EFKA ODEHNAL KIAN MING TAN
invocation, next step installation at a private studio
(a work by Froso Papadimitriou)
EFKA ODEHNAL KIAN MING TAN
invocation, next step installation at a private studio
(a work by Froso Papadimitriou)
Kryjak: A painter (Art School in Bielsko
Biała, diploma with distinction, BerlinDachboden painting studio), performer (Group B), art historian (University of Silesia). Producer and seeker of emotions, treating paintings-objects as a whole, from handmade frames to a signature that is a distortion of a lantern/ladder and an element of composition. ”Creates from A to Z“. She reached her artistic maturity in 2019.
After many years of exploration, The History of Creation, Rejection, and Art have become HAMAKOM.
Efka is a visual artist, working across all the different types of media. Her priority is photography, where she finds a stable base for her further experiments. She is interested in perception of reality, space and light. By combining different techniques she enjoys finding the dialogue and translations between photography, painting, installation and video.
Most of her artwork is more abstract with the fragments of reality than narrative.Besides her elaborate project she is constantly capturing the surrounding life. More than people, she is intrigued by ordinary things, still lives and their order within the world.
Tan Kian Ming (KIAN) was born in Malaysia in 1991 and graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London (M.F.A in Fine Arts) in 2020. In his work, Kian examines the interplay between folk customs and contemporary religious issues through installation, video and painting. His long-term practices are a series of rubbing project works with various ancient tombstones, and war monuments which delve into personal and collective memories; probing postcolonial condition, immigration and the ambiguous position of the Chinese diaspora. His works poetically deal with the reconstruction of monumental spatiality, home, and displacement.
My work is created and influenced from what exists around me - at home or on my way: materials and leftovers, especially those that areperceived as "despicable".The main occupation is in building meaningfor each object and bring it into life as a subject in itself. The objectsare Going through a process that changes them as in the laboratory: isolation, replication, punching and reconnection. The process reflects adeviation from the original, processes of abstraction and transformationinto a new object. The creative experience is physical and is madeout of intuition and intuitive connections.
My current practice stems from a curiosity for natural pigment and light oftentimes exploring my current state of mind and the places in which I have built a home. The various places I have resided and my travels have all influenced the tone and subject matter for each painting.My work is an evolution from my journey as a photographer where I worked extensively with film and photo chemistry and its reaction to light. Therefore, analog photography has always been influential in the way light moves on film, so I mimic painting the way I think light would move around the canvas. I play with colour and pigment like how light would play with colour on film – and opposites are important in the decisions I make when painting including positives and negatives and light (reds) and shadows (blues).My love for working
If I would describe my work with one word, I think that would be uncomfortable. Through my practice, I like to discuss things generally people rather not. I was one of these children with tones of questions; that didn’t change much as I grew up. I like to know how things work, what are the mechanics that make the world tik and the only way is through questioning I suppose the normalities we have been indoctrinated in.My work is defiantly anthropocentric, focusing on behaviours and social dynamics. Whilst trying to identify my place within the ever-shifting social exchanges I can’t help but observe the contraptions and personas we invent to fit into a prescribed normality and excuse ourselves from the ongoing issues our societies carry. I am interested in our elusiveness and isolation from public involvement, whilst we operate amidst a bombardment of networks and social platforms.
With a background from dance I have learnt to approach art in the same way. To truly dance is to be in the moment, to allow movement to be born from life, to not think about it. In a way it is a meditation. When I paint I allow colours to come to me, movements to happen and shapes to appear. This is integral to my art. The journey is as important if not more than the end result. I am inspired by powerful mindbending shapes or forms that are new, original and mesmerising. As an artist I am driven to master my craft, spending time both in the zone free from thought, and outside, thinking, developing and visualising. I aim to create artwork that is mesmerising and new, yet a genuine expression of myself.I started to have these dreams where I would be dancing with colour flying out of my body leaving marks in the air.
I am a wanderer.I like to make up stories about places I have never been and shapes I have never seenand to do so I like to wear and take off different tongues which I have found mostly by chance.
I see myself as a creative that seeks to express his ideas through some languages of art by using and getting advantage from the tools of those languages and expressing the result through different mediums or formats. My multidisciplinary background guides my creative work and allows me to use and apply tools (technical and theoretical) from math and computer science (in a formal and rigorous way) on this creative process.
"The inner life of each person is based on energy centers or what we call chakras. These impact our daily lives by either developing or inhibiting our emotional, intellectual, and physical lives.Universe has endowed women with a wonderful gift – the Yoni. In Sanskrit, the word Yoni means female genitalia. Besides being the most feminine part of the female body, it’s also the most receptive, and the most sensitive. It truly is the most amazing part of the feminine.In tantra, the Yoni is also associated with the cosmic gate; the gate to the Universe, the Source or the sacred temple; the place from which we all came into this world. Simply put, the Yoni is a mystical, mysterious, powerful, and beautiful place!
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.
slow the the much oil installation at Gallery D, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei Taiwan
Hello Froso and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.frosopapadimitriou.com in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production and we would start this interview with a couple of introductory questions. You have a solid formal training and after your studies in Greece, you moved to London to nurture your education, completing a BA (Hons) in Fine Art at Middlesex University and an MA in Arts Management and Policy, Curatorial and Educational pathway at Birkbeck University of London: how did those formative years, as well as relocating to London, influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum due to your Greek roots address your current artistic research?
Froso Papadimitriou: Hi, there. It is a great pleasure to be part of ART Habens. Thank you for the invite.
My self-proclamation as an artist happened in 2009 when I graduated from my Fine Arts degree. Before that neither I considered myself as an artist nor I was practising fine art. I came to the UK to study motion graphics, but choose to start with a broader degree in Arts and specialise in my MA. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I had higher expectations from my course in terms of video related specialists and equipment than what I found and I had to decide whether I would drop out and return to Greece or finish the 1st year and then transfer. I choose the latter and then for that year I started spending time in the art studios. There I found the freedom I wanted to create for myself. One of the most influential figures during my studies is the UK based artist and my allocated tutor then, Jefford Horrigan. Apart from his thought-provoking work, as a tutor, he was the one who motivated me and gave me the confidence to pursue art after University. That changed my future plans entirely and where I am right now.
Soon after my graduation another opportunity was presented to me, to work as a volunteer at the Topolski Century museum in Southbank, London. After a year I submitted a proposal to the trustees and I was given a space in the museum for contemporary exhibitions and this is how my curatorial and art management career started and lead to my MA and many great collaborations internationally. (Regrettably, the museum changed in 2013 to a bar, due to lack of funding, maintainingFroso Papadimitriou
part of the collection on display but not the art activities that where taking place there)
So, it was London and circumstances that have realised this artist into the world.
As for my Greek roots, there is a fundamental influence on the way I think and approach my work. One of the signature materials I use in all of my work is thread. This is a direct reference to the ancient Greek myth of the Treis Moires (Three
Fates) Clotho the one who unravels, Lachesis the one that measures and Atropos the one that cuts the tread of life. The threads in my work represent individual lives, some long and other short, interwoven in clusters or torn apart from each other, similar to our social structures. When the threads are woven together, they can create but when they break apart, they destroy it, see fabric for example.
Although my practice addresses what I perceive as
global issues, it does stem from my understanding of the two environments I spend my life in, Greece and the UK. However, my major ongoing project examines the way we relate to our past, by taking traditions and beliefs in different parts of the world and juxtaposing them to the modern way of living. I am interested especially in countries that have layers of different cultural influences and the sense of identity of their local inhabitants. The project started in Okinawa Japan in 2016, moved to UK
2017, touched Germany briefly in 2018 and the next step I am working towards is South America.
As a versatile artist, your creative production encompasses drawing, painting, sculpture, video and installations: what does direct you to such interdisciplinary approach? In particular, are there any experiences that did particularly help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different techniques?
Froso Papadimitriou: Before I studied Fine Arts, I undertook several other studies on illustration, multimedia and graphic design and worked in those fields. That knowledge and experience allow me to cross disciplines. Usually, an idea comes in a particular form and defines the medium I will use. In many cases, it might be a material or a technique that I never worked with in the past. The prospect is always tempting and although many of these attempts have failed miserably, they taught me a lot. It is also a personal characteristic of mine, while I love challenge, I dread repetition.
Your installation Femininity and the one eyed monstress... has structed us for the way it examines our resilience to ubiquitous attempt to being indoctrinated: when walking our readers through the genesis of your artwork, would you tell us how do you consider the role of artists in our everchanging contemporary society?
Froso Papadimitriou: This particular work is a question to the title “Freedom of Femininity” of an exhibition I took part, organised and curated by Zuza Tehanu. The solidity of these words is indoctrinated to us from a young age, yet I apprehended that I was uncertain what the term “femininity” really means (not that I am sure what freedom truly means either but that is for another whole interview). I, therefore, had to understand what we refer to as “Femininity” before I began to discuss about its freedom. I since concluded that femininity is a multitude of identities from physical characteristics to historical, cultural and spiritual notions, each one with the power and the use to free, enslave, elevate and manipulate the individual. Would it be then “Freedom of or from Femininity”?
This work is focusing in the way we, as women, understand the term “femininity”, how different it can manifest itself depending on the individual and how to identify when we as women become our own oppressors when trying to adhere to stereotypes of “femininity” which fail to represent us.
It is a highly symbolic work. The “One eyed monster” is a UK slang term for the male reproductive organ; playing with words this phallic reference transforms to a female form aiming to highlight
tell me where you were born and I will tell you your future..., sculpture
that stereotypes and restrictions can also come from within. The work is made by colourful threads, each one representing the individuality of a person’s life. The eye for mouth is a direct reference to the once strong belief that women should be appropriated to be looked at but have no voice. The handmade crochet elements on the work are by my late grandmother. In her time in Greece handmade crochet was an indication of femininity and suitability for marriage. The mother-in-law would visit the bride’s house to inspect her crochets in order to evaluate the bride. My grandmother was very proud of her crochets, which have exquisite intricacy. We had suitcases of them left to us after her death. Here are used as a homage to her remarkable skill, whilst asking a very stout question about the ambiguous nature of femininity. Moving lower through the tight crochet dress of the structure, all the colourful threads become red, reiterating the redundant yet powerful physicality of being a woman.
If through this artwork I have accomplished to open a dialogue concerning the above observations, then I believe I have succeeded in my role as an artist on this occasion. I think that the role of the artists hasn’t fundamentally changed for over centuries. Conveying a message, whether is a personal thought, a political statement or a philosophical debate, creating room for dialogue and critical thinking, I believe is what artists have been doing for centuries, regardless of how their role was used by different social structures and their interests.
When playing with symbols of ‘looks’, Femininity and the one eyed monstress... highlights that femininity has become a symbol of major changes in human relations: how do you consider the role of symbolically charged images in your artistic production?
Froso Papadimitriou: I would say that symbolism and symbolical images dominate my work. It is a code of communication, a treasure hunt with leads and allusions. Although I consider myself a direct person, my work is the polar opposite. I think it is because my aim is not to tell the viewer what to think; the way we structure our thoughts is very
personal. I rather, want to stimulate the viewer to think. I sometimes use more evident clues towards a specific subject and others more elusive but all aim towards thought stimulation.
Your artistic research highlights the tension be-
tween the Self and its surroundings, and as you have remarked once, the main influence of your work is the binaries that resonate between the self and its role within social environments: what does attract you of the nature of social dynamics?
Froso Papadimitriou: My work is a reaction to our anthropocentric times. Whilst trying to identify my place within the ever-shifting social exchanges, I observe us striving to fit in a prescribed normality and inhabit an array of personas to achieve that. That is partially due to the expansion of what we
identify as our environment. Although in the past we ascertained ourself with our local now we operate globally and therefore we have an abundance of “locals” we can choose to identify with. By doing so we gradually become occupied and self-absorbed in social realms that demand evermore in
gaining self-worth. Thus, we become less critical of the nature of these social realms and reduce our attention and contribution to crucial issues of universal welfare.
We don’t question the decline of human worth
compared to gain, nor all the feel-good mechanisms set by canning craftsmen for cashing in the guild we are made to feel for the state of the world and the false belief of our inability to change it, neither the intentional division of causes to smaller antagonistic groups illustrating the infallible divide
and concur. Instead we tag along doing the bare minimum that fits our congested lives.
I like to observe and understand how things operate, how do we forge our relationships and why we adopt certain behaviours that allow us to abstain when we are most needed to take control. These are questions I want to discuss.
We have appreciated the contrapuntal visual quali-
ties that mark out your Pointless Self-Portraits series, and especially the way you sapiently combined references to human body and such unique abstract quality, that could recognize also in your interesting Invocation (next step): how do you structure the balance between tones and shapes in order to achieve such brilliant results?
Froso Papadimitriou: As mentioned above my work is anthropocentric and that includes the phys-
the oil price gone up, sculpture
icality of the human body. There are parts of the body that evoke certain emotions, different when placed in various contexts. Familiar references in my work play a big part however, the work evolves during its creation, especially with my painting work. I start with suggestions of shapes to create the composition but they change and grow to their final form as I work on them. There is nothing set in stone at the beginning except from the intention of what I want to discuss. The final result descends from a flow that at one point just feels enough.
The work “Invocation next step” is a collaboration
with two very talented artists, Joefur, who created the painted details on the sculpture and Zuza Tehanu, who is the model behind the work. This work came together for Zuza’s band’s “Yavenirie” music video and similarly, as above, the work developed in that moment.
Over the years you have participated and also organised artistic projects, that gave you the occasion to collaborate with artists from around the world: what did you learn from such experiences? And how important is for you to establish collaborative relationships with other creative minds?
Froso Papadimitriou: Collaborating is the next best thing to making. Apart from the inspiration, stimulation and knowledge one gets, being surrounded by creative minds, its great fun and the potentials of the outcome expediential. I have been very honoured to work with some brilliant artists, many of them now good friends and I am looking forward to working with them again and many more artists in the future.
We have appreciated the way you sapiently deploy elements that belong to the familiar sphere, to create such unique sense of ambiguity that elicit the viewers' intellectual and emotional responses, inviting them to elaborate personal associations: how important is for you to create works of art able to provide the viewers with a shared experience? Or do you prefer that each visitor attempt to create personal interpretations?
Froso Papadimitriou: In order to create a bridge of communication between the artist and the viewer through the artwork, I strongly believe in laying some common grounds for that communication then to flourish. This also gives the opportunity to the viewer to relate to the artwork through these common citations and for the artwork to resonate with the viewer.
I believe that the experience one has with an artwork is personal, as the stimuli to our senses is interpreted through a filter of our personal references. The experience becomes shared when viewers share between them their interpreta-
tions and, at this point, it is no longer about the artwork itself but each individual’s imprint of it.
You are an established artist and over the years your artworks have been internationally showcased in several occasions, moreover, you organise and curate exhibitions and events: as an artist who uses your work as a platform for discussion, how do you consider the participatory nature of your relationship with your audience? Moreover, 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 an ever growing, almost globalised spectatorship?
Froso Papadimitriou: The presentation of an artwork can be very crucial in the way the artwork can be perceived. The outlets you mentioned for showcasing a work of art do not cancel each other I believe, but rather they enhance it. Nothing can compare to viewing an original artwork, however, that doesn’t mean that a digital reproduction of it can not convey its message and to a considerably larger audience; and why not bringing an artwork out in the street, off its pedestal and closer to the people one wants to engage with? I try to be in all.
My work is very tactile therefore, I thoroughly enjoy the physicality of a gallery. I also have an instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/froso_papadimitriou) and I would be a liar if I denied the pleasure of instant gratification. I have also done a few projects outdoors or with audience participation and I hope to do more, it is a different way of engagement, a very rewarding one. As a contemporary artist one has to be a bit of a juggler to be relevant, however, I believe there is a limit to that, so one doesn’t lose the integrity of their art.
We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Froso. What projects are you cur-
rently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?
Froso Papadimitriou: I would like to thank you in return for the opportunity and the time you have put in looking into my work in such depth.
At the moment I am involved with three very exciting projects.
