. The advent of photography over a century ago caused many to question the place of painting; in recent years the steady rise of accessible digital photography has had an significant impact on progressing this question. Digital technology has gone from nonexistent to ubiquitous in an amazingly short period of time. I am interested in how this changes the way we create and record experiences and memories. As a painter I am also interested in how this impacts a ‘painters’ practice’. Of course the relationship between photography and painting is not a new one and artists have been concerned with this for well over a century now. But never before has image making been so incredibly accessible to such a vast number of people in a way that has reshaped how we experience and record events, places and times Since 2008, my focus has been on landscape, specifically landscape viewed whilst in transit and captured by the trusty digital camera or mobile phone. I use views from my travels as the subject for my work, painting tracts of land that are seemingly ordinary and unimportant. These somewhat ordinary pieces of land become interesting and beguiling subjects for me as a painter. I am interested in the beauty such passages of place can contain and the dynamic unexpected abstract qualities we can see when the land slips by our car windows. “Speed is pandemic in modern day existence. We rush past, there seems no time to stop and take note of where we are and what we're doing, the boundaries which shape our everyday lives becoming ill-defined in all the busyness of ‘having places to go and people to see'. Simulating a continuous stream of movement, van Gils' paintings eloquently confront us with this breathless pace.” Jacqueline Houghton

The places I paint are not the grand vistas of traditional landscape painting. They are neither the origin nor the destination of any important journey, just the largely ignored spaces that lay somewhere between where we were and where we are heading. The paintings are reflections of the images and memories that we choose to create. Amanda van Gils

70

Krista Nassi

ARTiculAction

Gold, (background detail) Mixed Media on canvas, 2012

Feels So Good, 48” x 60” Acrylic

2

ARTiculAction

Amanda van Gils

An interview with

Amanda van Gils Hello Amanda, and welcome to ARTiculAction. I would start this interview with my usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art?

Thank you for inviting me to ARTiculAction. To me a work of Art is an object or intervention that presents an idea to engage others and solicit a response of some sort. It may be an intellectual idea, an emotional response or perhaps a sensory response. To quote Kit White “Art can be anything. It is not defined by medium or the means of production, but by a collective sense that it belongs to a category of experience we have come to know as ‘art’” As the quote suggest – we know it when we come across it but it might not always be easy to describe. Amanda van Gils

By the way, what could be the features that mark an artworks as a piece of Contemporary Art? Do you think that there's still an inner dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness?

Would you like to tell us something about your background? You graduated with a Bachelor of Art that you received from the Monash University Melbourne: how has this experience impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks? By the way, I would ask your point about formal training: I sometimes wonder if a certain kind of training could even stifle a young artist's creativity...

I do think there is for the most part a dichotomy between contemporariness and tradition. I have heard some people say that anything created at this point in time is contemporary but I don’t subscribe to that. Tradition is more engaged with pre-existing rules and working within those rules whereas Contemporary work (at any point in time) is less constrained by pre-existing rules and more engaged with working beyond those rules. That doesn’t mean that contemporary work necessarily ignores technique – Traditional skills can be used very successfully in contemporary art and I personally know a number of terrific contemporary artists who use techniques that were used by the Old Masters – it just means that technique isn’t the primary motivation in making the work.

I don't genuinely believe training stifles creativity, generally speaking education improves life for people. Though of course the wrong training, poorly delivered, an uninspired teacher, all of these things might stifle creativity. The choices people make about what they take on board or don’t take on board from their training, may be stifling. Training that is purely technical in nature can be creatively stifling. 72

Amanda van Gils

ARTiculAction

Momentary distraction, 2011, 91x122cm, oil on canvas

I see a lot of work in which the only merit is that it faithfully reproduces the kind of work that has gone before it. On the other hand training that is purely ideas based without technical rigour can be equally stifling to one’s creativity. After all an idea is only as good as its execution.

My formal training was good for exploring ideas, building a structure to my studio practice, challenging my perceptions and spending time with others who were on a similar path. I was fortunate enough to have lecturers who were interested in imparting ideas and knowledge. But it wasn’t good at getting me ready to be an artist out in the world – there are miles between being an art student and being a professional artist.

I completed my BA some years ago, though it wasn’t until I returned to study in 2000 that my career really started in earnest. I was fortunate enough that my BA was a reasonable blend of ideas vs technical training.

A BA or any kind of formal training is just one part of an ongoing lifetime of acquiring knowledge, skills 73

ARTiculAction

Amanda van Gils

Almost There 2012 oil on linen 91x122cm

and practice. And I have genuinely learnt as much since that time through networks of other artists as I did during that time. So I had some sort of foundation from the BA but I wasn’t really well enough equipped at the beginning of my 20’s, which is why I say my career really started some 10 years later. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how

Bruce-Hwy#8 2009 oil on canvas 30.5x41cm much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

I am pretty organised in my routine; I have calendars with dates to work towards and lists of what I need to get done when. When I am working toward a show I mark out a planner counting down the weeks allowing an extra week or so at the end for contingencies. My studio is less organised. I work on a number of paintings at once and often end up with card of house Jennifer like arrangements. Sims Right now I am working in a temporary set up in our sunroom while

Etched-in-memory 2012 oil on linen 91x122cm

74

Amanda van Gils

ARTiculAction

Unforgettable moment (Fraser Island)_2011_ oil-on-canvas_91x122cm

So I tend to write notes a little but mostly things stay in my head until I get to the canvas. I start with an idea and go looking for resource material. I have hundreds or maybe even thousands of source photos. I use these as a starting point or reference but don’t paint the photos as such. I have a bit of fun trying to work out my camera to get the sort of photos I want and I disregard quite a lot that is in the photo I’d describe my process as ‘push and pull’ It is very immediate but built up over layers, with paint added some paint wiped off, more added in and so on. I work quite directly, using washy paint to mark out key points, key lines. I don’t do underpainting per se or even draw out the scene in pencil. (Except for figurative work where I have to go against my natural grain and really draw up the figure a lot more or it just won’t work).

my dream studio gets built. We are in building planning approval stage right now, but hopefully soon I will have a beautiful self-contained studio in our backyard. I am pretty committed to oil paint, but at the moment I am working with Golden Acrylics (to keep the fumes away from our living area) and these have been fantastic to work with, so I think future work will see me flit across acrylic and oil a bit more.

