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Special Issue

Fabien Jakob

From the Inversion series


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Special Issue Ralph Tepel

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Art has with design und decoration just that much in common,as a spaceship and a washer. Nothing. Art today is confused witha lot of things, with design, with decoration, with trades, craftsand artisanry.

Madama

"I feel that painting brings me closer to the creator essence of the gods because I sketch worlds whimsically, I make them emerge from the background of my canvas; I give expression to them with an essentially visceral, cathartic impulse. I invent spaces, and evade myself in gestures, textures and colors."

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Madama’s main goal is to share her work and invite people to reflect, to create their own associations and stories, to explore depth and space and through this reflection and resonance get new insights in their life: the humanity of art. Every work of her art is the expression of essence, life giving inner strength that everybody has but is not always used to its full potential.

Carolina Vis

Marcela Ramirez-Aza

Tony Nilsson "As an artist, I support Paul Klee in his statement, ”the task of an artist is to visualize what would without him be kept in the unknown”. So to sum it all up - those who appreciate and hope to find landscapes, still-lifes of fruit bowls or flowers among my work, no offense - look elsewhere!"

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When I start painting, I just listen to my inner self. Every single touch to the canvas brings the art to life. Every time I get a smile on my face, I know something special is happening. I know that it will be something I’ve never done before. That’s the moment I start feeling alive.

Catarina Pereira In my artistic research I develop apainting, a process has two steps:"Photographic Painting" and "Painting". Idenominate "Photographic Painting" the process of formation of the various moments of the future painting. The painting is generated in the aqueous environment, and the result is the productof the ephemerality of a process of metamorphosis.

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Kristi Beisecker

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I see the challenge of an artist mainly in keeping heror himself a distinctive ability of perception. An artist should give everything not to get bitter and biased. Rather she or he should slow down and take time to look at everything carefully and reflect the procedures around her or him and withing this give the word „humanity“ a deeper meaning.

In the Spring of 2012 I took a class in Alternative Photography as part of my degree in Graphic and Interactive Design. I am also into spirituality and as part of this interest I discovered Kirlian Photography or as I like to term it Electrography. Kirlian Photography is made using high voltage electricity to expose objects on photo sensitive paper.

Shauna Peck

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The exploration of competing realities in regard to authenticity is my premise. How do we consider relevance- in regard to the distinction between the authentic form or object and the perfect replica? I will be framing the concept by creating a replica. Suggesting the replica is replacing the authentic image.

Max Gimson

Susan Arnold

Alisa Jakobi Alisa is working in a minimalist expressionist style, with elements of fauvism. Her recurring topics are the reconciliation of humans with nature and about the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind. She also developed a concept called Time to Dance, where she is talking about the depth of the human mind and the changing roles in life of men and women.

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I draw a lot. I have books full of drawings that I keep as visual diaries as I find I can’t ever describe things in words with the same level of accuracy. Out of the drawings one or two might become prominent either compositionally or recently, thematically as the work has become more figurative and narrative driven in the “New Animals” series.

Alex Flett Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which is visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.

Feel free to submit your artworks to our art review: just write to peripheral_arteries@dr.com http://peripheralarteries.yolasite.com/submit-your-artworks.php

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Ralph Tepel (Germany) An artist's statement

"Art has with design und decoration just that much in common, as a spaceship and a washer. Nothing. Art today is confused with a lot of things, with design, with decoration, with trades, crafts and artisanry… Why can design not persist design, decoration not decoration and craft not craft? All these have their own appreciation and function. Art does not prettify or embellish life. If art does not bother you at least that much, as it makes you happy, take care, it might be no art. In the world of aesthetics art has to kick the rules and guidelines in the ass. In the world of creepers, art has to be loud and revolutionary. In the world of organized boredom of “like it – clicks” is no place for art, art is walking along with the real, analogue life, not a second or virtual. Art is life, is power, forming and moving and driving artists forward. Not craving for admiration is impelling art. It gives a shit on admiration and liking. Yes, art is political, not party political. It keeps the finger on the pulse, always in time, always in world and always against. Art is no spirit of time, but the wrecking ball for the illusiveness of the present age. It is not deducible, not logical, not causal, but associative-unmasking, dissociative to dislocating to everybody or everything trying to locate art on single place. Art is the best comrade of liberty, if not the best expression. This is why so many people are afraid of art. That’s why art is clouded. Trivialized to design, decoration or commodity. That’s no art, it’s just, what it is. Alpha – where it all starts… object and no object, somewhat and nothing, me and not-me, finiteness and infinity. Art is transcending all. Kick off boredom, toward art… Ralph Tepel


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An interview with

Ralph Tepel Ralph Tepel's work is engaged in a deep search for aesthetic variations that creates a subtle but intense bound between abstraction and perception: through his eyes, we see the world as a kaleidoscope of shapes that evolve from an imaginary dimension to our reality. Despite of many abstract artists of the current generation, he avoids to drag the viewer in his personal imagery: he rather urges us to search for a kind of total independence which reveals the highly political engagement of Tepel's artistic practice. I'm very pleased to introduce our readers to his multifaceted production. Hello Ralph and welcome to Peripheral ARTeries: to start this interview would you like to tell our readers something about your background? In particular you have a solid formal training, and after your studies in art, design and theology at the universities of Wuppertal you later had the chance to study with Prof. Alfons Engling: how have these experiences influenced you as an artist and how do they impact on the way you currently conceive and produce your artworks?

Thank you for your invitation. My studies in Wuppertal, Heidelberg, Bonn, Dresden and Cologne were all ultimately about myth: The biblical, the ancient and the modern every day myth. That’s what theology and design is all about. Art’s something different, it’s a kind of game. Ludwig Wittgenstein used in his “Philosophical Investigations” the term “Sprachspiel” translated language game. I feel confident, that there is a game of imagery we all can learn to play. A game with rules, symbols, colours, shapes and so on. Art is expression.

Studying with Prof. Alfons Engling a great painter and sculptor after his return from Brazil, where he was living und working for 30 Years, was a great experience. Engling and a fortiori working as an assistant to Helmut Tollmann from 1998 to 2006 had an impact on the multilayer structure of my paintings. This is not just about the technical process and structure of the artworks but also the meaning. An artwork should be multi-dimensional, it should have a multi-referential structure, as any game. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

As Joseph Beuys once stated: “before we know, what to do, we have to know, what we think.” This stage needs some time. Because this knowledge about what we think must be natural, self-evident and so deeply understood, that it can flow out without rethinking. Since I’m playing a game, (the viewers will do in their own way getting in contact with the canvas), the rules, the shapes, the colours, the symbols are a repertoire of characters and symbols, instructions and so on. It’s an intentionaldynamic process. During this process sequence I do not think about rules and colours and shapes and techniques, it’s all natural and selfevident, just flowing. The technical aspects of the work must be understood long before I start on a single piece. The time I put in depends on different parameters for every artwork. I can’t say that either. Now let's focus on your art production: I would start with Totally global and Trust me, an interesting couple of paintings that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to visit


Ralph Tepel

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Ralph Tepel


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Ralph Tepel

personalization of death. Playing with “money makes the world go round” but at what cost. Another aspect is: why do we put money into power? Why is it an object of worship? Why is it our modern times God? Cause we love it. It’s one of these over and over painted, multi-layer pieces, in the background almost invisible is mother earth and the four ancient elements of the world: fire, water, earth and air. Covered or should I say buried by the modern God. Totally global on the other hand is an artwork playing with the symbols of kingdom. What’s in power? globalization or the human being with the crown on his head. It’s a multi-layer piece as well, covering up the space around the written words, leaving just little windows. Who knows what’s behind the curtain of cool ice blue? May be the pauperization of millions, for example 12 of 80 million people in Germany? In graffiti symbols the crown is decorating an outstanding person. I use the crown to distinguish the human being in person as outstanding.

Trust me acrylic and oil on canvas 70x100 cm, 2014

http://www.ralphtepel.de in order to get a wider idea of your artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of these stimulating pieces? What was your initial inspiration?

If you will excuse me, I’ll start with Trust me. This piece is one of these associativeunmasking or unveiling artworks, that expose the myth behind the money driven world, just by making free association to symbols of life, harm and death. Converting George Washington to a skull, money alters to a

Another interesting work of yours that have impressed on me and on which I would like to spend some words is entitled "Archpriests": I definitely love the way this work conveys such a dynamic message, and it speaks me about freedom both on an emotional aspect and on a formal one. I have been struck with the intensely thoughtful nuances that has suggested me a sense of dramatic -and I would daresay "oniric"- luminosity that seems to flow out of these canvas that communicates such a tactile sensation, a feature that I can recognize also in Ambassadors ... to by the way, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

The “Archpriests of signification” is one of the recent works, that broach the issue of modern myth by transferring them to the symbols of the ancient times reversely to “Frankfurt and Gomorrah” or “golden calf”. The “golden calf” in my artistic view seems to be a DJ stimulating the people and the financial market to dance,


Ralph Tepel

Totally global acrylic and oil pencil on canvas 80x100 cm, 2015

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Ralph Tepel


Ralph Tepel

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“just dance”, “keep on moving”… Anyway these artworks bring the mythological world and contemporary environment together for mutual reinterpretation. On the other hand it’s a kind of oneiric luminosity in the Archpriests, I would call it an oneiric myth. One can experience the constitution of signification in these Archpriests in person. But may be one of them has a clubfoot. Take care. The “palette” in these recent pieces has changed a bit to more pastelcoloured and complementary colour stimuli. “The Ambassadors of the market” are oneiric shapes as well, can’t tell if it’s total nightmare, but they live from the same earthy “palette” the archpriests have risen from. Although marked with a deep abstract feature, each work of yours is a self defining entity and you often choose titles related to perception and memory and seem to refer to human nature more than a merely representative painting could do. I daresay that you explorate the implication of experience itself, the impossibility of a description that could prescind from the experience of imagination, and this seems to be clear especially in No Borders... So I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience from real world is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

This is a kind of hermeneutic question. Do people need a connecting factor, a link to integrate the new with their existence? As Goethe once stated: “wouldn’t be the eye sun-like it couldn’t catch a glimpse of the sun”. I do not agree with that. Not all referential links are based on experience, unless the experience of imagination itself as your question implies. In the creation process to “No Borders…” even on an early stage of the process I knew the inner structure. Four areas with big brothers eye in the very middle linked by crossing ways, the data-highway for the money and the street blocked by the barrier, the toll bar and as anyone can see now the death toll bar. And right above the small black sky-band of

No borders for the money but for the people acrylic and oil pencil on canvas 150x200 cm, 2015

the stock indices. There is no place in the world anyone could behold this scene. You need imagination for such an extreme contraction, an unveiling contraction. Art should form the world by imagination. Art should not be a decorative reproduction of the world shrunk and nicely framed to fit into the living room. Real art will always shake up any living room and the spirit of its resident. No Borders. One of the features of your approach that I appreciate the most is the way you seem to offer such an Ariadne's thread that allows to discover the dimension of your imagery. You


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Ralph Tepel

do not force the viewers to follow your process in a prearranged way: on the contrary, the sense of freedom that pervades your approach is gently transmitted to whom comes into contato with your canvas and allows to investigate about the nature of the work of art itself... in this sense, your approach has reminded me the way the work of Franz Ackermann relates to the viewers, urging them to take active part to the construction of the sense... This aspect of your work has suggested me the concept 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?

A friend asked me lately: Do these art-pieces make to great demands on the viewer? They need “to take active part to the construction of the sense” as you traced it. Franz Ackermann called his artworks “mental maps”, I call it a “game of imagery”, it’s not the same but anyway you need characters, instructions, shapes, colours, rules to setup the map and the game. Anyone using the map, has to make his own way with it, anyone playing the game is playing his own “reading”, “investigation” what’s in the artwork and replenishing it with his own connotations. Art is not a container or a box the artist put a message in, the viewer has to receive and open. If there would be a clear and easy message, the artist could tell it or write it down in a few words, no artwork to paint. An artwork is different. The artist can’t force the viewer to follow a prearranged way, since a piece of art is not a linear medium, but an associative. It needs the active role of the viewer in constructing sense. The artist can steer this process a bit, but he is not in control. You’re right, one of the roles of the artist, in my view, is to reveal the unexpected. But the unexpected will vary from viewer to viewer. Sometimes I dumbfound myself, cause the

Golden calf acrylic canvas 70x100 cm, 2014

game of imagery creates more than the artist can consciously intend. There is a power in the game the artist is playing, that brings the unconscious to light and to the canvas. Our inner nature as you called it. As you have stated once art is not interpreting the world but forming it: your works are intrinsically connected with the chance of creating a deep interaction with your viewers, urging them to follow your


Ralph Tepel

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Ralph Tepel

Frankfurt and Gomorrah

No liberty island

acrylic on canvas

acrylic and oil pencil on canvas

70x100 cm, 2014

70x100 cm, 2014

process and pushing them to not play as a passive audience. And I can recognize the associative-unmasking feature of Art is clearly revealed by Frankfurt and Gomorrah, which I have to admit is one of my favourite work of yours. Many contemporary artists, as the photographers as the Edward Burtynsky and Michael Light convey some form of political message in their works. Do you consider that your pieces are in a certain sense "political" or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach? By the way, although I'm aware that this might sound a bit naïf, I have to admit that I'm sort of

convinced that Art -especially nowadayscould play an effective role in sociopolitical questions: not only just by offering to people a generic platform for expression... 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? Aristoteles specified the human being as a “zoon politikon”, a naturally social being. One cannot grow up without being a part of a community. People are learning, they are developing in relation to others. Everything we do correlates with the community, the “polis”


Ralph Tepel

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Ambassadors of the market

Win-win-situation

acrylic and oil pencil on canvas

acrylic and oil pencil on canvas

150x200 cm, 2015

80x100 cm, 2015

as the ancient Greeks called it. In a complex world we live in, the focus is always on just a few spots. Art allows a more deliberate view on what’s significant and fundamental. In my art pieces I do not need to argue. It’s not an analytic essay, it’s no documentary. Art can join things together, link events or embed procedures and incidents no one could in a political environment. This is why art can unveil and unmask in a way nothing else could do. “Frankfurt and Gomorrah” is a beautiful example and even more “Flawless Democracy 2015” a 5.4 meter mural style painting, that shows several areas and parts of the society. The lynchpin in this piece is the scales of

justice. Justitia or Justice in my artistic view is wearing the light blue striped clothes of concentration camp prisoners, she seems to be a political prisoner in a larger sense. The skyline of Frankfurt wiretapped and connected with the “Casino Global” a little wink to “Casino Royale”. A phrase of the former Federal President Roman Herzog is illustrating the role of the German Bundestag: “Germany must be paced by a jerk.” The comment in my art piece is: “Now it’s jerked”. The digital world is eroding democracy and the society as well. Edward Burtynsky and Michael Light pick out political issues as a main theme with a kind of morbid aesthetics with an inner sadness rising


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Ralph Tepel

Lupenreine Demokratie

The Philistines acrylic and oil pencil on canvas, 150x200 cm, 2015

from their images. A drift photography can’t easily evade. I know that my attempt to avoid any beauty in these art works, could be absorbed by a new philosophy of aesthetics. At that particular time this will happen, the sociopolitical influence on behaviour will have been gone. There will be no protest march commenced by an exhibition in a museum. The institutions of art maintain an aesthetical distance to the society, a big issue in art perception. You have clearly expressed your viewpoint

about what you have defined the world of organized boredom of “like it – clicks” that unfortunately pervaded contemporary society: however, it goes without saying that positive feedbacks are capable of providing an artist of an important support, which is for sure not absolutely indespensable, but that in certain situations can stimulate to keep on with Art: I was just wondering if the expectation of positive feedback could even influence the process of an artist... do you think that the need of such stimules could denote such a pathological state of these days's artistic production? Moreover, how would you define the nature of the relation with your audience? “Philistine” are the guys living in organized boredom. They are almost dead, they’re not living their own life, they are not even aware of


Ralph Tepel

this sad fact. I’m pretty sure that paintings and other great art works, sculptures, installations and so on can give us so deep an analogue experience of our life, that one can never ever digitize. That there is one single unique original painting unique as ourselves makes it a face-toface encounter no copy can provide. Facebook, Twitter and the other so called social networks are just marketing instruments. There are these to follow and those who follow. Do we all need support for whatever we do in our everyday life? Yes we do. Could even the expectation of positive feedback influence the process of an artist? Yes and if it does, one should ask if he or she is doing his or her thing or just that what they think other people could expect. I guess that’s why the art market is so boring. Just a few are brave enough to do something new and their own, giving a shit on what others might say, could expect. They should dumbfound themselves and all

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their real friends what’s emerging from their inner world or nature. To marvel is the origin of art. Thanks a lot for your time and your thoughts, Ralph. My last question deals with your future plans: how do you see your work evolving? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of? My pleasure. There are plans for two or three big triptychs to paint next. The main theme will be the political odyssey weaving cocoons of excuses between Scylla and Charybdis. There will be new sculptures from birch wood cut with the chain saw in the same mythic style my current paintings had been done. The first one settled already at my studio. Thank you for your interest in my work.


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Marcela Ramirez-Aza (Colombia) An artist's statement

Far beyond the need of expression, there is a liberating impulse of inner forces which drive me to creation, to the pictorial concretions of instants, that when materialized, seem to be eternal. I feel that painting brings me closer to the creator essence of the gods because I sketch worlds whimsically, I make them emerge from the background of my canvas; I give expression to them with an essentially visceral, cathartic impulse. I invent spaces, and evade myself in gestures, textures and colors; I undo myself within the silence, I approach the universal language of the senses, the time. Possibly the pathology of violence generates analogous artistic expressions in different times and places, which are a strong and intrinsic motivation to me, making my artistic activity in confinement, a palliative which allows me a survival loaded with emotional breakouts. This context of informalism, of the search of its own significance and the inexistence of rules, of existentialism as the solitude of the individual and the mysticism of the authentic exploration of its authentic essence, has allowed me the reserve, the time I have considered necessary for exhibiting my work, the freedom in the longing for random representations, for unusual materials, for investigating, and for flowing when losing myself... for concluding.... and evoking. Lastly, painting as a purifying proccess becomes, and makes me become a liberating event, a celebration, an offer to the Universe, a story without words, a poetic act. Marcela Ramirez-Aza

Transgresion (photo by Juan Domingo Guzmรกn)


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An interview with

Marcela Ramirez-Aza What mostly impresses of Marcela RamirezAza's work is the way she effectively challenges the viewers' perception, accomplishing the difficult task of leading us to rethink about way we perceive the outside world, but also, urging us to investigate about the existence of unexpected relationships between opposites aspects of the reality we inhabit in. Through an incessant process of abstract recontextualization, her refined painting provides the viewers of an extension of the ordinary human perception, in order to manipulate it and releasing it from its most limbic parameters. I'm particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Marcela, and a very warm welcome to Peripheral ARTeries: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? In particular, are there any experiences that have particularly influenced you as an artists and impacted to the way you conceive and produce your works?

Thank you Peripheral ARTeries for selecting my artwork, it’s very pleasant to me having access to your readers through these pages. I begin by saying that I am a Colombian artist born in Bogotá. I have an academic background in communication sciences, audio visual media and arts. I’ve been involved with editorial production for years and I was always in love with their visual aspect. I worked at the same time searching for a pictorial language that would be coherent

Marcela Ramirez-Aza © Germán Gaviria) with my needs of aesthetic expression. I’ve experimented with different fields, I started with figurative art with unusual techniques (painting on stones with earth and mineral pigments) until I reached the informal abstraction. Currently I’m 100% dedicated to painting, mi technical artwork is the result of the decision of moving apart from my academic background in order to embrace the visceral expressionism. I fully identify myself with tis proposal. With regard to the theme I must say that since I come from a place where the ordinary is the lushness in terms of contrasts, and since I belong to a generation that grew up amidst


Marcela Ramirez-Aza

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Marcela Ramirez-Aza

Silencio (photo by Juan Domingo GuzmĂĄn)

social conflict and violence, painting has been a purifying mechanism that has allowed me to channel indignation, rage, and pain, but also hope. Painting is to me the activity that lets me be the creator of worlds which are ruled by my own rules, because I have the freedom to control them and to do with them whatever pleases me. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you

mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

Basically in my pictorial universe there are no consciously predetermined rules. Each artwork is autonomous, in the sense that each one gains its own character during the process. I let the pieces express themselves, I make pauses and observe, I allow things to happen on the canvas. I work often with mixed media – oil, acrylic, ink, earth/mineral ´pigments, gesso- and I usually begin the artwork by choosing the palette, but this can also change during the process. I love to work in solitude. Regarding the time, that


Marcela Ramirez-Aza

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Silencio (photo by Juan Domingo Guzmán)

could change, but I love working with several pieces at the same time and I let every piece breathe without intervening them for days or months. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from "Silencio", an extremely interesting series that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to our readers to visit directly at http://www.ra-aza.com in order to get a wider idea of your multifaceted artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

I can’t say there was an event that inspired me, but i can say there’s an emotion that

transcends me and I must express it on the canvas. My inspiration or the need to express myself pictorially is always based on several emotional phases, which are not always catalyzed by important events. This series in particular is the result of feeling absolutely thankful and connected to nature and life. It’s the consequence of perceiving beauty within a chaotic atmosphere. . I like the way "Silencio" takes such a participatory line on the conception of art. In particular, I have been impressed with the way your abstract approach allows to your images to go beyond their intrinsic ephemeral nature. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely


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Marcela Ramirez-Aza

Silencio (photo by Juan Domingo Guzmán) indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I don’t think that a creative process can be separate from a personal history. What may be possible is that an artist can rationally cling into a story and begin to create from that. On the

Transgresion (photo by Juan Domingo Guzmán)


Marcela Ramirez-Aza

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Melissa (photo by Juan Domingo Guzmán)

Melissa (photo by Juan Domingo Guzmán)

contrary, even if the artist doesn’t have the intention of transmitting something, the artwork could be read as the result of embracing a sensitive experience, such as places, cultures or oneiric experiences.

The insightful investigation about the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind is a crucial and recurring aspect of your work: the worlds that you sketches with your masterly brush strokesand and that emerges from your canvas. In particular, I can recignize that there always seems to be a sense of narrative in your works: how much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your images?

In "TRANSGRESIÓN" the dark and in a certain sense mysterious nuances on the background works as a springboard that create such a prelude to the light that seems to get ready to burst out of the canvas: this has suggested me such a tactile sensation... by the way, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

My artwork has a special feature which is being an unfinished work. In this sense I can’t tell this has been a procees built through closed stages. I work series such as Genesis, Transgresión, Catarsis, Júbilo, Gracia, etc, which remain open for the inclusion of new pieces. In this sense the palette is also variable, once again freedom is the rule.

Indeed I feel that there is in my artwork the unconscious intention of expressing a narrative. There is an inner need of providing the images with meaning through an interaction between them in a relationship where only one artwork, in both shape and meaning, prevails among the others. When I begin one artwork I allow the birth of a spontaneous image with an implicit potential, and from this image others emerge, creating relations, contrasts. My work consists of organizing and giving sense in the sensorial


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Melissa

(photo by Juan Domingo Guzmรกn)

Marcela Ramirez-Aza


Marcela Ramirez-Aza

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sense, dismissing or highlighting certain aspects, finding accents in which could be referred as a narrative of emotions. And just like a literary story I would like to achieve the perfection of a poem or a good story. In "Melissa" I can recognize a subtle but effective investigation about the emerging of language due to a process of self-reflection, and what has mostly impacted on me is the way you have been capable of bringing a new level of significance to objects, recontextualizing the concepts behind abstract shapes: and I would go as far as to state that in a certain sense it invites the viewers' perception in order to challenge the common way to perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension... 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?

It could be that eventually an artist gets to reveal aspects of his inner nature, but I think that this may not be his conscious intention. There would be too much arrogance and pride in this purpose. Regarding the existence of encrypted information this could be related to the collective unconscious, and the artists as part of that collectivity can only make part of the search and leave our testimony. In your "Catarsis" series you have enlighted the puryfing, liberating role of the act of painting: art-making involves a series of inner and sometimes "mysterious" processes and during these years, while interviewing lots of artists, I have often been told of such therapeutic effects behind these processes... by the way, you are prolific painter, and your works seem to be filled with intense emotion: is painting like a release for you or is it emotionally draining?

Grace

(photo by Juan Domingo Guzmรกn)


Catarsis (photo by Juan Domingo Guzmรกn)


Catarsis (photo by Juan Domingo Guzmรกn)


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Marcela Ramirez-Aza

It is definitely a liberating act. For me painting is not an election but a necessity. I must do it, it works like a balm and connects me with life. Therefore, it is a renovating activity rather than an exhausting one. Before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a but clichĂŠ question, but an interesting one that I'm sure will interest our readers around the world... During your long career you have exhibited in several occasions: it goes without saying that feedbacks are capable of providing an artist of an important support, which is for sure not absolutely indespensable, but that can stimulate to keep on with Art: I was just wondering if the expectation of positive feedback could even influence the process of an artist... In particular, how would you define the nature of the relation with your audience?

