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ART

Special Edition

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

RENATA FRANZKY THENDARA M KIDA-GEE PANTO TRIVKOVIC PEPE HIDALGO TARA VATANPOUR NOELLE GENEVIER DENNIS CASEY BRIAN SIMONS MARY COLEMAN

ART

series, Installation works by


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Pepe Hidalgo

Thendara M Kida-Gee Mary Coleman

Renata Franzky

Panto Trivkovic

Dennis Casey

USA

USA

USA

Germany

Austria

USA

Standing in front of each painting one encounters a moment in time created within the world depicted on the canvas. Each of the paintings is representational, depicts, and thus constructs, a world with a unique space-time that is definitely separate from the one which the viewer primarily inhabits.What each of the depicted moments shares is that they present moments of leisure or rest, moments when time slows or even stops, sometimes briefly, at others permanently. Moments in one place and then into another place. These paintings allow one to travel, to cross spaces, borders, time, dimensions, and then return.

Thendara gained a B.A (Honours) Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London 2002. That was merely the cherry on the cake for studies began at the San Francisco Art Institute. Photography was studied and inspired by Pirkle Jones who taught Documentary of social and cultural institutions.This love and obsession can be seen today in her This Life in Ruins project; documenting the abandoned and forgotten aspects of our civilization; finding beauty in disrepair and neglect. Her photography both documentation as well as a story in cinematic stills of the aspects of life commonly ignored.

Beneath the Skin, a series of acrylic paintings on linen and canvas scraps, draws imagery from a digital archive of medical content collected personally over 17 years. My unique painting process, developed between 2013 and 2015, both destroys and restores the graphic source material (in a fragmented transformation). This method interprets and displays the imagery in a way that prevents it from becoming a voyeuristic spectacle. Viewers are invited to observe and interact with the fractured images, sensing their unsettling nature, but not driven away by it.

Renata Franzky works as a freelance artist in Munich, Germany. In its spacious interiors in her studio in Munich she works with techniques such as acrylic, oil, woodcut and lithography with topics such as figure, human being, everyday life, loneliness, isolation but also soulfulness in gestures of daily life. She concentrates on spaces, colours and lines. Thereby the line adopts the graphical layer true to the motto “the line is the human itself”. How can painting reach people today? How can the artist’s message touch the heart of the viewer? Is it still possible in an overwhelmingly digital world?

Nesting place shows the pure life energy pulsating and waiting to erupt. The power of the associated cohesion is visible and almost tangible. No time pressure is created, but patience is conveyed. The beauty of tranquility is captured in the moment. A fascinating place of waiting.The small creatures that can be seen in the lower right and upper left corner act as small friendly guards that release the sign to swarm out at the appropriate time. In my paintings I give time and space a special meaning. We are straightaway influenced by both and yet we find it difficult to fully comprehend.

I have been an outdoor adventurer for almost half a century, and I have always had a passion for being alone in nature. My goal as a photographer is to produce images that allow other people to actually feel these experiences, and to give them the feeling of what it is like to be alone in nature. The theme of my work is “Alone In Nature.” I have been an outdoor adventurer for almost half a century, and I have always had a passion for being alone in nature. My goal as a photographer is to produce images that allow other people to feel these experiences, and to give them the feeling of what it is like to be alone in nature.


In this issue

Mary Coleman

Pepe Hidalgo Panto Trivkovic

Dennis Casey Noelle Genevier

Tara Vatanpour Noelle Genevier

Tara Vatanpour

Brian Simons

United Kingdom

France

Canada

My work has an underlying theme of liminality; the ethereal idea of limbo, the crossing over between states and the detachment from reality which is revealed through themes of nature and the everyday prevalent in the found images that pervade my collages. The metamorphoses of the images and the materials create works which are often 3d and sculptural and contain the intertwining of pattern, shape and colour to create opposing perspectives. I am looking at the objects that are on the periphery of our vision and investigating the unseen. The images contained in my collages collide and intersperse breaking down previously conceived barriers and making new associations.

From a multicultural background, PersianAzari, American and French, Tara Vatanpour currently based in Paris. Her artistic practice is multidisciplinary, using photography, installations, drawings, sculptures, paintings, ceramics, and performance. From a solid educational backgrounds in Fine Arts, she has today exhibited in the Venice Biennale, London and Paris. Her subjects of artistic research are the following: trauma, memory, immigration, and intimacy. From her own experience she researches ways to represent visually the phenomenon of trauma throughout memory, and the way we live our human lives.

In my work, I attempt to express something more than the physical aspects of the subject.It is not my intent to portray accurately what I see, but rather to allow what i see to show itself to me. My part is to freely and joyously paint and let the results take care of themselves. I feel that successful painting just happens and the end result cannot be anticipated and is therefore very surprising to the painter. The more a painter can “not paint� so to speak, the more space becomes available for this communication to happen.

Renata Franzky

Brian Simons Thendara M Kida-Gee

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Special thanks to: Charlotte Seeges, Martin Gantman, Krzysztof Kaczmar, Tracey Snelling, Nicolas Vionnet, Genevieve Favre Petroff, Christopher Marsh, Adam Popli, Marilyn Wylder, Marya Vyrra, Gemma Pepper, Maria Osuna, Hannah Hiaseen and Scarlett Bowman, Yelena York Tonoyan, Edgar Askelovic, Kelsey Sheaffer and Robert Gschwantner.

series, Installation works by


Lives and works in Portland, Oregon, USA

Mary Coleman


ART Habens

Sight 2015, acrylic on linen, 43.5 x 32 cm Special Issue

Jordi Rosado

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Mary Coleman An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Mary and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit http://www.fivebluemarks.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training, and after having earned your Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours from the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, you nurtured your education with a Master of Art and Design with Honours, that you received from the School of Art and Design, Auckland University of Technology, : how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum due to your years spent in New Zealand, as well as your interest in medicine direct your current artistic research? Mary Coleman: My interest in medical history and infectious disease has been lifelong. I presented a drawing of The Black Death for my first show and tell in Kindergarten. Because my strengths lay in art and not in science, I married my interests and my skills by painting the topics I was so passionate about and would eventually pursue fine arts in 2008. Sometimes I struggled bringing my peculiar interests into the assignments, but I always managed to slip them in somehow (sometimes in ways only known to myself). Art school pushed me beyond painting small acrylic copies of medical history photos. Being surrounded by artists working in all sorts of mediums in a studio atmosphere opened me up to experimenting with new materials and techniques. I don’t think it was until I reached my post graduate years, however, that I was

Mary Coleman

able to develop a process that effectively communicated my difficult subject matter with an audience.

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Mary Coleman

Jenner, 2013, acrylic on linen, 33 x 31 cm Going to school in New Zealand was a valuable experience for me. I lived in several different cities while I was there and had a chance to

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travel the country extensively. While working on my masters, I also had the opportunity to volunteer at The Northland Medical Museum in

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Hydrophobia, 2014, acrylic on linen, 30 x 21 cm


Mary Coleman

ART Habens

starting over. Fortunately the whole process is fairly quick, only a few days are lost when I have to gesso over something and begin again.

Whangarei several days a week. I spent countless hours in the library pouring over the books and many of my paintings during that time were inspired by pictures found at the museum. Overall I spent eleven years in New Zealand before moving back home to Portland, Oregon in 2017.

Marked out with unique narrative drive, your artworks seem to unveil hidden details of the identity of your character to manifest. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, Beneath the Skin utilises disquieting source material, but retains the anonymity and dignity of people within that content by obscuring their visibility: what’s your philosophy on the nature of portraiture? How do you select the people that you decide to include in your artworks?

For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected Beneath the Skin, a stimulating series of acrylic paintings on linen and canvas scraps, that draws imagery from a digital archive of medical content collected personally over 17 years. What has at once captured our attention of your exploration of the fragility of the human form is the way it walks the viewers through the liminal area where the conscious mind and imagination find such unexpected point of convergence. When walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your artworks? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

Mary Coleman: I spend a lot of time going through old medical texts and medical history image archives online collecting portraits of afflicted individuals. I also regularly revisit my own personal digital archive that I’ve been building for 17 years. There are photos and illustrations I come across that really affect me that I find myself painting multiple times. Sometimes it is a person’s peculiar expression that draws my attention, other times it’s lingering questions the picture seems to pose. I find if an image doesn’t speak to me in some significant way or if it doesn’t make me curious, I will not finish a painting of it. I have abandoned many works of sources that didn’t hold my interest.

Mary Coleman: My process is very gestural and instinctive. At first, when I was developing the technique in 2014, I tried planning my paintings. I would work with several source images on the computer and layer them how I hoped the painting would look when finished. Unfortunately it seemed planning got lost in execution and it never turned out as I anticipated. Now I simply start with two to three pictures and pick one to paint from for the top layer and one to two for the bottom layers. I then develop a rough idea of how I eventually tear apart the top painting to reveal the underlying ones.

It is my hope that the portraiture I am producing elicits a strong emotion in the people who view it. They may not know exactly what they are looking at because the image is largely destroyed by my technique, but I hope the mood of that image is palpable. I do not think portraiture needs a cohesive face to be expressive. Reminding us of the ideas behind Jenny Saville's early artistic production, The King's Evil and Strips have struck us by the way they reject the conventional notion of beauty: how do you balance aesthetics and your fascination

With this rough layering and tearing apart of paintings there is a lot of failure to contend with. Only around half of what I create turns out how I intend it to and I often find myself

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Mary Coleman

attempt to obscure the content of my paintings. Sometimes the graphic nature of my work could be repellant to those looking and I found the more I desperately tried to communicate with my audience, the less they seemed to want to communicate with me. Medical history and infectious disease are niche subjects, I suppose, and not many people are as enamoured by these topics as I am.

by the way illness and injury can contort the body and change the features? Mary Coleman: I think there is a terrible beauty in the way sickness transforms the body and I paint illness with a sense of reverence. When my mother was dying her body became almost unrecognisable to me, the cancer she suffered from transfigured her into a whole new being. I’ll never forget how deeply that impacted me seeing her in the hospital after having been away in New Zealand for several years. I try to capture this bodily change in my work.

Beneath the Skin developed while I was doing my masters and emerged after several years of artist’s block when I felt I couldn’t bring my painting practice any further. At first I started to step away from solely painting pictures from other pictures. I began exploring the idea of painting from medical source imagery but then obscuring it heavily in clouds of paint. Eventually layering was introduced and the act of tearing apart the different layers. I found as I developed my technique, people in my critique groups were becoming more interested in what I was doing. I was also telling them a lot less about what I was painting. I let them use their own imagination to figure out what they were looking at. They could sense it was something disturbing, but were not repelled as people were by my earlier work.

Two diseases in particular which radically alter human appearance and which draw me in to create many paintings of the same subject are smallpox and leprosy. They both have fascinating histories and the physical alteration sufferers undergo is profound. I do not want to put the suffering of people on display, however, which is why I try and obscure my subjects through a technique of tearing and layering. With their unique multilayered visual quality, your artworks challenge the viewers' perception to observe and interact with the fractured images, sensing their unsettling nature, and inviting them to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realise their own perception. Austrian Art historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the viewers to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the illusion: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

I felt this new connection with my audience encouraging. I realised people didn’t need to know exactly what they were looking at, they simply needed to emotionally connect with what they were viewing. It paid far more respect to the suffering of the subjects I was painting to have viewers feel for them instead of having an audience gawking at a person’s mutilated features. I also no longer felt an urgent need to impart a detailed story with every painting, I preferred to sit aside and let my viewers experience what they are seeing on their own.

Mary Coleman: In the past I very much attached a story to each artwork I painted. It was important to me that my audience know exactly what they were looking at and I made no

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Your works feature such effective combination between the refined sense of geometry and

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Mary Coleman

ART Habens

I've lost myself, so to say. 45 x 35 cm, acrylic on linen, 2020 21 4 08

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Mary Coleman

Hole, 2014, acrylic on linen, approximately 22.9 x 33 cm

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Mary Coleman

ART Habens

Strips, 2019, acrylic on linen, 38 x 35cm

thoughtful nuances of tones that communicate alternation of tension and

release, providing the paintings with such sense of dynamics. How does your own

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Mary Coleman

West Indies

Mask

2018, acrylic on linen, 65.75 x 46cm

2019, acrylic on linen, 45 x 30.75 cm

psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in an artwork and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such brilliant results?

I am a little hesitant to divulge my entire technique, but I can say the layers and resulting texture come from several different paintings created on top of one another. Usually I create about two to three complete paintings in the process of completing one entire work. The tearing away of different layers to reveal parts of paintings below gives it an appearance that closely resembles a collage and my works are often confused for being collage. I only sometimes correct this common mistake because of the secretiveness I feel around my process.

Mary Coleman: The tone of my work develops in response to my emotions for the source material. I notice in particular the expression of the person I’m painting might change depending on how I am feeling when I paint them. The source could look quite different from what I end up painting. Colour choices too, usually reflect my mood as I am working. I very rarely choose the original palette of the photo or illustration I’m working from.

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Although primarily representational, your works convey such subtle combination

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Agata, 60 x 45 cm, acrylic on linen, 2020 21 4 12

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Mary Coleman

Pieces, 2019, acrylic on linen, 43 x 37 cm Special Issue

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between realistic elements and the reminders to the realm of imagination, creating such powerful bridge the past with the present. Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production? In particular, how does your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process?

