Page 1

June 2014

April 2014

Special Issue

CECILE van HANJA BENJAMIN HERSH SHIMA FARIDANI BRANKA MARKOVIC COLETTE COPELAND EVIE ZIMMER NINA FABUMNI AMY COHEN BANKER Shima Faridani (Iran/Denmark)


SUMMARY

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

2

U

0

N

1

E

4

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

IN THIS ISSUE

Colette Copeland

(USA)

4 Colette Copeland is a multi-media visual artist and cultural critic whose work examines issues surrounding gender, death and contemporary culture. Sourcing personal narratives and popular media, she questions societal roles and the pervasive influence of media, and technology on our communal enculturation.

Nina Fabumni

(USA)

18

Nina Fabunmi’s interest in art began as a child, she developed her artistic skills just as she learnt how to read and write but realized it was a gift when she noticed that her peers could not do draw like she could. At six, she would make small drawings and render them with colored pencils.

Benjamin Hersh

(USA)

32

Unprocessed and un-commercialized materials recall ancient artistic traditions, but also impart a distinct contemporary, local flavor. I position my work to mediate between our direct experience of the world and a deeper sense of historical meaning.

Amy Cohen Banker

(USA)

44

I cannot help but be influenced by philosophy, poetry, literature, psychological symbolism, fairy tales, music, myths, conceits, and metaphors, especially of strong feminist models: women’s conflicting roles in a changing time throughout the centuries.

Evie Zimmer

(USA)

56

I have always been an artist. I think it was something I was born with. Even during times when I wasn’t making art I would long to do it and ached for it as if it were a far away lover. When I paint I feel connected with the painting. My energy becomes the painting’s energy. As the image develops, the painting’s energy becomes mine. The process and the product create energy.

2


SUMMARY

(Iran/Denmark)

68

Shima Faridani

"My perception of the world of art is to find an unlimited atmosphere where I should know myself. Entering this world is to face new experiences. Exploring the new aspects of life and considering them with other insights; I breathe, think, see, explore, know, get happy, and cry. I learn from these experiences and their reflection exists in my paintings."

(Montenegro)

78

Branka Markovich

The artist has the power to harmoniously schedules, edit and compile into a entirety his emotions, thoughts, experiences, needs, wishes. This completed entirety makes one artwork.

(The Netherlands)

90

Cécile van Hanja

"My source of inspiration is the modernism at the beginning of the 20th century, especially the architecture of Bauhaus and De Stijl, which for me is a reflection of order in a time of chaos."

(Montenegro)

94

Milena Joviceviv

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

(USA)

96

Jana Charl

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

(Turkey)

99

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

3

Çiğdem Menteşoğlu


ARTiculAction

Colette Copeland (USA) an artist’s statement

Colette Copeland is a multi-media visual artist and cultural critic whose work examines issues surrounding gender, death and contemporary culture. Sourcing personal narratives and popular media, she utilizes video, photography performance and sculptural installation to question societal roles and the pervasive influence of media, and technology on our communal enculturation. For nine years, she taught at the University of Pennsylvania in the areas of visual studies, critical writing and photography. Three years ago, she relocated to Dallas, Texas where she is teaching art appreciation, digital media, photography and video at UTD, Richland and Collin Colleges. She received her BFA from Pratt Institute in New York and her MFA from Syracuse University. She is the recipient of a Leeway Foundation Award for Art & Change. Over the past 12 years, her work has been exhibited in 15 solo exhibitions and 70 group exhibitions/festivals spanning 29 countries. Highlights include the Arad Biennale in Romania, the Museum of Fine Arts in Venado Tuerto, Argentina, the National Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow, Novosibirsk State Art Museum in Russia, City Nord in Hamburg, Germany, Ars Latina in Macerata, Italy, Mexicali, Baja and Castellon, Spain, Cultural Communication Center in Klapeda, Lithuania, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Scope Hamptons in New York, Kratkofil Film Festival in Bosnia/Herzgovina, and a traveling exhibition throughout India and Bangladesh, including Calcutta, Bombay and Dhaka. Ms. Copeland is a contributing writer for Ceramics—Art and Perception, and Glasstire Magazines. She is a member of AICA— International Association of Art Critics. Colette Copeland

3


Krista Nassi

ARTiculAction

Gold, (background detail)

Dayson incanvas, Limbo,2012 2013 Mixed 3 Media

2


ARTiculAction

Colette Copeland

An interview with

Colette Copeland Hello Colette, and welcome to ARTiculAction. I would start this interview with my usual ice breaker question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? By the way, what could be in your opinion the features that mark an artwork as a piece of Contemporary Art? By the way, do you think that there's a dichotomy between Tradition and Contemporariness?

That is a deceptively complex question. As someone who teaches, practices and writes about art, I define contemporary art very loosely. Contemporary art is art made by artists who are working today. Chronologically, that means anything from 1970's and postmodernism forward. That encompasses a vast terrain. In terms of a broader definition of art--that has to do with the artist's intention and the context in which the work was made. I teach Art Appreciation and show a lot of work that fits outside of the traditional canon of art. Many students struggle with conceptual art and performance art, since those are far from the traditional media of drawing, painting and sculpture. I tell students that they will not be able to effectively argue about whether something is art or not, because it if has been exhibited or written about, then someone thought it was art besides the artist. I do tell them however, that they can argue about their opinion of the work, as long as they substantiate it.

Colette Copeland

works? By the way, during these years you earned a wide experience as a teacher I would ask your point about formal training I sometimes wonder if a certain kind of formal training could even stifle a young artist's creativity...

I do not see a dichotomy per say between tradition and contemporary. Artists are free to choose to work in whatever manner they wish. I personally am drawn to work that has a strong conceptual idea blended with formal technique and craft.

I was very creative as a child--always making things and writing stories. Sometimes I use a letter from 1972 as an artist statement. It sum-marizes a psychiatric evaluation that my parents requested. The areas that concerned the doctors were excessive fantasizing and imaginary friends. It also states that my stories were always about death and destruction. I find this evaluation interesting for two reasons.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? You hold a MFA from Syracuse University. How have these experiences impacted on the way you currently produce your art-

6


Colette Copeland

ARTiculAction

video still from Tangible Intent, 2012 videography by Dacota Taylor

First, the qualities that we prize as artists are imagination and creativity. Yet these are the two qualities that the doctors wanted to exterminate. Second, even at the age of 6, I did not shy away from the subject of death. Death has been a predominant theme in my work throughout my career.

paid to make art. I had some amazing teachers at Syracuse University. Although I was technically a photo grad student, the department allowed and encouraged me to work in a variety of disciplines. I had the opportunity to study installation, video, sculpture and performance. My program combined formal training with intellectual rigor as well as a strong historical and contemporary theoretical practice. These experiences have pivotally changed the way I approach my work. My practice is idea driven. The idea always comes first.

During and after my undergraduate studies, I worked in the fashion and photography industries. Then I worked in the corporate business world for a number of years before returning to graduate school. These experiences made me appreciate graduate school and realize that it was a precious gift. I was awarded a fellowship, so my tuition was fully covered. I also received a generous stipend. It was the only time in my life (so far) where I was

My teaching also feeds my artistic practice. The students inspire me and hopefully I inspire some of them. When teaching and art making are balanced, it becomes a symbiotic relationship.

7


ARTiculAction

Colette Copeland

video still from Double Jeopardy, 2013

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

In works like Breathe and The Argument, my performance partner Adam Wesley George and I had a brainstorming session to start to pre-conceptualize the idea, but then we filmed very quickly in a couple of hours with a lot of improvisation. Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from Breathe and, that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: an I would suggest to our readers to visit your website directly at http://www.colettecopeland.com/works/works1 213.html in order to get a wider idea of these interesting projects... would you like to tell us something about the genesis of it? What was your initial inspiration?

It really depends on the project. Some of the works are made in one day; some take years. For my video series, Reflections on the Way to the Gallows, I spent six months researching historical accounts of women who were publicly executed in the United States. Then I spent 2.5 years filming and editing the project. There are over 11 videos that were filmed in various locations and with a variety of talent. I worked very closely with esteemed composer William Harper.

Jennifer Sims Breathe and Digby are the first two videos that 8


Colette Copeland

ARTiculAction

video still from Breathe , 2012/2013

I made with Adam Wesley George. Adam is a former video student of mine. After he graduated, he asked if I would like to make a work together. Our starting point for this video was the title Breathe. As a long time yoga practitioner, that word for me conjures up harmonious life force. Adam envisioned something more tortured. He took me to his sacred location where he goes to tag/graffiti. It was thrilling, but scary, since I had to cross a train trestle over looking the highway wearing flip-flops. The train came 5 minutes after we crossed to the other side There was a steep gravel precipice, which kept sliding underneath my feet. Although we didn't start with a specific story, after I edited the video, a narrative emerged. I think it speaks about a tortured soul who is obviously suffering.

The yogic woman is like a guardian angel of sorts who watches over Adam. Although after seeing the final version, Adam thought that perhaps she was his feminine unconscious. The cicadas symbolize rebirth, resurrection and renewal. So symbolically, the act of ingesting and vomiting the cicadas is about getting rid of whatever is causing the suffering, so that the healing or rebirth can occur. For Digby, I took Adam to my special place. I had a mummified fox that Adam named Digby. We decided that the video would feature Digby. We didn’t set out to suggest a specific social criticism, but we certainly were aware of the underlying tension and primal nature of the work. Our collaborative work is primarily performative. We strive to push each other outside our respective comfort zones. 9


ARTiculAction

Colette Copeland

video still from Digby , 2012

To see more of Adam’s individual work, look at his website: http://adamwgeorge.squarespace.com/

The various “performances” or adventures would not have occurred without meeting specific people who agreed (with a bit of coercion) to help me. So my life experiences also drive the work. For example, one of my former students trained as a military sniper. If I had not met him and he had not agreed to collaborate in the video as my gun trainer, I’m not sure I would have made the Tangible Intent videos. More often than not, there is a serendipitous aspect to my artistic practice.

€

Multidisciplinarity is a crucial aspect of your art practice: it ranges from video to photography from sculptural installation to performances as The Victorian Woman Rides a Bull Trailer ... while crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever happened to realize that a synergy between different disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

I work with video a lot because it is inherently a multi-sensory material. Sometimes photography seems limiting as a medium to convey a narrative. With video there is the moving, sequential image, sound, text/voice—all of which can be manipulated. Video is the perfect medium for performance. The Victorian Woman does not perform for a live

As I mentioned previously, my ideas drive the work. I choose materials and process based on what makes the most sense for the project. The Victorian Woman as an alter ego would not have emerged without my move to Texas.

Jennifer Sims 10


Colette Copeland

ARTiculAction

video still from The Argument , 2013

could be disconnected from direct experience?

audience. She performs for the camera. I am able to again carefully compose the scenes and manipulate the element of time to convey certain meanings. I also enjoy sculpture as a counter practice to the computer. I enjoy the physicality and hands getting dirty aspect that the computer doesn’t provide.

Not for me. Direct experience is essential for my creative process. Most artists that I know derive ideas from their personal life experiences, whether it’s people they encounter, books they

Your works as The Argument, a homage to performance pioneer Marina Abramovic https://vimeo.com/73052332 are strictly connected to the chance of establishing a deep involvement with your audience, both on an intellectual aspect and -I daresay- on a physical state... so I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process

video still from The Argument , 2013

11


ARTiculAction

Colette Copeland

video still from The Victorian Woman Rides a Bull, 2013 videography by Danila Sergeyevich Usov

read, films they view or simply responding to the world around them. I remember one of my grad professors who gave the following advice to a young, struggling student. He told her to live life—have experiences and then draw inspiration from those experiences when creating work. Without a direct experience, the work lacks power that comes from personal investment.

it really freaked people out. I don’t think that one person was able to remain in the bathroom for the 2-minute duration of the video. I would go as fare as to state that your works, as 3 Days in Limbo an extremely interesting piece that I have to admit is one of my favourite work of your recent ones, utilize the external reality, to paint the inner reality, that of the unconscious, archetypical and unspoken... I'm sort of convinced that some information & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

On a side note, The Argument started out as a warm-up for a different performance. But after an hour or so of screaming, Adam and I both had headaches and began to lose our voices. When I debuted the work, it was shown on a small monitor in the bathroom of the gallery. The tiny bathroom was painted blood red and looked like something out of the Amityville Horror film. We didn’t intend for the video to be scary, but shown in that context,

Jenniferand Sims That is an insightful complicated question. I 12


Colette Copeland

ARTiculAction

video still from The Ghost of Jane Elkins , 2013

do approach my artistic practice as an amateur cultural anthropologist, a visual historian, a poet and an archetypal psychologist. Since I am not formally trained in any of those disciplines (besides the few texts that I’ve read), I have the luxury of adopting various ideas and methodologies when creating my work.

examining history that has been purposely hidden. I choose the contemporary landscape as a contested site—one that allows for the past, present and future to co-exist. 3 Days in Limbo is based on a story that one of my students shared with me about his daughter. I felt very strongly that it was a story that needed to be told, since it is something that is very current to our youth today. Yet how could I visually communicate the internal grief, angst and confusion from both the father’s and daughter’s perspective? Since I did not have access to the daughter’s story, I had to imagine what it might be like in a comatose and psychotic state.