I really don’t know how long a single painting takes me because I tend to work on a body of work rather than individual pieces. Normally I have about 4 or 6 paintings on the go at once (my all-time record was 26, which even I admit was insane.

I don’t really keep a journal anymore. For most of my work the ideas is about the paint itself which I couldn’t get in a thumbnail sketch.

The upside is that you go from having nothing finished to suddenly having a large body of work finished and I think it adds to the overall cohesiveness of the body of work … 75

ARTiculAction

Amanda van Gils

Flare 2012 oil on linen 30.5x41cm

but the downside to this that you have to be ready for your shows earlier so you have something ready for the invite and publicity and of course it doesn’t work as well when you are struggling.

The materiality of paint - its nuances, viscosity, opacity or transparency - engages me completely in the studio and the process becomes all important. I am quite physical with the way I paint. My ‘push / pull’ process involves putting paint on, removing paint and layering and re-layering until I get the tension and movement that is ‘right’ for the painting.

The subject, concept and way it is executed are intrinsically linked and of equal importance I tend to know when a work is finished or whether 15 more minutes or an hour is needed. Getting a painting finished is about getting it to a certain ‘feeling of rightness’ and it’s not finished until it’s there. And once you are there you aren’t tempted to lay down any more paint.

Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from The In-Between Places that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages ofSims this article: and I would Jennifer 76

Amanda van Gils

ARTiculAction

Inga Daintree 2012 oil on canvas 122x152cm

Vito North of Brisbane 2012 122x152cm oil on canvas

suggest to our readers to visit your website at http://www.amandavangils.com/page2.htm in order to get a wider idea of this series. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

along highways that bypass country towns with senses intruded upon by iPods, DVD players, closed windows and air conditioning. Racing past scenery at 110 kilometres per hour, the interaction of traveller with surrounding landscape is poles apart from colonial times, or even the experiences from my own childhood in the 1970’s. The pace of life and experience of ‘landscape’ today is quite different and this is an important element in this work.

The In-Between Places was a touring exhibition of motion landscapes painted in 2011 – 2012. The exhibition travelled through four public art galleries in Regional Queensland before making a final showing in a commercial gallery in Sydney

For “The In-Between Places” exhibition I thought the opportunity to travel the paintings just as I travel to gather the source material was a nice sy-

(Rex-Livingston Art Dealerhttp://www.rex-livingston.com/)

In 2006 I travelled through Europe by train and captured some accidental blurred landscape. While the first photo wasn't the beautiful travel scene I had intended, it was a really interesting abstract image. That ‘happy accident’ resulted in me taking several more images in that vein which resulted in the “Views from a Speeding Train” series. (2008). For “The In-Between Places” I used the common experience of a road trip as the ideal vehicle from which to explore contemporary landscape. A road trip once upon a time was a slow and long affair open carriages and early motorcars with many stops along the way allowed the travellers to experience their surroundings with all of their senses. Today’s road trips happen at high speed

The In Between Places 2011 oil on canvas 122x152cm

77

ARTiculAction

Amanda van Gils

Almost There 2012 oil on linen 91x122cm

Night Drive 6 45pm, from the Homesickness series 2010 14cmx19cm oil on linen

Homesickness series

generally about the idea of place as ‘home’, the yearning we all have for a place where we belong. From this came the homesickness series.

In early 2010 I moved from a lifetime spent in busy metropolitan Melbourne to regional Queensland. While I was prepared for adjustments, the feelings of displacement and dislocation were more profound than I had expected. My life felt unfamiliar in new ways and I did not feel ‘at home’.

While a number of works are in my most familiar medium (oil on linen), thoughts of ‘the unfamiliar’ encouraged me to step my practice into unfamiliar areas through the use of new mediums; the pigment prints shown here are the result and it is the first time I have exhibited this medium.

As 2010 turned into 2011 and significant weather events in my new home state left many people isolated and homeless I started to think more

Amanda van Gils, September 2011

Jennifer Sims 78

Amanda van Gils

ARTiculAction

Night Drive 632pm 2010 14cmx19cm oil on linen

Night Drive 632pm 2010 14cmx19cm oil on linen

nergy and also exhibiting Queensland works in Queensland regions appealed to me.

As our relationship to, and experiences of ‘the land’ change over time, ideas about landscape and what constitute an acceptably picturesque vista to interpret in paint may also evolve. And yet it appears that there is an enduring sense of ‘the bush’ and ‘the land’ as places of contemplation and quietude that continue to be the ideal of landscape painting.

