Page 1

Special Issue

H A B E N S C o n t e m p o r a r y

A r t

R e v i e w

Andy Warhol, 83 years old, 2011 installation by Edgar Askelovic


C o n t e m p o r a r y

A r t

Marilyn Wylder

Robert Gschwantner Austria

R e v i e w

Kelsey Sheaffer USA

I am interested in how we create digital and analog translations of the absent moving body, through scores and notation, as well as through images and objects. Within this is an ongoing investigation into the nature of my entrenched desire for presence and materiality of the temporary, as well as research into the history of the objectification of the gendered dancer.

Edgar Askelovic Germany

Basically, my work aimed at drawing public attention to a particularly acute social and political topics. I realize that some of the work may not find support among our multipolar society. Each artwork for me is unique and individual. like any man, I have a personal opinion about each question. But as for my sculptures, I prefer to leave the choice of the people to understand and find meaning.

USA

My work often draws on urbane imagery, particularly the scruffy, mundane details passersby barely notice. I take a digital photo, transform it with Photoshop, and then transfer the altered image onto a photopolymer plate. The subject might be tire treads, cracks in the pavement, shadows on a wall; when they’re transformed, they take on aspects that are other worldly, even religious.

Naim El Hajj

Su Wang

Lebanon

United Kingdom

The process of creation is one where fascination is a trigger and an end result: it begins with an intuitive thought that captures our attention without at the same time submitting entirely to our understanding. The inability to accurately articulate it results in both a recurrent desire and repetitive attempts to do so. This leads to the creation of an autonomous offshoot, communicating the initial object of fascination.

Wang's work is mainly concentrate on the relationship between traditional Chinese spirit and the Western art forms, she pays her great interested in the macroscopic nature and aim to express the power of our motherland, which is exactly the basic inspiration of Chinese traditional culture, and let people understand the spirit of syncretism between heaven and man, between nature and human being, she is inspired about being harmony with nature


In this issue

Edgar Askelovic Lives and works in Birmingham Installation, Mixed media

Naim El Hajj Lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon Mixed media, Installation

Robert Gschwantner Lives and works in Berlin and Rome Mixed Media, Installation

Marilyn Wylder Lives and works in San Francisco Mixed Media, Printmaking, Drawing

MarĂ­a Osuna Lives and works in London Mixed media, Painitng

Kelsey Sheaffer MarĂ­a Osuna Victor Sonna The Netherlands

In my works I often use everyday materials (scrap metal, paper, leather, plastic ) and objects (dictionaries, bicycle saddles) with a keen eye on using these in order to create works that aim at defamiliarizing the beholder. Examples : a machine gun from dictionaries; copper urns, positioned in the form of a question mark; metal rollers in various states of disrepair; a map of Holland built from bicylesaddles.

United Kingdom

I want to create a dialogue between me and the rest of the world: my intention is to create a sophisticated and intimate artist books, so the reader will have a feeling like if in some way they were gossiping a personal diary, but with permission of the artist. That way, I want to delete the frontiers between the artist and the people; exposing my personal work as if I were exposing my soul.

Yidan Xie

Lives and works in Richmond, VA USA Video, Documentary

4 16 38 58 76 94

USA / China

Yidan Xie is a multimedia artist who focus on dynamic Imaging. Her works are various including video, animation, illustration, Sound and Game e.t.c. In her works, a mysterious and fantastic visual experience is presented. Yidan Xie focus on the new art presentation of space narrative and explores the relationship among the women, nature and mythology.

Victor Sonna Lives and works in Eindhoven Mixed medi, Installation

Yidan Xie Lives and works in London, UK Mixed media, Drawing

Su Wang Lives and works in London, UK Mixed Media, Painting

112 134 152

Special thanks to: Su Wang, Martin Gantman, Krzysztof Kaczmar, Yidan Xie, Nicolas Vionnet, Genevieve Favre Petroff, Naim El Hajj, MyLoan Dinh, Marilyn Wylder, Marya Vyrra, Gemma Pepper, Maria Osuna, Hannah Hiaseen and Scarlett Bowman, Yelena York Tonoyan, Edgar Askelovic, Kelsey Sheaffer and Robert Gschwantner.

On the cover: Andy Warhol, 83 years old by Edgar Askelovic


Edgar Askelovic

From "Forgotten Spaces" 2012 Bagging queen sculpture, 110cm x 90cm x 75cm

Summer 2015

Photography No 1 021 4


Edgar Askelovic

ART Habens

video, 2013

022 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Summer 2015

Edgar Askelovic

46


Edgar Askelovic

An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator arthabens@mail.com

Birmingham-based artist Edgar Askelovic accomplishes the difficult task of a establishing an effective synergy between an insightful criticism and a refined aesthetics, creating an area in which emotional dimension and perceptual reality coexist in a coherent unity. His evokative and direct approach invites us to investigate about the relation between reality and the way we perceive it. One of the most convincing aspect of Askelovic's practice is the way he creates an area of intellectual interplay between perception and memory, that invites the viewers to explore unstability in the contemporary age: I'm very pleased to introduce our readers to his refined artistic production. Hello Edgar and welcome to ART Habens: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? In particular, you have a solid formal training and you hold a Bachelor of Art that you received from the Birmingham City University of Art and Design: I would like to ask how training has influenced your evolution as an artist and how it informs the way you currently conceive and produce your works. By the way do you think that moving from UK to Germany could have in some way informed your approach?

Edgar Askelovic

comment that muscles look different and that a person has bones. It was my first step towards a detailed study of the human anatomy. From parents’ side it was very important not just to praise, but to guide me as a child, perhaps seeing my inclinations to draw.

Let's start with the fact that my evolution as an artist has created no formal training, but my whole life.

In primary school interest in drawing seized me. I spent all school changes in the locker room, where I was drawing. Instead of having to pull girls pigtails as did other boys. Since my parents did not take my art seriously, l went to art prep school (Vilnius Justinas Vienožinskis Art School) only when I was 14 years old. I thought that I would become an artist. In the art school was propaganda on abstraction and primitivism, which I did not understand and did not accept. In my opinion, teachers neglected students and behaved arrogantly with them. They said: «in art all tasted and there is nothing we can open new. Everything what we will paint in future - all will be recognizable». Since I had a bad temper, I could not finish the school. At that time, when I left school, I thought

It all began in early childhood when parents gave me a squared paper and pen, so that I would just distracted. Then, in my room hung a picture, which depicted a ship. I decided to draw it on paper. After I painted, I showed it to my parents. They found my picture well painted, but noted that on ship no people. I agreed with this and painted one man. The man looked like a stick man - sticks and circle. My father asked, "Have you ever seen a man who does not have the human form and clothes?". These words have brought me, and I started a new pattern, where tried to depict a muscular man who finally looked like a marshmallow. This was followed by a

47

Summer 2015


US Candy. sculpture 110cm x 160cm x 22cm


ART Habens

Edgar Askelovic

it was my farewell to the art, I have reluctance to draw.

But for me it was a failure. I realized that not knowing the language, I will not be able to defend their work on how strong it will be. Knowing myself, I'm not going to teach English in Lithuania, I went to Birmingham in England for three months under the program ERASMUS.

At the moment I left the art school, I was studing in the 11th class. It was time, when I began to actively think about my future specialisation and admission to the university. By the end of 12th class, I realized that I can work with my hands and see the threedimensional image only. I thought I was useless no longer adapted. I started thinking about what I have not experienced in the art. And it was a sculpture. I grew up in an environment where no one versed in the art, including myself. Enrolled in an art academy of arts (Academy of Art), I could not imagine what I'll be there to do. Because of my ignorance, I thought that we will learn the technique of classical sculpture. In the university, in front of me opened a whole world of modern art. A world where there are not only the form, but also game of the meaning. It funded interesting, that I have to study the installations, performances. At that time I was very interested with study. New information I soaked up as a sponge. In the second year I was interested in the kinetics. Teachers were satisfied. I had the budget places at university thanks to my achievments.

My English language training began with an conversation with a roommate from the student dormitory. We were sitting at the bar with a pint of beer. British youth seemed trouble-free, open, friendly, who loves fun. When I went to college, I was terrified. I saw the absurdity in the works, poor quality, and most importantly - a lot of decoration. It took me three months to realize that it is freedom of expression, freedom do not forcing themselves into the framework, the freedom to think without stereotypes. After three months, I asked the director to stay and finish the university (City University of Art and Design). I found that in England I can realize myself as an artist. Director, went to meet me at his misfortune. Since I was bad student by nature, I was left in the second year. But it did not help. I kept missing lectures because. I could not sit on them. I have to work hard, that I could keep myself in England. I did night shifts. Only thanks to successful sculptures I was transferred to the next course. Looking back, I can be sure that my current art took start in BCU.

During the study, one of the teachers asked what we want get from our life. I answered honestly that I want to realize myself as an artist and discover own style. He, as a teacher in Vilnius Justinas Vienožinskis Art School, said that it is an utopia, because all the styles are already open, all styles are mixed now, all the work is already familiar. This caused me protest. I decided to look at my work from the side. In my works I saw clear handwriting of my teachers. They taught us art, only what they recognize. A fateful role in my life played the final presentation of the work in the English language in front of a large audience. It was the penultimate course. The audience was attended by foreign teachers, well-known contemporary Lithuanian artists. When my turn came, I was filled with excitement. Because I have no English language knowledge, I was not able to present my work, I could not tell you about it. One of the Lithuanian contemporary artists supported me. He said that my work is strong.

Summer 2015

Three years later, how I came to England, I still did not understand where I can go with my portfolio, to who can I show it. One day I took map with my portfolio and went to a nearby gallery, where my work aroused interest. B ased on “Bagging Queen”, “Mizaru” and others sculpture’s photos, there was an adventure (gamble) to create a sculpture “Andy Walking, Andy tired, Andy take a little snooze”. To realize this sculpture, I had to sell my car. For all money what I had, I bought the materials and tools. However, I could not know what happened in the end. Fortunately, my risk paid off again. The news of the final sculpture has been published in international newspapers. As a result - sculpture has been sold before opening the solo exhibition. It was a success. I continued to work with a silicone, making realism. My expenses still exceed my income, for me it was necessary to find a permanent job.

4 23 1 0


Edgar Askelovic

ART Habens

Bagging queen, detail 21 06 4

2015 sculpture, 110cmSummer x 90cm x 75cm


ART Habens

Edgar Askelovic

My portfolio has helped me to get a job in firms that specialize in art. There I was able to explore the different types of equipment, a variety of materials and a high level of quality. I do not regret staff time, despite the fact that I put off working on my sculptures. After a while I realized that I have to work for myselves, developing as an artist. At the moment I live in Germany and have been exhibited in other countries, including London, England. If I can realize my projects, for me it does not matter in what country I live. I am a man of World. It helps me maintain objectivity and to raise various social and political topics. I would start to focus on your artistic production beginning from Homeless Queen, an interesting work that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What mostly appeals to me of this piece is the way it conveys humour, socio-political criticism and a refined aesthetics in such a compelling way. In particular, I like the way you create a point of convergence between a sharp position on pressing contemporary issues with such a severe hyperrealistic approach, which is often a quite hard task: do you conceive it on an instinctive way or do you rather structure your process in order to reach the right balance?

Speaking of sculpture “Bagging Queen�, I was structuring my process. Every detail has been thought out and picked up the meaning. But situation with each work is different. Sometimes I have an image and meaning, and sometimes only image. The meaning of the work comes with time. Another interesting work from your recent production that has impacted on me and an which I would be pleased to spend some words is entitled EVIDENCE, a stimulating sculpture that has reminded me of Ernest Neto's early works, especially as concerning the way you investigate about an ambiguous form of sensuality: in particular I have enjoyed the way you probe the evokative potential of the medium, in order to explore the concept of mass and gravity. As most of your works, this piece is open to various interpretations: in particular, it

Summer 2015

4 23 1 2


Edgar Askelovic

21 13 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Edgar Askelovic

communicates me a process of deconstruction, recontextualization and assemblage. What is it specifically about deconstruction which fascinates you and make you want to center your artistic style around it?

Sometimes, constantly structuring, thinking about work, about the details - you get tired. At the time when I gave myself a break, in my head came the idea of creating "Evident." As a result, the sculpture still has social and actual theme. It was just a case where the image came in the beginning, and then the meaning. Many contemporary artists as Edward Burtynsky or Michael Light use to convey social criticism, environmental activism and even explicit political messages in their works. Do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach?

All depends on the work. Sometimes I have a mood of protest and fighting, and sometimes neutral. Basically, my work aimed at drawing public attention to a particularly acute social and political topics. I realize that some of the work may not find support among our multipolar society. Each artwork for me is unique and individual. ICON, Amy Winehouse

I have really enjoyed your refined exploration of the psychological nature of the collective imagery as you did in ICON: I daresay that the surrealistic qualities that blend with your hyperrealistic approach are in a certain sense representative of the relationship between emotion and memory. I find it truly poetically engaging and I have to confess that it suddenly forced me to relate myself to your works in a different way. What is the role of memory in your process? And in particular, do you try to achieve a faithful visual translation of your feelings?

detail

My thoughts and self-talk lasted about a year, after which I came to the final image. That how Amy went back to black. While exhibiting a captivating vibrancy, you sometimes seem to reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to offer to the viewer a key to find personal interpretations to the concepts you communicate through your works: this quality marks out a considerable part of your production in which, rather that a conceptual interiority, I can recognize the desire to

While working on the portrait of Amy, I started a dialogue with my inner voice over the final type of work. I wanted to be honest with myself and with respect to Amy.

Summer 2015

14


Sandra Hunter

ICON, Amy Winehouse, 110cm x 160cm x 22cm

21 10 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


TJ, sculpture 110cm x 160cm x 22cm


ART Habens

Edgar Askelovic

enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

Of course, like any man, I have a personal opinion about each question. But as for my sculptures, I prefer to leave the choice of the people to understand and find meaning. I cannot do without mentioning Andy Warhol 83 and I would invite our readers to visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8F35h3 UMfY in order to get a wider idea of your careful making process: a very little part of it, indeed, since this stimulating piece took you more than three months of hard work. One of the most impressive feature of it is the faithful process of sculptural translation of his pioneeristic view not only on Art but on contemporary age in general: despite the wrinkles that unavoidably would have marked his face, the impulse he gave to contemporary art development is alive and fresh now more than ever... one of the many artists that have recognised the need of an incessant innovation is German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand, who onced stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead". When asking you to walk our reders in the process of Andy Warhol 83 I would you like to ask your point about this pressing aspect of art making.

Yes, I agree that the work is complex in its composition. I confess that at first did not even think I can realize it. The biggest doubts were about I will not cast mold in silicone properly. In contrast to the other hyper – realist artists, I never worked for prop visual effect companies. And only by a great desire to do the sculpture “Andy Walking, Andy tired, Andy take a little snooze” , I experimented, I learned the technique for working with silicone in the style of realism.

HER, Sculpture - 80cm x 100cm x 5cm

collective imagery. Although each of your projects has an autonomous life, there always seem to be a clear channel of communication between your works, springing from the way you combine ideas and media. In particular, how much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your works?

I recognize a suggestive attempt to go beyond a mere interpretative aspect of the reality you refer to. As the late Franz West did in his installations, your work reveals unconventional aesthetics in the way you deconstruct and assemble memories in a

Summer 2015

First, there are emotions, which are the engine of the future creation of the art works. Picking

18


Sandra Hunter

ART Habens

Andy Walking, Andy tired, Andy take a little snooze

21 1 42

Summer 2015 Sculpture - 70cm x 160cm x 60cm


Edgar Askelovic

ART Habens

"Mizaru is my first artworks in United Kingdom, what I made without limitation and borders. When I came to UK from Lithuania, the first thing that struck me, was multicultural society, what we do not have in my country. I start watching how people communicate with each other, at first sight, completely different, with a different mentality, language, religion, etc. In this multicultural society it has been difficult to trace British culture, because different nations living on the territory of England has left its shade, have left their mark. Mizaru takes its name from the first of the three wise monkeys “Mizaru, Kikazaru, Iwazaru” in Japanese culture, better known in English as See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil."