Over the years your artworks have been showcased in several occasions, including your recent participation to the group show Reinvention, in Hood River, OR: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definitely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

Mary Coleman: Everyday life and basic reality became very confusing in 2013, around the time I started my masters. It was during this time I began to experience an increasingly intense psychotic episode. My mental health had a deep impact on my paintings and the delusions and hallucinations I struggled with on a daily basis fuelled a massive production of work because I believed it was a divine calling to create artwork. I interpreted personal messages from the universe that instructed me exactly what to paint and how to paint. I privately grappled with this altered mind state for three years before I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. The violent appearance of my work, the torn and jagged edges, was as much a reflection of my mind in turmoil as it was a technique for veiling the content.

Mary Coleman: I have shared my artwork online for far longer than I have had a chance to share it in a physical space. Before I went to art school and dating back to the early 2000’s I used a platform called Deviantart (an older art social networking website) to share and interact with other artists online. I also built my own website and hosted my artwork there. Over the years I moved to other social networking art websites such as Behance and Saatchiart. Currently I have settled on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/5bluemarks) and a personal website which is hosted by Wordpress (http://www.fivebluemarks.com). I believe the internet will always be an integral part of how I share my work with a global audience. Showing at a gallery limits the audience to a locality, but there is no limit to who can view a website.

Although 2013 to 2015 was a very difficult time for me, I felt the artistic process that resulted from my mental illness was worth continuing, even as my mind stabilised and returned to sanity. I felt that my technique proved very effective in communicating with my audience and was very effective too in displaying the difficult content of my portraiture. It took a stark departure from reality to develop my work initially, but I do not need to be unwell to continue creating it.

Even though I accustomed to having a virtual audience, I hope that one day I can install Beneath the Skin at a gallery and share it in a physical space. I am only at the beginning of my career as an artist so I don’t know when an opportunity to show this particular series will arise. Despite not having plans to show Beneath the Skin, I am continually producing new paintings because it does not quite feel finished to me. Maybe by the time I am done, I will have

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Mary Coleman

Professor

The King's Evil

2019, acrylic on linen, 43.5 x 37.5 cm

2015, acrylic on linen, 36.5 x 28 cm

an opportunity to show it. Until then, the internet is my only method for sharing work from Beneath the Skin.

Skin, but I am now trying watercolour paper as well. I moved to other mediums besides acrylic when I introduced paper, playing with unpainted layers using coloured pencil.

We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Mary. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

There are also standalone works that are inspired by prompts for monthly group shows. Even when I am painting for a theme, I try to incorporate some small element of medical history to keep myself interested. Posed and Some Good My Gentle Master for God’s Sake are two examples of works I created for group shows. With the recent coronavirus closing galleries, these types of projects have largely been put on hold.

Mary Coleman: Recently I have decided to delve deeper into the microscopic world of germs and I am painting some of the diseases that interest me. I am not sure as to what technique I want to employ for this quite yet and the project is still at a very experimental stage. It began on scraps of linen like those I use in Beneath the

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An interview by and

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, curator curator


Spokane 2014, acrylic on linen, 29 x 20.75 cm


Lives and works in Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Spinners I

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Pepe Hidalgo

ART Habens

video, 2013

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Jordi Rosado

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Pepe Hidalgo An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Pepe and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit http://www.pepehidalgo.es and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. Your artistic journey began in your adolescence, during frequent visits to the Museo del Prado in Madrid: how did those formative years and your cultural substratum due to your Spanish roots nfluence your evolution as an artist? Pepe Hidalgo: Hi. If you are refering how I felt in those years? I can tell you that like any teenager when looking at my environment and trying to understand the social setting, my memories of that time on a personal level were of a happy state. Looking back, I belonged to a gray and very sad society. A society divided and subdued with the influence of the dictator, those were the years of Franco, a militarized society that was evident in the streets. I consider the Spanish people cultured as we were invaded and influenced by many different cultures throughout history, this has left historic sediment that is still seen in our culture.

Pepe Hidalgo

If the question is focused on my studies, then I was a normal young boy who rebeled against injustice or what I considered injustice. I continued studying in university until there was a transition to democracy and my economic situation allowed me to devote myself fully to painting.

influenced by the part of Spanish painters. I found that the colours inside El Prado, were representitive of the society I found myself in at the time. Luckily I was able to find the great old masters there and spent time observing and thinking about their works. The engravings of Goya and his “Black Paintings” motivated me to become a painter.

You commented earlier on my frequent visits to the Prado Museum. Obviously I was greatly

Velázquez's works seemed to be works of great difficulty made with great simplicity. The

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Pepe Hidalgo

paintings such as La Fragua de Vulcano (Forge of Vulcan), Los Borrachos (The Triumph of Bacchus), and Esopo (Aesop) fascinated me. El Bosco (Hieronymus Bosch) was another of the painters who left a mark on me. One of my fond memories is when I departed from the museum, I would always stop before the presence of the painting "The Death of Seneca", by Rubens. At that time, Picasso was exiled in France, and his artwork was censered in Spain. We had to wait until the last years of the dictatorship, in order to see a small portion of his works in Madrid. They were on exhibition in a gallery that was attacked by the regime's followers. At the time, Picasso's work really impressed me and to some extent, it went against all the traditional painting that I knew. The freedom of drawing colour and shapes impacted me positively. With the eyes that he would paint out of place, for me, he was responding to the representation of movement that some of his futurism predecessors like Giacomo Balla sought to represent in the painting “Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash”. In my opinion when Picasso put eyes in different places in his figure he represented different planes of the figure at different times thus solving how to represent movement many years after the Futurism Movement. I have preserved this representation when I want to reflect on movement in some of my paintings. For instance, Miró caused me to interpret Bosco and vice versa. For me Bosco is a painter who is cosmic, if I abstract his figures, his content and meaning of his figures, for me, they create a cosmic map that reminds me of Miró's works. Moreover, are there any experiences that did particularly help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different techniques?

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Pepe Hidalgo

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High Tide 21 4 06

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Pepe Hidalgo

The Quixotic State Machinery 77 X 57 in. Special Issue

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Pepe Hidalgo

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During my visits in Germany before the fall of the Berlin wall, there existed a general idea of “There Is No Future” among the artists I knew. These artists used material of disuse and short life, this allowed me to develop and work with materials less noble. This process also taught me to prepare my own canvases, paint, and stretcher bars. Experimentation is something that always accompanies me. My working method is painting directly on the canvas and its modification by dripping dots/points and adding glazes (veladuras). This continually forces me to visualize different possibilities. So it is pure experimentation with each picture because of the work method I use. By observing my paintings one can see that they are very different from each other, this experimentation has led me to not be able to copy myself. Your artistic production combines personal aesthetics with such unique visual language that you use in a strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity and offering an array of meanings to the viewers. The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens —and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way you explored the connection between human experience and the realm of imagination: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you develop your initial ideas? Pepe Hidalgo: Everyday activities are a source of inspiration.These activities lose contact with reality once they pass through the memory. Once they are removed from the memory they

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ART Habens

Pepe Hidalgo

Classic Abstract 40 X 34 in.

acquire a different reality. This differentiated reality is what I capture in my paintings. In other words, I do not copy reality, I interpret it. During the interpretation period is when the figurative or abstract narrative appears. Some people may interpret it as surreal but that is not my intention.

from reading a book, or from the knowledge of mythology, science, a sensation, or an emotion. Years ago, as a result of reading different news articles about space I ended up having an exhibition in Jaca, Spain. The articles spoke of sending the ashes of the dead into space. To emphasize and denounce that possibility, I made an exhibition and installation with many floating peppers, titled.

Another source of inspiration for me can come

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Pepe Hidalgo

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From Sender to PIcasso Going By Miro 71 X 59 in.

”Al Espacio con un Pimiento” “To Space with Nothing”

way they create tension and sense of dynamism: how did you come about settling on your color palette?

We have really appreciated the vibrancy of thoughtful nuances of tones that mark out your artworks, and in particular the unique nuance of red of the drapery in your interesting The Spinners I and of the clothes of the character of My Neighbor Matilda:we like the

Pepe Hidalgo: I paint directly on the canvas. My palette is very austere, to set it up I rely on the five basic colours. The use of partial or total glazes (veladuras) on the painting, allows me to

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Creating Your Own Reality 36X48 in.


Masonic Icon 24 X 36 in.


Pepe Hidalgo

get a variety of colours. That is possibly what you call colour vitality, but I call it the volume of the colour. It’s a strange concept... When working on the canvas if I am adding the dots on top of the images below and then I start to add glazes on top of the dots, this is when I am able to achieve a great variety of colours. This can be seen in the two photos of before and after in Matilda’s skirt. Through a slow laborious process I am able to achieve the dynamism that you are talking about. Also, I try to bring out the details that have been faded by the glaze and remove some small areas before the glaze is dry. I would say that each painting is my palette.

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what's out there in front of us: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination playing within your work? Pepe Hidalgo: My painting produced in Holland Titled: Interior of the Netherlands, was cataloged as a work inspired by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, whose works have a certain resemblance to Bosco. My work makes it difficult to classify it in the conventional styles. In Huesca, Spanin I was classified as a postavant-garde artist. I don’t identify with this. However, I am comfortable with the denomination of figurative and narrative abstract.

And how does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your textures?

In regards to the interpretation of reality that I demonstrate in my paintings, I try to introduce elements such as colors or shapes that my viewer can identify. I do this to reach out to the viewer and so that hopefully they can make a connection and participate with the reality that I have depicted in the painting.

Pepe Hidalgo: As I mentioned earlier regarding the beginning of the painting, it is the communication that is established with each painting that determines the colours I use, as well as its composition. I think that the mood of the moment and the state I’m in influences the colours and the form that the painting takes. But taking into account that a painting can be lengthened in time, the painting in its final result will be a variable sum of psychological composition.

First of all, I would like to say that I am not interested in copying reality, I prefer to say that I interpret reality. Since photography was invented I don’t have the need to paint realtiy. In my opinion, I use the interpretation of reality to present an environment or situation that creates curiosity for the viewer to contemplate the painting.

Rejecting any conventional classifications, your style is marked out with such powerful narrative drive, that reveals the point of convergence between figurative and abstract genre, and it's important to notice that in your paintings is present a two-colored cord or string, a distinctive element that acts as a reference guide between reality and imagination. Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from

The cord that appears in most of my paintings is a guide that takes me into unknown terrain. It represents my evolution and the changing styles. It went from being a guide to being the umbilical cord, to a characteristic symbol that allows me to address different styles and experiment between figurative and abstract. I have been able to change my style and maintain the cord as my signature or my identity.

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Pepe Hidalgo

For a painting to be a narrative, I need elements that my interlocutor can identify, this allows them to participate in the story of the painting. I usually comment that a part can represent the whole and the whole can simply be a volume where the form gives meaning to the whole. Classical abstract is where the imagination can deform and transform reality into unimaginable extremes as it has actually done, this extreme does not interest me. In my paintings, I try to stay with this transformation or classical abstract, so that these can be narratives. You seem to draw from your daily experience, to convey such surreal quality to your artworks: how does your memories and everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research? Pepe Hidalgo: As I commented at the beginning of the conversation, my inspiration is influenced by my background and experience. Both of these determine and influence the content of the painting. I can still remember where and when I got the images that are in my paintings. On my last visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery, I saw an image that captivated me, and it has stayed with me as an idea. When I paint it, it will have nothing to do with reality but it will be real for all those who see the painting. What I mean is that the interpretation of reality leads us to another reality. It is what I tried to express with the series, String Theory, (without being scientifically proven). This theory allows you to go from one system to another system, with different realities, jumping a possible frontier or limit within space-time. With their unique multilayered visual quality, your artworks stimulate and expand the viewers' imagination, and in a certain sense, we dare say that your artworks seem to invite the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. Austrian Art historian Ernst

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Pepe Hidalgo

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Tirbute to Esteban Vicente 57 X 44 in. 21 4 14

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Pepe Hidalgo

Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the viewers to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the illusion: how important is it for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order

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to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Pepe Hidalgo: I have to admit that I did not

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Pepe Hidalgo

know Ernst Gombrich's comments, but I cannot agree more with him. Indeed, for me, art is not to show off and say how good and beautiful my work is. It is a means of communication, for the dialogue that transports you in time, back and

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forth. Finding the point where dialogue is established is difficult. As difficult as knowing when you have to stop working on the painting, to not lose communication with the viewer.

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Pepe Hidalgo

Paralell Worlds 40 X 34 in.

For me it is important to leave the painting open so that the interlocutor can penetrate and feel as if he were the creator himself.

creating that truth or reality, so it is logical, that you want others to participate with their opinion.

When you think that absolute truth does not exist, that it has many nuances and interpretations, I consider that we are all

Without my old masters, and without what their panitings have communicated to me perhaps I wouldn't have decided to be a painter.

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Pepe Hidalgo

ART Habens

The Age of Pisces to Aquarius 79 X 59 in.

We don't need to be a musician to appreciate music or a writer to delight us or inspire us with its reading.

This is the type of painting I am interested in creating. I would like people to be able to understand my art to a degree where debate arises. I want people to engage with art in a way in which there are different interpretations and meanings

The best books are those that two readers draw different conclusions from the same book because it makes you think and exchange ideas.

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Pepe Hidalgo

Faust's Opera 30 X 40 in.