I think that in spite of the differences among the human beings, there are more things that unite us and this is relevant when we internalize the search of our inner essence. The differences in term of race or religion vanish when we find out that we all have a inner sensitivity that connects us. In this sense the most wonderful thing that could happen to me as an artist is having public, whether from Asia, America or Africa, is able to understand my artwork from an emotion rather than a logic point of view. This would mean that there is something universal in my artwork, and that would be a huge achievement for me. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Marcela. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects. How do you see your work evolving?

It’s very hard for me to project myself. Today I only have an infinite passion for painting. Of course I would love to go beyond borders, to continue with an artwork in which is recognized an original contribution, but my reward in this moment is the spontaneous creative process, is to dilute myself in my own creations and lose myself as an artist during the act of painting.

Catarsis

(photo by Juan Domingo GuzmĂĄn)


Marcela Ramirez-Aza

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Madama (The Netherlands) “The task of integration, which is the challenge for the artist of today, is not any more to be contained in 1 single work of art, but in a way as never before only through the unity of life and work within the framework of change”. Erich Neumann 1959 If one oversees the versatility of Madama’s vast oeuvre then it is necessary to create a context to be able to understand this diversity. The image that comes to my mind is an analogy with the billions of solar systems that each contain a sun and planets and stars that move around that centre. In that sense is every series of Madama’s visual art works like a solar system, different in content, colour and images than other solar systems but connected because they all originate form inner strength/necessity. That is the stipulation and result of Madama’s research that started some 40 years ago. What is essence and how can I visualize that? In that quest, averse to conventions, she finds that inner, creative, inexhaustible and innovative strength, which characterises the dynamics in her career. This connection with this inner strength is the key in her visual art, poetry and music and creates a new reality in performances etc. In het authentic quest for essence she used transcultural influences in her visual art, inspired by artists from the Orient, Africa, Aboriginals. The influence of mysticism became apparent in particular by studying in Egypt where the concepts of inside/outside, content/shape seemed replaceable and she literally wanted to ‘step out of the box’. From this she developed the scrolls, or temple hangings, both sides painted unframed canvases, which can hang freely in space like a sculpture. And her latest work the monochromes. Madama’s work provides access to an inner world of beauty, values, space, possibilities, the Cosmic Renaissance of the universal human being. Out of this inner direction originates: The New Stream, Art from the Heart, an organic concept of Style and a book with the same title. Madama’s main goal is to share her work and invite people to reflect, to create their own associations and stories, to explore depth and space and through this reflection and resonance get new insights in their life: the humanity of art. Every work of her art is the expression of essence, life giving inner strength that everybody has but is not always used to its full potential. It has no fixed identity but only potential space = a core that expresses itself differently again and again

Margareth Adama


Fresh Air, Structure of Purity Face of Space in the sea, mixed media with stone,100 x 100 cm, 2014


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An interview with

Margareth Adama

Hello Margareth and welcome to Peripheral ARTeries. I would start this interview, with some questions about your background: you have a solid formal education and after your studies at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, you took classes in Anthropology and Philosophy. Would you like to tell our readers how did these different experiences influence your development as an artist and how do they impact on the way you currently conceive your works?

One of the final projects I did at the Rietveld Academy was titled 'I Am Transparent'. At that time I couldn't fully grasp the meaning of this statement. But it set me on a quest for meaning and looking behind the visible material world. My studies Philosophy and Anthropology however didn't satisfy my questions. In Philosophy my major interest was in Ontology but I missed the freedom to go beyond the set linguistic systems and structures that dominated then. In Anthropology I had a similar experience. People were viewed as objects for research but I felt the inner necessity to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western thinking. Particularly because I am born in Indonesia, Djakarta, grew up in the Netherlands from a very early age but still in my thinking, experiences, and particularly my artistic work there is always the strong urge to connect people, cultures, and projects. At an artistic level I did that by developing three disciplines: visual arts, music and poetry that interrelate. My music for instance is inspired by my paintings and poetry, that I use as songs. The


Margareth Adama

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Margareth Adama

Primordial Vibration acrylic on 2 sides painted unframed canvas 209 x 279 cm, 2012

Brilliant star, shine bright stay close to me. To set free the indestructible everlasting Light liberating Humanity. With the primordial vibration of our transparent communication.


Margareth Adama

idea behind this is to create a flow, from the substance of the paintings in which inspiration has been transferred to matter to the sounds of my improvised piano music: to unleash the inspiration and let it flow over the audience. So my studies spurred me on a further quest to deeper meaning, mystic, gnosis beyond the visible world and one of my latest works Artistic Metaphysics was made by playing my own music and then using the energy of this music to paint. I would suggest to visit http://www.madama.nl in order to get a wider idea of your artistic production that we are going to discuss in these pages: I would begin from Structures of Purity and Fresh Air, that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. When I first happened to get to know these stimulating works I tried to relate all the visual information to a single meaning. But I soon realized that I had to fit into the visual unity suggested by the conceptual narrative that pervades these pieces, forgetting my need for a univocal understanding of its symbolic content: in your work, rather that a conceptual interiority, I can recognize the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

It is both an intuitive and systematic approach. Systematic in the sense that in Structures of Purity which is part of a series of 7 monochromes, the structure is not only that there is one dominant colour but a very nuanced structure in the materials used, there are many layers in this case of white sand, marble sand in very organic and intuitive approach. One dot of blue paint has been freely floating out, taking days to dry and then I mixed it with marble sand etc. So this picture has literally and figuratively many layers. One can see the wind blowing like Zephyr the God of the wind, Apollo etc. air and poetic beings.

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This picture was made after a trip to Menorca where there are still remains of old civilizations that built the ‘navetas’, boats of rock stones in the middle of the landscape, In the picture the small antic stone in the middle symbolizes the civilization, brought by people in their sailing boats to unknown shores in unknown waters, but also the earth in the vast space etc. I like the way your offer a rigorous but at the same time lively visual translation of immaterial and physical sights that pervade our reality, as in Primordial Vibration: in this sense, your approach intrinsically connected to the chance of creating an area of intense interplay with the viewers, that are invited to evolve from the condition of a passive audience: while conceiving Art could be considered a purely abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a permanence that goes beyond the ephemeral nature of the concepts you capture. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Vision is in the eye of the beholder. You see what you have experienced but it can take many shapes and forms. For example an experience of nature can be emotional, physical, mental etc. For me it is about the Humanity of Art, if it has no relation to evolution of consciousness there is no meaning in it. Why? because also in abstract art it was always based on a real need to express or transcend a realistic image of the visible world. Look at Kandinsky and Malevich, Rothko. ‘Abstract’ means literally condensed experience. L’art pour l’art doesn’t interest me, I now call my art Medicine Art, food for the soul, conveying beauty, inner worlds, energetic imprints. And as I said before I like to involve the viewer, listener, in fact large canvases like Primordial Vibration are wonderful for people to sit in front of, contemplate of what this has to say to them.


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Margareth Adama

Artistic Metaphysica

Black Mirror

acrylic on paper, 150 x 230 cm, 2015

mixed media, on board, 80 x 120 cm, 2015

It can be anything, they become co-creators and afterwards if they want they can share their often very surprising insights.

challenge the viewers' perception in order to going beyond the common way to perceive not only the outside world, but the way we relate to it... 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 such unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

Another project of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on which I would like to spend some words is your Translucent series. The multilayered experience suggested by these works is capable of bringing a new level of significance to the usual concept of an abstract image: from a pictorial viewpoint, they force the viewer into taking a position from different angles, questioning our perception from a perspective aspect... this

Yes, of course, the artist has the role to stimulate the inner eye, the inner Self, the I Am for ultimately in my perception we are all


Margareth Adama

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Matrix acrylic on 2 sides painted unframed canvas, 209 x 279 cm, 2012


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Margareth Adama


Margareth Adama

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vibrations/frequencies in a greater network of interrelated wave patterns and all the different patterns form a certain configuration of matter. It is interesting to see how these ‘spiritual’ ideas are based on sound science in physics with the theory of strings and waves and particles that still develops further and further. However, the mental consciousness of people is still very materialistic. In the ‘Translucent’ series I tried to evoke a spirit of translucence, like X ray pictures which allow you to look beyond the material outside into the inside. The bottom line is: if you encounter something or experience something what do you do to transform that experience. It is your personal response to a situation and in my perspective it is the artist’s role to integrate this individual and at the same time universal perspective in daily life and work. That is a multi interpretable world. In ‘Fragrance of Splendour’ I refer to the impermanence of things, lost civilizations, ruins that you can reconstruct in your own way like the wind forms clouds every minute in a new form. It is in this interplay of experiences that evolves a kind of trust that you take part and participate in creation as co creator. And this is more than in relation to paintings, it can also be a good conversation, there are so many ways to be a co-creator, you don’t have to be an artist per se.

This ancient paradox is dissolved away in the 5th dimension bridging Being upon earth and divine at the same time.

The Fragrance of Splendour, acrylic on 2 sides painted unframed canvas, 175 x 135 cm, 1999


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Margareth Adama


Margareth Adama

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Intergalactic Field I mixed media on 3D canvas 100 x 70 cm, 2011


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Margareth Adama

Great Central Sun, Structure of Delight mixed media with gold-leaf100 x 100 cm, 2014

I am the Victorious One Success is the seed of my soul the stars are the stuff we are made of


Margareth Adama

You often combine an inspiration from reality with a suggestive abstract approach: it seems that one of your goals is to represent what’s really there, translating it through a painterly approach: Philippe Dagen once established in his Le Silence des peintres, the coming of a straight realism has caused a progressive retenchment of painting from the role of representing reality. With exception of Hyperrealism movement, Painting is nowadays more and more marked out with a symbolic feature. Do you think that the dichotomy between Representation and Painting is by now irremediable? Moreover, how much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your works?

There is a creation story behind all my work but it is not so literally expressed. If you want to hear it, fine, but you don’t have to. It all has to do with intention, that is the start of my creative work: what do I want to express. The narrative is not exclusive or obligatory. It is a perception of reality in which to me the energy of a work plays a key role. The nuance of light colors that I have admired in Structures of Purity, Fresh Air and the reference to basic geometric patterns have suggested me a sense of dramatic luminosity, that seems to flow out of the canvas and which communicates such a tactile sensation: any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

In my art work there is often a very severe geometrical pattern underneath, particularly in the large canvases. You can sometime still have glimpses of that. Also these large canvases can be the backdrop of my concerts. You can touch them, they are like sculptural paintings, since they are painted on 2 sides and hang freely in space, you can walk around, feel them. Over the last year I have been using more substance in my paintings, sand, lava, rocks, little objects. Everything is energy. I used that too in small ‘relics’ but in the monochromes they all have different substances. This also

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accounts for the many different ‘views ‘ they offer under any different light. If the sun shines, or it is a grey day how does the sun move over the canvas. All of a sudden the gold or silver pigments starts to shine like in Black Mirror or Great Central Sun. Black Mirror is a homage to the earth and creation. I have highly appreciated the way you explore the boundary between Imagination and Experience in your interesting Matrix and I would say that imagination play a role in the fulfillment process of the viewers that reminds me what German artist Thomas Demand once stated: "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead": what's your point about this? And in particular, how much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your works?

What I want to express is the idea of beauty in which not the representation is important but capturing the essence of for instance a flower. What is your relationship with the flower, when have you seen it etc. This experience is then transferred to an essential level. The viewer can reshape this experience in a concept of beauty. In your investigation about the liminal space between representation and abstraction, the references to a universal imagery suggested by natural elements are quite recurrent and seem to remove any historic gaze from the context you refer to. This invites the viewers the chance to perceive in a more atemporal form. In this sense, I daresay that the semantic juxtaposition between sign and matter that marks out your art, allows you to go beyond any dichotomy between Tradition and Contemporariness, establishing a stimulating osmosis between materials from an absolute dimension and a personal, lively approach to Art... By the way, do you think that there's such an irremediable fracture between Tradition and Contemporariness?


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Margareth Adama


Margareth Adama

In my opinion we are nowadays allowed to be unorthodox but we / I still stand in a tradition. The Renaissance with its search for dignity, values, the rise of the humaniora looking for life and love has been very influential in my development. Although there is a freedom of style, medium and form there is always underlying the human need to express in its search for truth and beauty. Since, as I said before, we now see that everything is energy I can easily integrate mystic and ancient traditions in a modern even abstract way. As you have remarked once, Art has always been a means to communication and selfrealisation, not just for yourself but also other people can benefit from these insights: I think it's important to mention that besides producing your stimulating works, you also co-founded the Sophia Amor Academy. I think that teaching and especially the occasion of sharing ideas with young and emerging artists could be an important occasion for an artist's evolution: what have you received during these experiences? Do you think that teaching could have in a certain sense informed your approach?

People often forget to look for and find their source, their inner Self. My teaching has evolved over the years from giving workshops to men of industry or housewives in which again the self-expression of what they want to say/share has been essential. I am also able to give a reading of their work that goes beyond the factual drawing or painting but can tell something about the direction/perspective for that person. I do that only if people give me permission to do so. In teaching I also have to find new ways how I can involve people in such a way that they get the insights as if by chance. I also do a great deal of coaching individuals who are in transition, on a crossroad in their life and work or relation.

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To me it is important that I don’t teach a technique but a way that people can learn about themselves and eventually are able to develop this perspective independent of me. I very much missed this approach in my formal education. During these years you works have been exhibited in several occasions, so, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

No, I have always been very fortunate that I could work as an independent artist, so I didn’t tailor my work to existing trends or style. When abstract was ‘in’ I painted more figuratively and vice versa. However as you can understand from what I have said so far, Art=Communication and I do certainly take into account the audience that will view my pictures. So if I have an exhibition I will choose art work that is appropriate for that space and purpose of the exhibition, does it fit into the space, what do I want to express in combining different works of art etc. My latest book The New Stream, Medicine Art from the Heart gives a selection of my work over the 40 years: 366 paintings and poems both in Dutch and English and I have translated the energy of poem and painting in 366 piano music pieces. The book is also available as ebook. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Margareth. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?


Peripheral ARTeries My immediate future project is MAMMSA 2 (Madama Movement Modern Sacred Art) Together with my partner Ida Guinée, Ph.D we organised the first MAMMSA in April 2014 with the theme ‘Sculptures with Meaning’ and invited 15 artists (sculptors) to exhibit their work in our large garden and house. https://vimeo.com/126007177 Next year April 2015 we have the theme Sacred or Scared, the same letters but total different meaning. How do you live your life? An actual theme given the situation in the world. Are you living a scared life or a sacred life in the sense of being whole. We invite artists from different disciplines and from all over the world that are interested in this theme to contact us and get further details. My long term aim is to enlarge the movement and establish a kind of retreat or museum of Medicine Art = Modern SacredArt in which inner and outer beauty come together, where lectures, concerts workshops are given. Physical and spiritual wellness in one and preferably in a warm climate near the sea. A Cosmic Renaissance. People who are interested to connect may contact us.

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator with the collaboration of Caroline L. Williams peripheral_arteries@dr.com

Margareth Adama


Margareth Adama

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Tony Nilsson (Sweden)

Creativity, inspiration and fantasy has always come easy for me. An invaluable gift that has defined my career, both as Art Director and artist. As Art Director the creative ability is constantly and daily put to the test. Compare this to the reality of the artist. It’s completely different. The Art Director’s work is creative alright, but he works within certain given prameters. Parameters that the artist can give a f… about. He works without a safety net. He claims ”creative freedom” and can do just as he pleases! Both are exposed and up for critique – equally important for both to survive, mentally as well as financially. In my case it’s still the Art Director who is ”the breadwinner” But for a good 25 years the artist has been lurking in the shadow of the Art Director, biding his time. Stand aside - it’s time... As an artist, I support Paul Klee in his statement, ”the task of an artist is to visualize what would without him be kept in the unknown”. So to sum it all up - those who appreciate and hope to find landscapes, still-lifes of fruit bowls or flowers among my work, no offense look elsewhere!

Tony Nilsson


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Pajas


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An interview with

Tony Nilsson Tony Nilsson’s works reject the tradition of mere decor and establish a permanent interplay between abstract beauty and reinterpretation of reality: his careful approach conveys memories and perception of the ephemeral feature of the emotions he captures in a multilayered combination that invites the viewers to a lively experience. While dispensing with the theoretical precepts of minimalism, his works keep independence from the context they explore, so the stimulating paintings that we’ll discuss in the following pages can be viewed as an aesthetic testing ground for the autonomy of painting and its historicity. I’m particularly pleased to introduce our readers to his stimulating artistic production. Hello Tony, and welcome to Peripheral ARTeries: to start this interview, would you like to tell our readers something about your background? Besides your background as a self-taught artist you had the chance to join the the Illustration department at Otis Parson School of Design in Los Angeles. How has this experience influenced your evolution as an artist? Does it still impact on the way you currently conceive your works?

Hi there and thank you very much for having me. My background - Well, I’m the oldest of three boys. I guess I’m the black sheep of the family by choosing advertising as my profession. The rest of my family are educated restaurant people. Alongside my profession walks a passion and an obsession of art. It started in my early years. My mother told me that I started to draw when I was around 4 years old. Sorry to say that nothing

Tony Nilsson

from that time has been saved (or maybe just as well). During my childhood we had a limitless supply of pens and paper at our disposal. My grandmother’s boyfriend was a school janitor and he always supplied us with art materials. So I was constantly drawing. As you noted, I have no formal training or education in art, other than the obligatory


Barbara Bervoets

drawing classes in school. I hated these drawing classes. They were too controlled and too formal for me. I’ve always found it very easy to express myself, both visually and in writing. So the natural way for me was to look at advertising when it was time to figure out what to do for a living. I’ve taken the long way into the advertising business,

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starting out when we had no Mac’s or PC’s to do the job. So I was drawing all ads by hand, and I literally mean everything in the ads, images, text, splashes with prices, you name it. It was great art and drawing-practice for me. I gradually developed an urge to get away from Sweden and I wanted to explore the world of


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Tony Nilsson

advertising and art. So I started to apply to art schools in the US. Finally, through an extensive application process, I was admitted to the Illustration department at Otis Parson School of Design in Los Angeles. In August 1990 I entered Otis Parsons in L.A. The school was excellent with an outstanding curriculum, but it was located in the worst part of L.A., just a block from downtown and right about in the neighbourhood where the L.A riots later started. Not to go into any details, but not before long, I witnessed something that made it practically impossible for me to pursue my education. So I quit because I feared for my own safety. It was an easy decision. How could I benefit from school and perform at my best when I feared for my own safety? I went back home to Sweden. I can’t really pinpoint the impact Otis Parsons had on me other than emotionally and on an personal level. As for my art and the way that I work - no it was too short a period to leave any substantial mark with me. However, this short period definately broadened my perspective and I still love L.A. and the U.S. Now let’s focus on your artistic production: I would start from the Pajas and Pajas, a couple of interesting pieces that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to our readers to visit directly http://tsign.se in order to get a wider idea of your artistic produc- tion. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of these interesting projects? What was your initial inspiration?

When I think back on the birth of Pajas , it really came to be through the same working process as the majority of the rest of my production.

My parents used to complain when I was younger: ”Why don’t you use the sheets better, you just draw in the lower right hand corner?” Guess what, I found out that I still do! At least, this is where I start out. I think it’s because I’m left-handed and I don’t want smudge my work. This habit has become my working process. I sketch all the time, whenever I get the opportunity. ”Pajas” was born in the moment, as one of those small sketches in the lower right hand corner. I must have been influenced by the general debate we had in Sweden at the time, about religion and integration. I’m not a religious person, in fact I’m more of an atheist. But, I respect all religions and beliefs as long as you don’t impose it on me. I think that ”Pajas” came to be about the same time as ”What if he was a she?” Another piece, a bigger one with the same kind of religious undertone. ”Pajas” was the result of me feeling fed up with the tone of the debate and I really found it all to be a big hoax. Therefore I put a Jester or a Pajas on the cross. The colors doesn’t reflect the seriousness of a crucifiction scene, but still I find it fateful with a small ray of hope manifested by the golden crucifix peeping out behind the dropshadow. ”What if he was a she?” is more serious in its message. The whole title of the piece is ”What if he was a she, would it make any difference?” This is based on my musings on the question if the world would be different if Jesus had been a woman. I’ve put a stylized woman on the cross and the whole scene pictures a dark period in swedish history with witch-burning. It’s a flaming situation with disguised men in front of the crucifix. I know some people have reacted to this piece and so do I. Still, I like it because it helps me to deal with my question.


Tony Nilsson

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What if he was a she


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Tony Nilsson

The way you sometimes saturate your canvas as you did in The Big C and The Peasant has suggested me that your works could be also considered allegories of the conflictual relation between the weight of colors and the ephemeral concept of shape: moreover, your paintings seems to be pervaded with an inner narrative, but you reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to offer to the viewer an Ariadne’s Thread that allows to find personal interpretations to the stories you tell through your colorful plasticity. How much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your works?

I m so glad and pleased if my message comes through the way you explain it. I never want to impose the definitive interpretation of any of my works to my audience. This is the way that I want to consume and digest art. I absolutely love your description of me offering Ariadne s Thread to the beholder. And this is one of the things I take as a reward when exhibiting. When I can talk to my audience and listen to their interpretations of my works. Sometimes I end up with a completely different interpretation than I intended from the beginning. You are so right about your reflections on my conflict of form v.s. color. If one browse through my entire production, one will soon find out that for me, form is superior to color. I like the way your 3’s a crowd and Bowl Bitch play with little reminders to everyday life: this establishes an area of intellectual interplay with the viewers, that are urged to evolve from the condition of a merely passive audience. In particular, your process of semantic restructuration of a view has reminded me of the ideas behind Thomas Demand’s works, when he stated that ”nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to

The Big C

probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead”. While conceiving Art could be considered an abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a permanence that goes beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the concepts you explore. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Yes, I want to establish some kind of communication emerging from the spur of the moment. Needless to point out


Tony Nilsson

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The Peasant


Segregation


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Tony Nilsson

maybe, but these are specific situations, not necessarily born out of my own personal experience. I think these situations come to be the same way my sketches are. I then, merely spice these situations to fit my message. As an answer to your question: Yes, I think that you can be personally disconnected in the creative process. At least I can. Maybe not entirely, but to a greater extent. When I initiate a project it s rarely emanating from a per- sonal experience. I add this later on as the work progresses. As you have remarked in your artist’s statement, you love photographs that just don’t portray reality as it is: Philippe Dagen once established in his Le Silence des peintres, the coming of a straight realism has caused a progressive retrenchment of painting from a representative role of reality. With exception of Hyperrealism movement, Painting is nowadays more and more marked out with a symbolic feature. Do you think that the dichotomy between Representation and Painting is by now irremediable?

Absolutely, it has passed the point of no return, and really - why not? From my point of view I can t see why one should transfer a motive onto a two-dimensional representation with absolute lifelikeness. For that, why not use a camera? This kind of art offers me nothing and to me it seems a waste of creative potential. I love art in all forms that tells something about the artist and his interpretation. This is when art can become stimulating and intellectual. Another interesting piece of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on which I

3's a crowd

would like to spend some words is the The Peace: the multilayered experience that comes from the symbiosys between light and shadow suggests me a deep dynamism, and despite its apparent static nature, there are several ways I can relate my perception with this piece, and I think this is related with the way you use to highlight a particular part of the subject area focusing on how it can stand independently brings a new level of significance, to the usu- al idea behind the concepts you explore: and I would go as far as to state that in a certain sense it invites the viewers to challenge the common way we relate to the perceptual process that allows us to


Tony Nilsson

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Bowl Bitch


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The Peace

Tony Nilsson


Tony Nilsson

dialogue with the reality we inhabit... By the way, I’m sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even ”en- crypted” 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 totally agree with your opinion and conviction that messages, ideas are hidden or even enchrypted in our environment. I ve stumbled on this fact quite a few times and it s always fascinating how things come to you when you least expect it to. Don t ask me to explain, because I don t have the right answer. I think it somehow works with your subconsciousness. The messages that I believe come to me, do that for a reason and because I m conditioned for it and receptive to it at the time. I refer to my artist s statemant and the brilliant quotation of Paul Klee: The task of an artist is to visualize what would without him be kept in the unknown . I definitively love the way you extract a personal vision from the reality you draw form, as you do with the concept of body in Ping Pong, that I have to admit is one of my favourite piece of yours. Daniel Richter once highlighted that many contemporary artists as Edward Burtynsky or modern ones as Frida Kahlo use to convey some form of socio political messages in their creation. Do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach?