I am not a documentary photographer or filmmaker. In my projects that are based on history or actual events, I have to choose how to tell the story using metaphor, symbolism and allegory that communicate the idea in a non-literal fashion. I have to decide what to reveal and what to keep hidden. I hope that I leave enough clues for the viewer to begin to decode and decipher the work without making it too obvious.

In a serendipitous moment when I was filming The Ghost of Jane Elkins, (https://vimeo.com/81450995) I saw the burn pile

In Reflections on the Way to the Gallows, I am 13


ARTiculAction

Colette Copeland

video still from Ball and Chain, 2014 videography by Charles Wicker

with the bed and knew that the visuals would work with the 3 Days in Limbo narrative. I had a very short window of time with which to film. We had to wait for the right conditions— recent rain with no wind. I had almost given up hope. The day before I was leaving for a 2-month trip, the ranch owner texted me and said “today is the day for the fire”. By the way, your works, as Digby, are often pervaded with a subtle but effective social criticism... and I'm sort of convinced that Art in these days could play an effective role not only making aware public opinion about socio political issues: I would go as far as to say that nowadays Art can even steer people's behavior... I would take this chance to ask your point about this. Do you think that it's an exaggeration? And what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in our society?

I do think that art has the power to influence and invoke change. Contemporary artists such as Ai Weiwei and Shirin Neshat have experienced that in their work. In the case of Ai Weiwei, the Chinese government arrested and detained him without charges for 80 days. If he were not influencing people, that would not have happened. Shirin Neshat has been banned from her home country Iran for her work that challenges Islam in terms of gender and freedom. Artist, author and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi said that an artist’s first responsibility is to bear witness. Many of the artists whose work I admire are bearing witness to the social injustices of the world. I try to do this in my own small way. With my work, I hope to create a dialogue. If I can sustain the attention of my audience and they begin to ask questions or some aspect of my 14

Colette Copeland at aerial yoga class at Vertical Fitness, Dallas, Texas Jennifer Sims


Colette Copeland

ARTiculAction

work stays in their mind, then I have done my job. I think of my work as a seed. As an artist, I plant the seed in my audience’s mind, but there is some responsibility on their part to nurture and grow the seed, so that the idea can germinate and spread. Over the past 12 years, your works have been exhibited in many occasions, around the world... It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if an award -or better, the expectation of a positive feedback- could even influence the process of an artist... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

I’m not sure that I can personally answer the question about how art and commerce or the art market influences an artist’s work, since I do not have representation by a commercial gallery. I certainly am happy to sell work, but I don’t think about what my audience might like when creating my work. Since much of my work is time-based, I am sensitive to my audience’s attention span. I purposely keep my videos short— under 5 minutes because we live in an A.D.D. culture. Caption 6 details

video still from The Victorian Woman Wrestles THE MAN, 2012 videography by Danila Sergeyevich Usov

15


ARTiculAction

Colette Copeland

In 2012, I participated in an international video festival where 100 video artists told the story of a century. I was assigned the year 1993 and I made a work about John and Lorena Bobbitt. (trailer https://vimeo.com/60493463) After the conclusion of the festival, I chose not to have the work on my website or even have the complete work available online for fear that someone who had been sexually assaulted might unintentionally view it and experience re-traumatization. Although I think it is one of my best works, it is not worth the risk to me. Once my work is completed, I do look for feedback from my peers and audience. I have a trusted group of artist friends whose opinion I trust and sometimes I will elicit feedback prior to completing work. Based on their responses, I will consider changes to the work. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Colette. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

Thank you for your interest and the thoughtful questions. Adam and I hope to make another video this summer. The Victorian Woman is supposed to lasso longhorns, but the timing hasn’t worked out yet. I am about to embark on my 4th annual summer road trip. My rescue greyhound dog and I will spend 8 weeks driving around the country to visit family and friends. I have a couple of projects that I need to edit, but I also leave time for adventures and ideas to present themselves. Summer is my time to play and experiment more without the pressures of teaching or an impending exhibition deadline.

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

Jennifer Sims 16


Colette Copeland

ARTiculAction

video still from Bobbitmania, 2012 6


ARTiculAction

Nina Fabunmi (USA) an artist’s statement

Nina Fabunmi’s interest in art began as a child, she developed her artistic skills just as she learnt how to read and write but realized it was a gift when she noticed that her peers could not do draw like she could. At six, she would make small drawings and render them with colored pencils. Her dad had a spot on the wall of his studio where he pinned up all her work. He is an architect and in her sheltered upbringing, his tools of creativity and artistic influence surrounded her. As a teenager, art became her means of expression, she wrote poetry, made drawings, paintings, collage, mosaic and fabric designs with tie-dye and batik. Upon her high school graduation, she received a Proficiency Certificate in Fine Art. Dissuaded by her parents for the lack of faith that a career as an Artist could earn her a comfortable living, in 2001 she ended up with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Estate Management also called Real Estate. Her Department was in the Faculty of Environmental Design and Management that also housed the Fine Art department. This posed as a great advantage to her as she spent her free time in the Fine Art studios. After her graduation, she decided to pursue her passion by embarking on a Masters in Fine Art. She knew that if she ever had to go back to school it would be on her own terms. She got on the Internet and searched for Art schools abroad and that was when she discovered the Academy of Art University. She made contact with the school, but at that time could not afford the fees so she put it on hold while she faced her corporate career. Her only work experience in Real Estate was six months of Industrial Training. She then ventured into Broadcasting, Banking and Telecommunications. She moved from industry to industry in search for what she always had; a fulfilling career. She never stopped drawing and painting. In 2001 she got introduced to a Gallery owner who purchased five of her watercolor paintings. She was pleasantly surprised. In that same year, she made her first oil painting. She would paint and sell one- on- one to those who were privy to seeing her work as it was like a hobby to her. The Gallery owner introduced her to Art associations in Nigeria, which she eventually became a member of. She slowly integrated herself into the Art world in Nigeria and had her first Art Exhibition in 2008.

Nina Fabunmi 18


Krista Nassi

ARTiculAction

Gold, (background detail) Mixed Media on canvas, 2012 Business & Pleasure 7 Mixed Media, 2011 Keahafro

2


ARTiculAction

Nina Fabunmi

An interview with

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

In my opinion, a work of art comes from the heart, it is a medium of expression, which is aesthetically appealing, carries a message with it and is an extension of its creator such that its onlookers can relate with the artist that created it and have an interpretation of it. It is never boring, ever engaging, sparks dialogues and should always have something new to offer, even though it may be the same piece of art. It speaks truth about the artist and his subject or object of creation.

Nina Fabunmi

Contemporary art is one that shows artistic liberty, freedom of expression, breaks new grounds and is very up-to date. The artist is never confined to the structure he/she is capturing, can decide to step outside the boundaries, make color decisions that may defy the norm and introduce external elements. It doesn’t have to be a true representation of the represented but shows the artist confidence in his/her own freedom to create. It breaks away from the classical style of painting.

where I grew up. My dad is an Architect and my mum a chemical engineer. We had a sheltered up bringing, hardly left the house because we were scarcely allowed to go out. I guess my dad was trying to protect us from the world outside but we craved for freedom. My dad was inventive and my mum loved to design and make clothes so we were surrounded with creativity. I have four brothers and one sister and we are all creative in our own way. As a child and a young teen, I had to deal with a lot of emotions and art was always my outlet. It has influenced the way that I produce work because I am constantly sear-ching for freedom. That’s one of the reasons why my work is contemporary; it allows me to express myself without bounds.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Are there any particular experiences that have particularly impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks? By the way, I sometimes I wonder if a certain kind of formal training could even stifle a young artist's creativity... as a self-taught artist who however had the chance to spend your free time in the Fine Art studios, I think that our readers will find very interesting your opinion...

I am of the opinion that formal training may somewhat inhibit the creativity of an artist if the

I was born in Lagos Nigeria in West Africa. This is

20


Nina Fabunmi

ARTiculAction

I must say, I attended a great art school, the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. For the first half of the duration of my course, I had to make art that showed that I was technically skilled, It was more of class room work and I drew and painted almost the same thing with my class mates and in somewhat the same manner because we all did what the instructor told us to, but after my mid point review and final thesis proposal, I was allowed to go in my own direction and took directed study classes which allowed me to build my own body of work based on my concept and style. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

My intention is for my work to be expressive, have loose and tight paint application that utilizes exaggerated colors to break away from classical painting.

artist is unable to find a balance between his or her own style/ artistic language and what is being taught formally. I am glad that I had the chance to practice as a self-taught artist before embarking on art school because I already knew what I wanted my work to look like. I wanted color, vibrancy, energy and mark making. I wanted to express emotions, teach history and culture and capture the land and its diversity. I learnt through observation and my own expe-rimentation. I was not influenced by instructors or forced to go in a certain direction. Art school is great, it helps with technicalities but in the end, the best art schools are those that help you be the best you that you can be by allowing the artist introduce the skills acquired into his/her own style.

The Tourist, Oil on Canvas, 12x16 Inches

21


ARTiculAction

Nina Fabunmi

Studies for the Origins series

Studies for the Origins series

I infuse scratches, splatters and marks and thick and thin paint qualities. This is my voice and shows my individuality as an artist. I begin with preliminary sketches and use a pencil, pen, gouache and or watercolor to make studies, which lead me to what the bigger picture will look like.

Part of my process also involves immersing people into tribes, thus giving them a cultural experience that they’ve probably never had. I do this by working with a combination of references: a live model or the photo of my subject, and photo references from the tribe which I think best suites them. I normally make a sketch of my idea first before I begin the execution of my final painting.

I do the sketch /drawing in one day and linger on it a bit before I proceeded to my canvas to make the work. My paintings take me about 1 day to 2 weeks to complete, depending on size or complexity. A lot of times, I stare at it for a while to look for areas to fix and when I am not sure what to do next, I give it a break and return to it when my ideas are refreshed.

I do not do studies for all my pieces; sometimes I just go straight to the canvas and begin the artwork on it. It is always important for me to get the drawing right. Painting from a live model, I start with a toned canvas and draw with a brush, paint and medium. I then block in the shadow shapes in a monochrome before I begin to add color. I like to use linquin because it dries fast and enables me to move along faster. Even as I paint along, I am always fixing the drawing. In painting, value relationships, light and shadow and the integration of my marks and patterns with the subject are also crucial to the success of the painting. My preparation sometimes takes time in deciding the color palette and laying

Preparation and studies for the Origins series

Jennifer Sims 22


Nina Fabunmi

ARTiculAction

From Destructed Universe Installation, details

Bay View, Oil on canvas, 24x18 Inches, 2013

Jennifer Sims

23


ARTiculAction

Nina Fabunmi

out my materials but once I begin to paint, I often loose track of time because I get so into it. Even as I paint along, I am always fixing the drawing. In painting, value relationships, light and shadow and the integration of my marks and patterns with the subject are also crucial to the success of the painting. My preparation sometimes takes time in deciding the color palette and laying out my materials but once I begin to paint, I often loose track of time because I get so into it.

Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from your Urban Landscapes, a recent series that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article: I would suggest our readers to visit directly http://ninafabunmi.com/collections/67278 in order to get a wider idea of it. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

I live in San Francisco, a city with a terrain like no other that I have ever seen. It has steep hills that go up and down at such sharp angles that a walk through the city is much better than a work out in the gym. The city center is filled with tall structures, the population so diverse. It’s a beehive of activity, never a dull moment. Street parades and festivals, drummers and musicians are a part of it. Its scenery is breath taking, I have climbed up the hilly Lombard street, one of the steepest peaks I

The Tourist, Oil on Canvas, 12x16 Inches

recall but was rewarded with the beautiful view of the bay and beyond, the bay bridge, Alcatraz and the lovely ocean and as I enjoyed this view, I have been comforted by the ocean breeze. When it rains, the city takes on a new look, people walking with their colorful umbrellas amidst the lovely reflections they make on the wet streets, accompanied by the reflections of cars, head lamps, buildings and Lamp posts. This beauty has surrounded me for the last 3 years, enrgized by it; I have been inspired to capture it on my canvas.

Rainy Night on Bush Street

Jennifer Sims 24


Nina Fabunmi

ARTiculAction

Where You Are, Installation Sutter Splash, Oil on Canvas, 36x24 Inches

My paintings capture the actively stimulating environment of San Francisco. One of the features that has mostly impacted on me of this stimulating project, is the way you have been effectively capable of recontextualizing the idea of environment an the mutual feedbacks that are established with "human experience"... so I would like to stop for a moment to consider the "function" of the landscape suggested by your work: most of the times it doesn't seem to be just a passive back-

Crossing O'Farrel, Oil on Canvas, 18x24 Inches 25


ARTiculAction

Nina Fabunmi

from the When Nature Speaks series oil on canvas from the When Nature Speaks series oil on canvas

ground... and I'm sort of convinced that some information & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need - in a way- to decipher them. I think that you have already elaborated a bit this concept in your early series entitled When Nature Speaks: maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

into a persons skin as a symbol of their cultural heritage. Though most contemporary Africans do not have them, they are very common in the villages where more local people live. This is the reason why I have mark making in my work. I want to show that the land is rich in an assorted population made up of people who come from far and wide. We have influenced the land even as the land has influenced us and we are all trying to find a place in society.