The Get-Together 30 X 40 in.

they may learn. I want people to make a personal and unique experience out of my art.

chance. This is not the case with her work and I take these lines to congratulate her. I particularly think that we need to continually review our concepts while preserving the principles of volume, perspective and color, as basic values, hopefully in the future we can introduce the fourth dimension. This leads me to remember an exhibition I saw in Germany on Holography that influenced my way of painting, since then I want to go out of the painting using fluorescent pigments.

New York City based artist Lydia Dona once stated that in order to make art today one has to reevaluate the conceptual language behind the mechanism of art making itself: do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? In particular, as a visual artist who paints the direct sketches on the canvas, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your creative process?

Regarding gestures, in my conversations with the canvas, I accept all the possibilities that are offered to me from the instinctive point of view, I value it, if it contributes, I assume it and if not I

Pepe Hidalgo: I would like to start by praising the work of Lydia Dona, I am used to seeing a flat abstract, with strong colors as a result of

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The Babe La Chorva 36 X 48 in.


Kidnapping Innocence 36 X 48 in.


Pepe Hidalgo

ART Habens

reject it, this is a process that can paralyze a painting for some time.

opinion the role of artists in our unstable, everchanging contemporary age?

But if, as I said before, it is important to leave a painting open, it would be absurd, that I had a closed attitude during its realization. The role of chance is there, forming part of our life, it is not something we can separate from our existence, so it is included in the creative process, consciously or unconsciously it leaves its mark.

Pepe Hidalgo: I agree with Gabriel Orozco, that the environment does indeed influence the artist and therefore their creation. Creative work has to overcome borders and mediatize the social environment to be able to carry out works of general interest, and codify works that speak to everyone in general, even if only because of their beauty, their colours, their shape, their content, etc. It is difficult to separate yourself from your environment for creativity, so you have to divide your work into two or more ways, one of them would be your social work and the other is generalized concepts.

Inspiration, and muses perhaps are also not the result of chance. I relate them to a change of consciousness, that idyllic state. When you know that you are in a different state of consciousness, such as that achieved through meditation, or in this case when you are so absorbed in your work, perhaps a leap of consciousness occurs, hunger, time, or fatigue ceases to exist, and the paint brush resolves everything ever so easily.

The work must cross borders, ideologies, races, even social differences. Not everyone sees, intuits, and feels the same seeing a particular piece of artwork. One’s art does not need to follow fashion, the moment, or the present. What is important to take into account is knowing, valuing, and understanding one’s own art, since it is part of our reality. If you value your art and consider it is the path to take then you must make the decision to continue or change what you are doing.

When the sketch is in the same painting, it is like working with clay, you can add and remove anything until you achieve the balance you want or seek. You become a sculptor painter, where chance and improvisation may be helping you to model your own work.

Over the years your artworks have been showcased in several occasions and you participated to lots of group exhibitions, including your recent participation to Art at the Cave, in Washington, USA: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? In particular, direct relationship with the audience in a physical is definetely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, the ideas for your paintings arise from the search to understand the relationship of past or present events with the human being, in relation to who and what we are. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once remarked that "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living under": does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? Moreover, what could be in your

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Pepe Hidalgo

— increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

will be sending each other 40 images through text message. Afterwards, we will select a few of the images to be reproduced in a larger size. Lastly, we will create a diptych together. We have yet to finalize the title of the exhibition but we are thinking of using “Art without Borders.” The exhibition will take place in November of this year in Metro Vancouver at Lipont Gallery.

Pepe Hidalgo: Exhibiting at Art at the Cave was rewarding, they have a beautiful space at the gallery to show art. I was glad to hear that visitors spent a lot of time sitting and pondering on my paintings. This is the type of audience that motivates me to create more profound paintings. Because of this, I feel like I have achieved my goal of having the viewer submerge themselves into the spaces I create within my paintings.

I would like to mention other artists that have influenced me in my artistic evolution. Lucian Freud influenced me to create a pyramidal perspective that forces me to deform the bodies to integrate them into the space I create. A similar impact I have learnt from Francis Bacon.

My relationship with the audience is unique, I want the audience to analyze and experience my art on their own. I believe that everyone interprets art differently. I don’t want to explain my paintings to people but rather, have them give it meaning by using their own background and life experiences to find its personal relevance.

I came to know the work of Jackson Pollock after I started to use points/dots, but perhaps through the group soul, he induced me to realize them.

We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Pepe. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

Esteban Vicente taught me the shape of color and the subtlety of color in austerity. One of his works inspired me to create six paintings. These were taken from one of his sketches and every time I started a new painting, I noticed and learned something new from his work. For me this is the universality of artwork, by leaving it open the interlocutor feels like a participant. In this case, I was the interloctor who became a participant and as a result, learned from his works.

Pepe Hidalgo: Currently, I am preparing two exhibitions for Vancouver, BC. One will show my works of the last years in Vancouver, Canada. The other is in collaboration with the Chinese artist Gou Yan.

Lastly, I would like to thank you for providing me with your space to show my work and comments.

We are communicating through art, using images of our paintings and sending them as a text message. We have chosen this pictorial form of communication as an experimental means to converse. We are using small 10 x 8 inch paintings to maintain a “conversation.” We

Summer 2015 Special Issue

An interview by and

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, curator curator


Droplets 36 X 48 in.


rays of light

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Panto Trivkovic

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video, 2013

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Special Issue The Privilege

Jordi Rosado

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Panto Trivkovic An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Panto and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit http://www.pantoart.at and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training in Structural Engineering: are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum direct your current artistic research? Panto Trivkovic: Thank you very much for this special opportunity from ART Habens and for your questions, which I will gladly answer: Looking back on my career so far, it is very easy to see that I have been exposed to a continuous up and down. Constantly moving between great emotions and distance and searching for a way of "normality". The education and my profession as a civil engineer belong to this phase in which it was very important as a young person to get clarity and structure. Since I was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but spent my childhood in Hamburg, Germany, I had to struggle with completely different cultures and temperaments in my youth.

Panto Trivkovic

Straightforwardness, order and structure, combined with a certain sense of meaning, are extremely important for the creation of building plans and the management of construction sites. These are certainly attributes that I incorporate into my artistic work. However, I allow myself to rewrite these rules a little and leave the command to my emotions.

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Panto Trivkovic

Furthermore, in my works I create worlds in which everything exists and is possible. That is the wonderful thing about art - it is not real, it only becomes real through us. The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article, has at once captured our attention for the way you use your visual language in a strategic way to explore the liminal area where the consciuos mind and imagination find such unexpected point of convergence. When walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your artworks? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes? Panto Trivkovic: Usually I work directly with the images from my unconscious and I am painting until the image at the end corresponds to what has been projected into the conscious. I melt the wax on the iron specially developed for this purpose and apply it to a certain carrier surface. Instead of using a brush, I paint with the edge and tip of the iron. For details I use a heating pen with interchangeable attachments. This way of painting is very challenging. But, the bright colors that create a 3D effect leave a fascinating impression on the viewer.

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Panto Trivkovic

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everything is interwoven Special Issue

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Panto Trivkovic

ART Habens

Sometimes I just make a sketch of something that demands my attention. I then paint the picture at another time, according to this drawing. For example, during my summer holiday in Italy I sketched an old wooden shed on paper and when I returned to Vienna I created the painting "The Corner". In this way I combined the reality with my imagination to create something new. Featuring bold and vivacious tones, as in the interesting „in the field of attraction“, as well as stimulating thoughtful nuances, that we have appreciated in „second chance“, your works feature such effective combination between the refined sense of geometry and dynamics. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in an artwork and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such brilliant results? Panto Trivkovic: When painting with wax I use wax crayons and wax blocks made of beeswax with natural pigments as well as metal and shimmering particles. The carrier surfaces are different, from heatresistant paper, coated hardboard to hardboard covered with linen. Personally I prefer to work on simple coated hardboard. The wax melts better on the surface and I can control the desired effects more precisely. I also have to be less careful than with heat-resistant

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Panto Trivkovic

paper where the wax floats away or like linen where it is difficult to spread. Blue is absolutely my number one colour and I use it often and in all shades. It is a philosophical approach to the depth of my emotions. Red is also an expressive colour with which I love to paint. It is the power that sets my emotional world in motion, in one direction or the other. Of course I use pretty much all colours and tones, but these two are definitely my favourites. Your artworks, „no barriers“ and „the other district“ have struck us by the way they unveil the connection between gemetrical patterns and abstraction. Scottish visual artist Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic works of art are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production? In particular, how does your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? Panto Trivkovic: With his painting "La trahison des images" or "The betrayal of images" René Magritte wanted to demonstrate to the viewers with the pipe shown and the writing "This is not a pipe" that it is "only" a painting and that noone can smoke this pipe.

the construct

automatically makes the viewer look for something real in the painting. Even if this

From this point of view it is only logical that the abstract, imaginary in a painting

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Panto Trivkovic

reality can only come from one's own head, it becomes just as real for the

ART Habens

viewer because it is connected to one's own feelings.

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Panto Trivkovic

second chance

The harmonious relationship between my

life situations and influences is absolutely necessary for me to be creative. The daily

inner emotional world and the outer daily

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Panto Trivkovic

ART Habens

opportunity to come up and be expressed in one of my pictures. Painting and regularly curating and organizing exhibitions of emerging artists in pantoART Art Studio and Gallery gives me additionally the necessary confirmation to do the right thing and inspires me in equal measure. With their unique multilayered visual quality, your artworks — as the interesting „rays of light“ — highlight contours of known reality in an unknown world, to invite the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception and to take them into a world they already know inside. Austrian Art historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the viewers to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the illusion: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Panto Trivkovic: When we are honest with ourselves, it happens to us all the time: we see something or someone, scan and judge whether it appeals to us or not, and ultimately decide how we will continue to behave. And it's the same with art, no matter in what form it comes across to us.

emotional processing remains stored in my unconscious and waits for the

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Panto Trivkovic

into each other

In my artwork I depict unreality, filled with real emotions and if these can be seen by the audience, then it is a really great second experience for me. Because, the first great experience I already had when I painted the picture. Any further interpretations of my art I find extremely

It always has something to do with our own world and perception in which we find ourselves. Our own feelings and inclinations and everything else that finds its place in our everyday life. This "reflection" shows us what we seem to need.

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Panto Trivkovic

ART Habens

the other district 21 4 10

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Panto Trivkovic

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no barriers

flattering and I am happy about it. To be the topic of conversation is always wonderful... We dare say that your „nesting place“ embodies an interface between realism and imagination, and we have appreciated the way it captures the

beauty of tranquility: how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research? Panto Trivkovic: This painting shows a fascinating place of waiting in which a tingling energy can be felt. It is about the one quiet moment before the start and

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Panto Trivkovic

the previously pulsating power turns into a huge emotional eruption. There is no importence whether these are positive or negative emotions. There are many moments like this in life, but unfortunately we often lack the restraint to stop in time and look there exactly. For only a short moment to click out of the situation and pause.To capture such a moment from life in a painting and to show the borders between the real and the imaginary is definitely a challenge. But, it motivates me very much to look for such moments and to be ready to catch them. Your artworks often are marked out with explicative titles that sometimes seem to reflect personal feelings, as „into each other“ and that sometimes seem to speak about the outside world, as „everything is interwoven“: how do you go about naming your work ? In particular, is important for you to expressly tell something that might walk the viewers through their visual experience? Panto Trivkovic: In fact, I proceed differently from painting to painting and have no ready recipe that I can apply. Sometimes the title is the last missing piece necessary to complete the painting. It's as if you see something in the painting that you can identify with and that totally appeals to you - as in "into each other". Without this title it would be a completely different painting with a

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completely different message to the viewer. Again with "everything is interwoven" I want to motivate the viewers to think about it, from a philosophical point of view, about the extent to which we are all connected. And how we and our actions, without us being aware of it, are dependent on the actions of others, and since we are connected, also affect others. If artists leave their work untitled, then I think they have nevertheless given a title - namely this very "Untitled". One can think "Was he too lazy to title it?" or "Is the work of art without actual content and therefore the name?“ For me personally, it is very important to give my artwork a title, because I have an intimate relationship with them. For example, I wouldn't want to call my dog just "dog"... You are an established artist: you were finalist at Prisma Art Prize 2019 with the painting „into the fluid of time“ and over the years your artworks have been showcased in several solo and group exhibitions: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definetely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram — increases: how would in

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into the fluid of time


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Panto Trivkovic

your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Panto. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

Panto Trivkovic: On the one hand, I think it's good that artists have the opportunity to show their artwork to people worldwide in a fast and uncomplicated way via social media and various online galleries. On the other hand, I find it problematic that photos of my artwork can be downloaded by anyone anywhere in the world and used for their own purposes. Again and again there are such cases of abuse and the artists are unfortunately not protected, remain empty-handed.

Panto Trivkovic: I am very happy to have been accepted as a member of the Professional Association of Austrian Visual Artists since february. This is a great honour for me and at the same time a recognition of my artistic work so far. This year the association is organizing several exhibitions throughout Austria and I am already working hard on new paintings to be able to participate.

I have an account on Instagram www.instagram.com/iampantoart but mostly post photos of my already sold paintings. Nowadays it is not enough as an artist to make art, but it requires computer skills and handling of the camera. It is also essential to be able to write well, especially to post a lot on Instagram, Facebook etc. Only then all the algorithms will work and you will actually be seen. If you don't do this often, you run the risk of being overlooked and thus get no "likes".