Again, I agree with you. Ping Pong is also one of my favorite pieces. Not that it holds any political or social message. At least it wasn t my intention when making it. I do however

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think that I have political and social issues with some of my works. Peace as you mentioned before is one example. It s my personal reflection on the process of peace negociation and what ingredients it consists of, terrorbalance, hunger for power, respect, disrespect etc. Another piece that I mentioned earlier is What if he was a she... I m confident that our world would look different if that was the case. And maybe that s the fact, and it has just been silenced throughout history for some reason. I don t know but it opens up a staggering perspective. While capable of conveying personal emotions, each of your brushtrokes seems to keep away from an instinctive approach: rather, you seem to be particularly careful with the way you choose colors and juxtapose shapes: does your process allow you to get an univocal idea before you start to paint or do you follow the evolution of the painting? By the way, any comments on your choice of ”palette” and how it has changed over time?

A) That s a correct observation and I think this is the result of my working process. I am extremely careful about my compostion and the value of lines and forms. As I mentioned before I always keep pen and paper no further than an arm s lentgh away. I always sketch and I save everything, even if it at the moment might seem worthless. I keep all my sketches in two giant bags. I use these sketches/studies to combine new compositions. Then I use my tracer (an art projector) to enlarge these small sketches to meet my compositional needs. I find it a dynamic way of working and it allows for some forms and figures to reappear in different contexts in new pieces. This way of working also gives you time to contemplate


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Ping Pong

Tony Nilsson


Tony Nilsson

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and reflect on different solutions. As for my choice of palette, I think my palette is the victim of my passion for lines and forms. For me forms are superior to colors. Therefore a big part of my production contains black & whites which are more like illustrations where I play with the interaction of forms. My wife Kattis, loves the black & whites, the rough sketches. She encourages me to pursue with these sketches, and to be honest I could really see some of them blown up as big reproductions. I haven’t laborated that much with colors in my work, merely because of the obsession of lines and forms. I think it’s important to mention that about fifteen years ago you started your own company, T-Sign: so I couldn’t do without asking your opinion about the point of convergence between Art and Business... I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

No, your right about that! Not an honest one anyway. Yes, I started my advertising/design bureau back in 1999 and it s still running at full speed. This provides, besides a reliable income, the ideal mix for me. In my daily work as art director I work within certain given parameters. Parameters that I don t have to pay any attention to as an artist. I can claim artistic freedom and God, do I :) It s a great counter-balance. Before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

Every artist handles feedback and critique in their own way, I’m no exception. To my advantage I have developed a certain approach to this. I am on a daily basis in my work as art director, being judged


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Tony Nilsson

by my clients. I admit it’s a little different when I get judged on my more personal work, my art. I think it’s a little easier for me to handle this. I know that some artists are very sensitive about feedback, especially negative feedback. It’s the same way in advertising really. This business contains a lot of big egoes who won’t forget if you happen to step on their precious toes. This goes for some artists as well. It’s a given, everybody loves constructive and positive feedback. I had a lovely piece of advice from an old man who works an artist: ”So what if someone criticize your work, you can always claim artistic freedom”. I hope that I by saying this, won t come through as I don t care or because I regardless of what, go my own way. It s really the other way around. I am very susceptive to interpretation from my audience but it doesn t rule my deci- sion on what should be my next project or what to exhibit. I respect and honor the dialogue with my audience but as for the decision-making process, I am in charge. This is also why I never do any commission work. For me this is a drag and not creative enough. It impeeds my driving force to paint. Thanks a lot for this interesting conversation, Tony. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

A) Right now I’m in the midst of moving my studio and my residence. We now move in to a big house with a lot of opportunities. I’m able to move my studio to my home. On the ground floor of the house we have saved an area for me to start my own T-Sign Art gallery in Ängelholm. Mainly to display my own work, but of course, if someone I like wants to exhibit their work at my place, I’d be more than happy.

The Outkast

I have a big exhibition coming up in August. This exhibition will expose mainly huge pieces or should I say reproductions of some of my work. A lot of this work is unknown to a broader audience and especially the format of these pieces are new to everyone, even to me. It’s funny how the format can put things in a whole new perspective with a massive impact. Some of my pieces really works in a bigger format. When we get settled in our new house I hope I can begin painting again - at the moment it’s all painting the walls :) As for wishes, dreams and expectations? Restless as I am and curious about life, I


Tony Nilsson

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Yoga

Neptune

would love to be able split my life in half, being both an artist and an adman. How I will realize this dream is really written in the stars. One could argue that I would be so comfortable with PR that it would come easy to promote myself, but it isn’t. Promoting myself and my art is a completely different task.

of the gallery, they weren’t as serious as they sounded in the beginning. Today my only ”representation” is a collaboration with www.fineartamerica.com. My art is exposed to a broader audience worldwide and sometimes some sales comes along as well. I take my art seriously even if I have a very relaxed view on my production, I protect my work, I see it as my legacy.

I would like to broaden my contacts outside of Sweden and maybe get an exhibition or representation with a gallery. I had an opportunity a couple of years ago with a gallery in Berlin, Germany. I passed on that because once I investigated the background

Again, thank you very much for having me here at Peripheral ARTeries and for your interesting questions!


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Carolina Vis (the Netherlands)

I am Carolina a self-represented autodidact painter from the Netherlands. For me, art is more than a painting, sculpture or opera I watch or listen to. Art has to make me feel very serene. Art makes me feel alive! It gives me the feeling that I can live my life to the full. When I start painting, I just listen to my inner self. Every single touch to the canvas brings the art to life. Every time I get a smile on my face, I know something special is happening. I know that it will be something I’ve never done before. That’s the moment I start feeling alive. I paint as often as possible in trying to capture the many ideas that appear around me and in my mind, the question is not to know what to paint, but how to paint. I like a lot of styles: Original Abstract Art, Contemporary Abstract Art and abstract Expressionism and Yes, Jackson Pollock is a great influence and one of my favorite. I always try to represent my emotions on my canvas, using different composition, color and shape. It will be modern expressionistic art: decorative and full of inspiration. Who knows what the future will bring me? I am still looking out for new styles of art and will probably always love the emotions of making a visual creation.

Carolina Vis


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An interview with

Carolina Vis Drawing inspiration from Abstract Expressionism, Carolina Vis explores the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind, providing the viewer of a deep and incessant process of connection between the inner reality and the outside world. One of the most convincing aspect of her approach is the way her narration of the ephemeral and emotional dimension of subjectivity condenses the permanent flow of the perception of the reality we inhabit in. It is with a real pleasure that I would like to introduce our readers to her stimulating works. Hello Carolina, and welcome to Peripheral ARTeries: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? In particular, as an autodidact artist, are there any experiences that influenced you as an artist and impacted on the way you currently conceive and produce your artworks?

Thank you all, for this warm welcome!. I am also like other Artist depending on periods of inspiration, but I see many forms of Art in the everyday scenes. I try to live my life every day like it could be the last day, I could have at this world. That gives me the drive to be inspired about all aspect of life, think about being impressed by the sound of the sea or tasting a pure vegetable, or hearing a great concert or singing voice that make you cry and touch you totally. As a child I realize that nothing is for sure in life. My father left his three children, when I was at an age of 11 years old. I am grateful to him! He have makes me conscious and he makes me the person I ‘am today! Even without being a part of my life!

Carolina Vis

There was not a better lesson in life and no better start of being conscious! I realized that painting has a stronger impact than writing. But how do you express an emotion? The older I became the more I became conscious about other subjects where my emotions are driven by. 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?

Oh, that isn’t an easy question. I do Yoga and I enjoy every moment of my life.


Carolina Vis

But my inspiration becomes most of the time in my dreams. It will be a subject which have driven me furious or had make my totally happy but at

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least something that had given me a strong emotion. Every artwork come with a specific technic, and because I am autodidact I am not afraid of trying any kind of technic. This is as


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Carolina Vis

positive side but also a negative one, mistake can be made. My Atelier is my special space, it is always waiting for me, ready to make a new creation!

There are so many times that I close my Atelier, look around all the paint and attribute reaching my inner peace and being very intentional about how I focus my attention on the canvas and the colours.


Carolina Vis

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would suggest to our readers to visit your website directly at http://cjvis-fineart.com in order 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?

It is not easy to describe, but if you look to “Red Butterfly” You will see almost directly the combination of the colours. The colours have a connection. They getting stronger because they are together. Every little tone from bright white till deep in red. By this Art work I did try to get my mind empty, and to be honest it worked, I did feel serene. Red Butterfly comes out of a very good time, a time when I felt calm and serene inside of me. Blue Wave was one of the powerfull emotions. Every Art work will be driven by an emotion. . What the viewer of my Art will feel, think or experience is up to the viewer, but I am honoured that they admire my Art. What has particularly impressed me of Spring Time is the way, by heightening the tension between reality and perception of it, this work explores the concept of emerging language and direct experience: this is a feature that I can recognize in another interesting work entitled Confusion... so I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from, Red Butterfly and Blue Wave, two extremely interesting works that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article: and I

Springtime makes me still smiling because of the nice memory. I have a small atelier, this is because, I like to work from my home. But anyway I lost myself complete in Springtime I even didn’t release, that I left the door open from my atelier. So the paint was up on the wall! And my little dog did the rest, paint all over the place from the kitchen to the living room! I didn’t notice anything, I was so focus trying to go farther than my mind could think and farther


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Carolina Vis

than my feeling could go. On the moment I finished painting I felt completely empty, but so free. I really tried to let go everything. See it this way: If a bird like to sit on the branch of a tree, and would not let the branch go, then the bird is stuck in life! If the bird is so free to let go, it arrives freedom and can fly much higher as the bird ever could imaging.. CONFUSION: What black covers, white uncovers, in confusion we see the result of such a mixing, When white

appears, black becomes white, the color of new beginnings. The process of making Art without a connection is for me personally not possible. What I did try once, was to talk about the emotion which my friend did get through in her life and I did paint what I feel by hearing her story. She was shocked and happy to have that painting. It still hang on her wall, she looks several times a day to the paint, and she always get a smile by just looking at the painting.. That is for me a very great compliment!


Carolina Vis

The investigation about the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind is a crucial and recurring aspect of your work: it plays an important role not only in Colors in my Mind, but also and especially in Les bouteilles. In particular, I can recignize that there always seems to be a sense of narrative in your works: how much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your images?

The way I try to life is conscious day by day, and that is why some Art works are tittle by my Artlovers as “Pure” Colors of my mind is there for a good example. There are even little lines at “color of my mind” which have three different colours at the same time, in the same line.

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It is for me as a person more like a concert, every instrument plays, and sometimes they play the same line at the same time, but even it match great together, i still can hear them individualy and Pure. So yes i hope people feel and see that in my paintings. But it is also like reading a book, every person will interpret the story his or her own way. And that is what Art does. Art does change people, make people more conscious of the beauty of the world. But it is still my own inner emotions that I try to get into the painting. Les bouteilles???A sense of narrative in my works? The South of French, the beauty of the Vineyard. After a good glass of wine and good conversation with nice French people I went out


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Carolina Vis


Carolina Vis

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of the place and behind the house was standing an couple of old bottles…… After a long summer, I still had the picture of those bottles in my mind. I did Paint them in October, and during painting I did feel the sun of French and tasted the wine again…….Outside the rains did fall at my windows, that is reality, but in my mind it was warm sunny and beautiful.. Another interesting project of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on which I would like to spend some words is entitled Sunday: the multilayered experience suggested by these works is capable of bringing a new level of significance, recontextualizing the usual idea behind the concept of landscape: and I would go as far as to state that in a certain sense your works force the viewers' perception in order to challenge the common way to perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension... 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?

It is for the human being important to grow and develop thinking, feeling emotions and empathy for others.. What I try to give, is a way to watch from different sides without a judgement. How often I see something and don`t have directly an opinion, and notice that in a later stadia my opinion change because I start to look at another perspective. So I make Art because I have to express myself, but I am charmed and happy that a person take the time to look at my Artwork, try to understand what I did try to mean to say with the Artwork, or even buy my Art. I always explain to a collector: What you get from me is not only my Art, you get my sadness, my sorrow and my worry`s and all my other emotions at the same time! But what I


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Carolina Vis


Carolina Vis

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Carolina Vis

really appreciated is that you buy me time in life, that I will be able to develop myself and create more Art. You buy me freedom of feeling and thinking and exploring! And yes I think there is more between heaven and earth……There is a possibility that there are some people living in a higher dimension. But I’m a realist and standing with my both feeds on the ground, I still think the world have some mystery’s. Or at least human included

me, have still a long way to go, to live life Pure to the fullest. Your works are intrinsically connected with the chance of creating a deep interaction with your viewers, urging them to follow your process and pushing them to not play as a passive audience. Many contemporary artists, as the photographers as the Edward Burtynsky and Michael Light have some form of political message in their works. Do you consider that your pieces are in a certain


Carolina Vis

sense "political"or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach? By the way, although I'm aware that this might sound a bit naïf, I have to admit that I'm sort of convinced that Art -especially nowadays- could play an effective role in sociopolitical questions: not only just by offering to people a generic platform for expression... 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?

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I do create Art in the first place for myself, to touch my own soul, without any idea “what the viewer will think about it” But I’m glad that people understand the meaning of my Artworks. That sounds a little egoist selfish, but the creation finds place in my own little world, in my own little feelings and thoughts. Of course maybe I `am a little eccentric, and of course I wish that the world change, that we human will appreciate each other more and treat each other equal and with respect, but I know my


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Carolina Vis


Carolina Vis

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name is not Martin Luther King, my name is Caroline, and putting the whole world on my shoulders would be to heavy for me! So that is not my choice. Those are my thoughts, but I did change my way of living because of all the expressions I did get from other nice people. My paintings are sometimes indeed socio-political, a good example is: ‘The Hunt”, “Dancing People” and City Lights But the interpretation of those Art works, I leave it to the viewer. To see the news everyday arrive in our living room is changing people, or at least is changing me. I do not wish to change people, if by accidently people start to think different or even start to be standing more conscious in this world, then, they change by themselves, because they want to……Not just because they see Art of me or reading this interview. No, just because they are ready to change and taking the next step. I personally don`t think that Art can change the nation, but sometimes Art can change a person! I would define Stronger a dynamic painting: the soft nuances of red on the background works as a springboard to the opaque that light that burst out of the canvas... such nuance of red that has suggested me such a tactile sensation, a feature that I can recognize in The Clash as well... to by the way, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

The choice that I did make by “stronger and the Clash” had also here to work together with my feelings. I did painted them almost by night, and I did hear one of my favourite songs during the hours of paint. ” You`re so Creul from U2”. I never explain so deeply what I do mean with my painting but if the readers of Peripheral ARTeries makes a combination of the text from the song and me, they will maybe understand. If I talk about colours of my pallet, I can tell I lost my mind in colours, I love colours, that doesn’t change ever If you look, “Blue night dreaming” or “lost my way” you can see that I use almost every colour, and love the combination of dark and light to get a bright effect.


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Carolina Vis


But I love this two Paintings I look to them with a smile, they are a part of me, they are twins, they belong together, because they were born/create together. As an Artist there always are some Art that you love too much too let go! Well this twins are a big peace of my heart. Now, as usual, I would like to pose you some questions about the relation with your audience. During your career your works have been extensively exhibited in several occasions and your works are in many private collections... 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? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

I did sell once an Art that I didn`t like to sell, I said several times to this nice collector that this Art was/is


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Carolina Vis

not mend to sell. But if a collector is sure he want to have it for his collection and explains the way how he is looking at my Art, what this painting means to him, and his story is Pure and feels good well.......... well we ended up with a good glass of wine and good conversation and this nice men walked out with a big packet under his arm. It feels like a big compliment, if you notice good critics. But my life is not depending on those critics. I have to live my life Pure is so much more important for me, to grow and buy me time to go father then I ever could go, to overtake myself in creating Art but also grow in feeling and mind. And there are some collectors who are special to me because they left an e-mail for me, and explain their feelings about the Artwork to me. That does something with me, because they all have different experience! But good critics give me a good boost. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Carolina. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects. How do you see your work evolving?

At this moment I’m exercise myself to paint an emotion and feel an emotion from somebody else, and try to get that catch in an Art. I never thought I will put myself to a challenge like that. It need a couple of hours listening to a person who tells me where he or she did go true in life. It needs a lot of empathy and imagination, but it gives me a very good feeling and practicing. Until now I did create for some private persons and a collector and thank the universe they were shocked and still looking for hours to their Art, with their own emotion in it. Till so far it brings me JoY! For people who likes that project send me an e-mail info@cjvis-fineart.com For all the people who have brought me time to develop my talent I say a very big Thank You!


Carolina Vis

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Catarina Pereira (Portugal) An artist's statement

In my artistic research I develop a painting, a process has two steps: "Photographic Painting" and "Painting". I denominate "Photographic Painting" the process of formation of the various moments of the future painting. When this process ends, I get the "painting" itself. The painting is generated in the aqueous environment, and the result is the product of the ephemerality of a process of metamorphosis. This process is done in a glass tank with liquid resulting from the fusion of painting materials such as: acrylic, watercolors, ecolines, gouaches, and materials not involved in the painting for example: culinary sauces, detergents and beverages. To register the action that develops in the aqueous environment spontaneously and naturally, I resort to photography. It this fixes the instants of the chemical process that occurs, and generate the elements’ metamorphosis. To this process I want to call it, in the connection of my work, "Painting Photography". It derives from two actions –the fusion of the pigments with the aqueous environment (which is a natural process of cause - effect) and a photographic process (which is artificial and mechanical action) which records the sequence of instants that are ephemeral in the future gene painting. These two actions are part of my pictorial art process.


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An interview with

Catarina Pereira One of the most convincing feature of Vieira Pereira's work is the way she snatches the essential spirit of an image: in her stimulating Photographic Painting project that we'll be discussing in the next pages, she accomplishes the difficult task of expanding the limit of painting, conveying memories and imagination to a coherent unity, capable of creating an area of interplay that transports the viewer in a hidden dimension behind the world we perceive, discovering unsuspected but ubiquitous connections. I'm particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Catarina, and a very warm welcome to Peripheral ARTeries: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? In particular, you hold a solid formal training and you hold both a college degree in Visual Arts and New Media and a master degree in Fine Arts that you received from the School of Arts and Design of Caldas da Rainha: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist and how did they impact on the way you currently conceive and produce your works?

My college was more “alternative� than academic and it has really good workshops (wood, metal, photography, digital media, silkscreen printing, engraving...), so the students can do whatever they want and with freedom. The students start to work alone by themselves since the first year, which is good because all that matters is the individual idea from each student, we all do diferent works and in the end we learn a lot not just with the teachers but with the other collegues ( sometimes I learnt more with my collegues than with my teachers).


Kristi Beisecker

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Catarina Pereira

I decided to took the master degree because I really needed time to think theorically about my work and research, with only the degree that was not possible. The artist needs time to make the objects and to think about them, in my opinion it’s a necessity and it makes the object more consistent and captivating. 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?

The eye is very important in my work, I need to visualize the “small perceptions”, every little thing that moves and happens is crucial to my work. I review my work in this quote from José Gil: “"What does a painter do? He Makes an object that shows little perceptions working at a macroscopic scale. [...] Extending the space gaze, the painter opens infinitely the small perceptions field: because if microperceptions now worth by macropercepções, it is because they contain, included, other even smaller perceptions."


Catarina Pereira

I did a lot of experiences with diferent materials to test them and to visualize what effects and reactions were more effective and interesting. I use a combination of diferent pigments like acrylic, watercolors, ecolines, gouaches and materials not involved in the painting for example: culinary sauces, detergents and beverages. The reason why I use all these pigments is because they react differently in water, for example: I realize when I used bleach the inks get suspended in the center or a little above and take longer to settle. The rest comes with experience and artistic sensibility.

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Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from Photographic Painting, a recent series of yours that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: would you tell us something about the genesis of this stimulating project? What was your initial inspiration?

In my artistic research I develop a painting, a process that has two steps: "Photographic Painting" and "Painting". I denominate "Photographic Painting" the process of formation of the various moments of the future painting. When this process ends, I get the


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Catarina Pereira

"painting" itself. The painting is generated in the aqueous environment and the result is the product of the ephemerality of a process of metamorphosis. This process is done in a glass tank with liquid resulting from the fusion of different pigments. To register the action that develops in the aqueous environment, spontaneously and naturally, I resort to photography. It fixes the instants of the chemical process that occurs, and generates the elements metamorphosis. To this process I call, in the connection of my work, "Painting Photography". It derives from two actions –the fusion of the pigments with the aqueous environment (which is a natural process of

cause - effect) and a photographic process (which is artificial and mechanical action) which records the sequence of instants that are ephemeral in the future gene painting. These two actions are part of my pictorial art process. The fusion of the pigments will settle on the bottom of the tank and the sedimentation will originate, somewhat randomly, my painting. It appears as follows: before adding any pigment in the container, I put in the bottom a canvas for the sedimentation of the pigments. The generated colors on the surface of the canvas will be my painting. I developed new tanks for the paintings, which I call the "Painting Devices"


Catarina Pereira

and from those tanks emerged the sculptural objects of my work. When I first happened to get to know with the works from this interesting project I tried to relate all the visual information to a single meaning. But I soon realized that I had to fit into the visual rhythm suggested by the work, forgetting my need for a univocal understanding of its symbolic content: in your work, rather that a conceptual interiority, I can recognize the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

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It is very intuitive and sensitive, especially because the color is critical and depends on what is happening in the aqueous medium. No matter how many times you do this each work session is unique. But this intuitive part is also a major part of my research. I like the way your careful approach offers a rigorous but at the same time lively visual translation of the sights tha pervades our reality: in this sense, your practice is intrinsically connected to the chance of creating an area of intense interplay with the viewers, that are urged to evolve from the condition of a merely passive audience:


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Catarina Pereira

while conceiving Art could be considered a purely abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a permanence that goes beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the concepts you capture. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

No never, the creative process is always connect with the experience of creation. For example we can have an simple idea or even just a sketch but after that the object and the real experience just happens and comes around when we are working and creating someting. Is when we are creating that things happens and is when we realize that the object works out and can give emotions to the viewer. This work started when I was making my coffee and I poured milk on my mug and I realized that a explosion of color and effects were going on and that those were beautiful. The natural process of cause - effect that marks out your Photographic Painting process has reminded me what German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand once stated: "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead": what's your point about this? And in particular, how much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your works?

I think that what is really important in my work is the process itself. It is the narrative of the painting that matters, in the end, what my photographs shows is the instants of the process of the painting and her “life�. Over time I realized that and started shooting not only what was happening inside the tank but also the tank itself and me working on it, because this way I could convey to the viewer my process in its entirety. The thoughtful nuances of tones of red that I have admired in your pieces have suggested me such a tactile sensation: any comments on


Catarina Pereira

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Catarina Pereira


Catarina Pereira

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

I really like red and blue, they are my favourite colours. But I use colour in a very intuitive way and depending in what is happening inside of the tank. I choose some colors before I start my work but it‘s always impossible to know what are, exactly the colors, that I will use. Sometimes I don’t even use part of the colors that I had prepared. The ambience created by the works from your Photographic Painting has reminded

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me the concept of Heterotopia elaborated by French social theorist Michel Foucault. What has mostly impacted on me is the way you have been capable of bringing a new level of significance to the concept of symmetry, a recurrent feature of your approach that urges the viewers' perception in order to challenge the common way to perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension... 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-


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Catarina Pereira

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?

Sometimes my images can transport the viewer to another place, to a “non-place�, the image transports us to another dimension, in some of them we can see similarities to the universe. The symmetry rendered my images more figurative and less abstract. An image, when

arranged from symmetrical axes cames close to, almost automatically, a figuration of mimetic character, for example, despite the interpretation being personal, of chimeric creatures, monsters, aliens and the inside of the body. It is the only part of my work where's digital manipulation. The symmetry also made my images more three-dimensional, they almost "jump off" the paper or screen.


Catarina Pereira

During your these years your works have been extensively exhibited in several occasions around the world, including a recent exhibition at the 5th edition of Bons Sons festival, where you have shown Photography painting. So, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception and viewers' feedback as being a crucial component of your decision-

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making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

Yes, of course. The viewer is extremely important. Umberto Eco developed the concept of the “open work�, where the viewer is the last part of the work of art, the artist creates the work but is not the artist who finnish it, the next step is to put that object in the world so the viewer can see it and and enjoy it, apreciate it and have sensations, for me this 3 steps is what


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Catarina Pereira


Catarina Pereira

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Catarina Pereira

makes an object a piece of art, because if the object doesn’t “talk” or “gives sensations” to the viewer is not a piece of art. An object hidden and closed in a box doesn’t exist to the world, an art object needs to be seen. Thanks a lot for this interesting conversation, Catarina. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your

future projects. How do you see your work evolving?

All through my previous work I used the camera CANON EOS 500D and now I'm using a GoPro camera inside the tank itself, directly in the water, in order to have a new perspective and a different dimension in the photographic images of the instants of the painting


formation. That is, I want to pass from outside dimension (capture the images out of the glass tank) to an inner dimension (capture the images inside the glass tank) and to compare the differences and (perhaps) similarities between the images of the two cameras. On a metaphorical level, I intend to obtain images from inside the womb that generates the paint, images captured on the battlefield itself, where all the action is taking place.