One is the “Telephone”, a global art project based on the children’s game “Telephone” in which a message is whispered from person to person. In this game, the message is whispered from art form to art form. The founder is Nathan Langston and with a great team, all of which work voluntarily around the clock, they have covered 4,000,000 miles between 840+ artists from 443 cities in 66 countries. (and that is from the last update the game is still on). The final exhibition will take place online, where one will be able to trace the whole journey.
The link for the current one will be released once the game is concluded. Here is the link to the first “Telephone” project 2014, in which I also took part:
The next project is “Birthing a Better Future”, aiming to raise awareness of the importance of the child’s and the mother’s wellbeing for the first 1001 days from the day the child is conceived, to their mental and physical health thereafter. The project is organised by Alex Florschutz, who has put a lot of work and hours voluntarily for this project to reach a global audience. The exhibition is been travelling since 2016 with the next upcoming location in Delhi, India in 2021 and with an online outlet:
The third project is the group exhibition ‘Identity’ in Phylogeny Contemporary gallery in Seattle, USA. It is a physical exhibition and an online showcase from 15 of January – 27 February 2021.
At the moment I am also working in a new body of work and aiming to continue my ongoing project I mention at the beginning of the interview and hoping to participate to some international residencies, when COVID-19 permits.
Hello Sara and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://saraikim.com in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production and we would start this interview with a couple of introductory questions. You have a solid formal training abd after having earned your BFA from the Parsons School of Design, New York, you moved to the United Kingdom to nurture your education with an MA, that you received from the Royal College of Art, London: how did those formative years help you to create your unique attitude to experiment? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum due to your American roots address the trajectory of your current artistic research?
Sara Kim: Hello and thank you for having me on this interview.
I am a first-generation Korean American. My parents emigrated from Seoul, South Korea to America to pursue the American dream. As a child I was heavily influenced by school trips to the local art museum where I became in awe of modern American artists such as Pollock, Rauschenberg, Rothko, and Warhol. I started painting and drawing from a young age as an escape to cope with the awkwardness of adolescence and at 18 I received a scholarship to study at Parsons School of Design in New York which provided me with a foundation in a traditional art and design practise. Following graduation, I worked full time as a visual designer for several years - moving across country to Los Angeles. Hungry to cultivate and nourish my creative side, I began taking night courses in various disciplines including photography, writing, and theatre. My interests led to a few artist
residencies abroad followed by entering into my two-year MA studies at the Royal College (RCA) in London. When I entered RCA I realised the most important thing it offered me was time and space. I experimented with long exposures using a large format camera – starting with studies in solitude through one-hour long self-portraits in my bedroom. I used the time of sitting still in silence to absorb my thoughts and new surroundings, which ultimately led to new thoughts including ideas of displacement, sepa-Sara Kim
ration, isolation, loneliness, endings, and resurrection. I was curious by the repetition of it all which made it feel like time was not moving. I became fascinated by the works of artist Tehching Hsieh and his one-year performances, including his self-imposed lockdowns, choosing to confront the emptiness and darkness of the human soul and the writings of E.M. Forster in particular his short story ‘The Machine Stops.’ Naturally my experiments led me back to the act of painting, through the use of photo-chemicals and pigments on canvas - exposing them outdoors sometimes even in my own garden. Through my days at RCA, I explored alternative methods to my upbringing and contemporary values of speed, productivity, and consumption through wasting and waiting, regression and repetition and potentiality and idleness - establishing the basis for my current practice.
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 they convey sense of freedom and rigorous aesthetics, and in particular for the way you use your visual language in a strategic way to offering an array of meanings to the viewers: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how important is for you the degree of openness of your artworks and how open would you like them to be understood?
Sara Kim: I work without any intention in mind allowing the hand to roam freely across the composition applying destiny to mark making –this act becoming an extension of freethinking and conscientiousness. I often execute in layers using acrylics, oil, inks and handmade photosensitive liquids and emulsions, developing a repetition of pigments and textures which
mimic ocean wave ripples and clouds of colourpushing, draging, and sometimes submerging liquids and paints through the movements of my body onto the surface, burying what was once appearing through the light, creating a
new thing. Painting this way frees me from the confines of what something should be or should look like and I use it as a way to explore what it is I am looking at. Since these works are an ongoing expression into my personal state
of mind I welcome viewers to explore and journey with me. My hope is that the physical and formal aspects would be taken in first: colours, gestures, shapes, textures - and then the other internal aspects of content. They are open to
each individual and I think that is the uniqueness of each piece.
With their unique multilayered visual quality, your artworks challenge the viewers' perceptual parameters and we dare say that they
could be considered interzones of sensory perceptions. 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?
Sara Kim: Every starting point begins with some form of reality in mind and by exploring
memory and past experiences the boundary between objectivity and subjectivity becomes blurred. Oftentimes I go back and forth to different points in time with thoughts of the past, thinking about the different places I have lived and the presence of these homes I have built for myself. These thoughts are usually triggered through patterns of movement, lines, and washes of colours which filter through the senses, into the subconscious, depicting a fleeting and ambiguous state of mind. Therefore, there is a sense of wandering and road mapping as I paint, as if trying to figure out where to go or where things are suppose to be - and my thoughts gliding with the paint on the canvas from place to place, yet repetitions of new layers obliterate what was once there creating a completely new perspective, attempting to build something new out of the nothingness once again. Also, thinking about presence helps me engage with different states of being including noise and silence, light and dark, slowness and movement, and chaos and calmness.
As you have remarked in your artist's statement, the various places you have resided and your travels have all influenced the tone and subject matter for each painting: how does everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? In particular, how did your previous experience as an artist in residence in Panama, Uganda and Sweden inspire your work?
Sara Kim: Home is a theme that reconnects each piece of my work together like a thread and I like to emphasise the spiritual and material energies of the spaces I have resided, whether it is through light, climate, terrain, or air quality - all of which offer different approaches to form and matter. Sometimes I incorporate natural materials from my environment directly onto the composition including dripping rain or submergence in sea water. I enjoy working out-
doors in nature when possible as it is helps me familiarise myself with my surroundings.
Residing in many different places has had a significant impact on my identity and thinking and painting helps me to draw out and make sense of feeling like a stranger to myself. With several residencies throughout my career, I have been able to express through art these cultural diasporas. In my travels to Panama in 2014 I developed an immersive experience of photographic work, carved out of time spent in the area over a span of six months. The moments form a bigger picture of the environment in a city where the Gross Domestic Product has grown 10.8% since 2011, yet still has one of the world's largest income disparities. I have captured the cultures that people have created unintentionally - a culture of making a home, a living, out of what you have, attempting to capture a sense of wonder in a place still marked with human hopes and dreams.
In Sweden, I travelled at the end 2016 to Abisko, a town known for their aurora tourism economy and with a population of roughly 85 as of 2005. Located above the Arctic, there is only three hours of daylight each day with the rest of the time spent in complete darkness. I worked on a collection of prints that were produced in these circumstances sometimes outside in the dark or in solitude in my studio, and through different alchemy processes and techniques in the colour darkroom. I started experimenting heavily with layering by painting on physical prints with ink and photo chemicals allowing them to slowly develop. The night sky became an initial figurative element in this body of work as I was mesmorised by the colours and brightness. The act of layering became a way to hide and expose these aspects of homes both past and present. Sometimes I would take the finished print and create a painting and take the painting and turn it back
into a photograph. Taking that photograph, I would paint again, and take that painting to create a contact of it creating a new photograph - so the process between photography
and painting kept going back and forth. Images are always being retraced through paint or light. All traces of figurative elements become distorted through each layering process.
It's important to remark that your work is an evolution from your journey as a photographer where you worked extensively
with film and photo chemistry and its reaction to light. What did direct your evolution as a visual artist and moreover, how do you consider the relationship between Painting
Sara Kim: Photography is painting with light and that has always been something that has
interested me. My interests started when I first began processing and developing film. It is magic to see something appear from nothingness each and every time. The wait is long –
and what you finally see is never what you fully expect. The silence and stillness of the darkroom is also like a safe haven to express and explore myself through blurred, abstract imag-
ery, and long exposures. I enjoy the control of analog over digital as it never gives me the quality that film does, yet it is also the science and precision that fascinated me to begin with.
Time disappears when I am in there yet every moment is controlled and calculated by it. My 120mm rolls of film have traveled through Hawaii, Panama, Uganda, and various parts of the
US and UK including airport clearances, tumultuous boat rides, rain, road trips, and all the accidental mishaps you can imagine - and all of these experiences become part of the end re-
sult. They are never photoshopped out or colour corrected through a filter to look like the ideal. It was here, I discovered my love for the failing image - and it led me towards experimenting with how I see things and how I paint with light through my own chemicals and pigments. I deconstruct the intention of photogra-
phy by challenging the perceptions of how we see through ambiguity and the abstract.
Your practice includes repetitions of layer upon layer of brushstrokes, as well as drip techniques,highlighting the importance of manuality. New York City based artist Lydia Dona once stated that in order to make art to-
day 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?
My practice incorporates elements of chance and fate through mark makings created by pigment, time, light, and nature. Marks then take on their own emotional and lively state with unexpected colours becoming a natural response to those interactions. I never plan or prepare how something is supposed to look like in advance. Every time I paint it is an opportunity to
see something new as layers begin to emerge and coexist next to each other. I use painting as a way of continuously seeing and searching. It is towards the edge of the image and the failure of the image that sometimes leads to the uncharted and uncomfortable territory where one does not immediately recognise nor understand but must stop to absorb, watch, and wait.
When exploring lines and how they interact with surrounding colours and shapes it, your artworks feature unique combination between freedom and rigorous sense of geometry — and we have particularly appreciated the way they create such enigmatic patterns, communicating an alternation between tension and release. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include moment by moment in your artworks and in particular, are there any special states of mind that you need in order to make such decisions?
Sara Kim: Painting frees me from the confines of what something should be or should look like. I use it as a way to think about what it is I’m looking at – seeing with my eyes the real materiality and physicality. As I paint, naturally my mind starts to drift and explore memories including people, places, colours, and sounds - all of which relate to past and present homes. I usually allow my thoughts to wander freely to find forms to create. Sometimes I have distinct ideas of what I’m thinking about which help influence my decisions such as colours and brush choice - and other times I use my pure senses to automatically let my hand wander. Dreams also influence me, as I always have constant reoccurring ones from the presence of past homes, especially childhood ones. A lot of my thoughts resurface around my dreams as I think about the subconscious meanings. They often depict an ongoing moment of travel through a bus station, airplane, train, or car and it is always in constant motion which I find interesting. This repetition of movement can be
seen throughout my work, which draws in and recedes and feels almost like playing a musical instrument within my own head. I think that is why I like to paint off the canvas a lot of the times. I tend to paint lines and strokes that go off the edge or across from one end to the other - a desire to break free across boundaries and borders. I use principles of eum and yang or opposites to bring harmony into the composition to describes how seemingly opposite or contrary factors or forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and are complimentary to each other, balance each other and give rise to each other as they interrelate. Many natural and social dualities are
thought of as this concept. For example, shadow (blue) and light (red), fire and water, hard vs soft, hot vs cold, earth vs heaven, and pain vs pleasure.
Among your current influences, you have expressly mentioned the works by performance artist Tehching Hsieh and American abstract expressionist artist Betty Parsons. What does inspire you of their artistic productions?
Sara Kim: I have been following performance artist Tehching Hsieh and his explorations on solitary confinement which comment on wasting time and freethinking. In his first series, ‘One Year Performance 1978-1979 (Cage Piece)’ he performs near-solitary confinement in a wooden cage for one year with only a bed, blanket, light, sink, pail, and a few personal hygiene items. The only human contact he had was from a friend who brought him clean clothes, food, cleaned out his waste, as well as take a photograph every day. The most tangible thing about the Cage Piece is its emptiness of time and of life as filling the time. In his piece ‘Art / Life: One Year Performance 1983-1984 (Rope Piece)’ by Hsieh and Linda Montano, the artists tied each other together at the waist with an eight-foot rope and were not allowed to touch or make contact for the whole duration of one year. The piece explores emptiness and hardships of close human relationships. It is also about exposure and showcasing the weakness and vulnerabilities of the self to another. The one-year performance pieces are not about endurance or the desire for human suffering but depict snapshots of the human life: its struggle and absurdity – of being deeply alone even when yoked together with another. Solitude, work, repetition, isolation, detachment, loneliness, idolatry, and the
complexity of human relationships are all metaphors in these pieces.
I have been interested in the paintings of Betty Parsons which capture atmosphere and invisible presence through her use of colour, texture, and forms. Growing up, I connected deeply with abstract mid-century American artists and only until recently have I started reconnecting back to these roots discovered in my childhood. I am interested in the way her paintings depict biomorphic forms floating against monochromatic backgrounds which produce rhythm and dimension. She also works with topographical landscape and abstracts these by playing with light and shadow. Her life and career are fascinating to me as she worked as a successful gallerist alongside building and maintaining her own cohesive artistic practice, as she was classically trained as an artist not a business major. It makes me think about how different and similar times were from back then to now in terms of job and careers in the arts.
Over the years your artworks have been showcased in several occasions, including your show 100 Square Feet, at the Art Nest Gallery, in London: how do you consider the participatory nature of your relationship with your audience? Moreover, 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 an ever growing, almost globalised spectatorship?
Sara Kim: My paintings are intended to be viewed in person as its participatory nature is at the heart of the experience. What you see in real life is never exactly the same as an image online – and that is why seeing with the senses is very crucial in experiencing the full degree of the work. There are nuances and details that can never be fully translated in digital whether it’s the way that sunlight can shift and change the
hue or the fullness of three-dimensional textures that paint creates on the surface. I think that is the ultimate pleasure of viewing a painting for me, that you are able to see something different every time and it is never the same experience. The size and scale also effect where the eyes focus in and out – and that is something so personal to each viewer when reading the work.
Painting seen virtually transforms into a different type of viewing experience as it is no longer about the painting but rather the content which it is describing. Virtual galleries and publications in that sense work wonderfully as an informative documentation or snapshot overview of an artist’s career and work. However, I still hope to see public art galleries thrive during and post pandemic – and to be able to continue to connect together in person through art which is absolutely vital and necessary.
We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Sara. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?
Sara Kim: I have spent most of the year in my UK home studio concentrating on smaller scale paintings surrounding themes of lockdown, isolation, and solitude. The year has definitely felt like a one-year cage piece in that sense with a lot of quiet time to myself to think and carry on painting. Alongside painting I have been interested in continuing to revisit the camera to document the current state of life and hope to continue exhibiting work in the meantime. Please stay tuned and follow me on Instagram to keep up to date @saraikim_.
An interview by , curator and curator
Hello Efka and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.efkaodehnal.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have solid formal training and after having earned your BA in Photography from the Tomas Bata University in Zlin, you nurtured your education with a MA in Fine ArtsMedia Arts, that you received from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK), in Ghent, Belgium: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural background direct your current artistic research?
Efka Odehnal: First of all, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss my artwork. As far as I would like to think, that the educational and cultural background didn't influence my artistic research that much, it did quite opposite, but not in the way most people would expect to. The study of photography taught me patience, perseverance, attention to detail, resistance, and perfection. Most of my artwork of that time was driven by the need to go against the rules given by academic assignments, to prove to others that there is always another angle of view. The study of art theorists like Rosalind Krauss or John Berger helped me a lot and inspired my
early artworks. Nevertheless, I felt frustrated by being limited to one medium, just to later find out that those limitations are determining my artistic research.
My cultural background had a similar effect on my artistic evolution. Thanks to the possibility to travel and discover various cultures and countries, I realized I am irritated by a social and cultural discourse of art, that the art and especially photographyEfka Odehnal
influenced by culture became such a cliché, there is nothing more to discover. Therefore, I tend to concentrate just on the phenomenological side of art.
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 dynamics of perception, highlighting the relationship between abstraction and reality: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you develop your ideas?