In this context I work on photographs with hot wax which are reborn in this way. This technique is a bit more complicated, because on the one hand it is the photographic paper that is very sensitive to the heat and on the other hand it is challenging to redesign an existing theme and produce my own new artwork. And of course there is the ongoing organisation of exhibitions in the pantoART Studio and Gallery - so I don’t get bored...

Even though the Viennese audience is very critical, I believe that direct contact with the audience at vernissages and exhibitions is the better and more credible measure and pushes me to continue. Everything else I see as wonderful side effects that supports me on my artistic path - depending on the circumstances.

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An interview by and

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Panto Trivkovic

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into the fluid ofIssue time Special


Salt


Lives and works in Fort Worth, Texas, USA


ART Habens

RoomIssue With A View Special

Jordi Rosado

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Dennis Casey An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Dennis and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.denniscaseyphotography.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. Are there any experiences that did particularlu influence your evolution as a visual artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum direct your current artistic research? Dennis Casey: The theme of my work is “Alone In Nature.� I have been an outdoor adventurer for almost half a century, and I have always had a passion for being alone in nature. My goal as a photographer is to produce images that allow other people to feel these experiences, and to give them the feeling of what it is like to be alone in nature. When I produce an image, I view it through my experiences being alone in the wilderness. This is what directs both my artistic approach and research.

Dennis Casey

The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article, has at once captured our attention for the way it highlights of our relationship with Nature, and we really appreciate the way your works establish such multilayered involvement with the viewers. When walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us what is your

working schedule like? Did you carefully plan each shot? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your creative process? Dennis Casey: My process starts out with choosing a geographical region that interests me, and then I backpack into the wilderness with a plan of what I want to capture based on research. Last year I took a week to

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Dennis Casey

backpack the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, USA, for instance. I camped out for the night on a remote beach, and when I woke up there was a beautiful fog over the ocean. I quickly got out of my tent and captured my popular “Mystic Stacks” image. Planning, chance and improvisation all came into play for this piece of work. This is a typical day for my nature work. Although I plan my adventures, some of the best shots come to me by chance. Sometimes I will come to a ridge or rock formation at a certain aspect, and I will set up camp and shoot the milky way over it in the middle of the night. “The Mystic Forest” came to me as I was driving down the wrong road while heading home after a backpacking trip. You have been an outdoor adventurer for almost half a century, and you have always had a passion for being alone in nature: how do your memories and your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process as a photographer? Dennis Casey: Even though I am relatively new to photography, my father got me into backpacking and exploring when I was six years old. So, I have had 45 years of outdoor experience behind me by the time I took my first photograph. After retiring and moving to Texas from California in 2013, my wife suggested that I take up photography as a way to record my journeys. This was the beginning of my life as a photographer, and I started to photograph many of the places I went to as a child. I have always like hiking, climbing and surfing without having people around me. I find that an ocean or a forest looks and feels different when you are alone and have nobody to talk to. This is what fuels my creative process. I want to make people feel exactly

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Island Of Secrets

what I feel when I am out in the field. As you have remarked in your artist's

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Dennis Casey

statement, your goal as a photographer is to produce images that allow other people to actually feel these experiences, and to give

ART Habens

them the feeling of what it is like to be alone in nature, and we have really appreciated the way Island Of Secrets and Mystic Stacks

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To The Heavens


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Dennis Casey

Mystic Stacks

embody an interface between realism and imagination: what do you hope that the public takes away from your work?

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Dennis Casey: The main thing I want people to take away from my work is the beauty of nature in an unspoiled environment. I try to

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Dennis Casey

ART Habens

me, as I had just returned from photographing a mountain range that had claimed my brother’s life only two weeks before, which is where I created the popular piece “RIP Terry Casey.” I was in a sad place, and that shot seemed to capture not only a serene beauty, but it also hopefully conveys the sense of extreme sadness I was feeling at the time. In a controversial quote, Thomas Ruff stated once that ''nowadays you don't have to paint to be an artist: you can just create photographs in a realistic way". Provocatively, the German photographer highlighted the short circuit between the act of looking and that of thinking critically about images: in an age marked out with such ease and accessibility of digital photography how do you consider the role of photography in our contemporary age, constantly saturated by images? Dennis Casey: Even though digital photography is everywhere these days with the advent of the smart phone, unique photography still stands out. Great images take a unique and trained eye, and this has not changed from the era of film photography. My photography is meant to elicit a feeling, and not just to show a place that I visited. I believe that this is the role of landscape photography in today’s world. Eye Of The Canyon features such bold, vivacious tones, and we have really appreciated the way such vibrancy create tension and sense of dynamism: how did you achieve such brilliant results? Moreover, how do you consider the role of digital technology as Photoshopand Lightroom

use unique compositions and lighting to showcase the beauty of these remote areas. “Island Of Secrets” has a special meaning to

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Golden Bayou


The Mystic Forest


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Dennis Casey

playing within your work? Dennis Casey: Even though I use modern processing software, I only use it to make the images look as they did at the time of shooting. I do not color manipulate my images. I have always believed that to get a great shot, you must “get it right in the camera.” “Eye Of The Canyon” was shot after several attempts of getting the sunlight right on a mostly cloudy day. When it was too cloudy, the colors did not pop, and when there was too much sunlight, the colors would get blown out. I had to wait until I had the perfect amount of sunlight, and this image was the result. Your artworks draw heavily from the peculiar specifics of the environment: how did you select the specific locations and how do they affect your creative process? Dennis Casey: Being from Southern California, and now living in Texas, I have always loved the beauty of the American Southwest. The redness of the of the earth in this area makes it one of the most photogenic landscapes in the world. I have always been fascinated by how the changing sunlight effects the look of the desert. As a lifelong surfer and climber, I have also had a passion for the subtle beauty of the ocean and the bold artistry of alpine peaks and forests. When I choose a location to shoot, I am looking for a creative way to create art from these types of environments.

Silence Of Dusk

Over the years your artworks have been showcased in several occasions, including your incoming participation to Arts in Bloom 2020: how do you consider the participatory

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nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the audience in a physical is definetely the most

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Dennis Casey

important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street

ART Habens

and especially to the online realm — as Instagram and Facebook — increases : how would in your opinion change the

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Cypress Solitude


Eye Of The Canyon


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Dennis Casey

The Lost Planet

relationship with a globalised audience? Dennis Casey: I find that online platforms allow people all over the world to appreciate

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my work, and that gives me great satisfaction. Online outlets allow people to feel the beauty of my work from afar, and this

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Dennis Casey

ART Habens

https://www.instagram.com/ulu859. The direct interaction of shows gives me a much more personalized relationship to my audience and prospective buyers. People that come to my shows purchase my work because it means something special to them, even though they often know nothing at all about the shot location. This is probably what I love most about interacting with my audience. My goal is to make people feel what it is like to be alone in nature, and when that happens, I feel like I have accomplished my goal. I have buyers routinely email me on how they love coming home and relaxing by looking at one of my pieces on their wall. This is the one of the most satisfying parts of being a professional photographer. We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Dennis. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Dennis Casey: My current project has been put on hold, due to this tragic pandemic. I hope to hit the road in May, and I have a twomonth backpacking trip photographing the Canadian Rockies. I should have these images available for viewing and purchase by August at https://www.denniscaseyphotography.com.

An interview by

is great since not everyone can attend my shows or gallery showings. Feel free to visit my Instagram feed at

and

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, curator curator

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Lives and works in Leatherhead, Surrey. UK

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Noelle Genevier

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video, 2013

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Jordi Rosado

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Noelle Genevier An interview by and

, curator curator

cultural experience would have been history, literature and the natural world. My artistic research has evolved from the phenomenological studies of Heidegger, Husserl and Merleau Ponty through Delueze rhizome and fold theory to the writings of Graham Harman, Jane Bennett, Karen Barad and Donna Haraway.

Hello Noelle and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.noellegenevier.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training: you hold a BA (Hons) in Fine Art, and you are currently pursuing your MA in Fine Art, at Farnham UCA, UK: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum direct your current artistic research?

The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article, has at once captured our attention for the way your insightful investigation of the dynamics between pattern and meaning, sheds a whole new light on our relationship with objects. Moreover, we have appreciated the way you use your unique visual language in a strategic way to explore the liminal area where the consciuos mind and imagination find such unexpected point of convergence. When walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your artworks? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

Noelle Genevier: Before starting my BA I was a mother of four children running a small childcare business. I had little experience of fine art or contemporary art but what I did have was an extraordinary drive to create things. This drive was accelerated when I started my course with a vast range of projects covering wide areas of Fine Art practise and frequent small and large group crits. We continually explored contemporary art practise and exhibitions which fuelled my drive. Being in a space that encouraged creativity and surrounded with like-minded people helped me break down any barriers I had to working freely with my materials.

Noelle Genevier: My work is usually governed by instinct but gesture plays a significant part in the creation of my collages. There is a cross-over from my conscious mind and imagination where images collide or interlock. I have a slightly different approach to each collage and set

I have only recently been truly engaged with contemporary fine art, before that my

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of images. My most recent investigation has been into the intangible which I believe has been an unconscious constant for me for the last four years. When working with a subject matter I will search for images which I choose through instinct, some I consider will work well and others are rejected through no fault of their own. This is then refined once working with the photographs; working instinctively I find that some of the images don’t feel/look right once combined with others. This may be due to colour tones or particular shapes. Undefined areas of an image or out of focus photographs have been of particular interest to me recently but these can be tricky to include due to the lack of lines to follow. An image or a set of images are the starting point of all of my collages. I may find a book whose images are appealing or I may take a photograph while out walking. I’m not always sure what has attracted me to an image or scene to photograph but I have found that if I do anything with a purpose, with a finished idea in mind or with pictures that have been imposed on me they will not be successful. Gesture plays a part in the creation of the collages; tearing the paper is one of my favourite ways to create a schism in a piece the lack of control and surprising outcome from a tear can add excitement to a work. Your works feature such effective combination between the refined sense of geometry and thoughtful nuances of tones that communicate alternation of tension and release, providing yur collages with

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Unsettling Focus

such sense of dynamics. How does your own psychological make-up determine the

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nuances of tones that you decide to include in your artworks and in particular, how do

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you develop your textures in order to achieve such brilliant results?

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Unsettling Focus

Noelle Genevier: When I am working on a collage I am completely involved in the

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images and the changes in tones; looking at the minute details which may be common in

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with the work which can create a similar sensation to meditation. My collages are subconsciously influenced by things I have heard, seen or read which can only occasionally become apparent on reflection. During my recent foray into Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter I recognised Deleuze fold and rhizome theory within the text, this in turn relates to stem cell research. I am fascinated by what I read in this book that all things (human, living, non-human and non-living) are made up of several parts each part working hard to maintain a whole, working hard to maintain connected to the other parts, each ‘part’ is connected to another part ad infinitum. This maintenance is not a simple task of repetition because each part is being affected by its ‘neighbours’. “because each mode suffers the actions on it by other modes, actions that disrupt the relation of movement and rest characterizing each mode, every mode, if it is to persist, must seek new encounters to creatively compensate for the alterations or affections it suffers.” Jane Bennett. Each collage is built from found images and from the start every chosen piece of paper and part of image is the deciding factor for the next piece of paper or part of image. “the infinite fold separates or moves between matter and soul, the façade and the closed room, the outside and the inside. Because it is a virtuality that never stops dividing itself, the line of inflection is

another image. I follow the lines, shapes and tones and spend my time engrossed

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actualized in the soul but realized in matter, each on its own side� Deleuze, The Fold. Something I have wanted to do since starting collaging is to make an image 3d. To make something intangible, tangible to bring it into the 3 dimensional world. I’ve only become aware that this is what is behind my desire to bend and fold the paper this year. This, again, relates to Deleuze theory of the Fold: which is the idea that everything is open-ended & inexhaustive, non-exclusive and unlimited, exterior & infinite. That there are folds within folds, within folds. Unsettling Focus has struck us by the way they unveil the connection between figurative and abstraction. Scottish visual artist Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic works of art are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production? In particular, how does your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? Noelle Genevier: My imagination is constantly coming in to play whilst collaging, imagining how, where or what would connect one image with another. Trying to visualise a preconceived idea or working out how to join two images which are physically distant. I like to look at a thing and think of other uses for it or think of other ways of defining it. I try looking at objects from a different angle and find shapes and patterns in wood grain, marble floor tiles, accidental

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spillages, randomly folded fabric or food on a plate. I am thinking about imaginative

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Unsettling Focus

realism, feeling my way to creating something

The non-heirarchical idea of object oriented

that is beyond human conception.

ontology is embedded in my collages.