“Mizaru” Year: 2010 Parameters: Hx60, Wx100, Dx60cm; 6kg Materials: silicone, polystyrene, fur, garment.

Summer 2015

20


Sandra Hunter

21 21 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Edgar Askelovic

up a specific topic in their sculptures, I try to study the topic as much as possible. I delve into the meaning of work only to the moment feel that the meaning accordingly. Some of the ideas I'm nurturing for years, studying the details, pick up the image. And some work get to implement in the short term, as the finished image comes spontaneously.

So I find interesting, that such criticism in different countries will be different. The fact that in one country would consider it a disadvantage, another may be noted as a plus or even ignore, affecting other aspects of the work. The only thing that I do not take it so aggressively critical of the artist as an individual, discussing his nationality and personality.

Over your career you have exhibited€internationally, showcasing your work in several occasions. So before leaving this conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decisionmaking process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Edgar. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

As the camera, I fix everything that happens around me in everyday life. I define exciting themes and interprets them in the sculptures, using different techniques and working in different styles. My future plans are aimed at continued experimenting with materials to study different techniques and identify new movements in art. The main one - to what is going to be an objective and honest with yourself.

If people have an open mind, it becomes unimportant their racial, ethnic, linguistic affiliation. Such people are an objective audience, despite the country in which they are located. But generally speaking, people living in different countries have a different world’s view.

Summer 2015

22


Edgar Askelovic

ART Habens

onetwo, from the series inside/out

21 23 4

Summer 2015


Naim El Hajj Hajj Death is inevitable. We instinctively know that from the moment we are born. Consequently, our biggest fear is that of the seizing of the Self, the antonym of the universal belief in some kind of continuity, at the moment of death. However, we seem to forget that in mystifying instances of attraction and eroticism. From spiritual to bodily, these instances are extended on a vertical axis of fascination. When fascinated we experience a state where “there is nothing more than a gigantic object in a desert world� and we just are not that thing; a fascinating object is one which is, to the point where we are not, and we therefore need to be, demand to be, desire to be. We are violently ripped from existence and develop a perpetual desire for being. The process of creation is one where fascination is a trigger and an end result: It begins with an intuitive thought that captures our attention without at the same time submitting entirely to our understanding. The inability to accurately articulate it results in both a recurrent desire and repetitive attempts to do so. This leads to the creation of an autonomous offshoot, communicating the initial object of fascination. Naim El Hajj

Breathe Forrest, Breathe! Installation(4mx4mx4m), 2013

Summer 2015

224 4


Naim El Hajj

ART Habens

video, 2013

225 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Gemma Pepper

untitled 2013 collage Breathe Forrest, Breathe! Installation(4mx4mx4m), 2013 Summer 2015 Summer 2015

03 4


Naim El Hajj

An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Katherine C. Wilson, curator arthabens@mail.com

A refined exploration of the liminal area in which abstraction and physicality find a point of convergence, allows Naim El Hajj to investigate about the resonance between philosophical ideas and artistic innovation, urging the viewer to unveil the messages that are hidden behind the world we perceive, discovering unsuspected but ubiquitous connections. One of the most convincing mark of El Hajj's work is the he is capable of involve the viewers into a multilayered experience, that creates a stimulating osmosis between materials from contingent era and an absolute approach to Art: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to his artistic production.

which was enough to ensure that I am surrounded by people who share the same Artistic curiosity, and to allow a continuous exchange of ideas and questions. And most importantly, I happened to come across some teachers whom I found to be greatly influential in determining my technical skills, as well as helping me develop a mindset of constant scrutiny and introspection. I owe the continuation of my research, even

Hello Naim, and welcome to ART Habens: to start this interview, would you like to tell our readers something about your background? You have a solid formal training and after your studies in General Science, you earned a MFA in Painting, that you have receved from Institute of Fine-Arts, at the Lebanese University. How has this experience influenced your evolution as an artist and how does it impact on the way you currently conceive and produce your works?

Naim El Hajj

after leaving the Institute, to this mindset. 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 have to confess that the time I spent at the Institute shaped most of the way I think about Art, be it passively or actively. As you mentioned, I had studied General Science in school and my ideas and knowledge about Art and its history were incredibly vague. It wasn’t until the experience gained at the Institute that I started to figure out how things were done.

Well usually what triggers each artwork is a kind of continuous back-and-forth action between fascinating experiences on the one hand, and my notes and speculations around these experiences on the other. I constantly try –and fail –to articulate as accurately as

The main factor was merely being there,

27 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Naim El Hajj

Esquimo Words for Snow (Diptych) Mixed Media on Canvas (x2) 100 x 100 cm 2015

Summer 2015

4 23 2 8


Naim El Hajj

21 29 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Naim El Hajj

I will not cease to be, I will not cease to be, I will not cease to be... Mixed Media on Canvas 100x100 cm 2014

Summer 2015

4 23 3 0


Naim El Hajj

ART Habens

possible these experiences and intuitive thoughts through my writings. What results, are these kinds of “droppings” –left somewhere between intuitive thoughts and their most accurate articulation –that develop into artworks.

piece will “look”, but rather to what I needed it to convey. Although I must admit, there must have been on some level, like you said, an instinctive focus on getting the right balance. It is perhaps kind of like a syntax that holds all the individual signs together.

Technically, elements are chosen while keeping in mind all the connotations that any of them might carry, and through different combinations, a context is created where these symbols come autonomously into being, in their own universe. They are constructed just as thoughts are, through a combination of abstract images and propositions.

When I look at I will not cease to be, I will not cease to be, I will not cease to be... I can feel the struggle that your brushstrokes have conveyed into the canvas. Although the title might mislead the viewer, inspiring a sense of desperate stamina, I can recognize a rational approach to issue of Death, working in such a compelling way on both a subconscious and a conscious level: as most of your works, this piece is open to various interpretations: in particular, it communicates me a process of deconstruction, recontextualization and assemblage. What is it specifically about deconstruction which fascinates you and make you want to center your artistic style around it?

Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from the diptych Eskimo Words for Snow, a recent work that shows truly wonderfully done pattern and that seem to disclose the complexity of the perceptual reality we inhabit. What has mostly impacted on me of this work is the careful balance of tones and shapes that gives it a refined geometric equilibrium: do you conceive this in an instinctive way or do you rather structure your process in order to reach the right balance?

For the first part of the question, I do agree that there’s a rational approach to Death, but that doesn’t negate the presence of what you called the “sense of desperate stamina”. The apparent contradiction between the two concepts is similar to that of the often misconceived contradiction between Life and Death. What we know to be the most essential antonyms of existence actually have nothing but a cyclic causal relationship, and that inspires our rational desperation.

The bits and pieces that construct Eskimo words for snow are random cut-outs from almost all my sketchbooks since 2008 up until the moment the work was conceived. Placing them was just as arbitrary as cutting them. As the title suggests, what I was trying to do is to assemble an intuitive vocabulary of my own, one that is not a translation from the language of thought, but a pure independent language in itself. The repetitive attempts that are spread out on the canvas show an apparent need to communicate, and to widen the lexis. We have a strong desire to symbolize the “unsymbolizable”, and these sketches, as well as any of my other works, are nothing but a result of that desire.

That type of misleading contradiction is present in the painting as the desperate attempt to preserve my hair in the center of the painting, as well as in the shrouded Ouroboros. As for Deconstruction, it is the means through which I attempt to get the elements I work with to resemble as close as possible the substantial constituents of thought. It is through the process you described that it is

I paid almost no attention to how the overall

21 31 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Gemma Pepper

09


Naim El Hajj

Fetish

Through the Surrounding Fluids

Mixed Media on Canvas

Mixed Media on Canvas

ART Habens

120 x 90 cm 2014

2015

done: Deconstruction, re-contextualization and assemblage.

works, raises a question on the role of the viewers' viewpoint, forcing us to going beyond the common way we perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension... I'm personally convinced that some information are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need 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?

Your approach takes an intense participatory line with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from the condition of a mere passive audience to active participants: the work Has Anyone Seen Lady Godiva? in which you explore the liminal area in which instinct and voyeurism coexist in an unexpected point of convergence, has particularly impacted on me, especially for the way you question the ephemeral nature of perception that, like Edward Burtynsky's

I’m not exactly sure what you mean by the ephemeral nature of perception and how it

21 33 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Naim El Hajj

in my work revolves around using personal experience as a trigger, but then depriving it of any excessive qualities that it holds, aiming to arrive at the essence of that experience, transforming it from a mere particularity to a universal experience. That is the whole process of articulation and communication, which makes a work autonomous.

relates to the deciphering of the outside information, however, I usually lean towards the view that the “encryption” you are talking about is not really in the environment you live in, even though sometimes the outside world appears to trigger a sort of revelation, but in fact it is only shedding light upon our inner Nature, which holds all that information. As for your question about the role of artists, what I believe it is and what I try to do –and that is simply based on my current beliefs about what Art is –is to turn “inwards”, and try to articulate, then consequently communicate, as accurately and authentically as possible what we might encounter in the search. By “inwards”, I mean towards the most essential aspects of our existence, our most vital drives.

A complete disconnection from personal experience or even perhaps a total attachment to it lessens to a great degree its communicable quality. I have been strucked with the vibrancy of the colors that saturate in Repeat, Store, Recall, and especially the way they suggest plasticity. How did you come about settling on your color palette?

As you have remarked once, the creation process is a process of pure eroticism and it also has reproduction as an end: I like the way your work establishes a symbiosis between the personal but abstract idea of home and such a tactile feature suggested by the structural concreteness of the image you captured. While referring to a "fruible" set of symbols that comes from popular imaginary, you seem to remove the historic gaze from the reality you refer to: this way you give the viewers the chance to perceive in a more absolute form, so I would take this occasion 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 plasticity is really a natural consequence of the materials used in a particular piece. I choose the elements based on their connotations. These are qualities that the materials carry naturally. So let’s talk in particular about Repeat, Store, Recall. When I specifically chose to work with dirt for example, I did so for what it added symbolically to the whole piece. Therefore what follows in terms of plasticity, color or texture, is a result of the secondary qualities of the material. I daresay that the abstract qualities that mark out your works are in a certain sense representative of the relationship between emotion and memory. I find it truly poetically engaging and I have to confess that it suddenly forced me to relate myself to your works in a different way. What is the role of memory in your process? And in particular, do you try to achieve a faithful visual translation of your feelings?

It’s good that this question follows the previous one, because the answer is really a continuation of what I was just saying. What I think is the real issue when talking about the creative process and personal experience, is simply the definition of the latter. I find that the search for authenticity

Summer 2015

What I specifically try to do is, as you said, faithfully translate not exclusively my

34


Sandra Hunter

ART Habens

Repeat, Store, Recall. Mixed Media on Canvas 21 1 42

120 x 90 cm 2014


ART Habens

Naim El Hajj

feelings, but my thoughts, which I think include feelings, emotions, sensations, and so on. In that whole process, memory plays both a positive and a negative role. It is sometimes the faculty used to reevaluate how closely the translation is to the original, but it also at times causes a distortion of the initial thought.

might shift at different times, so will the process, and as a consequence, so will the artworks. During these years your works have been exhibited in several occasions, including a recent participation to the Biennale BJCEM in Thessaloniki, Greece: so, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

It is this kind of memory that I specifically try to take on in Repeat, Store, Recall where the main triggering question is whether we strive at the possibility of it remaining after we are gone, meaning after the original thoughts cease to be. Your recent works, as paintings encapsulate a freedom of form, but at the same time they play with a refined symbolism: I'm particularly referring to Let the Fire Burn and Fetish, in which you seem to question the role of human in relation to an absolute, almost atemporal dimension. Anyone looking at your works can recognize that you are an artist with lots of messages to share and that Art for you is an effective way to speak to the world. Now, I would like you to go beyond what you have highlighted in your statement and tell all our readers more about what is on your mind and how you plan to continue using paint to share your messages.

Definitely, and that is largely based around what I think is the drive to create Art. When I talk about a need to communicate thought, there is hence a necessity for there to be a recipient of that message, or at least there should be one conceived. Also there is a need for the signal to be readable. That is not necessarily done voluntarily, but I believe that by simply aiming at articulating the real thought, which I believe has its roots in the instinct; the “message” is then communicated very well.

Well the content of the statement is really just a structure, or more accurately an explanation of the raison-d’être of my work. It provides a wide view of the direction in which my search is headed. It doesn’t necessarily dictate specific topics tackled by the works, but rather an approach to these topics.

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Katherine C. Wilson, curator arthabens@mail.com

My process, for the moment, is a conversation between thought and language, and just as that conversation

Summer 2015

36


Naim El Hajj

ART Habens

Let the Fire Burn Mixed Media on Canvas 100 x 100 cm 2014

21 14 4

Summer 2015


Robert Gschw In his work, Robert Gschwantner investigates the unstable relationship between natural forces and human intervention. Handwoven carpets and "oil paintings" are made from PVC tubes containing crude oil or water. These liquids have been collected from landscapes which have been fundamentally changed by the presence of man, either through industrial accidents and pollution, or having been redesigned and reshaped according to man-made functions and aesthetics. Gschwantner's wall-mounted works are exhibited in combination with photographs, videos and drawings related specifically to each project, to allow a different point of view of his corresponding themes.

Summer 2015

328 4

tner


Robert Gschwantner

ART Habens

Eye-Land Video: 5:07 Min, 2014 Credits: Rijkswaterstaat Midden - Nederland, Van Kleef Media, Jonathan Turner

video, 2013

21 39 4

Spring 2015


ART Habens

Robert Gschwantner

IJsseloog/6, 2014 untitled 2013 collage PVC-tubes, seawater & sludge, mixed media 50 Ă— 40 cm Winter 2015 Photo A. Valeri

03 4


An interview with

Robert Gschwantner

An interview by Josh Ryder, curator arthabens@mail.com

Robert Gschwantner accomplishes the difficult task of establishing an effective synergy between refined aesthetics and his insightful environmental criticism, to create an area in which emotional dimension and perceptual reality coexist as a coherent unity. His evocative and direct approach invites us to investigate the relationship between reality and the way we perceive it. One of the most convincing aspects of Gschwantner's practice is the way he creates an area of intellectual interplay between perception and memory. This invites the viewers to explore the unstable relationship between natural forces and human intervention. I'm very pleased to introduce our readers to his refined artistic production. Hello Robert and welcome to ART Habens. To start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? In particular, are there any experiences which have influenced your evolution as an artist and which still inform the way you conceive and produce your works today?

I didn’t ever aim to be an artist. It wasn’t a clear path. It was more that my diverse experiences eventually brought me to a place where I became an artist. My education in Austria was as a technical designer. Looking back, I never really understood the sense of what I was drawing, but I always saw the abstract side to the craft. Later on, I travelled through Europe, looking for different creative outlets, often researching the places where I lived. At first, I was involved in the fields of fashion and advertising in studios in Vienna and Rotterdam, and then I worked in stage and theatre design in Greece. After several years, I ended up in Rome, where I was employed as a landscape gardener. All these experiences made me eventually focus on what became the production of art works. Initially these were large-scale, outdoor installations, made from glass-bricks. Eventually these evolved into drawings, which then transformed into my “oil paintings”, or oil carpets, which are made from transparent polyurethane tubing injected

Robert Gschwantner

with coloured lubricants, industrial oils and water taken from rivers or the ocean. I was born in Steyr in Austria in 1968, but I really only began my life as an artist in Rome in the mid-1990s. For the past ten years, I have been mostly living and working in Berlin. Your approach is marked out with a deep multidisciplinary synergy between several practices, that are combined to provide your works of a dynamic and autonomous life. I would suggest our readers to visit your website at http://www.robertgschwantner.com in order to get a wider idea of your multifaceted artistic production. While crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever

41

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Robert Gschwantner

happened to realize that a symbiosis between different viewpoints is the only way to achieve some results, to express specific concepts?