Efka Odehnal: It is very challenging to reveal the process of my ideas as they are continuously evolving and transforming, but once I am satisfied with the establishment of the idea I am trying to find and focus on the core of the concept than expanding it. That is why my recent artworks are very pure and minimalistic, sending one strong message but yet leave the viewer for developing their own thoughts. When I start to work on a new project I become obsessed with it, I am trying to perceive it from all different angles, read literature, make sketches, and play with the observation. (This is the way how I can accomplish visually captivating images.)
We have appreciated the way your Meditation on Space series seems to invite the viewer to complete the work of art by personal associations. Austrian Art historian Ernst Gombrich once underlined
the importance of providing a space for the viewers to project onto: how important is it for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations?
Efka Odehnal: I think that the importance of the viewer's imagination is crucial in my latest artwork, especially in the project Meditation on Space. I am asking the viewer to engage with my pictures, to stop,
take a breath and think, meditate, fill the void with their own interpretation while watching the geometrical shapes, reflections, and intersections. I want to show the viewer that his perception can be
deceiving, illusional. Meditation on Space I., II., and III., are a series of triptychs consisted of one single setup and captured from three different angles, creating new
imaginary space and looking for the old ones.
As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you are constantly capturing the surrounding life, and you are intrigued
by ordinary things: how does your everyday life's experience and your memories fuel your artistic research?
This everyday experience is my major inspiration. From the moment I wake up I
watch and observe the surroundings, it is an unlimited source of ideas and thoughts. I am captivated by examining the forms of lights and shadows, how the sunlight is going through objects, how the light
streams are broken over the structures of materials into the new shapes of shadows.
Efka Odehnal: My project The Specular Preservation is about recreating the image
by using a mirror. It is a research of light, traveling through reflection and preserving the original appearance. Another thing that is fueling my research is definitely Still-Life. It is my favorite photography discipline as there is a strong importance of composition and light. It can be set-up still life, but what I find more interesting are the randomly found ones. I enjoy inspecting the objects that someone composed before me. Are they having any significant reasons?
What kind of symbolism we can read in them?
Those are questions that are constantly occupying my mind.
Your artworks — and in particular Unclarified Lucidity — are marked out with such refined sense of geometry: how did you develop this important aspect of your artistic production?
Efka Odehnal: As I already mentioned, when I start a new project I become captured by its topic, therefore the study of geometry was necessary. I played with geometrical shapes for long weeks until I found the right forms and compositions. It was urgent for me to find an elegant composition of geometry in order to stress out the illusive behavior of glass.
We have really appreciated the way your artworks, especially the interesting N°1 and N°2, create such a unique ambiance, through the sapient combination between abstraction and fragments of reality. Scottish 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: as an artist particularly interested in the theme of the perception of reality, how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production?
Efka Odehnal: That could be a very extensive answer, in fact, I have written the whole thesis about this relationship. In short, it is already complex to determine what reality is and how is perceivable because, in the end, everything ends in our imagination; and our imagination is shaped by experiences and memories.
We perceive reality with our senses, but the perception can be delusive, thus leaving the space for our imagination.
Those are very obscure terms with a close relationship, which are crucial in my artistic research.
In a controversial quote, German photographer Thomas Ruff stated 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: how do you consider the role of photography in our contemporary age, constantly saturated by ubiquitous images?
Efka Odehnal: What I thought, Thomas Ruff was trying to point out, is that photography became a standalone part of art, unlike 150
years ago when photography was used as a tool for capturing reality in order to use it as a sketch for an artist's painting.
Then for many years, it developed into a
craft and yet not a piece of art. However now, photography is already part of our lives for at least two generations, we don't think about it as people one century ago. It became an every-day element, so
nowadays you don't need to be an artist to create photographs.
On one side, it is amazing progress that brings a lot of advantage to technological development, on the other side, I believe,
everything that is popularized is soon to be destroyed.
The pure beauty of photography is gone; everybody is able to take an enormous
amount of instant pictures and share them with the world within a minute.
As a versatile artist, and although the focus of your artistic research is
photography, your creative production encompasses many other disciplines: what does direct you to such an interdisciplinary approach? In particular, are there any experiences that did
particularly help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different techniques?
Efka Odehnal: During my studies, I found photography limited to express my ideas and thoughts. I felt that to be able to support my photographs I need other disciplines for it. Questioning the reasons and purposes of photography itself became my primal topic. What really helped me and influenced me in such a way were theorists like Vilem Flusser, Karel Cisar, Charlotte Cotton, or Roland Barthes.
I've found the interconnections for my artistic practice especially in video and installations, it came naturally when I was experimenting with one project and it was important to me to ''bring the viewer in'' to discover and examine my photography installation.
Then I started to use these elements more often until I realized how imperative is to engage the beholder with my artwork.
Since your first show in 2009 in Brno, your artworks have been internationally exhibited in several occasions: 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 the street and especially to the online realm — as Instagram — increases: how it would, in your opinion, change the relationship with a globalized audience?
Efka Odehnal: I am not a huge fan of social media and I still believe that art belongs to real physical spaces.
It can definitely help a lot of artists to become visible, known, and even popular and it absolutely has the power to reach a bigger spectrum of audience, but in the end, it doesn't have any selective regulations, thus everything is available to everyone and the one can be overwhelmed by the quantity of the online art which turn into one of the many...
I think that is completely crucial for art to have the audience in physical distance.
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, Efka. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?
Efka Odehnal: It was a very nice opportunity to discuss my artistic practice. I hope I will be able to explore the phenomenon of light and space in deep. I keep circling around these topics for a while and I enjoy that there is still so much to discover. Naturally, those subjects are currently driving my research and I expect I will hold onto them in the future too.
Thank you very much for the chance to present my projects and I appreciate the time you took for analyzing my artworks.
Hello Kian and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.tankianming.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training, and you hold a M.F.A in Fine Art that you received from the prestigious Goldsmiths, University of London: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural background direct your current artistic research?
Kian Ming Tan: I think that being an artist is not so crucial to make a connection to my educational background, not how many degrees I got. Still, the various inspirable experiences I went through in different countries, and those experiences do influence my art motivation in the future.
For this question, I think I should first give a short introduction to my background. I was born and grew up in a traditional Chinese family in Malaysia, and I also finished my education till high school in the local independent Chinese institution. However, the very beginning, I started to question and explore my identity while I was studying in Taiwan for my bachelor’s degree. I remember once in university I was filling out a form about my personal details, and I then noticed a required column of “oversea residence address” which it really confused me, in Chinese means “overseas Chinese'' residence, The definition of oversea Chinese is the person whose nationality is Chinese (PROC) or Taiwanese (ROC) but reside in other countries. However, people were born in overseas and held the passport of another country like Malaysia should be called Ethnic Chinese, like me. There is actually a historical factor in this issue,
during world war 2, overseas Chinese were kind enough to donate plenty of money to mainland China for the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, especially in southeast Asia. However, some countries we know today were still a colony at that time, which means they were not independent yet and most of the overseas Chinese holders of the passport of the Republic of China (ROC), today Taiwan.
Nowadays, Taiwan ROC governor is still inheriting the immigrant policy of overseas Chinese and giving benefits for those who enterKian Ming Tan
Taiwan as overseas Chinese, for example, educational discounts as similar as Taiwanese people. However, for me, this sort of immigrant policy and concept can be nostalgic and outdated in some circumstances.
After I graduated from National Taiwan Normal
University, my tutor encouraged me to go to a western country to study for my master’s degree. At the moment, I can't even speak English in a full sentence, and it doesn’t mean my English is excellent now, I’ve still kept learning it. Then I finally got a master's degree from Goldsmiths, however, for me, the
university is just an environment for studying and meeting people, the most interesting part of my second educational life overseas is living in London. It’s a great experience and opportunity for me to interact with people from various backgrounds.
For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected “Homeland Déjà Vu”, a stimulating video that is part of your most recent project concerning the concept of time and our perception of it. What has at once captured our attention of your visual exploration of the relationship between memory and experience
within the theme of Chinese diaspora is the way you sapiently challenged the audience's perceptual parameters, inviting them to question the themes of memory, experience and tradition: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea
Kian Ming Tan: Yes, Homeland Déjà Vu is an installation map that presents original placenames of ancestral residence in China, I seek to depict an imaginary homeland through using aluminium foil paper to collect the top part of
the tombstone which allows viewers to go through a cemetery I created. The symbol of tombstone structure first inspired me, in traditionally funeral custom, the character of ancestral place usually indicates on the top of Chinese tombstone. Even in Malaysia, after a few generations, local Chinese people are still
practising it. However, People insert tombstones to the ground to represent the descended, I try to make it visually growing and appealing from the ground.
I’m interested in investigating this cultural phenomenon because even for most people
who haven’t been to the ancestral place in China, they still curve the place-name of ancestral residence to their tombstone. For me it’s tricky, I would probably put the place where
I was born in Malaysia instead of showing a place I’ve never been or maybe put both? Well, of course, I don’t criticise and saying that people who inherit this funeral culture are
wrong but conveying its fragility of cultural identity is my initial motivation.
You are a versatile artist and you practice
encompasses Installation, Video and Painting: what does direct you to such multidisciplinary approach? In particular, are there any experiences that did particularly help you to
develop your attitude to experiment with different techniques?
Kian Ming Tan: Honestly, I used to be extremely fascinated by oil painting and claimed that I wanted to be a great oil painter when I was in high school. But later when I went to University, my mindset totally changed. I’d been in intensive training for oil painting for several years. Still, for being an art student, I started
experimenting with various materials and left my oil painting tools for a rest. For me, art material should be accompanied by an artist’s concept in probing the particular issue, not to limit the method engaging with various content.
When exploring the relationship between personal and collective memory, you create work rich of such allegorical qualities that urges the viewers to rethink to the idea of
perception of time: how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?
Kian Ming Tan: My aluminium installation seems like a medium that slows down the perception of time; it allows viewers to participate with the scene I recreated from the transformation of particular objects, like tombstones. I’m inspired by the concept of impermanence from Buddhist thought; all essence has their lifetime running as
a circle from life to death, nothing is forever, even in materiality and mentality. However, I seek to utilise aluminium rubbing as a method to investigate the relationship between perceptual experience and spatiality, like a collection of documents, form a different period of time. Moreover, the way to blur the relationship between illusion and reality has fascinated me, which elicits “contrast” in art creation, for example, visible and invisible,
heavy and soft, fixity and fluidity.
I suggest that there are two contrasts that can be interpreted in making a connection, including “spatial contrast” and “material contrast”. The spatial contrast, like a middle between the dualism of inside-outside, positive-negative, etc. It almost remains just a skin, a paper or a very fragile residue/remains as a medium. The material contrast can be
defined as the connection between fragility and solidity in terms of material transformation. On the other hand, the material contrast is also a method and simplification that reduces and depower authoritative symbols/ideas and seeks to elicit potential fragmentary narratives surrounding the hidden history/ memory.
Site-specific transformation is also the main key of my work content; my concern is about how
the rigid function of site-specificity can be possibly twisted or rather transform into a transportable activity? I’m motivated by the idea “Transportability” where A Korean artist Do Ho Suh applies this term in his textile sculptures “a house within a house” through measuring his family house and representing it in skillfully architectural transformation. The function of removing is a way to reconstruct a dialogue between perception and spatiality,
exploring an enclave that hiding between us and our daily-experience
With its almost timeless ambience, “Homeland Déjà Vu” seems to invite the viewer to complete the work of art by personal associations, creating further meanings. Austrian Art historian Ernst Gombrich once underlined the importance of providing a space for the viewers to project onto: your artworks
are very dynamic and at the same time convey philosophical aspects: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal
Kian Ming Tan: The presentation of “Homeland Déjà Vu” is a great chance for me to experiment with the relationship between work and the
viewers while it shows in London. Because of its specific character of ancestral places in Chinese, some of the viewers might not understand its meaning, especially for the viewers from various
backgrounds. I did feel anxious about this situation of the linguistic gate, but later I wondered if I should not worry too much about the text, but the notion I intend to point out in
Homeland Déjà Vu is a reconstructed scene from collecting different tombstone rubbing, and it shows as a cemetery to allow viewers to go through inside the installation, in some degree, it represents the perception of fragility through its materiality and minimalistic form.
The appropriation of the funeral symbols investigates the function of participation in
memorial places, which I think is more crucial than just talking about the language issue, people will find a way to engage with the content.
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, why did you select alluminium in order to create the characteristic features of
Kian Ming Tan: In my work creation, I tend to collect or record things through a simple material, or rather a method that does it quickly and easily. As I mention the idea of “contrast” in my work content, how to manifest the connection between simple materials and heavy historical/ political issues has always been interested me. In terms of depicting the
contrast in my work, fragileness is the initial concept that comes to my mind, especially when we discuss the imagination of identity.
Aluminium foil paper, to some degree, leads me to make a connection to death, its materiality is so cold and fragile. Moreover, the limitation and difficulty of preserving this shape or the structure is also a connotation of life, which is unstable and unbeatable.
I consider Identity is an imaginary manifestation/ storytelling, which is like a ghost in some way; people never see them. Still, it does exist around us, whatever the ghost in history or memory, I try to recall them via the function of the material I apply with. I also
consider this gesture as the commemoration of the deceased.
Inquiring into the theme of postcolonial condition, immigration and the ambiguous position of the Chinese diaspora — themes that you explored also in The ancestor — your
artistic production seems to be pervaded with such stimulating socio political criticism. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "artists's role differs depending on which part of the world they’re in": does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? Moreover, do you think that artists
can raise awareness to an evergrowing audience on topical issues that affect our globalised society?
Kian Ming Tan: Well, I believe that artists can raise awareness to audiences on particular issues, depending on what type of artist you
are, like some artists are activists. However, I prefer using art creation as a method to engage society’s debate; it might not directly affect society. Still, in a poetic aesthetic way, I prefer to keep the distance. Honestly, this is a big topic for me to deliberate as well; I also wonder do artworks have the responsibility to “change”
As you have remarked once, a tombstone is not only a commemorative item in the cemetery but also a medium that recording or bearing historical thread of early Chinese immigrants who might have wanted to go back to the
homeland but unavoidably settled down abroad during a mass migration. How do you consider the role of symbols playing in your artistic practice? And how important is for you to create artworks rich of allegorical qualities?
Kian Ming Tan: For most funeral customs, a
family who does not have tombs is like the person or the family did not exist before, no experience, no memory. In making a connection to the criticism of ancestral places and the diasporic thread of Chinese immigration, I applied the structure of traditional tombs with rubbing collection. However, for me, the thread
of Chinese immigration is a massive topic, and I do not think it can be answered accurately/ comprehensively through my work, or rather homeland... seek to question the Chineseness, especially while mainland China is gradually getting stronger and high-handed.
You are an established artist: over the years your artworks have been internationally exhibited in several group exhibition and you also had the solo PENDATANG, at Archetype Factory Taipei, in Taiwan: 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
Kian Ming Tan: Unfortunately, the art space Archetype Factory was already closed, the solo show I did there was also a farewell before I left Taiwan which was a great way to “say goodbye” and “thank you” to the people I
meet in local. I do think that artworks are relying on particular spatiality where viewers can engage with space physically. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there were plenty of shows to be closed inevitably due to the restriction of public events, and online exhibition and online art residencies have become the popular/
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, Kian. What projects are you currently
working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?
Kian Ming Tan: I just presented the latest work called “Paradise” and now showing at the 2020 Taiwan biennial. In this project, I continuously use aluminium foil paper in collecting particular
stone statues and stone animals which were erected during the British-Malaya period from Chinese cemeteries in Malaysia. However, the relationship between religion, funeral custom, identity and land will still be my main investigation in the future.
Hello Einav and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://einavzei.wixsite.com/mysite and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a degree in Design from Kibbutzim college, classical animation studies and art student at Shenkar college: how did experiences influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural background direct your current artistic research?
Einav Zeichner: The studies exposed me to many different techniques and demonstrated how much I love multidisciplinary work and experimentation. It led me to explore intellectually the subjects I was interested in, And also to experiment with graphic, fashion and product design. The combination between design and art made me engage in the boundary between the practical and the impractical. For example, creating accessories that can be worn but will still be unusual and non-commercial. My main interest was the combination between beauty and rejection which included harmony and strangeness in different mediums. The animation enabled me to bring images from still to life, gave me a greater awareness and knowledge about the body, movement and rhythm.