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Unsettling Focus

With its unique multilayered visual quality,

known reality in an unknown world, to invite

Invisible Divisions highlights contours of

the viewers to look inside of what appear to be

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seen, rather than its surface, providing the

own perception. Austrian Art historian

spectatorship with freedom to realize their

Ernst Gombrich once remarked the

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importance of providing a space for the viewers to project onto: as an artisti particularly interested in looking at the objects that are on the periphery of our vision and investigating the unseen, how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Noelle Genevier: When we aim to understand the intricacies of existence we need to consider all aspects of our surroundings and being. I am interested in the infinitely small or apparently invisible facets therein. To consider the things that can’t be seen highlights the significance they have in our ontology. One of my aims is to trigger the imagination of the viewer for them to find hidden or previously unnoticed similarities and connections between objects or images. Some images are purposely incongruous to enable the viewer to make hitherto unknown connections. My collages are a vehicle for dialogue and investigation, one of the joys of showing my collages is to hear the interpretations that viewers make. The themes of nature and the everyday prevalent in the found images that pervade your collages, and as you have remarked in your artist's statement, time and space can be transcended through the memories which are evoked by objects an object that may hold significance to one person could be another’s rubbish. New York City based photographer and sculptor Zoe Leonard

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once stated, "the objects that we leave behind hold the marks and the sign of our use: like archeological findings, they reveal so much about us". We’d love to ask you about the qualities of the materials that you include — or that you plan to include — in your artworks: in particular, how important is for you to use recycled materials, capable of inviting the viewers to investigate the traces left by time? Noelle Genevier: I do use recycled objects; for one of my next projects I will be using needlepoint tapestries I found in a charity shop. Apart from that I use a lot of images from books, also found in charity shops and have used newsprint and second-hand magazines for some pieces. I like the idea of transcending time when creating a new collage from old books or magazines, giving a new life to images which have kept a vestige of their original era and then connecting them to the present. The past plays a significant role in the present. Previous actions, thoughts and events mould our present and futures experiences, thoughts and happenings; this can occur through visual stimulation which evoke memories of past experiences. The materiality of paper highlights the materic, tactile nature of your artworks. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once remarked the unavoidability of the physical act behind any artistic practice: how do you consider the relation between the abstract nature of the ideas that you explore and you aim to communicate and the physical act of creating your artworks? How important is for you to establish a craftsmanship relation

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with paper in order to materialize the concept of liminality? Noelle Genevier: The concept of liminality is arrived at the point when the collage becomes three-dimensional. The two-dimensional image is being set free and becoming part of the three-dimensional world, so the craftsmanship relationship I have with the paper is of prime importance in developing this. With some images I do not experience a need to develop them into a third dimension. There is a dichotomy between the abstract nature of the ideas I explore and aim to communicate and the physical act of creating the artworks; if we consider the non-hierarchical idea of object oriented ontology and its lack of human agency my physical intervention with the images may be considered contra to this. I consider my interaction with the paper and images is a twoway street, where my actions are a subconscious response to what I see. I work best following instincts and responding to the materials. And here the materials are not paper (although paper might be a vehicle for the ‘materials’) the materials I use are the inks or images ingrained IN the paper. As soon as I lose sight of that, try to manipulate the paper for the sake of it, the work becomes boring. We have appreciated the way your installations negotiate the exhibition space, in order to provide the viewers with such immersive visual experience, and exploring the nature of our interaction with our environment: how do the dimensions of your installations affect your workflow, and how do your structure them in order to achieve such emotionally involving quality? And how do you

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consider the role of the heightened experience provided by each different exhibition space?

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Noelle Genevier: When I am working with a set of images, I become excited by the


Noelle Genevier

combinations of pattern, tone and shape. I am exhilarated by each set of new images

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and the possibilities they provide. I will collect images and, depending on how much

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Expanding Navigations

space I want to fill, start making collages. I find it easier and more thrilling to make several small, independent collages than one vast collage, although this is one of my

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aims, to make a continuous, enormous collage. I find no difficulty in creating a large quantity of pieces and often find it hard to stop. When I am collecting my

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my works into a new space. My very first attempt was heavy-handed and uncoordinated but with help from Kate Street (a lecturer at university) I saw their potential. I let the collages and the space be the deciding factor of how to hang or where to place the works. When I have a predetermined idea the finished result becomes sterile. Over the years your artworks have been showcased in several group and solo show, including your recent solo Objections, at Linear Gallery, Farnham, UK and your current exhibition Not Us: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definetely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram, for example — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience? Noelle Genevier: I like the idea that my work can be scrutinised, folds and tears examined in close proximity where the unusual and unexpected connections between objects and images is most relevant. Some of my projects (especially the one I’m preparing for at the moment) are best seen from all sides. My current project, entitled ‘Of you and Me’ looks at the intangible but asks the viewer to ask what do things want?

images there will be several sizes and copies of each image which gives a certain structure and cohesive quality to a finished installation. I enjoy the challenge of fitting

There is nothing that surpasses seeing a work of art in reality; textures, size, colours, materials, space can be experienced to the

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full. Technology is part of our world; it has progressed our scientific understanding, developed communication and simplified a multitude of everyday tasks. It has become an integral part of our lives which I am happy to embrace. Although my work is based on the materiality of paper and images and is best seen in person the distribution of two dimensional images via the internet creates a further experience for a viewer and enables art to be experienced by people who are don’t visit art galleries. Timothy Morton says: “Art is Charisma, pouring out of anything whatsoever …” The Charisma he talks about is the art object acting on its viewers, a property he says all objects possess. For this reason I have an instagram account https://www.instagram.com/subliminal_ha ze which documents my work in progress, exhibitions etc. We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Noelle. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Noelle Genevier: Due to Covid-19 the exhibition ‘Unsettling Focus’ that had been planned for 24 March - 1 May has been postponed but we hope to create a virtual exhibition to showcase our work. This is what I am concentrating currently. I created a ‘zine’ for this exhibition which has been published online

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Invisible Divisions

Invisible Divisions

https://indd.adobe.com/view/e890e08046ed-4a4b-8e40-ac4e1487b56b this tapped into my creative drive, I found it compelling and so will feature in future ideas.

present and future, looking also at the ‘intra-relationship’ (Barad) between ‘things’; thirdly there is a possibility of a pop-up exhibition in the summer at the Freud Museum for which I will be using some old, second-hand text books about the body combined with a book I have about nature which will be investigating OOO through small sculptural collages.

I have three projects which are in the pipeline: further work concerning zines trying to make a zine with 3 dimensional pages (not a pop-up) which will not be so accessible online. I have an idea I want to explore with 15 needlepoint tapestries/embroideries this will be more of a sculpture/installation than a collage.

An interview by

With this installation I will be considering the interweaving of the past with the

and

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, curator curator

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Lives and works in Paris, France

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Tara Vatanpour

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video, 2013

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, curator curator

Hello Tara and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://taravatanpour.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your Baccalaureate in Literature, you graduated from the National Superior School of Fine Arts in Bourges: how did those formative years as well as your multicultural substratum influence your evolution as an artist? Tara Vatanpour: Going to Art School has been an absolute necessity for me as an artist. I learned how to respond to an artistic subject and how to conduct an artistic research, it gave me the foundation and structure of research, as well as sensitive accuracy : how to draw, perspective, volume, history. Jordi Rosado

Secondly, coexisting with different cultures drove me to express myself artistically because I found a simple life to be unbearable. Therefore, Art became the most important thing in my life. Coming from different cultures, I found that no culture is right or wrong, and that life lost all its substance. I felt like I was living in one life, and then switching right to another, and none of it made any sense. Art is the most honest and raw material I have, and it has a true purpose : to be of service, internationally.

The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens — and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — combines personal aesthetics with such a unique conceptual approach, and the visual language that marks out your artworks seems to be used in a strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity, offering to the viewers an array of meanings: when

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loving communication. To me, a characteristic of trauma and immigration in my personal experience in the family and in society is the taboo and the sugar coating of it : not mentioning it, denying its horrifying truth, forgetting the previous language or never mentioning it, or refusing to learn the new one…Its violence is so terrible, so hurtful and affects so many aspects of our lives that is really hard to face. I want to bring gentleness, and an open dialogue about that truth. My Art has brought me much healing and I hope that it tells to others “you are not alone”, “it is ok to talk about this”, “you do not have to be scared of what hurts anymore”.

walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you develop your initial ideas? has at once captured our attention for the way you use your visual language in a strategic way to counter- balance subjectivity, to invite the viewers to question the themes of uprootedness and displacement. Tara Vatanpour: My ritual of work is quite spontaneous. I get ideas, ton of ideas, all day long, for many installations or performances, paintings, collages, anonymous artzines… However, I firmly believe that Art is meant to be seen, and if it is not seen, then it has no purpose in being, since it cannot pass on any message without a public to receive this message.

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, there is no gesture but the perfect existence of the paint. New York City based artist Lydia Dona once stated that in order to make art today one has to reevaluate the conceptual language behind the mechanism of art making itself: do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your creative process?

Therefore, my artistic process in creating anything is extremely spontaneous. Everything I create is made to be seen and is created extremely spontaneously as soon as I get a call, a theme, a collective opportunity to exhibit. The array of meanings that you mention is a result of my work that I am grateful for, and is definitely not intended. I never know what will come out of my work when I start creating. I have an idea of what kind of color I want, what smell I want, what sound I want, what space I want, what general concept I want, but the result is always a surprise to me, as if my Art is an energy bigger than me, and my body is only the conduit for it to be expressed into our human language and realm.

Tara Vatanpour: Improvisation is definitely present in my work. In painting, I would say that even in abstract art there is paradoxically for me more planification : the paint in itself is so unpredictable, so wild, so thick and not at the same time, it does not listen to anything that my hand, soul or brush says, it just does what it does on the surface I use. I see it as a paste that owns me more than I own it, and with which I have to play, following its force like the heavy current of rapids. I go within the

I do want my work to be truthful and provocative. I do not believe in sugar coating, and I do believe in direct and

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Abstract Trauma

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Abstract Trauma

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Abstract Trauma

flow of paint and colors, it has me, I don’t

installation work. Gesture in this particular

have it. The only control I feel I have is when

series “Digital Humans” has been really

I use tape to modify the texture, which for

important. These paintings have been

me is more conceptual and more of an

made in an atmosphere of pain, sadness,

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Abstract Trauma

anger at an attempt to make it frozen in time, to channel it and give it a purpose.

the way it unveils the point of convergence between the figurative and the abstract form. Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of

When inquiring into the themes of trauma and intimacy, your artistic production embodies an interface between realism and imagination, and we really appreciated

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Tara Vatanpour

us: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination playing within your work?

ART Habens

living under": does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? Moreover, how do your memories and your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?

Tara Vatanpour: Interesting question. Interestingly, my experience differers with Peter Doig. I believe that even the most abstract form of Art, the most fictional movie, has come out of realities and that our human minds are able to only assemble different parts of reality together, in this way calling a new combination “creation”. However, I do support the importance of the imaginary world, especially the dream world and how the subconscious works with reality. It is very present in my work, to me, because this is the way that I experience life : living in the present with underlying understandings linked to the past (another country, another language, another reality) and the need to escape into other realities to make the present reality non-existent, since made unbearable by trauma.

Tara Vatanpour: Discussion about what is the function of Art has been going on for a long time. I have heard many great artist express their opinions on it, and I believe that all of their experience with Art is legitimate. My experience with Art is that it is here to shine the truth. The materials that I have at disposition are my life experiences, and the way that I look at the world, my questions, the topics I am intrigued by, interested in. Have I had no immigration trauma, no trauma experiences at all, I believe that my Art would find some other life experience to be of service to the world. I think of it this way: in Philosophical courses, my teachers tried to help me learn the language of theories, so that I could conduct a theoretical research using words, grammar, and meaning of these combined to be of service to the world. In the Arts, I learn a language of senses. So, yes, where I am in the world will affect my art : I do not have the right to express myself in the same way that I would in France, or in the US, or in Canada, or in Italy.

My paintings to me are definitely abstract, although my drawings are using reality to reframe it (eg drawing legs only, instead of the whole person), however, my paintings are to me as close as can be to reality. I see the abstract paste as the texture of my very emotions dripping on the paper, and possibly emotions of others that can relate to the painting. How much more real does it get?

Because the law is different, the culture is different, the government is different, the habits are different, the people are different, the experiences are different and the struggles I may experience may also differ. But I don’t know if for me, it defines in a general manner the flow of choices that each Artist has. I think some Artists are very politically involved, and others have different topics of research. All of

Your artistic production draws from topical themes that affect our contemporary age, as the theme of immigration. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once remarked that "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re

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these are valid, and equally good subjects to be explored in the Arts in my opinion. To me, the artist is just a channel of divine activity, and, not always aware of that process, transforms it into humanely understandable language, Tangible.

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That is the role. You are a versatile artist and your practice encompasses bidimensional visual arts, as painting, drawing and photography, as well as installations, ceramics and performance: what does direct you to

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such multidisciplinary approach? In

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Tara Vatanpour: Good question. My primary education in the Arts has been through the well known “Ateliers du Carrousel� in Paris, France. It has given me a training with many mediums over years of practice. Therefore I have been used, when

particular, are there any experiences that did particularly help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different techniques?

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asked a question to open a research, to respond with a variety of tools, searching for which tool will respond with most accuracy to the topic, expressing what I need to say.

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However, my preference of medium has always been installations and performances because these two are the most creative ones for me : I get to use painting, drawing, textile, and more, and to play with those as

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I wish. They allow me to offer to myself and to the world a whole new experience mixing visual elements, sound effects, textures, interaction with the public. It makes the art alive.