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Kristi Beisecker (USA)

In the Spring of 2012 I took a class in Alternative Photography as part of my degree in Graphic and Interactive Design. I am also into spirituality and as part of this interest I discovered Kirlian Photography or as I like to term it - Electrography. Kirlian Photography is made using high voltage electricity to expose objects on photo sensitive paper. In the realm of spirituality this photo process is said to capture the life force energy of organic materials, thus using it as a scientific process. Those who use the process look at it in a scientific mind frame and just photograph one object. Seeing its' potential as an art form, I took the process and reinvigorated it to be compatible with traditional darkroom processing. As this process was originally developed to use Polaroid film - which is expensive now my college only had darkroom processing so I used the materials that were available to me. In the creation process, I applied my design skills of composition, relationships to elements on the page and how to arrange objects on a page where the energy flowed through the design. To me these photographs aren't just photograms but a cultivation of my entire knowledge as an artist.

Kristi Beisecker


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An interview with

Kristi Beisecker In the work of Kristi Beisecker the deep symbiosis between Art and Technology creates a permanent interplay between beauty and inscrutability. Providing the convincing proof that Spirituality can be found in every side of the reality we inhabit in, her experimental approach accomplishes the difficult task of leading us to rethink about the way we perceive the outside world, and urges the viewers to investigate about the existence of unexpected relationships between opposites aspects of everything around us. I am particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating works. Hello Kristi, and a warm welcome to Peripheral ARTeries: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid training, and you hold a degree in Graphic and Interactive Design: moreover, about three years ago you took a class in Alternative Photography, that has particularly impacted on the way you currently produce your artworks: would you like to tell us readers something about this stimulating experience?

Thank you for including me! This is actually my first interview any type of publication so I'm really excited! I enjoy sharing my work with others and appreciate the admiration that it is getting. In terms of discovering this process, it was kind of ironic really, I never saw myself as a traditional studio artist (painting, drawing, ceramics, etc) and struggled in those areas. My brain can handle concepts of both what is considered "left" and "right" concepts, so focusing on what I actually saw instead of what I thought I saw was challenging for me. However, I had completed my degree a whole years worth early and could've graduated in the winter of 2011 instead of spring 2012. But there was a snafu in my credits and a health issue arose and I had to do


Kristi Beisecker

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Kristi Beisecker

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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?

Well the actual device used to create these was built by my father who was a mechanical engineer and worked for Corning until he retired. I was determined to learn the electrical aspects as well, but since this was for a semester project I had little time for error and was doing many other projects at the same time. So after discussing this project with my father he agreed to help build the first model of the device and shipped it to me from home. As I continued to explore this process, the device was upgraded from being battery operated to being able to plug it into the wall as well as having a larger discharge plate to make 8x10 photograms. I would go more into the electrical aspects, but I think I'd loose some of your readers -laughs-.

another year of college. Since I had two semesters worth of time I decided to explore my creativity a bit and took the class in Alternative Photography spring semester. Because at the time I was studying spirituality and learning about the psychic phenomena I was developing at the time, I ran across Kirlian Photography and thought that not a lot work was done exploring this process in a creative sense since the process used in almost a strict scientific sense. The art department was really excited and open to the project as they were open about spirituality in general. (I mean, the campus was built in 1742 and had stories of it being haunted‌ so otherworldly concepts weren't frowned upon.)

When I carried out this project in college I used the materials available to me. Originally the Kirlian Process used polaroid film, but that's expensive now and more expensive than darkroom processing. I was taking a class in Intro to Photography at the time and just decided to use the materials I had at the time which resulted in the photograms that you see today. As a result I have renamed this process to "Electrography" as A) I don't feel comfortable having some guys name attached ("Kirlian") to my artwork since it I feel it is really unique and may cause confusion and B) "Electrography" is more apt to describing my work. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from your Kirlian Photography series, an extremely interesting project that our readers have already started to admire


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Kristi Beisecker

in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to our readers to visit your website directly at http://www.kglyphics.com in order to get a wider idea of your artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

As I mentioned before I was developing some interesting psychic phenomena at college (maybe it had to deal with being in haunted buildings 24/7, I don't know‌) but I gained a huge interest in combining science and spirituality and figured there must be a way to combine them both. And what I learned was that this wasn't such a contemporary idea. Back in ancient history as I'm sure many of us know, alchemy was the father of modern chemistry. However, alchemy was more than just transmuting one element to another - in mystery schools - they teach that there are spiritual correspondences attached to these elements. And if you combine the right spiritual correspondences to the right physical elements you get a unified third - a third element. To me I feel that this is the epitome of my artwork. We're taking the element of light (or electricity) having it come into contact with water (in the organic materials) to create a spark, or an effect on the paper (the unified third). Not to mention that act of processing darkroom paper is also very alchemical in a way. But this spark is said to stimulate and capture the sensitive energy in water - water was held in very high regard in ancient history as being the source of life. (My graphic design professor actually came up to me at the end of the semester and told me that she could see a faint energetic pattern that mirrored what is captured on the paper being emitted from the paper). As I dove into this mysterious world of science and spirituality, there is a term in the Alternative Science world that they call this mysterious combination which is "Borderland". A research foundation out in California has

started a publication called the Journal of Borderland Sciences to continue the circulation of knowledge that is from mysterious combination. Actually, the whole history behind the "Borderland Sciences" is interesting. Most of the science that was developed in this mysterious area was exposed after WWII ended in 1945. There haven been many accounts of Hitler trying to develop mysterious consciousness based technology to get ahead in the military. When the war ended there was a massive leak in files and documenting of these experiments Hitler was trying to conceive - keyword: trying. There have also been reports of Hitler connecting with psychic mediums who claimed to have contact with an alien race to try to obtain advanced technological plans for saucer-


Kristi Beisecker

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Barbara Bervoets


Kristi Beisecker

type technology. But this is the foundation of the "Borderland Sciences". Seymon Kirlian actually discovered his process in 1939, long before WWII ended. Many people wonder why this technology wasn't developed completely and used for the benefit of humanity‌ I guess those in power decided that it might be the end of humanity if this technology ever got into the wrong hands. Ever since then there has been a clandestine effort to keep this technology hidden and secret. What has particularly impressed me of your Kirlian Photography series is the way such multilayered experience is capable of bringing a new level of significance to a concept, re-contextualizing the ideas behind it: and I would go as far as to state that in a certain sense your works force the viewers' perception in order to challenge the common way to perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension... 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?

After studying the mysteries I very much agree! In the mysteries the knowledge is conveyed through symbols and allegory as nature communicates through this method so it is very natural. This is how in the ancient times the scientific knowledge was conveyed in symbols and pictograms. As a psychic medium I see the world from the inside out while most people see the world as the outside in and there is SO much many people are missing because they are so focused on the physical. This world is a constant state of alternating between organized energy and unorganized energy. In science this is known as the 'particle wave'. In one state energy is balled up (an 'atom') and in another state it is relaxed (a 'wave'). Everything in between the atom and the wave is the subtle world, the spiritual world and that's where all the secrets lie.

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As you have remarked once, your works aren't just photograms but a cultivation of your entire knowledge as an artist: I definitely love the way, by heightening the tension between reality and perception of it, this work explores the concept of emerging language and direct experience... so I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Oh yes, it is indispensable! If I wasn't interested in psychic phenomena or spirituality I wouldn't have come across the Kirlian Process. Your interests make who you are as an artist. The most interesting artists I have had the pleasure of meeting really know who they are; know what they like/dislike, what they find interests them and inspires them and seem to have found themselves. Taking control and advantage of technology, your approach goes beyond the usual but artificial dichotomy between tradition and experimentation: in this sense, multidisciplinarity is a crucial aspect of your approach and it's remarkable the way you are capable of creating such an effective symbiosis between elements from different techniques, manipulating language and recontextualizing images and especially the concepts behind them: while crossing the borders of different 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?

Yes. I don't believe the world is just black and white. In order to achieve a higher perspective/intelligence/understanding of some concepts, a unified third must be created. In some cases that third may be way ahead of its time. I think this thought process can be seen in people like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Nikola Tesla, etc. some of the many great inventors.


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Kristi Beisecker


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Barbara Bervoets


Kristi Beisecker

Your experience with your K Glyphics firm and your work as a freelance graphic designer in Massachusetts Working as a designer allows you to get the chance of get in touch with the thrilling and often fast paced commercial scene: I have been particularly impressed with the way your essential approach avoids to focus on a merely decorative aspect and I daresay that your works seem to raise the question of the role allocated to the individual in a worldwide economic and cultural integration... Many contemporary artists as Ansel Adams and especially Cindy Sherman use to convey some form of political message in their works. Do you consider that your pieces are in a certain sense "political"or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach?

While I appreciate activism in every sense and feel that it is needed to progress the world on a larger scale, I don't see my work as political. It takes no sides in the debate. I felt there was a lack of presence in the commercial art scene to appreciate all sides of different cultures. With enough understanding and balance one shouldn't be afraid to approach another country or culture to work with them. It broadens ones' horizon and delivers a greater sense of understanding across all cultures. I guess it promotes a certain peace if a side is to be taken. Now, as usual, I would pose you some questions about your relation with your 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 feedback- could even influence the process of an artist... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

Well, I may have a bias response to this because about 99% of the time I've gotten

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positive feedback from my artwork. Some may not believe in the spiritual aspect of it, but that's OK. I know that it's not everyone's cup of tea. I do feel that feedback is essential for artists to grow and develop their work. In college for graphic design we're always taught that it is OK to not like someone else's work, but just don't say, "I don't like it". Explain why, give some constructive criticism. I've ended up falling in love with critiques in college because it helped me grow and develop as an artist. Awards are nice and give validation. Without winning the Congressional In/Finite Earth award from VSA I wouldn't have had the confidence to continue the electrography work and progress it to where it is today. It allowed me to see how the artwork is seen on a professional level. I see myself as a people pleaser and often do my work around that (which albeit isn't necessarily the healthiest way to work) but in the end I found that working with the right person it actually helps me grow as an artist. Now that I know the value of my artwork, I feel that I can pursue it out of love and passion instead of trying to prove myself. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Kristi. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects. How do you see your work evolving?

I am planning to explore the world of science and innovation more and using my artistic ideas to experience this side more. More and more the world of art and science is developing and expanding and more opportunities are being presented to artists who see themselves as innovators or artists who work with science. I think it is important that both camps work together because it does create innovation and those innovations will evidently change our world. I also hope to carry out some ideas I have for my electrography and explore other creative areas with it.


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Susann Arnold I see the challenge of an artist mainly in keeping her- or himself a distinctive ability of perception. An artist should give everything not to get bitter and biased. Rather she or he should slow down and take time to look at everything carefully and reflect the procedures around her or him and withing this give the word „humanity“ a deeper meaning. The works that develop out of this inner attidude, will carry this ideas to the outside world. In my works i have some main themes, that i feel retarded, as it is the forest, animals and mystical thinking, that survived the enlightenment. But i am open to new fields as well. My way of working is intuitive, connected to a lot of experimenting and work-in-process. Aesthetically i like to work with alienations, like strong or pale colours or movements, that are a bit too fast or too slow and ambiguity, like for example forms, that look alike shadows. I am interested in structures and patterns, in a visual, as well as in a content manner. My works always come back to the fundamental questions of human existence.


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An interview with

Susann Arnold Hello Susann, and a warm welcome to Peripheral ARTeries: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? In particular, you have a solid formal training and you have degreed at the Hochschule f체r Grafik und Buchkunst, in Leipzig and you later had the chance to have an experience in Estonia: how have these experiences influenced you as an artist and how have they impacted on the way you currently conceive (konzipieren) and produce your works? Hello Peripheral ARTeries and readers.

I made one semester of guest studies in Berlin before i went for one year to Tallinn. It was very good to have a comparison to my studies in Leipzig. In Leipzig i could not find selfconfidence and satisfaction with the things i was doing or with the environment, the collegiate and young-people way of living around me. I asked myself every day, what i was doing there. My life didn`t correspond to me anymore, i felt like cut-out and glueed in a weird collage. Even though i met a lot of interesting people and had extraordinary experiences, i was depressed. I made fotos of myself in the worst moments, to remember me, that i have to change something. Berlin was like jumping into cold water and it helped me, to find my direction, my way again. It was a feeling like getting another chance, i felt the possibility that now i could really change something for myself. I was impressed by the different architecture styles and made long bycicle tours alone. I found a very good friend, Elena. We made films together and hang around all the time, it was funny and great. But then i had to leave again, what was a hard. In Estonia i was confronted with some very deep fears, artistic fears of scaping your own world,

but also personal fears. It was intense and i thank Priit P채rn a lot, that he gave me the possibility and room to get to know and overcome this. For his reason i went to Estonia, i wanted to study with him. That was a great incentive. In addition i saw a lot of easteuropean movies in Estonia, you cannot get an easy access from here. That was very inspiring and they touched me more then the most films i saw before. I felt suddenly like being home again in Estonia, after i lost this feeling in germany bit by bit after the reunion. The biggest change after Berlin, Estonia and my first long animation movie (4:33min, i needed 10 months for this) was, that after this i could work alone selfconfidently on my own ideas. Before i had been very fretful and had problems to finish my projects, because i had already 10 other ideas. Some people tell me, they can see something "east-european" in "Animals", for me it is mostly the kind of "humour" that reminds me. It is in the way things are connected. I grew up in the DDR, where people didn`t have so many things, so they had to be creative. My friend Alex, he is in my age, is still behaving in this way, even though there are easy solutions for almost every problem, he is searching for his own, complicated one. This takes time. I can feel some kind of "easy- and fastness" terror, that disturbs me. Too many things get lost: surprises, moments where you can find out about yourself, the development of relationships, creativity. What`s nowadays with finding your own way? Be not thrown away, if you don`t fit immediately, take time to listen to each other.... i fight for this like others. For the world to be more and more how we appreciate it. 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


Susann Arnold

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Susann Arnold

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 love to experiment. Mostly i use analog techniques with recycled or found, alienated

material. Usually i don`t use very much money, if you don`t count the time. I put a lot of time in the preparation of a project, because i try out a lot. But i don`t make a complete plan, i am always open to changes, i start to work with a small idea and see how it develops. I write down a lot and speak a lot with others. So the


Susann Arnold

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already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to our readers to visit your website directly at www.su-zilla.de, „Animals“: https://vimeo.com/97536102 in order to get a wider idea of your artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of these interesting paintings? What was your initial inspiration?

communication with my friends and family is essential to the development and shape of my projects. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from Animals, an extremely interesting project that our readers have

When i started with "Animals" i remembered that i thought sometimes: „I would like to have one city in the world, where all things i like are combined.“ I am talking especially about people and places. Because i lived and studied at different places, i always left something and someone, that was dear to my heart behind. So i wanted to create a place, where i really would like to be. At my degree show, one old proffessor said, he really wouldn`t choose to go to this place, if he had a choice. How my first idea could develop like this, i don`t understand myself. I mean, the places i show in „Animals“ are neither especially beautiful, nor are the characters special in their behaviour. But actually i think of myself that i am creative. Anyway, maybe it is like that, that i feel best, when everything is a more or less „normal“. I like the colours and characters i chose and the point, that you mentioned before. I suppose it is a movie for people, that like to observe, reflect and interpret things. They will find a universe inside. But if you look for an obvious narrative thread, you will maybe get lost. It is interesting, that you write you felt fear. Because the characters are so cute in a way, but the music we did concept in an opposite direction, it is inspired by the tones and music in horror movies. What i like a lot about this, is that not only the "living creatures" get a sound. Everyting gets a sound, and everything what has got a sound is alive. Like the feeling you could get in an old house. This concept works even stronger in animation, what is very close to a dream, where everything is possible. One of my favorite scenes in animation, where i was laughing a lot, is the beginning of "Getting Started" (1979 - Richard Condie). You see one


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Susann Arnold

minute (what is almost forever in animation) a door from the same perspective, there is not animated anthing. What happens is: you hear the sound and follow the story through this. At the end the picture follows a spider, because there is nothing else happening. That`s wonderful. Because in animation you could show everything, you could look trough the wall, or inside the head of the main figure, but this film uses the editing of a reallife-movie. And also animation is soooooo much work, so i think this solution is genius. Animals is in a way similar, that the things that happen, happen either on the picture-side or on the sound-side, sometimes on both, and often they complement each other. I decided for this out of belief because you can build your own world, if you hear a sound, but don`t see a picture to thisbut also to reduce and clear my work an visual imporant minimum. From a certain viewpoint Animals seems to explore an intimate, almost conceptual dimension, in a way that has reminded of early Jan Ĺ vankmajer's works: and I can recognize a going-over and increasing (zunehmend) hermetism (Geheimwissenschaft) in the way you carefully choose the few characters that are represented: although I'm aware that this might sound a bit naive I have to admit that when I first had the chance to admire this painting I received an inexplicable and deep feeling of angst... would you like to tell me something about the narrative behind this project? And in general, how much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your works?

It is interesting, that you mentioned your strong feelings of angst. Rationally i could not say, what generated this. Maybe the isolation of the figures? The archaic situation of bad weather and the search for a shelter? When i started to do the movie, i had just finished my theoretical graduation thesis, what was about a horror movie. I wrote almost 2 years on it and i discovered and developed a lot of fear in this time, so "Animals" was also planned as a

therapy of positive thoughts against this. But maybe you still feel the hints of other emotions too. For me it is very important that viewers get the chance to think for themselves and i am happy, that you felt this way as you wrote. I can get very angry, if i get the feeling somebody explains everything in a way like i would be


Susann Arnold

unable to think myself, i think this is respectless. I don`t mean explanations in general, i mean the way to do it. "Animals" does not have a completely planned concept, how it should appear on others or influence them. It is more that things just

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developed that way, because they are an expression of the way i feel and think and this also changed troughout the process. Some people like this and can find something for theirself in this way of expression, others not. But i have also done other works, that are


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Susann Arnold

maybe more approachable for a wider group of people. I love the way you juxtapose (nebeneinanderstellen) few references to human figures on such an abstract background space suggested by simple

shapes: this combination seems to speak us of living being fragility in comparison with an environment that appears a bit impenetrable (unzugänglich, undurchdringbar), and has reminded me the concept of non lieux elaborated by the French anthropologist Marc AugÊ... As an


Susann Arnold

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(entschlüsseln) it, in order to snatch (ergattern) some details that, although hidden, are of crucial (entscheidend, kritisch) importance for our lives: do you agree with this analisys?

Yes. Your analysis is very poetic and beautiful. I could not say it better. My concern in shapping "art" -if i would be asked directly- is to get others in a position where they start to acquire the world through their own thinking and perceiving. Some people are able to do this already, but some are raised different and i want to instigate them to grow courage to emancipate themselves and i think this can start with seeing every day things in a way, that is your own personal view and get excited by this. I can not accept if somebody says: things are as they are. There is -more or less- always a possibility to live a good live, for oneself and the others around. Shapes are something that employs me already for a long time, there is so much in it. By the way, the part in „Animals“ where the cat is leaving the pond is remniscent of Donald DuckComics, where you often see black shapes in the fore- or background. But i suggest, you speak more about the scene where the dog is in the kitchen. I think what makes this link to „non-places“ even stronger is that i worked on different layers, which is possible to see in the film. The animals are therefor also visually never really at one with their surrounding. Maybe this could also generate fear.

artist that I happened to interview underlined, "reality isn’t only what is in look, it is made by transcendental, unworldly – by all what are invisible, but are perceptible"... In this sense I think that your work urges us to extract a subjective vision of the reality we inhabit in: maybe to decipher

Your animation style encourages (ermutigen) a semiotic discovery of the visual: and I have really appreciated the way, by heightening (Erhöhung) the tension between reality and perception, this conceptual work explores the concept of language and of direct experience... so I would take this occasion (Gelegenheit) to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable (unerlässlich) part of a creative process... Do


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Susann Arnold

you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I don`t think you need extraordinary experiences, but what you need is the ability of perception, yes. And i think this perception can be disturbed or even destroyed from parents or teachers or others that treat persons in a bad way. For my sake, i learned a lot by listening to and watching other people. When i work i try to let things happen and to not evaluate them too much. I think the most work is anyway done by my subconsciousness. So the most important thing for me, is to stay relaxed somehow (that`s tough, i am a quite tight person), take time to calm down and be alone for some time. I am not doing Meditation, but often i try to concentrate on my perception after i met people and sometimes i can see pictures or i feel that there was something more, then the words, that was spoken and then i try to focus on this to find out, what my subconsciusness witnessed, what i missed. I read an Interview with David Lynch and it sounded a bit similar, what he is doing in his film-processes. And i collect particular sentences from songs and newspapers that touched me, that i use to remind me, what is important for me, and what not. As you have remarked once, your works always come back to the fundamental questions of human existence: I have highly appreciated the way your pieces are strictly connected with the chance of creating a deep intellectual and such an emotional interaction with your viewers, urging them to follow your process and pushing them to not play as a passive audience. Although I'm aware that this might sound a bit na誰f, I have to admit that I'm sort of convinced that Art -especially nowadays- could play an effective role in sociopolitical questions: not only just by offering to people a generic platform for expression... 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(端bertrieben)?

I am really happy, that you seem to read my thoughts, because you have a better way to express them. :) (: I agree with you in this radical


Susann Arnold

idea. And i don`t think we are the first ones, that thought this. In germany different books were forbidden in different regimes and this happens in other places and times as well and the reasons are often not obvious. For me i can see in "Animals" -even it is very harmless and

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cute and for all ages- grass roots for some kind of anarchic thinking. Maybe this is exaggerated too. Because if nobody sees the movie, it can not have big influence and these kinds of movies are not spread. So i am thinking also how i could reach more people. Also people,


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Susann Arnold

Susann Arnold

that are not already "privileged" in a way, that they go to filmfestivals and have already contact to some other cool cultural selfeducation. But i didn`t find a satisfying way yet. I work on it.

Multidisciplinarity is a relevant aspect of

The way you work is intuitive, connected to a lot of experimenting and work-in-process.

happened to realize that a symbiosis

your art practice in which also sound plays a crucial role: while crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever between different disciplines is the only way


Susann Arnold

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i told her, that i need so much time to read the newspaper, because i read it complete, all sections and i would like to understand everything and set in a context. It is a blessing and a curse. So there are times when i can decide better what catches my interest and times where i am a bit confused. So working multidisciplinary is maybe the easiest way for me, because i feel pain, to not be able to do everything, that i would like to. And i think: „I have to remember that there are real problems on earth.“ and i try to get myself to work in this direction. At the moment i think sometimes: i should stop art and concentrate on writing analysis about social problems and tendencys. I write some daily notes to practice, but to be honest: I don`t know how to find a way with this inner conflicts between what is "more easy" for me and what i think is necessary to do from a person in a privileged position, like me. And i have the foreshadowing, that this will occupy me again a long time.

al ARTeries Now let's deal about the relationship with your audience: it goes without saying that positive feedback, although are not definitely indespensable, are capable of providing an artist of an important support. I sometimes wonder if 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? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

I know a lot of one-disciplinary works from others, that touch me a lot. But i am so interested in everything and i really mean: everything. My friend Jenny was shocked, when

When i was a child i wanted to learn to play the guitar, my mother made this possible, but she was not very interested, that i show her something i had learned. That made me think a lot about the relationship between feedback and the things, that i would like to do. At the end i noticed, that i didn`t have the interest to continue and i wished, that she helped me in a way to overcome this. But as it didn`t happen, i stopped and did something else. Also now, it is not often, that i get feedback, maybe it is because of the way i tell others about my


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Susann Arnold


Susann Arnold

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Susann Arnold

activities: i am afraid somebody could know too much about me and also that there could be some pressure or expactations to what i am doing. As my works are very personal, i think

the best feedback is a dialogue that comes out. For example with "Animals", i am interested why somebody likes the movie. My friend Jurate said, she is happy, that i am not afraid of


Susann Arnold

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people from Chemnitz could make a strong emotional connection to the movie. And i think this is also because they find an imaginary "place", what reflects their feelings, their way of being, what happens not that often. So at the end, it maybe turns out to be what i wanted: the movie could be a "place", where some people, that feel something similar can meet. But sometimes i think, i should step up more to „the audience“. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Susann. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

colours, my friend Anne said she sees something of our "life-stories" inside of it. We both grew up in Chemnitz and we were around 6 when there was the reunification of germany. Everything was changing. Surprisingly a lot of

Currently, as alway, i am working on several projects: i try to establish a regulary screening of animation movies in Leipzig, that could be connected with other cool things, like inviting artists etc. (so dear reader contact me, if you are doing animation and think we should meet: norway_today@web.de), we founded an animation collective, i work as a movement teacher for children, i think about a halfway critical childrenbook project about princesses, i have to renew my webpage (it is 4 years old!!, an absolut no-no as an artist), i draw a diary last year -the name is „365“- and i look for a way to publish it, i plan a one-minute animation..... There are also other things in my head, but i could fill 2 more pages with this, so this are just some insights in my overfilled and chaotic agenda. Thank you very much for your wonderful questions and for taking the time to read them. Ahoi.