In the last year of the degree I worked on my final project, and my advisor was the artist Masha Yozefpolsky who was a great inspiration for me. The subject of the project was “Abject”. According to Julia Kristeva’s book “Powers of Horror”, the term refers to that which has been distanced or secreted from the body, and has been transformed into the “other”. The
despicable, which unsettles identity and the system, refuses to respect boundaries, stances and rules, thereby resisting control. The project was an autobiographical journal and it included Haiku inspired texts - poetry I have been writing since the age of 17 - alongside photographs that included dead animals, hair and refuse.
Highlights from the project can be found in the following link:
https://einavzei.wixsite.com/mysite/anesthesia The culture we live in seeks to purify itself andEinav Zeichner
do away with anything that appears ugly, different, sick and diseased, anything we would not want to be although humanity is inherently contaminated. I understood that our world is hyper-designed and overly aesthetic. There is too much of everything and everything looks the same.
Therefore, I chose to collect existing objects and evoke in them a beauty and meaning that will invite people to get closer and even identify with them.
The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens has at once captured our attention for the way it questions the materiality of the image, as well as for the way you sapiently challenged the audience's perceptual parameters, inviting them to question the themes of perception and experience: we would like to start this journey in your artistic production with Rolled Newspaper, a stimulating work, that has impressed us for the way it highlights its deep relationship with human body: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea of Rolled Newspaper?
Einav Zeichner: The idea began in my research on the body and abjectness, the ways in which the physical body serves as a locus of control, discipline, monitoring, or social and political opposition in Western culture, a construct of the relations between body and identity. The question of how our corporeality is formulated in relation to identity was examined, what types of monitor and control systems are our bodies subject to, particularly the female body in modern times, and to what extent do we choose our own body image? In addition, is there a difference between fashion when it comes to women’s attire and the female body? Newspapers are cheap and readily available, industrial, dirty and smelly, many people spend
time with it in the bathroom or on the bus, and it passes through many hands. This type of paper comes and goes and is of little significance. The vulnerable paper became a stable unit which cannot be torn, an act intended to render the cheap valuable and transform the industrial into a “one-off”.
As a versatile artist, your creative production encompasses Photography, Drawing, Painting, Prints, Sculpture, Jewelry, Animation and Video: what does direct you to such multidisciplinary approach? In particular, are there any experiences that did particularly help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different techniques?
Einav Zeichner: I think that curiosity is the starting point which leads me to experiment with different mediums. When I think of an image, I treat it as both two and three dimensional. The ability to diversify without sticking to a single medium allows me to think and act freely, without boundaries. My approach is to taste new things without a fear of failure. All mediums are related and work together, they create a rich and diverse world that reaches a wider audience. My passion for any given medium arises at different stages of inspiration. Every medium meets a different need, and together they form a single coherent sentence.
As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your work is created and Influenced from what exists around yourself, at home or on your way: as an artist whose work is particularly influenced by transitions and changes in life, how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?
Einav Zeichner: The past two years have been very significant for me and have provided me with food for thought and action. Relationships,
places and objects which are and have been a part of my life are transforming, and this is reflected in an abstract way in the work. There are days when images or social circumstances occupy my mind. They come up while I am riding the bus, in the shower or talking with a friend, and I cannot get them out of my head until I create something from them. In addition, moving out of an apartment shared with roomates in noisy Tel Aviv to my own place in the quiet suburb of Ramat Gan enabled me to connect to myself and provided me with the physical space needed to work. My family moved out of the apartment and left behind possessions, objects and leftovers. As a result, a large part of my art during this period has been based on “cleaning house” and sculpting with existing materials. In addition, the camera obscura photo was taken in my childhood bedroom after it had been emptied and repainted. It was like going full circle.
You are particularly interested in using unconventional materials, leftovers, especially those that are perceived as "despicable". 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 found and recycled materials?
Einav Zeichner: Reuse is a substantial part of my work. I see no reason to purchase materials when I am surrounded by so many materials, all of which bear history, memories and energies from the past. I aim to take an object and transform it into something dynamic, to take it apart and simplify. The use of materials that have been discarded and orphaned transforms my work into a type of resuscitation and adoption. I performed a different kind of act in my self-portrait photo, in
which I am wearing my wedding gown after it was dirtied with mud following my divorce. The pure white look of the wedding gown, together with all the beauty, make-up and hairdo before the wedding felt like a costume.
Your artistic process reflects a deviation from the original, processes of abstraction and transformation into a new object. Scottish 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?
(Here we have reserved space for The-Wolf and Thong, that if you like you could mention in your answer, as well)
Einav Zeichner: Indeed, most of my artistic process derives from imagination and the subconscious. The work is made in an intuitive way and images are created, sometimes provocative images, which are familiar to us while still being hard to identify. Like Freud’s “The Uncanny”: strange, disturbing, mysterious, incomprehensible. The combination of familiar and foreign creates a feeling of discomfort and alienation. Freud describes the fantastic experience as a frightening situation which leads us to a well-known memory which has been repressed in our minds. In the Wolf project I created leftovers of a body that were eaten by a wolf. Each and every part became an independent object, which was photographed as a stand-alone portrait with a character that is at once both dead and alive. The images creating both a sense of alienation and belonging, in order to elicit in the viewer feelings of discomfort, excitement, appetite or repulsion. The same type of alienation is expressed in a different way in the wire Thong. Here the reverse act is executed - taking an
existing object, a fabric thong, which we wear on our bodies for most of the day, and rendering it useless and even dangerous and painful. At the same time, the underpants take on a new meaning as a “shield” against sexual assault or an expression of female empowerment.
Your artworks — as the interesting Internal Organs series — reflecting such stunning organic quality, through reference to parts of human body, and we appreciate the way your works allude to meaning through symbolic and visual references: how important is for you to
trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations?
Einav Zeichner: It is important for me to trigger the viewer’s imagination by deviating from clear illustration. I avoided adhering to
anatomical correctness, and the viewer can connect what he sees to whatever he wishes. The work comes close to depicting something familiar, but at the same time a certain detail might pop out and cause the viewer to think again.
Your artistic practice is made out of intuition and intuitive connections: do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? And how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your work as an artist?
Einav Zeichner: For me art is a means to convey feelings and conduct a discourse that cannot always be expressed in words. Improvisation
leads me to places I could never reach if I planned ahead. It enables me to be the person I am at any given moment, to undergo a meditative experience. Most of my works are created instinctively , with influences from different artists, such as: Urs Fischer, Laura Kalman, Tom Friedman, Daniel Spoerri, Zoe Leonard, Sarah Lucas, Annette Messager and Jorinde Voigt.
We sometimes tend to forget that a work of art is a physical artefact with tactile qualities, and we really appreciate the way Synthetic meat reflects this aspect: as an artist particularly interested in highlighting the materiality among the viewer, how important is for you to highlight the physical aspect of your artworks?
Einav Zeichner: It is important to me that the public that sees the work is attracted to it, wants to examine it from up close and even touch it. I aim to cause them a sensory experience, whether pleasant or not, to elicit thought and imagination, to create surprise, excitement and movement. I also strive to make them question whether the object in front of them is dead or alive, the same feeling of strangeness I spoke about before. It is like a breaded chicken cutlet, which is coated with crumbs so that the diner will not notice the dead animal inside.
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? (if you like you can include the link
https://www.instagram.com/einavzeichner to your Instagram page, in your answer)
Einav Zeichner: Exhibiting my work in a physical exhibition space, and my own personal
presence alongside the audience, are very important to me. I am always interested in hearing and seeing reactions and developing a dialogue with people from inside and outside of the art world, to give the audience a sense of
meaning while they are in the gallery. Moving to an online platform is challenging and requires marketing know-how - all information is conveyed through photographs, although I have received positive feedback on such
platforms. I am active on Instagram and you are welcome to follow me:
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, Einav. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of
the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?
Einav Zeichner: It was a pleasure to participate and share my work. Thank you very much.
Today I am at a bit of a crossroads, I am trying to reset the system and examine what I want to take with me and what I am finished exploring. At the moment I am continuing to research new textures and shapes, the relationship between the object and the subject.
I hope to start working on a larger scale, to move beyond the intimate space of my home and be exposed to new areas.
An interview by , curator and curator
Hello Małgorzata and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://małgorzata-pindel-kryjak.pl/en in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production and we would start this interview with a couple of introductory questions. You reached your artistic maturity in 2019 and you have a solid formal training and you studied in Bielsko Biała and in Berlin: how did those formative years help you to create your unique attitude to experiment with different media? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum address the trajectory of your current artistic research?
Malgorzata Pindel-Kryjak: The most unique experiences I've had were marked by the people I've met. Not everyone can be mentioned, but I am grateful to all of them. Of course I stand in the shadow of a difficult childhood - of Poland in the years of change and of a conscious choice of both God and a good art school that has properly shaped me. Instead of continuing my studies at the Academy, I've emigrated to the West. These were completely different times. I've journeyed into the unknown, without knowing the language, without money, without a phone, knowing only that there will be work available. It was tough. I've been through what the world is now standing up to - the pain of emigration, the insecurity of origin, stereotypes, discrimination. But I've also experienced tolerance, kindness, acceptance and selfless help. That's why in art I try to appeal to the things that connect and not
divide. Berlin had become a place in which I could flourish as an artist and as a human. Every return to this city is for me a return home. In Poland I studied art history and I was slowly starting to discover a performer within me. Simultaneously, I was doing hard manual work, in a supermarket, in a factory or caring for the elderly. The effort with which I was trying to make a living made me feel like a free human being and a free artist. But it was also the time of con-Małgorzata Pindel-Kryjak
fusion, slow withdrawal and even changes. Thankfully I've moved on past this period and thanks to it I can talk about my own mistakes instead of talking about the mistakes of others.
I've begun my return to painting with a series of paradoxes. I was 36 years old, so I was no longer a young artist (which usually applies to people below the age of 35). I finished Art School and I could not be treated as an unprofessional creator. I didn't graduate from the Academy, so I don't have an official title. Because of it, most of the strictly formalised competitions and projects were unavailable to me. In the attempt to overcome these barriers and limits, I've made many mistakes that now tell my history. I can say "I am not an artist, I am a human being in a piece of art". That's how I've begun cooperation with one of the most important families of art dealers in Poland, thanks to which I can not only dream, but also create. We have our own little history and the happiness of creating new ones. I am glad that my beginning has a human, kind side to 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 they convey sense of freedom and rigorous aesthetics, and in particular for the way you use your visual language in a strategic way to offering an array of meanings to the viewers: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us something about the genesis of the idea of lantern that marks out your artistic production?
Malgorzata Pindel-Kryjak: The Lantern closes and opens the process of becoming a human-artist, artist-human. It is a haven for feelings, dreams, needs and fears in any configuration. It does not only give a light, but also consumes it. It can be said that in the same time the Lantern appeared naturally and coincidentally, just like the people that had an impact on my work. Some of the lanterns have their names: Kasia, Ania, Asia, Gosia, there are unfortunately also those, whose lights have already faded out. In fact they all have their own history. They are all connected by my own need of understanding, acceptance, maybe even a need of embrace. I still feel like a child that hopes for praise. A child that waits... Before the artistic path I follow gained the form of a clear sign, it only existed as words in my mind. As a hope, faith, dream. I remember the relief with which I accepted the consciousness of giving a name to something that I was always looking for subconsciously. The Light has gained an autonomy, as a logo and a signature. The Lantern has become a guideline in both physical and metaphysical meaning. It closes and opens the horizon, something that everyone has in front of their eyes, but something that cannot be touched. Thus something that can be seen is confirmed by the intangible. Ha-Makom is a place of a meeting of both heaven and earth and a Lantern sets a universal way, a way for which a prototype was the Way of St. James - spread among all of Europe, destined for everyone regardless of their origin and faith.
We have really appreciated the way your artworks challenge the viewers' perceptual parameters and we dare say that they could be considered interzones of sensory perceptions.
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?
Malgorzata Pindel-Kryjak: Actually, I am not the
one to develop the textures, but they are the ones to develop me. Time and space are enclosed, trapped, suspended and even destroyed in there. Yes, it is a reflection of a human nature, in my case a feminine nature. It is a matter when we want to say something and yet in the same time we want to withdraw from it. Or when we
said too much and we want to fix it, yet instead we ruin it. And also, when we want to be gentle, but we feel anger. Yes, paintings are wordswhich sometimes are said impulsively, and in another time stated carefully and thoughtfully. They're also me. My, let's call it, success. Sometimes I speak with a curator and hear "you
know, I see yourself in these paintings, you don't need to sign them, I know which are yours".
Many years ago when I just began painting I didn't have enough funds to buy the materials. I was making my own stretcher bars, stretched the canvas and primed. I'm not sure if I've made
even one truly correct, which was noticed and remembered, especially when my exhibitions were being slightly tilted when displayed, to make them seem straight. With time, I understood how important it was to my creative process. Non-perfect canvas, glue with clumps or primer applied just like I was already painting at that point. These were the missing parts when I reached for a brush yet again. I had no obstacles to overcome, no reference points. The canvas seemed lifeless. Therefore I've begun to paint on previous works, or these that I've received to repaint. It can be said that I was looking for problems. Additional layers express variety of emotions. In this process I've developed my own matting technique through which I can freely shape surfaces and diversify texture. I like paintings that make me want to touch them. In one of the galleries I displayed such a painting with a permission of the owner. The children were doing it with no fear - the adults were observing with a concern.
We have appreciated the delicate, thoughtful nuances that creates such unique synthesis between impressionism and expressionism, and that draw the viewers to a state of mind where the concepts of time and space become suspended. 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?
Malgorzata Pindel-Kryjak: It is a philosophical, natural, scientifical and childishly difficult question. Maybe even more important and challenging than the question of whether the chicken or the egg came first. The reality abolishes the imagination, the imagination abolishes the reality. I no
longer try to escape from the real world to the world of imagination or the other way around. I am the lightkeeper, a dreamer and an idiot. I believe that the beauty will save the world and the art will tell a story about it. This is what I think, what I feel and what I create. This is how I ended up at the end of the world. I no longer question in the same manner of what was in the beginning, but I believe that there is still something. At the beginning there is an end. For me the egg is the chicken. In one of the most important critical essays that I received, there is a fragment describing the relation between imagination and reality in my paintings. Its author is Ilaria Ciacobbi, an Italian curator with whom I've worked on a few projects such as Rome Art Week or Premio Artemide, the latter being an invitation to only female artists. She was the first one to take notice of the spirituality and deeper meaning of my artworks. All that I was afraid to show due to different reasons, she named. Maybe it's because I am the lantern full of hope in people and hope in art, but also full of mistakes which sometimes cost both sides a lot. It happens that I react spontaneously and emotionally, like a child. Or that I truthfully lie. Both play and cry to the limits. To death and to life. It costs a lot, but also gives just as much. Maybe this is what the art is... When I return where the beginning is, so at the end. Where a human is.
We daresay that your artworks not only express your personal vision, but also and especially work as a communication tool that give life to a more general interaction with wide audience where everyone can find something new, personal and universal: how important is for you the degree of openness of your artworks and how open would you like them to be
understood? Moreover, do you believe that art is universally understandable?
Malgorzata Pindel-Kryjak: This question touches the sources of what I'm doing and what gives
me strength. Beauty and Faith. Does the ideal of Beauty exist? Even if it does, there isn't just one. Is there anything more abstract than a Faith?