ART Habens

With their unique multilayered visual quality, in your recent series of paintings you discovered the joy of adding texts and drawings. In a certain sense, we dare say that your artworks seem to invite the

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viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Tara Vatanpour: Thank you for this beautiful question. The answer is : extremely open. The more people can identify with my work, the more I can talk to them through my Art. I am not at all attached to the meaning of my art : I like to explain it sometimes because I do try and pass on a very specific message on my end, but I love that people are able to see and feel what their heart wants them to see and feel. It is beautiful and perfect as that interpretation is. To answer your question more specifically referring to the texts in the paintings, words for me convey a whole different dimension of the artistic meaning and language. I have always dreamed of a way to incorporate texts, words, written narrative either in the arts. To me, they are a new tool that adds volume to the work. Over the years your artworks have been internationally exhibited in several occasions, and I am my body, I am my memory was showcased at a collective exhibition hosted by Action Hybride at the Biennale, in the Forte Marghera: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definitely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the

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online realm — as Instagram — increases:

Tara Vatanpour: I consider the nature of my

how would in your opinion change the

relationship with my audience to be intimate,

relationship with a globalised audience?

and to be open to a dialogue (not a debate). I want my audience to be part of my art. To

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touch it, explore it, read through it, play with it, why not destroy some of it, if appropriate. I don’t personally really like Art to be online, or more so I like it to be both, online but experienced physically in a physical space. Online spaces offer a different type of language, and asks us in my opinion to improve our technologies. Can you imagine if, from the own comfort of my home, I could put on glasses, or plug in a device in my skin, and have a physical experience as if I went to the gallery and experienced the Art in a physical space?

international communication that we have invented ? I believe that by asking myself this question every day I create an intimacy that is sincere, efficient and authentic to myself and my art with my audience and customers.

Getting back into the present context of our lives, I think online platforms have each a format. Instagram @taravatanpour (https://www.instagram.com/taravatanpo ur/) to me is almost like a daily visual diary, so it does indeed create quite an intimate connection with my audience, day to day, and gives them more than art, it gives them what I choose to give which can extend itself to my thoughts, opinions, taste‌The Art becomes linked to the Artist more than ever before. I think today the probability that I know the artist as well as the art is raised throughout social media, since it is not only the Art that I advertise and give visibility to, but also my whole persona. But if it is Twitter, then I feel it has a more cynical and factual opinionated tone to it. Facebook is more market-like to me, And my website (www.taravatanpour.com) aims to offer my customers an easy nice customer experience that makes buying what you are looking for easy.

Tara Vatanpour: Thank you for your time and these questions, and for having me. I hope that in the near future I can be offered the opportunity to create spontaneous installations in bigger spaces which would allow me to explore a different interactions with my audience (for example an itinerary through the installations) and that I can get international opportunities to discover the Art World, the people working in the Arts, and to create amazing new art.

We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Tara. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

Regarding the projects that I am working on at the moment, you could add the tone of mental illness to my artistic research, and a development between my art and the world of fashion design. How does mental illness enter trauma, and how often is it seen in immigration cases ? What are the manifestations ? What does healing look like ? How would that research express itself on clothing ?

Ultimately, the common thread is to be of maximum service. Why am I on earth ? What is it that I am meant to give, every day, through the different channels of

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Lives and works in Munich, Germany

circus tent

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Renata Franzky An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Renata and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit http://www.renatafranzkyart.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training, and after your studies at Master School Munich for Graphics and Fashion Design, you nurtured your education with a Master of Arts, that you received from the University of Passau: how did those formative years — Art residence Spain, England, Austria and USA — influence your evolution as an artist? Renata Franzky: First of all, thank you for the opportunity to present my work at ART Habens. Formal education in art began in my childhood and youth as a student in art school. Besides the very strict art lessons in the regular school, I went to art school for another 5 hours, 5 times a week. There, besides the classical drawing and painting lessons, perspective, anatomy, plastic design and art history were taught. We studied the language of forms, play of colors, structure of compositions and painting from nature - the whole spectrum of classical art lessons. Also, later in Europe during my studies at the Graphic and Fashion Design School a concrete, object-related sign and design was trained. However, abstract (non-objective) painting or even abstract thinking was inconceivable. I discovered this other side of art only later on and it took years until I discovered the abstract elements of concrete painting for me.

Renata Franzky

Finally, the intensive art studies at the art academy in Bad Reichenhall and the support of my mentor, the German artist Ingrid Jureit, made me discover the magic of abstraction. This led to the connection between concrete, objective and representational painting and my perception of feelings, emotions and deeply buried memories. At last I found

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the ways to express and convey all our everyday feelings, human fears and emotions through painting. In doing so, the treasure of the formal "classical" education, which I started years ago, forms the basis for my painting.

author Betty Edwards calls this the "incubation phase". The pictorial concept, which I develop intensively during this phase, is the basis for the later realization of the picture. Painting is a never-ending decision-making process. After I know what pictorial statement I want to make, the format and composition are decided upon. When I then stand in front of the empty and white canvas, I proceed very formally in this first moment. The canvas is primed and prepared in several layers. Then I "sketch" the picture idea directly on it with brush and paint. If the composition is right at this stage, this strict formal phase is complete. I often leave the painting in this stage overnight. If everything is right for me internally the next morning, I can "let myself fall" into the freedom of painting.

Marked out with such unique visual identity, the body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens —and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way you use your visual language in a strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity, offering an array of meanings. When walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your artworks? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your work as an artist?

Now comes the gestural, the colorful, the instinctive painting and the improvisation. This is a challenge to keep control over the picture and the artistic statement in this phase. A certain distance to subjectivity should be maintained and it should not be definitively defined. Only in this way the picture can retain its ambiguity and create its own secrets.

Renata Franzky: The initial spark is very important for an artist. For me, this also means my own feelings and sensations, perceiving my own subjectivity. We all use our 5 senses to orient ourselves in the real world. But there are many more sensory skills. We often feel something that is incomprehensible and inexplicable for ourselves. Everything we experience in our everyday life evokes emotions and feelings. An artist is especially sensitive to these subconscious vibrations.

In doing so, I have to be very attentive to perceive the coincidental, the unexpected and often the mystical. It's like a ball game between conscious and unconscious, which fascinates me in painting. The works from your Poesie des Alltags series feature such stimulating dreamlike ambience, that provides its figures with ambivalent and a bit enigmatic visual identity, that seems to unveil the bridge between

In my case, after a strong experience or sensation, images often appear before my inner eye. I then ask myself many questions and sketch a lot to explore the message of this experience. The American art teacher and

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the real and the imagined. Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us, how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production?

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is the focus on the human being with all his fears and hopes, and we really appreciate the way your figures work as an Ariadne's thread that unveils the elusive still ubiquitous link between reality and the subconscious. To quote Max Ernst's word, every human being has an inexhaustible store of buried images in his subconscious and into his inner world: it is merely a matter of voyaging into the unconscious, to bring pure and unadulterated found objects to light. How important is for you to show the link between the inner world and the outside reality? And how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?

Renata Franzky: The ability to imagine is what distinguishes an artist. Peter Doig has an enormous imagination and is one of the most important and honest modern mystics for me. He formulates his statements so directly and precisely that it takes your breath away and hurts. Our everyday life is so mysterious and full of hidden things. Since the time when artists no longer just have to depict nature, they have the freedom to address the “invisible” in us and in our real world. How can an artist make the “invisible” visible? Only by increasing your own imagination, in my opinion. And by staying with “himself”, not imitating or copying anyone.

Renata Franzky: The connection between the inner world and the outer reality is the basis and the core statement of my painting. I want to shake up the viewer and say: "Look, there is more! Have you already discovered that too?"... Through daily sketching (I always have a sketchbook with me), I "note down" and save everything I observe. Whether it is while walking in the forest, or in a café, watching my own children, during a ride on the subway or in the evening on the sofa everything hides a secret. And it is this secret of everyday life that I want to explore and understand through sketching. Everyday life with all its encounters and experiences is a treasure full of mysticism. From this treasure one can draw and create infinite.

Of course, the artists may deal with the same topics. This includes our social and political reality, our very banal affairs, and encounters, something that we have already experienced in real life or we have seen and felt. Everything can stimulate the imagination and serve as an initial spark. How to do this in pictures as an artist is an important question. For me, an artist is a serious artist if he only starts with his own imagination and his own reality and translates this into the picture surface with his own technical means (= own style). He does not practice decoration but draws from his own imagination.

Your artworks feature pale nuances, as Jetsam and Flotsam and Painters Coat, as well as bold tones in Butoh Poetry. Moreover, we have particularly appreciated the way they create such enigmatic patterns, com-

A particular aspect of my artistic production

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painters coat

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municating tension and such uncanny ambience, as in Dancing into Darkness. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in an artwork and in particular, how

do you develop your textures in order to achieve such unique results?

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Renata Franzky: Each artist brings his or her personal package of emotionality and artis-

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announcer

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tic experience. Growing up in cultures as diverse as Asia and Europe, I feel obliged to respond to the cultural diversity of our world.

nice form, losing likeable colours. For me, the painting process is always a creation and destruction, giving and taking back. To be in dialogue with the painting, to step back again and again, to observe the painting and then to make decisions anew. It is not about creating interesting structures through a certain technique. The structures, entanglements and connections, but also empty spaces are created in the painting process. The painter is also the observer at the same time and thus a dialogue is constantly devel-

The experience of impermanence also plays a major role - everything is in flow and movement. In a metaphorical sense, the colours, lines and areas on the surface of my paintings are like that. As a painter, nothing can be defined definitively and right at the beginning of the painting process. And as a painter you can't afford to be afraid of loss - of losing a nice place, a

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Moving MA

oping, whether the message of the picture is right, whether the composition still underlines the message of the picture. I think that when a picture is realized, the painterly structures and textures that are characteris-

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tic of every artist are automatically created. But they are also not only the signs of a working process, but also simultaneously the witnesses of the fourth dimension - the dimension of time.

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Renata Franzky: The decision of the format is part of the artistic concept. When I want to say something, I also want it to be "heard". So, the statement must be direct and immediate. The painting "Announcer" from the series "Circus" was created after an encounter during a visit to a circus. During the break, after the first highly exciting part of the performance, I observed a silent scene. In the break it became immediately very loud and hectic. But suddenly there was a figure standing very still and seemingly completely turned in on itself. That was so touching that I wanted to show this feeling of complete silence in the middle of a hectic environment and being completely turned in on oneself in my painting. This immediate statement of silence, in my opinion, can only be conveyed by the exaggeratedly large and vertical format. The viewer is then confronted with this silent figure at the same eye level. He cannot simply walk past it; he must be forced to remain in front of the picture for a moment. The painterly realization of these ideas is a challenge. I then have to see how I technically master the planned picture surface. It's not only a matter of technical design, but also of mastering the composition. When I paint large pictures, I proceed in such a way that I "approach" the canvas by feeling it. I achieve this by the process of priming the painting with a smaller brush. This forces me to experience the entire surface of the painting step by step. It is not a matter of quickly smoothing the surface with one sweep, but rather of a haptic physical "experience" of the pictorial space. This is one of the most important phases of the painting process in

You often work with large vertical canvas, that, as the interesting Announcer, provide the viewers with such immersive visual experience: how do the dimensions of your canvass affect your workflow?

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Renata Franzky

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Sunshade

all my paintings, most of which are large. I want to enter into dialogue with the viewer at the same eye level.

trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

With their unique multilayered visual quality, your artworks highlight contours of known reality in an unknown world and in particular Moving MA seems to invite the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. Austrian Art historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the viewers to project onto: how important is for you to

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Renata Franzky: In my painting I always start from something specific, whether seen or experienced. The picture "Moving MA" belongs to the series "Anku Butoh", a Japanese movement dance. When I saw the dance for the first time, I was very irritated and at the same time touched by tears. So I really wanted to know what this dance means. I then found out that Butoh was a mix of Japanese hippie movement and German expressive

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dance. Butoh is about the representation of light and shadow, birth and death, arising and passing away, joy becomes pain and joy again. The picture series "Anku Butoh" was therefore not only about the unusual forms of the dance movement, but also about the other dimensions such as sensuality, perception, connection between space and time and about the uncanny that dance conveys. It's about something that we don't grasp but intuitively grasp. The images in this series are intended to convey exactly these feelings to the viewer. The viewer should also be confused and at the same time ask himself: "What about it?" Anything that is

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not death-determined in art stimulates the viewer's imagination. The artworks want to be seen and enter a dialogue with the viewer. It is not about a complete understanding of an image, but also about irritation in a positive sense. I do not leave the viewer alone but give him hints through the title of the pictures: The pictures should encourage him to ask questions and maybe learn something more about the world "out there". Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living under": as an

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artist particularly interested in exploring the inner life of human beings — and we dare say to the osmosis between humans and the society they inhabit — do you think that your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? Moreover, what could be in your opinion the role of artists in our unstable and overwhelmingly digital contemporary societies?

again and again. When social structures that are thought to be permanent start to falter. I dare to say that people who deal with art are particularly empathetic, sensitive and receptive to it. And they look for solutions and ways not only to draw attention to it, but also to find ways out of it. In my opinion, an artist definitely has a social role and social responsibility through and with his statements. The world has always been unstable, but art has survived cultures, states, religions. A new digital form of art, in my opinion, contributes enormously to reach and sensitize many more people. And a "real" analogue art will never die out, I think. Man is

Renata Franzky: I think that every person who deals with art reacts to the present time, the "cultural" moment and the political events in society. Nobody reacts without emotion and feeling when it comes to people who are on the run. When political conflicts break out

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"hunger", in other words, they long for an analog first-hand experience, for "face to face" communication with art. Or can anyone claim the opposite who has seen Monet's paintings on Instagram and yet experienced them in the Musée de l'Orangerie? But in these days of corona, quarantine and restrictions due to health threats, the ability to present and view art digitally is the only way to provide consolation, hope and confidence. (Instagram/renatafranzky).

a creative being and will always be artistically active. Over the years your artworks have been internationally exhibited, including your recent participation to Kunstwerke XXL, in Bad Wörishofen, Germany: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definetely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Renata. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

Renata Franzky: By participating in art exhibitions in Luxembourg, Florence, Paris, London, and in Germany, I was able to experience how important the experience of an "analog" art world was for the visitors. People come in droves to experience the works of art directly. Among other things, art is communication, it gives inspiration and creates a sense of connection.