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Shauna Peck (USA)

YOU ARE NOT RELEVANT..

The exploration of competing realities in regard to authenticity is my premise. How do we consider relevance- in regard to the distinction between the authentic form or object and the perfect replica? I will be framing the concept by creating a replica. Suggesting the replica is replacing the authentic image. I have been influenced by Jean Baudrillard’s theory of Hyperreality to modern science fiction writers. Humans are increasingly attracted a world of replicas. Physical realty and virtual realities will merge. We are living in a simulated world. A copy world. We may fade into the landscape-where there is neither the real representation nor the real remaining. Just the- Hyperreal. The most effective format for my concept is the use of 3D printing to create a replica. The replica will be represented by classical form presented on white pedestal. Surrounding the form are broken and shattered pieces- representing the handmade physical object has been shattered and destroyed. Only the authentic replica remains. Quite a bizarre concept. The obvious metaphor suggests – the handmade object ceases to be relevant. Artists, writers and curators have a special interest in the evolution and the acceptance towards – simulation. Many people in creative fields are exploring the concept of simulation -or are troubled by it. Is this a new and improved original or cultural dissemination? Nature still provides the inspiration for many new technologies and artistic expression. Humans continue to observe, interpret and mimic natural forms – processes and functions. I still look to the natural environment to search for authenticity. The artists – designer –and scientist will always be relevant- due to their ongoing and necessary interpretation of nature. How a form is produced will be ever changing and debated – due to technology. It will be new technologies that will preserve or replicate- the disappearing natural environment. The viewer will play a role in my installation. The most striking element in the installation will be a large mirrored surface stating the text- YOU ARE NOT RELEVANT- laser cut in to the surface, reflecting the viewer’s image. The word relevant is written repeatedly, as if it was written by a child on a chalk board desperately wanting to be relevant. The viewer- will decide who and what is relevant. Shauna Peck, object maker.

Shauna Peck


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An interview with

Shauna Peck The multidisciplinary approach of Shauna Peck allows her to work on the borderline between Conceptual Art and Design: through an effective combination of pure art and modern technology, she explores realities in regard to authenticity. The power to communicate lies in the intrinsic epiphanic effect of their permanent interplay between inscrutability and beauty. Although her works seems to be independent from the context in which they appear, one of the main goal of Peck's approach is the way she gives a key to interpret the relationship that we create with the universe, which, far from offering a monolithic envision, incessantly urges the viewers to reflect and investigate about the reason of everything. I'm particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Shauna Peck's artistic production. Hello Shauna, and a warm welcome to Peripheral ARTeries. I would start this interview with my usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? By the way, what could be in your opinion the features that mark an artworks as a piece of Contemporary Art? In particular, do you think that there's a dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness?

Hello. Thank you for taking an interest in my work. One of the most important attributes regarding Contemporary Art- is often the understanding of history and the importance of context. An artist has a responsibility if not at

least an awareness, of how their work fits into the contemporary landscape. That must sound a bit moralistic. Artists tend to be moralists. There does not have to be a dichotomy between tradition and contemporary ideas. On the contrary. It is a useful and delicate marriage. The concept-contemporariness is constantly changing. Technology is fueling the change to a rapid pace. Often with no time to reflect on the past. This could be the reason, some artists feel no responsibility to history. This is an unfortunate consequence. Would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training and you hold a Masters of Fine Arts that you received from the Claremont University: how did this experience influence you as an artist and on the way you conceive your works?

Academically- Claremont was an important experience. It gave me time to concentrate on ideas and –just work. Claremont also gave me exposure to a variety of disciplines as well .I have found experimentation is a necessary tool for any creative person. You should never be afraid to experiment and fail. Experimenting is as important as a well-conceived idea. 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?

Typically, I write about my idea before I start working. I will eventually do a number of sketches. I prefer charcoal. It is soft and intimate. Then the experimentation begins. When I need to solve problems regarding scalemold making- casting-installation-hardware


Shauna Peck

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Shauna Peck


Shauna Peck

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Shauna Peck


Shauna Peck

etc.- one solves a different set of problems. Problem solving is an important part of the process and very enjoyable. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start with You Are Not Relevant, an interesting project that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to visit http://www.shaunapeckartworks.com in order to get a wider idea of your current

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artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this stimulating work? What was your initial inspiration?

The project YOU ARE NOT RELEVANT was initially inspired by the rapid changes taking place around the world. Old models no longer work –or exist. I have been pushed to look through the lens of the macro view of the world. Partly- due to the impact of technology. Even


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Shauna Peck

the farmer in the smallest village has been impacted and must feel a tremendous shift in the world-maybe more. In the attempt to communicate my ideas, it was necessary to move away from the macro view and focus on a more personal interpretation. My premise for my current body of work is the exploration of competing realities in regard to authenticity. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, physical realty and virtual realities will merge: I have appreciated the way you urge the viewer to investigate about such an inner level, under the ephemeral surface of things we perceive. This feature of your approach suggests me the concept that some information and ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need in a way to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

Your statement regarding-ideas may be hidden or “encrypted” I find of interest. You have peeled back a more complex layer, describing virtual realities. Artists certainly play a role in revealing the unexpected side of nature- as you stated. People in the arts and sciences are always looking for clues to better understand and interpret the world around them .This hyper-sensitivity can prove to have good and bad outcomes. I find extremely interesting the concept of replica goes beyond the stereotyped idea of art and allows us to going beyond the cultural substratum: this has reminded me the German photographer Thomas Demand, when he stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead": what's

your point about this? And in particular, how much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your works?

Yes-I’m familiar with Demand’s work. I particularly like the relationship his work has with architecture .Demand is an artists who seems to have a grasp of contemporary history. Demand’s work reflects more of an interest in allegorical distinctions, including how humans respond to virtual environments. My narrative


Shauna Peck

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Shauna Peck

speaks to the process of artificial form and how humans seem a bit too ready and willing to embrace a copy world. No longer perceiving the world as artificial. Authentic replicas will be absorbed into ones reality. I continue to explore how man made forms will be considered in the future. Your art practice takes a participatory line with the viewer. Your creations are strictly based on the chance to create a deep involvement with your audience, both on a on a emotional level, as well as on an intellectual one and you seem to remove the historic gaze from the depicted reality, offering them up for perception in a more atemporal form. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Your question certainly speaks to the debatehow we define personal experience? What will qualify as a personal experience? Artists, designers, and scientists will always gravitate towards experiencing direct responses. How a form is produced will be ever changing and debated, due to technology. It will be technology that will preserve or replicate our natural environment. People in the creative fields will continue to interpret their direct responses regarding the changing environment. This may ensure their relevance. Multidisciplinary and intense synergy between Art and Technology is a crucial aspect of your approach and I have particularly appreciated the way your works shows an effective dialogue between elements from different techniques, manipulating language and recontextualizing images and concepts: while


Shauna Peck

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Shauna Peck


Shauna Peck

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crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever happened to realize that a synergy between different disciplines is the only way to will achieve some results, to express some concepts?

I have always had an interest in disciplines outside of art making. The most effective format for my current work is the aid of a 3D printer. Additive manufacturing gives one the ability to create an authentic replica. What a bizarre notion. The current project- YOU ARE NOT RELEVANT, has influences from Jean Baudrillard’s Hyperreality theory to science fiction writers. We may fade into the landscape where there is neither the real representation nor the real remaining. Just the hyperreal. Will the authentic replica be a new and improved original –or cultural dissemination? There is no doubt – 3D printers will have a positive outcome for many areas of research. An unfortunate conclusion or consequence could be- the handmade object will cease to be relevant. However- the real antagonist may not be handmade vs. technology. But the mass produced form. The new reality. My new work provides contrasts between the human mark and a replica augmented by a large stainless steel mirrored surface reflecting the viewer’s image - with text stating- YOU ARE NOT RELEVANT. The viewer will decide what is relevant. During over twenty years career, your works have been exhibited in several occasions: it goes without saying that feedbacks are capable of providing an artist of an important support, which is for sure not absolutely indispensable, but that can stimulate to keep on with Art: I was just wondering if the expectation of positive feedback could even influence the process of an artist... 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 would imagine all artist thinks about who their audience may be. In so much, as I like to deal in universal ideas and form- hoping it will transcend boundaries. The fact of the matter is – some work will never resonate will certain people. It is indeed a good feeling when my work has resonated with a person and it stimulates them – emotionally and intellectually. In regard to enjoying a


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Shauna Peck

piece of art I’ve created. I certainly enjoy the thinking part-and doing part. I never think of enjoying the end product. It just is. Thanks a lot for your time and your thoughts, Shauna. My last question deals with your future plans: how do you see your work evolving? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

My current work will be presented in an installation and I will continue to work on the

same premise. Although-the images reflecting the appropriation of the natural environment that is disappearing and has been appropriated will dominate. The ability for a cultural to develop an authentic replica – may inhibit the need or desire to preserve the natural environment. By the end of this year, I will have dates of exhibitions reflected on my website.


Shauna Peck

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Alisa Jakobi (Estonia)

Alisa Jakobi (1981) (artist, graphic designer) www.artjakobi.com

Alisa is an artist and graphic designer. She studied in the Estonian Academy of Arts, completing a BA in Graphic Design in 2005. Later she left Estonia for three years to get new inspiration and experience in New York. In 2010 she finished her MA in Art studies in the Tallinn University. Alisa studied in the School of Visual Arts in NYC for a year, worked for Rockaway Graphics as a graphic designer, worked as an assistant to photographer Ilay Honovich, in NYC. In 2011 she created Art Jakobi Ltd and started working independently. Her last works have been the rebranding of BECC, Greinoman and Co, Estonian IT College, etc. Painting has been her parallel activity during the past 15 years. Alisa is working in a minimalist expressionist style, with elements of fauvism. Her recurring topics are the reconciliation of humans with nature and about the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind. She also developed a concept called Time to Dance, where she is talking about the depth of the human mind and the changing roles in life of men and women. Her works are in private collections in Estonia, Latvia, France, Israel, USA, UK, Macedonia, Russia, Australia.


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"It is time to dance". Oil on canvas. 65x75 cm. 2014


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An interview with

Alisa Jakobi Drawing inspiration from the Minimalist Expressionism, Alisa Jakobi renews the idea of landscape by injecting living elements of fauvism into traditional lanscape painting. Her exploration of the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind is not restricted to a mere descriptive approach, but it provides the viewer of a deep and incessant process of connection between the inner reality and the outside world.It iswith a real pleasure that I would like to introduce our readers to her stimulating works. Hello Alisa, and welcome to Peripheral ARTeries: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid training, and besides a Bachelor of Graphic Design, you hold Master degree in Art teaching and moreover you studied Art Management at the School of Visual Arts, New York: how have these experiences influenced you as an artist and on the way you currently produce your artworks?

My life and everyday events going on around me are the biggest inspiration. I live like a collector; I collect questions and then start working on them. About styles and concepts: What is most important is that I don’t like to concentrate on one style only, and try different concepts and other ideas to realize in my life. I like to use different media as well. The most interesting and actual topics for me now are reconciliation of humans with nature, the impact of nature on humans’ mind, how it works together. The second important topic for me is the archetype of woman through visual art, I am preparing a new concept archetype of woman through the prism of medieval times. New York was Babylon for me, as an artist I felt the great energy of the big city. I observed different styles of art, visual and musical events. NYC is a great place to spend time and get some inspiration! Before starting to elaborate your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In


Alisa Jakobi

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Alisa Jakobi

"When a woman loves a man". Oil on canvas. 37x28 cm. 2014

"Time to Dance". Oil on canvas. 60x40 cm. 2014

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?

profoundly Estonian, with windmills, thatched cottages and sleepy fishing villages. The island is home to foxes, deer and moose and lots of birds, majestic sea eagle nest on Muhu Island. Muhu is also famous for having a working traditional wooden windmill. Macedonia is the Former Yugoslavian Republic, Greeks call it FYROM, country of bright sun and great nature, mountains, rakija and smiling people.

What is very significant in my collection for the new edition of “Emotional Landscapes�, I basically start painting only when I am outside, surrounded by nature, by junipers of Muhu island, or when I am in the Macedonian mountains, I feel I am so greatly impressed by the environment that the process goes on by itself. I like to be surrounded by it, when I get the impulse from nature and I feel the atmosphere, the smell of junipers, the sounds of the trees, all this gives me an impression. The landscape of Muhu is considered

Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from It is Time to Dance, an extremely interesting series that our readers 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://www.artjakobi.com/dance in


Alisa Jakobi

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"Twins". Oil on canvas. 50x70 cm. 2014

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

It all started with the series of “Woman Figures” which I made in 2005. Later, in 2007, I created a video with the same title “Time to Dance”, and then I developed series of paintings and drawings with the same name, but now I’ve got inspired by works of S. Freud. I am trying to compare and show the mind of a woman and a man and our changing roles in life. Freud wrote that both awareness and conscious, masculine and feminine are living in the man and the

woman. This is what I am seriously thinking about and trying to express in my works. What has particularly impressed me in It is Time to Dance is the way, by heightening the tension between reality and perception of it, this work explores the concept of emerging language and direct experience... so I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

To my mind, this is absolutely impossible. Everything originates from a direct experience. I realised that I couldn't name some of the


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Alisa Jakobi

emotions and through a specific time of my life was facing the phenomenon of subpersonality within a person and how they effect an individuals life, just some people don’t mention that. Usually we try to talk about that problem, but can‘t find the right words. And my concept of “Time to Dance” is based on the idea of S. Freud about human subconsciousness and it is very important that I have lived through these emotions myself. Now I feel satisfied because it is also very useful for most people who look for an answer, but can’t find it. The investigation about the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind is a crucial and recurring aspect of your work: it plays an important role not only in It is Time to Dance, but also and especially in your Portraits series. In particular, I can recognize that there always seems to be a sense of narrative in your works: how much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your images?

The narrative is the most important thing. First I have an idea and then it becomes a visual answer. Then the images become bright and everything I need I just put in 2 dimensional images; they will then have a life of their own. And the most important thing for me is to let it go.

"Dancer". Oil on cardboard. 64x32 cm. 2010

Another interesting project of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on which I would like to spend some words is entitled Emotional Landscapes, that you have developed in two different series: the multilayered experience suggested by these works is capable of bringing a new level of significance, recontextualizing the usual idea behind the concept of landscape: and I would go as far as to state that in a certain sense your works force the viewers' perception


Alisa Jakobi

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"Drive to Saaremaa" oil on canvas.37x28 cm. 2009

in order to challenge the common way to perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension... By the way, 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?

Nature is a great power and it constantly gives me inspiration, because we are part of it.

Usually people search for answers everywhere, but not in themselves. Nothing can heal better than nature. But, unfortunately, being surrounded by civilization, we forget the names of species of trees and grass, and we forget that we can get inspiration and healing from nature. My point of view is that the deeper we are going into our minds the better results we get. When I go into nature I have a specific feeling that this is what I need, and I get really desperate to paint nature – and to transfer the


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"Junipers at Muhu". Acrylic on canvas.30x60 cm. 2014

Alisa Jakobi


Alisa Jakobi

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Alisa Jakobi

"Ohrid Lake" Struga, Macedonia. oil on canvas.40x50 cm. 2015

landscape onto canvas. And later, when the whole composition is ready, I come back into the symbols and see the answer. This is almost like encryption, like when you decipher your dreams, you can decipher your own mind in the same way. Just don't be afraid to open it to yourself. As you have stated once, one of the ideas behind your Emotional Landscape project is the reconciliation of humans with nature: in this sense, your works are intrinsically connected with the chance of creating a deep interaction

with your viewers, urging them to follow your process and pushing them to not play as a passive audience. Many contemporary artists, as the landscape photographers as the Edward Burtynsky and Michael Light have some form of political message in their works. Do you consider that your pieces are in a certain sense "political"or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach? By the way, although I'm aware that this might sound a bit naÄźf, I have to admit that I'm sort of convinced that Art -especially nowadays- could play an effective role in


Alisa Jakobi

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"Metamorhopes. Junipers at Muhu." oil on canvas. 40x50 cm.2014

sociopolitical questions: not only just by offering to people a generic platform for expression... 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?

My works are absolutely apolitical. My mission is to find a way to get new inspiration, new sources of energy. And to examine the relationship between what it means to be human and the world of nature, opening up the

possibility to share my experience. On the canvas, I depict landscapes that reflect my emotional life. Other people can use it the same way. I would define Waking Life a dynamic painting: the soft nuances of red on the background works as a springboard to the opaque that light that burst out of the canvas... such nuance of red that has suggested me such a tactile sensation, a feature that I can recognize in the pieces from It's time to dance as well... to by the way, any comments on your


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Alisa Jakobi

"Waking Life" oil on cardboard. 80x60cm. 2010


Alisa Jakobi

"Storm at Saaremaa" oil on canvas, 88x81 cm. 2014

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"Autumn at Muhu". oil on canvas, 40x60 cm 2014


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Alisa Jakobi

"Driksa river, Latvija".oil on canvas.28x37 cm.

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

I have different palettes, which have changed throughout my life, but soft colours, red, orange, pink colours are the colours of passion, devotion and inspiration... But in this particular work I wanted to show the beginning of human mind.

“Waking Life� is actually showing the mental substance of a human being, a Jungian archetype. This is the symbolism of "masculine" and "feminine" archetype of contrasexuality. For me it was very important to finalise this idea in this painting, symbols and the colours play a very important role in my works.


Alisa Jakobi

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"Road from Bitola,FYROM". oil on canvas. 30x40 cm. 2014

Now, as usual, I would like to pose you some questions about the relation with your audience. During your career your works have been extensively exhibited in several occasions: you recently had your solo Emotional Landscapes and IT IS TIME TO DANCE in Tallin and your works are in many private collections... 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.How much important is for you the feedback of your audience?

Usually I get a lot of feedback, through emails, verbally, or just reading from a newspaper later –


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Alisa Jakobi

"Tamse at summer. Muhu." Acrylic on canvas. 2014. 30x60 cm.

the art critics’ opinion. As every artist, I have different works, and people’s opinion really plays an important role in my future ideas or concepts. And even if people express negative thoughts on my art this leaves space for constructive discussion, future talks and understanding. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Alisa. Finally, would you like to tell

us readers something about your future projects. How do you see your work evolving?

I see myself developing in all aspects. It is very difficult to exactly name the new series, but it will depend on where I am located and it will be something exciting. When planning something new, the end result tends to be somehow different than what you begin with.


Alisa Jakobi

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"Lonely tree in Bitola. FYROM". Oil on canvas. 38x45 cm.2014

The next series will be a compilation of art drawings and animated visuals. I am also interested in the archetype of woman through the prism of medieval time, so I have plenty of ideas, but it is too early to tell how they will be realized!

"Remains of Muhu island", Acrylic on canvas. 70x60cm. 2014


Max Gimson


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An interview with

Max Gimson One of the most convincing feature of Max Gimson's work is the way he snatches the essential spirit of an image: his use of repetitive pattern elements creates an area of experiential interplay capable of transporting the viewer back to special memories. Gimson's works convey memories and experience in a lively and coherent unity that offer to get the spirit of hidden but ubiquitous meanings behind the world we perceive. I'm particularly pleased to introduce our readers to his stimulating artistic production. Hello Max, and a very warm welcome to Peripheral ARTeries: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? In particular, are there any experiences that have particularly influenced your evolution as an artist and impacted on the way you currently conceive and produce your works?

Hello. I’ve always made drawings since I was young. I’d copy images from my dad’s comic books or make my own and write stories for them; that sort of thing. It was only once I’d left school and found out I had been accepted on to the fine art and design course at the City of Bath college that I realised I wanted to make visual art. From there I moved to Brighton where I was accepted onto the fine art painting BA and it was at this point that I started to develop the themes and I suppose you’d call it ‘style’ present in my paintings. For the first two years of the three year course at Brighton University I was largely absent, either in attendance or engagement or just too cripplingly awkward to join in discussion but it’s certainly where I cultivated the passion for painting I have now. It was also around this time that I became friends with a group of artists that were doing exciting things separate from the university. They showed me an alternative way of thinking about exhibiting and thinking about art in general. For example, we broke into a house that had been empty for years and I created an exhibition with one of my paintings in the living room. I hung chorizo strings from the ceiling and filled the bath tub with black ink, creating this unsettling environment to lead people into the painting.

In terms of the development of the style and theme in my paintings, I was interested in representing the horror within the domestic or everyday, trying to magnify my own anxieties but present them in a way that removed the personal. Paintings that, when successful, offered the essence of alarm within a moment or situation. I remember this one experience that lead me to start painting the cloaked or anonymous figures you see in my work; I was living in a shared house and one morning I walked from my room to the downstairs kitchen and living room. I made myself a bowl of cereal then sat down on the sofa. I knew I was sitting next to a bin bag but ignored it at first. When I turned to examine it there was a note on it that my housemate had written as a joke and it said, “Help, I’m a small boy and I can’t get out”. I experienced this jolt of horror and dread as, with the note in mind, I pictured a child curled up with his head between his legs and his arms wrapped around his shins, within the black bag. It turned out to be some rubbish but it was that heightened moment of adrenaline, where my senses were switched in to overdrive coupled with the domestic settings that fascinated me. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

I draw a lot. I have books full of drawings that I keep as visual diaries as I find I can’t ever describe things in words with the same level of accuracy. Out of the drawings one or two might become prominent either compositionally or recently, thematically as the work has become more figurative and narrative driven in the “New Animals” series. I work on canvases that are pretty much the span of my arms (maybe 150cm wide) as I find I can produce the most dynamic marks this way. I can be aggressive with the application of paint whilst also having the capacity to slow down and apply the paint more precisely if it’s called for. I tend to use thick household gloss and varnishes applied over oil paint as I think that if the finished painting has the visual quality of being liquid that it already goes to some way of being enticing to the eye, which is what a painting as an object has to be able to do. Even if you’re engaging the viewer in a subject that isn’t necessarily enjoyable for them to think about, you still need them to be drawn in to look. The gloss and varnish seem to add weight to the paintings, making them more substantial


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Max Gimson


Max Gimson

objects to behold and hopefully able to arrest a viewer’s attention. Typically it can take between a day and a couple of weeks to land on a finished painting but I don’t really beat myself up over it if it doesn’t go to plan. I think about the character ‘Claude Lantier' in Émile Zola’s ‘The Masterpiece’ driving himself to despair as he’s never able to produce the work he has in his head, ripping up canvases that he deems failures, never able

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to get his work into the Salon of the Académie des Beaux-Arts. The ‘suffering artist’ thing is boring; none of it really matters… I could always not make paintings and play games on my phone instead. Which I do as well. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from New Animals, a recent series of yours that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest


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Max Gimson

to our readers to visit directly http://www.maxgimson.com in order to get a wider idea of your multifaceted artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this stimulating project? What was your initial inspiration?

The work was already moving in a more figurative direction prior to the recent lot but I think the impetus to start constructing scenarios with groups of people in my paintings came from the experiences i’ve had in my

job. One particular event that I witnessed in the performance art cafe I work for provided me with the voice or mood I wanted to use in the paintings; It was the third week we’d been working in Stoke-On-Trent and it was a Sunday. The cafe was quiet all day and it was bright and sunny outside but no one seemed to be about. The town was dead. At around midday this man came into the cafe, his skin was sucked in at the cheeks and his face seemed weathered and thin. He asked for a coffee and then sat


Max Gimson

by the front window and looked up and down the street with frantic eyes. Around half an hour later he got up and shouted to his friend across the road to come and have a coffee with him. The second man walked across the road and they stood and talked outside the cafe whilst smoking a cigarette together. The first man abandoned his coffee and the pair walked off up the road out of sight and we thought nothing of it.