My work is expressive as I try to use my painting technique to show the diversity of the land. I am an African in diaspora and I have developed a painting style, which I describe as my diasporic painting technique. I utilize mark making on thick impasto paint with splatters, sometimes drips and splashes. Where I am from, tribal marks are carved

Sometimes, I make inscriptions that are gibberish because I come from a country where there are over 250 languages; in my state alone there are over 36, thus my gibberish inscriptions are a form of cultural expression. Sometimes I will actually infuse an actual word or sometimes the viewers of my paintings try to make sense out of it. Jennifer Sims 26


Nina Fabunmi

ARTiculAction

Timid Glory, oil on canvas, 24 x 36

This is also my own way of making paintings that always have something new to offer, each time you look at it, you see something different.I like to experiment, when nature speaks is a series of mixed media art works, which were the result of my artistic experimentation. Inspired by nature because as I walk around, live and breathe, I feel like nature is always speaking to me. I look in the clouds and I make out shapes, when the wind blows, I feel like I hear voices, we are always being watched by the forces of nature that we are surrounded by. I created this collection based on this.

exploration of culture, the beauty of the land,the wealth that comes with diversity in people, the values we practice and that which makes us who we are... I noticed that many of your pieces from your Origins series, as Keahafro and Timid Glory are focused on "human" subjects, often reveals such an inner struggle and intense involvement, as the interesting The Girl with the Cinder Blocks... I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

As you have remarked i your artist's statement, your paintings are a tribute to your roots, an

My creativity has always Jennifer Sims and will always be an extension of myself. 27


ARTiculAction

Nina Fabunmi

The Girl With The Cinder Blocks, oil on canvas

I make the art even before thinking about its appeal to its onlookers. I have made paintings that I later kept in my closet and could not show to the public because they relate with an emotion or feeling I had to deal with at that time and may have been too deep to share. That’s the reason why I began to make art in the first place. It’s the best way I can express myself visually. Art should always speak truth and relate with its creator.

She loves the fact that she knows her roots but is afraid to visit Nigeria because of all the problems and lack of security in the country. I showed her vulnerability and how she still finds ways to hold on to a culture she has never experienced with her hair and adornment. “The girl with the cinder blocks” captures the spirit of the Nigerian child. I found her on a dusty dirt road in Ijesa Lagos, sitting amongst cinder blocks. In her eyes, I saw determination.

“Keahafro”, is about a beautiful African American girl who has a full head of curly hair. She often struggles with how to wear her hair and sometimes straightens it out. When it’s straight, her Chinese friends love her hair and when she leaves it curly, it appeals more to another set of people. For me, I love her curly natural hair and that’s why I made that piece. Hair is always a big issue for Africans and African Americans. “Timid Glory” is about a lady called Itoro who is originally from Nigeria but was born and bred in the US. Her name is ‘Itoro” which means "glory” in her native Calabar language.

How ironic that she sat amongst building blocks, which to me symbolize dreams, goals and possibilities. She reminded me of me as a little girl, people often laughed at me and told me that I was a dreamer because my goals in life were impossible, to them. So far I have become more accomplished by listening less to what people say and never giving up the drive that pushes me and has taken me this far. Another interesting piece of yours that have particularly impacted on me and which I would

Jennifer Sims 28


Nina Fabunmi

ARTiculAction

Nietzsche, oil on canvas_20x16, 2014

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

Migration Story, from the Origins series

Man should be much more that just a human he should be an overman. This means that humans should recognize that we belong to something greater than what we are. Thus I tried to reflect this by giving him almost Godly/superhuman qualities with my choice of palette, paint application and facial expression. I believe that all of humanity originated from something greater then we can ever understand. In essence, I captured the superman without being too literal about it.

I find it important to make some sort of connection with my subject in order to give my painting a deeper meaning. With “Nietzsche” My subject/models’ name is Nathan and he has a superman logo tattooed on his chest. When I asked him why he had that on his chest, he told me about Nietzsche Ubermensch.

And I could'nt do without mentioning Migration Story, from the aforesaid Origins series: this extremely interesting work effectively cap-

29


ARTiculAction

Nina Fabunmi

tures an evolution of the human species and thus is inclusive of all people, regardless of race or color... and I daresay that there's such a subtle socio political feature in them: I'm sort of convinced that Art these days could play an effective role not only making aware public opinion, but I would go as far as to say that nowadays Art can steer people's behavior... what's your point about this? Do you think that it's an exaggeration?

Migration story which some call the middle passage is my most powerful piece till date. After painting it, I was afraid of what I painted. I hate politics and I never paint political themes however this piece is a true testament of the fact that there may be something spiritual or an unexplainable external force, which sometimes drives an artist to paint what he/she paints. I had been watching the movie “Django unchained” which I have watched several times and even have saved on my laptop. I am also a docent at the museum of the African diaspora where I constantly explain the modern African diaspora/middle passage amongst other things to guests. So I guess these stories have become a part of my orientation as an African now understanding my new environment in the US. This piece began with a model, I stared at his image and each time I did this, I imagined him in shackles and the story that surrounded his capture. I saw a vision of it in my head and I became restless, it wouldn’t go away. It was like it was calling me to let it out. This story had to be told, this image in my head had to be shared. So I went to the art store and purchased a 40x60 Inches canvas and began to put the pieces together. Each time, I felt like something was pushing me and as I continued to paint it, I marveled at my work. That I could put all this together, I kept looking at it, asking myself if I was really painting this. I am afraid of it but it is my creation and I love it. It tells the story and captures the resilient spirit of Africans. It is a piece that must go to the right collector or stay with me because I really love it, how I made it and all that it represents. It is definitely not an exaggeration and it has the power to stir up a lot of emotions in its onlookers.

Beautiful Mali, oil on canvas

impacts the lives of Africans and African Americans till date. I have had it in one exhibition and where I sometimes stayed back and listened to all the conversations that took place in front of it, people’s interpretations and views, all so interesting. It is definitely a showstopper and I am proud of it. Now lets's deal about feedbacks of the audience... It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if an award -or just the expectation of positive Jennifer Sims feedbacks- could even even influence the process of an artist... By the

It is an effective visual narration of a story, which 30


Nina Fabunmi

ARTiculAction

I may get booed. I have also learnt that no matter how good or bad my art is, I can never please everyone and if I begin to make art just to please people, I may probably end up crazy. I do intend to maintain my sanity. Receiving an award is like being in the right place at the right time. Art is so subjective because different judges like different things so winning an award is making the right art for the right judge. I make my paintings as good as I can, dot all the “I’s” and cross the “T’s” and when I get into a competition, even if I do not win, I know that I gave it my best shot. Feedback is good; it helps me grow and gives me a tougher skin because people say all sorts. I have learnt to choose the feedback that is useful to me and disregard the ones that do not help my artistic process. Awards are great so I never give up. I mostly think about the art before I think about who will enjoy it. I work with inspiration, which means I have to first create the art and then seek my audience. I believe there is a genuine relationship between art and business because of the way the work of an artist appreciates with age, time and experience. There is also a system of assigning value to an artists work even after the artist has passed away. I also believe that art should not be done with a motive to make money but the artist should hope to make money from it. If the motive is money , this destroys part of the genuineness of the art.

Timid Glory, oil on canvas, 24 x 36

Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts, Nina. My last question deals with your future plans: anything coming up for you professio-nally that you would like readers to be aware of?

I have a solo show in June titled “Origins” which explores the themes of the African Diaspora through representation and abstraction. It will be taking place in June at 625 Gallery, 625 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA, 94102. I will also be taking part in the Faulty and alumni art auction at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, this fall.

way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

As an artist, I feel like I am constantly on a stage, performing for an audience and expecting an applause, which will ginger me to go on. I am extremely vulnerable and am exposed to positive and negative feedback. What I have learnt is that I need to know the right audience to perform for otherwise

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator

Jennifer Sims

articulaction@post.com

31


ARTiculAction

Benjamin Hersh (USA)

an artist’s statement

I make, and re-make, art for the modern spirit. My current series re-imagines classics of the western canon that evoke the mythological character of their time. The work of El Greco, Gustave Dore and Albrecht Durer form the core of this project, but my list of sources includes Pablo Picasso, Andrei Rublev, Rockwell Kent, James Fraser, Francisco Goya, Peter Paul Rubens, devotional Persian miniatures, among others. I twist these icons into artifacts of the present by working with found media and introducing anachronistic themes; notably, technological disfunction, environmental rebellion, and nostalgic Americana. My media include ink, wood scraps gathered from local urban decay, pyrography, darjeeling tea, and red wine (a young California Cabernet Sauvignon). Unprocessed and un-commercialized materials recall ancient artistic traditions, but also impart a distinct contemporary, local flavor. I position my work to mediate between our direct experience of the world and a deeper sense of historical meaning.

Benjamin Hersh

32


Krista Nassi

ARTiculAction

Gold, (background detail)

Charon and Acheron Mixed Media on the canvas, 2012 Business & Pleasure 7 Mixed Media, 2011

2


ARTiculAction

Benjamin Hersh

An interview with

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

I try to keep an inclusive attitude towards art. If someone describes an artifact or event as “art”I take their word. For that matter, I think there is a degree of art in most things we do. As a rule of thumb, I look for continuity rather than borders. I can’t think of many activities that lack aesthetic qualities, an element of technique, or even a reflection of an agent’s intent and perspective. If you look for them, it is easy enough to find points of overlap between art and design, commercial products, athletics, writing, cooking, maintaining spreadsheets, and so on. If prodded, I might speculate that the umbrella of art-making extends to nesting birds or rivers carving landscapes. This attitude might get messy in certain practical arenas--would any sane curator place termite mounds alongside contemporary sculptures? Why should a patron sponsor an artist over a systems analyst or a sea otter?--but thankfully my institutional responsibilities have never put me in a position to act on these dilemmas.

Ben Hersh with Paradise Lost Painting

logy that you have received from the prestigious Stanford University: how has this experience impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks? By the way, I sometimes I wonder if a certain kind of formal training in artistic disciplines could even stifle a young artist's creativity...

As far as my own practice goes, I take a similar approach to my art as to my commercial design work, as well as my interactions with the world more broadly. I think about what I want to communicate or accomplish, how I want to do it, and I try to do it well. I call some of my work “art”for the sake of connecting with other people and making it digestible, but I try not to put it on a pedestal. Fine art, for all of its posturing in contemporary institutions, is just another way of doing and making. And there is nothing wrong with that.

I received modest formal artistic training as an adolescent, but I was consistently the worst student in the room. A childhood of undirected drawing had left me with all sorts of unique bad habits, and my teachers were dismayed by the way I represented space, shaded, held my tools,

Would you like to tell us something about your background? You hold a MA of Cognitive Psycho-

34


Benjamin Hersh

ARTiculAction

From the Paleograph Series: 2003-11

in particular, gave me a rough set of tools to break apart human experience and speak to my audience in more nuanced ways. The mind has several “layers,”to use a crude metaphor, and I appeal to as many as I can. I use stark geometric compositions, high contrast and bright reds to connect with viewers on a visceral level. Within milliseconds, I want to grab your attention from across the room, and even from the corner of your eye.

and so on; not to mention my resistance to correction. I felt that my style and choices were true to my understanding and perception of the world, and I didn’t trust the authority of the instructors to tell me otherwise. I was an arrogant young person, but even looking back with slight embarrassment, I don’t think I was wrong.

For a deeper level of interaction, I use representational forms very deliberately to evoke semantic associations and give viewers something to interpret intuitively. For curious viewers, I try to offer something satisfying on a deeper level still. I invest heavily in detail, and fill my work with sly jokes, cultural references, and literary symbolism. These things are meant to reward the minority of people who think and analyse when they see art. If not for my academic background, I doubt it ever would have occurred to me to take this approach.

At Stanford I abandoned art classes for the history and philosophy of science, and later, cognitive psychology. Together, these courses were useful in demystifying human beings and historical institutions in a way that I found insightful in developing creative work. Psychology,

Cutting my formal art education short certainly had its benefits, not the least of which is that it sheltered me from the “right”ways of doing things. I draw on scrap wood because I think it is beautiful and captures something about the time and place we are in. I make pigments from wine because it is such a 35


ARTiculAction

Benjamin Hersh

rich, meaningful substance and it was always there, right in front of us, waiting to be turned into a creative medium. Had I spent four years learning to think in terms of oils and acrylics, charcoal and scratchboard, flat brushes and palette knives, I can’t help but think that my attitudes towards media and tools would have become far more rigid than they are now. I would have become a much better oil painter than I am, but a far worse wine painter. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

I always start with my materials. I gather most of my wood from local urban decay, lumber yards, the wonderful Scrounger’s Center for Reusable Art Parts, and rarely, from art stores. I look for interesting shapes, textures, and patterns in the grain. At any given time, half a dozen unused pieces sit on my desk. My colors come from a growing collection of homemade pigments derived from wine and tea.