Even if there is, then you still need to believe in it. When I was trying to reach the audience, and
there was such a time, I signed my messages with "faith in people and in art". I knew that after a long break I need to learn anew, but I hoped that people who will receive the message
from "a little artist" will see a human, just like Nastasya Filippovna from my favourite Dostoevsky's novel "The Idiot". How many responses have I received? Maybe two. It can be
said that it was me that saw the inhuman side of what seemed like the last resort. Instead of turning towards the wall, I turned to humankind. This is actually how my Group B
works, which I hope I will be able to talk more about, where its members have different faces. Frankly, I must admit that I was looking for understanding, agreement and self-expression -
the art became the means to do so, maybe even a golden one. However, the extent of openess of my artworks does not come only from what I want to say, but also from what I want to hide. I
care about the truthfulness and understanding of my creative process, not of the art itself. I always remember that I'm not the one saving the art, but it is the one saving me. I also think that if
the art was understandable, then it would be giving all the answers. It would kill the faith in beauty. It would die. As an art historian, I asked myself "How to kill the art so that you don't kill
the life", so that it could be reborn again. It is a different (art) history, but it shows the point of what I want to say. The art does not need to be understood, it needs to be believed in. The truth
in art is not about stating or confirming the facts. The truth in art is about authenticity. I was spreading signs and guideposts. I wasn't waiting for the paintings to speak for themselves. I told them to speak for me, as I was also speaking for them. I treated the art ruthlessly, I used it for my own purposes. It may be said that I was leading the ideal of art to ruin, not caring about the versatility of its language for which it is regarded. In my last artworks I went even further. I broke away from the rule that "the silence is golden", instead I write what I think. I love art. "Art falls under the pressure of Beauty. Long live Beauty, Art's reason to still spring forth!" It is my manifesto. Beauty will save the world. Art will tell a story about it. Nastasya Filippovna, when dying, saw a human - and I have hope to see a God, who will forgive the artists this lie in a form of art that makes us realise truth (Pablo Picasso).
Your artworks are full of life and seems to reflect such a wide variety of different feelings: how does everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? In particular, as an abstract visual artist, do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?
No, I don't think so. Direct experience is a shadow. We always stand in a shadow of who we are. However, I also think there is a way in which you can disconnect direct experience from creative process. All you need is to go outside the cave and it will disappear. I call it painting through covering. It is my personal definition of a lie. Recently, I received the most wonderful painting from my few years old niece. It potrayed a girl with a shadow in front, and a girl with a shadow behind. Children have sun within them.
When exploring edges or shapes, your artworks
feature unique combination between sense of freedom and subtle still rigorous sense of geometry, communicating an alternation between tension and release. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include moment by moment in your artworks and in particular, are there any special states of mind that you need in order to make such decisions?
Malgorzata Pindel-Kryjak: I will surprise you. My psyche isn't free. When I'm painting, I like to throw a brush - surrendering myself to my emotions and movements. After that, I almost immediately experience the need of synthesis. Then, logic suggests the way. Geometry places signs. However, I need to find the answer for myself in what was randomly created by my intuition. I don't search for anything specific, but more for a reflection of my thoughts in shapes, colours and composition. I often experience the impulse of a need of completion, dotting the A and Z. Maybe even drawing the Line. Yes, I'm all for setting thresholds - but not limitations.
In both my theoretical and practical work, such things are perceivable as the pulse of life and some kind of death/downfall, in other wordsthe end and the beginning. In my opinion the art "dies" exactly in a moment when "life" is forged into literality. When it begins to be used instrumentally, as an element and/or as means of expression. When the roles are reversed.
As a performer I've conducted intervention in one of the museums. There was an artwork with a living fish in a permanent exhibition. When I saw it for the first time, I didn't have the courage to say what I felt and thought. A few years had passed before I dared to express it. I used a
white canvas and word, written in an official protest on behalf of Group B, of which I am the founder. The further exhibition was renounced. I remember the shock and happiness of the cleaners working there. In that time a lot of fishes have died, and these ladies were the ones to replace them for new ones. During the intervention itself, one person from the audience asked me if that sheet was limiting me. I firmly disagreed. It was not limiting me, but separating me. It was protecting me from the lack of sympathy. And that's all from me about life in art and art in life.
In my newest artworks the exploration of shapes has moved on to the borders of paintings. The Lantern was deprived of its central position. Rigor and geometry represent the backbone, where the release and change in their literal meaning have their reflection in the interchangeable components. I build the world from fragments, from my thoughts, ideas and mistakes. In my work, I try to sort out everything while keeping freedom and (what is specific for me) distance.
In one of your previous questions, you mentioned interzones of sensory perceptions. For me it is an area in between of the beginning and the end. In between an artist and a human. In between knowledge and the lack of it. Many of my artworks (including past ones) consisted of only a few fragments. It wasn't a planned or intended result. Space and agreement were missing. I started to add subsequent elements completely naturally, giving myself a chance to breathe and an opportunity to say something more. In this way, my artwork was able to grow, taking on the nature of an icon. Thus, following the path of beauty and faith, this was a natural
artistic evolution that is in fact still ongoing. I am still free... I confuse the beginning with the end. I confuse A with Z. I use a dot and give it a new meaning. My art is pulsing in between A and Z, but also outside of them... I do what many artists try to avoid. I make mistakes.
We have appreciated the way your works reveal such unique visual identity that combines intuition and sincerity, with sapient technique. 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?
Malgorzata Pindel-Kryjak: I believe it is a misfortune to have an unused incident. And that it is a chaos to have these incidents in excess. In art it has meaning when it is left in a conscious way, which is the role of an artist. Maybe this is why there are mentions of a Divine factor. In all of this, the most important is the process of observation. For me, perhaps naturally, it finds release in geometry and mathematics. Let's say - the figure takes the place of such popular figuration. I use mathematics humanly, intuitively. It closes the point of view. When creating an art, I use my own language of concepts - or I give a new meaning to the existing ones, even to my own. My recent works are getting closer to what forms the meaning of a creative process to me. They are becoming more and more human not only in their expression, but also in their anatomy. Hence why, little by little, the anatomy of a mistake transforms into the anatomy of a
painting. Next to the professional terms, I introduce terms connected directly to human beings and life, for example "CUBE/Self-portrait size.S.3/3" Own technique (the time in between the implementation of a foundation 20 years ago, until the time the painting was created). Whereas, "Decoration set made in gray" is inspired by human behaviour. In Polish, there is a saying "to have someone made in gray", which means tricking them. It means to leave them without the ability to defend themselves, to take advantage of them, to reach the goal at the expense of someone else. Gray is also a very fashionable colour used in interior designing. The whole set was involved in my ideas (Jacob's Ladder, Ha-Makom, Lanterns or a written word). Contained in the edges mentioned in your question, there are colour and light lurking in. I touch the limit of a coincidence reduced to the minimum, and the understanding taken literally. I break with the rule "silence is golden", using golden font to express what I think. It is dangerous. I enter the zone in between fragments. I don't go into the unknown anymore. I see a concrete human and I want to meet them.
Over the years your artworks have been presented by international curators and artistic foundations such as Aakriti Art Foundation, one of the most important in India. 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
Direct contact with a viewer is very important to me. It gives strength and faith in what I'm doing. I like to react, talk and joke vigorously and spontaneously. It then allows the previously mentioned incident to happen, which is the foundation of a New... Different... Me. I treat lanterns like people, because to me they are like lanterns. That's the reason why I was avoiding the virtual world for a very long time. I just
didn't feel it. A few years ago I consciously made a decision to disappear from a very popular social network website. I thought that instead of appreciating what I have I was only sensing all of which I did not. I wasn't a fan of sharing my personal life. I was afraid to be judged as a human being. Today I know that this was also an element of my gradual withdrawal from open life. When I closed a difficult chapter in my life, I started missing the world. I wanted to go back to
what was once bringing me happiness. I wanted to have contact with people. The more different than me, the better. I missed Berlin. I was stronger, with no fear. The words were no longer a threat to me. I understood the anatomy of gossip, which lives shortly and dies naturally if it's not fed, nurtured within my mind. I treated the Internet as the outer space that I was exploring with a childlike trust. I marked the space between A and Z. I wanted something positive -ART Habens
to involve people in art and to share it with them. I wasn't trying to be a model, a photographer or a graphic designer. I was replying, I was thanking, because I know myself how painful it is to receive no reply. Because of it, I've built new relations, more personal than professional which gave me the inspiration in my creative process. I replaced the language of artificiality (which many profiles are accused of) with a language of art. I create through the internet. I write the art history of/for a one person. One human being can be a whole world. My Human is a Dreamer from the end of the world, completely different than methat Human falls asleep when I wake up, reads when I write, remains silent when I speak, is everything when I feel like nothing. I don't know if I'll ever receive a message back from this person. I'm also unsure if I'd have even known what to do with that reply. I only know it would be not only the real end of the world in the art, but also the beginning. The age of one human, the age of nothing /A.H.Z/ and everything.
We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Małgorzata. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?
Malgorzata Pindel-Kryjak: The next year is going to be busy. There will be a big group exhibition in Warsaw organised by Nova Ars Poloniae foundation to which I've been invited. There will be a variation of the most important artists and young Polish art. I also have an individual exhibition planned in Bator Art Gallery, where I'd like to present a series of icons. It captured the attention of architects.Together with Inkubator Designu (In-
cubator of Design) we will take care of "life" in art and of art in life. My artworks will appear next to the perfect and beautiful objects, disturbing the order of perhaps too sterile apartments. I'm in continuous contact with Fundacja Dziedzictwa i Kultury Polskiej (Foundation of Polish Heritage and Culture) that is trying to retreive lost artworks with great effort. Recently one of the works most important to me was brought there: "Drabina Jakubowa" (Jacob's Ladder). Now we're waiting for who's going to appear on the path...
New destination is Asia. I will start the new year with participation in The First Datong International Art Exhibition in China.Recently I was an honourary guest in a virtual exhibition to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Utsriji Art Gallery. In March, in reply to a personal invitation of curator Curupino Paul, I will be taking part in the exhibition and art fair in Mumbai. Together with Akriti Art Foundation we're thinking about a new project. This foundation has accepted me and my ideas very openly, for which I'd like to thank the director Manoham Jehiswal. We are also planning a joint project with Ramesh Terdal, one of the most respected Indian artists.Then, there's also the outer space and a person for which I create... it is all an inexhaustible source of inspiration, filling me with strength to continue my exploration. I'd like to thank this person for their presence and I also want to offer my thanks for the invitation to this special edition of Art Habens, as well as for the ability to express myself fully, in free speech. I'd like to dedicate one of my last fragments of thoughtfulness. "If there would've already been everything done in art, then it means that there still hasn't been anything." A.Z.by A.H.
Hello Josh and welcome to ART Habens.
Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.jhoffmanarts.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You are a basically self taught visual artist and you have recently finished a foundation degree at the National Centre for Circus Arts (NCCA), London: are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as a visual artist? In particular, how does your background from dance direct you current approach?
Josh Hoffman: I grew up with a family of creative people, witnessing the regular street performances of The Hat Fair in Winchester. Naturally I was an energetic child and when I was 8 yrs I was offered a dance workshop ending with a show at the Theatre Royal. Apparently I was in tears after this saying to my parents, “all I want to do is dance!”
From then on I trained in various dance styles competing with crews internationally until I focused on B-boying (commonly known as breakdancing), whilst also taking contemporary and ballet classes for about 2 years when I was about 15-17. During this time I learnt about the sensitivity and freedom of movement that contemporary dance offers. At this time dance became more about exploring potential in movement. I was interested in moving for movements sake,
letting the skills and different worlds of movement I had absorbed merge together.
B-Boying offers such a powerful, technical, playful and endlessly creative framework for movement, It gives you the strength andJosh Hoffman
control to push the body to extreme limits using the floor. On the other hand contemporary develops an awareness of weight, balance, and micro movements. Contemporary helps suspend the dynamic quality of breaking, giving you a large range of movement that is possible, weight changes become less quick allowing you to change directions multiple times with one flow. I became fascinated with flow within movement, letting your weight and breath drive your movement so that you are becoming efficient. With this idea there is no position you could consider yourself stuck or with no place to move to next, freedom of movement, Its like becoming a blank canvas. When I fall into a trance of movement, I can go without stopping for hours, intensity would rise and fall, ideas come and go, thoughts appear and disappear, much like meditation.
I was given an easel and paint when I was 17 but they sat, unused for a year, until I felt ready to play with them. But once I started, something ‘clicked’ and I couldn’t stop. I soon realised the connection between my understanding of art and dance. I am not a technically skilled artist, I didn’t do art gcse/a level or have classes. My strong desire to move always challenged my patience when drawing realistically. However I have a deep connection with shapes, patterns and a sense of movement within my art. I feel as if dancing is painting with your body in space and painting is dancing with a brush and colours on canvas. Dancing is all about the process, dancing not for the end result, but dancing for
the moment, I approach art in the same way, aiming to make the purpose the process and not the end result. However saying this, I do try to make my artwork look better through refining ideas and processes, as I would if I was learning a new trick.
One of my main explorations within dance is that flow, that subtle pull that becomes movement until you decide to stop. I definitely use this approach within my art when painting, The first layer of brush strokes dance and flick across the canvas, next a new colour will interact and continue dancing across the canvas. Each layer uses the chaos of the last to slowly create order to some degree, I bring colours from behind back infront to move through the other layers. Usually my paintings just become one big mass of colours and movement, with all colours balanced throughout the whole canvas.
This thread that connects art and dance, alongside dreams I had of moving in space with colour and shapes leaving trails and marks in the air behind my movement, urged me to try moving and painting at the same time on a large scale canvas sheet. Here, dance and art no longer become separate but one.
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 combine movement and visual language in order to provide the viewers with
such unique visual experience, that highlights the journey of artistic creation. When walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how did you develop your artistic practice?
Josh Hoffman: After deciding that I had to just have a go at dancing with paint, I was lucky enough to be able to experiment at university on smaller sheets of paper taped to a wall which turned into a brief 10 minute sharing at our end of year ensemble piece. I had 4 performances at NCCA with about a 2m x 2m sheet of linen paper taped to the wall, which was my first attempt at understanding fully the dynamics of performing with movement and paint. After this I held my own one night exhibition with a performance, where I danced on a canvas sheet 2m x 2m on the floor. I sold my first painting this night and learnt more about the balance of colours needed to avoid making the painting look like a brown mess. I now dance on a 4m x 4m canvas sheet on the floor, giving me proper space to move and splash paint.From there on it was just immersing myself within an idea, learning through mistakes and refining. I spent time visualising my initial image, movement through space leaving colour in physical space, and imagining what simple ways and complex ways I could portray this idea. I feel I am relatively new to this idea and still have many ideas I wish to realise and explore, walking this path lead me to learn to juggle. I was interested in the change of focus offered by moving with 3 balls that interact and create shapes by the patterns of throwing and catching.
My artistic practice is the exploration of movement and the imagination. I try to capture my imagination on a canvas or through movement. It is my way of trying to physicalise all those feelings and experiences in life we don’t quite have words for.
We would like to invite our readers to your short documentary A Dance With Paint, available at on your website at: www.jhoffmanarts.com/ in order to get a more precise idea of your approach. 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: how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the big picture of your performance and the creative power of improvisation? Does spontaneitplay an important role in your artistic process?
Josh Hoffman: I believe that a balance between both improvisation and planning is essential to making effective artwork. When improvising the painting comes out from the canvas, it becomes play between the imagination and the creative capability of a canvas and brush. The scheduling of the big picture is connected to our imagination as an artist, we have something in our minds we want to manifest. So when improvising you are still making choices based upon your desired image, however these are decided in each and every moment. After performing I will reevaluate what could of worked better and come up with something new to try next time, mistakes happen and this is where for
me improvisation is important as I will make a ‘mistake’, allowing me to come up with changes or new ideas.
This balance between creating for the end result and the moment is how I think a lot of artists learn, explore and develop their own artistic individuality. I think ‘mistakes’ are really important within the artistic process, we often discover new ideas in this moment where our artistic vision is challenged by something unexpected happening, improvisation offers a comfortable place to make these ‘mistakes’. However when creating I will have a specific idea for how I want the end result to look, even if this idea is still pretty lose, I am working towards a goal. This is important as it challenges the artists ability to realise there ideas effectively, if you imagine the best piece of artwork you could possibly do, what does it look like and can you recreate it.