One of the features that has mostly impacted on me of your works, is the way you have been effectively capable of re-contextualizing the idea of landscape, and in general of the environment we live in... which is far from being just the background of our exis-tence...and I'm sort of convinced that some information & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

Here in Australia, where ideas of landscape remain tinged by romantic ideas, bush mythology and the outsider’s perspective of early colonial painters, there is considerable scope to explore more present-day interpretations of ‘landscape’. Another interesting project of yours that have impressed me and on which I would like to spend some words is entitled Homesickness Series: as you have remarked once, you draw inspiration from the feelings of displacement and dislocation that you experienced when moving from Melbourne to regional Queensland... I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

This is a very large part of what this series of works is about. We operate in the world, not separate from it. Technology has changed forever how we experience life, and gives us access to information 24/7 so that ‘down time’, contemplation and quietude are seemingly things of the past. It seems our entire view of life is filtered in some way through technology. And this includes how we view and experience the landscape around us.

When I made the move from Melbourne to regional 79

ARTiculAction

Amanda van Gils

So much still to see, 2010,oil on linen, 51x137cm

Queensland I had expected a lot of changes and thought I was prepared. But it was all the things I hadn’t expected that hit me the most; like Melbourne has a huge Italian and Greek population since the 1950’s that really shaped that city and in my new home there wasn’t even a delicatessen and the only person around with an Italian name was my husband. So really little things I’d never thought about turned out to be very important. As nice as everyone was, I never felt ‘at home’. I worked through this with the Homesickness series but it was also during this time that I was curating my first major exhibition with 38 artists from all over Australia. So I had a lot of email and internet activity helping to keep me connected with the artworld outside the town I was in.

absolutely indespensable part of a creative process, I absoutely agree with this! Even when work is more obviously an intellectual idea than an emotional one, it is the experience of the artist that determines what and how they choose to create. So in that way I dont believe the creative process is disconnected from direct experience at all – even when the artist has not specifically experienced something, they have a view of that something which makes them create a work about it. I absolutely agree with you when you state that paintings are reflections of the images and memories that we choose to create: I have to admit that, I'm sort of convinced that especially these days, Art -besides providing with a platform for an artist's expression- could play a subtle but effective role in sociopolitical ques-

As for the statement that personal experience is an

Jennifer Sims

80

Amanda van Gils

ARTiculAction

And I couldn't do without mentioning your recent Bright Places series: I have been struck with the way you have been capable of merging delicate and thoughtful tone of colors with nuances of green and red which turns from a delicate tone to an intense, almost flooding one, which turns to saturate the canvas as in "Deep Inside", a wonderful piece that I have to admit it's one of my favourite work of this stimulating series... By the way, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

The colour has changed quite a bit in recent years, but looking back I have always had periods of using lots of colour, for example the Playtime series of 2005 was very colourful. But in the next series, Views from a Speeding Train which was based on European landscapes, you can see quite muted and earthy colours. The colours then got a bit brighter as I turned to the Australian landscape. The past year or two I have been really playing with the paint, laying it in very thin films and exaggerating colour – Bright Places has a lot of purple, orange and pinks which I really enjoyed painting with.

tions... I would go as far as to state that Art could even steer people's behaviour: what's your point about this? Does it sound a bit exaggerated?

I make the work that asks of me to make it. I think it’s a heavy burden to put on an artist – steering people’s behaviour. Only some art will impact some people and I’d hate to think that all art must impact all people But yes some kind of influence or steering is possible and even desirable, whether it’s to rethink the impact on the environment, to slow down and appreciate a moment or a bigger steer to rethink a previously held position. I don’t necessarily think about what impact my work will have, but I certainly do expect it to have some kind of impact.

Something unexpected 2010 76x102cm oil on linen

81

ARTiculAction

Amanda van Gils

Almost There 2012 oil on linen 91x122cm

Changing times, from the Bright Places series, 2013, oil on linen 91 x 122cm amongst others Sunshine Coast Art Prize and the Fleurieu Art Prize... It goes without saying that feedback and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if an award -or just the expec-tation of positive feedback- could even influence the process of an artist... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business

I’m pleased you enjoyed Deep Inside so much. With that piece I just wanted to do something I hadn’t done before. The paint is really thin, the colours intense and it is a more expressive and abstract work. The new work I am playing with is nocturnal so the palette is changing again. I think I will find myself going back and forth between dark and bright colours for a while yet. Since graduating from the VCA in 2000, your have exhibited in close to 100 exhibitions in Australia, Berlin, New York and Hong Kong and I think it's important to remark that you have been a finalist in a number of national art prizes including,

and Art...

Fedback is important but it can become a crutch if you’re not Jennifer too careful.Sims As an artist alone time and 82

Amanda van Gils

ARTiculAction

Sparkling Day, from the Bright Places series

Bright Place #4, from the Bright Places series

2013, oil on linen 71 x 84cm

2013 oil on linen 122 x 152cm

trusting yourself are really important to developing the work, if you are too concerned with specific outcomes you can put limitations on your work without necessarily realising it. I enter art prizes when I have suitable work. It’s great to have work hung in these prizes alongside the work of other artists. And as much as you become aware that just as much good work gets rejected as selected - important to remember when you don’t get selected! – it is a boost to get the selection notification. I have exhibited a lot as I am a bit goal oriented. I like working toward outcomes. And I also find that the more I paint and exhibit, the more I develop in my practice and in myself. I love the solitude of the studio, but I also love the engagement with the audience.