Constantinople

Through trial and error, I have made a range of reds and browns, and I keep them stored in small glass jars in my studio. Most of my ideas come from art books, which I study obsessively between pieces. Though I occasionally work from online research, I find it much easier to draw from work that I have either seen in person or inspected closely in print. I often choose particular pieces to emulate for a given drawing, but this research also serves to inform my own stylistic choices more broadly. Over the years I have principally borrowed from El Greco in depicting bodies, motion and composition, and Gustave Dore in linework and crafting visual illusions. I begin a project by choosing a piece of wood and imagining different historical images imposed on its surface. When I find the right match, I mull it over for a few days, taking notes, and drawing connections.

St Martin El Greco

Jennifer Sims

36


Benjamin Hersh

ARTiculAction

Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from Mortal Engine, that our readers have already started to get to know in these pages and I would suggest to our readers to visithttp://www.benjaminhersh.com/mortalEngines .html in order to get a wider idea of this stimulating project... In the meanwhile, would you like to tell us something about the genesis of this series? What was your initial inspiration?

Once I feel like I have something to say about it, I will block out the composition in pencil with the original for reference. My goal is to cultivate a conceptual vision strong enough that I can abandon the reference materials early and channel them through improvised drawing. With the pencil blueprint complete, I put away the reference and proceed directly with pen and fill in details. I go back and forth between 0.25 and 0.03 tip pens to achieve desired textures. I use very quick, light strokes to simulate grayscale, and proceed with increasingly controlled motions for explicit detail work, defining objects with lines after the fact.

I started my current series as a way of interacting more directly with history. There is something beautiful and humbling about the artifacts of people radically different from yourself, separated by oceans of time. Their art depicts events that we could never see or think of, and they use conventions for depicting time, space, light, flesh, and so on, that would never occur to us to use. My drawing style has always borrowed from certain historical artists, but I wanted to do something Jennifer Sims more explicit that could engage with its source ma-

All together, this process takes between a few days and a few weeks. A single piece sometimes requires 20 hours or more of drawing, with many hours of study and reflection leading up to it.

37


ARTiculAction

Benjamin Hersh

HYAL

terial conversationally and play with the limitations of understanding cultural artifacts in hindsight. The series began with a handful of ink illustrations on paper, in which I reimagined iconic paintings, prints and sculptures with playful anachronistic additions. After several months with the series, I grew impatient with the flatness and timelessness of paper and tried working with a scrap of pine wood from a friend’s discarded furniture. I liked the effect visual effect and primitive, uncommercialized connotations of the material. As I continued looking for new media, I noticed the unique color of wine fingerprints on paper and wanted to capture it in my work. The rest is trial and error. If I have been asked to sum in a single adjective your global art practice, I'd probably choose the word "kaledoiscopic": multidisciplinarity is a crucial aspect of your art practice and your media include ink, wood scraps, pyrography as well as darjeeling tea, and even red wine... while crossing the borders of different artistic practice have you ever happened to realize that a synergy between different disciplines is the only

Jennifer Sims Revelation 38


Benjamin Hersh

ARTiculAction

way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

Absolutely, sometimes the most direct path to a concept requires crossing a few borders. Had I stuck to traditional line drawings I might have found ways of exploring the ideas about history and perspective that interest me, but it would not have been as immediate. There is nothing more concise than a burnt piece of wood. We have no excuse to be narrow minded when it comes to art. Unlike most people throughout history, we have information technology capable of exposing us to countless creative traditions from around the world. We have better museums, better scholarship, and overall, a much clearer picture of our own past than ever before. Historical artists have always been opportunistic about their sources, tools and inspiration. In that same spirit I think it’s important to be open minded, curious and experimental in contemporary artmaking.

Paradise Lost 39


ARTiculAction

Benjamin Hersh

Your works are strictly connected to the chance of establishing a deep involvement with your audience, both on an intellectual aspect and -I daresay- on a physical state... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces?

My role is to craft engaging experiences for other people’s pleasure, so I always take the audience perspective seriously. Instead of soliciting explicit feedback, I watch for organic reactions. Do people’s eyes light up? Will people approach it from across the room? How long do they look? Do they try to share it? Do they have questions about it? If some aspect of my work provokes these reactions, I try to build on it. If something fails to connect, I move on. As much as I would like to say that I make art for myself, I make it because it lets me speak intimately with strangers about big things. One stranger wrote to say that my Paradise Lost series had helped them connect to the symbolism of Christianity. A small handful of people around the world purportedly have tattoos of my work. Last year, a relative of Gustave Dore told me that my interpretation of his work made them smile. I am proud of these personal reactions, and I enjoy making art that people can connect with in this way. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you position your work to mediate between our direct experience of the world and a deeper sense of historical meaning... so I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I don’t know how any artist could escape from their experience, though I understand how one might have that desire. Some art certainly accomplishes a degree of detachment by eschewing personal references or representation altogether, but I would hesitate to say that it ever entirely succeeds. The materials of a piece will always speak to its time and place, and the artist’s conceptual reference points will always be just as contingent on where they stand in the world. A painting doesn’t need to depict its artist’s emotions or beliefs in order to be a product of them. I think it's important to mention that during these years you have also produced educational radio content: I sometimes happen to wonder if Art could play as a substitute of Traditional Learning... since you had the chance to experience a multidisciplinary training, I think that our reader will find extremely interesting your point about this.

It depends on what you expect out of an education. Formal educationJennifer Sims 40


Benjamin Hersh

ARTiculAction

serves all kinds of societal needs aside from those of learners: keeping rowdy young men off the streets, preparing people for regimented industrial life, socialization, giving employers semireliable indications of people’s discipline and respect for authority, and so on. There is some room for learning, but the learner needs to be hungry, and a hungry learner won’t stop when a class ends. Doing is often the best way of learning, and in my experience, art-making is often the best way of doing. For anyone looking to deepen or clarify their understanding of a subject, I would encourage them to pursue a creative project that brings them into close contact with it. Making a project presentational or accountable to some aesthetic principle is a good way of giving it direction. I would consider Philosophy Talk, the radio show that I worked for, to be something like an extended art project. Its goal is to offer the public accessible pieces of philosophical inquiry, and a good deal of artistry goes into each of its several hundred, hour-long episodes. Experts are interviewed, songs and skits are written, and big ideas get dissected through semi-improvised dialogues between real philosophers, playing caricatures of themselves. My own role as Director of Research let me collaborate with public intellectuals from around the world, including a few personal heroes, to produce a highly dramatized enactment of the life of the mind for a large audience. Communicating complex ideas through such a sparse medium often required significant amounts of expertise, research and preparation; just keeping the project’s gears turning was enough to expose me to a wide variety of ideas in some depth, and offered a brilliant informal education to myself and the rest of the staff. This is just one example of how artistic projects can facilitate learning. I have never particularly cared about grades or test scores, but I have learned many things well for the sake of making a compelling piece of art. By the way, I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

I completely agree. There is a tremendous amount of information around us that we either cannot perceive, or happen to ignore. Art can bring either to light. Bill Fontana, a sound artist who I admire tremendously, uses recording devices to summon the hidden vibrations of physical objects and make them perceptible to us. It is incredibly simple work, but beautifully subversive in the way that it calls the completeness and Jennifer objectivity Sims of our everyday experience into question. For that matter, the Cubists revealed aspects of human StMichael

41


ARTiculAction

Benjamin Hersh

perception that had never been fully articulated before, but have since been corroborated by a century of neuroscience and psychology. In crafting delicate visual illusions, renaissance painters contributed to a more abstract, geometric under-standing of objects in space. This is pure speculation on my part, but I wonder how much early modern physics owed to the conceptual tools and methods of visual art. I don’t think that my own art will ever inspire a scientific revolution, but I do look for a more modest kind of cultural insight. Through the Mortal Engines series, I try to cultivate awareness of our own presentism and inability to understand the past on its own terms. I also try to depict certain modern ideas and images in a historical light, in part to combat the common illusion that art is somehow a-historical or funda-mentally forward looking. Your works have been exhibited in cultural events and moroever you have received alot of grants, and you have been recently awarded with an Artist Residency at La Macina di San Cresci ... It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if the expectation of a positive feedback- could even influence the process of an artist... and I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

FolioSperm

I never expect positive feedback, but I do work for it. More curators have rejected my work than have accepted it, and many of my favorite pieces have yet to be shown in a single exhibition. I suspect that this is true for all but a very small minority of practicing artists.

There are some very cynical but honest examples of this, like Damien Hirst making sculptures whose only noteworthy quality is their own expensiveness; that strikes me as the most genuine relationship a piece of art can have to business. I would consider my professional design work to be a kind of art, and I don’t think that my getting paid to do it jeopardizes its quality or legitimacy. So too of artists who work on commissioned work, or anyone who makes art to sell it. If we limited art to what people make for themselves without regard for commercial viability, the only real artists would be wealthy hobbyists and retirees.

From my own experience of developing Mortal Engines and slowly accumulating more attention and little victories, I do think that positive institutional and social feedback can be liberating. It comes with a growing sense of obligation to fulfil expectations for the series, but it also shines a light on the path ahead. I do think that art can exist in a genuine relationship to business. Many artists make commercial work.

Jennifer Sims 42


Benjamin Hersh

ARTiculAction

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

Really, this would also disqualify the vast majority of historical art as well.Is Michelangelo’s “Pieta”somehow less wonderful or artistic for being specifically commissioned for a powerful man’s monument? Is a piece of performance art like the infamous “Art School Took My Virginity”(which I have only read about) any more artistically interesting for gratifying its creator rather than its audience?

This summer I will visit Tuscany, and devote the next several installments of Mortal Engines to Florentine art. I will see where this takes the series, and continue down that path until the thought is complete.

It goes with my inclusive attitude, but I don’t think that a commercial dimension categorically helps or hurts art.

An interview by articulaction@post.com

43


ARTiculAction

Amy Cohen Banker (USA) an artist’s statement

I work in a variety of mediums: acrylic, oil, pastels, aquarelle, oil sticks, varnishes, glazes, finishing and surface techniques. I explore the basic issues of opacity, color, form, depth, obfuscation and revelation in life, language and in art. I cannot help but be influenced by philosophy, poetry, literature, psychological symbolism, fairy tales, music, myths, conceits, and metaphors, especially of strong feminist models: women’s conflicting roles in a changing time throughout the centuries. I am using background in design, two and three dimensional techniques and aesthetics. My background is integrated with my writing, psychology, my early childhood and life experiences evolving as a woman and mother combining international study to explore these issues in an organized but abstract way. I tend to reinvent the same themes, work from a structure and then proceed by distressing, demolishing, recreating and conserving. My major themes are inner restoration and survival, challenging always reality vs. myth.

Amy Cohen Banker

Amy Cohen Banker 44


Krista Nassi

ARTiculAction

Gold, (background detail) Mixed Media on canvas, 2012 Business & Pleasure 7 Mixed Media, 2011

East River

2


ARTiculAction

Amy Cohen Banker

An interview with

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

Life and Death, Mind and Heart, thought and expression,art can be any process from the stone age, the Renaissance to the present as interpreted by Michelangelo,De Kooning. Cezanne, Shakespeare, Milton, Bach, Cage, illuminated manuscripts, Korin, Dante, Kimmelman, Storr, Anderson, F.Scott Fitzgerald. Light and Dark processed on canvas, in words, poetry, music.

Amy Cohen Banker

have studied in the Far East, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand as well as in Europe, Italy, France, Spain, and Ireland how have these experiences impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks? By the way, I would ask your point about formal training: I sometimes wonder if a certain kind of training could even stifle a young artist's creativity...

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

Picasso said "All I have ever made was for the present". “At the present, the fences, walls, and glass houses around modernism are down. Wildflowers have invaded its gardens and conservatories; hothouse flowers are trying their luck in the open fields. Hybrids abound.” said Robert Storr for the last Venice Biennielle. I agree. I am not interested in repeating the past but I have processed and interpreted past masterpieces on canvas, wood, paper with oil,acrylic,water color.

I have a B.S. from Cornell University but New York City was my teacher with my grandmother and grandfather taking me on trips to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum and Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. It was a privilege to witness and experience the likes of Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalì, John Graham, Leonard Bernstein as a child. In his “Salon of 1846,” Charles Baudelaire suggested that “the life of the city is rich in poetic and marvelous subjects … but we do not notice it".

If I want to be relevant I work from a synthesis of intellect and expression informed by Matisse, Thiebold, Knox Martin, Bill Scharf and Julian Schnabel but stimulated by Steve McQueen, Bill O. Russell, Martin Scorcese, Robert DeNiro Junior and Senior movies. The music of Kander and Ebb and Ponchielli opera all live in my unconscious dreams.