My work is about superimposing imagery and ideas. For example, some of my most recent works begin with photography and drawing, but they also incorporate reflected imagery, combined with sculptural elements and architectural models. All of these elements are set within a rectangular frame, which provides the support for an intricate “weaving” of clear PVC tubes filled with a mixture of coloured water and gycerine. So the end result is a shimmering, ever-changing picture, with references to realist landscapes, Op Art and linear abstraction. Together, this provides a strong conceptual force. Physically, my viewpoint comes from many places. This can literally incorporate the grand, green parklands of Versailles with its man-made lakes, the Lago di Traiano (Trajan’s lake) which was the First Century port by the sea near Rome, the soon abandoned Tegel airport in Berlin also with the same hexagonal shape as the Lago di Traiano, and the vast, hydro-electric power-plant and water reservoirs in the Alps in Kaprun in Austria. All these different geographical sites, artistic techniques and visual stimuli are superimposed in my work. So in reality, the final conceptual structure is a direct result of all the overlapping landscapes and see-through materials, the place where all these ideas merge. In some ways, I am forced to invent two different strands of thought, or parallel realities, to deal with my technical innovations. It’s where concept meets realism. I would start to focus on your artistic production beginning from Eye-land, an interesting body of work featured in the introductory pages of this article. In particular, I like the way you create a point of convergence between an idyllic gaze and severe geometry. This combination reminds me of the idea behind Thomas Demand's works, when he states that "Nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". While the conception of Art could be considered an abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a sense of permanence, going beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of those concepts you explore. So I would take this

Summer 2015

4 23 2


Robert Gschwantner

ART Habens

De IJsseloog Pupil Plexiglass, seawater & sludge 80 X 90 cm model of the island seen down under

21 43

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Robert Gschwantner

occasion to ask you if in your opinion, personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the creative process? Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

version of paradise. The place seemed to me to be perfect, both in its geometrical shape and tranquillity. It’s not chaotic nature but artificial nature, redesigned and controlled by man. Nothing is left to chance.

In specific reference to the Eye-landproject in 2014, the two cannot be separated. I travelled to The Netherlands to the IJsseloog. This is a two-kilometre long industrial site built on an artificial, egg-shaped island situated in the Ketelmeer, a lake in The Netherlands. The perfectly circular lake created in the centre of the man-made island serves as a dump for contaminated mud deposited by the Rhine River, then dredged from the nearby delta and transported to the IJsseloog for treatment. I collected sludge at the site, and I made videos and sketches. I travelled by boat, drove around the island in a borrowed car, walked through various buildings, exploring the constructed landscape, the pumps and the machinery. I was generously allowed four hours of time in what is restricted territory, to create my own narrative. I talked to the technical engineers – there are only about 6 people working there – and they explained the processes and difficult technical operation of working in a place where the ground level inside the “eye” is 45 metres deep, which is ten times deeper than the water-level of the lake itself.

At a first sight, it seems that the main message you would like to convey in "Eyeland" is a sharp position on pressing environmental issues that - it goes without saying- are today a lively matter. At the same time, I recognize a suggestive attempt to go beyond a mere interpretative aspect of the reality you refer to. As the late Franz West did in his installations, this work seems to reveal unconventional aesthetics in the way you deconstruct and assemble memories in a collective imagery, to draw the viewer into a process of self-reflection. Maybe one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your view about this?

I think that I repropose the idea of Mother Nature, using my own sense of realism. It is not so much that I look at the unexpected sides of Nature. I pay attention to the aspect of science, or what is considered by a scientist to be real, untouched nature. When we go “into nature”, we tend to have a certain idea of how that is supposed to be. Instead I seek a vision of nature that we are not used to seeing. I concentrate on Nature which is essentially not natural. It might look smooth but there always something “wrong”, and I want to underline that subtle incorrectness.

The physical exploration of the island had a huge influence on the finished videos and sculptures. My other works from the Eyelandproject are nets of PVC tubes filled with seawater and contaminated residue, stretched over three-dimensional picture planes. Together with the inclusion of abstract forms and painted line-work, these create new optical patterns. But it’s not about adding one to one, as though I was a colour-by-numbers painter. It’s not necessarily an immediate visual influence, but it’s more instinctive. It’s recognizing a kind of aesthetic mood which overrides all the other elements.

If you ask what is my basic sense of aesthetics or my ideal landscape, then it is nature that you would never find in Mother Nature. These are landscapes of force, created by the labour of men, interventions which will survive, even if humans depart. When abandoned, the eventual “return to nature” of these places can be seen as the creation of an intellectual Arcadia, still showing the signs of the hand of an outsider, not yet “fixed” by natural processes. I capture the aesthetics of a purpose-built landscape, created not by God, but by his minions.

On the Ijsseloog, you could feel the vibrating machinery, see the waves, experience the strangeness and serenity of a quiet, industrial plant in the shining sun. I found it was like a

Summer 2015

4 23 4


Sandra Hunter

ART Habens

IJsseloog/1, 2014 PVC-tubes, seawater & sludge, mixed media 50 Ă— 40 cm Photo A. Valeri

21 08 4

Spring 2015


ART Habens

Robert Gschwantner

Another interesting work of yours that has had particular impact on me and about which I would like to dedicate some words is entitled "mittel LAND kanal SCHAFT". What most impressed me in this project is the way you have create a point of convergence between a functional analysis of the context you examine and autonomous aesthetics. Do you conceive this in an instinctive way or do you rather structure your process in order to reach the right balance?

At first there is structure and afterwards, following the initial technical steps, there is intuition. Mittellandkanal is a commercial shipping channel canal crossing Germany from east to west. At a certain point, this canal crosses another water route, the Elbe River, which flows from south to north, and so that meant that the engineers working on the project needed to create a structure in which the two water-courses remained independent. The straight-sided canal passes over the top of the banks of the river by the means of a gigantic water-bridge. Water flows over water. My project consists of two parts. The first is a series of 30 technical drawings showing the engineering structures, the bridge, the river, the flat horizon, the pylons and the concrete walls. From "Gaol" 2013 Photography For the second part, I used my realistic drawings as raw materials. On the computer, I transformed them, creating vibrant abstract patterns which I then used as backgrounds for new carpets made from PVC tubing filled with river water and glycerine. So although both the carpets and the technical drawings have identical origins, they look totally different in the end. I shift the perspective. In terms of content, one depicts realism, almost photographically, the other is the water trapped inside the tubing, collected at the site itself. One is purely visual (the drawing), the other documents the intrinsic material itself (the water from the Elbe River), almost like a reliquary from the site, or the Holy Water from Lourdes.

mittel LAND kanal SCHAFT, 2012 Pvc Tubes, Water From The Mittellandkanal, Glycerine 155 × 97 Cm

much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your works?

When I choose a landscape to “dissect”, when I discover a landscape which suits my conceptual drive, I study it as closely possible, both its physical attributes and its particular history. All this information is reinterpreted and adjusted to fit my emerging concept. This can take many forms.

Although each of your projects has an autonomous life, there always seem to be a clear channel of communication between your works, springing from the way you combine ideas and media. In particular, how

Summer 2015

Currently, as part of the Cumuli – Trading Placesgroup exhibition at the L40 art-space in Berlin (until July 25, 2015 and then traveling to Kunsthalle Memmingen in Germany, then

46


Robert Gschwantner

ART Habens

detail from mittel LAND kanal SCHAFT, 2012 Pvc Tubes, Water From The Mittellandkanal, Glycerine 155 × 97 Cm

Scatola Bianca in Milan), the starting point is a renowned landscape painting, Campo di Rialto(1758-63) by the Venetian master Canaletto. It is a painted record of a€bygone time, but today, the city-square and its€classical architecture look virtually the same, in what has been referred to by the curators as ‘a static€spatio-temporal configuration’. It seems that time has stood still. Except for the clothes of the people walking in the square, nothing appears to have changed for more than three centuries, and if you are in Venice at the time of Carnevale, even this isn’t the case.

In the current group exhibition in Berlin, twenty-six international contemporary artists explore aspects of what Canaletto’s painterly document might be concealing in truth.€I have used a reproduction of the€painting as the basis for a new abstract work, hidden as a mirrored backdrop. This€provokes not only a new interpretation of the painted landscape itself, but also shows how a multitude of narratives can overlap. One ongoing narrative in my work since the 1990s is the subject of pollution, but presented in a way which can be seen as beautiful. It is this duality which fascinates me, part of the unfortunate elegance of impurity. We all have to pay a price

21 47

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Robert Gschwantner

The Reflected Hexagon, Video: 9:04 Min, 2010 (C) Giorgio Cappozzo & Robert Gschwantner Credits: Bmukk, NÖ Kultur, Land OÖ, ÖKf Berlin, ÖKf Rom

I definitively love the way you recontextualize the idea of the environment we live in, as shown in The Reflected Hexagon. Many contemporary artists, such as the photographers Edward Burtynsky and Michael Light, include some form of environmental or political message in their works. Do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach?

for pollution. Several of my works are dedicated to oil spills from industrial tankers, from such notorious vessels as the Erikaoff the coast of France, or the sinking of the Prestigein Spanish Galicia, or the Amoco-Cadiz, Oceanosand Exxon Valdez. The names of these ships become synonymous with ecological disaster. Other works are made from woven PVC tubing containing polluted water collected from the Bay of Naples or the Rhine River. Over the years, a terrible narrative of industrial pollution can be traced through my documentary photographs, my oil carpets and my free-standing sculptures.

Summer 2015

The landscapes I select to represent in my projects are political from the outset. This could be for the reason of my choosing a site where an environmental disaster has taken place, or

48


Robert Gschwantner

ART Habens

Belisarius, 2011 142 × 108 cm

Traianus, 2010 150 × 103 Cm

Pvc Tubes, Water From Trajan‘S Lake, Glycerine

Pvc Tubes, Water From Trajan‘S Lake, Glycerine

choosing a landscape constructed by dynamite and concrete as a demonstration of political power. Most obviously, this in explored in my Land am Strome project from 2013, looking at the massive hydro-electric complex at Kaprun in Austria, partly built by forced labour in the 1940s under the Nazi regime. Constructed on hazardous terrain at a height of 2,000 metres, the power plant was a message of political might and an energy source to fuel the war. When it was finally completed in the 1950s, the zone was instead promoted as a symbol of technological rebirth, signalling the new neutrality of Austria after the Second World War. When it opened, the main complex at

Kaprun, set between terraced, artificial lakes, was considered on of the largest man-made structure in the world, a victory of how humans and technology could harness the power of nature. It is a political statement to celebrate power over nature, because this is not always possible. Earthquakes and hurricanes are unpredictable. But the landscape at Versailles has been forced and subjugated by the geometric whims of a designer, and the hexagonal port which became Trajan’s lake, was entirely built by slave-labour during the Roman Empire. In my work, I don’t

21 4 9

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Robert Gschwantner

The Perfect Circle Video: 8:58 Min, 2007 (C) Giorgio Cappozzo & Robert Gschwantner Credits: Domaine National De Versailles, NĂ– Kultur

think I am being blatantly political, but maybe I’m being political through social inference. Your investigation about the unstable relationship between natural forces and human intervention urges us to rethink our role, both as a viewer and as an active participant in the idea behind the subject: our role as part of the

Summer 2015

environment we inhabit. In particular, when I first saw The Perfect Circle I tried to relate all the visual information to the presence of water as being the primary element, into a single meaning. I later realized I had to adapt to the visual unity suggested by the work, overcoming my need for a univocal understanding of its

52


Robert Gschwantner

ART Habens

include the circle and the hexagon. The Reflected Hexagon(2010) and The Perfect Circle(2008) projects both seek to confront and compare the repetition of specific elementary forms. Certain snowflakes formed at low temperatures are exact hexagons, a natural creation made from water and air. Trajan’s Lake near Rome and the soon-to-be disused Tegel Airport built in Berlin in 1974, are man-made hexagons, utilizing the practical qualities of the simple geometric shape. Trajan’s ancient harbour and Tegel Airport, twin symbols for water and air transport respectively, can be seen as symbolic and functional gateways for the start of numerous journeys. Meanwhile, The Perfect Circle is my project comparing the topography of the 17th Century garden at Versailles with the urban landscape of Lingang New City, a development for 800,000 residents close to Shanghai in China, whose completion is planned for the year 2020. They share common formal criteria, and functional aspects, but also demonstrate many social similarities. They were conceived to house privileged people. For Chinese standards, the overall design of Lingang New City is very green. The houses are not high, only a few storeys each. At the centre of the development is a lake with beaches. It is purposely exclusive. The main thematic element of the two urban plans from France and China is water. In Versailles it was the Grand Canal, in Lingang the lake is the focus. Versailles was the beginning of large-scale modern urban definition, and Lingang is the latest example of costly urban change.

symbolic content. In your work, rather than a conceptual interiority, I can recognize the desire to enable us to establish more direct relationships with the work. Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a symbolic process?

The video which I created together with Giorgio Cappozzo and my mixed-media paintings from this project overlay these two historically and geographically distant places, one upon the other. The picture surfaces are built up in three dimensions, starting with the ground plan of Lingang New City as seen from the planner’s bird’s-eye view. Over this, I have painted panoramas of the Park of Versailles, then covered them with PVC tubes containing water from the Grand Canal at Versailles mixed with glycerine.

In both natural and man-made structures, certain forms appear and reappear. These

Over your career of more than twenty years, you have exhibited€internationally,

21 53 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Robert Gschwantner

Der Petit Canal ii, 2008 50 Ă— 70 Cm Pvc Tubes, Water Of The Grand Canal Of Versailles, Glycerine, Aquarelle On Wood And Polystyrene

Summer 2015

54


Robert Gschwantner

ART Habens

showcasing your work in Europe, the United States and Australia, including the recent solo De IJsseloog - Pupil at the Artmark Galerie in Vienna, and at Galleria Paolo Maria Deanesi in Trento, and Galerie Ulrich Mueller in Cologne. So before leaving this conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

In essence, I don’t consider the audience’s reaction as a fundamental component in my decision-making processes. Maybe it’s because I don’t have an academic background, I think I work in a much more direct, uncomplicated way. My themes are explicit. I miss any need to complicate the issue, to create what I see as a false level of sophistication, or to construct a vision to distance myself from outsiders. I think my contexts are fairly legible. However, the audience involvement is evident in the physicality of viewing my works. The eye shifts, the patterns change and flicker when you move. The images are distorted further by the liquid and air bubbles in the transparent tubing. There are optical illusions, unexpected shadows, hidden details. It is up to the viewer to decipher the materials, and try to determine the techniques. Each work is a puzzle waiting to be solved. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Robert. Finally, would you like to tell our readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I already have enough artificial landscapes in my conceptual portfolio to keep me busy for the next four to five years. Currently I’m working on a large installation of floating glass-bricks for an isolated riverside area near Narni, in Umbria. It is at the site of an early electricity power station, itself built over the foundations of the Roman port on Nera River. Linked to theFormina

21 55 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Robert Gschwantner

Aqueduct nearby (1stCentury A.D.), the river port was used to ship wood and earthenware from Umbria to the ancient city of Rome.My proposed installation can be seen as a landing spot for new thoughts, superimposing the contemporary over the antique. It will be made from about 2,000 glassbricks, with a combined weight of several tonnes, linked together so that they float on the water surface. The glass-bricks will transform the river into a solid but transparent landscape, in a surreal, unreal manner. € The floating "carpet" of glass-bricks will literally create a window into history, focusing on the site as a former transport hub (the Roman port), and industrial base (the old hydro-electric complex), at a location which is between the Eon power plant and the marble arches of the Ponte di Augusto in Narni. At the site, an underground torrent releases 3,000 litres of water per second into the river, in a constant, dramatic surge. The carpet of glass-bricks will create a floating island, which will continually change according to sunlight, reflections and movement. In any case, I continue to compile my own encyclopaedia of artificial landscapes, and to document the changing influence that man has over his own panorama. I’m including more video and film in my projects. The context is to get From From "Gaol" "Gaol" 2013 2013 Photography Photography deeper inside the thematic flexibility of the materials I use. So in one way, I see myself somehow as a painter who makes images, evolving in my work to encourage an ongoing sense of fascination and wonder about aspects of the world in which we live. I focus on the processes and hidden labour of what we are seeing, training the eye to highlight something multi-faceted, which stimulates thought through its complexity. I suppose you could say I am looking for the masterpiece which is completed by the viewer, on a voyage to rediscover, reinterpret, re-configure and re-adapt.