With Art and Business, it’s like two streams and you dont want to be thinking all the business side while you are trying to create , so you make the work being as creative and brave as possible and you set aside time to do the promotion, documentation, organisation and all the myriad of tasks that come with running a small business. If you don’t seperate them out and you allow “will this sell?“ to dominate your thinking while creating I just think that’s the antithesis of being an artist. And frankly there are far easier ways to make a living than through art, so if you are going to be an artist, just get in and be bold and brave. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Amanda. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

The relationship between business and art is real. These days artists of all kinds really need to be able to be business people as well. Which is a real shame beause some wonderful artist just aren’t geared this way and I hate to think of genuine creative talent missing opportunities because they aren’t good ‘business people‘. I’d like dealers, gallerists to do more in this space and be really effective business people. It seems that you have to promote and pre-package yourself before a gallerist will take you on so it’s a catch 22.

Thank you. Right now I am developing some new work for an exhibition which will open on 11th October and building my dream studio out in the backyard.

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator articulactionart@post.com

83

ARTiculAction

Tamer Ertuna (Turkey) an artist’s statement

Tamer Ertuna was born on February 5, 1958 in İstanbul as member of a migrating family from Bulgaria. He graduated from Istanbul Academy of Economic and Commercial Sciences (IITIA) in 1979 and retired from after working as an accountant long years in the private sector. Tamer Ertuna who has a love of nature, starting from his childhood, developed a passion for sub-aqua and mountaineering, worked professionally as a trekking guide for a while. For a long time, he writes poetry. He is interested in all branches of art throughout his life. After retirement, he has started artworks intensevly. Because of worrying about trails of ancient civilizations, state of nature in all seasons, besides its any moment, he takes a long walks. He is an attentive observer. Tamer Ertuna’s interests and experiences have enhanced his fantasy world and energised him to create. Changes in life influences him deeply. Enthusiasm or melancholy returns his works ironically. He cares about ‘’natural life’’ mainly. The creation charmes him. Although we are passing in the world, that humanity cause carelessly permanet damages to the nature worries him. In time, he makes in his illustrations the world of his own as another world and imagines himself above its lying back ill bird. Based on eternity, nestings and contrast in the same illustration to use, he depicts now and then night and day (the sun, the moon and the stars) in the same painting. In the meantime, this is a reference to enthusiasm and fall. The bird lying back above the world of his own is so as a sign in his illustrations. He appears as a viewer in his illustrations, in this way, he watches visitors who view the illustrations. Tamer Ertuna creates his illustrations in the miscellaneous colour and thickness by using permanent and silver pencils. His technique is self created in time. His art is unique. He participated in many domestic and international exhibitons and some of the artist’s illustrations have been used in books and magazine. Tamer Ertuna is living in Datca now and he continues to his works there

84

Tamer Ertuna

ARTiculAction

Gold, (background detail) Mixed Media on canvas, 2012

Feels So Good, 48” x 60” Acrylic 85

ARTiculAction

Tamer Ertuna

An interview with

Tamer Ertuna Hello Tamer, and a warm welcome to ARTiculAction. I would start this interview with my usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? By the way, what could be in your opinion the features that mark an artworks as a piece of Contemporary Art?

Then let me begin with something traditional. An artwork is a personal thing. It bears the creative stamps of its maker. It is original, persistent, universal, and aesthetical. There are three elements that compose an artwork. The artist, the artwork, and the individuals who understand and appreciate the artwork. Accordingly, art, artist, and the work of art are versatile concepts which can change according to the individuals and perspectives. A contemporary artwork, however, bears an environmental and public consciousness without the influence of any movement or genre. But I believe that every bird’s nest is also a work of art. All the trees, rocks, etc. which have been shaped by the wind, rain, and waves are a work of art. I cannot accept the fact that mankind’s caring only about itself.

Tamer Ertuna

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Are there any particular experiences that have particularly impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks? By the way, since you are basically self-taught, I would take this occasion to ask your point about formal training... I sometimes happen to wonder if a certain kind of training could influence too much a young artist's creativity...

Since childhood, I kept up with bands like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and Marillion. Their novelties excited me. Despite the deep love I had for music, not being able to make it was a handicap for me. Perhaps I was out of luck, I couldn’t find the sufficient settting to make music. However, I do not know what can happen from now on, and why shouldn’t I be a musician as a painter and poet? Joking aside, attending the concerts I want is enough for me to lead a happy life.

I did not receive an art education, I’ve been through a long and unhappy period as an accountant. I was interested in various branches of art. However, the education system in Turkey had driven me to acquire a profession which I did not want.

The fact that I never received any education on art and especially painting surprises almost everyone I meet. To tell the truth I am not surprised at all. Because the tendency to revolt against the existing 86

Tamer Ertuna

ARTiculAction

I AM AWARE A rubble laden truck wheezing Keeps on making headway Apparently, lets off its load at a worthless place From whence it comes back And rolls by me A little relieved And unfilled Driver of the rubble laden truck And the people around him Almost striving to have The "broken tree trunks," their next cargo Roll by me in the same way And they think they've accomplished A Truck loaded with “broken tree trunks" From whence it comes back And rolls by me A little relieved And unfilled Tamer Ertuna

system and the desire to change it had always been present in me. With this feeling, while writing persistently that the natural life must be protected and all living creatures are as precious as human beings, I started to paint in due course along with my poems. The lessons I took from life have mostly been reflected to my poems and paintings ironically. I had found a convenient language and began to enrich it. Finally I had found a hole through which I could creep out. Perhaps if I had received an education, I wouldn’t be able to use this language which I had discovered the way I do now. I think that all that I have been through (positive or negative) has enriched my art. 87

ARTiculAction

Tamer Ertuna

Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

tions in these lands appear in every corner of my country at any moment, despite of all distortions. I think that it is impossible for an artist not to be affected by an environment in which so many different cultures are blended. I do not feel the need to make a special preparation before and starting and while creating my work since I already have the necessary grounding. The subject suddenly flashes into my mind and I immediately adapt it to paper. Sometimes, I sit staring at the paper, unconsciously get engrossed Jennifer Sims in painting and finish it.