That was my childhood and family experiences. Later on I was recognized as a good fine artist by New York City Schools and saw my first paintings at Lever House at age 4. I was confused by this achievement as I did it for the joy. I always was inspired by music, visual arts, poetry (Poe) and then explored the spaces in between.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? You hold a Bachelor of Arts that you have received from the Cornell University and you 46


Amy Cohen Banker

ARTiculAction

Snuggle

Formal training was the icing on the cake, the cart before the horse because I was lucky enough to have these exposures. I do not know if art can live in a vacuum. But I was trained in technique by Isabel O'Neill School for Decorative

Arts, the Museum of Modern Art and The Art Student's League of New York where I was told that I set up my supplies as a surgeon would do it. Now I impart that skill and craft in my students at Cornell Club, NYC. 47


ARTiculAction

Amy Cohen Banker

Landscape

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

I plan the concept, the colors, the palette, the motif. I see the image in my thoughts but I would not call this imagination. Other people may call my work abstract but to me it is extrapolation and articulation of the metaphor,the simile,the essence of the object that it signifies. It is the kernel of my meaning and message behind the icon. An example of this process is how I painted “On The Wings Of A Nightingale�. I wanted to maintain a dance of lights and darks but never wanted to lose the figuration of the bird and the nest and the wings. I see this immediately when I recapitulate the final image for this interview.

Jennifer Sims Twerking

48


Amy Cohen Banker

ARTiculAction

Time to set up should not matter. I can be 60 years or 60 seconds. Do people ask a pitcher how long it takes? Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from Twerking and Red Earth, Snuggle, a recent pieces that we have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to our readers to visit your website directly at http://amycohenbanker.com/artworks/gallery/20-paintings2013-2014.html#fwgallerytop in order to get a wider idea of your recent production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of these pieces? What was your initial inspiration?

Twerking took over 10 years, closer to 15 years of repainting. Red Earth and Snuggle took a day. Twerking was a symphony and Red Earth and Snuggle were concertos. But I had just seen "Inside Llewyn Davis" by the Cohen Brothers and that folk music of New York City had inspired me for Red Earth and Snuggle as part of my Promenade Green series of 12/13. Of course I am always inspired by nature, minerals, the world.

Who Do You Love 49

Jennifer Sims


ARTiculAction

Amy Cohen Banker

Pink a Ovoid

Green Promenade

details

details

I noticed that many of your pieces as Pink a Ovoid and Who Do You Love often reveals such an inner struggle and a silent but intense involvement... I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

speak of tomorrow and the day after,means of communication that bring the world into our homes, to travel from one place to another is atavistic. Jean Cocteau “The day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying.” William Wordsworth, “But he beholds the light, and whence it flows, he sees it in his joy… Hence in a season of calm weather, though inland far we be, our souls have sight of that immortal sea …Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower; we will grieve not,rather find strength in what remains behind in the primal sympathy which having been must ever be; In the soothing thoughts that spring Out of human suffering In the faith that looks through death,In years that bring the philosophic mind….To me the meanest flower that blows can give Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears..” (Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood).

Promenade Green series, atavistic . contemporary in process and product. I live in the NOW but music of Bo Diddley, Ricky Nelson, Donovan led to Drake. Memories of my childhood inspire brain connections . future creations. A series of small oil squares that were painted in the snowy month of December in New York City were conceived after my exhibition of large, acrylic squares, at Onishi Gallery/I changed size, medium, palette but the synapses fired and fingers played the canvas in lieu of a guitar. The music opened up doors of perception. The Green Promenade, A Hundred Miles haunted me as my destination.

“He can’t walk and he can’t run,he’s black slattered(splattered) on the sun.Green... Dave Van Ronk.

Max Frisch ,”Travelling,gentlemen, is medieval, today we have means of communication, not to

Jennifer Sims 50


Amy Cohen Banker

ARTiculAction

Landscape

“Please get up and follow me, We’ll go down in history.” Dave Van Ronk.

especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

But I do not understand how the creative process could possibly be disconnected from personal experience.

Landscape, inner and outer worlds… "Landscape" and "East River" were accretions of inner and outer observations and artistic expressions of my world.. Both were created over many years before I decided that they were complete. Is any life completed? New York City is never complete. It is always reconstructed and evolving as is my life.

One of the features that has mostly impacted on me of your works as Landscape and East River is the way you have been effectively capable of re-contextualizing the idea of environment an the mutual feedbacks that are established with "human experience"... and as you have remarked in your artist's statement, your work explores the basic issues of opacity, color, form, depth, obfuscation and revelation in life, language and in art... and I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environ-ment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature,

I carried these two pieces from one studio to another all over Manhattan Island before and after the episode of 9/11 and concurrent life and death moments in my personal,family life. Last year my art was selected to be exhibited at the 9/11 Memorial Museum NYC 2014. I bring the pathos the aesthetics the spirit, the prayer of our world and our city 51


ARTiculAction

Amy Cohen Banker

Caption 3 details

Jacob Wrestls The Angel

through intuitive, active articulation, through partici-pation with my arts. I am inspired by the landscapes of Vincent Van Gogh, Anselm Keifer and Cezanne but I try to achieve my own voice.

ingale a wonderful piece that I have to admit it's one of my favorite work of yours... By the way, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

While admiring your recent piece entitled Snuggle I have been struck with the way you have been capable of merging delicate and thoughtful tone of colors with nuances of red which turns from a delicate tone to an intense one which turns to saturate the canvas as in Red Earth and as in On The Wings Of A Night-

My choice of palette is "catholic" as are my mediums. But my method is consistent. I am eclectic but value all colors but as the French Impressionists said light should be light and dark should be darkest. My sense of color was very personal. I like gem stones and also aesthetics of

Jennifer Sims

48


Amy Cohen Banker

ARTiculAction

On The Wings Of ANightingale

Orientals. "On The Wings Of A Nightingale" is a painting inspired by a song. Paul McCartney made it famous but I think Everly Brothers wrote it. The colors were my interpretation after looking at photographs of nightingales. I wanted to keep an organized palette of the bird and the nest and to interpret the emotions of Paul and myself.

Red Earth

I am eclectic and dialectic in my creativity and my logic and do not analyze but organize through process and creation. Alex Katz told me that he could get an idea for a painting while watching a thrilling Hollywood movie or attending a fashion show. We live in a multimedia, multifaceted, practical, digital, psychic, scientific and science fiction story of media reflecting and brain recapitulating and renegotiating ideas, tools, materials from light, electricity, air, earth, sound,all elements here and now. Past emotions and experiences can be recreated by tangible 2 and 3 dimensional activities in mixed and multimedia and mediums. Fine Art, Pop Art, Commercial Art deliberately and accidentally collide and separate again through words, images, sounds, thoughts, memories from Wordsworth until now. Emotion recollected in tranquility as we wander and wonder.

I think it's important to remark that you often shift between media: acrylic, oil, pastels, aquarelle, oil sticks, varnishes, glazes, finishing and surface techniques: while crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever happened to realize that a synergy between different disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

Should I cook with gas or electricity, wear silver,gold,platinum,palladium, travel North or South? What is my favorite color of the rainbow? Palette is generous in nature and in artifice. All medias,mediums dimensions contribute to my aesthetic,scientific,academic and world view. No one point is definite. 49


ARTiculAction

Amy Cohen Banker

Your artworks have been exhibited in many important occasions, both in the USA and abroad: moreover you have been recently awarded from London Creative Competition ... it goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if an award -or just the expectation of positive feedbackcould even influence the process of an artist...

I do multimedia when I am invited. It is an extension of my aesthetics in order to keep relevant and to spread the word and the work for 21 Century. My first loves are paint and words and movement. I was selected as performer and participated in Whitney Biennial Michael Clark Dance Project 2012 and Hermitage Museum St.Petersburgh, Russia and both of these past performances informed and inspired my creative fires then and now. By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

I always like to sell and to receive awards and positive feedback but the creative self should not be tainted by this experience. Commerce is not art. It is an external acknowledgment of a spiritual journey and destiny. Of course validation is terrific‌ and patronage is a great support. Thank you. To live we need lucre but the art will never be quenched. It is a metamorphosis and an exchange of love and craft. It makes the world a better place and brings to light joy and sorrow and stimulates aspects of the brain that extend into the world in lateral ways. Thanks a lot for your time and your thoughts, Amy. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

I will exhibiting at Miami Basel, Spectrum 12/2014 as well as at Art Fairs i.e. Frieze, Fridge. I am currently making new work to be exhibited at Artifact Gallery, New York City and Con Artist Collective, NYC oil paintings . I am also writing for Manhattan Dialogue and ArtistsForum Magazine about the creative life in music, and visual arts. I will continue to exhibit and sell paintings at Kit'N Kaboodle, Adams, Massachusetts plan for MASS MOCA, North Adams, Massachusetts. Of course I am interested in teaching,curating,writing and exhibiting with more museums and galleries.

An interview by articulactionart@mail.com

Jennifer Sims 50


Amy Cohen Banker

ARTiculAction

Queen Bee 8


ARTiculAction

Evie Zimmer (USA) an artist’s statement

I have always been an artist. I think it was something I was born with. Even during times when I wasn’t making art I would long to do it and ached for it as if it were a far away lover. When I paint I feel connected with the painting. My energy becomes the painting’s energy. As the image develops, the painting’s energy becomes mine. The process and the product create energy. I love color. Color can say things that words cannot even begin to say. It’s the only thing that can’t really be described to someone who can’t see. Color can be used to express just about any emotion, and different color combinations evoke different moods. If I put a deep blue with shades of teal and green it has quite a different feel then if I use the same deep blue with shades of orange and yellow, or with shades of violet and red. All paintings, not just mine, at a basic level are arrangements of color. Oil paint is my preferred medium. I like the vibrancy and versatility of oil. I can make smooth edges, subtle gradations, transparent glazes, and a variety of textures. I also like the natural feel of oil paint and the smoothness of application. My current series of abstract paintings is based on the idea that art has energy; energy to move, to heal, and to transform. I create a place not only for the eyes to wander but also the spirit; to cause daydreams, to evoke passions, or to meditate. I believe that all art is an extension of the artist’s spirit and bridges the creative mind to the more structured material world we live in.

Evie Zimmer

56


Krista Nassi

ARTiculAction

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

2


Evie Zimmer

ARTiculAction

An interview with

Evie Zimmer Hello Evie, and welcome to ARTiculAction. I would like to start this interview with my usual introductory question: what, in your opinion, defines a work of Art? What would be the features that mark an artwork as a piece of Contemporary Art?

I think a work of art should be beautiful. The beauty can be in the message being conveyed, the story being told, or the expression of emotion, as well as, being pleasing to look at. A work of art should also evoke a response from the viewer. When people use the phrase “contemporary art” they are often referring to art that is new, unusual and unique. Contemporary just means art which is being created currently, and some of it is very unusual and unique, but not all of it. Would you like to tell us something about your background? You hold a Bachelor of Arts that you have received in 2008 from the Cleveland State University, how has this experience impacted the way you currently produce your artworks? Since you have a wide experience as a teacher, what is your view on formal training?

Evie Zimmer

Actually, I don’t think my college education had much impact on my artistic style. I was an artist long before I entered college. My education gave me the tools I needed to become a teacher.

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

I believe formal training is helpful but not necessary for all artists. The art comes naturally to some and others need a little help or more structure. Yet, too much structure could stifle a young artist’s creativity. Not giving students the freedom to develop their own style, or not allowing time for their abilities to mature, or too much negative feedback can discourage students. I believe that if passion is strong enough, the student will be successful.

I usually start a piece with a vague idea, a general composition and color scheme. I focus heavily on crisp clean color and sharp edges in most of my work. Every mark is made intentionally. 58


Evie Zimmer

ARTiculAction

Locus

Now let's focus on your art production: I would like to start with Cherry Bomb, Into Indigo and Locus, which our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article. And I would suggest to our readers to visit http://eviezzz.wix.com/eviezimmer#!recentworks/cay5 in order to get a wider idea of your recent production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

As I work, the image becomes clearer and more intricate, both in my mind and on the canvas. I occassionally get a little crazy with the detail. It takes a day or two to plan out and sketch a painting, sometimes longer for the very large paintings. Then I decided on a color pallette and will stick with only those colors throughout the work. I seldom fill the canvas with background color as the lighter colors, especially yellows, are much brighter when painted on a clean white canvas. On average, I am able to produce one painting a month.

My current body of of work was inspired by a deeper spiritual awareness combined with the idea that eve59


ARTiculAction

Evie Zimmer


Evie Zimmer

ARTiculAction

Overflow


ARTiculAction

Evie Zimmer

Into Indigo

rything has energy. If we could see the wind, the air, an emotion, music, electricity, what would it look like? and what kind of movement would its energy make? I am also inspired by the geometric patterns in nature such as rippling water, snowflakes, and plants.

Cherry Bomb

rial world we live in". By the way, do you think that besides providing a platform for artistic expression, art could have an impact on people? Although I'm aware that this might sound a bit naive, I sometimes to wonder if art could even steer people's behaviour...