Tohoka Sekiyu 9937, 1999

An interview by Josh Ryder, curator arthabens@mail.com

Pvc Tubes, Oil: Alpina 5000 & Elf 2T & Shell Super Multivis & Mexoil Multimix 155 × 82 Cm

Summer 2015

56


Robert Gschwantner

ART Habens

onetwo, from the series inside/out

21 57 4

Summer 2015


Marilyn Wylder Wylder A few years ago my focus on drawing and photography expanded to printmaking; a beauty of this medium is that it allows me to render a single image in multiple ways – convenient for one who likes to improvise and consider alternatives. The prints in my editions vary in greater or subtler degrees, but no matter how great the variation the original image shines through. This is a search to describe something ineffable and elastic, often illogical -- like the part of us that dreams My work often draws on urbane imagery, particularly the scruffy, mundane details passersby barely notice. I take a digital photo, transform it with Photoshop, and then transfer the altered image onto a photopolymer plate. The subject might be tire treads, cracks in the pavement, shadows on a wall; when they’re transformed - in fact, when they’re even noticed - they take on aspects that are other worldly, even religious. Now I want to say something about drawing, because drawing is such a natural human impulse.* There is something spontaneous in the touch of pencil to paper; a drawing can take the fleeting blush of inspiration and nail it to the picture plane. The challenge lies in knowing what to put in, what to leave out -and when to stop. The result is an economy of expression, i.e., to say a great deal with little. If an oil painting is a concerto, then a drawing is improvised jazz - and it happens to be an improvisational form that flows into my printmaking practice. The figurative, quasi-portraiture you see in some of my prints started as drawings; like my photos, they were translated to this medium I find so plastic, challenging, forgiving.

*There is more to say on this subject, but this essay is about my work and I must stick to the topic and keep it brief. Shadow Palm

Marilyn Wylder

14.5 x 10.5

libraesque@gmail.com

Summer 2015

528 4


Marilyn Wylder

ART Habens

video, 2013

529 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Marilyn Wylder

Starry Thing 11.25 x 11.5

Summer 2015 Summer 2015

60 4


Marilyn Wylder

An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Katherine C. Wilson, curator arthabens@mail.com

Marilyn Wylder provides the viewers of an Ariadne's thread that allows us to accomplish a refined investigation about the liminal space in which perceptual reality and imagination coexist in a coherent unity. She conveys emotions and a conceptual approach to image making with a refined spontaneity: viewers are not forced to enter an unknown realm of emotions, but gently invited to explore the suspended worls revealed Wylder's intimate take on reality and to discover our unsuspected ability to bring a new level of significance to well-acquainted concepts as space and memory. I'm particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating works. Hello Marilyn and welcome to ART Habens: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? In particular, are there any experiences that have influenced your evolution as an artist?

Marilyn Wylder photo by Kazumi Ebisu

to do together. First lesson, first exercise: draw the model in one minute. One minute! For a self-critical perfectionist, a race against time! An electric current passed through my eye, down my shoulder, through my arm, to the charcoal in my hand and 6o seconds later I’d captured the very essence of the pose. That nasty, harping critic? Vanquished! Of course, a zillion drawings later, 60 seconds seems plenty of time.

Thank you, I’m pleased to be here. I fear any question about my background can lead me so far back, my answers may be irrelevant to the interview. Well, here goes: I grew up in a dense, tough, multiethnic working class neighborhood in the Bronx, with New York’s rich, cultural life available a subway ride away. Growing up in New York was, in itself, a fabulous education, especially for this oddball kid ADD and right-brained before such diagnoses existed. That sense of my own oddness made me hyper self-critical, especially in adulthood. I drew and sketched but could barely lay down a line without judging it.

It didn’t take long to realize I was meant to make art. I started working with pastels and watercolor, drawing figures, faces, cityscapes, abstract objects floating in space. My son gave me a digital camera, sending me into a whole other realm.

A few years into marriage, my husband and I took a life drawing class – just as something

61 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Marilyn Wylder

Your practice is marked out with a stimulating multidisciplinary feature and I would suggest to our readers to visit http://libraesque.com in order to get a wider idea of your multifaceted artistic production: ranging from drawing and photography to printmaking, you seem to be in an incessant search of an organic, almost intimate symbiosis between a conceptual formalism and a reference to the emotional sphere: have you ever happened to realize that a convergence between different approaches is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts? Such a complicated question... I’m simply following the dictates of my own nature. Drawing, photography, printmaking - these disciplines appeal to me; it’s only natural that the paths would cross and overlap. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from Summer Shadow and Starry Thing, a couple of interesting works from your recent production that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: would you like to tell me something about the genesis of this new body of work? Starry Thing started as a snapshot of a sidewalk drain, spattered with white paint - a harmless accident, a moment of carelessness had transformed it. Summer Shadow was a photo of tree shadows stretching along the sidewalk. Yes, there are many interesting images lying underfoot. If you look closely at Maya Cross, you’ll see a tire tread. The ambience you captured in shadow red gold has reminded me the concept of non lieu elaborated by French anthropologist Marc Augé. What has mostly impacted on me is the way you have been capable of bringing a new level of significance to the sign of absence, and

Summer 2015

Shadow Red Gold, 10.5 x 16.25

in a wide sense to re-contextualize the concept of the environment we inhabit.

4 23 6 2


Marilyn Wylder

ART Habens

Ariadne's Thread, inviting them to challenge the common way we perceive

This is a recurrent feature of your approach, that provides the viewers of an

21 63 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Marilyn Wylder

Summer Shadow 10.5 x 16.25

not only the outside world, but our inner dimension... By the way, I'm sort of

Summer 2015

convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in

4 23 6 4


Marilyn Wylder

ART Habens

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? Shadow Red Gold is an iteration of the same plate as Summer Shadow. We’re all aware how a shadow extends along a wall or pavement; it suggests the object, but is not the object itself. Of course I had to look up Marc Auge’ and the non lieu you refer to, the idea that there are places that are non-places, supermarkets, parking lots, etc. intrigues me, but what I’m recording is not the non-place, but the ordinary place or object that goes unnoticed. Even a parking lot can have a certain mystery those cracked, faded arrows, their oblique directions… You speak of ideas…information encrypted in the environment…an idea that resonates with me, as I’m sure you know. I’d add that a human imprint rubs onto the things we use. Notice how sterile new things can seem; they need to be used, savored, enjoyed to acquire character. Someone once showed me his collection of prehistoric tools. Of course there are fakes in that market, but he could tell the difference, and so could I, even with my unpracticed eye. The genuine thing has an innate quality that defies description. The way you take an image and recontextualize it, brings new messages and inviting the viewer to elaborate personal interpretations: at the same time, you do not reject a gaze on aesthetics, creating a lively combination between conceptual and beauty. How important is the aesthetic problem for you when you conceive a work? The aesthetic problem….I do what we all do, seek the most attractive solution. The year I turned twenty, I ran with a crowd that included several successful artists. Listening to the conversations of those older, worldlier men,

the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one

21 65 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Marilyn Wylder

Kyoto Shadow 7.5 x 16

Summer 2015

4 23 6 6


Marilyn Wilder

21 67 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Marilyn Wylder

their talk of negative space, color theory, and I can’t immediately recall what else… Well, I just soaked it up. I had no idea I would eventually turn to art. I studied literature, creative writing, linguistics, but those conversations were my education in visual aesthetics. Your approach is intrinsically connected to the chance of creating an area of intellectual interplay with the viewers, that are urged to evolve from the condition of a merely passive audience. In particular, the way you snatch the spirit of dream-like concepts and their elusive nature has reminded me of the ideas behind Thomas Demand's works, when he stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead". While conceiving Art, even in the case of Photography, could be considered an abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a permanence that goes beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the concepts you explore. So I would take this occasion 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? Eagle’s Wing

Can there be a direct answer? We make art to discover who we really are. And that can be said of all work - not the stuffy work we’re obliged to do - but the work we pursue to uncover and fulfill our innate talents. Your innate talent will drive you to choose it… Not always true, but true in my case.

18 x 10.75

that you got this, perhaps others have as well, but you verbalized it.

You mentioned the chance of creating an intellectual interplay…. Often I leave an open space, inviting the viewer to come in and rest his eyes a bit; see Palm Shadow, Summer Shadow, Maya Cross, for example. I’m thrilled

Summer 2015

A few words about your drawings, in particular Slovakian Girl and Juno: when I first saw them I was struck by their pervading conceptual but at the same time

4 23 6 8


Marilyn Wylder

21 06 4

ART Habens

Maya Cross

Summer 2015 18 x 10.75


ART Habens

Marilyn Wylder

Slovenian Girl

Androgyne

16.5 x 10.5

16.5 x 10

spontaneous interiority, in which one can recognize the desire to enable us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

acter of my hand, the observation of my eye. Drawing itself is as individual and personal as handwriting. When you see a sketch by Picasso, Goya, Rembrandt you know whose it is. I’m putting myself in grand company here, but only to make my point.

Those two works were completely intuitive and spontaneous. Drawing the figure, I usually sketch quickly –10, 20, 30 minutes at most. When the drawing is done, I might modify it in some way, but not to a great extent. Re the pervading conceptual… spontaneous interiority you perceive, that’s me – the char-

Summer 2015

Your works are always pervaded with a subtle but ubiquitous narrative, as in the stimulating Judith and Il Muro: at the same time you seem to reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to offer to the viewer a key to find personal

4 23 7 0


Marilyn Wylder

ART Habens

Muro 21 06 4

Summer 2015 8.25 x 6


ART Habens

Marilyn Wylder

Judith 8.25 x 10.5

Summer 2015

4 23 7 2


Marilyn Wylder

ART Habens

interpretations to the narrative that pervades your works. In particular, I appreciate the way you explore the boundary between Imagination and Experience in the interesting Swimmer, a work I would define as dynamic, especially for the sensation of movement suggested by the stimulating nuances of tones that pervade the work: any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time? A two-fold question. First I’ll address palette, because it has a direct answer. How I work with color depends on the medium. In Swimmer the figure is a dense acquaint, inked heavily with ultramarine blue. Aware that any other hue would counteract, I chose a pale aquamarine to roll over in random directions, picking up streaks of the darker blue and sometimes, oddly enough, registering as lavender. This accounts for that watery, floaty, dreamlike effect. Take a look at drawings grouped as Colors on www.libraesque.com - you’ll see colors that complement and clash, raising a kind of glow; for this effect I used acquarelle pencils with an occasional touch of pastel. Now, about narrative. Yes, there is a narrative lurking around the corner. Again, I’m delighted you got this. I want the work to suggest a story, offering a hint to invite the viewer in. The hints are broader in the Merfolk watercolors, but even other work contains indications of a story untold. Note that we are a species wired for narrative. Before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

21 73 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Marilyn Wylder

Swimmer

Summer 2015 10 x8

4 23 0 5


Marilyn Wylder

ART Habens

Juno

Dreamer

10.5 x 6.5

16.5 x 9.25

When someone pays money for a piece, wants to put it on his wall and live with it, that’s a validation. You speak of language, I’m not sure how you mean it, but art is a form of language; it meets the eye, speaks to the soul, stirs the imagination, and the person who buys my work is telling me he understands the message.

something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Currently, I’m so immersed in printmaking, that aside from my drawing habit, I don’t plan to diverge. Recently they repaired the streets in my neighborhood, much to my chagrin, yet they’ve also laid down marks for future repairs - marks which I find evocative, way beyond their practical intent, and which I plan to use.

And yes, when I see a market for certain types of my images, I work longer and harder in that vein.

Thank you for these probing questions and your remarkable insights.

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Marylin. Finally, would you like to tell us readers

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Katherine C. Wilson, curator arthabens@mail.com

21 75 4

Summer 2015


MarĂ­a Osuna Naim El Hajj

Breathe Forrest, Breathe! Installation(4mx4mx4m), 2013

Summer 2015

021 4


MarĂ­a Osuna

video, 2013

022 4


MarĂ­a Osuna

03 4


MarĂ­a Osuna

An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Katherine C. Wilson, curator arthabens@mail.com

London based illustrator Maria Osuna accomplishes a sensual investiagotion about the liminal area in which Love and Death find an unexpected point of convergence. Osuna's multidisciplinary approach conveys symbolic and surrealist elements into a coherent unity and aims to delete the frontiers between the artist and the people, involving the viewer into an engaging journey in the dream-like dimension concealed by perceptual reality of everyday life. I'm very pleased to introduce our readers to her refined artistic production. Hello Maria and welcome to ART Habens: to start this interview, would you like to tellus something about your background? Are there any experiences that have particularly informed the way you conceive your works? And in particular, after your studies at the Fine Arts in the Complutense University of Madrid you moved to London, where you are currently based: how has it influenced your evolution as an artist?

I was born in Cuenca (Spain) in 1989, but I don't have many memories of it, because my family moved when I was very young. Due to my father's job (museum's director) we lived in different cities. The my fathers job gave me a privileged access to culture, plus my mother had studied Art History. So in my house I had art encyclopaedia, art books... It helped that I am a passionate reader. The house is still full of books, paintings, art reproductions... The culture as a basic part of life is still something I maintain nowadays (and London make it easy).

MarĂ­a Osuna

I am a spanish illustrator based in London. I have been working in digital illustration recently, exploring surrealistic and symbolic, doing figurative illustration but with the ambient of an oniric landscape. I have specialize since last year in digital illustration, working on my own projects and introducing collage in my illustrations, with my own photos or scannings.

My intention is to create a sophisticated and intimate artist books, so the reader will have a feeling like if in some way they were gossiping a personal diary, but with permission of the artist. That way, I want to delete the frontiers between the artist and the people; exposing my personal work as if I were exposing my soul.

When I was 18 I left my parent's house and moved to Madrid to start my studies of Fine Arts, with the help of a scholarship from Spain Government. I thought about studying Comic Book Art but I am happy with my decision because it gave me the chance of experiment different things as sculpture, painting and engraving. I had done summer engraving courses already, but in Fine Arts I could access to a deepest level

I want to create a dialogue between me and the rest of the world, give a chance to the people to see my personal artwork and touch it, to make the people feel how special can be a book of illustrations, how it is possible to enjoy the art in different ways.

79 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

María Osuna

that made me think about love, friendship, my feelings and I know myself better now. I made an ‘Absence’ sketchbook with all of this in my mind, more than anything the melancholy. But right now, I am very happy, I am in love with the city and in love with a British man.

of knowledge, and thanks to my teacher Mariano Villegas, I made my own engraving project, sadly stolen while at the University. You can see some photos in here http://mariaomart.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/libro-de-artista-degrabados.html?m=0 About sculpture, I especially enjoy to sculpt bass reliefs, and painting is always a pleasure. The torment is not to have space to do it properly!

I think that changes in life are a good way of self-exploration and a great experience. That's why my last drawings are about identity. There are recurrent themes in my artwork, of course, but under the influence new experiences. Also, loneliness has increase my reflections about being a woman today; it was frustrating to feel scared about doing some things like travel alone because I didn't feel safe; but being careful I did this things at the end, and now I feel proud of myself because I am on the way to being the person, and the woman, I want to be.

All these different techniques made me think about how dissolved are the limits between one way of expression and another, especially in the contemporary world of art, now a chaos of concepts and techniques further than language is able to classify. At the same time those that limit are more open, it looks like the art is more distant of the public. That's why I am such a big fan of Dave Mckean, because he experiments with the frontiers of every technique and mix filming with painting, drawing, music, comics... And he made it accessible to the audience. I was always very independent during my studies, I made an extra year just to be able to study everything I wanted, coins (in bass relief) and engraving. Sadly, those disciplines, esp. engraving, require a study, and right now I don't have that option.