My dance with paint performances are fully improvised, however through experience of these improvisations I have come to understand the aspects within it, paint can be applied directly onto the canvas and through movement be shaped further, or paint can be applied to myself and then through movement become printed almost onto the canvas. Squirty tubes of paint can create purposeful long lines of colour, thick paint has a stronger quality but doesn’t move as far, and wetter paint can do the opposite. If I apply too much paint the canvas can end up looking brown and murky, layering these different ideas on top of each other I can
sometimes lose each moment to the next layer of paint. Sometimes less is more, however music, energy and my movement often drive me to move forward. All these ideas build up a framework for me to improvise around, giving me room to experiment and play in the moment yet still giving me direction if I get lost.
Your artworks — in particular We are nothing without it — often feature such enigmatic patterns: how does your own psychological make-up determine the colors and especially the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your artworks and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such unique results?
Josh Hoffman: I feel a strong connection to colour, shape and movement, to me it feels like even my thoughts and ideas have shapes, movements and sometimes colour. I feel that ideas, words, feelings and emotions have these qualities, I imagine it’s a combination of the sound and pronunciation of the word that creates a shape – as if responding to music, a
relationship to the physical movement related to the word/memories of the word, and my own personal relationship to that word. When choosing colours I don’t give too much thought to it, however once I have my first colour I see all the other colours that I wish to put on the canvas. I am obsessed with light strong colours: bright turquoise, neon pink,
bright pale orange, light green and there darker counterparts like a dark emerald green, magenta and brown. These visceral psychedelic colours give me some of the same feelings I get when I move. To me they are like sparks of energy that’s been squeezed together so tightly they burst and dance in their colour. I often wish to create artwork
that looks like how it feels to make, and for me these colours resemble this.
I find that in life I have a habit of overthinking and being too busy in my mind, starting various things and not finishing, following trails of thought and ideas I want to manifest but always thinking of the next thing before
realising my original thought. My whole artistic practice is the result of my psychological make up, for example, not having the patience to create observational studies, and then falling into scribbly doodles and feeling the need to move when painting leading to my Dance with Paint projects.
When choosing colours I just choose whichever colour I feel most attracted to sometimes this will lead to an idea, other times it is just a dance between colours. However in the specific painting mentioned‘we are nothing without it’, I started with orange and felt I wanted to make a painting that embodied energy, specifically energy that is grounded, strong, warm and beautiful. The nuances of tones and overlapping of colours within my paintings are driven by brushstrokes which I consider to be more movement based, how I hold and move the brush translates similarly to the feelings, emotions and stories I tell when I move.
After choosing my first colour and approach, I will work on building upon each layer. With ‘we are nothing without it’ I would paint each layer with only 1 colour and let it dry, once I have covered the canvas I would bring the colours which looked hidden or unbalanced forward by using the same colour again and overlapping it with other colours, only to keep doing this dance, until all the colours feel balanced. The amount of paint used on each layer becomes less and less with just small flicks and brush/hand movements creating the ebb and flow of the shapes between colours. I find I usually stop painting when I feel there’s
no gaps, distractions or unbalanced spaces. Once my art feels balanced, its as if the whole thing is moving together and then there is no need for me to add, for it is alive.
As you have stated in your artist's statement, you have started to combine dance and painting when you had dreams where you would be dancing with colour flying out of your body leaving marks in the air. In this sense, we dare say that your artistic practice could be considered a bridge that connects between reality and the subconscious: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production? Moreover, how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?
Josh Hoffman: Imagination is the starting point for me, forget about reality at first, what are your ideas when given no limits? Then bring them back into reality, however impossible imagine the smallest simplest way to realise your idea and the most complex way and everything in between. After I had this dream I thought a lot about this idea and it definitely changed how I approached dance. To me, dancing with paint onto canvas seemed the simplest way for me to realise this idea. Reality gives us rules, restrictions and limitations, whilst with imagination we have total freedom, these go hand in hand for using rules as a way to create can often be more productive and inspiring than the daunting idea of total freedom.
Art is a lot like a language, much like the words we use, maths and science, its an
expressive tool used to try and understand and translate the human experience. Its impossible for your everyday life’s experience to not fuel your artistic research! I find that art in its broadest meaning can help us say what we can’t with words. Through movement in particular, but also art I have come to know more about myself through coming to understand the practice further. My fears, anxieties, and tensions can be released through dancing with people and drawing, and when I perform the effect can be magnified. My art helps me give that release of energy, emotions and frustrations I feel in life, it helps magnify the feelings of joy and love I feel.
With their unique mesmerising visual quality, your artworks have several different strands but they are all connected to a core vision: how important is it for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to discover the unity of your artistic production? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?
Josh Hoffman: To me art is not always best understood through words, sometimes to feel a piece of art is to understand it. I would like the same for my art, for I approach it with a lot of feeling, my work is the collection of moments that brought it together. If you feel something when seeing my performance or when seeing a piece of my artwork then I think you have understood it. Art is a language, one we use to express, my expression is not a political message or a specific statement with a purpose, it is just
me. My art is for you to interpret, I do not wish to say you have not understood my art.
I don’t feel I make artwork to be understood, to me its about conversation. For example, dance can be a conversation, when you are dancing you are speaking, and when you watch someone dance you can either listen to them or hear them. Listening is a response that can lead to an action like deciding to have a conversation, or it could be something more subtle like just feeling or learning something and taking home a memory. It is absorbing the information you are receiving and forming a response or simply feeling what arises, whereas you can hear something and not take any notice of its existence. To understand someone is to accurately perceive there intention, my intention is to create for creations sake, as if its the same as anything you do.
The link throughout my processes is the translation of my artistic imagination into reality, creating artwork that is an accurate representation of my imagination, it all comes from the same source. So when I say I aim to create artwork that looks like how it feels to make, I am also talking about the imagination, I am giving people a doorway into my imagination. But due to the personal nature of the imagination, that is why I say I create not to be understood, for everyones imagination is unique, instead I create to speak, regardless of whether I am heard or listened to, simply because I enjoy speaking.
Does music play a particular role in your performance approach? In particular, how do
you see the relationship between sound and movement?
Josh Hoffman: I find it fascinating how music is easily the most accessed and understood art form, possibly due to how easily sound or more simply put vibrations can induce emotion, memory and feeling. Sound moves me, when I listen to sound I can feel all the sensations in my body pulling me in certain directions. Music simply creates an opportunity, the more I listen to my body the harder it is to resist. Once I have given into the addiction of moving to music and want to start having some fun with it, my movement becomes an exploration into what shapes, positions, transitions, rhythms and tricks I can hit in relationship with the music. Often I will not dance to the beats of music but to the feeling it creates and let my body dive in and out of matching every beat.
On a deeper level sound is vibration and the world is made up out of vibrations, so if when you dance you are connecting to those vibrations as a way to express oneself, to lose oneself, to free oneself from inhibitions or simply for joy, dancing to music is actually a way to get closer to the world around us.
Within performance, music does this, it helps me connect to myself and the audience. I usually have a playlist of experimental instrumental songs I like, left on shuffle. Music definitely gives me a framework to move through, it can make me feel heavy and slow and suddenly uplift me into lighter feelings. I haven’t tried doing this in silence yet, but its something I wish to try. The scrape of a shoe,
the grasping breaths, the sound of friction between floor and body, movement in silence makes music of its own. There can be an intense quality to something silent but silence also has the opportunity to liberate, as music itself could be considered a limitation, moving
to a beat, movement driven by music, whereas silence gives birth to possibility.
We sometimes tend to forget that a work of art is a physical artefact with tactile qualities: as an artist who performs with your own
body directly onto your canvass, how do you consider the physical sensations that you perceive when creating?
My initial thought is that I don’t perceive them, they seem such an integral part to
movement that I have normalised them and don’t pay much thought to them. When in that trance state I don’t think about much or sometimes I will have thoughts but my mind will not be attached to them, they come and go, it is just movement. But physical
sensations build a map for my body in motion. Minuscule shifts of weight can sometimes be too late or too early for me to land safely or with intention, its my training that has allowed me to turn these moments of falling or slipping into new tricks or transitions.
I will try to listen to my body, I can get caught up in the moment and lose that connection with my work that is truly improvisation, my mind becomes busier and my movement becomes more rehearsed and repetitive. This is a clear physical sensation, one which takes
time to learn to notice and more time to learn to listen and follow that quiet honest pull, something I am still working on. I will often get physical sensations of tension or discomfort which can arise from nerves or thoughts that pass through my mind, however
its important to detach yourself from these thoughts and let the moment pass like a train of thought, bringing attention to breath and the sensitivity in smaller movements.
You recently had the solo Solo exhibition: ‘'A dance with paint'’ at The Granary Creative Arts Centre, in Winchester: 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— increase, how would this in your
opinion change the relationship to a globalised audience.
Josh Hoffman: I don’t have much experience with online live performances, that connection is definitely lost through
performing through a screen, however I think videos and photographs should not be disregarded as an art form. I believe videos and photographs can be extremely effective and can connect with people on a deep level. I think its wrong to say the internet is bad or its
ruining our society, its people who use the internet, its not the internet that is intrinsically wrong. Every time I scroll Instagram I feel inspired, I choose to follow artists and hashtags of all genres I’m interested in so that I get to see so many amazing things.
I am not so interested in performing live online, I prefer the real thing, instead, I am more interested in seeing making online content as an artform. You have to listen the medium you are working with and create in response, people have short attention spans on the internet and
like things to be easily accessible, this is why Instagram works so well, a collection of videos and pictures displayed together in one space. I love seeing videos of the creative process, seeing the layers of a painting build up over a time-lapse, interesting features like this allows
people a new perspective into art, making it more accessible, exciting and interesting for people. Artists can give online viewers a new or different perspective into their art through technology.
When performing live you have real people and eyes to look at, this pressure can be a good excuse to fully immerse yourself in what you are doing. However when creating work online you don’t have that direct contact, instead you must imagine you are performing to someone who is staring at a phone. Therefore creating your content in a way that is going to make them see you and not just keep scrolling. This is something I struggle with and It is indeed an art form and skill to create content that still captures your artistic imagination and actually gets through to all sorts of different people on a screen.
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, Josh. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?
Josh Hoffman: First of all I wanted to say thank you for such an engaging and challenging set of questions, they forced me to think differently! I am currently back home from finishing uni and spending the first lockdown in London, at the moment I am working on just getting back into my physical training and making art, most of all just trying to stay stimulated and move forward in these challenging times! I have been working with spray paint, coming to understand the qualities and its potential, I particularly like its ability to fade into colours and the ease it provides with just layering colours on top without having to
be patient and wait for the paint to dry. Slowly, I am combining my spray paint ideas with acrylic on canvas.
Noticing the financial stress most of us seem to be in, I have been making cheap framed art inspired by movement and graffiti lettering and shapes on on mountboard. You can find these on my instagram - @jhoffmanarts and my website –www.jhoffmanarts.com. Aside from this I am working on making a new collaborative short film project with local friends/creatives, a film utilising live music and or music produced specifically for me to move and paint to.
I have many ideas for the future, I wish to explore the therapeutic potential of movement painting, overlapping the worlds of art and movement therapy. I want to explore as many ways of moving and creating as possible! Sculpture and movement, projection mapping/animation with movement and painting, creating new spaces/props specifically designed for moving and painting. I wish to continue exploring flow with new props like, contact staffs, pois, fabric fans, fire and LED lights. I want to explore as many of the sensations and potential that movement offers in the world, as I said earlier, imagination is the starting point for me, what are your ideas when given no limits? Bring them back into reality, however impossible imagine the smallest simplest way to realise your idea and the most complex way and everything in between. This is the journey I am on at the momentART Habens
Hello Edmar and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://esoriasonicart.wixsite.com/edmarsoria and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a very solid formal training: after your undergraduated studies on Mathematics, you earned your Master degree in Music Technology and a Master degree in Economics, and you eventually nurtured your education with a PhD in Music Technology, that you received from UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico): how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural background direct your artistic research?
First of all thank you very much. I am truly delighted and grateful for this opportunity to be able to show some samples of my work in the area of digital art and of course to talk about it.
Well, it is a complex scenario but because of that (the diversified academic background) in time I have realized that I stand in a somewhat particular middle point position between art and science, between expression and formalism, intuition and logical thinking, and it is this is special point that allows me (at least from my very own personal perspective) to envisage, design, encompass, and produce creative works with mixed characteristics from both “sides”. There are of course some clear advantages and disadvantages for standing at this particular point which I will try to briefly explain a little bit further on the next lines but as a foreword I may say that my very particular (multidisciplinary) academic background allows me and address me (at a very personal level) to a continuous seek of deep knowledge from areas and topics I find interesting and to have a somehow rigorous framework for research about them either from the academic perspective or from the artistic point of view. And so this gives me the chance to be able to produce some kind of four different general objects: a) academic research, b) aesthetic works, c) academic research based on aesthetic works and d) aesthetic works based on academic research. This objects (and the last two in particular) are somewhat related to what is called Practice led Research, Practice based Research
and Practice as Research, which is something I will talk about later.
I will start saying that I have never seen or consider myself as an artist or as a composer mostly because that is a conception that is highly problematic for me as individual. And also because of that, I think that I am able to conceive, produce and create at my own peace and terms without the big constant load that implies (at least for me) “to be an artist”.
So I prefer to see myself as a creative that seeks to express his ideas through some languages of art by using and getting advantage from the tools of those languages and expressing the result through different mediums or formats. Here, I understand tools not only as craft skills but also as theoretical and aesthetical frameworks. In this sense, for example, for me is equally important to develop and improve visual modellingEdmar Soria
techniques, and general computer related skills than deepen in theories about aesthetics of art, philosophy of technology, general art history or even phenomenology (to name some examples).
So, regarding these tools, I must say that one of the most important things for me as a person is the continuous comprehension, apprenticeship and improvement of knowledge of skills, subjects and topics I like, I find interesting and I'm passionate about.
From this “no artist” statement I think I have a somehow freedom of being more focused on the creative process rather than thinking or even worrying about the final work to be considered “art”, in other words I do not seek institutional or gremail validation (or approval) when I conceive or produce my work and so, when someone finds my work interesting in anyway or perspective (like this great magazine) I feel truly grateful for that.
Regards to the more technical subjects I must say that in general terms I have interests in some topics of maths, computer science and complexity theory. From the mathematical perspective I have a preference for specific areas such as Graph Theory, Group Theory and Dynamical Systems and from computational tools I am highly involved on topics about AI (Artificial Intelligence), data mining, data visualization and I have been recently diving into the VR developing framework.
Since I am at this “middle point” I have not developed a deeper specialized training on this areas as someone who has earned a PhD degree on Mathematics or Computer Science for example, and that could be a noticeable disadvantage at the moment if I would have to rely my entire research on a very deep development on these technical topics. However I do have the proper understanding and skills about those topics such that I can use it as technical/theoric tools to produce creative works, to do formal research and to use it as sources of metaphors which is the main guideline in my work.
In conclusion I think that my multidisciplinary background guides my creative work and allows me to use and apply tools (technical and theoretical) from math and computer science (in a formal and rigorous way) on this creative process. Nowadays the trend from artists all around the worldtoinvolvescienceandtechnologyintheartisticrealm is almost is completely usual and widespread and despite the fact that (from what I have seen here in latin america especially in young artists) not few times this is done ambiguously and even incorrectly because of a lack of a proper understanding and training on these tools, I found
highly valuable this huge interest from artist to get involved more and more with science and technology topics.
I think that this conjugation has a natural potential to expand the art possibilities not only in format but in language and because of that, there could be
developed new ways of think, addressing and tackling down topics and themes from an aesthetical way that is nutrished in one way or another by these intersections with science and technology and that is the main focus that guides my own personal creative activity.
For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected “Inverse Collision Theory”, a stimulating project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this artcle and that has at once captured our attention for the way you sapiently challenged the audience's perceptual
parameters: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea of “Inverse Collision Theory”?
Besides the multidisciplinary approach, my work is highly relied on the basis of fiction. I am very attracted to the discourse and content of sci-fi, cyberpunk and mythology of ancient civilizations and those topics are recurrent elements in the thematic of my creative work. ButI liketousefictionalsofromasomewhat“abstract”
perspective and Inverse Collision Theory is the perfect example of that.