I, as a person who is bound to nature with love and respect, find peace in nature. The cultural diversity of the environment in which I live unavoidably influences me deeply. The traces of many civiliza88

Tamer Ertuna

ARTiculAction

Actually the paintings which I have planned beforehand are not many. What I do is to find the find the accumulation deep within me and bring it out into open. I mostly complete my paintings without long intervals. I have also finished many of them without any intervals. I suppose it is also a matter of becoming more skilled in time. I also know that some works which are considered a challenge can actually be made easily.

pages of this article: and I would suggest to visit http://www.tamerertuna.com in order to get a wider idea of your artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of theseinteresting pieces? What was your initial inspiration?

Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from the works that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory

Based upon the eternity in our current existence, I include collocations and reciprocities within the same painting. In almost all of my paintings I pictu-

I acknowledge that a world created only for mankind does not exist. And I am also thrilled by the traces of olden civilizations.

89

ARTiculAction

Tamer Ertuna

could be disconnected from direct experience?

re day and night (the sun, moon, and stars) together. This is in fact an expression of the rises and falls which I feel profoundly in my mood. The associations of contrasts always thrills me.

The main reason why the changes I notice in my life affects me deeply is the existence of rapid fouling and depredation.

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, changes in life influences you deeply. Enthusiasm or melancholy returns your works ironically. I noticed that many of your pieces, as #5 and #6, although marked with a deep abstract feeling, often reveals such an inner struggle and intense involvement, as the interesting #7, which I have to admit is one of my favourite pieces of yours ... I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process

The loss of the existing wonders shakes me up deeply. For example, despite the fact that I am 56, having seen a taintless sea turn into squalid (I am talking about the Sea of Marmara) affects me deeply. In spite of that, positive changes undoubtedly affect me positively. For instance, seeing a bird of a kind I am not familiar with excites me very much. An unusual melody can take me far away. Experiences are undoubtedly an indispensable part of creativity. I think that different experiences trigger the rise of different Jennifer Simsworks. 90

Tamer Ertuna

ARTiculAction

darker blue colour than the others. This matter had encouraged me. It had made me believe that scarcity could bring forth great lushness.

In my opinion, the creative process cannot be separated from experience. We also know that abilities that come from deep within or even those that are hereditary have an effect on the creative process.

In time, my spectrum of colours widened. It was a process that developed gradually. Up until now, my main materials have been permanent pens. Calligraphic and gilded pens have been the side materials. Seeking and finding ways to make paintings more powerful is, I think, the most pleasant part of this pursuit.

Another interesting pieces of yours that have impacted on me and which I would like to spend some words are #8, and in particular #9 : one of the features of this work that has mostly impacted on me is the effective mix of colors that gives life to the canvas: I have been struck with the way you have been capable of merging delicate and thoughtful tone of colors with nuances of red which turns from a delicate tone to an intense one which turns to saturate the canvas, as in #10, and that seems to reveal such a deep tension and intense emotions... By the way, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

I started using colours more fearlessly with time. I realized that the colours which were thought inharmonious could in fact be made matching by using auxiliary colours. Early on while using colours, I had started with colouring human figures in dark blue altogether. At first, it was regarded strange. However, it gained acceptance in time. Sounds funny, but the main reason behind that was that in the beginning, I had 91

ARTiculAction

Tamer Ertuna

And I couldn't mention that you are interested in all branches of art and besides producing stimulating illustration you also write poetry: while crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever happened to realize that a synergy between different disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

Surely, taking interest in other fields of art enriches the artist. I am aware that the poems I write and the music I listen to enriches my paintings. Honestly, I feel that they complete one another. Are these enrichments not what make life more beautiful? Maybe I'm going wrong, but in your illustration I can recognize a subtle but effective mix between modern And I have to admit that was has firstly impressed me of your artworks is this synergy between tracks of traditions and a clear contemporary feeling... So I would ask you if you think that there's still a dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness.

The language I use in my paintings is a language that I speak. If I can express myself, then it is the right language. Using another language d覺es not scare me. My evolution created this kind of a language. Jennifer Sims 92

Tamer Ertuna

This evolution has not been in my comp- lete control. On the other hand, I like the language I have de- veloped. Surely it is not possible for me not to be influenced by the conventional arts. However, I am fully open to contemporary arts. In fact, I do not think that these two concepts are entirely disconnected. In my opinion, the artwork’s quality and the novelty it brings are of importance. I think that if I can evoke new sensations with a different expression, this shows that I am successful. 93

ARTiculAction

ARTiculAction

Tamer Ertuna

During these years, you participated in many exhibitons, both in your country and abroad, and some of your illustrationsi have been used in books and magazines. It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if an award -or just the expectation of positive feedbacks- could even influence the process of an artist... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genui-

ne relationship between business and Art...

Undoubtedly, the success I have achieved is a nice thing for an artist. Personally, I cannot say that I do not have such an expectation. As those who are experienced with nature know better, there is a time for everything. Time is needed to grow mature. However, desirable things can happen before growing mature. This is something that varies from person to person. Also, I believe that luck is necessary. While designing my work, I do not plan to whom my art appeals Sims to, I do it because I need to. Jennifer 94

Tamer Ertuna

ARTiculAction

for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

Nevertheless, I can guess to whom my work may appeal to. This is a situation that is the result of the experience I gained in time.