When I was younger I used to work in a intuitive way, and when the work was finished I realized the concept behind. But moving to London opened my mind, it made me more sensitive so right now the concepts come before the artwork. I would like to invite our readers to visit http://mariaom-art.blogspot.it in order to get a wide ide of your recent artistic production: in particular, I noticed that your approach is marked out with a compenetration between a sensual exploration of experential concepts as femininity, love and death several, wisely combined to a rational gaze on the dreamlike dimension you investigate about. This provides your pieces of a dynamic life that stimulates the viewer’s psyche and consequently works on both a subconscious and a conscious level. How did you decide to focus on this form of illustration? Do you conceive these composition on an instinctive way or do you rather structure your process in order to reach the right balance?

You ask about how my experience in London have influence me. Well, in relation to what I was saying, I came here as au pair because it was a great opportunity to learn more English, work on a new portfolio, and be based in London without spending so much money. I am very happy with my host family, the kids are smart and cute and the mother has made my existence very nice. As an artist, is hard to have a little room like mine, I do not complain but I really miss painting. The small space is one of the reasons why since last year (I came to London 19th March 2014) I decided to focus my portfolio in digital illustration. I have been using Adobe Photoshop as a drawing tool for years (starting with my comic Killer Housewives) but now I have so much more experience, and I am enjoying my new project. Also I am using Adobe InDesign to the layout. That's in a technical way; on a psychological level, living here has been an amazing experience, suffering and enjoying at the same time. I missed my family so much, but

Summer 2015

It is a natural process. I was always interested in the subconscious, in dreams as a way of selfexpression. I have also a superficial knowledge about Carl Jung archetype theories, is fascinating how the symbols I use are universal. When I first studied Jung theories, and I was reading the I-Ching at the same time, I suddenly knew that the series of drawings I had finished

4 23 8 0


MarĂ­a Osuna

21 81 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

María Osuna

yours. As most of the pieces from your recent production, Witch is open to various interpretations: in particular, it communicates me a process of deconstruction, recontextualization and assemblage. What is it specifically about deconstruction which fascinates you and make you want to center your artistic style around it? In particular would you tell us something about the genesis of this interesting work?

in that moment (about animals that are recognized as preys in any culture) were talking about myself. In that moment of my life, I was surrounded by people that made me feel weak, and I knew what my drawings were telling about me: that these people were near me because they knew I was a prey, because somehow I was unconsciously presenting myself as one. Of course, all of this makes more sense for me than to readers because it’s very personal. But that is the way I do my work, I show an intimate part of myself but at the same time is cryptic because is based on my own experiences and thoughts. So I do believe that the spectator has to make her or his own interpretation of the symbolism I use.

In general, I don’t like to give names to my works, but this one in particular was inspired by the exhibition Witches and Wicked bodies in the British Museum. I think language can be very limited. We try to classify everything, but is impossible. Is something human, we can’t help it, I do it all the time. Naming Witch to this illustration I am showing the way to my personal interpretation to the spectator. It looks contradictory. I suppose this is why I find drawing the best way to express myself, because it is more open than words and concepts. At the same time, I can’ t esccape of it and I am classifying my drawing.

I used to work in a visceral form, and when I had finished working I realized the meaning of it. Nowadays, this process is the opposite, I am more and more confident about the concepts I want to talk about, and I draw basing the practical process on a previous theory. Anyway, the process sometimes can invert when I am sketching because in this case I am brainstorming, and this is a subconscious process.

I was very impressed by the exhibition, the way the aesthetic of deformity and old age are related with witchcraft. And all the physical pressure that the society does at the present to the women, is a reminiscence of this. Today women are still considered witches in some way, if they enjoy of their bodies or their freedom in a way society could think is dangerous for the phallocentric system.

I put a lot of myself in my work, I think that looking at a piece of art is like meeting someone new, you are seeing something original, you can see the psyche of the artist. The meaning of a piece of art can be similar to those that swim on the layers of the personality of a person, the more you take off off the masks and social conventions the more you meet the individual, but always from a subjective point of view.

In the exhibition the witches are sometimes riding skeleton horses. In my drawing, is a giant female deer. This is the way I express my concept of deformity: I don’t believe in a canon of beauty, and as the deer use to be a prey, the giant deer is the ancestor of a race, as a female is the true origin, strong, and depending of the look of the eyes, dangerous. The wild and pure naked bones make it beautiful, the purity of being honest, the beauty of the death as a memory of life.

People don t spend a lot of time looking a picture, the same as a quick thoughts about a symbol that has a message behind it , an appearance of the subconscious that I suddenly visualise. But there is a process after that moment, the same for the artist than for the observer, an empathy with the image, a memory, a reflection. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from Witch that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that I have to edmit is one of my favourite work of

Summer 2015

I am very interested in the theories of the New Flesh. Is a new concept of the body, outside of any aesthetic canon accepted by society. Is

4 23 8 2


MarĂ­a Osuna

21 83 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Naim El Hajj

4 23 0 5


María Osuna

ART Habens

under our skin that we don t really understand... because we force ourselves to find a meaning of life when life is meaningless, is a beautiful structure of particles that one day starts to disappear. The nature your investigation about oniric dimension has reminded me of the idea behind Thomas Demand's works, when he stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead". While conceiving Art could be considered an abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a permanence that goes beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the concepts you explore. So I would take this occasion 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?

In my case my personal experience is balance with my sensitivity, at least that is what I think! One can’t exist without the other, they feed each other but there is always something in the base, some concepts and a perception of the world. Art can be conceived as lasting, creating is a process of communication; communication is an attempt to have an impact in the world. But at the same time it is ephemeral. Is just a thought, is just a drawing, does it even exist? One day everything will disappear, nothing stays forever, there is no stable material, Internet is something abstract.

about an underground body, especially related with technology applied to the body, and the body modification. I have applied these theories in my own way to my work, A bird-person that is not wearing a mask, is a person with a bird skull instead of an human one. Is a person that represents the unconscious transformed into flesh. The symbol of the bird has been used through the history to represent freedom, femininity... also the bird mask that the plague doctors used in Middle-Ages, was a symbol of death and the ephemeral nature of life. There is beauty in the bones. They make me remember that we are all the same, that we are part of the Nature, that we have a complex endoskeleton

I don’ t think there is any universal creative process. Everybody is different, so creative processes are. Some people has deeper concepts to communicate, other make hyperrealist paintings but don’ t have anything to say. What do you mean by ‘experience’? Someone with lots of work can control the technique better and better… others, like Picasso, made brilliant pictures as a 16 years old, and very sensitively too! There is not a magic method, a formula for creativity. Is a skill you can born with, or train to improve, or both at the same time. I think is very subjective. In

21 85 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

MarĂ­a Osuna

my life some moments have influence in my artistic work; it can be completely different to other artists.

were used as a motif, when right now gothis is considered creepy! I think that we need to study traditional art because humanity has experimented so much over the years, that we can learn lots of things about the mistakes and the accuracies of The Masters.

The same with inspiration. Right now I focus on digital illustration and collage. Dave Mckean inspires me, I think that he is a very talented artist, but the most important is that art is his life, he clearly enjoys creating. I love a lot of contemporary illustrators, e.g Teiji Hayama, but at the same time I love The Masters and art in general. One of my favourite pictures is Ophelia of Millais, that last moment before the body starts to decay; similarly I admire tant Donn , of Duchamp.

In the case of Anja, as you say, there is an elimination of the historic look in order to add a new meaning to the piece. Actually, this picture was in part drawn based on a photo of an sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum, a woman stepping on the head of a man. I don t remember the title, but that is not important; it gave me the idea of drawing this character, a woman influenced by religion and social pressure about her appearance. A woman that is seen as a sacred object, but with a need to feel good about herself, to feel like a godess, and to do so she had to step in the head of men, she had to fight. In some moment of history women were perceived as sacred because they are the origin of life, but at the present moment woman are idealized dolls and there is some violence behind the act of making a space for yourself as a woman. It is funny that a sculpture from Middle Ages shows such contemporary concepts, at least is my interpretation .

I love abstract expressionism, T ies, Jan Svankmajer, Robert Morgan... All these works of painting, sculpture, films... are part of my experience and influence in my work. The recurrent reference to an emotional but at the same time universal imagery dued to the fruitful juxtaposition between the reference to elements from universal imagery and a lively approach, as in the interesting Anja seems to remove any historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to perceive in a more atemporal form. In this sense, I daresay that the semantic juxtaposition between sign and matter that marks out your art, allows you to go beyond any dichotomy between Tradition and Contemporariness, as in the interesting Inextricable, establishing a stimulating osmosis between materials from contingent era and anabsolute approach to Art: do you recognize any contrast between Tradition and Contemporariness?

I definitively love the way Nest urges the viewers' perception in order to challenge the common way to perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension as well ... you seem to deconstruct and assembly memories in order to suggest a process of investigation establishing a cathartic process: 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?

You have hit the nail on the head ! I can be very modern in some ways but at the same time I am like an old lady: I love traditional art. Time doesn t exist; that s why art is timeless. As I have studied The Arts further, I have drawn great influence from the history of Art. I was educated and surrounded by art and I live in a city full of great museums. So I was, and I am, constantly looking at traditional art,as well as loving the contemporary. I love traditional techniques but I am more interested in modern approaches and styles. I was recently in Rome for the first time, and I was very surprised about how often bones

Summer 2015

I think Nest is very influenced by my love for cinema, specifically animation films, stop motion of Jan Svankmajer and again of Dave Mckean. It is an attempt to push boundaries as this artists do, between one technique and other. Is it digital, a drawing, a photo, or a sculpture? Is it a breakup of reality, in some way? It shows something with a physical presence but you can t touch it. Is like a dream as well, a puppet alive somewhere in our minds. I like to create a dialogue with the spectator, to ask questions, as part of the enjoyment of the

4 23 8 6


Naim El Hajj

21 06 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Summer 2015

MarĂ­a Osuna

4 23 8 8


María Osuna

ART Habens

picture . To produce an oneiric sensation in something that has a human figure but at the same time is not natural, it has wings and a bird skull instead of a face… but they are also symbols: the bird is the freedom and also a feminine metaphor and the nest is the creation or maternity. There is also something sinister, like a dream that has escaped the brain and exposed itself to reality. That’s what art does. It shows dreams, instincts, ideas. Our Inner Nature, as you said. Sometimes this can be shocking or creepy because we use masks to shield us from life, and art as a bridge between the mask and the pure being, the primitive one that we try to forget. You also produce stimulating portraits and what has immediately impacted on me is that you seem to move beyond so-called standard portraiture, but not too much beyond it. Creating what at first seems to be to be a typical portrait of someone but composing it in a way that make the viewer realize that it has a different message. What has influenced your style of portraiture?

My biggest influence is my friend Teresa Fuster, who has specialized in portraits. I learned : first make a life drawing, or base it on a photo, then do it by heart. Sounds simple but it gives the portraits a sense of the perception that you have of the person you are drawing. You put yourself in the portrait, it gives character to the drawing. I also think that the eyes show the personality of the person, if they laugh you can see if is honest just looking on their eyes. You can see passion, sadness, just in the eyes. In spanish, “los ojos son el espejo del alma”. And after all of this, I have to say that making a portrait is a challenge, sometimes is very hard to capture the nature of the person. Is a pleasure to draw something traditional, some life drawing or photos, just because is beautiful, it relaxes me and also allows me to improve my technique. Sometimes you just have to use art as a game, rescue your inner child and draw for pleasure. I daresay that the surrealistic qualities that mark out your works are in a certain sense representative of the relationship between emotion and memory. I find it truly poetically engaging and I have to confess that it suddenly forced me to relate myself to your works in a different way. What is the role of memory in your process? And in particular, do you try to achieve a faithful visual translation of your feelings?

21 89 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

MarĂ­a Osuna

My work is visceral. I am a very honest person, and I believe that the world could be a better place if it was more honest. When I draw, I live it. I put myself into the drawing, is me that you you are seeing. Sometimes the act of creating can be relaxing, other times it can be violent. Music may make my emotions change and I can be hours in front of a work fuming or just concentrating and forgetting about everything. If I am experiencing strong emotions , based on memories or not, I can draw some inspiration from it and use art as a means of release. For example, my three drawings about violence I made some years ago ( http://mariaomart.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Tr%C3%ADptico) were made just after discovering that one of my best friends, had been physically abused by his partner. It was something very shocking, I knew his boyfriend and you can t imagine that someone has so much anger inside, someone that you think you know. Besides, there is nothing that you can do about it, it made me feel so impotent; is so unfair that a person has to suffer this damage just because someone think that has the right to do it. It gave me a new perspective of the matter; is very easy to classify someone as a monster or as a victim, but life is much more complicated. Even right now I feel a thrill talking about this. I just started to sketching people seated, grabbing at their legs, inside a broken egg, alongside a monster, partially in the dark, its own body creating that darkness. There is always a melancholy in my work, because it is the way I clean my soul. The word can be a very sad, unfair and violent place sometimes. Being human is wonderful but scary at the same time. We can do such beautiful things but also be so unpleasant. There is something attractive in violence, that is part of being human releasing the animal that is still inside of us. There is something attractive about evil, about wondering how someone can act in such a cruel way. The reason is very simple: just because they can. But I still try to understand, because there is no total malice or total kindness, the same a picture that shows something disturbing can be beautiful at the same time, like Jenny Saville paintings. Your works are strictly connected to the chance to extablish a deep invovement with the viewers, to use your own words, you aim to delete the

Summer 2015

4 23 9 0


MarĂ­a Osuna

21 91 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

María Osuna

frontiers between the artist and the people. During these years you have showcased your creation in several occasions, including a recent participation at the People Art Factory. So before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

The project is about bodies that transform into water, when they meet a new person; a metaphor about how you adapt to the context and person, as the water adapts its molecules to different containers. The sea can be seen as something violent, (as is sex sometimes between people). But the sea can be relaxing as well, splashing the land as if it was stroking it. Just as sex is an immediate, instinctive way of understanding a person’s inner soul, so the sea ‘understands’ all it touches.

I think of the public as a consumer of art myself. This don t limit my ideas or media in any way, I create the way I think is the best for the work itself. Probably the involvement with the audience comes more at the time of my artwork being published online or in exhibitions. When I say dissolve the limits between me and the spectators, I mean to publish everything I do, to share my own thoughts with them without censoring. Is a very exhibitionist approximation, I want to make affordable art as well. I know that this sounds idealistic, especially because I am supposed to live of my work, but there is more to it than selling the original artwork. I don t care about my pictures being circulated as long as they are not going to be used for commercial purposes. I see my drawings most likely ending up more in books, because is a cheaper, and easier to publish. So I guess that the structure of the projects is influenced by this thinking, and that s why my drawings work in group, as a visual investigation of concepts.

The ibis is a very interesting bird, and was a powerful figure in Egyptian culture. It was associated with the god Thoth, the god of wisdom, knowledge and writing. It was considered the herald of the flood. “I, Thoth, am the eminent writer, pure of hands…the writer of the truth (maat) whose horror is the lie…the lord of the law…I am the lord of maat, I teach maat to the gods, I test (each) word for its veracity…I am the leader of the sky, the earth and the netherworld”. “I, Thoth, am protector of the weak and of him whose property is violated”.

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Maria. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects?

I am also doing a series of illustrations about identity, femininity and other related concepts, and I want to present them in a self-published book. I intend that some of the pictures published in the interview are part of it.

The phoenix is an optimistic representation of the ability of sort any situation, reborn from your own ashes, the loss of the fear of death. For the moment I think the best techniques could been aquatint or soft ground. Probably the best will be lithography, but for the moment I have never had the pleasure of applying this method.

How do you see your work evolving? I am working now on the concepts of an engraving project which is in the embryonic stage. Hopefully I could find someone to fund it. The subject matter is water, the ibis, and the phoenix symbolizing the process of meeting someone. I have start a sketchbook and I am researching those different symbols with a professional and theoretical approach in order to use it as the basis for applications for foundations, artist residencies and scholarships.