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A while later we heard some shouting and then the pair came tumbling through the front door of the cafe; the first man was yelping “What are you doing!? what are you doing!?� and the second man was in pursuit of him. I ran out from the kitchen area to break up the fight and as I approached them the second man threw the first man into a table and jumped onto him on the floor. I shouted at the second man to get off and I went to kick him but as I did I realised he had a knife clenched in his fist. He swiped at me but missed then


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Max Gimson


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pulled up the shirt of the first man as he struggled underneath him and punched the blade into his back, dragging it across and ripping a stripe in his skin. The second man heard my work colleague on the phone to the police so he dropped the knife and scrambled out of the cafe in a panic and ran off up the road. The first man got up in shock and as he turned to look at us it became clear that his face had been sliced from the inside of the corner of his mouth up towards his cheek bone; a ‘Chelsea smile’ I think they’re called. Blood soon started pouring out of his face as he held on to the door way of the cafe. Between us we managed to calm the first man down until an ambulance came and the second man was apprehended by the police but for obvious reasons it left us in shock.Affected by this experience I wanted to build a misanthropic outlook into the scenarios I paint, exploring an objectivity and negativity towards the things people do. Throughout the “New Animals’ series I’d been reading existentialist literature and philosophy and it heavily influenced the thinking behind the work, so when I came to draw and paint I wanted to find a way of isolating instances of human activity and then present them in a detached way, with the aim of making them ridiculous. It was by accident and lack of skill in representation that the figures seem drunk and clumsy. This adds to it though I think; they’re rendered silly. I believe the paintings offer a psychological space to the viewer when successful. Spaces that are of reality but not literal representations. It’s funny… I have these ideas and anecdotes around the work but practically, when stood in front of the canvas all sorts of things can happen to change the outcome. I like to think I embrace mistakes. What has particularly impressed me of your approach is the way, by heightening the tension between reality and a spontaneous perception of it, your work explores the concept of emerging language and direct experience. There's such a hidden feedback between the complex act of painting and the idea of sharing a feeling, that allows to an emotion to go beyond its intrinsic ephemeral nature, emerging from an a mere perceptual dimension. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I suppose making abstract paintings can be a practice based solely in formal concerns about painting but then it’s still an individual’s experience of it that they’re relaying. The creative process surely only happens because of direct experience.


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I like the way your careful approach offers a rigorous but at the same time lively visual translation of the sights tha pervades our reality: in this sense, your practice is intrinsically connected to the chance of creating an area of intense interplay with the viewers, that are urged to evolve from the condition of a merely passive audience: I definetely love the way Mac Donald's and BoWood take an intense participatory line and your investigation about the intimate consequences of constructed realities has reminded me of the ideas behind Thomas Demand's works: while conceiving Art could be considered a purely abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a permanence that goes beyond the ephemeral nature of the concepts you capture.

I try to present the viewer with scenarios and environments that are engaging in a direct way, almost placing the viewer inside the drama. You can see these devices in a lot of the paintings; in ‘Second Bridge’, for instance, the viewer is placed to negotiate the seated area with the figures and as you say about the painting ‘Bowood’; the viewer is taking on the role of someone climbing down into this distorted wooden den. I would agree that the audience is mostly passive; it’s the default mode and I say that as a member of this passive audience when I go to see exhibitions so I try to combat it in my own work. On a few occasions I have created an environment for the audience to enter in to by means of manipulating the exhibition space as well as the paintings. I mentioned earlier the chorizo strings on the ceiling in the disused house but another instance of this was last year in a solo exhibition I had; I blew up loads of colourful balloons and hung them across the ceiling of the gallery and scattered Maltesers across the floor while my painting ‘The Balcony’ was hung up on the wall. As people arrived to the show I started to play 90s pop hits through some speakers but I’d slowed the songs down to half the speed and sprayed ‘Charlie Pink’- cheap, sweet smelling perfume- everywhere. I don’t know if a creative process can be disconnected from direct experience but I’ve made my practice about this connection. Experiences I have feed the work and then the work, when executed well, provides an immersive experience for someone else. It’s a consideration present throughout my working process. The nuances of intense tones of red that I have admired in your pieces, and in particular in Hotpot and Friday, Then On Saturday have suggested me such a tactile sensation: any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?


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Max Gimson

In 2012 my palette consisted of colours from domestic settings in an attempt to be literally painting what the object was. For example; the wall in my bedroom was painted a certain colour so in representing it in my

work I’d use the exact same paint. I’d use household paints with names like “Burnt Almond” or “Warm Oak”. The bin bag character I mentioned in the first answer was rendered with thick black gloss to mirror something of the surface quality of a black bag and it


Max Gimson

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Max Gimson


Max Gimson

also provided a balance to the rest of the painting that was generally dry in appearance. Gradually flashes of bright colour and pattern started to creep in. It was like I’d set up the rules of how everything existed in this dreary, livingroom-world and then I started to break them. I lived in China for two months at the end of 2012 where the work naturally began to gravitate towards a more surreal place. They had stalls in the industrial

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part of Chonqing where there were big bags full of various types of pigment so I bought some and started to mix my own colours. An interplay between muted colours and vibrant colours started to emerge within the paintings. This came to a head at the end of my stay in China with the painting “Mr Sloppy Plop Popped Down The Whoopsy Hole” as any sense of muted colour had been extinguished. This marked the start of the paintings in 2013 and 2014 where my palette was essentially gloss


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mixed with primary or secondary colours and I found myself more inclined to push the work into abstraction. In the “New Animals” series I’ve played a lot with varnishes as a means to represent shadows or water which I’ve never really challenged before. The colours are still full and deliberate but I hope the use of varnish has pulled the focus away from simply an indulgence in bold colour. The capability of discerning the essential feature of a view and to translate it into an accessible visual is a key point of your works and plays a crucial role in your process and I have highly appreciated the way you explore the blurry boundaries between Imagination and Experience: there always seems to be a sense of narrative in your paintings you seem to convey the notion of instinct in your pieces, sometimes drawing inspiration from fiction as in Stopcock. How much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your works?

All of my thinking around the work is a narrative, it’s how I’m able to experiment or push things within my painting. At the centre of it are my experiences; the work is quickly changed by things I go through whether it’s working in a food factory where I was packing salad into pots or throwing up in a nightclub toilet or jumping into the river with my friends. As soon as I started to hold a magnifying glass over the things I know I felt it gave me freer reign within my work. Even when I’d make a painting that wasn’t “successful” it didn’t matter as I’d just see it as a sloppy bit of description in a diary or just a boring bit. In terms of each individual painting I’d say they all have some anecdote at their core but how far they’ve deviated or how abstracted they end up changes from piece to piece. I don’t think the aim for me is to provide the viewer with a story however, I want to make paintings that suggest a narrative but are isolated from a straight forward understanding. I like the idea of walking through the corridor of a hotel where one of the doors is slightly ajar and as you pass by you get a glimpse inside the room and then the door quickly shuts. All you are left with is this image or imprint that your mind is compelled to work out. I hope my paintings evoke something of this negotiation. As you have remarked once, you works are anecdotal, moreover, the recurrent reference to a universal imagery suggested by natural elements seems to remove any historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to perceive in a


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more atemporal form. In this sense, I daresay that the semantic juxtaposition between sign and matter that marks out your art, allows you to go beyond any dichotomy between Tradition and Contemporariness, establishing a stimulating osmosis between materials from a classic era and a modern, lively approach to Art: do you recognize any contrast between Tradition and Contemporariness?

I think I’ve created somewhere in my work that is otherworldly; the imagery in a lot of cases sits outside of time and can be more accurately described as a psychological landscape but it all depends on what level the viewer wants to accept it. The reading of the paintings can transcend placement in time but the work can also be quite readily likened to Philip Guston or Francis Bacon or contemporary painters which I could list quite a few (that I know of) but that’s just recognising a style or painterly devices. I’m not convinced that’s a particularly interesting way to view painting. I’m working in a medium that has been used since man was painting animals on the inside of caves and I find it interesting for a minute or two and then I forget about it. Some people take issue with art being of a certain medium i.e. painting, sculpture, print etc. but I believe that for something to be poetic or hold artistic value then the medium just acts as a conduit. Whether it’s some paint on a canvas or performance or finding an old sausage in a draw; in the right context it all has potential I just happen to have an inclination towards holding a pen or brush and have been taught how and have taught myself how to use them. Thanks a lot for this interesting conversation, Max. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects. How do you see your work evolving?

Thank you. It’s as if I keep trying to make figurative work but the satisfaction I get from a successful piece is almost always an aesthetic appreciation rather than knowing what it’s about or delivering a story. So it could all fall into abstraction or I might push further into figuration but it’ll be one of the two as I get bored quickly so I need to be doing something new all the time. I had an exhibition a few months ago where I left the gallery empty and sat in the attic space above the room with my legs dangling down. I don’t really know if I’m happy with that simply being an anomaly in my practice, it had a quality that my paintings don’t hold so exploring sculpture or live sculpture is certainly a possibility.


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Alex Flett (United Kingdom) Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which is visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.

Everything you see in my collages and works, hides another thing. It's like peeling an onion. The more you look, the more you will discover. I try to capture the essence of an inexplicable dream, an unidentifiable emotion or whatever other indescribable by-product of the subconscious I encounter in a narrative, sensual way. The power of surrealism is manifested in the instinctive emotional response to images that use the juxtaposition of the most unlikely symbols to convey the most relatable feelings. My work includes also bold experiments with bold colors, allusions to the modern politics in a feminine way and classical symbolism. Women are central in my work.They've always inspired and fascinated me as well in the classical as in the modern world. They are like modern goddesses to me and that's how I want to depict them.

Alex Flett


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An interview with

Alex Flett Using a multidisciplinary approach, Alex Flett has developed an interesting style capable of investigating the relation between the outside world and way we perceive it. Viewers are urged to force things to relate, exploring suspended worlds and fill them with their personal experiences, to embrace their provoking take on reality and to discover our unsuspected ability to bring a new level of significance to apparently well-acquainted concepts. One of the most convincing aspect of Flett's work is the way he accomplishes the difficult task of creating a concrete aesthetics that engages viewers, while conveying emotional and rational approaches into a consistent, coherent unity. I'm very pleased to introduce our readers to his refined artistic production. Hello Alex, and welcome to Peripheral ARTeries: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training and you studied at the prestigious Slade School of FIne Arts in London: how has this stimulating experience influenced your evolution as an artists and how does it impact on the way you currently conceive and produce your works? I was born and brought up within a family whose background was the sea. My father was a master mariner and university graduate who taught sea training and navigation and my ancestors were all fisherman. My mother’s family also were all seaman, and everything with which I was familiar as a child revolved around the sea. Boats were functional, not pleasure craft, although there could be great pleasure and enjoyment to be had in that functionality. You take great care of a boat, as your life at sea depends on it anything is wrong so it gets repaired properly and immediately. Along with this immersion in matters to do with the sea, I took to reading encycolpedias. I was quite often ill as a child and my brother who was 9 years older than me had been given a set of encyclopedias as a Christmas present around 1953. As soon as I could read, I found these fascinating. I was particularly struck by those pages which dealt with the great artists of the past and the images of artwork which was based on classical antiquity. My father had a friend who worked at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen, and one day my father saw the sculpture students’ Diploma works in a store room where they were waiting to be broken apart, as no-one kept their Diploma show work. One of these was a seated fisherman and my father got the town council of Findochty to buy it and erect it beside the harbour. Although it is not great piece of sculpture, I became fascinated with the world of art, and soon after we played host to a student who was doing his teacher training in the local school. Through him I had my first formal lesson in drawing. He also presented me with a set of poster paints which were a revelation, as up to that time I only had a cheap watercolour box. In 1961 my father had a change of job and we all moved to Tyneside in England and in 1963 I became a pupil of an art teacher called Reg Hepple. He was a University of Newcastle art graduate rather than an art school graduate, and from him I learned about the Slade. I decided that somehow I would get myself to the Slade. But I had a problem. I was so busy improving my art knowledge, and following through on the classical history which my brother’s encyclopedias had given me a fascination for, that studying the school curriculum in the required subjects was never on my mind. So applying directly to the Slade was not possible, because although it is a fully functioning art school, it is part of University College London, and applied the same academic entry requirments that applicants of all University subjects were asked for. I had to find another way. In 1968 I applied to, and got a place on the Foundation Course at St. Martin’s School of Art in London. At that time considered the formost sculpture school in the UK, but that was not the reason I applied. It was the design of the catalogue which was completely different than any other I saw. There were two shows which stand out in my mind from that time. Both were at the Tate. One was Ben Nicholson and the other Ad Reinhardt. Despite the fact that I had a particular ability in sculpture, I decided on studying painting because this was what the Slade was particularly famous for. So I applied to, and was accepted by Winchester School of Art, which the then Head of Foundation at St Martins (Dougie Holden) described as “One of those high powered painting schools.” The three years at Winchester were not the happiest time of my life, but I kept my concentration on getting to the Slade, and despite the massive amount of applications the college receives every year for post graduate placement (which means that they use a nearby hall to handle the applications) I was asked to

interview and was offered a place. 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? This question is one which tempts me to say. How long is a piece of string? I describe my work as post cultural structuralism in that it is possible to view and engage with ideas from many different facets of cultural meanings and systems. These develop from a background culture of physical art geography which is the Moray Firth coast of Scotland. This element of belonging operates as a base structure to the sculpture works and an understanding of the occupation of space into which each cuts. From that base line the works contain an historical paradigm which is both Classical and Romantic, and also contain conceptual threads which lead the viewer from one cultural backdrop to another. Drawing in sketch books are where an idea is laid down, and gestates. At the time you dont know if they will go any further. Sometimes a fully finished work has started from a sketched idea, but during its evolution, it sometimes becomes something which has no apparant direct connection with the idea which started it off. During the structural stage new sketches become the means of developing such a work further. Whether figurative, abstract, or conceptual, structural threads move and remain both inside and outside the cultural space in which they have been conceived. Drawings and sketches can sit around for a long time before anything further happens. For example Venus Nevirapine could be made because of drawings which were made of my wife when she was pregnant during the 1980’s and these led to a set of sketch book drawings 25 years later which developed into the work. Although the artwork is not about my wife per se - but about involvement in the problems of the HIV pandemic - I could only have made it because of those 80’s drawings. There is a spatial dynamic in relation to my studio. I can get up in the morning, come down stairs and walk into my studio on one side of a hall, or into the office and library on the other side. I have learned to avoid both until I have had breakfast. Even so there is often a sketch book art history book or catalogue open on the kitchen table. In regard to mediums. These are pencils, paint (oil, gouache and watercolour) charcoal, carved wood, constructed wood, assemblage, canvas, paper, objet trouve, woolen yarn, wax, soil, aquatint etching, woodblocks and silkscreen; and occasionally several of these all in the same work. I work constantly in one form or another and generally have two or maybe three things ongoing in the studio at any one time, I also like having sketch books in every room in the house and always carry one with me when I go out. I dont go out to deliberatly draw something, its much more to do with what comes along, as my work contains myth, legend, detritus, history, archaeology and takes its imagery from one particular cultural place, and converts it into another area of existence. Often it is the simple act of tidying up which generates ideas. The act of moving something from one place to another becomes a catalyst. It is the art equivalent of a mathematical equation which arriving at a finished conclusion cannot be anything else other than what it is, and cannot exist except in its own terms of reference. Like Schrödinger’s cat in its box, it can be art or not art or both at the same time. At the Slade there is a policy that postgraduates are allowed to drop into any department across the University. To get to the Slade studios, instead of going in through the front entrance, I would enter the UCL building along the Physics corridor. I watched an electron microscope being built and attended lectures on Black Holes. In science time is a constant stream going in one direction. We can’t go backwards. But as an artist with ideas it is possible to use time anywhere and in any way you wish. For example, taking the stimulus of a Venus mother figure from thousands of years ago and adding drawings made over 25 years ago and then pitch all of these into the present by making new drawings, and create a new sculpture linked to a drug which inhibits transfer of HIV from mother to child.......by doing all these things the work breaks into a new cultural future. It does not matter to me whether any set of ideas are representational or abstract. What matters is - does it work as art? Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from your Kirkcudbright Works that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to our readers to visit yur website directly at http://www.alexflett.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 this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?


Alex Flett

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'Three Dancers' billboard for Art for Humanity 'Break the Silence' campaign by Alex Flett in Lingelethu near Adelaide in the Eastern Cape South Africa, in February 2005 photographed by Christine Nesbitt


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Alex Flett


Alex Flett

I have lived and worked here in Kirkcudbright since December 1994. The reason for moving was familial and economic. In the late eighties and early 90’s I was trying to keep two buildings (a home and a studio) and I was lecturing part time for two Universities while also acting as Education Officer for a printmaking workshop. My wife was also working full time and we were hiring someone to look after our children. One day we thought, “This is ridiculous” because I was getting no time to do my own work and hardly seeing the children. So both my wife and I started dropping the workload one job at a time. Then after exhibiting with and then venue managing for Richard Demarco in the 1994 Edinburgh Festival, I went off across Scotland to find somewhere that was big enough for family, studio, office, library, and archival storage. I came across the house where we now live just outside of Kirkcudbright. Ever since arriving here I have mostly exhibited and sold elsewhere, and although I have created Arts Festivals in the town very few people actually knew the range and breadth of what I have created as an artist. To correct this “Kirkcudbright Works” was put together. Because Kirkcudbright is a tourist town, I insisted the show should happen at a time in the year when it would be the local people who would see it. I did not want it to be a tourist attraction. To complement the show, and instead of the traditional catalogue, I put together a DVD which holds lots of information about me and also contains a series of photographs of myself working. These photos came about because a photography student came to me and asked if he could do a documentation project about me similar to the documentation done of Matisse working on one of his paintings made in the 1930’s. Several thousand photos were actually taken, and these took an age to strip down to the ones for inclusion on the DVD. A few of these images were blown up and included in the show. I also gained permission to use the music of the late jazz saxophonist Noah Howard who was a great friend of mine. The DVD ended up being archived with the Tate Gallery in London and copies can be had by contacting me through my web site. Most of your recent work concerns with the HIV Pandemic and deals with the AIDS awareness in South Africa area and pushes the viewer to not play as a passive audience, but to reflect about our society's lively matters... By the way, although I'm aware that this might sound a bit naïf, I have to admit that I'm sort of convinced that Art -especially nowadays- could play an effective role in sociopolitical questions: not only just by offering to people a generic platform for expression... 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? When I got asked to create an AIDS referential print image by Jan Jordaan, the Director of Art for Humanity (at that time called Artists for Human Rights) for a portfolio called “Break the Silence.” I had recently come off a solo European touring show and was at the time developing hi tech ideas such as the Bodyworks suite. That series of images were developed using an MRI scanner and a computer attached to a sophisticated photocopier. The prints were first exhibited in the 2000 International AIDS Conference held in Durban SA which was where Jan Jordaan had seen them. I believe that Art for Humanity were thinking that they would get a version of those prints for the print portfolio and the billboards they were planning. However I realised that the aim of the portfolio and billboards could not be as sophisticated in a technical medically referential sense. Lots of medics and scientists like the MRI scan/photocopier Bodyworks suite but in Africa many are unfamiliar with a modern hospitals. I wanted an image with a greater direct aesthetic rawness, and be referential to the potential viewer wherever, and whomsoever, they were. A cultural engagement with which people in townships have in abundence, is dance. I had made several drawings of the Netherlands Ballet in the mid nineties when I was exhibiting in Amsterdam, and one of the projects which came out of those drawings were two dancer suites. One was using the available high tech of 1994. The second suite of prints are woodblocks. Although the hi tech “Dancer suite” became a completed project, the woodblocks, which were made using soft board drawn into by using an electric drill, were only ever state proofed in 2000, and did not become editioned until a couple of years later. I could probably have used any one of the four woodblock dancer images as a contribution to the “Break the Silence” portfolio, but the female Three Dancers was I felt, the strongest for that particular project. I remembered something which the Director of the Netherlands Ballet had said to me after I had asked him why he was taking a traditional production of Swan Lake to the Carribean and not a modern dance work. “Because” he said “You can find great dancers in any disco across that region. What they want and what they like in those islands are the traditional forms because it’s that which is different” So I knew that this classical ballet based image of “Three Dancers” would work well in Africa. The image had to be at A2 size to fit the portfolio, so the woodblock state proof print was turned into a silkscreen on Arche creme paper at the Peacock artists’ printmakers in Aberdeen where at one time I was the Education Officer. During this transfer, I left the ragged nervous edge which the the drill had created in the soft board, as I wanted to give a sense of movement to the edges of the forms. Sharpening the edges would have been over clinical. Another reason for choosing Three dancers is its highly charged sexuality. It allows the viewer to be voyeristic,

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looking into and at something through a window. This sexuality is hidden in full view and is something which few have noticed or remarked on. The thighs of the figures are like three female gentitalia. It is a psychological trick which remains hidden until it is pointed out. This “hidden in plain view,” direct reference to sex is important, as HIV is mostly transmitted through sex. To put genitalia up on such scale without “hiding” them, even in a country which is suffering from the AIDS pandemic would have been extremely dificult. A little later after “Three dancers” became part of Break the Silence , the art historian Sabine Marschall, brought to my attention a mural inside a football ground which showed a condom being placed over an erect penis. Sabine has written an excellent book on South African murals as the standard of mural art in Southern Africa is extremely high. They are descended from paintings in rock caves and under overhangs which go back centuries, and consequently are far more powerful than any modern European examples, many of which are about shock in either content or place. The South African ones are rooted in the dynamics of a society which until a couple of decades ago was suffering from apartheid and then soon after freedom along came the problems of the pandemic. This has brought a host of social problems such as child headed families, stigma and ostrasisation. These are not not helped by poverty, and their is a need for the understanding of advocacy and human rights particulary among women. Good Fine Art is multi layered and a far better means of communicating social information in any culture than graphic advertising geared to selling a product. For example, when the billboard of Three Dancers was up for some years in a South African township, it became that communities cultural marker point. In the developed world we have so many cultural markers we sometimes dont realise they are there. They can be architectural, or a statue, a church or cathedral, or the Loch Ness monster! Such cultural marker points are few and far between in South African township areas. The billboard image was like walking the art gallery onto the street and the image stayed alive for the community. Kids used it as a meeting place, and the community generally got something out of it every time they passed it. They became proud of their art image, their cultural marker, which made their community different to others, and so were genuinely angry and disappointed when it eventualy had to come down. An important aspect of the way you organize your works in order to allow to unveil the subtle but ubiquitous connection between Imagination and everyday life: your vision seems to speak of a kind an abstract beauty that starts from a mundane imagery but that brings a new level of significance to images.I would go as far as to state that in a certain sense your works challenge the viewers' perception in order to going beyond the common way to perceive not only the outside world, but the way we relate to it... 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? If you read the my comments in point 4, it is perfectly possible to hide in plain site something quite powerful and would be otherwise socially unacceptable. I have said many times in talks and workshops that although the vast majority of people have eyes that work, seeing is a different matter, and visually thinking, or should I say – thinking in visual terms - is another matter again. Good art gives you something new every time you see it. I once spent several hours in MoMA in New York walking from Picasso’s Demoiselles to Matisse’s Dance, (each was in its own room with the rooms next to one another) and could not work out which one was better because the visual thinking in both works was/is so deep and each time I saw either painting it gave up another layer of meaning. It was an extremely humbling experience. When I was running some state proofs of the woodblock dancers, someone in the printmakers said “You draw like Picasso” It was meant as a sincere compliment, but in actual fact it is quite easy to draw like Picasso (and other great artists), because Picasso, and the other greats, have each already worked it all out for you. But you can’t say, that it’s easy, because it looks like you are boasting, or being pretentious. When I draw the figure I can call up an image from a painting or drawing in my head which has a figure in a similar pose to the one I am looking at in it. A painting say from Ingres, or Renoir, or Picasso etc etc. and that image guides you. It is like having a carousel projector wheel in your head filled with 35mm slides and you just flip through it till you get the art historical work which fits what you happen to be doing. We learn art because we learn how to see as well as how to use our imagination by doing so, because unpicking the illusion of the third dimension on a two dimensional surface is not hard wired into our brains. That is why if you show a young child a photograph of a family relative, and say it is aunty so and so, the child will look around the room looking for aunty so and so, and put the photograph in its mouth to see if it is edible. As the child works out the illusion (which is possible because the hard wiring in our brains is capable of working it out), creating that illusion very often becomes what art is in the mind of the


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many, and because art was representational and illustrative until the development of modernism the idea of illusion is reinforced. It is important attempt to jolt the viewer out of his or her’s unthinking eye and into some form of perceptive awareness. However shock alone is not the way to do this as it generally confirms in the mind of the general viewer any already held assumptions concerning what contemporary art is about. It is familiarity with art which grows knowledge, and the opportunity to ask why? a certain artwork is causing what a viewer may see as an intellectual insult. It is this decision to ask “Why am I intellectualy insulted?” and deciding to try and answer, which is the beginning of the visual perceptive learning process. Woolen yarn, which has appeared in much of my sculpture, has what one could call a normal function in society. Built into another cultural context the public is visualy pushed into looking at it in a new way. One of my works called Shuttle is based on a loom shuttle but set up like a rocket ship and is in a public collection in Ayrshire Scotland. In many ways it is the opposite to the modern tech work such as the Xerographic Bodyworks suite and points out the that man’s genius is not only confined to hi tech. The work is a pun on the use of the word shuttle which now is more familiarly used to describe a means of getting into space, as well as a train that goes under the English channel. But the loom shuttle is a far greater intellectual and imaginative invention. Nobody knows who invented it, or even where and how weaving began. Without the loom shuttle we would still be dressed in animal skins. Another wonderful invention is the button. It is something which we all take for granted. When the button came along it did not completely replace the brooch pin, or the leather strips for tying; these simply changed functions. The brooch pin is decorative rather than a means of keeping clothes together. The nappy (diaper) pin is functional. Imagination is a very fragile thing and developing ideas is a fragile thing, which is why many artists become singular and often accused of being elitist and reclusive. I have certainly been described as reclusive in the past. But developing ideas which seem extremely simple - such as scaling up Giant magnetic fish, which was made for the town of Molde in Norway, or filling twelve painted canvas bags with soil form twelve different locations in Scotland, now in the Smith Museum in Stirling, Scotland – takes a lot of time, and demanded concentrated effort to bring them to fruition. Works such as these have complex reasons for their existence. I have never taught for any extended time, prefering instead to give the occasional lecture, because I have no wish to cauterise myself into only dealing with my own work at evenings, weekends, holidays and limited research days. I did not want to be known as an artist because of a teaching post. Any job which means being in a certain place by a certain time doing certain things, for example I worked in a Woollen Mill for a while in the mid eighties, can become unbearable. But that job combined with my wife Eunice’s one women textile business which she ran at that time, are where my use of yarn came from. Even though I experimented a bit with yarn at that time during the eighties, the idea of building yarn into my work didn’t fully happen until the mid nineties. This again an example of why the recording of ideas is so important. They are where imagination can be explored. And if those ideas gestate for ten years, then that is all part of it. I was in the house of the English painter Patrick Heron one day and saw a small canvas on a wall which had yet to have the last area of colour added. I asked Patrick why he hadn’t finished it and he said because he was still deciding on what the final colour would be. I asked how long it had been there, to be told 8 years. Using everyday life material not perceived as ‘beautiful’ you establish an effective symbiosys between Memory and Experience, that takes an intense participatory line with the viewers. While creating such intimate involvement, you seem to remove the historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to perceive in a more absolute, almost atemporal form. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience? The old Celtic Druids were said to have to pass a test where they were made to lie all night in a coffin like bath of cold water, and during this immersion they had to compose in their heads a poem of a given length and on a subject and in a metre, which was only given to them as they were being put into the water. In the morning they had to get out of the water and recite the poem. Not only had it to be on subject and in the correct metre and of the required length, it had to have an aesthetic. It had to be a thing of beauty in itself. I dont put myself through such an extreme measures to create anything, but the point is there, that it is possible to create from an extreme experience. The nearest I have come to the Druidic form - which gave me the idea - is lying in a 8000 year old neolithic grave and having myself photographed. The great thing about history is that it can be there but not there. Its hidden. Few are going to start saying “Hey he got that from reading about the ancient Druids” If they discuss it, the discussion will more than likely be in different terms such as the the AIDS pandemic about which it was made, my involvement in the battle against the virus, and the fact that it went to Washington for an AIDS Conference there.