The next thing among my future plans other than painting is completing the Ancent Karia and Lycia road on foot. The part of the Kaira road which I have walked really moved me with its nature and historic fabric. On the other hand I must strive for the publication of my poems. I will have another exhibition in the gallery in Datรงa, where the Mediterranean and Aegean seas meet and where I currently reside in, between September 23 and October 02, 2014.

To this day, I have not created a piece by request. I do not suppose that I can accomplish it, nor do I think that it would be sincere. I like being able to seizing an idiosyncratic rendition. In any case, I never have difficulty in finding new subjects. Thanks a lot for your time and your thoughts, Tamer. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up 95

ARTiculAction

Cristina (USA) an artist’s statement

My works are a materialization of imagination, a reconstruction inside out of what is deeply laying in mind. Interested in dreams, as the field I consider the greatest exponent tool we have to show our most real ‘I¨, I like to confront what belongs to our subconscious parcel with the surrounding reality, exploring the hidden world that resides inside human being minds. In words of the renowned psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, “contained emotions and individual life experiences are buried and come up through dreams¨. And so, I aim to recover from this underworld of traumas, passions, fears and desires the foundations to built my compositions, juxtaposed in areas between fiction and reality. I analyse, re-interpret and transfer these corners of the psyche to a material plane, through a storytelling creative process, in which each work, reflects a story that is a part at the same time of a bigger play running in my head. While in certain occasions, my works showcase misconfigured landscapes with no subject, more often, this shows up, and does it taking the leading role in a story, that is not explicitly shown, but suggested, just like incomplete sentences, where takes part the interaction with the spectator, being this led to unravel the plot and create his own story developed in my particular world. Within a disquieting atmosphere of confusion and intrigue, 96

Hipnagogic Allucination

Krista Nassi

ARTiculAction

Gold,Hipnagogic (background detail) Shut Down (from Allucination) Mixed Media on media canvas, Mixed on2012 canvas.

Feels So Good, 48” x 60” Acrylic 100 x 81 cm

2

ARTiculAction

Cristina Ramos

subjects tend to be in loneliness, and immersed in a surreal mood with an aesthetic designed between beauty and drama, light and darkness. In some few pieces, the meaning/message is clearer implied and presented in a more direct way, but all of them keep the common element of the strong symbolism charge. Concepts I often play around with are human self-strength and capacity, the individual and its habitat, life and decay, innocence and adult tensions, freedom and captivity, memory and oblivion, fears, content desires, etc. Sometimes I use my own dreams as the raw material of my works, as a way of recovering those oneiric experiences where everything is possible: I can be whoever, do whatever, overcome any obstacle and create a non-finite field of freedom where I am capable of anything. Boundaries of the tangible world disappear, opening up a universe of alternative realities with infinite possibilities. Each work starts by the conceptualization of the idea in my mind, followed by sketching in paper, and its execution either through pictorial and/or photographic language. As for painting, I use either purely paint or experiment with mixed media, transfer or textures. As for photography, after the sketching step, comes capturing the image/s, and ends up with the editing process which is based on one side on matching the feelings I want the viewer feel connected to, on the other, edition, leads the image from reality, to a world created. While Painting allows me a more spontaneous control over the artwork by the possibility of modifying along the process and attending the need the painting itself is requiring, photography brings me the advantage of materializing ideas in a much more immediate way than painting, so nowadays, both painting and photographic languages share my expression medium at 50%. Cristina Ramos 98

Cristina Ramos

ARTiculAction

Crack (from Hipnagogic Allucination) Mixed media on canvas. 100 x 81 cm

ARTiculAction

Cristina Ramos

An interview with

Cristina Ramos Hello Cristina, and welcome to ARTiculAction. I would start this interview with my usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? Moreover, what could be the features that mark an artworks as a piece of Contemporary Art?

Hello Dario, first of all I would like to thank you ARTiculAction´ers for selecting my work and host me in your magazi-ne. It is a pleasure. Regarding the definition of a work of art, it is eternally unsolved question without an easy answer. However from my point of view, art is a language of expression, and at the same time a reflection of the time, context , society and culture where the artist and his/her lives. On a more individual level, it is a representation from inside out of the artist. an extension of its be, the way he/she sees, experiences and reinterprets the world as he/she feels it. If the work is able to transmit that to the viewer, interact, and create a dialogue with the audience by opening reflexion. provoking questions, offering something new; a place, an idea, a different perspective of a thought, then, the goal is accomplished. I believe also that there is always an artist’s individual research in the process of creation. By the way, do you think that there's a dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness?

Concerning a posible dychotomy, yes, I think there exist this dichotomy starting from the fact that Contemporary is the art being created now. As for the difference in the content between contemporary and past artistic movements, I think that it comes from the relevance of the concept rather than the object. In the past the technical skills were basic to name someone a good artist. Nowadays this has lost importance in benefit of the idea behind the art work, with no limits regarding for-

Cristina Ramos

mal technique. I’m personally more fan of the combination between both strong concept and technical skills, and admire artists who work hands on, and spend time and effort in the elaboration process. Would you like to tell us something about your background? Are there any particular experiences that have particularly impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks? By the way, since you studied Fine Arts at the University Complutense of Madrid, I would take this occasion to ask your point about the influence of formal training on the development of your artistic production... I sometimes happen to wonder if a certain kind of training could influence too much a young artist's creativity...