I would like to mention some lines of your artist's statement, where I read that you "create a place not only for the eyes to wander but also the spirit; to cause daydreams, to evoke passions, or to meditate"... And I absolutely agree with you when you remark that "all art is an extension of the artist’s spirit and bridges the creative mind to the more structured mate-

I definitely feel that art can have an impact on people and steer their behavior. I have read studies which show hospital patients are calmer when

Jennifer Sims 62


Evie Zimmer

ARTiculAction

Wind and Water

he art in the room depicts nature scenes. And, it has been proven that color alone can impact mood and behavior. Art and color have been used in marketing for years to manipulate people’s behavior from stimulating the appetite to stirring up controversial issues. Other interesting pieces of yours that have impressed me and on which I would like to spend some words are The Big Spin and Flux.

Wraith

63

Jennifer Sims


ARTiculAction

Evie Zimmer


Evie Zimmer

ARTiculAction


ARTiculAction

Evie Zimmer

In particular, I have highly appreciated the way you have been capable of establishing a synergy between traditionalism and contemporariness... so I would like to ask you if, in your opinion, there's still an inner dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness...

Something I tell my students is you have to know the rules before you can break them. I think it is essential for artist to learn traditional methods and techniques before experimenting with an untraditional style. It’s like filling up your artistic tool box, the more tools the more opportunity for successful artwork. The techniques I used in my earlier and more traditional work, I also use in my current abstract style. Although my work is nonrepresentational, it still looks like something, and it’s fun to listen to my viewers speculate as to what is represented. Your works Vibe and Mystic Garden reveal such an inner struggle and an intense involvement... I would like to ask you if, in your opinion, personal experience is absolutely an indespensable part of the creative process... Do you

Mystic Garden

think that the creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Creativity is something that has alway been a part of me. I don’t know what it’s like not to be an artist. All my experiences contribute to who I am, how I feel, and what I paint. Every painting has a cycle of emotion attached to it. Creativity has to be connected with life experience or there would be no reason to create and therefore, the art would lack those very things I mentioned in the first question; beauty, a message, an emotion. While admiring your painting Joule, I have been struck with the way you have been capable of merging thoughtful tones of color with nuances of red which turn from a delicate tone to an intense, almost flooding one, which turns to saturate the canvas as in Night Music, a wonderful piece that I have to admit is one of my favorite works of yours… By the way, any com-

The Big Spin

Jennifer Sims 66


Evie Zimmer

ARTiculAction

Awakening who will enjoy your art when you conceive your pieces? I sometimes wonder if there ever could exist a genuine relationship between business and art...

The creative process is so personal. It never occured to me to create art for the purpose of receiving awards or praise of any sort. I don’t think I even know an artist that does. There is an urgent desire to create which most artists thrive on. It is difficult thing for business people to understand and, until they do, there will always be that disconnect. Of course artists need to make money to pay their bills (and buy more paint) but are not driven by making money.

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

As I mentioned earlier, color can set the tone for the entire painting. In Joule and Night Music I wanted to capture the feeling of the night sky or a somewhat galactic environment. I wanted an intense contrast in lights and darks without using black. I think black can sometime deaden a painting so I rarely use it. In areas where I wanted to deepen the tone I used indigo. I usually like a vibrant palette but in my more recent painting, Vibe, I chose more pastel colors. I may explore this softer palette a little more in the future.

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

I’m not sure what my future has in store for me. I am working to build my inventory and hope to have a solo exhibit some time this year.

It goes without saying that feedback and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if an award -or just the expectation of positive feedback- could influence the process of an artist... By the way, how much importance do you put on the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think

Thank you, for this opportunity to share my work with you and your readers. An interview by Dario Rutigliano articulaction@post.com

67


ARTiculAction

Shima Faridani (Iran / Denmark) an artist’s statement

My perception of the world of art is to find an unlimited atmosphere where I should know myself. Entering this world is to face new experiences. Exploring the new aspects of life and considering them with other insights; I breathe, think, see, explore, know, get happy, and cry. I learn from these experiences and their reflection exists in my paintings. The background of my works is in a pervasive red tending to be used metaphorically. Although this colour contains a lot of energy, working on it is hard. Consequently it can affect the other colours added to my work and almost the other parts of the picture such as forms, elements and motifs. Another purpose of choosing red is to attract the observers and cease them to see the art work so that the colour red attracts them. In the next step, the observer pursues expressive and figurative relations, and on the basis of their thoughts there will be new perspectives away from mind reality. Apart from the colour’s key role and the created visual space, this private atmosphere has an expressive identity which its formation initiates by breeding an idea in my mind. Never does a predetermined sketch exist. The work is accomplished through performance and some parts maybe added or omitted. The next method for my ideas is writing about different events and incidents which happen every day in private life, society, news, and the world. All of them create a plot to write and bring an idea forward with their effects. The leading space in my art works is two-dimensional along with the illusion of three-dimensional space; nevertheless collages are used to change the atmosphere in my new works. The salient textures and body colours are added through with real objects to change the two-dimensional space. The purpose of adding such objects is creating a new environment to compare the reality and illusion. The reality serves the illusion occasionally and due to the illusionary two-dimensional atmosphere, the real added objects are merged with illusion resulting in loss of their main essence. At times, the reality gets ahead of the illusion, which for creating new visual relations in my artworks such element is used efficiently. Therefore they are followed in the picture. Observing my artwork, people might find them terrifying, wrathful, and may see a sort of strangulation and metamorphosis. These are seen in my artwork and born by subconscious, assimilated into my consciousness. They would probably change as time passes. However there is no border in my point of view therefore my ideas are indicated by no means of censorship. These are what I figured out from observers’ feedback. In various collections of mine, I have tried to show the atmosphere of my mind to the observer by exhibiting it in an imaginary and vague way. There is no purpose to compel the subject but the painterly behavior and use of red color in background. The choice of limited colours, symbols, and forms contain the main role. Eventually these elements are there to complete the composition of artwork and separated from the symbolic and metaphorical analysis. Shima Faridani 68


Krista Nassi

ARTiculAction

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

Snooze

2


ARTiculAction

Shima Faridani

An interview with

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

Art is a process that expresses an artist’s ideology in a new language. An art work is the reflection of feelings, excitement and experience of an artist in a particular place and time. In my opinion, a work of art is transferring a meaning or concept from what an artist may have thought and experienced. Moreover, a piece of art reflects the era of its creation - meaning art created by an artist has been influenced by scientific, political, social and philosophical changes of the era. Every contemporary art work may even look forward from its own period of time, and so may be a pattern for future generations. Would you like to tell us something about your background? You hold a BA in Painting that you have received from the Tehran Azad University of Art: how has this experience -and also moving from your native country to Denmark- impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks? By the way, I sometimes I wonder if a certain kind of formal training in artistic disciplines could even stifle a young artist's creativity...

I started painting long before I began my education in art university. At first, I familiarized myself with drawing, also searching in paintings (especially classical paintings) that opened the door for me towards the world of art. As I obtained more experience at university, my desires towards art study and practice grew. After my paintings were exhibited at galleries, I felt more responsibility to create progressive and influential art and consequently I considered my presence in art environments more important and started to search and study continually.

Shima Faridani (photo by Navid Naghavian) tion and personal growth that I think is really important for a young artist. In my opinion, formal training really only stifle’s a young artists creativity when I think living in countries with differing cultures is a creative energy for any artist. Experience of living in Scandinavian countries and familiarization with a new culture

70


Shima Faridani

ARTiculAction

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

My subjects come from my experiences in life and I alter them with my fantasy. I intend to create contemporary art by profound perception of my media that reflect today’s reality. The time spent on each work is different. For instance; I may plan for creating a certain work for several months and then spend much less time in making it. Sometimes I experience new findings during the production process that can have a positive effect on the result. the financial burdens keep the artist from the act of creating. Even with the most strict of professors, the true artist always finds a way to “break the rules” a little while staying in the lines of a class assignment. Something that I think lends itself well to the real world of crea- ting Art.

and language had a major influence on my art works. I believe that education is not a barrier to creativity and when it is combined with a cultural awareness, can bring innovation. If education provokes curiosity and causes developing experimental desires it is certainly not an obstacle towards creativity.

Hangover, details

71


ARTiculAction

Shima Faridani

Blind, 2012,

You did not help me, 2012

70x90 cm, Acrylic on canvas

70x90 cm, Mixed media on canvas

Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from Hangover and Snooze, which are part of your Chair series, that our readers have already started to get to admire in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to our readers to visit yur website directly at www.shimafaridani.com in order to get a wider idea of your artistic production... In the meanwhile, would you like to tell us something about the genesis of these pieces? What was your initial inspiration?

He is struggling unwillingly with himself and his surrounding environment to find relative comfort and often proceeds insofar as he loses his primary tranquility. This safety and calmness is not the same for everyone but each pictures it remarking their abstract image. An imagination of tranquility that is sometimes an unachievable dream and once in a while it takes few steps to attain. Now this question is asked that whether sitting down on the dream chair can be an avenue to relative comfort?

I want to demonstrate my view about people’s challenge for having a safe place to live and peace of mind. Chair is a metaphor for comfort and calmness which man is always seeking during his lifetime. The chair’s back and sturdy legs recall man to be seated free of any concern and worry.

Your works - as Blind and You Did Not Help Me from your Suppression series - are strictly connected to the chance of establishing a deep involvement with your audience, both on an intellectual aspect and -I daresay- on a physical state, as the extremely interesting She Melted Jennifer Sims 72


Shima Faridani

ARTiculAction

You did not help me, 2012

Lost, 2012

70x90 cm, Mixed media on canvas

70x90 cm, Acrylic on canvas

in Quiet... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces?

never came. I had chosen my way but I was thinking to myself there were so many people in favor of me. In the beginning, I thought you would follow me to reach this precious purpose but nobody thought of me when bearing the worst pressures. I started the path but doing it on my own resulted only in destruction.

My art work expresses my thoughts, ideas and the way I approach things in the life. I think influence on the audience should be a feature of an art work. An audience with different opinions is always valuable to me. Viewers have different ideas regarding art works which can also be influenced by location and ambiance of where art work is exhibited. Here, I would like to briefly describe the two works of my collection:

She was melted in silence She has no choice but is forced to bear gradual death, because there remains no other getaway for her. The one and only choice may be elimination which is surely by force. She has been told that she is doomed to extinction since her presence is entitled as a redundant human being. They will acquire theirSims own safety if they omit her Jennifer as her existence reveals so many mysteries.

You did not help me I cried to death and begged for your help but you 73


ARTiculAction

Shima Faridani

There is no makeshift, she has missed all her alternatives, going to be ruined in an unwanted silence, and she will be departed from her world by others. One of the features of your works that has mostly impacted on me is your recurrent use of a deep, pervasive tone of red: you use it in a metaphorical way and it seems to reveal such a deep tension and intense emotions, both in the usual "strong" tone, and in a nuance that in Love turns to be a thoughtful one, in the shape of the chair's shadow... ... By the way, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

The main element in my paintings is color. I use color as a symbolic and metaphorical element which illustrates deep and internal meanings of a picture. Selecting several specific colors in my paintings helps to express my paintings content. Besides, the choice of limited color and influence of them on each other has a goal to create a cryptic but influential atmosphere.

Love, 2012 100x100 cm, mixed media on canvas

Jennifer Sims 74


Shima Faridani

She was captivated, 2012 70x90 cm, Mixed media on canvas

Oblivion, 2012 50x100 cm, mixed media on canvas 75

ARTiculAction


ARTiculAction

Shima Faridani

From the Gelofen series 21x29 cm, Acrylic on canvas

From the Gelofen series 21x29 cm, Acrylic on canvas

Another series of your earlier ones that has particularly imp-ressed me and on which I would like to spend some words is entitled Gelofen and I recognize that -in a certain senseeach painting contains more reference to the envirpnment and there is "more background" despite of your recent production...By the way, I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a wayto decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

rious components in the image are arranged next to each other with the goal of conveying meaning. It cannot be said the effect of any symbolic art work is clear in meaning but the bulk of a symbolic piece is related to the audience’s subjective perception. These works are my personal understanding of the individual’s concerns and anxieties. Those concerned individuals are sensitive regarding various issues such as their habitat and environment. Subsequently, their reaction is to become introverts who examine issues precisely and then they are involved with them.

These art works transfer message by symbols. Va-

Jennifer Sims

76


Shima Faridani

ARTiculAction

Domestic Animal-Elahe Gallery, Tehran-Iran, 2011

Your works have been exhibited in many group exhibitions, you had three Solos and you won several competition: moreover, I think it's remarkable that you have recently participated to the 5th Beijing International Art Biennale of China 2012... It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if the expectation of a positive feedback- could even influence the process of an artist... I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a ge- nuine relationship between business and Art...

is not genuine - it is not always fair to value art works; sometimes only dealers are able to earn profit from art works. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Shima. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

I will come up with a new series in my future art works certainly. I am currently working on a new collection that is different from the previous series. Figure has a significant role in my new collection and more importance is given to form and colour than previously.