The concept of the work lies around a fictional theory that proposes an hypothesis about the phenomena of collision between two bodies and the consequence of it
over the space-time which is assumed to be a contraction of this last.
Theconceptionandorganizationoftheworkresemblesthe mathematical way in which theories are often constructed by stating a set of axioms from which further non-selfevident statements called theorems, has to been proven to be true on the basis of the first.
So,thework proposes oneset of axioms andfour theorems that are derived from some propositions about relationships between those axioms and this whole relationships are pictorially represented as 3D digital sculptures. More specifically, each axiom is represented by a single 3D digital sculpture that were designed as some kind of “primordial generator” aka physical hypothetical objects whose origin does not need to be explained and is assumed as given. Each sculpture has a very specific and distinctive set of pictorial characteristics that lie around five specific parameters: surface texture, structural shape, physicality of the material, material color and lighting.
In this way each axiom (as represented by the 3D digital sculpture) has a very particular and distinctive character which is build on the basis of the craft of the five aforementioned parameters.
As a theoretical consequence, each Theorem is the pictorial representation of a proposition (in the context of the fictional theory) build over the manipulation of one or more axioms (just like it is done within mathematical theories). And so, each theorem is composed of different sculptures that share specific characteristics of the five aforementioned parameters. In this way, each set of sculptures of each theorem can be understood as the result of the interaction of the pictorial parameters in a very specific way in order to prove an specific statement.
For sake of exemplifying the above let me guide you step by step. Each one of the next figures is the sculpture that represents each one of the Axioms of the theory.
As you can see, each Axiom has specific pictorial characteristics according to the five aforementioned parameters. Axiom I for example, is kind of plastic (texture), stretchy (structural shape), liquid (physicality of material), dark blue and with mirroring absorbingFigure 2. Axiom II. Figure 3. Axiom III. Figure 4. Axiom IV. Figure 5. Axiom V Figure 6. Axiom VI.
lighting on the object but reflective diffuse light on the background. Axiom II is more like segmented (texture), tube bezier (structural shape), semitransparent glass (physicality of material), light absorbing (on object) and reflective on background. The other Axioms can be analyzed in the same way.
Take a look now to the sculptures that represent the Theorem I.
of the collision or the nature of the objects themselves, is the deformation of the environment where the collision takes place. Contrary to the natural logic the deformation is not an expansion of the space-time shape of the environment but a shrinking. This deformation last no more than 0.13456 nanoseconds and it has been proved by several experiments that the amount of energy the collision releases is linearly proportional to the amount of contraction of the environment.
So, if the meeting of two bodies no matter how, no matter when, no matter which, ends up with a deformation of the environment which host the collision, in order to achieve a better understanding about the deformation process of the environment and according to recent speculations about the possibility of extract particles from past space time locations, the actual hypothesis is stated as a question:
will the reversal of the space time of the collision expand the environment and if that is true: would that expansion be stable and for how long?
The texture of the components of the sculptures of Theorem I are a resemble of a combination of the texture of Axioms II, III, IV and VI. Their structural shape is derived from a procedural conjunction of the structural shape of those same Axioms except Axiom II. The physicality of the material is obtained in a similar way but through the physiciality of Axioms II, III an IV. Finally, color and lighting are derived from a mixture of properties of Axioms I, II, III and V. Subsequent sculptures from the other theorems are build in a completely analog way.
The fictional theory that I made up is stated in this way:
When two bodies meet on a specific time-space location, subatomic particles are the ones that collide not the objects themselves. The meeting could be deafening, watery, elastic or rugous, but the one single characteristic that remains constant no matter the fierce
The piece is intended to be displayed in gallery whether in printed format or through an array of video projections. For any of the formats the work is conceived in a systemic (related to the known Complexity Theory) way aka the result of the interaction of the individuals parts. In other words, the audience is invited to explore the work at three levels:
The individual and basic (each sculpture by its own).
The middle level (the grouping of sculptures by theorems or set of axioms).
The general or upper level (the organization and relationships between all the elements of all the theorems and set of axioms, i.e. the general theory)
This last level is conceptually stated through the next diagram where the black rectangle at the center represents the set of axioms and the figures around it are the theorems:Figure 4. Theorem I, components A and B. Figure 5. Theorem I, component C.
Suggesting the possibility of a new paradigm shift, we daresay that Inverse Collision Theory can be considered a combination between understanding reality and hinting at the potential of unknown: we daresay that your artistic practice seems to aim to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. Do you aim to provide your works with allegorical qualities?
Yes totally. As I said before, fiction is a core component on my workflow and one of the way I understand fiction is through the idea of allegories, whether it is sound art, electroacoustic music, multimedia performance or digital art like this, allegories stand at the central core of my creative process.
My personal approach to the concept of “allegorie” is guided through the building of metaphors between not only concepts of different realms or areas but also languages, and Inverse Collision Theory is an example of that because what relies on the conceptual backstage of the work is an aim to conjugate two different and maybe completely distant languages: the mathematical and the pictorial (from the perspective of the digital art) and because of that, this could also be seen as an attempt to develop some kind of dialect that lies at the intersection of math and visual aesthetics.
The first attempt of mine to do something like the aforementioned was presented in a research paper called Dynamical Virtual Sounding Networks (Soria et al 2017) published under Springer where I proposed an arithmetic system to interpret musical notation through mathematical functions such like the next example:
As you can see, the idea behind this proposal was to be able to “translate” polynomials (or any other function) to music rhythm values within a formal and solid theoretical framework. With this idea, one can create complex procedural rhythmic ideas from combination of any
mathematical functions and so it has a similar purpose of conjunction of languages (math and music in this case).
I said before, my whole work (in all different formats) is conceived and produced through the use of metaphor in some way and with a strong foundation on fiction. I
like to research about a topic of interest (from different areas such as math, computer theory, physics, astronomy, ancient civilizations or even antroposocial subjects) and then develop the creative process of the work in order to explain that concept through the work itself using fictional elements to build the whole
framework. So if I had to be very briefly about that I think I could state it in something like this:
Iseektoexplainaparticularconceptthroughthecreative workusingthemetaphorasavehicleandfictionasa foundation.
For example, In Robotic Synapse I used digital 3D and 360º modelling as a metaphoric representation of the fictional process of the construction of the first self thinking cyborg. Decoupling Circuitry is a whole metaphorical interpretation of the conditions in Universe 25, an experiment conducted by John B Calhoun about the behavioral sink. And my electroacoustic music and
sound art works are also based mainly on this conception: metaphor as vehicle and fiction as foundation.
Inverse Collision Theory seems to invite the viewer to complete the work of art by personal associations, creating further meanings. Austrian Art historian
Ernst Gombrich once underlined 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?
The viewers imagination and the personal interpretations that could be elaborated at the moment of the aesthetic experience are truly wonderful and represent (at least for me) the final moment of the creative process. These interpretations can detonate and add a whole new meaning for the work and I think there is a high value on that action. Of course, those interpretations are inevitably dependant on a different number of conditions such as mood (at the moment of appreciation of the work), personal cultural baggage, emotional disposition, past experiences, etc. but it is this precise subjectivity which allows the work (and the creator) to be confronted with their own creative/conceptual/aesthetic process and this could become uncomfortably many times for the creator but also enlightening.
Actually in the (not so far) past I used to include very bare descriptions of my works (in all formats) in order to precisely lead the audience to a more personal and subjective interpretation of the work and because I had a very straightforward idea about the independence and self-sufficiency of the work beyond the description orthecuratorialtext.Althoughthisstrategyaccomplish its aim in many cases, I have found that sometimes this could also be perceived as lack of information and it could also lead to confusion, incomplete appreciation and consequently, to loss of interest towards the work. So,fromsometimetonowIhavedecidedtoextendthe descriptions of the works in order to illustrate a little bit further the core ideas and the technical process behind the works in order to guide these imaginative potencial from the audience to a more specific route so they could have a better glimpse of the piece.
However, because of the nature of my creative process (which is highly related to fiction and allegories) the way I think my works in this sense, are precisely as a personal and subjective interpretation of a certain theme or topic and because of that I guess that audience still have a high degree of freedom to interpret the work in their own terms. In plain words, I welcome the viewer with a brief explanation of the theme that is being represented or explained through the piece and the viewer have the freedom to explore and make any kind of assumptions about it.
Your practice links artistic research with multimedia technology and we have really appreciated the way you expanded the relationship between movement and stillness within the use of technology: how do you consider the relationship between Art and Technology? Moreover, how do you consider the relationship between artistic research and scientific method? In particular, how does in your opinion art could be used to explain scientific and technical themes and vice versa?
About the relationship between Art and Technology I can only speak from the areas I have worked in: digital art, electroacoustic music, multimedia performance, etc and from this practices, technology is highly involved not only as production tool but also as a cognitive one that affects and naturally shapes and bounds the creative process itself one way or another.
Some people have a non positive attitude towards this affection from technology over the creative process but for me it is a natural and inherent condition that should be embraced. The way I understand technology is highly conditioned by my mathematical/computational academic background and because of that, my attitude towards it could be considered more in the context of Kapp’s philosophy of technology and so for me is not a limiting device (in the negative sense) but a medium that allows to conceive and develop creative works that could only exist through these tools. In this sense, I am not interested at all in an antroposocial critique/analysis of technology but in the possibilities it offers as a science and research area by itself. This does not mean that I am not fully aware about all the social problematics than encompass the technology development especially those related to government, market control and militar consequences however I focus more on the beauty of the device itself.
I think that it is also important to point out that the kind technology that is generally used in art is not entirely new when compared to the state of the art of the technology development and usage in industry or science for example. I found that this is an important note to highlight because
the term “art with new technologies” is often used and so, except for some particular examples that happen from time to time, the technology used in art is not “new” at all. This of course is not a value judgement over the artwork itself but over the tag attached to it.
On the other hand, the comparison between artistic research and scientific method is a highly problematic and interesting discussion. There have been several academic and artistic discussion that have addressed that topic. Without going too far into this technical
stuff, this approach is partially a consequence for something known as Practice Based Research, Practice asResearch and PracticeleadsResearch. This framework have been getting more attention since the 90´s decade of the last century partially because it constitutes an
academic effort for a some kind of emancipation of art practice to be considered as a real and valid research field. Briefly, it involves the the implementation of ideas and processes (practice) within an specific field or area (art in this context) and it´s further focusing on the
creation or production of an specific artifact (the artwork or an object related to it). Even more, it proposes that the communication of these processes in the form of a some kind of structured and well delineated report, constitutes an specific and valid form
of research: If a creative artifact is the basis of the contribution to knowledge, the research is practicebased. If the research leads primarily to new understandingsaboutpractice,itispractice-led (Candy & Edmonds 2018).
Although these frameworks have been highly useful to place the artistic practice at a level where it can be considered as a research kind as valid and as important as the scientific one, I find some issues that are not completely satisfying at least from my personal perspective.
The main one (from my personal view) is the attempt to compare artistic research as equivalent to scientific research. Again, from my very own perspective this could easily lead to a misconception and possible non completely true statements. I do think that artistic research could be as valid as scientific research but I do not agree with the assumptions that artistic research is equivalent to scientific research, even despite the countless mental exercises and hypothetical analogies that have been done in order to support that.
Science has different objects of study than art and more important, one of the main goals of the science is to provide as few possible theories to explain the largest number of particular cases in some specific area aka science seeks for generalization explanation of phenomena. Artistic research by its own nature deals with particular cases since each artwork is individual and has it´s own essence which could share some aspects with other similar works but one of the very attributes of the artwork is it´s self particularity. In other words, artistic research (in the terms of Practice Based, Lead or As) deals with particular cases while scientific research seeks an explanation as general as possible for the largest number of particular cases. I also think that comparison between the scientific method with the artistic research is no valid despite there could be some glimpses of analogy among them. Some people even compare the scientific lab with the artist´s studio or workspace in order to support that affirmation, however I see that more as a romanticized analogy rather than deep rigorous analysis.
So in conclusion I think that artistic research has to be appreciated and validated by it´s own value and not through a comparison (which is forced many times) with an established knowledge area like science or technology. Artistic research can and most be considered equally valid than scientific or technological
research but the it must exists a clear framework that consider the inherent characteristics of artistic artifacts and artistic research in order to define that.
For the last question about the possibility of art being used to explain scientific and technical themes and vice versa, I think that what I said before about the artistic research being validated by it´s own value, is consistent with this question. If artistic research is self sufficient it can address scientific and technical themes from it´s own perspective and through it´s own theoretical and aesthetical tools and I think that is where the real contribution of art could be; offering aesthetical, subjective and trascendental perspectives that science or technology do not address because it is out of its field of study. In other words, while science study the nature and laws of some phenomena artistic research could contribute with subjective and aesthetic meanings, implications and interpretations of that phenomena.
Sound plays a crucial role in your artistic production and we have highly appreciated the way it provides your performance with such a unique ethereal and a bit enigmatic ambience, capable of challenging the viewers' perceptual categories: how would you consider role of sound playing within your creative process? In particular, how do you consider the relationship between sound and moving images?
I think that sound and image are two completely different entities anddespitethewholeset of possibleanalogies that could be imagined between them, they are two different phenomena. However, within the creative (as I said before) these boundaries can be blurred or even vanished and so multiple aesthetic relationships can be build; relationships that could allow us to perceive and experience that phenomena in non usual ways.
And so, for me, the way I design sound is highly visually evocative (at least in the stage where I conceive it) because I usually think the sound works as narrative fictional soundscapes and this involves of course to think and craft the sound in a visual-sculptural way. Even more, my sound works (most of them multichannel) usually have a high degree of what is called spatial design (an extensive use of moving sound sources and positioning of them in different locations in order to create illusory virtual sonic environments) and because of that, for me, the relationship between visual imaginary and sound is fundamental.
I find easier to craft sounds imagining it as abstract visual shapes and so, when I work with moving sounds it is easier for me to imagine them and mentally visualize them as
abstract moving visual shapes whose morphology (material shape) is changing over time. In this sense I could affirm that it is easier to me to think, design and conceive visual shapes and then try to translate it either to sound or to actual digital visual compositions.
As a versatile artist, your creative production encompasses video, performance, installation, multimedia and animation besides music and sound
art: what does direct you to such multidisciplinary approach? In particular, are there any experiences that did particularly help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different techniques?
Well I consider myself as a restless and curious person and I am naturally attracted to different themes and topics as I have talked before. So, my step into different formats or multidisciplinary areas are a plain
consequence of that; curiosity and restlessness. I just can not help to dig deeper into something I find interesting and then suddenly and almost inevitably a some kind of unexplained necessity of expression arises and what I have learned in time is to listen the ways ideas want to be expressed.
I realized that each idea has its own necessity to be expressed in a certain way and so there are some ideas
which need to be drawn, others need to be written, others need to be expressed by sound or by the body expression and in this sense I just follow and fulfill the way they want to be born.
If I do not have the proper training at the way the idea needs to be expressed, I just put my whole effort into learning the necessary skills and tools in order to be able to put it out of my mind. Of course there task that
are simply not possible to learn or to accomplish and in suchcasesI trytoadapt myselfandthecreativeprocess as much as possible to what I know.
Another interesting work of yours that has particularly impressed us and that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled Henon Map — a stimulating Digital Procedural Animation, that our readers can view at https://vimeo.com/415775264
that represents a transduction of the dynamics for the Henon Map for a specific set of initial conditions. It's important to remark that its unique aesthetics springs from data transduction and we really appreciated the way it unveils such a channel of communication between Art and Science. How do you consider the concept of aesthetics within generative procedural animations? And in particular, how important is for you that the viewers become aware of the fact that your work is the result of data transduction and not of conventional techniques?
Data transduction is a concept that I proposed several years ago at an international conference about Art and multidisciplinary and as time has passed I am still using it. Very briefly, it is a way to generalize the terms data visualization and data sonification and it is very related to a problematization that I have proposed about the term algorithmic art which I have criticized because of the ambiguity and often misconception of the use of the concept of algorithm itself in art. For this sake I have proposed the term numerical procedural art under the assumption that every algorithm is a process but not every process is an algorithm.