I do not remember any ¨click¨ moment that opened my mind into art cause I think I was born with the ¨worm¨ inside. Grown up in a family of lawyers

Cristina Ramos

ARTiculAction

Infinity, Transfer and Acrylic on canvas, 100x81cm

and having no artistic influence at home, for some reason, I was since my earliest childhood always fascinated with colours, drawing and painting and used to spend hours sketching. And so I kept on painting and drawing until I turned 19 when I discovered photography. Since then, my main passion and time was equally shared with these two disciplines, until I finished my college, and even now.

About particular experiences, my artwork has always been connected to the period and the emotional state, influenced by the living context I was at the moment of producing each work and so my thoughts and who I am is inevitably implied into every piece. For me, art is also a therapy and I often tend to play around concepts that not worry me, but I have and still keep my mind busy, such as personal and collective fears, the concept of freedom and captivity

ARTiculAction

Cristina Ramos

both self-chosen and forced, the capability of the human being, the past of the time, etc. A recurrent experience that have directly impact always my work is dream. I usually remember what I dream and so dreaming and how much dreams can reveal and help us learning about ourselves have a strong role in my work. As for a formal training, in my case has helped, but I wouldn´t say it is determinant to develop an artistic career. University gives you certain training in tech-nical aspects, opens your mind regarding ideas of what materials exist and could be used, It pushes you to read, to explore, to research about art and artists that match your style and concepts, it helps you conducting and idea into a material representa-tion, art researching that definitely has a positive impact in the development of an artwork. As for the creating process, you deal with teachers diametrically opposite who will guide you according their style and beliefs. This, sometimes can inhibit your freedom, demotivate you, or make you feel not capable and there the student must have the ability of picking the best advises from each while respec-ting above anything what he really want to do. However there are lots of hugely talented people out there creating amazing stuff having no degree in arts.

Swing (from Ă“nira series)

Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

Swing (from Ă“nira series)

It depends, Plastic Art works usually take longer, and this can be anything from one- two days, to weeks and months. Photography ones that usually take less time. All my Works are a combination of research, personal thoughts and interpretation, complemented often with inspiration for concrete ideas that I find in cinema, music, daily life, conversations, etc...

Cristina Ramos

ARTiculAction

Nature Recovery, Acrylic on canvas 200 x 150 cm

course of the artwork determined by the process itself. The piece decide, as well as I do in a constant and dynamic dialogue between us. With photography I am able to wake up one morning with an idea and have it represented during the evening.

They all start from my pad which is continuously updated of sketches, notes, thoughts, etc…That’s the kitchen of my works. Then, I plan the work more carefully. In case of painting , I experiment with drafts in different materials before it jumps to the canvas, When I do mixed media, transfer or collage, I use my own photography mixed with paint so I search for the location, the model, I shot them, and once all the material is collected I will start drafting and building the final puzzle. My pictures have the same process of sketching, shooting the elements and putting together I into the final composition but instead of with a brush, I use a digital pen, a wacom and I post process it in the computer. What I like about painting is a more introspective process, as well as the spontaneous factor being the

Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from your Hypnagogic hallucination series that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article, and I would suggest them to visit your wesbite at http://cargocollective.com/cristinaramosfineart/H ypnagogic-hallucination in order to get a wider idea of this extremely interesting series. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this work?

This is the first stage of the body of work I’m still working on about dream that has reality, alienation and daydreams as the starting points. In Hypnagogic hallucination-or light sleep- I tackle the instant in which the thin string that still keeps us connected to reality-represented in the compositions through photography- breaks and we dive into the dream. We are not here, either there. Body becomes paralyzed and only work the muscles of the eyes, the heart, the brain, and the breathing. Consciousness mix together in the same foreground. A total break up with reality occurs: landscapes fade, dimensions of reality get vague and what is real (or what we ac-

ARTiculAction

Cristina Ramos

Memories Coktail Mixed media on board 90 x 70 cm

Throes, Mixed media on board 90 x 70 cm

knowledge to be real get more and more blurred until we reach the next stage, dream. On the technical aspect, this Project rises by the necessity I had of combining the two media I had always worked separately -photography and painting- into the same work, experimenting also with texture, transfer, and other several painting media. I really enjoyed the process of Hypnagogic halluci-nation cause It wasn’t so carefully planned as my other Works usually are, and though I had an overview picture in mind, I drawn and let myself be carried away by the surprise factor.

challenge for me. I love to play around breaking the limits, to expanding the boundaries of reality, photographing or painting our imagination instead of what we have in front. Art gives us the freedom of doing whatever and so I take advantage of it recreating the worlds I want to be, impossible experiences I want to have, transferring into a material ground what lays deep inside us, I usually write my dreams when I wake up. Sub consciousness is an incredible source cause mixes reality with our desires, fears, hidden traumas, secret wishes that we may not have access in a conscious state. And so analysing those oneiric experiences, aside of what can reveal about oneself, are a key and a powerful tool for me to blend reality and mind background. So in my case, I do search for, as you call, a non-place (I like this term), understanding this as the intersectorial area located between our inner world and the material one.

One of the features of your works that has particularly impacted on me is the way you are capable of re-contexyalize the idea of landscape and of environment in general... By the way, I can recognize that one of the possible ideas underlying this work is to unfold a compositional potential in the seemingly random structure of the space we live in... I am wondering if one of the hidden aims of Art could be to search the missing significance to a non-place... I am sort of convinced that some information and ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... What is your point about this?

Tangible reality and ordinary landscapes are a

That’s my way of re-contextualizing the idea of landscape. In my work I try not to give everything done. I love storytelling way to talk about something through art and I do use it in my work, but Im of the idea of conceive art suggest, rather than to show, to let the spectator room for own interpretation, understand and decipher the codes of the work the way he wants, need or feel which normally is accorded to his personal experiences. A person with phobia to sea, will never explain my work ¨body and water¨ the way I do, for instance.