Summer 2015

I don't really know how my future looks: I feel like I am starting again as I am in a new country. All I want to do is to draw, paint, and engrave my ideas. Sadly real life requires work in other areas to finance my own projects. All I can do is try and advance my projects as best I can and hopefully have them exhibited and to continue my study of art in any way I can. Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to showcase my artwork, it is all part of the journey.

4 23 9 2


Naim El Hajj

21 06 4

ART Habens


Kelsey Sheaffer Sheaffer If dance is the medium of moving bodies, I am interested in choreographing moved bodies – that is, accumulating and reorganizing the documentation of gestures that have already taken place across a variety of mediums. The body becomes a multifaceted tool in my work, encapsulated as both recorded image and the recording device. I investigate the tension between the temporality of the bodily presence and the physicality of art objects, particular in how the body is insinuated within time-based media. I am interested in how we create digital and analog translations of the absent moving body, through scores and notation, as well as through images and objects. Within this is an ongoing investigation into the nature of my entrenched desire for presence and materiality of the temporary, as well as research into the history of the objectification of the gendered dancer. My process often involves creating modular gestures and manipulating the reconstitution of the pieces in an environment removed from the traditional stage setting. By examining dance through the lens of different mediums, I am able to control parameters of space and time to question the fundamental way that recording devices filter the performing body. Kelsey Sheaffer (b. 1991), is an emerging artist currently based in Richmond, VA. Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she received her B.A. in Studio Art from Davidson College and is currently a M.F.A. candidate in the Kinetic Imaging department at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work explores the intersection of dance and visual arts in a variety of mediums, including video, animation, drawing and installation. By examining dance through the lens of different mediums, she seeks to reevaluate what constitutes a dance and to investigate the ways in which recording devices filter the moving body. Kelsey Sheaffer

Summer 2015

924 4


Kelsey Sheaffer

ART Habens

video, 2013

925 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Summer 2015 Summer 2015

Kelsey Sheaffer

03 4


Kelsey Sheaffer

An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Katherine C. Wilson, curator arthabens@mail.com

Ranging from video and animation to drawing and installation Kelsey Sheaffer accomplishes an insightful investigation about the tension between the temporality of the bodily presence and the physicality of art objects. Her exploration of the way we create translations of the absent moving body unveils unexpected but ubiquitous connections between individuals, showing the point of convergence of different human experiences. Sheaffer's work condenses a an insightful journey in the realm of memory and associations and we are really pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating works. Hello Kelsey and welcome to ART Habens: we would to start this interview, asking something about your background. You have a solid formal training: you hold a B.A. in Studio Art from Davidson College and your are currently pursuing your M.F.A. at the Kinetic Imaging department at Virginia Commonwealth University: how does formal training impact on your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does it inform the way you currently conceive and produce your works?

I’ve been lucky to study in both a liberal arts setting, at Davidson College, and in a more typical art school environment at VCU. I’ve had amazing artists and scholars as mentors throughout my training, and I am particularly thankful to have gone to a liberal arts school for my undergraduate degree.

Kelsey Sheaffer

play and established a method of working through frustration.

Davidson allowed me to see creativity flourish in a variety of fields, which was compelling for establishing curiosities outside of visual art. I had a couple professors at Davidson that helped me develop a creative process that embraces

Your practice is marked out with a stimulating multidisciplinary feature and I would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.kelseysheaffer.com in order to get a wider idea of your multifaceted production: ranging from video and

97 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Kelsey Sheaffer

animation to drawing and installation, your exploration of the point of convergence between visual arts and dance seems to be in a search of an equilibrium between an emotional approach and rigorous expressive language: have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between different approaches is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

I tend to work fluidly between mediums, particularly thinking about how ideas and materials are translated between different mediums, which is essential to my artistic expression. I am especially interested in how this plays out between digital and non-digital mediums, for example I am interested in how to document dancing on video, but also how to communicate a performance in alternative mediums. This is echoed in some ways in my fascination with symbolic language - both the idea of translating and of documenting. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from Compression Notation that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: this project could be considered as an investigation that unveils the ephemeral nature of action, and that at the same time gives a sense of permanence. When I first happened to get to know Compression Notation I tried to relate all the visual and sound information to a single meaning, but I soon realized that I had to fit into the visual rhythm suggested by the work, forgetting my need for a univocal understanding of its content: in your works, rather than a conceptual interiority, I can recognize the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

Many of my works lean into systematic process - complexity develops from simple repetitive actions or process. I enjoy being surprised by the density resulting from duplicated actions, especially when you become aware of the process happening, such as in Compression Notation with the accumulation of the

Summer 2015

4 23 9 8


Kelsey Sheaffer

21 99 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Summer 2015

Kelsey Sheaffer

14 23 00


Kelsey Sheaffer

ART Habens

bouncing balls, or the ghost-like past moments in Tch Aik Ovsk Y. I like the way Compression Notation seems to operate a temporal deformation, that removes the historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to relate themselves to the universally imagery your draw from in an absolute and almost atemporal form. So I would take this occasion 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?

I tend to become preoccupied with using a commonplace, easily available material object (in the past, things like plastic and house paint, now bouncy balls) and really delving into it in a variety of mediums/actions to unpack their movement and correlative properties. So I do appreciate that viewers already have a relationship with these objects, but I’m interested in presenting them in detached ways - removing them from their traditional settings and choreographing with them. I think that objects in motion have more possibilities in terms of how we interpret them - Merleau-Ponty talks about how a body in motion actively assumes space and time, rather than passively submitting to them - and that idea is essential to my work. Another interesting work of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on which I would like to spend words is entitled Three Transitions: as most of your works, this project is open to various interpretations: in particular, it communicates me a process of deconstruction, recontextualization and assemblage. What is it specifically about deconstruction which fascinates you and make you want to center your artistic style around it?

21 101 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Summer 2015

Naim El Hajj

4 23 0 5


Naim El Hajj

21 06 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Summer 2015

Kelsey Sheaffer

4 123 04


Kelsey Sheaffer

ART Habens

I am incredibly interested in understanding how and why things work, which for me begins with breaking things down into components. Once things are broken down into separate pieces, they can be reconstituted in interesting ways that questions the fabric of their makeup. In some ways it resembles a kind of scientific method - if you don’t understand the whole thing, look at the smaller pieces that constitute the whole. While exhibiting a captivating vibrancy, some of your pieces, and I think to the ones from the series Laban Drawings, seem to reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to offer to the viewer a key to find personal interpretations to the stories you tell through your works... this quality marks out a considerable part of your production, that are in a certain sense representative of the relationship between emotion and memory in a truly engaging way. What is the role of memory in your process? And in particular, do you try to achieve a faithful visual translation of your feelings?

Laban Drawings are performance drawings acting out seven “effort” words from Rudolf Laban, who established the western dance traditions most widely used method of dance notation and movement analysis. He wrote at length trying to capture the ephemerality of movement in symbols or language. The words, like glide, dart, and thrust, reference a specific type of action - but they also allude to a dancer’s muscle memory, and the ways in which different movements elicit emotion among viewers. In general, my pieces don’t have a direct emotional component, but I often return to the movement memories that my body stores, which I do think elicit some type of emotional response. In Body As/As Body you have accomplished the difficult task of unveiling the tension between the temporality of the bodily presence and the physicality of art objects,

21 105 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Summer 2015

Naim El Hajj

4 23 0 5


Naim El Hajj

21 06 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Kelsey Sheaffer

which, as you have remarked once, is one of the main goal of your artistic practice: I have enjoyed the way you have highlighted the connection between human body and environment. Moreover, I can recognize that that although each of your project is marked out with an autonomous life, there's seem to be such a channel of communication between the ideas you translate into video, animation and painting, and that seem to come out of the way you juxtapose ideas and media: as I have been told once, "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead". What's your point about this? And in particular, how much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your works?

In general, my works are non-narrative, though I am interested in how often audience members will try to wrangle a narrative storyline from a dance piece (especially if they are new to watching dance), and I think that that bleeds over into my work occasionally. I do think often that the juxtapositions of mediums creates some kind of narrative element, because of audience perceptions of what different mediums are supposed to represent and do, though I try to subvert the normal expectations of materiality and flow. The way you take a concept and recontextualize it and altering the functionality of forms, brings unexpected messages and invites the viewer to elaborate personal interpretations: at the same time, you do not reject a gaze on aesthetics, creating a lively combination between conceptual and beauty. How important is the aesthetic problem for you when you conceive a work?

I try to strike a balance between playfulness and elegance in my work, which I think is an offshoot of my dance training, and the aesthetic that I’ve been exposed to for most of my life. Ballet especially is so much about finding the grace and beauty of the lines of

Summer 2015

4 123 08


Kelsey Sheaffer

21 109 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Kelsey Sheaffer

the body, and that is something that I have a hard time getting away from. I am inspired by contemporary painters and choreographers, and understanding how they use similar visual techniques in disparate 2D and 3D sectors. You seem to enjoy provoking a wide variety of reactions: during these years I have been often told by the artists that I happened to interview that they would rather that viewers don’t fully understand, or question the work, than not react at all. So, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

I think about the audience’s interaction with the installation of the final piece, but not necessarily of their reaction during the decision making process - there will always be some people that respond to your work, while others don’t. I had the opportunity to present Compression Notation in a giant wooden warehouse, and the installation of the drawings and sound allowed me to choreograph the audience’s movement through the space. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Kelsey. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

I will be busy this year with my final year of grad school and in May 2016 I will have my thesis show. I’m not sure yet what will be in the thesis show but this summer I’ve been working on an animation that uses some of the ephemera from Compression Notation to think about line and gesture, which is also inspired by an ongoing investigation into dance notation and experimental performance scores.

Summer 2015

4 123 10


Kelsey Sheaffer

21 111 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


Victor Sonna Sonna In my works I often use everyday materials (scrap metal, paper, leather, plastic ) and objects (dictionaries, bicycle saddles) with a keen eye on using these in order to create works that aim at defamiliarizing the beholder. Examples : a machine gun from dictionaries; copper urns, positioned in the form of a question mark; metal rollers in various states of disrepair; a map of Holland built from bicyle-saddles. The themes I address in my work include: the questionable drive in our society towards physical perfection and eternal youth; the power invested/infested nature of Language; the way society deals with death; the transient nature of things ‘Future Nostalgia’ series of (recycled) bikes deserve a special mention: The cycling Experience on these highly ornamented bikes reflects the struggle that the artists who Inspired them had to go through to realize their artistic vison My personal experience as being between cultures is expressed in the work: “Love My Land”. The perception of the work from an insider – a Dutch person – is most likely an iconic work displaying the bycicle as a nation. My motive for making “I Love My Land” is to express the destructive side of judging Africans, participating in Dutch traffic. “Love” is written in the work as an homage to the Dutch accessible bike culture, thus it's experienced by me as a command for foreigners to 'love' the Dutch culture. In marked contrast,this project is also an expression of my ongoing integration into Holland My artistic vison has been formed and informed by my genealogy: (Being Cameroon-born and now living in The Netherlands) My work is an ongoing project, with one of its central questions being not only about surviving logically but more about living ‘illogically’. My past and present are engaged in a permanent dialogue. For me, reality is a struggle between holding on to your origins and a continuous development. The majority of my works thrive on the tension arising from the collision of (mutually exclusive) worlds, styles and domains: Figurative---Abstract Quotidian—Sublime Controlled—Accidental Humorous-Serious Popular-Avant-Garde Native( Folkloristic)-Urban Process-Product `Through my art I want to address issues relevant to contemporary society, and in this manner, encouraging people to start thinking out of the box and move away from their mental complacency . The transformative and regenerative power of destruction is my incentive to shake and stir up people’s minds. I do so by alienating them from their set ways and patterns and confronting them with the consequences of their actions. For me, an attribute doesn't necessarily carry the meaning given to it by its context. Instead, an attribute 'challenges' me into stripping it from its obvious contextual meaning and giving it a new significance. In society we have the tendency to clear up or put a way things that are broken down. I investigate those attributes in search for a new meaning and destiny. Does its original meaning hold up when it is close to other attributes? Can attributes, when brought together, signify something new? The dialogue I am engaged in with my work during the creative process forces me to negotiate a balance; the result of this balance can turn out to be unbalanced. My work has no beginning and no end -in marked contrast with life itselfbut it does contain a centre which originates in the emotions of being Human. We need contrast, otherwise everything would be invisible. I deliberately blur the edges of my use and non-use of materials, making them flow into one another. That way, my materials and ideas get to play a new role and acquire a meaning that can be different from one person to the next! My work shows both the process of my research into aspects of being Human and the results of this research aims at confronting my audience with the beauty of imperfection and mortality.

Summer 2015

Future Nostalgia - Ipsum

1212 4


Victor Sonna

ART Habens

video, 2013

1213 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Common Ground Summer 2015 Summer 2015

Victor Sonna

03 4


Victor Sonna

An interview with An interview by and Katherine C. Wilson, curator and Dario Rutigliano, curator arthabens@mail.com

Victor Sonna's work accomplishes a refined socio-political investigation capable of providing the viewers of an Ariadne's thread that urges to question about a variety of living matters of contemporary age as war, justice and the condition of women. He create suggestive installations that aim at defamiliarizing the beholder, providingthe viewers of an extension of ordinary perception. One of the most convincing aspect of Sonna's approach is the way he unveils an unexpected point of convergence in which a rational gaze on socio-political issues and emotive aesthetics convey into a coherent unity. We are very pleased to introduce our readers to his refined artistic production. Hello Victor and welcome to ART Habens: an important feature of your work is an incessant search of an organic symbiosis between a variery of viewpoints which you effectively convey into a consistent unity, in order to defamiliarizing the viewers and I would invite our readers to visit http://victorsonna.com in order to get a wider idea of your artistic production. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for producing your works? In particular, have you ever happened to realize that such synergy is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

Victor Sonna

The second part of the process consists of me searching for a tangible and artistically inter-

esting symbol in which I can ‘catch’ and realize the original idea

I usually start off with an idea that I want to express and put across to other people. Then I do a brainstorm on the original idea, freely associating it with everything and anything that comes to my mind.

In order to actually create the symbol in 3 dimensions, I will start looking for suitable mate-

rials. Occasionally, the right materials will find me!

Some of these ideas are fed by-day-to-day reality. If such an idea holds the promise of having a certain tactility, certain physical dimensions and timelessness, then this idea will often and at short notice be realized in the form of an actual sculpture.

When working on the object I will always try to use materials in such a way that they emphasize the theme or idea embodied in the artwork-inprocess.

115 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Victor Sonna

I would pose you a couple of questions about the way your background has impacted on your current practice: First, you have a solid formal training and you graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, St. Joost: how did formal training impact on your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your Cameroon roots inform the way you currently conceive and produce your works?

First I want you to know that I studied at the Eindhoven Design Academy for 3 years, then switching to St Joost In Den Bosch for the final year in order to graduate. At St Joost I got the opportunity of integrating artistic elements and properties of design into new artistic statements. At the Design Academy the emphasis was too often on efficient, factory-like design for my liking. The mass-production of all kinds of consumer articles doesn’t improve Man as such; On the contrary, production for production's sake will inevitably be followed by consumption for consumption’s sake. Because of all this, I decided to transfer to the Academy of the Arts. I was searching for timeless, universal images. I was trying to come to terms with the fundamentals of art. I will answer the second part of this question by telling an anecdote. As a child, I had worn-down slippers for shoes. Not daring to show the holes, I remade these slippers into a boat, a car or an island. I invented a new context for each particular slipper, giving it a new identity. Day to day African reality forced me to improvise and to recombine all kinds of materials in order to make new objects. In society we have the tendency to clear up or put a way things that are broken down. As an artist, I use broken down things and discarded materials and re-use them in new contexts, thus creating something that is (hopefully) original. Does its original meaning hold up when it is close to other attributes? Can attributes, when brought together, signify something new. These are some of the questions which have their roots in my African childhood., where I constantly had to re-use discarded materials in order to make playthings and toys

Summer 2015

I would start to focus on your artistic production beginning from Futura Nostalgia,

4 123 16


Victor Sonna

ART Habens

Future Nostalgia - Persistence of Memory

introductory pages of this article. What mostly appeals to me of this series is the way

an interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the

21 117 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Victor Sonna

you have accomplished a suggestive recontextualization of the common idea

Summer 2015

about a so usual object, going beyond its merely functionality: when merging a a

4 123 18


Victor Sonna

ART Habens

autonomous, dynamical life. I find truly engaging the way you subvert our common perceptual parameters and I have to confess that it suddenly forced me to relate myself to your work in a different way. Would you like to walk our readers through the process when you conceived this series and to its evolution?