With that being sad, for me, the term generative procedural express an idea that combines data transduction and procedural art. The aesthetics of it stands around the idea that for a full understanding of the work it needs to be a balance among the appreciation of the final work and the knowing (and further appreciation because of that knowing) of the technical process that assisted to generate the work. Within this technical process there is data and the way data is obtained, organized, analyzed and map onto any parameter of any kind (that is why I use the term transduction rather than visualization or sonification). Data could be also of any kind and it aesthetics or conceptual meanings could be attached to the action of choice of it (for example data about an specific social problematic). And so, this whole process, that begins with collection, organization, analysis and mapping of data, involves an specific aesthetic conception of the creative work which needs to be understood and appreciate not solely as the final experience but as a whole process.
Henon Map is part of a serie of procedural generative animations under the name Points of Divergence. These animations use data transduction from a set of specific mathematical equations called dynamical chaotic systems in their discrete version (something that is known as differenceequations).Thesesystemshavethepropertythat they are iterative and according to the initial values that you put on them you could get different behaviours if the
system: fixed, chaotic or periodic (if you are interested on these topics I will put some resources at the end of the article). In this sense, for each animation of the serie, a different dynamical system with different initial conditions is calculated and it´s information (data) is collected. This data is further mapped onto several different visual parameters like: color, acceleration, density, granulation and rotation. Following this logic, the name of each work of the piece is simply the data of the dynamical system (among with it´s initial conditions) used for it and so, the images that you are looking to, correspond to the animation tittled: Henon Map, Initial Conditions: a=0.2, b=1.01.
As a final thought on this question, I think that informing the audience about the whole process that underlies the work (specially when dealing with this kind of procedural generative or data transduction works)openawholenewsetofpossibilitiesonthefinal perception and appreciation of the work since the whole scenario is implied to the audience at some level.
You are an established artist and over the years you works have been performed and premiered at several international forums and festivals at USA, Europe, Asia and South America: 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?
I am a very shy and private person so it is difficult to me to answer about a relationship with the audience but as I said before, from my “no artist” statement I have a very open mind and attitude to the constructive criticism.
Regarding the actual situation I do think that our reality has changed in a no turning back way and that right now all the certainty is the uncertainty itself because right now we are in a transitorial flux of events. Based on that I think that both, audiences and cultural agents need to reconfigure their past normality and adapt to this transition and that implies to accept and do the best to rebuild the cultural institutions (social, private and public) based or assisted on this web oriented platform.
I do believe also that the aesthetic experience of appreciate an artwork (whatever the format it is) in person and in the original context-location it was designed for (gallery, theatre, concert hall, etc.) is completely irreplaceable and could not be reproducible in any web/online experience because for me, the art location itself (gallery, theatre, concert hall, etc.) helps to (among other things) induce the audience to an specific mood of attention and reception towards the artwork. This mood and addressing is lost (maybe not completely but to a considerable degree) with the
web/online experience because of the multiple amount of available information at any moment which causes difficulties to keep the focus on the artwork due to constant stimuli or distractors.
Besides, the web/online experience could also act as an intermediary barrier between the audience and the aesthetic experience of the work according to the display device. Of course there is the main advantage of the high degree of global accessibility of the artwork through the online/web platforms and for divulgation
and spread of the content around the world, these tools are completely useful.
And is precisely because of that that I say that is important to learn and adapt to these new format and ways of experiencing art. Cultural agents have the challenge to adapt their content and their infrastructure to this web/online platforms and audience need to face the challenge to learn to consume art from these platforms. Although my true hope is that we as society involved in artistic and
cultural themes, could recover some of the locations that allow us to experience art in first person and in real time and if the momentum of the web/online platform is harnessed, maybe we could enter a new time for art; one that can take advantage from the positive side of both perspectives.
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, Edmar. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?
I am truly grateful for this space and wanted to say also that your hard work is the kind that we most need in this times so congratulations for your labor!
Right now I have two different area of research projects. On the one side I am continuing my research about 3D audio on multichannel speaker setups but I am beginning to apply it to VR environments.
On the other side I am working on data transduction but with visualization on VR environments both for artistic and research (scientific) applications. Related to this topics I am working on the concept of music sheet as visual compositions in VR environments.
I am also going a little further on my research of IA applied to music composition and visual design.
Thanks again and greetings from Mexico.
Soria (2020). Espacio-Timbre: una formulación teórica en la electroacústica multicanal. PhD Thesis. Graduate Program in Music Technology, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.
Soria E., Cabezas R., Morales R. (2017). Dynamical Virtual Sounding Networks. The Musical-Mathematical Mind pp 277-290, Springer.
Soria(2017). La Transducción: Un modelo para el análisis, enseñanza y creación artística basada en procesos matemático-computacionales y algoritmos. Jornadas de Reflexión: Arte Electrónico y Educación, UNTREF Arentina.https://www.untref.edu.ar/mundountref/proble maticas-y-desafios-en-arte-electronico-y-educacion.
Candy L. & Edmonds E. (2018). Practice-Based Research in the Creative Arts. ISAST MIT Press Journal. (Dynamical Systems):
Hello Lidia and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://simpleartforms.com/gallerypainting-on-silk and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. After more than 15 years of a successful career as a corporate lawyer in Moscow, you started to take private lessons with Anna Fedorenko in Art Studio Picasso, Moscow and then you nurtured your formal education at the Art Academy of Latvia as well as private lessons and master classes all over the world: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, what did trigger your decision to devote yourself completely to Visual Arts?
Lidia Mikhaylova: As far back as I can remember, I wanted to paint and painted. I was born and raised in a small provincial Siberian town, and my school teacher did not like my drawings, she gave me bad grades, criticized my work, and thereby raised a complex in me that drawing was not for me. Later in my adulthood, working as a corporate lawyer in Moscow, I began looking for a creative outlet, at first simply as a means of taking my mind off work. By chance, I found the Picasso Art Studio, Moscow, with the best painting teacher Anna Fedorenko. Anna
gave me, in addition to basic academic knowledge, a lot of creative freedom and self-confidence, and most importantly, convinced me that I can develop further as an artist. After moving to Latvia n early 2018, I searched for a similar teacher to help me move forward, but was unsuccessful in my search. Friends advised me to go to the Preparatory Department at the Art Academy of Latvia. I was afraid, I hesitated, I did not know the LatvianLidia Mikhaylova
language well enough, but in the end I took a chance, signed up and I was accepted. It was an amazing time with great teachers - I was engaged in classical painting, drawing, composition, sculpting. I created some good pieces, and I was praised. In addition, I attended various master classes, gradually started to participate in exhibitions, and started successfully selling my paintings rather than gifting them as I did before. And at some point, the creative process captured me so much that I realized on some intuitive, absolutely irrational level that the only one thing I really want to do in my life is visual art. When I paint I get great pleasure. And I want to share this pleasure with the whole world.
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 express such unique combination emotional feelings and philosophical concepts, offering to the viewers an exquisitely complex 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?
Lidia Mikhaylova: Chance plays a special role in my art process as well as . falling in love with the image. Usually all my projects are born by chance. I fall in love with some kind of image and try to immediately capture it on paper or canvas. In the process, I can change it, strengthen it. Then, as a rule, I want to write several works in the same style and so a series of paintings are born. So, for example, inspired by one of my favorite artists, Giorgio Morandi, I painted a series of
paintings called Simple Forms. From one painting Spicing up the Fall, which appeared after reading the biography of Henri Matisse, the series My sweet fall was born. My Dandelions, beloved by many people, appeared thanks to the photograph by my friend's sister - she studied photography in black and white, and I saw her photo, fell in love with it and wanted to paint these dandelions in oils. They are my pride, but they set me such a high bar that I am still only deciding to
make a series of paintings to accompany them, waiting for an inspiration and a similar state of falling in love with some image. Therefore, chance and improvisation are the engines of me as an artist.
Inspired by the colorful imagery of your surroundings, your artworks feature such wide variety of tones, often market out with unique, thoughtful nuances — as Salacgriva. Latvia — as well as vivacious, almost bold tones in Sailboats and Seagulls. Moreover, we have particularly
appreciated the way they create such dreamlike ambience. 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?
Lidia Mikhaylova: In Moscow, I painted mostly still life, but I was hunted by the desire to paint the sea or ocean and preferably plein air. Having moved to Latvia and plunged headlong into the insane beauty of this country, I had a
chance to fulfill my dream - the Gulf of Riga and the Baltic Sea were near me! I began to take a lot of photographs and sketches, which I then transferred to canvas or paper at home. I really like to
paint the sea or ocean with pastels, because, in my opinion, this material is very tactile and when I paint with pastels, I seem to be immersed in some special state, where hands begin to create
separately from the head.
The right place and condition gives the right result of the fabulously alive seascapes.
And here I would like to quote of Russian poet Joseph Brodsky
“When there is so much in the distance behind you, mainly – misery,
don’t loiter, waiting for assistance, but catch the train bound for the sea. It’s deeper. And it’s not so small. This, in itself, won’t fix your mood. But if one has to, after all, sense all the pangs of orphanhood,
then pick a setting that can make your insides stir instead of ache”.
We really appreciate the way you encourage the viewers to capture beauty
in daily life, and in this sense, your approach seems to reflect Edgar Degas' words, when he once stated that “Art is not what you see, but what you make
others see." As you have remarked in your artist's statement, in order to see beauty, you just need to pause and look around: how does your everyday life's experience
fuel your artistic research?
Lidia Mikhaylova: Latvia is an unusually beautiful country, just a paradise for artists. I was walking a lot in Riga and
Jurmala, went to the seaside, made sketches and photographs, which I later used in my works. In December 2019, I had a chance to take part in the Contemporary
Art Exhibition "Play Your Part", organized by the International Art Alliance at the Tenri Cultural Institute in New York City. Five of my paintings from My Sweet fall series had a unique opportunity to be seen
live by American audiences and I ended up in New York. This was my first international exhibition, where I interacted with other participating artists and visitors.
Then I came to Massachusetts, USA, where I am staying for now. These days, I spend most of my time in Newton and continue to walk a lot and draw everything that
surrounds me. Observing simple American life - these wonderful houses with gardens and the ocean, I continue to strengthen in my opinion that we are surrounded by wonderful things in everyday life, we just
need to learn to notice and appreciate them.
Your landscape inspired paintings often feature such stimulating dreamlike ambience, that provides its figures with ambivalent visual identity, that seems to unveil the bridge between 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?
Lidia Mikhaylova: Sunsets and sunrises, rainbows, century-old trees, ocean and sea spaces, flowers growing your own garden or presented by a loved one, household items, people you love - all this and morethis is a wonderful reality around us and it is so beautiful that it often seems that everything is a figment of our imagination. In my paintings, reality and imagination are so mixed together that they become essentially my own reality. Or my own imagination. For me it's the same thing.
We dare say that your artworks are also pervaded with a sense of connection between reality and the trascendental dimension: how do you consider the role of spirituality playin within your artistic practice?
Lidia Mikhaylova: Striving for goodness, thirst for truth, hunger for beauty do not weaken with time. In my opinion, this is spirituality. You know, there are people
who look like windows. Their beauty is revealed thanks to the light coming from within. I want to achieve the same in my paintings. As a Russian publicist Simon Soloveichik said, "Art must be spiritual, and then a person can find an interlocutor in it, as well as a source of high aspirations."
Another important aspect of your artistic production is centered on Tantra, an we are more than please to introduce our readers to your YONI FLOWERS series. Would you tell us something about the genesis of your stimulating project?
Lidia Mikhaylova: I have a friend, Zhanna Lee, and she is a Certified Tantra Educator & Holistic Intimacy Coach. I attended her workshop MY BODY IS A TEMPLE, and its main idea was to learn how to stay grounded and connected in a nonjudgmental and heart-opening environment. During the workshop, a realization came to me that as an artist I can also help women, regardless of age, faith and body shapes, to develop and feel their inner strength and confidence. So I started my Sexual Art project, choosing for it silk painting,which is, in my opinion, the most refined and lively material, and flowers, as a symbol of female beauty and divine blessing.
Your YONI FLOWERS serieshas deeply struck us for the way you conveyed both aesthetics and such deep phylosophical ideas: how important is for you to balance aesthetics and message within your works? In particular, how do you consider
the of aesthetics aspect when creating?
Lidia Mikhaylova: The harmony of aesthetics and the ideas I convey is very
important to me. In my works, regardless of what I depict on them, first of all I want to show the viewer how beautiful our world is, both internal and external. It is important for
me to fill the viewer with kindness, love and sincerity. My dream is that people, contemplating my paintings, experience the same feelings that they experience when they fall in love. In Sanskrit, the word Yoni means female genitalia and according to Tantra's philosophy Universe has endowed women with a wonderful gift – the Yoni: do you think that your being a woman provides the results of your artistic research with some special value?
Lidia Mikhaylova: I'm not sure of the special value, but it seems to me that due to the fact that I am a woman, my works are certainly filled with special feminine energy when creating them and this can help their owners reveal their feminine power or strengthen it, harmonize any areas of life and perhaps start creating new reality.
It's important to mention that you pay particular care to customize the pieces from your YONI FLOWERS art collection on silk, in order to match the personal vision of your clients: how important is for you to connect yourself with the expectations - and we dare say - to the soul of who will own your creations?
Lidia Mikhaylova: Some paintings from this collection found their owners after the workshops. Participants felt a connection with a particular painting and bought it to usually hang in their bedroom. When accepting an order, I usually specify the color (chakra) and wishes for the flower. But mostly the
customers say - paint as you see. And I am certainly very pleased when I get into their soul, see delight and receive words of gratitude.
Over the recent years you started to exhibit your artworks in a number of occasions, including your recent participation to Monochrome 2020, at Las Laguna Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA: 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?
Lidia Mikhaylova: I am still new to the world of art shows. My first exhibit was held in Moscow in May 2017 and it was organized by Art Studio Picasso, which i was a part of, for all students. My friends, my work colleagues and my mother attended the opening. It was unforgettable because I felt their tremendous support, which certainly provided an immense resource to move on. The second and so far the last art show I attended personally was the Contemporary Art Exhibition “Play Your Part” at the Tenri Cultural Institute, New York City, organized by the International Art Alliance, which I joined last fall.
Plunging headfirst into the American
audience, I felt enormous gratitude, and this feeling is still with me. Due to the current global situation, many exhibits have been canceled or moved online. Of course, this complicates the work of an artist, because often photography does not convey color, texture and, as a result, the full perception of the painting. However, it is my deep conviction that, living in a world where we cannot have control over everything and where there are no guarantees, we can nevertheless do our best every day.
Currently, most of our life moves online and, in my opinion, artists can and should use the online space for their own recognition and promotion,including popular and effective platforms such as Instagram. An active account can help you gain many followers and increase sales. Therefore, I devote time to developing my https://www.instagram.com/simple_art_f orms_, as well as participating in various online exhibits.
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, Lidia. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?
Lidia Mikhaylova: Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to talk to you, it is a great honor for me. Answering your questions, I seemed to be opening new doors for myself in my work.One of my
projects that I have already started is called Doors. For me, a door is a transition to a new quality and condition, expanding boundaries and opening up new opportunities. I started this project by accident, drawing the first Magic Door as an image of my friends who provided me with the home where I now live in Newton, MA. A little later, I got the idea that I could show through the door the image of the person who lives behind that door, and I drew several doors for my friends as a gift to them , identifying them with the their house numbers. It was very cool when I showed a finished door without a house number in FB and asked my friends if they knew whose door it was. Now I just draw doors and invite people to choose the one that they like and which they associate themselves with. And I put their house number on the painting. When there will be 36 or more door designs, I’m going to make metamorphic cards with their image and give a deck of cards to people who might beinterested.
In addition, this summer I began to paint flowers in oils and these pictures became the birth oa project "Grandma's Front Garden". I also continue to paint the oceaand to paint on silk. I have a lot of creative ideas and plans!
An interview by , curator and curator