Renata Franzky: The pleasure is all mine. Thank you very much for the very exciting conversation. Currently I am working on the pictures for a planned exhibition in Rome. It is about the scents, tastes and sounds of the Mediterranean Sea. The paintings like Jetsam and Flotsam and Painters Coat are part of it and will be exhibited there. My hope for the future is that art will not lose its importance in our everyday lives. And I definitely want to take the impulses from the beginning of 2020 and put them into practice.

I see the increasing digitalization is a new and wonderful form of art viewing and presentation. For me it also creates even more art democracy by reducing the fears of galleries and museums among art lovers. The works of art are now accessible to everyone, independent of place, time and space. ART Habens also approached me because of digital viewing, as this is a very good possibility to show and share various artists around the world. I still think that people are more likely to go to galleries and museums when they discover something on Instagram and get an art

An interview by and

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Lives and works in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

HERALD ST.

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video, 2013

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Special Issue BOY MEETS ALIEN

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Brian Simons An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Brian and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.briansimons.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. As a basically self-taught artist, are there any experiences that did particularly influence your artistic journey? In particular, how does your cultural substratum — as well as your inspiration from the "GROUP OF SEVEN" — direct your current artistic research? Brian Simons: I grew up in Niagara Falls, Ontario and quickly became familiar with the works of the Canadian Group of Seven painters. Their works hung throughout the hallways in schools and classrooms (prints of course) and I spend many hours gazing at them. I looked for their works in books and libraries and became an ardent fan. The works of Tom Thompson inspired me the most and somehow stirred something within me . I knew in my heart I wanted to be a painter. At the age of 19 I discovered the sacred Writings of the Baha'i Faith (www.baha'i.org) and found great inspiration there on the importance of the arts and how they elevate humanity. I was hooked and wanted to go to art college but was discouraged early on ….. "you will never earn any money as an artist"…."how can you possibly marry and raise a family on an artist's income?"….etc etc. Sadly and reluctantly, I then gave up the idea of going

Brian Simons

to art school and went to work and trained as a power engineer, operating different chemical plants, processes and boilers. After a few years, I married a wonderful gal, settled down and raised 4 children, however, all the time dying inside because I wasn't happy with my life. I knew I wanted to paint but with big responsabilites to shoulder, how could I possibly become an artist? I started doing pastel landscapes and spend 10 years or so doing ink drawings in my spare time mostly because I was afraid of colour. Eventually, I decided to jump into colour without knowing anything about it. I bought some acrylic paint and started. After a few years, I quit the engineering work and

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Brian Simons

started painting full time and showing my work. Local galleries discovered me and for several years was able to provide or my family, although at times it was a bit rough finacially. I went back to work over the last few years to top up pensions etc. but continue to paint in my studio every day, completing on average 1 painting per day. The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens — and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way the visual language that marks it out seems to be used in a strategic way to explore and capture the variety of human emotions, providing your artworks with an array of meanings. As you have remarked once, you feel that successful painting just happens and the end result cannot be anticipated and is therefore very surprising to the painter. New York City based artist Lydia Dona once stated that in order to make art today one has to reevaluate the conceptual language behind the mechanism of art making itself: do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your creative process? Brian Simons: I think the artist has to get out of the way for anything of significance to happen. I believe the end result should be a surprise to the artist which clearly indicates he must relinquish some control over the process. I've always maintained that if anything beautiful shows up in my

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work it has nothing to do with me. When teaching students in my workshops, I find that one of the characteristics of new painters that greatly limits what's possible, it the belief they have that it all depend on them. I think the artist should get busy doing the mechanical things and not worry about results and learn to trust the process. The truly great artists, I believe have no idea what they are doing! They learn to be quiet and do as they are told, prompted by inspiration. They don't critique, judge, worry in the process, they get themselves open to ideas that just come to them. I hope to move more and more towards this direction in my own work. It may sound strange, but I find the less I care about the work, the better it becomes and I can then paint without fear and a willingness for it not to work. After about 35 years of painting, I had an epiphany in which I realized painting for me, is just fun, not academic or intellectual, just fun. Sounds silly, but for me it is so true. I also realized that if I'm not having fun, the painting is probably not working. When working, I don't worry about inspiration, I just commit to exploring and having fun‌.and the ideas just begin to flow. This is especially true for me in my primitive, whimsical works that are painted exclusively from the imagination. Another learning that took years to realize is that when I don't know what to do while painting, I do nothing and try to "read" the painting. The work itself is the teacher and will instruct me once I get over myself and open up. It often requires a humble recognition that I really don't know what I'm doing. We have been struck with your unique ability to paint snowy landscapes, and we

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BALL IN THE AIR

have particularly appreciated the way ALPINE WINTER and HEAVY SNOW show the the connection between the narrative behind the images and their expressive

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aestetics. Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of

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TAUPE TULIPS

us: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination playing within your work? And how does everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?

Brian Simons: As you may already know, I love painting winter scenes especially using a palette knife. In these paintings, I hope to capture something of the "presence" of the

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BULL IN CHINA SHOP

particular landscape and still, somehow the work always deviates somewhat from the subject. I will often move or rearrange objects in the scene to make the painting

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more artistic or unified. The scene is really just a reference and my intent is not to render the exact scene at all. I find that about midway through the painting, i need

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FESTUS THE MECHANICAL HORSE

to divorce myself from the reference entirely and start reading the painting. I suppose the difference between my painting and the scene itself is the amount of imagination I add. I try to record what excites me about the scene and reduce or eliminate what doesn't. It's the feeling of the place that I want to resonate in the work, not the literal truth of the scene. All the time, I try to stay

clear of anything photo realistic, for I know the painting will never ever, ever be the thing it represents no matter how accurate. Feels a bit dishonest to me when we try to make the paint something it is not. I'm happy to let the paint be paint because that's what it is, and the viewer will create the scene. The beauty of a work lies in the beauty of the paint and its application, not on the subject.

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Often everyday subjects inspire me, garden pots at my studio, objects in my home, my do, my wife, things in my courtyard. I am always taking photos of landscapes wherever I go, photos of buildings, people, landscapes etc. I may not use them right away but at some point, I may include them in my work. A painter should continually "fill the well" so to speak, with images and ideas that they find inspiring. This is especially necessary when I painting from my imagination where somehow I can draw on this "well" for ideas. Some of your works feature bold and vivacious tones, — as the interesting POOL and BULL IN CHINA SHOP — as well as such thoughtful nuances — as BIRCH and AUTUMN SUNSET — that communicate alternation of tension and release, providing the paintings with such sense of dynamics. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in an artwork and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such brilliant results? Brian Simons: The paintings "POOL" AND "BULL IN CHINA SHOP" are works painted from my imagination. Here, I'm really concerned with making the colours sing, and use strong compliments and high contrasting colours and values to do so. I also intentionally try to give the "picture plane" dominance in the work, that is, I keep things as flat as possible without trying to create depth or perspective. The colours lie flat on the surface. I guess I am a bold person, arrogant at times and

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always interested in making some kind of statement. I love bold strong colour and often use colour right out of the tubes without mixing. I imagine I have a "feel" for colour, although I don't know a lot about it, but after many years of painting, I've learned a couple of things about making them "sing". I don't use colours I don't like and I don't make any rules for myself about colour. I just use what I want when I want and mixed however I wish, right or wrong. I have learned about several colour contrasts that are helpful like complimentary colours, temperature, colour value etc. These contrasts often get me out of trouble when I'm challenged. In "Birch" and "Autumn Sunset" the palette was limited. In these works there is always a bit of tension between the value contrast and the other colour contrasts. I often use a wide value range in these pieces that are done using a palette knife. The palette knife allows the paint to sit on the surface rather then blend into the canvas as is the case with acrylics and brush painting. This creates a bit of impasto effect and they often look more like oils. The palette knife allows for spontaneous textures and nuances that could never be pre-meditated or planned…..little accidents that work beautifully. Often the colours are not mixed thoroughly which enables wonderful streaks of colour in a specific passage. We noticed that some works of yours — as the interesting TAUPE TULIPS, SUMMIT and EVENING MARKET — feature a white area that attracts on itself the optical barycentre

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Brian Simons

BIRCH

of the canvas. We have been particularly fascinated by the fact that from a certain point of view it claim the attention of the viewers on itself: how important is for you to

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trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

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Brian Simons

Brian Simons: Don't have a lot of rationale behind what i did in Taupe Tulips , Summit or Evening Market in terms of the strong whites. No idea what "barycenter" means! As hinted at

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in previous questions, my work is not well thought out beforehand and is more spontaneous in nature. I don't have answers to the "why" of

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CREEK IN WINTER


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Brian Simons

everything, but viewing the works in hindsight, one might derive insights into "why" things work or not. I'm trying to respond to promptings of my own mind and heart in my work although not always successful. The results are often a real surprise to me. When something really works beautifully, I can't take credit for it……its like I just try to do as I"m moved without understanding why….all the reasons and rationale shows up afterwards and I finally see why something worked. Hope this explains the process for you a bit. I'm happy when people love my work or understand my work but that is not always the case. I often gets lots of criticism about it and have developed a thicker skin over the years. When I started exploring the whimsical, primitive works a couple of years ago, I basically lost my audience, my followers and several others tried to advise me against this exploration. I carried on anyway, because I was having great fun and as time moved on more and more people have come to appreciate those works. Maybe part of the artist's role is to educate the public in terms of their new explorations. Seems like when anything new comes into being, it takes time for people to acknowledge its value. You seem to draw a lot of inspiration natural, incontaminated environment: what does attract you to portray nature? Brian Simons: I love nature! She holds so many metaphors about life! The Creator is so masterful in all He does as expressed in nature. How beautiful, captivating and enchanting nature is especially in terms of

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the visual experience. How blessed are the wonderful trees that withstand years of storms and abuse and who hold their ground and grow deeper roots. How connected and related are all aspects of nature and the animals. It seems only man imagines himself apart and separate! Nature provides everything for man and humbly allows herself to be abused, unappreciated and trodden up recklessly. I feel in nature we can best sense the "presence" of the Creator , and this being the case, what painter would not wish to capture that beauty? Your artworks in several collections throughout North America and Europe, and over the years you have participated to several solo and collective exhibitions: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definetely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience? Brian Simons: I've always felt that artists make a huge contribution to life and they should see themselves as benefactors and not attempt to fit in and be comfy. They should become comfortable with rejection, failure, lack of notoriety. The artist should be out there laying new track in undiscovered territory which often is a lonely business. His job is NOT to address

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and please the public. This necessarily make him vulnerable and a thick skin becomes essential. The artist on the other hand is not "special" in light of the fact that every person is "special". His role in society, however is special in that he contributes to the spiritual needs of man and serves to uplift and bring joy to the public. It might be said that the artist's role is a service to humanity. In the Baha'i Writings on the arts, it mentions that "‌art is workship" and also " when thy hands grasp the paintbrush, it is as if thou wert at prayer in the Temple".

Twenty years ago, it seemed much more risky. We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Brian. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Brian Simons: Thank you so much for this opportunity! It has been my pleasure to address these questions as best as I can.

The internet has placed humanity very much on a level paying field and given artists all over the world great opportunities for exposure of their work. Whether in a remote African village or a hamlet in Russia, painters and artists can show their work to the world. This means a much wider audience than a brick and mortar gallery. It also means much more competition for the art dollars, although this can be misleading. Artist's really aren't in competition with anyone except themselves and their struggle for genuine authenticity. A willingness to be who you are, authentic and honest takes one out of the game of competition. The world can then chase you instead of you chasing it. Game over.

My goals for the future include more freedom, more joy, more fun and more authenticity in my work. I love breaking rules in painting and discovering new things. I'm hoping my work can become a more abstract expression of colour and light and humanness. Currently, I am working on whimsical, primitive pieces and hope to include more mystery and excitement in each piece. I would also like to work in a larger format as the work becomes more and more abstracted. Above all my future plans and hopes, I hope my work brings joy to others and enables me to grow as a human being and become ever more inspired, more obedient to the promptings of the spirit and truer to my own heart.

With the internet, the artist can engage in social media and online galleries. By doing so they can expose their work to millions of viewers world wide with little or no cost and relate now to an international audience. All this I'm sure has challenged brick and mortar galleries as people have become much more comfortable purchasing artwork online.