There are two forms of historical memory. There is history in the large sense, thats history like the battle of Bannockburn or the battle of Waterloo, and included in this larger history is the History of Art. The second history is the personnal, and that includes what you did yesterday and what you had for breakfast. By the following week, unless you are in the habit of having the same thing for breakfast everyday, then you have more than likely forgotten what it was you ate. On a scale of important memories, it is low down on the list to remember unless it is utalised as part of an art project. But given the extension for everyone to record personnal historical memory technologically, and for those things to be easily stored and passed onto others in real time through social media, how much of our lives do we want to record? Are our descendents going to actually be interested?


Alex Flett

How many “selfies� are enough? The technology is becoming not so much an aid to memory but the memory itself. Taking everyday items such as a button, or yarn, or reminding an audience of imagination which has placed objects outside of their function and thus giving them an aesthetic, becomes important to jolt the viewer. It is the creation of a future historic which sounds like a contradiction in terms, but that is what art is about. The creation of something which will remain in the future to be historic. Any artist whose work is held in a public art museum collection is in that position, because the work has an aspect which is memorable and is thus future historic. For me, Post Cultural Structuralism is how I deal with both the larger historical memory and the personnal historical memory at one and the same time.

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Experience which can be borrowed from the larger historical art past, is how we can learn what art can be, how to create our own art, and how this affects our own cultural tribal past. When Joseph Beuys came out with the statement that everyone was an artist, he cast art into an R.D Laing-ian double-bind, where something is both right and wrong at one and the same time and the larger art past colided with the personnal art past. Because of this I dont think Beuys really understood the art of childhood. By looking at others through the prism of his own referential memory experience, which for him and for many of his generation was a pretty harrowing experience due to WWII. My own father had problems getting back through the memory to his experiences before it. I admire Beuys, however to understand him I think that it is important to go through Schwitters and Dada and further, understand his generation not only on an art level, but on a human level


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Alex Flett


Alex Flett

as well. This is why I made the Staff for the Road to Meickle Seggae to honour the journey Beuys took in Scotland to create an Aktion on Rannoch Moor. Its structure has copper wire running through it to pick up energy from the earth. I also chose the top very carefully to have an R shape, which indicates the involvement of Richard Demarco alongside Beuys. In one sense, everybody is capable of being an artist, they are also capable of being a plumber, a scientist, a miner and much else besides. As a young child not even of school age, I used to draw on any fly leaf or empty page in books. Much to everyone in the families’ annoyance. But I would think – there is a blank page – a drawing can go on it and what is wrong with that? Last year I came across a book belonging to my brother and which had some of those drawings in it. So I can refer a long way back into my childhood. This being so, I think that to be an artist you must first become unafraid of a blank page and of making a mark on it. Creativity cannot be seperated from experience either. That is another reason why it is important to draw. There are very few true naifs in art and I have only ever met one who falls into this catogary, and she is in her seventies and lives in the Kalahari in Botswana and when I led a Workshop in Gaborone, she walked for a whole day to get on a bus to come to it. Geography of birth imprints itself in ways which can be subtle but significant. It would be dificult to disasociate Goya from Spain, or Jackson Pollock from the USA. In the same manner, I cannot disasociate myself from my background, and someone such as my 70 year old Botswana student can’t disasociate herself from her life in a village in the Kalahari. I cannot make art like her. I could copy it, but I could not have developed it. I daresay that your visionary approach to re-contextualization that emerges with a particular energy in The Snail and especially in The Firebird, that was inspired by Stravinsky’s “Rites of Spring, has suggested me the idea that environment acts as cornerstones for a fullfilment process that has reminds me of German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand, when he stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead": what's your point about this? And in particular, how much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your works? The “Snail” is an interesting work in that it was first created in 1969 while I was a Foundation student, but as I said in Question 1, I was working to a programme and that was to get to the Slade, and that meant that it didn’t figure too much in that quest. However, that became something of a blessing in that it remained unknown to Winchester as I did not use it or any other sculpture in the application. I knew it was a strong piece of work and so I rebuilt it for the D’Arcy Thomson Museum in Dundee. The original “Snail” came from reading a book on mathematics called “The language of mathematics” by Frank Land which led me to D’Arcy Thomson and his work on natural mathematics such as the Fibonacci growth system. I can remember being told by one of the tutors at Winchester School of Art that what we did as Foundation students can be “Thrown away and forgotten.” I agree about half way with Thomas Demand as you can see in the answers to the last question. These days, I dont go deliberately looking for particular things to draw, or to use in my art, because often that is a decision which can be pre emptive of the creative process. I prefer to stumble across things which then kick off ideas. These drawings or notes become a means to analyise these ideas. For many decades, as the camera has developed, it has released art from being purely illustrative and has contributed to art development by becoming both an art mechanism and a tool, I find that it, and the business of digital computer printing, has taken over young artists in a way which leaves many of them lost and flapping, and in danger of merely decorating the inside of a Dioginean barrel. I have experimented with photography beyond its documentary use, both in the past and most recently when I used myself as the subject in the 8000 year old grave AIDS images. However such digital imagery is only one part of what concerns me as an artist. In the eighties, I set myself objective drawing tasks. Which I described as being like a musician practising scales. My wife Eumice would often model for me and In respect of Venus Nevirapine, as I have already said – those studies worked out. In the nineties I found a symbol on a Pictish standing stone which looked like tumbling oak leaves. These appeared in some of the works I made in the middle to late part of that decade as a frame to hang some pictorial ideas on. The tumbling oak leaves can be seen on the sail of the “Bannog boat.” No one knows what the Pictish symbols mean, but they are part of my cultural background and so it is possible for me to give meaning to them, and by pulling them into the present, send them into the future. Some symbols do work. Alan Davie used Pictish symbols often, but importantly, in a manner which is not reproduction. And because nobody can interpret them nor Pictish Ogham writing, they retain the ability to form imagination. I have drawn a great many birds scattered in a few different sketch books simply because they were there, many were done “after the fact.” I watch rather than

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draw and hold that image in visual memory until later. I suppose one could say – using my memory like a camera. What brought these images into focus as an idea for Firebird was a) the Stravinski music and b) a friend of my wife coming to stay with us for a few days and bringing with her a big bundle of thin slatted pieces of wood which she thought could be used as kindling as we have an open fire. The strips kicked off a connection of fire and the music and the bird sketches. Some of these sketches were made in southern Africa, some in Siwa in Egypt as well as here at Lochfergus. Out of ths studio window I can watch pheasants, partidges, swallows, swifts, crows, plus many small birds and the occasional buzzard. Even the most seemingly grey brown bird can, when examined, be seen to be composed of many different and subtle tones. One day in South Africa while staying with, and borrowing the studio o,f the artist/curator Nontobeko Ntombela, I managed to get very close to an ibis which was in her garden. The feathers read visually like a Rembrandt grey, built from the mixing of many different colours affecting how the light bounced off the feathers. When all these things came together, yarn resurfaced as a material to be part of the Firebird. But there is another element to these bird works, and that was my own history as a child. At one point in the nineteen fifties I adopted a Greater Blackbacked Seagull as a pet, because it had an injured wing. I was very small and this bird was large, powerful, and very vicious. I was being pecked over and over again until my parents decided that this bird had to go as I could loose an eye. Having been rested in our garage, (where I had thoughtfully built it a nest), when brought outside, it flew off without a backward glance. I was devestated and so it might be argued that the Firebird and the further two birds being worked on in the studio at the moment, are me replacing my pet seagull. The associations expressed by the juxtapositive process seem to avoid any precise politicized meanings: however, it's almost impossible to deny that giving a second life to images -and sometimes to the concept behind them- could be defined such a politicized practice itself. By the way, although I'm aware that this might sound a bit naïf, I have to admit that I'm sort of convinced that Art -especially nowadays- could play an effective role in sociopolitical questions: not only just by offering to people a generic platform for expression... 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? There is a sense of what came first, the chicken or the egg? in this question. Art can play a sociopolitical role, though not all art does this. Some art does not set out to do so, and does. My bags of Scottish soil have a sociopolitical background as they were built for an exhibition called Brave-art, held in Stirling in the nineties, to mark the 700th anniversary of William Wallace and the battle of Stirling Bridge. These are now part of the permanent collection of the Smith Art Gallery and Museum in Stirling. Creativitity has always suffered at the hands of extreme politics as can be seen from the numbers of artists who had to get out of Europe in the 1930’s. The Dadist in particular suffered and Schwitters fled to Norway where he lived in a hut on Heart Island in the middle of Molde Fjord. I have had the honour of being inside it, not that there is much left of what Schwitters did in it, but the atmosphere is still there. There are other examples within history such as the change brought about by the Greaco/Roman nude and the later Renaisance, and the 19th century “fig leaf reaction” to it. But when we come to contemporary art, the major biggy is the concept of post – modernism which has worked its way across a variety of art forms and unlike the future historic which is part of post cultural structuralism, is a form of conditioning and has built up a determinist myth, which allows its use by anyone and everyone without thought. I watched a programme on Gore Vidal recently on TV, and someone came out with what is now the stock phrase to be used by anyone too lazy to seriously think. i.e., that Vidal was a post-modernist, as if one of the world’s great literary figures needed the help of a phrase of fashiion. He must be spinning in his grave. Some years back when one of my daughters was still in towelling nappies (diapers as the Americans call them) she found a watercolour block lying on the studio floor which happened to be a very powerful red quinacridone magenta and thinking it may be a sweet, started sucking it. The result was that several of the towelling nappies when needing changing, came off bright pink. I was talking on the phone about this to a friend and colleague Malcolm Hughes who had become the Slade Head of Postgraduate Studies, saying it was like running an edition of prints. Malcolm got very excited and offered to help to get them sold to Saatchi. “Do you know how much those nappies would fetch?” He asked. As my wife and I were seriously broke at the time, (we were living on next to nothing and trying to raise a family), the idea was very tempting. Then future historicism kicked into my mind. Can you imagine dealing with a teenage girl who discovers that her nappies were framed and hanging in a public or a private collection, and were famous? And that is why post modernism is cynical, because that is what its ragged philosophy hangs on – the impact now, not its effect in the future. The term post modernist has entered the most recent update of E H Gombrich’s


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“Story of Art.” However, the term first came about, not as the book says, but in Easter 1971 from an ad hoc symposium at Eagles Nest the home of the painter Patrick Heron with 14 students from Winchester School of Art, and was used as a throwaway joke on Patrick, who described his paintings as being post painterly abstraction. The term post modern made everybody laugh, after which, Patrick started onto the reasons why something such as post-modernism can’t exist except as a Dioginean myth. When I built Wheeled Cross I did partly as a reference to Duchamp. When at the Slade I got myself some vacation work on film and TV sets. One day the company I was doing this for phoned me and said I had been particularly requested by the

BBC. The reason was that they wanted to move a Duchamp bicycle wheel and stool from the studio of the artist Richard Hamilton to Alexandria Palace for an Open University programme. Word had got around that I was a Slade student and that therefore I was exactly the type of person to move the Duchamp! Contained in Wheel Cross is the debunking of a myth over why there was a circle in the Celtic cross. This has been turned into many forms of so called spirituality including sun discs, cosmic wheels, prayer wheels, and goodness knows how many other ideas which have cropped up in the world of new age romanticism. At the same Eagles Nest ad hoc symposium, I became friends with the Irish painter Tony O’Malley, and a few years later he wrote me a letter with a list of books on the structure of the Celtic cross, which in Ireland was free standing, and in


Alex Flett

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interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context? Something which I have always tried not to do is write an Artist’s statement. Those which I have read from students tend to be both pretensious and limiting and I have given up reading them, explaining that they are putting a barrier between themeselves and their audience wherever and whoever that audience is. The whole idea of such statements came along with the art schools being turned first into polytechnics, and then universities. Blatent interferience in art by politicians. The result was that academia demanded something it thought it could understand – written work about the art, and a thesis on art history, so that a degree rather than a diploma could be awarded. It is important never to allow an audience to tie you down. Never to let them think they know you. It’s important to keep in mind why Rothko killed himself in his 70’s. Because of rampant commercialism he was not allowed to change. Thats why there seems to be a diference between my paintings of the seventies, the objective drawing of the eighties, and from the mid nineties, sculpture and print. Venus Nevirapine looks very different to the Snail. But the Snail comes from a much earlier period of the late sixties, while Venus comes from the figurative objective drawings of the eighties and speaks about a particular problem. The Firebird has an echo of the seventies gouaches and canvas paintings such as Findochty I. And Findochty II. However, one of the constants which crops up regularly in my work, is the aspect of Three. At present I am working on two more birds to go with the Firebird thus forming a group of three. This process of operating in threes I started as a student, painings like Triptychs, and Trilythons, and splitting the canvas area into three sections, and then later - Three Kings, Three Dancers, Three Graces, Three Women Weeding. The Judgement of Paris, Three African Graces – the list goes on. I live in a world of triangulation including having three daughters. Visual art like music or dance, and (depending on its format), can jump geographic location and thus jump audiences. That is what has happened with the Three Dancers image I spoke about earlier; coming as it did from European ballet, but working in an African situation. In that case yes, consideration of the audience of a geographic place is important, but it also has to contain something which acts on a universal level. Art is International, all cultures make art. But the one thing which really jumps any cultural hurdles is building art which has a base in mathematics and science. These remain the same whatever the culture. The Snail is an example. As are paintings which use the Golden Section and so bridge the viewer into mathematics of compositional structure and the perspectival organisation of the picture plane. The Bird series are heading me back to re-explore colour. And as for an audience, that doesnt matter. What is important is developing an harmonic within a work – any work, and it will gain an audience. Schwitters never thought of audiences. His merztbaus were built in a way which meant that only one or two people at most could experience them at any one time. Demagogary feeds on large audiences, perhaps that is why Scwitters built his merzbaus, giving them a position as a counterweight. I see the work of Beuys as a counterweight to that same demagogary in which he was caught up as a young man. I think that is how I like my work to be seen, as a counterweight. It is not the reaching of an audience which has to be solved, as it does not matter whether one or two or several thousand people see it. What has to be solved first is the development of the idea and how to make that idea have a form. Thanks a lot for this interesting conversation, Alex. Finally, I would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of? There is a traveling show in South Africa where some of my prints are being exhibited. The show is called The Legacy Continues, and was put together by the young curator Lunga Poho, who developed it around the idea of older artists influencing and mentoring younger ones. I feel very honoured to be included as a “foreign” artist. It is currently in Bloemfontain having already been in Soweto, Polokwane and Durban. I am planning to go to Japan to see my daughter, son in law, and first grandchild. I am also going to South Africa to print, and will also be visiting Botswana.

Scotland was placed on one side of a stone slab. 20 years later when building another work for the solo show Celtic Odyssey, I realised that the wheel cross form was an answer to an otherwise very dificult problem, particular to the geography of Celtic Europe. - gale force winds. The crosses were originaly made of wood and a plank of wood with a single joint attaching the cross piece would snap in those gales. Simple engineering said that the joint needed reinforcing and that reinforcement turned into a circle. When stone crosses came along, the circle had become part of the selling of the Christian religion, and stayed.

The next solo exhibition will include my flock of three birds and I will tell you about that another time.

During your long career your works have been extensively exhibited in several occasions around the world. So, before taking leave from this

I am also looking for a publisher so I can finish my autobiography. So far it is nineteen chapters long but has been on hold for the last few months.


Using a multidisciplinary approach, Alex Flett has developed an interesting style capable of investigating the relation between the outside world and way we perceive it. Viewers are urged to force things to relate, exploring suspended worlds and fill them with their personal experiences, to embrace their provoking take on reality and to discover our unsuspected ability to bring a new level of significance to apparently wellacquainted concepts. One of the most convincing aspect of Flett's work is the way he accomplishes the difficult task of creating a concrete aesthetics that engages viewers, while conveying emotional and rational approaches into a consistent, coherent unity. I'm very pleased to introduce our readers to his refined artistic production. Hello Alex, and welcome to Peripheral ARTeries: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training and you studied at the prestigious Slade School of FIne Arts in London: how has this stimulating experience influenced your evolution as an artists and how does it impact on the way you currently conceive and produce your works? I was born and brought up within a family whose background was the sea. My father was a master mariner and university graduate who taught sea training and navigation and my ancestors were all fisherman. My mother’s family also were all seaman, and everything with which I was familiar as a child revolved around the sea. Boats were functional, not pleasure craft, although there could be great pleasure and enjoyment to be had in that functionality. You take great care of a boat, as your life at sea depends on it anything is wrong so it gets repaired properly and immediately. Along with this immersion in matters to do with the sea, I took to reading encycolpedias. I was quite often ill as a child and my brother who was 9 years older than me had been given a set of encyclopedias as a Christmas present around 1953. As soon as I could read, I

found these fascinating. I was particularly struck by those pages which dealt with the great artists of the past and the images of artwork which was based on classical antiquity. My father had a friend who worked at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen, and one day my father saw the sculpture students’ Diploma works in a store room where they were waiting to be broken apart, as no-one kept their Diploma show work. One of these was a seated fisherman and my father got the town council of Findochty to buy it and erect it beside the harbour. Although it is not great piece of sculpture, I became fascinated with the world of art, and soon after we played host to a student who was doing his teacher training in the local school. Through him I had my first formal lesson in drawing. He also presented me with a set of poster paints which were a revelation, as up to that time I only had a cheap watercolour box. In 1961 my father had a change of job and we all moved to Tyneside in England and in 1963 I became a pupil of an art teacher called Reg Hepple. He was a University of Newcastle art graduate rather than an art school graduate, and from him I learned about the Slade. I decided that somehow I would get myself to the Slade. But I had a problem. I was so busy improving my art knowledge, and following through on the classical history which my brother’s encyclopedias had given me a fascination for, that studying the school curriculum in the required subjects was never on my mind. So applying directly to the Slade was not possible, because although it is a fully functioning art school, it is part of University College London, and applied the same academic entry requirments that applicants of all University subjects were asked for. I had to find another way. In 1968 I applied to, and got a place on the Foundation Course at St. Martin’s School of Art in London. At that time considered the formost sculpture school in the UK, but that was not the reason I applied. It was the design of the catalogue which was


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Alex Flett


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Alex Flett

completely different than any other I saw. There were two shows which stand out in my mind from that time. Both were at the Tate. One was Ben Nicholson and the other Ad Reinhardt. Despite the fact that I had a particular ability in sculpture, I decided on studying painting because this was what the Slade was particularly famous for. So I applied to, and was accepted by Winchester School of Art, which the then Head of Foundation at St Martins (Dougie Holden) described as “One of those high powered painting schools.” The three years at Winchester were not the happiest time of my life, but I kept my concentration on getting to the Slade, and despite the massive amount of applications the college receives every year for post graduate placement (which means that they use a nearby hall to handle the applications) I was asked to interview and was offered a place. 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? This question is one which tempts me to say. How long is a piece of string? I describe my work as post cultural structuralism in that it is possible to view and engage with ideas from many different facets of cultural meanings and systems. These develop from a background culture of physical art geography which is the Moray Firth coast of Scotland. This element of belonging operates as a base structure to the sculpture works and an understanding of the occupation of space into which each cuts. From that base line the works contain an historical paradigm which is both Classical and Romantic, and also contain conceptual threads which lead the viewer from one cultural backdrop to another. Drawing in sketch books are where an idea is laid down, and gestates. At the time you dont know if they will go any further. Sometimes a fully finished work has started from a sketched idea, but during its evolution, it sometimes becomes something

which has no apparant direct connection with the idea which started it off. During the structural stage new sketches become the means of developing such a work further. Whether figurative, abstract, or conceptual, structural threads move and remain both inside and outside the cultural space in which they have been conceived. Drawings and sketches can sit around for a long time before anything further happens. For example Venus Nevirapine could be made because of drawings which were made of my wife when she was pregnant during the 1980’s and these led to a set of sketch book drawings 25 years later which developed into the work. Although the artwork is not about my wife per se - but about involvement in the problems of the HIV pandemic - I could only have made it because of those 80’s drawings. There is a spatial dynamic in relation to my studio. I can get up in the morning, come down stairs and walk into my studio on one side of a hall, or into the office and library on the other side. I have learned to avoid both until I have had breakfast. Even so there is often a sketch book art history book or catalogue open on the kitchen table. In regard to mediums. These are pencils, paint (oil, gouache and watercolour) charcoal, carved wood, constructed wood, assemblage, canvas, paper, objet trouve, woolen yarn, wax, soil, aquatint etching, woodblocks and silkscreen; and occasionally several of these all in the same work. I work constantly in one form or another and generally have two or maybe three things ongoing in the studio at any one time, I also like having sketch books in every room in the house and always carry one with me when I go out. I dont go out to deliberatly draw something, its much more to do with what comes along, as my work contains myth, legend, detritus, history, archaeology and takes its imagery from one particular cultural place, and converts it into another area of existence. Often it is the simple act of tidying up which generates ideas. The act of moving something from one place to another becomes a catalyst. It is the art equivalent of a mathematical equation which arriving at a finished conclusion cannot be anything else other than what it is, and cannot exist except