Positive feedback has a significant role in the artistic life process due to the fact that the artist is able to obtain acceptable results. This positive result will influence the artist future works. I think the relationship between art and the art market

an interview by Dario Rutigliano

Jennifer Sims

77

articulaction@post.com


Branka Markovic

1


Krista Nassi

2

ARTiculAction


ARTiculAction

Branka Markovic

An interview with

Branka Markovic Hello Branka, and welcome to ARTiculAction. I would start this interview with my usual ice breaker question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art?

Thank you for the welcome, I'm glad I'm a member of ARTiculAction and what have opportunity to introduce myself and my art to readers through this conversation. Work of art is the artist's expression. The artist has the power to harmoniously schedules, edit and compile into a entirety his emotions, thoughts, experiences, needs, wishes. This completed entirety makes one artwork. By the way, what could be in your opinion the features that mark an artworks as a piece of Contemporary Art?

The features that mark an artworks as a piece of Contemporary Art Each art carries his philosophy. Art was changing and been developing through the ages. Artistic directions are stemmed one from the other, from prehistoric times to modern art with different and new traits which were signified and by which we can now recognize.

Branka Markovic

For example, the fine arts can be pure art, while designed material things with usable value only contain the elements of art. Contemporary artists are inspired and are exploring the same “threads from the life� which the artists dealt with through the centuries just are marking them with new means. The motives are the same, to mark, denote ways of life(lifestyle), advancements, the developments, impacts and effects of technological advances, the various consequences, delineation of cultural and economic systems. To express themselves, manifest, pass on their experiences, emotions, reflections. The artist seeks, creates and develops new ways of expression that become current and modern.

Contemporary art is art created by contemporaries and one art that is perceived by contemporaries. Contemporary art is broad and carries complete freedom. I think it does not represent a certain style, characteristics, certain forms and techniques. Perhaps one of the features the greater part of modern art is tendency toward abstraction, freedom, new means of expressing through the development of technology, new understanding of art and new uses. Maybe recognizable characteristic is that art is most commonly used as part of a object, or certain objects are considered as forms of art.

Jennifer Sims 80


Branka Markovic

ARTiculAction

fessor Igora Rakčevića. How have these experiences impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks? By the way, I sometimes I wonder if a certain kind of formal training could even stifle a young artist's creativity... what's your point?

Yes, I would. My background is filled with many activities that had a great influence on my work. I finished art high school “Petar Lubarda“, and I took part in meny workshops like that one you said. Each participation, each work has had an impact and impetus for further development. I want to say it is important for artists to develop and expand their knowledge. Participating in projects, workshops, exhibitions is very nice and good. I think that all the influences and experiences relevant to the development and the creation of a work of art. Art has the breadth, freedom, needs, it requires honesty, hard work, understanding and commitment. My experience from previous participations are a spectrum of ferrous emotions that are created during development. All that spectrum has had an impact on my creative work. Sometimes subconsciously those impacts imparting through the stronger drawing, change coloring, outlook of faces who appear in my works. My conclusion of formal training follows only who can stifle, hampers the creativity of artists is a person who trains. Maybe it is good sometimes to happen, because it can cause a lot of emotions to artists who will be conveyed through the artworks. That's the good side of this influence. Any formal and studiously learning will have a positive impact and incentive for further creation.

Do you think that there's a dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness?

I think there is a dichotomy, because tradition and contemporariness are two equal and not breaking parts which indicates procedure in which one unit divides into two parts. In this division something that is part of a one half can not be a part of the second half. Tradition has had one purpose and contemporaneity has other purpose. What is interesting in this case it has emerged as one of the other.

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

Would you like to tell us something about your background? You hold have studied at “Petar Lubarda“ Cetinje College and besides, you took part in a workshop with pro-

My creation process starts with creating compositions. When I find myself in front of a blank paper with a brush or charcoal in hand then arises 81


ARTiculAction

Branka Markovic

a relationship with the colors and drawing. Painting becomes a game where you follow your own, subconscious instructions, then form a battle with the colors and coping with yourself. Drawing is strong domain and the basis with which I start, mainly I create artwork based on the experience. I want to express feelings, my inspiration is the world that surrounds me, world with whom I communicate. The creative process is full of beauty, hope, and self-knowledge. Most often I focus on movements, psychological states, facial expressions, experiences, figure and completing the entirety. Each day, the moment, the situation is something that is new and irretrievably. Something that happens all the time and never is the same and never could be the same. Such things as these moments and feelings I turn into an art form. I give them a new life, journey full of charms to each viewer to experience differently and in their own way. Also in my process of creating the greatest impact is the subconscious.

Umbrella

There is a time lap between creation of Lizard Man and Umbrella. Let me begin with Lizard Man. This may sound strange but Lizard Man as made in secret. That painting was created in a process, fight between urge for freedom and set limitations, in a period of learning and developing. I would like to connect this with question #2 in which we discussed stifle and bringing down one young creative artist through formal training.

My painting is communication with the paper, with matter that I do, paint. Sometimes I get the feeling that convert my imagination in forms that are compile into sets of color, characters, strong lines. And sometimes I feel like that just draw freely upon my imagination. When I have a great desire to paint, then I do not think about the necessary preparation, only to reach the paper, charcoal and color and so begin work. When I do studious drawing then try hard to make the necessary preparation for the work.

Lizard Man was made during my time at art high school “Petar Lubarda� where accent was put on formal education and classical drawing, while freedom of choice was not included so much. I would always find myself in expressionism and more modern artistic direction where emotional expressions, strong and diversed coloring, sensibility, chaos and free drawing were more common. When I started painting I didn`t have that awareness and too much knowledge. I had many comments and negative notions how I was not tallented, which of course made a big impact. During classes, my art products were always different from the rest of the classroom. At that time, I saw it as a problem, I was schocked why my art work is different than everyone`s else. Everything changed one day when I painted a setting of still life, which occured interesting to me because of schedule of elements and colors of drapery, and

Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from Lizard Man and Umbrella, that our readers have already admired in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest our readers to visit your website at https://www.facebook.com/brankaart94 in order to get a wider idea your artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this project? What was your initial inspiration?

It is my pleasure to explain and bring closer my art work with words to your readers.

Jennifer Sims 82


Colorful character


ARTiculAction

Branka Markovic

it was first still life I painted that I really liked. At that moment, my art professor turned to me and said “Look at Branka, painting like Egon Schiele�.. I asked who he was and at the end of the class I got a book about expressionism and Egon Schiele. At that point, ​it was a great relief and happiness that I found myself in that and began to understand and develop my painting in the right direction. In that period I was very inspired by the life of Schiele and many eksperesionists. In many classes I've experienced restraint through some limitations as to have no right to paint freely, but to strive for some realism, and then I had mine "separate block" drawing that I used for free drawings and secretly paint something I really wanted to paint. In that "separate block" Lizard Man was created. I was pretty happy with this painting, and my professor liked it. From others I received a lot of negative criticism, with a funny comment "Have you seen what Branka`s painting, ha ha. ." Later, I did not allow such people to peek into my separate block . All works in this block are received high marks later and I 'm proud of them . Name of the Lizard Man was given by my mother on first solo exhibition "Branka Cetinje-Belgrade" and that painting is one of her favorites and I think she is experienced in a unique way. . Painting Umbrella was formed in December 2012th when I made a new section "umbrellas". Umbrella as a new theme, a new inspiration , breaking the monotony. Umbrellas were my interesting objectds, I've separated the paintings in the moments when study drawings of figures, portraits and still lifes became tiresome or boring . The first series of umbrellas was simple and interesting drawings. I've done them with a combination of ink and water colors.

Still life - Plaster casts portraits) "Attitudes"

They looked like some ordinary sketches for graphics. Then in school I received a comment " Now she has come to some sort of umbrella" . Any subsequent drawing umbrella is becoming more complex and more interesting. Each has a special story that begins with the drawings and ends with the color. I worked them as quick sketches, with a simple shape only them finalized by color and put empha-sis on certain parts highlighted.

This painting " Umbrella " looks like an expressive abstraction, a harmonious blend of color and spirit expressed through diverse form lines. Through them, one can feel the stiffness, sensitivity described arrangement of colors , drawings reminiscent of rocks , boats or even birds . Most of the work " umbrella " have sparked a positive reaction in many people , gallerist , artist and professor of art who had the opportunity to see them suffer .

Jennifer Sims 84


Branka Markovic

ARTiculAction

Homeless

you have been capable of merging delicate and thoughtful tone of colors with nuances of red which turns from a delicate tone to an intense one which turns to saturate the canvas and that seems to reveal such a deep tension and intense emotions... By the way, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

Umbrellas are definitely broken a monotony that often create work flow, create a " revolution " and presented an escape from the classical.

Thank you. I will say that I feel my coloring during the work process, in a way I enjoy putting colors on canvass. Rarely I analytically overview how the palette changes over time, rather I simply let the thoughts, inspiration and emotion guide me. My "range" expresses the inner conversation between colors and emotions. I just remembered moment during painting at school, when they ask-

Another interesting pieces of yours are "Attitudes" and "Homeless": one of the features of these pieces that has mostly impacted on me is the effective mix of colors that gives life to the canvas: I have been struck with the way

85


ARTiculAction

Branka Markovic

Tragedy

Sadness

ed me "Where do you see all these colors, these elements are monochrome," then I just shrugged and continued painting, but my answer was always, "I do not see those colors, I simply feel them ". I remembered the message "I hope that your life will be like all your colors" that I smiled sweetly, wrote in the guestbook by one of the guests at the exhibition "Branka Cetinje, Belgrade“.

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

I do not know if it can really be called experience. From the creative process resulting higher processes, new reactions, new requirements and incentives, all of this can be called a doctrine. Through those learning experiences occur, leading artists to progress. And the idea that an artist can not create art without that experience is inadequate. But important is the constant work that pushes artists to create further and develop new processes.

Although endowed with a stimulating abstract feeling, I noticed that many of your pieces as #5 and #6 are focused on "human" subjects, often reveals such an inner struggle and intense involvement, as the interesting #7... I

86


Branka Markovic During these years you have exhibited both in your homeland and abroad: moreover, you have been awarded as well and you have recently received the Second prize at Florence-Shanghai Prize Festival, in 2013... it goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if an award -or better, the expectation of an award- could even influence the process of an artist... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

ARTiculAction

Art... I wonder about it too. Genuine relationship between business and art is a conflict. We are in a time where artists inevitably cooperate with the world of business. Art such as architecture, music, dance, photography, film... are the "expensive art" one can not develop without the cooperation of the business sector. But it is very sad that an artist creates a material life of their artworks. I'm not saying it's wrong to sell an painting and get a decent amount of money, the artist lives by his work, but not in a material sense. I think there are always other ways to achieve to earn money. You need to give space to other skills when it comes to money.

All exhibitions, awards and prizes can have a positive impact on the artist. They are like the wind that pushes forward and they are expanding the world of the artist. Prizes and awards that I have won are big successes for me and a great encouragement. That's good and needed to feel. But while I create I do not strive for that some awards, I do not think about how someone will evaluate my work, to me thats the least important. It is even absurd to think about it during the creation of the work. It is important to build confidence and a path. But I will also say that an artist should not be sought to be proved, his actions are enough of everything that he wanted to say. Prize in Shanghai is a major undertaking and motivation for me. About feedback of audience: I like to hear criticism of my work, I'm very interested when I hear how someone else sees my art, as I love to listen the way in which someone expresses their experience on the basis of my work. Then I realize that the painting has too many pages, that my work contains not only what I see. I just do not want to hear criticism targeted at people who want to hurt me, but often reward or recognition becomes a real answer to such criticism. Works of art come to life when exposed to the public, and then creates new stories and insights about art. Sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and

Moment

87


ARTiculAction

Branka Markovic

You are a prolific artist, and I would like to spend some words about your figurative pieces as #8 and #9... By the way, is painting like a release for you or is it emotionally draining? By the way, does your process let you to visualize your pieces before creating? Do you know what it will look like before you begin?

For me, painting is not a release or emotionally draining. Perhaps only in the drawing happens some of it. Through the visual arts I define my expression. Paintings create a world in which I can express everything I want to express. Often it happens that I do not know how my painting look like at the end and sometimes even at the beginning. The only thing I know at this point is the feeling that I want to express. It happens to me to think of the work prior to the beginning, but in the end it does not turn out exactly the one I imagined at first. Getting ideas is a start, and a sequel is developing the idea through realization that develops and is over the thrown paper. Also, when I get experience something real, something that leaves a strong impression on me, I know in that moment that I'll do great painting about that. Thanks a lot for sharing your time and your thoughts, Branka. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

After fight

A lot of things. I have two main goals for now that'll tell you. My first aim is to sign up and get some of scholarships to start study art. And second is to go on the exhibition in Shanghai at “Florence -Shanghai prize festival” in July . About that I am preparing art project “4 Months of Arts, Diversities, Similarities” with some artists from Montenegro. We want to do the project with artists from Turkey, China and Germany. All I can say is I hope that I will achieve my future plans. And thank you very much for this lovely interview.