Cristina Ramos

ARTiculAction

Infinity, transfer and acrylic on canvas, 100x81cm

Body and water 1, Oil on canvas 80 x 80 cm

Though all my pieces has a strong symbolic charge, I try to present my work, in a way, incomplete, challenging the viewer to unravel the plot himself. That is my way to interact with spectators. I do work with inner nature conceptually and physical nature

itself plays a key role in my work being present in most of it. I think we, as animals that belong and come from there, have nature in our DNA. We are in constant dialogue with it and I try to show it in my artwork.

ARTiculAction

Cristina Ramos

Rain leftovers

The city is yours

Your art practice strictly connected to establish a deep, intense involvement with your audience, both on an intellectual aspect and - I daresay on a physical one, as it is clearly revealed by another stimulating project of yours entitled Ónira and as you have remarked in the starting lines of your artist's statement, your works are a materialization of imagination, a reconstruction inside out of what is deeply laying in mind... So I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process both for creating a piece and in order to "enjoy" it...Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

desires or fears, emotions that show the deepest side of his ¨I¨. I don’t think an artwork can be disconnected from the artists personal life experience, including in this people they encounter, situations the live or or listen, movies, books. In a way or another, while an artwork must not always describe the artist’s feelings. If you as an artist are talking about something whatever it is, is because some way you are interested on it, therefore connected to it.

In my case, my work is an extension of myself. Actually, some of my Works in Onira are a literal representation of my own dreams, some others are product of my imagination and some others are inspired by close people dreams. Here in ¨Onira¨I am immersed in the individuals inner reality, that-as mentioned before-can be found in the subconscious foreground and gets on only when the person is asleep, giving rise to unique spaces created by his

Even if an artist want to disconnect himself from the artwork, that will be a reflection of a personal reaction the artist towards the artwork, thus, is still connected. I think life experience is indispensable for the process of creation, otherwise the work would be completely empty and meaningless. Multidisciplinarity, in the wide meaning of the word is a recurrent feature of your artistic production and I have appreciated the effective synergy that you create between different concepts, using different techniques, as paintings and photography, as I had the chance to admire at your website that our readers can find

Cristina Ramos

ARTiculAction

The sunrise in your hands

at http://www.cristinaramosphotography.com/#1: while crossing the borders of different techinques have you ever happened to realize that a synergy between different disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

I don’t think is the only way always. It depends. You may achieve perfectly what you want to say just with painting, or you may need mixed media. But even if you use only one technique, I do believe in experimenting because actually the own technical process can inspire you conceptually. And if needed to achieve your goal, experiment with as many techniques you want. There is no reason to be narrow minded. For instance, there are still some those few people who detract an artwork where

photoshop was used cause has ¨less merit¨ I find this really dumb, because If a digital media allows to create something and express an idea you cannot do within a traditional way, why to refuse to use it and limit your creativity? I love playing around my concepts and enjoying being creative with no restrictions. Why not to represent myself through photography pulling from the sun, or in a popcorn storm, or levitating in the forest, if the technology brings as the opportunity to materialize your ideas faster? The same goes for painting when it comes to experiment with texture, transfer, and any material, or sculpture, or any discipline. Art is in constant evolution and I definitely support experimenting with new techniques and offer new things to art panorama.

Here, there and everywhere

The Bath

ARTiculAction

Cristina Ramos

The wait

It goes without saying that positive feedbacks are capable of supporting an artist: I sometimes happen to wonder if the expectation of a positive feedback could even influence the process of an artist, especially when the creations itself is tied to the involvement of the audience... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a ge-nuine relationship between business and Art...

(if you like, here we could publish some photos from your recent exhibitions)---I don’t have good quality photos of my exhibitions so I would prefer to put more photos of painting and photography. During university I used to ask myself wether a work of art should serve the audience, the galleries or

the personal artist´s enjoyment. I wanted to create for myself but art is meant to be shared, thus I should keep in mind what I was bringing to the spectator. I decided to work in an intermediate line and search for that work that would fully satisfy myself while offering things to the audience. Positive feedback is of course an injection of motivation, a way to test the impact of your work, and learn from it but should not be the basis of creation. However, it can happen to an artist to accommodate himself in a successful project. Thus we should be careful with that and keep challenging us, experimenting and risking, cause ultimately is a journey with trial and failures along the whole way, and not sell yourself to the audience in terms of condition your work just to them. As well, -and here I link with the business question- audience is often art market which is subject to money and investors which will purchase the work for return of

Cristina Ramos

ARTiculAction

Fearless

their investment, and art collectors may store your work to re-sell it at inflated values when the opportunity comes. That is not generally the purpose of what an art work is created and we all want our art to be conceived and appreciated the way what was done for. Therefore it falls as well in contradiction as business seeks profit, and art seeks to spiritually exalt, but If we want to make a living from what we love to do, we have to accept certain rules of the game. Of course, this is not to say that there are not art collectors that may fall in love with your work and purchase it for that reason. Anyway, this is definitely a difficult question that I usually think about. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Cristina. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything

coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

I am currently in conversations of a possible Fine Art photography group exhibition in Paris. As well, leaving aside for a while my usual concepts, I'm working on two photographic series, one about mythology, and the other about classic art paintings reinterpreted through contemporary photography. Last but not least, I would like to thank for inviting me to ARTiculAction!

an article by Dario Rutigliano, curator articulaction@post.com


ARTiculAction Art Review July 2014