My first inspiration for creating the Future Nostalgia series can be summarized by the following quotation: “ Riding a bike turns Man into an optimist. He has to provide his own traction” The Future Nostalgia series was also inspired by me paying homage to some of the greatest painters that ever lived. It also refers to the fact of some great artists never getting the fame, fortune and reputation they deserved on the basis of their work. Another inspiration for the way I put these bikes together stems from my childhood. In my childhood I often built a hut, or I took the branches home with me. Nowadays I live in the city. The appearance of the city is partly shaped by a great number of stray bikes discarded by their owners and left in the streets of the city. From time to time, these bikes are removed by the municipality because they do not add favorably to the image of the city. Eventually, these bikes are destroyed. Parts of the Future Nostalgia have been created from discarded bikes, just prior to their destruction., hereby recycling and re-using materials in an environmentally friendly way. I draw lines throughout the city while riding my bicycle. These lines are neither straight nor angular. Likewise, people move in unique ways, both physically and mentally. The movement itself, that meandering line, is often not a smooth ride at all. We are increasingly inclined to trim down damages, holes and obstacles in our lives By contrast, it is my intention to leave these ‘faults’ or ‘failures’ in my work, both structurally and formally.

Future Nostalgia - Boogie Woogie

The above mentioned works are odes to the founding fathers of modern art, with all their distorting, meandering, brilliant concoctions. No smooth rides for them either!! I have made 6 bikes in this series, all of them inspired by some

variety of viewpoints with a refined aesthetics, you provides these works with an

21 119 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Summer 2015

Naim El Hajj

4 23 0 5


Naim El Hajj

21 06 4

ART Habens

Future Nostalgia - Guernica Summer 2015


ART Habens

Naim El Hajj

Return to Sender

Process of Continuous

of the greatest visual artists’ key works: A seventh bike, the last one in the series, is under construction. This one will be inspired by the theme of “Innocence”. These 6 bikes already completed are:

new significance to the objects you manipulate, you go beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the concepts you investigate about. German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead". So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience and its related cultural substratum is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Picasso - Guernica Margritte - Ceci n’est pas une bicylette Dali - the Persistence of memory Matisse - La Danse Mondriaan - Boogie Woogie Jeroen Bosch - Ipsum The transformative nature of your works highlights the regenerative power of destruction in such a way that has reminded me the ideas behind Jean Tinguely's works: giving a

Summer 2015

I personally think that the creative process can be disconnected from direct experience.

4 123 22


Naim El Hajj

Individual Mythologies

21 06 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Summer 2015

Naim El Hajj

4 23 0 5

Care justitia [The Well Beloved]


Victor Sonna

ART Habens

Fortuna

Hirschhorn and Michael Light used to use art as a tool to accomplish socio-political criticism, trying to convey their personal takes about the major issues that affect contemporary age. While setting free Art's communicative potential, do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach?

A case in point would be Anselm Kiefer, who creates wonderful and confrontational art based on German history and mythology, but lacking direct experience of (for instance) ofthe second world War. The hallmark of your work is a multilyered socio-political investigation: in Esperance du Lendemain and Care justitia, which I have to admit are some of my favourite pieces of yours, your process of defamiliarization urges the viewer to questions unexpected aspect of living matters of contemporary age as justice and the condition of women, and war as you did in Attribute of Tomorrow. From the Modernity to Contemporary, a lot of artists, ranging from John Heartfield, to Thomas

When you name things directly you can either agree or disagree, whereas attempts at ‘wrongfooting’ viewers of my works may invite and evoke more contemplation. I don’t think my work is overly political, as it addresses issues relating to the human condition in general. Through “the Holy Rollers:” I want to acknowledge the less perfect aspect of life and

21 127 4

Summer 2015


ART ARTHabens Habens

Victor Sonna

to highlight society’s way of trying to smooth them over. The “damaged” life is displayed in the use of everyday utilities (the rollers) The “rollers” embody the individual deterioration of the aging person walking behind them, thus emphasizing the reality of imperfections and the fragile and transient nature of existence. My dealing with themes related to the human condition many not be political as such, but it can lead to politically charged debates about (for example) care and the way elderly people are treated in society. When providing the viewers of a "fruible" set of images with a marked evokative symbolism that comes from common imaginary, you remove a consistent part of the historic gaze from the reality you refer to, giving the viewers the chance to relate themselves to the topics in a more absolute form, inviting us to challenge the common way we perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension: as Gerhard Richter once remarked, "my concern is never art, but always what art can be used for": what is your opinion about the functional aspect of Art in the contemporary age?

This simple question turned out to be more difficult to answer than I had thought it would be. All good art is about existence, eventually. According to calculations of archeologists and anthropologists , the first traces of human life can be found in the era called Quartair( 50 000 B.C.) The ways we use art are essential parts of our humanity, parts which nobody should be without . Moreover, by working with the language of art in all of its manifestatations , we make deeply-felt connections with our cultural heritage (both past and present), also developing our personalities in the process.

Esperance du Lendemain

Art wasn't the immediate and instantaenous companion of Man, when he emerged and scattered all over the Earth. The first manifestations of human art (in Europe, the most widely researched area) date back to the late period of the Stone Age (Paleolithicum) When you are looking for timeless universals, you automatically start observing how people deal with their fate, with their environment and with eachother.

Summer 2015

Art may be capable of influencing politics by making a point of sharpening people's awareness of things. For me, Art starts getting interesting when it makes a stand about social issues, goes against the grain of reality and asks unsettling questions. The work is my mouthpiece. Through my work, I try to give voice to different perspectives on the

4 123 28


Naim El Hajj

Beyond Utopia - Personal evolution

21 06 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Victor Sonna

world I am a part of. Art reveals the need for change and transformation. It must be socially engaged. My work often suggests a story, but it doesn't reveal whether it's a real history we are dealing with here or with a performance. Fiction and history, truth and interpretation are all mixed up to become an idiosyncratic conconction. My work is both something and nothing at the same time. My work has no beginning and no end -in marked contrast with life itself- but it does contain a centre which originates in the emotions of being Human. Your process of deconstruction and assemblage of memories allows you to encapsulate a vivid consciousness in the concepts conveyed in your creations, that lead you to a careful choice of the materials which materializes the ideas you explore, combining a marked Plasticity with a sense of movement as in the interesting It Ain't Over Till the Fat Lady Sings. In particular, what progression or changes have you seen in your materials? How important is the aesthetic problem for you when you conceive a work?

The collisions with artistic guidelines and the straight line of modern culture are expressed in my work. I want to show my point of view on how I perceive objects. I have done so by utilizing the paradoxes inherent in objects and their antropomorphic properties. Art doesn't have to be "beautiful" to succeed as art. Rather one has to be able to see the ideas of an artists fully realized and carried out with crafmanship in his or her work. My work is often not very pleasing to the eye, as it is expressive of the 'scars' of the human condition, of 'damaged goods' The beautiful things I see all around me are the necessary things. If something is really necessary, it will acquire value and a certain beauty. I would say that my use of materials hasn't changed much over the years. I still use mainly metals and plastics. However, I would say that my craft at handling the materials has grealty improved and the process has come become

Summer 2015

Holy Rollers and the Great Chain of Being

130 4 23


Victor Sonna

121 431

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART ARTHabens Habens

Victor Sonna

much more intensified , with me delving deep into the very stucture of the materials, and wanting to leave, as it were The signature of my craft all over them. (whereas I used to be content to ultilize less elaborate collage techniques.) My insistence on craftsmanship as one of the leading qualities in art also answers the question about my stand regarding the aesthetic problem.

multilayered involvement with the viewers, so before leaving this conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

While exhibiting a captivating vibrancy, your stimulating work entitled Chaos Becomes Silenceseem to reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to offer to the viewer a key to find personal interpretations to the concepts you hint: rather that a conceptual interiority, I can recognize the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

I don't really create works with a certain audience or audiene segments in mind. However, I do try to create meaningful works of art which change the viewer in some ways, I am trying to make them aware of issues we all share as contemporary human beings . There is always a certain kind of tension between the artist and his audience. I aspire to captivate my audience and transport them to another time and another world which are critical, stylized and higly personalized versions of aspects of our modern day and age.

Everything depends on everything else. All things are alive and live in mutual dependency. I try to unsettle my audience, trying to make them feel the contingency of human behaviour and existential chaos. As this is my current way of seeing things, I can't help but creating works which are radically open to a whole range of interpretations.. In this way, the form my works take on, are implicit reflections of my themes and my overall worldview.

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Victor Sonna. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

One of my future projects will have as its very topical theme the hopes , fears and dreams of immigrants (I belong to this category myself). Migrants often dream of a better life, in another, more prosperous world. They will literally do anything to realize this dream, even fly to to the sun… (metaphorically speaking)

The openness which invites personal interpretations from the viewer of CHAOS BECOMES SILENCE (and in many other works of mine, I hope) directly results from me incorporating different themes and levels of meaning in one work. Secondly, I systemetically try to avoid thematic closure because I want my works to leave room for many as interpretations as there are viewers. Although my works have recurrent themes, I don't want to be a dictator in this respect.

Their identity might become so entangled and bound up with this dream that it might be interesting to ask what would lie beyond the dream if all its aspects were realized? What if everything works out …… What will happen to his/her identity Who will he/she be then?

Over these years you have showcased your pieces in several occasions and I think it's important to mention that you have been nominated for two times from Dutch Design Award with your project of “Sunshine after Rain” in collaboration with the Eindhoven Hatshop. Your approach is based on the chance of establishing a deep and

Summer 2015

Will the ‘I’ of identity be swept away or be transformed into something utterly new?

(all photos of Victor Sonna's works by Ronald Smits)

132 4 23


Victor Sonna

ART Habens

I Love My Land, 2011

21 133 4

Summer 2015


Yidan Xie Death is inevitable. We instinctively know that from the moment we are Yidan Xie is a multimedia artist who focus on born.

dynamic Imaging. Her works are various including video, animation, illustration, Sound and Game e.t.c. Consequently, biggest fear is that of In her works, aour mysterious and fantastic visual experience is presented. Yidan Xie focus on the the seizing of the Self, the antonym of new presentation of space narrative and explores the the art universal belief in some kind of relationship among the women,nature and continuity, at the moment of death. mythology.

However, we seem to forget that in mystifying instances of attraction and eroticism. From spiritual to bodily, these instances are extended on a vertical axis of fascination. When fascinated we experience a state where “there is nothing more than a gigantic object in a desert world� and we just are not that thing; a fascinating object is one which is, to the point where we are not, and we therefore need to be, demand to be, desire to be. We are violently ripped from existence and develop a perpetual desire for being. The process of creation is one where fascination is a trigger and an end result: It begins with an intuitive thought that captures our attention without at the same time submitting entirely to our understanding. The inability to accurately articulate it results in both a recurrent desire and repetitive attempts to do so. This leads to the creation of an autonomous offshoot, communicating the initial object of fascination. Naim El Hajj

Breathe Forrest, Breathe! Installation(4mx4mx4m), 2013

Summer 2015

021 4


Yidan Xie

ART Habens

video, 2013

0 422

A still from Innisfree, video Summer 2015


ART Habens

Summer 2015

Yidan Xie

03 4


Yidan Xie

An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Katherine C. Wilson, curator arthabens@mail.com

Multimedia artist Yidan Xie works in a wide variety of disciplines to create works capable of offering a multilayered experience to the viewers. Playing in the liminal area in which imagination merges with perceptual reality, she effectively transposes cultural and mythological elements to a new level of significance, inviting us to an unconventional exploration of the relationships between Man and Nature. One of the most impressive feature of Xie's work is the way she transforms each segment of her images into a pictorial sign, which conveys emotions as well a careful balance between narration and aesthetics. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers Yidan Xie's artistic production. Hello Yidan and welcome to ART Habens: to start this interview I would pose a couple of introductory questions about your background. You have a solid formal training: you hold a BFA from the China Academy of Art and you are currently pursuing your MFA with a major on Kinetic Imaging at the Virginia Commonwealth University. How have these experiences influenced your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does the combination between the chinese cultural substratum and your current life in the United States informs your approach?

Yidan Xie

Imaging at VCUarts are very few, most of time they focus on their projects or works, for me, those atmosphere is very free that means I can do what I want without scruple.

I think during the VCUarts study, I evaluate my current creativity correctly and understand my advantage and disadvantage, meanwhile I also clear my future personal development orientation. Those issue was not considered carefully when I was in undergraduate. Definitely, It is important and necessary for me to study at VCUarts because the students number in graduate studio of Kinetic

Richmond is a peaceful city instead of NYU, Chicago or other big city in US, it maintain the beautiful nature environment. There is nothing to do except studying and working but I really enjoy this high-focusing life.

04 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Summer 2015

Naim El Hajj

4 23 0 5


Naim El Hajj

21 06 4

ART Habens

A still fromSummer Innisfree,2015 video


ART Habens

Yidan Xie

In terms of combination you mentioned, actually I didn’t combined something on purpose or have to do some combination, I let a thing slide. International artists often be asked the similar question but probably my adaptability is well, I feel the life in US is better, few people quiet, if there is many Chinese restaurants in Richmond, it will be prefect. 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?

In technical aspects, the visual experience is what I pay attention on. I am willing to study the technology related to visual effect such as some software and equipment. For preparation and time, I will draft a rough plan and schedule at the beginning of creation then do it immediately. During the working, I will improve the rough plan and adjust the schedule constantly. There is no real prefect plan, If I think about too much without action, It not good for my project. I would start to focus on your artistic production beginning from Innisfree, an extremely interesting work that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: would you tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

The name Innisfree comes from the W.B Yeats poem, The Lake Isle of Innisfree. this poem describe a dreamlike place named Innisfree, probably the Innisfree indeed

Summer 2015

A still from Innisfree, video

4 23 0 5


Yidan Xie

21 06 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Yidan Xie

A still from Innisfree, video

Summer 2015

4 23 0 5


Yidan Xie

ART Habens

existed or just the poet’s Utopia in his mind. I did Innisfree combing with Yeats poem. In this work, there are many fairies floating in the abstract space, which is a kind of exploration about a new possibility of space narrative. As well known, Yeats also wrote a famous book name Celtic Twilight, this works recorded many short story about fairies in Celtic culture, to some degree, it can explain why I painted many mythic creatures in Innisfree Actually Yeats works influence me very much,properly speaking, the mysterious Celtic culture maintaining in Yeats work is what I interest in. Highlighting the contrast between reflexive aspects and experiential ones, Innisfree stimulates the viewer’s psyche to elaborate personal associations between simple geometries and a reference to environmental elements, which are part of our collecive imagery. Consequently, it works on both a subconscious and a conscious level, inducing the viewer to linger in a liminal area in which imagination and experience play both at the same level. How did you decide to focus on this form of video? And in particular, do you conceive this in an instinctive way or do you rather structure your process in order to reach the right balance?