SummerIssue 2015 Special

Thank you! An interview by and

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Brian Simons

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video, 2013

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Jordi Rosado

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Thendara M Kida-Gee An interview by and

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Hello Thendara and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://thendaramariekidagee.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training, and after your studies at the San Francisco Art Institute, you moved to the United Kingdom to nurture your education with a B.A (Honours) Fine Art in Interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in Photography and Digital Media, that you received from the prestigious Central Saint Martins, London: how did those formative years — as well as your experience as artist in residence at the North Cascades Institute — influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum due to your studies in Computer Information Science direct your multidisciplinary artistic research?

Thendara M Kida-Gee

Thendara M Kida-Gee: Growing up I had great access to computers from the apple computers in our public school to my fathers DOS machine at home, he was in the process of earning a C.I.S degree when I was 12 back in the early 90s. I would play blackjack and golf on the DOS machine - all green screen numerically based, at school it was where in the world of Carmen San Diego and the Oregon trail , I loved computers from a young age (for a gen X-er.) technology and art have both been a part of my life from a young age and my mind does like to move between the two spaces. In my younger art life the computer played a more heavy handed influence in my work and I would spend a lot

of time working in front of screens, as I ve gotten older I really appreciate limiting my own screen time in the actual making process and have much more hands on art, but as a tool and a subject and a sometimes questionable influence on life in how we function as a society. It has been interesting to see the Luddite processes of some art institutions and others who whole heartedly embrace the next step of art processing - typically on a personal level that has been a hard thing to come to terms with - as film photography evolved and high schools and universities disposed of darkrooms and non

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digital photography, its hard to see, I don’t think I would have fallen in love with photography had it not been for the magic moments in the dark room, printing and experimenting. As artist in residence at the north casacdes well that was just really beneficial to practice as well as speaking to people outside the art world about conceptual art, a lot less pressure in the woods talking art then in a gallery and it was brilliant space to share with people who just love nature, they were some of the healthiest happiest people I’d come across in awhile. I got to work with some fifth graders, they made lollipop trees to take home with them after their week at wilderness camp that was something special as I remember as a child working on art projects at a variety of spaces and those for me were always the best part and such a happy reminder of the experience so I feel really special to have gotten to share that with them. I think a good portion of my education I have probably been at odds with what was being presented and in both my art as well as my computer work would have been trying to bring the other force along into it potentially to the frustration of teachers. To be honest I don’t think I was a good student at all - I was in love with life and trying to survive in big cities whilst holding down sometimes multiple jobs - but now those experiences the jobs as much as the schools are woven into my own being and I wouldn’t change any of it. Marked out with such unique visual identity, the body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens —and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way you use your visual language in a

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strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity, offering an array of meanings. When walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us

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how do you usually develop your initial idea for your artworks? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and

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improvisation playing within your work as an artist? Thendara M Kida-Gee: My process is many

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layered and always allows space to create even when creation can feel quite mentally improbable at times. I aim to never allow my art inertia to dip - I guess I see it almost like

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being in training. So a lot of it depends on what processing point my mind is at so creating lollipop trees is always a potential endless tree rounds always ready to accept

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my collage work is just the perfect place to zen out where deeper more thought provoking projects form and are almost fueled on. Like a moving meditation, self soothing. A lot of my recycled landscapes are just completely off the cuff- emotional/physical spontaneous outburstswith photography as the pallet. I enter into them as a experiment and that allows for their end to be less important then the dance in between. My first step of approach to the world since age 15 has been photography, my first filtration, a step that may remain just that a step or may launch me into complete fascination or obsession. My photography is much more focused on documentation - This life in ruins in a life long fascination on the abandoned and left behind, finding the beauty in what’s been left behind and no desire to cast my own opinions or aspersions on the subject - but focusing and finding its hidden moments, constantly evolving. This is a satisfying artistic balance - I feel the one process I work for it, and the other well it works for me - I shoot images and they change me to then create other objects processes. My work has evolved a lot and when I lived in cities my work was very reflective of that life observing and documenting as opposed to necessarily having the physical or mental space to actually create on any scale. As Ive moved out of the city, my making confines are less limited, I’m like a gold fish who got a new bowl and my creativity can grow to fill it. A lot of the mixed media pieces I create are inspired by textures of both nature and the surfaces of the abandoned spaces I love to photograph. I have several different work stations which I move between and like to have a continuous access to multiple outlets. We have appreciated the everchanging and evergrowing nature of your installation, and the way in a certain sense negotiate the exhibition space, in order to provide the viewers with such immersive visual experience: how do the

collage and resin and become something without much thought - art calisthenics. I am a much better thinker when I am moving and in process - the repetitive nature of some of

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dimensions of your installations affect your workflow, and how do your structure them in order to achieve such emotionally involving quality? And how do you consider the role of the heightened experience provided by each different exhibition space? Thendara M Kida-Gee: I guess for most of the spaces I have had to exhibit in were quite tight and my work really maximized the space to capacity. As I am trying to emulate the edge of a forest I find it hard to not want to emulate that dance of space not space, on the edge where the sky is defined by what’s there and the trees defined by what’s not there. Perhaps a maximalist, but the repeating nature of the process for me needs to reflect in the presentation. Ideally it would be growing in scale as well as circumference but that would need more funding to make those ideals come true. The first stage of my project formulated around square and rectangular collages that were abstractions of the edge of the forest and that light shadow interplay and in the shape they were like chunks of digital information for me- either the blocks that used to make up the first super Mario world or the blocks that the tv breaks into now adays when the digitally of the picture corrupts and we see the people and scenes break apart . So I viewed this edge of the forest that I love so much and I enter a liminal space an ending of the concrete grid systems of humanity and into the space of sporadic growth of nature. This edge doesn’t exist for most people, most people now live in cities and most cities have no forests edge and this potentially is detrimental to existence. When I lived in London I found it very easy to not know of our human impact on nature, if I didn’t want to know it I could avoid it. Aside from the fact that me being me couldn’t avoid it taking offense and defense of the pigeons

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of the city - who were once a fantastic tourist activity (feeding pigeons in Trafalgar Square) and now an illegal activity. We hate the animals that live off of us but we are the reason they exist, our garbage or waste and mess. So seeing how humans treated animals who were willing to live symbiotically and we think they were gross, and once you befriend the pigeons well there’s no going back. I fear we will lose this edge of the forest before many even realize how much they need that in their life. In the second iteration of my installation we jump into a world in which the organic is gone and we are re imagined into a simplistic and brightly colored space with simple archetypes representing mountains and trees, this is where we are headed, to a space where the nature has been depleted and what we are left with ‌? My most recent exhibition at Bellermine was a full gallery and that was just as amazing to see the students curate the work into a full space and it has given me loads of things to consider for future opportunities. Also really interesting to release the control and allow for others to interact with the work and place and arranged show me some stuff. I over create so generally there will be too much work - much easier to pare down then up, as I work (perhaps again a carry over of city life) I have this Ikea modularity in mind - so not only has my art become very flat pack in its assembly but in the fact that it can become whatever it needs to, as each individual piece of work is a fractalized seed of the whole it can be as big or small as the space dictates. Highlighting the point of convergence between the organic nature of our surroundings and the realm of abstraction, Through the trees to the mountains has struck us by the way they unveil the

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connection between the real and the imagined. Scottish visual artist Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic works of art are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production? In particular, how does your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? Thendara M Kida-Gee: My every day life since moving to Washington State has been one in a state of awe for the glory of nature, especially beyond the human hand. I see through the most beautiful surrounds that I have ever had the chance to live in and nothing of that beauty has anything to do with humanity aside from my ability to access it. I have read a lot of science and apocalyptic fiction in my life and have been sad to be able to check things off a a list of a variety of books in terms of what has happened societally as well as in our treatment of the natural world. We are doing a good job in heading to being the propagators of extinction. Even here in the Wild West where you think things have the opportunity to be un touched by man well they have suffered as well and are putting on a happy face despite it all . I have never felt the impact on humanity so much as in nature til given the opportunity to commune on a regular basis with her. My lollipop trees are a disrespectful example of the beauty and complexity of a tree and that underestimation may be all we have someday and archetype without a reality. Scottish Artist Peter Doig’s understanding I think is 100% correct, if there is a reality to balance our imagination, if you want, beyond where he points, im thinking the line between the real and imagined will be blurred, as our distinction falters, reality will diffuse into the

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virtual worlds we will create. Our virtual worlds will patch the real world as it falls apart, hiding the disintegration from our eyes. You know your getting to that point when putting on the VR googles is better than taking them off. With its unique multilayered visual quality, Through the trees to the mountains challenges the viewer's perceptual categories, and seems to invite them to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. Austrian Art historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the viewers to project onto: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Thendara M Kida-Gee: I guess my work has this happy tone - it has a smile on and its waiting to greet you with poppy colors and simplified shapes - intentionally trying to resonate on a level of childhoods simplicity of visual language. On the underside of what the work represents to me - is this call to look outside and to see what’s there other wise you don’t know what’s lost - and what’s lost what will it be replaced with ? I suppose it will be fancier then lollipop trees - like the holodeck on Star Trek - virtual and turn offable. its like the process of making cranes for peace I feel similar to making lollipop trees for nature - its a prayer in its own creation and I really want to leave it up to the viewer to decided where they want to go, I think with most art people will perceive what they

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want and that’s absolutely fine I’ve often had my own mom argue with me as she thinks a work is this no matter what my intention was she takes what she wants! I think the fact I have broken down scene simple component parts - triangles for mountains - who didn’t draw them that way as a child- or again the lollipop tree - which surely is the most common tree drawn in elementary schools ? This language You personally created all of the physical objects belonging to Through the trees to the mountains. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined the importance of the physical act behind any work of art: how do you consider the relation between the intrinsically abstract nature of the ideas that you convey in your artworks? Thendara M Kida-Gee: Not that much deeper consideration really, my abstractions goes so far, in my mind I see a simplified visual language that reflects how I feel about things, which is reflected in my art. In much of my photography this is represented as nature over taking, reclaiming, abandoned spaces, where as In my collage are pastiches of nature that lost that fight. It's important to remark that your work also revolves around a holistic lifestyle that attempts to use more and waste nothing and in the process of making is also a process in recycling. New York City based photographer and sculptor Zoe Leonard once stated, "the objects that we leave behind hold the marks and the sign of our use: like archeological findings, they reveal so much about us". We’d love to ask you about the qualities of the materials that you include — or that you plan to include — in your artworks: in particular, how important is for you to use

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recycled materials, capable of inviting the viewers to investigate the traces left by time? Thendara M Kida-Gee: I dont like waste and I feel like I come from at least two to three generations of hoarders so I try to not have too many collections of things that are not actively being used or converted into something else. When I began aggressively recycling photography it added an extra tie to the work and taking a photo of something known converting it (with some soothing benefit to pieces them to form a new abstract landscape still with a whiff of what it used to be, I don’t know I can’t feel the same with collage using material that wasn’t mine to begin with. I get a lot of inspiration from weird objects as well - so a copper toilet float inspired me to create a motion sensing weather proof solar powered sound pod which harnessed the sun to play the sounds of birds of the locality - sound collage if you will. But that entire project came out of buying a copper toilet float just because I liked the shape and victorian flare of it. We live in an old house that needs some repairs and there’s always bits of wood around for me to acquire or a strangely shaped tree branch . All of the pieces of wood used in th making of the lollipop trees were from branches in our garden that came down after a wild wind with snow that weighed down the branches, I would never dream of taking from them ( the shell Silverstein story the giving tree makes me cry if I even dare thoink about it) for art but when its given I will try and find a way to use it ( right now I do have a collection of weirdly shaped branches which in masse are shouting at me to do something with them . I guess that’s an added level to the relationship is that sometimes the art will be determined by what nature gives.

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http://poleinthemiddle.blogspot.com, http://cemeteriesihaveknownandloved.blogs pot.com) and really enjoyed sharing words and images with an audience unknown, that was where I started really with my artistic sharing before working with galleries etc. so I guess I am pretty happy straddling the line on both worlds and slowly organically growing an audience on instagram at : https://www.instagram.com/thendaramarieki dagee

Over the years your artworks have been internationally exhibited, including your recent solo Through The Trees (2.0 to the mountains) at Bellemine Prep School, WA: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definetely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Thendara. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

Thendara M Kida-Gee: Having had the opportunity to live in different places has allowed me to feel less defined by location so I don’t feel defined by location and for good or bad I guess I have always relied a lot on the internet for art on many levels so I don’t feel that change is so violent as I am sure that some might- ive always felt a bit more globalized as a person but an outlier within the direct society I live in - like I can have a more expansive view but that makes it hard to participate or feel more directly apart of physical locality. i like to meet people but especially this year since the onset of the corona virus well things have been most evolutionary since then - arts are one of the hardest hit industries and as we all have this commonality. For years I had a toned experimental websites all based in flash (which of course has really died at this point) and they had no point whatsoever they were art pieces in themselves (a never ending maze that was not easy to move through, an act of frustration. For a decade I was very active in blogging (http://thislifeinruins.blogspot.com, http://naturebignaturesmall.blogspot.com,

Thendara M Kida-Gee: As soon as the corona virus says its ok I will be back shooting photos, hoping to shoot more music based photography this year, so I have to wait for the music to begin. Continuing to explore nature and hoping to make things a bit larger - giant lollipop trees, 15 feet tall, a forest of them to walk amongst, flanked by mountains with space to navigate through, it would be hard to find recycled supplies for this so funding would be essential and of course the space. Also hoping to add more motion activated sound to my future installations. Learning, experimenting and loving nature and all her creatures and features. An interview by and

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