Draped people

88


Branka Markovic

ARTiculAction

Red Woman


ARTiculAction

Cécile van Hanja (Corsica/The Netherlands)

an artist’s statement

In urban environments we are inundated daily with information and hectic impressions. Through painting I seek a balance between this outer city life and my private world. In my studio I create the tranquility I need to be in direct contact with myself. The inspiration for my paintings of industrial buildings comes partly from my cycle route to my studio, which leads through an industrial area as well. But also modern housing, particularly buildings from the 30’s, belonging to the architecture from the Modernism are a source of inspiration, like The Farnsworth House and The German Pavilion designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. When I am working on a project, I photograph architecture and then I transform those images into paintings ,altering color, light and atmosphere. My large paintings show architectural spaces where corridors, rooms or staircases seem familiar, but cannot be placed in a specific site or certain time. I leave the spaces remarkably empty so that it seems all context has been erased. The anonymity that is created through the identical architectural structure of apartments in large residential complexes, creates a certain alienation and abstraction. In my paintings I try to capture the aesthetics and beauty of this buildings, the silence and peace they radiate, and the play of light that appears on glass façades. Although the buildings I depict are recognizable, my paintings are abstracted, I reduce the buildings into a simplified field of abstract shapes, lines and color. Cécile van Hanja

www.cecilevanhanja.com

88


Krista Nassi

ARTiculAction

Gold, (background detail) Mixed Media on canvas, 2012 Untitled, 2009 100 x 100cm Acryl en olieverf op linnen

2


ARTiculAction

Cécile van Hanja

An interview with

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

Hello and thank you for this opportunity to share my artwork and ideas with your readers. Coming back to your question, I think that a work of art is an answer to the obtrusiveness of idealised advertisement aesthetics, a reaction to the avalanche of daily life impressions from the street, magazines, internet and television. In my opinion it should create consciousness and filtrate our perception, so that we can distinguish importance from humbug, and provide us a home for our emotions, chaos and fear. I admire Art most when it stands for universal beauty and gives us peace and quiet as a reaction to the fleeting consumer society.

Cécile van Hanja

your point about formal training: I sometimes wonder if a certain kind of training could even stifle a young artist's creativity...

Unlike the Avant Garde in the past I don’t see an inner dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness. For me contemporary art is part of a binding story, a story that connects and creates unity. My work roots in the modernistic range of thought. Mondriaan as a pioneer in his strive for harmony and unity on the canvas inspires me. The modernistic architecture is an other inspiration source, especially architects like Mies van der Rohe and Waro Kishi who emphasise the immaterial aspect of a building by creating an open structure.

My earliest childhood I’ve spent in the South of France, a land where everything was different than in the Netherlands. When I moved to this country (in 1972) I ended up in a suburb where every house was exactly the same. I immediately became homesick for the Mediterranean and its unspoilt nature. This feeling of completely loosing my roots in an alien country was essential for my artistic calling. In search for my own world I felt unhappy for a long time. Finally on the Gerrit Rietveld Academie I felt for the first time a little bit home again. I met self-willed people and I was treated as an individual character.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? You graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam : how has this experience impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks? By the way, I would ask 90


Cécile van Hanja

ARTiculAction

people around. I manipulate the photo’s on a computer. I also change the colour scheme. With a fine-liner I transport the result on transparant paper. This drawing is the basis of the painting. Before I move this to the canvas however I concentrate on the composition. This is very important. The outcome has to yield an interesting display of lines and faces, that enables me to create the feeling of endless depth on the flat surface of the canvas. I use perspective lines and vanishing points and I concentrate on the possibility of stratification of the faces in different transparant colours. To do this I cover the lines on the canvas with tape. I work mostly a few months on one painting. Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from Van Nelle factory and White villa that our readers have already started to admire in the pages of this article: and I would suggest to our readers to visit your website directly at http://www.cecilevanhanja.com/works.html in or-

I developed a fighting spirit there, especially against the massiveness and the accepted norms. You could say that I grew to maturity on the Rietveld Academie. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

I’m looking for subjects, often buildings or spaces that radiate a kind of tranquility and beauty. If I’ve found one I take photo’s of the architecture, mostly on sundays or unusual times when there are no

glow in the dark, 2007

91


ARTiculAction

CĂŠcile van Hanja

City by night, 2007

Jennifer Sims

industrial 110 x 170 cmbuilding,2005 acryl op linnen 92


CĂŠcile van Hanja

ARTiculAction

Modernism, 2013 100x150 cm Acryl op linnen

Jennifer Sims

93


ARTiculAction

Cécile van Hanja

White villa, 2012, 130 x 150cm, Acryl op linnen

der to get a wider idea of your artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of these interesting pieces? What was your initial inspiration?

My source of inspiration is the modernism at the beginning of the 20th century, especially the architecture of Bauhaus and De Stijl, which for me is a reflection of order in a time of chaos. In the painting Van Nelle Factory I was inspired by the steel construction and the openwork rhythmic structure of the windows, which reflect the light. The factory is situated in Rotterdam and is an example of ’Het Nieuwe Bouwen’, a modernistic architectural movement in the Netherlands in the twenties and thirties of the last century. This building dates from 1929 and was designed by Leendert van der Vlugt.

White villa, 2012, 130 x 150cm, Acryl op linnen vely capable of re-contextualizing the idea of landscape, and in general of the environment we live in... which is far from being just the background of our existence...and I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a wayto decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

In White Villa I was beside the specific rounded forms of the building fascinated by the variation of light and shadow caused by the coverings and balconies. To give this the full expression I limited the colour scheme to white and grey. This house is also in Rotterdam and dates from 1938 (designed by G.W. Baas)

I paint from an inner need to create order in a chaotic world. I observe that there is less space Jennifer Sims for individuality in our society.

One of the features that has mostly impacted on me of your works, is the way you have been effecti92


Cécile van Hanja

ARTiculAction

Modernism, 2013 100x150 cm Acryl op linnen

Everybody has to adept oneself and integrate, The globalisation makes the mass culture the big winner. At he same time I see buildings being desolated along the high ways, suburbs impoverish and lots of migrants hanging around unemployed, lost from their roots and excluded. In Deserted Buildings and Abandoned Suburb I’ve combined the utopian beauty of Mies van der Rohe with the emptiness and desolation that one experiences walking through the suburbs. In that way I do re-contextualize the commonplace surroundings, which you might as well see as a landscape. I can only hope I reveal unexpected sides of (our inner) Nature.

Jennifer Sims

Deserted buildings, 2011, 190 x130 cm acryl/olieverf en caseïneverf op linnen 93


ARTiculAction

Cécile van Hanja

Trans chaos, 2011 120 cm x160 cm Acryl en olieverf op linnen

As you have remarked in the startig lines of your artist's statement, in urban environments "we are inundated daily with information and hectic impressions"... I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I believe that an artist always works from a biographical point of view. Themes like alienation, desolation, solitude and problems of adaptation are important for me because I’ve experienced them myself, but it’s not the only aspect of my work. There is also an occasion for making a good painting.

Green shadow, 2008 120 x 160 cm acryl en olieverf op linnen

For example when I was in 2006 for the first time in New York I was overwhelmed by the colours of the commercials on Times Square. Although the commercials themselves are a despicable excrescence of our society I thought the colours in that setting were beautiful. This artificial light of Times square inspired me to make Trans Chaos. The advertising pillars and billboards I’ve left empty as a white face in the painting to express the emptiness of their content. An other work that is inspired by the artificial light of New York is Surrounding Buildings. Here I used the frog-perspective to emphasise the claustrophobia of a big city.

The empty space that you leave, and the "anonymity that is created through the identical architectural structure of apartments in large residential complexes, creates a certain alienation and abstraction"... I can recognize such a soico poltical aspect int his feature of your Art, and although I'm aware that this might sound a bit naïf, I have to admit that, I'm sort of convinced that especially these days, Art -besides providing with a platform for an artist's expressioncould play a subtleSims but effective role in socioJennifer 94


Cécile van Hanja

ARTiculAction

I see an upcoming tendency of inviting artists to serve in think tanks or governmental commissions. Like philosophers and writers artists are taken more seriously. In my paintings Portal and Entrance Area I created within the architectural structure a certain alienation and abstraction. For me it stands for peace and order contrasted with the chaotic world. I’m searching for serenity by representing my own inner space. If that can make a small difference in sociopolitical questions then that is more than welcome. By creating something unique and (often) handmade, Art gives space to the individual and that stands out in a world where these things are very rare.

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

I do think indeed that in a subtle way Art can steer peoples behaviour. The underlying turmoil against the uniformity of moral and habit, the same IKEA’s, fast-food stores and supermarkets everywhere, the mental distress the world seems to manoeuvre itself in, gives an open mind for a different approach.

Introspective perspective, 2010 120 cm x 160 cm acryl en olieverf op linnen 95


ARTiculAction

CĂŠcile van Hanja

City by night, 2007

Jennifer Sims

110 x 170 cm acryl op linnen 92


CĂŠcile van Hanja

ARTiculAction

Modernism, 2013 100x150 cm Acryl op linnen

Jennifer Sims

93


ARTiculAction

CĂŠcile van Hanja

Jennifer Sims Artificial light, 2008 acryl en olieverf op linnen, 130cmx100cm 92


CĂŠcile van Hanja

ARTiculAction

Modernism, 2013 100x150 cm Acryl op linnen

Jennifer Sims

93

Stairs, 2010 100cm x 80cm, acryl en olieverf op linnen


ARTiculAction

Cécile van Hanja

Glass house, 2010 60 x 45 cm Acryl en olieverf op linnen

Now let's deal with the tones of your works: I have been struck with the way you have been capable of merging delicate and thoughtful colors with nuances of green and red which turns from a delicate tone to an intense, almost flooding one, which turns to saturate the canvas as in Glass House and especially in German Pavilion, a wonderful piece that I have to admit it's one of my favourite works of yours... By the way, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

Thank you for this compliment, it almost makes me shy. I use different kind of paint in my work. Mostly thin layers of transparant acrylic under a top layer of oil paint. For me the colours imagine light in the painting. In a series I made in 2007/ 2008 I used a lot of fluorescent paint in the under layers to emphasise the artificial light of the big city.

The german pavilion, 130 x150cm acryl en olieverf op linnen

These paintings are full of contrast. The black, that I’ve put on in a thin layer on top, gives the nocturnal atmosphere. I let it play off against the neon light. Recently I’m more inspired by the buildings of modernism and the use of natural daylight. The big windows in the buildings of Mies van der Rohe were a reason for me to paint daylight. In Glass House I used transparant paint to create the light.

In The German Pavilion I was fascinated by the box-model that Mies van der Rohe created with his design (Barcelona, 1929). He could transform the box into different spaces. What is interesting is that you don’t know when you are in- or outside and that some simple forms can Jennifer Sims create such a beauty. . 598


Cécile van Hanja

ARTiculAction

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

Not long after my graduation of the Rietveld Academie a big company offered me to create an exhibition at their place and they also bought an piece. Soon after that I found a gallery where I still feel at home. They stimulated me a lot and showed my work on several Art fairs, in Zürich and Amsterdam among other things, and helped me creating a catalogue in 2010. Besides this I’ve gotten a grant from a governmental fund, and was invited to work as an ’artist in residence’ in Chateau La Napoule in the South of

By painting this construction in very fluid paint I emphasise the spatially of the building and the open construction. The turquoise refers to the Mediterranean where Barcelona is situated.

Jennifer Sims

During these years your artworks have been exhibited in several occasions and I think it's

Portal, 2010 150 cm x130cm acryl en olieverf op linnen

99


ARTiculAction

Cécile van Hanja

Indoorspace, 2009 120 x 200cm Acryl en olieverf op linnen

France and at the Canserrat International Artcenter in Spain. I can say that I really needed all this stimulus to develop myself. Recently I was chosen by an international jury ini- tiated by the Saatchi Gallery to show my work in London and meet curators like Nigel Hirst. This feedback was really helpful for me and an encouragement to go on. The taste of my audience on the other hand never had any influence on my paintings. I paint what I have to paint, wether it is appreciated or not. In other words the positive feedbacks were stimulating but not in a way that it influences me in the proces of conceiving. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Cécilie. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

In 2013 I participated in a group exhibition ”Urban Landscape IV” at gallery Wegert & Sadocco. There are plans to make this a travelling exhibition. Beside this I’ll have exhibitions at the Vishal (Haarlem) and Gallery BMB (Amsterdam), not scheduled yet, and I’ve signed up for the Celeste Prize and the Aesthetica Art Prize. Further I would like to broaden my horizon coming year to the US and find a gallery in NY or LA. Most important for me however is that in the coming months I’ll retire on a quiet location in France to make new work in isolation and peace to deepen myself.

An interview by articulaction@post.com Jennifer Sims 7


CĂŠcilie van Hanja

ARTiculAction

Portal, 2010 150 cm x130cm acryl en olieverf op linnen 8

ARTiculAction Art Review June 2014 Special Issue  

submit your artworks to: articulaction@post.com

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you