Innisfree is a combination of video and animation. If the video and animation represent two opposite point separately, I hope this work could be in the middle, that means it can not be classified easily. Therefore, the problem is how to keep balance between the video part and animation part in order to keep the ambiguity. There are two method I need to pay attention, first one is building the

21 06 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Yidan Xie

relationship narrative between video and animation, second one is controlling the percentage between two part in one scene. If the video part is much than animation part, the balance would be destroyed. Meanwhile, this control should be considered under the situation of narrative construction. Sometimes the video or animation part is too much and should be decreased, however, if that, the narrative can not be build very well. So it is a complex issue in creative progress. By definition video is rhythm and movement, gesture and continuity. In your videos you create time-based works that invite the spectatorship to abandon themselves to his associations, looking at time in spatial terms and I daresay, rethinking the concept of space and time in such a static way: this seems to remove any historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to perceive in a more atemporal form. How do you conceive the rhythm of your works?

Most of my works is lyric and peaceful, but it dose not mean the rhythm is unnecessary. Conversely, the rhythm need to be presented as the subtle method, which not only replies on vision but also hearing. For example, In Innisfree, the image does not emerge but the sound effect is able to build the atmosphere and give some hints in advance, even if there are many blank without any images but the sound can replenish the space on hearing. In think the rhythm in my work is a kind of feeling control by using images and sound. Another interesting work of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on which I would like to spend some words is entitled Sir Lanka, that our readers can view at https://vimeo.com/126828548. I like the way your intimate narration and the way

Summer 2015

A still from Sri Lanka, video

4 23 0 5


Yidan Xie

21 06 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Yidan Xie

you focussed on gestures have captured the ephemeral nature of human experience. Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead". So I would take this occasion 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?

Sure, the questions about creative process are personal, some artists must reply on personal experience but some artists not, it is a multiple choice. Every artist has his of her own creation habit like some people eat banana with salt. Multidisciplinarity is a crucial aspect of your approach that seems to be in an incessant search of an organic, almost intimate symbiosis between several disciplines, taking advantage of the creative and expressive potential of video and animation as well as of illustration and sound: while crossing the borders of such different fields have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between a variety disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

Temporarily no, cause the video and animation are the visual art,to some degree they have some similarity, but I believe every medium has its speciality just I have no chance to reach it. Probably the way is still long for me. Rather than a conceptual interiority, the careful composition of your works, as the astonishing one that I had the chance to admire in Nine Looms, seems to reject the role of chance and often show the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations both to perceptual reality and to the process of imagination. Would you say that

Summer 2015

A still from Sri Lanka, video

4 23 0 5


Yidan Xie

21 06 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Yidan Xie

A still from Nine Looms, video

it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

understanding of this poem , then represented the Nine Looms as the video form. Interesting, even if, in visual presentation, Nine Looms looks like very intuitive, but in creation aspect, the systematic thinking iwas mainly process. Firstly, I need to list every things the poem mentioned such as animal, plant and weather e.t.c. Then those elements should be arranged well so that they can arouses a kind of subtle

Nine Looms is a traditional Chinese poem, it describes a woman weaver misses her lover. This poem utilizes many symbolic things to express this women emotion like butterfly, spring wind and flower e.t.c. So the poem itself is very abstract and dreamlike. Similarly, I adopted this method and combined with my personal

Summer 2015

4 23 0 5


Yidan Xie

ART Habens

A still from Nine Looms, video

narrative similar with poem. Because the thing is specific, for example the fish is fish, the butterfly is butterfly, but those specific things in poem expresses the abstract scene and emotion.

those various elements well on screen, it seems like a delicate layout. Creating an ambience that draws the viewers into a fantastic and sometimes mysterious dimension, you seem to aim to delete the barriers between the author and the spectatorship. So, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of

This is a literature technique in writing. How to use the specific image to express the abstract visual effect or fantasy visual experience and emotion? I need to think logically and rationally and then arrange

21 06 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Yidan Xie

audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

Frankly I didn’t consider the audience reception before. Personally, If I would like to think about this issue, the next question is, how much the audience reception I need to consider ? what I need to adjust in my work according to audience reception? it will generate a series of questions which can affect my creation plan. To some degree,it is a kind of a business logic because in business creation, the audience reception would become a crucial component in whole creative progress. However, whether I do the business work or not in future, currently, I can decide my work by my own experience, like or dislike. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Yidan. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

About future projects, I plane to do experimental animation and sound performance. Those field is what I have no chance to study before. Moreover, I still like drawing, I have already spent many time to do video, so I miss drawing very much.And Sound is new field for me and it also my new interest currently, my professor is a sound artist, It is a good chance for me to study different things. An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Katherine C. Wilson, curator arthabens@mail.com

Summer 2015

4 23 0 5


Naim El Hajj

21 06 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


Photography is my passion and shapes nearly every aspect of my life. I am inspired to create images in order to receive a better understand myself and of reality. I seek the stories untold and the uncommon in the common. My subject matter focuses on the institutional space and the relationship between social control, social structure and the preconceived notions that surround particular institutions. The series “Gaol” was created in The Galleries of Justice Museum in Nottingham which was once a working prison and now functions as an educational experience and considers the history of British prisons in the 18th century. The traditional role of the museum in today’s society is to collect items, specific objects with cultural or historical importance. These objects are preserved and maintained and presented to the public to educate and as a pleasurable experience. I have attempted to document the arrangements of items and objects in this staged setting in order to slow down the viewing process of the image and to question the preconceived notions of looking at a photograph Living in a hyper real world that moves along side as at an exceptional speed, we repeatedly get a feeling of disorientation and false reassurance as we try to adjust to a post-modern society in which the boundaries between image and referent, reality and appearance are uncertain. Unlike in traditional photography in which an instant of reality and the so called objective truth is recorded, these recorded Mise en Scenes deal with the theatre of the constructed space and aim to present a platform in which the border between reality and fiction are blurred. The camera functions as a tool to observe and explore the constructed, theatrical settings. A play of light, shadow, empty spaces, textures and the artefacts of the museum results in a balance act that captures the essence and mood of the constructed spaces which could be viewed as a “reflection on solitude” in a minimalist approach. I draw inspiration from various sources, including art, music, poetry, paintings and in recent years the idea that reality is not as it appears to be, life is not about what we see but about how we see it. James Casebere and Lori Nix are two artists that deal with this construction of new realities. Focused on photographing 3D models in architectural settings, these artists create non-traditional photography by constructing theatrical environments and photographing them to appear realistic and in doing they question the conventional myth of the photograph being the objective truth. „I believe in the invisible. I do not believe in the definitive reality of things around us. For me, reality is the intuition and the imagination and the quiet voice inside my head that says: isn’t that extraordinary? The things in our lives are the shadows of reality, just as we ourselves are shadows“. Ralph Eugene Meatyyard


Su Wang Gemma Pepper

ART Habens


ART Habens

Gemma Pepper

03 4


Su Wang

An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator arthabens@mail.com

London based experimental artist Su Wang carries out an effective investigation about the relationship between traditional Chinese spirit and the Western art forms. She draws inspiration from Nature's harmony to reveal the ubiquitous syncretism between nature and human being, and shows how Western abstraction and Easter contemplative gaze on the world can find a point of convergence, a liminal area through which Wang walks along the viewers, into a stimulating journey. We are very pleased to introduce our readers to her refined artistic production. Hello Su and welcome to ART Habens. To start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training and you hold a Master degree from the prestigious Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts in London: how has this experience informed the way you currently conceive and produce your works? And hw has it influenced your evolution as an artist?

I was born in a very traditional family in China, none of my parents are artists. I started to find my interests in color sense I was very young, so I started my art training when I was a little kid.

Su Wang

Young artist based in London, experimental artist. Master degree graduated from Central Saint Martins, her work is mainly concentrate on the relationship between traditional Chinese spirit and the Western art forms, she pays her great interested in the macroscopic nature and aim to express the power of our motherland, which is exactly the basic inspiration of Chinese traditional culture, and let people understand the spirit of syncretism between heaven and man, between nature and human being, she is inspired about being harmony with nature - a basic concept with ancient roots in Chinese Buddhist or Taoist, and keep on searching the truth of communion with nature as the basis of man’s inner peace.

To be honest, I didn’t pay a lot of patient in traditional way of drawing, I would love to spend more time on experimental stuff and always focus my own imaginations. But in another way, I love Chinese traditional culture and I took a lot of time in practicing Chinese Calligraphy. To me, the Chinese way of organizing the contents and the white space is the most elegant combination of all time. And then I finished my degree on design in Singapore - Nanyang Academy of fine arts. To be a design student but not a art student gives my a lot of precious skills, such as color combination, beauty-appreciation and layout control. I feel very lucky that I have a design background because in some way I could get rid of some traditional artistic boundaries, it helps me a lot to just show who I am and what I want my works to look like when I was doing my Master.

At the same time using Western abstraction to show the common thinking perspective.

04 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Su Wang

In 2013, I came to Central Saint Martin, the free thinking spirit in London made me feel excited and challenging, I started to do a lot of collage works, the topics were all surrounded by nature, humanity, social issues and also some personal memories of my daily lives. And then I began my process of screen print, at first I just wish to convey my collages in to a print format, but a coincidence inspired me to paint directly onto the screen, and the results gave me a new direction, it reminded my color interests when I was a little kid, I found my true passion and crazy ideas. So it forms the works which shows today.:) Your works appeal to my eyes because they convey Tradition and a modern gaze on contemporary age in such a compelling way. If you ask me, I think that contemporariness is not just a matter of referring to coeval era: rather it concerns the way an artist relates himself to the intrinsic ephemerality of current times: I'm curious about your opinion. In particular, do you recognize any irremediable dichotomy between Tradition and Contemporariness?

For me, time is not always a question. Art is not a question of what, it is question of how, how we do our work and how to show who we are. I don’t really wish my work to stay in some certain form. as time is changing but art is just a matter of “do�, do what will excite you, do something will wroth to be spent time with. I think the real thing which always stay with me is classic Chinese culture, the simple black and white color choosing, and the far reaching significant meaning behind, the white space for people to think, and the motions to be put in. I think this is the true sense of beauty. And to be honest, Chinese classic painting and Chinese calligraphy never change, they stay in the same appearance for thousands of years, nowadays, we still follow their rules and regulations, so time will change and create something great, but my tension maybe not stay in the trend. I would like to start to focus on your artistic production beginning with the Forbidden Zone series, that our readers have already got to know in the introductory pages of the article. The way you explore the intimate

Summer 2015

4 23 0 5


Su Wang

21 06 4

ART Habens

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Su Wang

dimension, stimulating the viewer’s psyche and consequently working on both a subconscious and a conscious level, has particularly impacted on me, so I would like that you walk our readers through the process that has lead you to conceive this interesting project. In particular, what was your initial inspiration?

And then I got in touch with screen print, it is all happened because of a failed screen, the explosions is in a wrong way so the pattern all faded away, I should have abandoned that screen but I find out without any pattern I could just print on the screen, all my strokes will appear on the paper, very straight forward, I got very excited about the outcomes and the process itself, I fancy all the color and the unexpected results after print, because those accident occurred uncontrollable surprises.

In the first time I got the chance to try screen print is just an coincidence, as I did very different types of work before, something like quite photography montage combined with free haves brush strokes, I think at that time I was trying to combine my collages with Chinese traditional brush works.

Summer 2015

I started to pay attention to collect inspiration from my daily life and try out a lot of layout organizations from Chinese painting, especially Chinese calligraphy, I use the technical

4 23 0 7


Sandra Hunter

21 08 4

ART Habens


ART Habens

Gemma Pepper

09


Su Wang

ART Habens

contemporary age. So I would you ask your opinion about the relationship between Tradition and Contemporariness: in particular, can you recognize any contrast between Tradition and Contemporariness?

knowledge from Chinese calligraphy and apply them and splashed them onto screen. The outcomes always makes me pleased! I have appreciated how your insightful investigating about the relationship between traditional Chinese spirit and the Western art forms rejects any kind of artificial dichotomies, highlighting the spirit of syncretism between nature and human being: such refined research you accomplish provides us of an Ariadne's Thread that allows the viewer to extract a new level of significance behind the concept that you explore and the images you offer, going beyond any dichotomy between traditional heritage and a modern gaze on

I always think that we should not identify ourselves in the first place, art for me is trying and experiencing, no matter we paint in a classic way or a contemporary way, the classic could become very modern, I like to see the time collapsed together and the sparkles occurred, the relationship between tradition and modern is very alternative, but learning from the traditions is essential, as they are timeless and meaningful in the history.

21 10 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Su Wang

been strucked with the vibrancy of the colors that saturate your canvas, and especially the way they suggest plasticiy and even such a tactile feeling. How did you come about settling on your color palette?

Maybe sometimes I would like to slow down my steeps and looking back a bit, I don’t always trying to do something creative that no one has seen it before, looking back and learning from the masters is what I keep on doing for all these times, I help myself to stay in a very clear position, no matter in techniques or ideas.

To be serious, color choosing is what I would like to put my patience on, I decide a inspiration and scene first, maybe some photographs I look during my certain trips, the color from the nature is purest and the most impressive, but most importantly, I took very much of my color inspiration from the music I am hearing during the process, I am a huge fan of music and I keep on trying different types of music, each type can bring very different results.

It goes without saying that your paintings are the result of a lot of planning and thought, but at the same time they convey enery and especially a sense of spontaneity that imarks out your style. One of the things that I have mostly appreciated of your Planet series concerns the careful balance of tones that gives to each work a geometric equilibrium: I have

Summer 2015

11


Sandra Hunter

21 1 42


Gemma Pepper

13


Su Wang

Finally, these various of affection will decide the main color and supporting color.

ART Habens

organize the white space is quite strict, neither too narrow nor too crowed, I think this is the basic restriction for my paintings as I am a person who very easily get out of control during the process, I think balance is a very tricky subject which totally depend on the artist’s personal preferences. I usually do the organization by my appreciation of beauty, it becomes who I am now.

Your approach seems to stimulates the viewer’s psyche, as in the interesting Claws, and consequently works on both a subconscious and a conscious level. How did you decide to focus on this form of painting? And in particular, do you conceive this in an instinctive way or do you rather structure your process in order to reach the right balance?

I daresay that the surrealistic qualities that mark out your works are in a certain sense representative of the relationship between emotion and memory and communicates me a process of deconstruction and assemblage, that I find truly engaging from a poetic aspect. What is the role of memory in your

As I mentioned before, I am influenced by Chinese traditional art for the day I began to get in touch with art, so at the first place I would use the basic structure and slues from Chinese calligraphy, because their rules of how to

21 14 4

Summer 2015


ART Habens

Su Wang

left are my hands, my color, ideas and shadowing comes out from nature. So I wish to plan a whole art studio maybe into a total wild viewed natural place, a forest or a plain, it is better for my progress. I definitively love the way you recontextualize the idea of the environment we live in. Many contemporary artists, such as the photographers Edward Burtynsky and Michael Light, include some form of environmental or even political message in their works. Do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach?

Yes, I would love my work to get certain relationship with the environment we lived in, because this is the main topic behind the surface. I think the relationship between human being and earth becomes more and more serious. However most of the time, I get touched and be inspired from natural element, the vivid power from the tree, and the freedom from the clouds, it is pure creation and power of living, it is the true passion of life and hope, so I did a lot of research about nature and I wish to express my admire of nature in my works, like Forest, and motherland series,the strokes are quite strong but moving smoothly, it refer to my fond of nature and I wish my audience could feel the same. process? And in particular, do you try to achieve a faithful visual translation of your feelings?

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Su. Finally, would you like to tell our readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

I could definitely say that the works which I like the most are somethings happened without any memories and organizations in my mind during the progress, it is clear that capturing the feelings at the certain times and just let myself go is the best way of finishing one art work.

After the graduation, I think I would love to do more experimenting works, I am planing to transform into some more powerful way, from 2D to 3D, installations will be considered.

Abstract art, for me is pure passion and truly love expression, I get inspirations from the master but only little part I could get effected during my work, because when I focus on the white paper which faces to me, I become a transparent character and all the other elements becomes interruption, the only things

Summer 2015

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator arthabens@mail.com

15


Sandra Hunter

onetwo, from the series inside/out

21 16 4

Summer 2015

ART Habens Art Review // Issue 49 // July 2015  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you