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Alex Flett

in its own terms of reference. Like Schrödinger’s cat in its box, it can be art or not art or both at the same time. At the Slade there is a policy that postgraduates are allowed to drop into any department across the University. To get to the Slade studios, instead of going in through the front entrance, I would enter the UCL building along the Physics corridor. I watched an electron microscope being built and attended lectures on Black Holes. In science time is a constant stream going in one direction. We can’t go backwards. But as an artist with ideas it is possible to use time anywhere and in any way you wish. For example, taking the stimulus of a Venus mother figure from thousands of years ago and adding drawings made over 25 years ago and then pitch all of these into the present by making new drawings, and create a new sculpture linked to a drug which inhibits transfer of HIV from mother to child.......by doing all these things the work breaks into a new cultural future. It does not matter to me whether any set of ideas are representational or abstract. What matters is - does it work as art? Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from your Kirkcudbright Works that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to our readers to visit yur website directly at http://www.alexflett.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 this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration? I have lived and worked here in Kirkcudbright since December 1994. The reason for moving was familial and economic. In the late eighties and early 90’s I was trying to keep two buildings (a home and a studio) and I was lecturing part time for two Universities while also acting as Education Officer for a printmaking workshop. My wife was also working full time and we were hiring someone to look after our children. One day we thought, “This is ridiculous” because I was getting no time to do my own work and hardly seeing the children. So both

my wife and I started dropping the workload one job at a time. Then after exhibiting with and then venue managing for Richard Demarco in the 1994 Edinburgh Festival, I went off across Scotland to find somewhere that was big enough for family, studio, office, library, and archival storage. I came across the house where we now live just outside of Kirkcudbright. Ever since arriving here I have mostly exhibited and sold elsewhere, and although I have created Arts Festivals in the town very few people actually knew the range and breadth of what I have created as an artist. To correct this “Kirkcudbright Works” was put together. Because Kirkcudbright is a tourist town, I insisted the show should happen at a time in the year when it would be the local people who would see it. I did not want it to be a tourist attraction. To complement the show, and instead of the traditional catalogue, I put together a DVD which holds lots of information about me and also contains a series of photographs of myself working. These photos came about because a photography student came to me and asked if he could do a documentation project about me similar to the documentation done of Matisse working on one of his paintings made in the 1930’s. Several thousand photos were actually taken, and these took an age to strip down to the ones for inclusion on the DVD. A few of these images were blown up and included in the show. I also gained permission to use the music of the late jazz saxophonist Noah Howard who was a great friend of mine. The DVD ended up being archived with the Tate Gallery in London and copies can be had by contacting me through my web site. Most of your recent work concerns with the HIV Pandemic and deals with the AIDS awareness in South Africa area and pushes the viewer to not play as a passive audience, but to reflect about our society's lively matters... By the way, although I'm aware that this might sound a bit naïf, I have to admit that I'm sort of convinced that Art especially nowadays- could play an effective role in sociopolitical questions: not only just by offering to people a generic platform for expression... I would go as far as to state that


Alex Flett

Art could even steer people's behaviour... what's your point about this? Does it sound a bit exaggerated? When I got asked to create an AIDS referential print image by Jan Jordaan, the Director of Art for Humanity (at that time called Artists for Human Rights) for a portfolio called “Break the Silence.” I had recently come off a solo European touring show and was at the time developing hi tech ideas such as the Bodyworks suite. That series of images were developed using an MRI scanner and a computer attached to a sophisticated photocopier. The prints were first exhibited in the 2000 International AIDS Conference held in Durban SA which was where Jan Jordaan had seen them. I believe that Art for Humanity were thinking that they would get a version of those prints for the print portfolio and the billboards they were planning. However I realised that the aim of the portfolio and billboards could not be as sophisticated in a technical medically referential sense. Lots of medics and scientists like the MRI scan/photocopier Bodyworks suite but in Africa many are unfamiliar with a modern hospitals. I wanted an image with a greater direct aesthetic rawness, and be referential to the potential viewer wherever, and whomsoever, they were. A cultural engagement with which people in townships have in abundence, is dance. I had made several drawings of the Netherlands Ballet in the mid nineties when I was exhibiting in Amsterdam, and one of the projects which came out of those drawings were two dancer suites. One was using the available high tech of 1994. The second suite of prints are woodblocks. Although the hi tech “Dancer suite” became a completed project, the woodblocks, which were made using soft board drawn into by using an electric drill, were only ever state proofed in 2000, and did not become editioned until a couple of years later. I could probably have used any one of the four woodblock dancer images as a contribution to the “Break the Silence” portfolio, but the female Three Dancers was I felt, the strongest for that particular project. I remembered something which the Director of the Netherlands Ballet had said to me after I had

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asked him why he was taking a traditional production of Swan Lake to the Carribean and not a modern dance work. “Because” he said “You can find great dancers in any disco across that region. What they want and what they like in those islands are the traditional forms because it’s that which is different” So I knew that this classical ballet based image of “Three Dancers” would work well in Africa. The image had to be at A2 size to fit the portfolio, so the woodblock state proof print was turned into a silkscreen on Arche creme paper at the Peacock artists’ printmakers in Aberdeen where at one time I was the Education Officer. During this transfer, I left the ragged nervous edge which the the drill had created in the soft board, as I wanted to give a sense of movement to the edges of the forms. Sharpening the edges would have been over clinical. Another reason for choosing Three dancers is its highly charged sexuality. It allows the viewer to be voyeristic, looking into and at something through a window. This sexuality is hidden in full view and is something which few have noticed or remarked on. The thighs of the figures are like three female gentitalia. It is a psychological trick which remains hidden until it is pointed out. This “hidden in plain view,” direct reference to sex is important, as HIV is mostly transmitted through sex. To put genitalia up on such scale without “hiding” them, even in a country which is suffering from the AIDS pandemic would have been extremely dificult. A little later after “Three dancers” became part of Break the Silence , the art historian Sabine Marschall, brought to my attention a mural inside a football ground which showed a condom being placed over an erect penis. Sabine has written an excellent book on South African murals as the standard of mural art in Southern Africa is extremely high. They are descended from paintings in rock caves and under overhangs which go back centuries, and consequently are far more powerful than any modern European examples, many of which are about shock in either content or place. The South African ones are rooted in the dynamics of a society which until a couple of


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Alex Flett

decades ago was suffering from apartheid and then soon after freedom along came the problems of the pandemic. This has brought a host of social problems such as child headed families, stigma and ostrasisation. These are not not helped by poverty, and their is a need for the understanding of advocacy and human rights particulary among women. Good Fine Art is multi layered and a far better means of communicating social information in any culture than graphic advertising geared to selling a product. For example, when the billboard of Three Dancers was up for some years in a South African township, it became that communities cultural marker point. In the developed world we have so many cultural markers we sometimes dont realise they are there. They can be architectural, or a statue, a church or cathedral, or the Loch Ness monster! Such cultural marker points are few and far between in South African township areas. The billboard image was like walking the art gallery onto the street and the image stayed alive for the community. Kids used it as a meeting place, and the community generally got something out of it every time they passed it. They became proud of their art image, their cultural marker, which made their community different to others, and so were genuinely angry and disappointed when it eventualy had to come down. An important aspect of the way you organize your works in order to allow to unveil the subtle but ubiquitous connection between Imagination and everyday life: your vision seems to speak of a kind an abstract beauty that starts from a mundane imagery but that brings a new level of significance to images.I would go as far as to state that in a certain sense your works challenge the viewers' perception in order to going beyond the common way to perceive not only the outside world, but the way we relate to it... 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? If you read the my comments in point 4, it is perfectly possible to hide in plain site something quite powerful and


Alex Flett

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Peripheral ARTeries

Alex Flett

would be otherwise socially unacceptable. I have said many times in talks and workshops that although the vast majority of people have eyes that work, seeing is a different matter, and visually thinking, or should I say – thinking in visual terms - is another matter again. Good art gives you something new every time you see it. I once spent several hours in MoMA in New York walking from Picasso’s Demoiselles to Matisse’s Dance, (each was in its own room with the rooms next to one another) and could not work out which one was better because the visual thinking in both works was/is so deep and each time I saw either painting it gave up another layer of meaning. It was an extremely humbling experience. When I was running some state proofs of the woodblock dancers, someone in the printmakers said “You draw like Picasso” It was meant as a sincere compliment, but in actual fact it is quite easy to draw like Picasso (and other great artists), because Picasso, and the other greats, have each already worked it all out for you. But you can’t say, that it’s easy, because it looks like you are boasting, or being pretentious. When I draw the figure I can call up an image from a painting or drawing in my head which has a figure in a similar pose to the one I am looking at in it. A painting say from Ingres, or Renoir, or Picasso etc etc. and that image guides you. It is like having a carousel projector wheel in your head filled with 35mm slides and you just flip through it till you get the art historical work which fits what you happen to be doing. We learn art because we learn how to see as well as how to use our imagination by doing so, because unpicking the illusion of the third dimension on a two dimensional surface is not hard wired into our brains. That is why if you show a young child a photograph of a family relative, and say it is aunty so and so, the child will look around the room looking for aunty so and so, and put the photograph in its mouth to see if it is edible. As the child works out the illusion (which is possible because the hard wiring in our brains is capable of working it out), creating that illusion very often becomes what art is in the mind of the many, and because art was representational and illustrative until the development of modernism

the idea of illusion is reinforced. It is important attempt to jolt the viewer out of his or her’s unthinking eye and into some form of perceptive awareness. However shock alone is not the way to do this as it generally confirms in the mind of the general viewer any already held assumptions concerning what contemporary art is about. It is familiarity with art which grows knowledge, and the opportunity to ask why? a certain artwork is causing what a viewer may see as an intellectual insult. It is this decision to ask “Why am I intellectualy insulted?” and deciding to try and answer, which is the beginning of the visual perceptive learning process. Woolen yarn, which has appeared in much of my sculpture, has what one could call a normal function in society. Built into another cultural context the public is visualy pushed into looking at it in a new way. One of my works called Shuttle is based on a loom shuttle but set up like a rocket ship and is in a public collection in Ayrshire Scotland. In many ways it is the opposite to the modern tech work such as the Xerographic Bodyworks suite and points out the that man’s genius is not only confined to hi tech. The work is a pun on the use of the word shuttle which now is more familiarly used to describe a means of getting into space, as well as a train that goes under the English channel. But the loom shuttle is a far greater intellectual and imaginative invention. Nobody knows who invented it, or even where and how weaving began. Without the loom shuttle we would still be dressed in animal skins. Another wonderful invention is the button. It is something which we all take for granted. When the button came along it did not completely replace the brooch pin, or the leather strips for tying; these simply changed functions. The brooch pin is decorative rather than a means of keeping clothes together. The nappy (diaper) pin is functional. Imagination is a very fragile thing and developing ideas is a fragile thing, which is why many artists become singular and often accused of being elitist and reclusive. I have certainly been described as reclusive in the past. But developing ideas which seem extremely simple - such as scaling up Giant magnetic fish, which was made for the town of


Alex Flett

Molde in Norway, or filling twelve painted canvas bags with soil form twelve different locations in Scotland, now in the Smith Museum in Stirling, Scotland – takes a lot of time, and demanded concentrated effort to bring them to fruition. Works such as these have complex reasons for their existence. I have never taught for any extended time, prefering instead to give the occasional lecture, because I have no wish to cauterise myself into only dealing with my own work at evenings, weekends, holidays and limited research days. I did not want to be known as an artist because of a teaching post. Any job which means being in a certain place by a certain time doing certain things, for example I worked in a Woollen Mill for a while in the mid eighties, can become unbearable. But that job combined with my wife Eunice’s one women textile business which she ran at that time, are where my use of yarn came from. Even though I experimented a bit with yarn at that time during the eighties, the idea of building yarn into my work didn’t fully happen until the mid nineties. This again an example of why the recording of ideas is so important. They are where imagination can be explored. And if those ideas gestate for ten years, then that is all part of it. I was in the house of the English painter Patrick Heron one day and saw a small canvas on a wall which had yet to have the last area of colour added. I asked Patrick why he hadn’t finished it and he said because he was still deciding on what the final colour would be. I asked how long it had been there, to be told 8 years. Using everyday life material not perceived as ‘beautiful’ you establish an effective symbiosys between Memory and Experience, that takes an intense participatory line with the viewers. While creating such intimate involvement, you seem to remove the historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to perceive in a more absolute, almost atemporal form. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience? The old Celtic Druids were said to have to pass a test

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where they were made to lie all night in a coffin like bath of cold water, and during this immersion they had to compose in their heads a poem of a given length and on a subject and in a metre, which was only given to them as they were being put into the water. In the morning they had to get out of the water and recite the poem. Not only had it to be on subject and in the correct metre and of the required length, it had to have an aesthetic. It had to be a thing of beauty in itself. I dont put myself through such an extreme measures to create anything, but the point is there, that it is possible to create from an extreme experience. The nearest I have come to the Druidic form - which gave me the idea - is lying in a 8000 year old neolithic grave and having myself photographed. The great thing about history is that it can be there but not there. Its hidden. Few are going to start saying “Hey he got that from reading about the ancient Druids” If they discuss it, the discussion will more than likely be in different terms such as the the AIDS pandemic about which it was made, my involvement in the battle against the virus, and the fact that it went to Washington for an AIDS Conference there. There are two forms of historical memory. There is history in the large sense, thats history like the battle of Bannockburn or the battle of Waterloo, and included in this larger history is the History of Art. The second history is the personnal, and that includes what you did yesterday and what you had for breakfast. By the following week, unless you are in the habit of having the same thing for breakfast everyday, then you have more than likely forgotten what it was you ate. On a scale of important memories, it is low down on the list to remember unless it is utalised as part of an art project. But given the extension for everyone to record personnal historical memory technologically, and for those things to be easily stored and passed onto others in real time through social media, how much of our lives do we want to record? Are our descendents going to actually be interested? How many “selfies” are enough? The technology is becoming not so much an aid to memory but the memory itself. Taking everyday items such as a button, or yarn, or reminding an audience of imagination which has


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Alex Flett

placed objects outside of their function and thus giving them an aesthetic, becomes important to jolt the viewer. It is the creation of a future historic which sounds like a contradiction in terms, but that is what art is about. The creation of something which will remain in the future to be historic. Any artist whose work is held in a public art museum collection is in that position, because the work has an aspect which is memorable and is thus future historic. For me, Post Cultural Structuralism is how I deal with both the larger historical memory and the personnal historical memory at one and the same time. Experience which can be borrowed from the larger historical art past, is how we can learn what art can be, how to create our own art, and how this affects our own cultural tribal past. When Joseph Beuys came out with the statement that everyone was an artist, he cast art into an R.D Laing-ian double-bind, where something is both right and wrong at one and the same time and the larger art past colided with the personnal art past. Because of this I dont think Beuys really understood the art of childhood. By looking at others through the prism of his own referential memory experience, which for him and for many of his generation was a pretty harrowing experience due to WWII. My own father had problems getting back through the memory to his experiences before it. I admire Beuys, however to understand him I think that it is important to go through Schwitters and Dada and further, understand his generation not only on an art level, but on a human level as well. This is why I made the Staff for the Road to Meickle Seggae to honour the journey Beuys took in Scotland to create an Aktion on Rannoch Moor. Its structure has copper wire running through it to pick up energy from the earth. I also chose the top very carefully to have an R shape, which indicates the involvement of Richard Demarco alongside Beuys. In one sense, everybody is capable of being an artist, they are also capable of being a plumber, a scientist, a miner and much else besides. As a young child not even of school age, I used to draw on any fly leaf or empty page in books. Much to everyone in the families’ annoyance. But I would

think – there is a blank page – a drawing can go on it and what is wrong with that? Last year I came across a book belonging to my brother and which had some of those drawings in it. So I can refer a long way back into my childhood. This being so, I think that to be an artist you must first become unafraid of a blank page and of making a mark on it. Creativity cannot be seperated from experience either. That is another reason why it is important to draw. There are very few true naifs in art and I have only ever met one who falls into this catogary, and she is in her seventies and lives in the Kalahari in Botswana and when I led a Workshop in Gaborone, she walked for a whole day to get on a bus to come to it. Geography of birth imprints itself in ways which can be subtle but significant. It would be dificult to disasociate Goya from Spain, or Jackson Pollock from the USA. In the same manner, I cannot disasociate myself from my background, and someone such as my 70 year old Botswana student can’t disasociate herself from her life in a village in the Kalahari. I cannot make art like her. I could copy it, but I could not have developed it. I daresay that your visionary approach to recontextualization that emerges with a particular energy in The Snail and especially in The Firebird, that was inspired by Stravinsky’s “Rites of Spring, has suggested me the idea that environment acts as cornerstones for a fullfilment process that has reminds me of German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand, when he stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead": what's your point about this? And in particular, how much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your works? The “Snail” is an interesting work in that it was first created in 1969 while I was a Foundation student, but as I said in Question 1, I was working to a programme and that was to get to the Slade, and that meant that it didn’t figure too much in that quest. However, that became something of a blessing in that it remained unknown to Winchester as I did not use it or any other sculpture in the


Alex Flett

application. I knew it was a strong piece of work and so I rebuilt it for the D’Arcy Thomson Museum in Dundee. The original “Snail” came from reading a book on mathematics called “The language of mathematics” by Frank Land which led me to D’Arcy Thomson and his work on natural mathematics such as the Fibonacci growth system. I can remember being told by one of the tutors at Winchester School of Art that what we did as Foundation students can be “Thrown away and forgotten.”

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I agree about half way with Thomas Demand as you can see in the answers to the last question. These days, I dont go deliberately looking for particular things to draw, or to use in my art, because often that is a decision which can be pre emptive of the creative process. I prefer to stumble across things which then kick off ideas. These drawings or notes become a means to analyise these ideas. For many decades, as the camera has developed, it has released art from being purely illustrative and has contributed to art development by becoming


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Alex Flett

both an art mechanism and a tool, I find that it, and the business of digital computer printing, has taken over young artists in a way which leaves many of them lost and flapping, and in danger of merely decorating the inside of a Dioginean barrel. I have experimented with photography beyond its documentary use, both in the past and most recently when I used myself as the subject in the 8000 year old grave AIDS images. However such digital imagery is only one part of what concerns me as an artist. In the eighties, I set myself objective drawing tasks. Which I described as being like a musician practising scales. My wife Eumice would often model for me and In respect of Venus Nevirapine, as I have already said – those studies worked out. In the nineties I found a symbol on a Pictish standing stone which looked like tumbling oak leaves. These appeared in some of the works I made in the middle to late part of that decade as a frame to hang some pictorial ideas on. The tumbling oak leaves can be seen on the sail of the “Bannog boat.” No one knows what the Pictish symbols mean, but they are part of my cultural background and so it is possible for me to give meaning to them, and by pulling them into the present, send them into the future. Some symbols do work. Alan Davie used Pictish symbols often, but importantly, in a manner which is not reproduction. And because nobody can interpret them nor Pictish Ogham writing, they retain the ability to form imagination. I have drawn a great many birds scattered in a few different sketch books simply because they were there, many were done “after the fact.” I watch rather than draw and hold that image in visual memory until later. I suppose one could say – using my memory like a camera. What brought these images into focus as an idea for Firebird was a) the Stravinski music and b) a friend of my wife coming to stay with us for a few days and bringing with her a big bundle of thin slatted pieces of wood which she thought could be used as kindling as we have an open fire. The strips kicked off a connection of fire and the music and the bird sketches. Some of these sketches were made in southern Africa, some in Siwa in Egypt as well as here at Lochfergus. Out

of ths studio window I can watch pheasants, partidges, swallows, swifts, crows, plus many small birds and the occasional buzzard. Even the most seemingly grey brown bird can, when examined, be seen to be composed of many different and subtle tones. One day in South Africa while staying with, and borrowing the studio o,f the artist/curator Nontobeko Ntombela, I managed to get very close to an ibis which was in her garden. The feathers read visually like a Rembrandt grey, built from the mixing of many different colours affecting how the light bounced off the feathers. When all these things came together, yarn resurfaced as a material to be part of the Firebird. But there is another element to these bird works, and that was my own history as a child. At one point in the nineteen fifties I adopted a Greater Blackbacked Seagull as a pet, because it had an injured wing. I was very small and this bird was large, powerful, and very vicious. I was being pecked over and over again until my parents decided that this bird had to go as I could loose an eye. Having been rested in our garage, (where I had thoughtfully built it a nest), when brought outside, it flew off without a backward glance. I was devestated and so it might be argued that the Firebird and the further two birds being worked on in the studio at the moment, are me replacing my pet seagull. The associations expressed by the juxtapositive process seem to avoid any precise politicized meanings: however, it's almost impossible to deny that giving a second life to images -and sometimes to the concept behind them- could be defined such a politicized practice itself. By the way, although I'm aware that this might sound a bit naïf, I have to admit that I'm sort of convinced that Art -especially nowadayscould play an effective role in sociopolitical questions: not only just by offering to people a generic platform for expression... 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?


Alex Flett

There is a sense of what came first, the chicken or the egg? in this question. Art can play a sociopolitical role, though not all art does this. Some art does not set out to do so, and does. My bags of Scottish soil have a sociopolitical background as they were built for an exhibition called Brave-art, held in Stirling in the nineties, to mark the 700th anniversary of William Wallace and the battle of Stirling Bridge. These are now part of the permanent collection of the Smith Art Gallery and Museum in Stirling. Creativitity has always suffered at the hands of extreme politics as can be seen from the numbers of artists who had to get out of Europe in the 1930’s. The Dadist in particular suffered and Schwitters fled to Norway where he lived in a hut on Heart Island in the middle of Molde Fjord. I have had the honour of being inside it, not that there is much left of what Schwitters did in it, but the atmosphere is still there. There are other examples within history such as the change brought about by the Greaco/Roman nude and the later Renaisance, and the 19th century “fig leaf reaction” to it. But when we come to contemporary art, the major biggy is the concept of post – modernism which has worked its way across a variety of art forms and unlike the future historic which is part of post cultural structuralism, is a form of conditioning and has built up a determinist myth, which allows its use by anyone and everyone without thought. I watched a programme on Gore Vidal recently on TV, and someone came out with what is now the stock phrase to be used by anyone too lazy to seriously think. i.e., that Vidal was a postmodernist, as if one of the world’s great literary figures needed the help of a phrase of fashiion. He must be spinning in his grave. Some years back when one of my daughters was still in towelling nappies (diapers as the Americans call them) she found a watercolour block lying on the studio floor which happened to be a very powerful red quinacridone magenta and thinking it may be a sweet, started sucking it. The result was that several of the towelling nappies when needing changing, came off bright pink. I was talking on the phone about this to a friend and colleague Malcolm Hughes who had become the Slade Head of Postgraduate Studies, saying it was like running an edition of prints. Malcolm

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got very excited and offered to help to get them sold to Saatchi. “Do you know how much those nappies would fetch?” He asked. As my wife and I were seriously broke at the time, (we were living on next to nothing and trying to raise a family), the idea was very tempting. Then future historicism kicked into my mind. Can you imagine dealing with a teenage girl who discovers that her nappies were framed and hanging in a public or a private collection, and were famous? And that is why post modernism is cynical, because that is what its ragged philosophy hangs on – the impact now, not its effect in the future. The term post modernist has entered the most recent update of E H Gombrich’s “Story of Art.” However, the term first came about, not as the book says, but in Easter 1971 from an ad hoc symposium at Eagles Nest the home of the painter Patrick Heron with 14 students from Winchester School of Art, and was used as a throwaway joke on Patrick, who described his paintings as being post painterly abstraction. The term post modern made everybody laugh, after which, Patrick started onto the reasons why something such as post-modernism can’t exist except as a Dioginean myth. When I built Wheeled Cross I did partly as a reference to Duchamp. When at the Slade I got myself some vacation work on film and TV sets. One day the company I was doing this for phoned me and said I had been particularly requested by the BBC. The reason was that they wanted to move a Duchamp bicycle wheel and stool from the studio of the artist Richard Hamilton to Alexandria Palace for an Open University programme. Word had got around that I was a Slade student and that therefore I was exactly the type of person to move the Duchamp! Contained in Wheel Cross is the debunking of a myth over why there was a circle in the Celtic cross. This has been turned into many forms of so called spirituality including sun discs, cosmic wheels, prayer wheels, and goodness knows how many other ideas which have cropped up in the world of new age romanticism. At the same Eagles Nest ad hoc symposium, I became friends with the Irish painter Tony O’Malley, and a few years later he wrote me a letter with a list of books on the structure of the Celtic cross, which in Ireland was free standing, and in Scotland was placed on one side of a stone slab. 20 years later when building another work for the solo show Celtic Odyssey, I realised that


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Alex Flett

the wheel cross form was an answer to an otherwise very dificult problem, particular to the geography of Celtic Europe. - gale force winds. The crosses were originaly made of wood and a plank of wood with a single joint attaching the cross piece would snap in those gales. Simple engineering said that the joint needed reinforcing and that reinforcement turned into a circle. When stone crosses came along, the circle had become part of the selling of the Christian religion, and stayed. During your long career your works have been extensively exhibited in several occasions around the world. So, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decisionmaking process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

mid nineties, sculpture and print. Venus Nevirapine looks very different to the Snail. But the Snail comes from a much earlier period of the late sixties, while Venus comes from the figurative objective drawings of the eighties and speaks about a particular problem. The Firebird has an echo of the seventies gouaches and canvas paintings such as Findochty I. And Findochty II. However, one of the constants which crops up regularly in my work, is the aspect of Three. At present I am working on two more birds to go with the Firebird thus forming a group of three. This process of operating in threes I started as a student, painings like Triptychs, and Trilythons, and splitting the canvas area into three sections, and then later - Three Kings, Three Dancers, Three Graces, Three Women Weeding. The Judgement of Paris, Three African Graces – the list goes on. I live in a world of triangulation including having three daughters.

Something which I have always tried not to do is write an Artist’s statement. Those which I have read from students tend to be both pretensious and limiting and I have given up reading them, explaining that they are putting a barrier between themeselves and their audience wherever and whoever that audience is. The whole idea of such statements came along with the art schools being turned first into polytechnics, and then universities. Blatent interferience in art by politicians. The result was that academia demanded something it thought it could understand – written work about the art, and a thesis on art history, so that a degree rather than a diploma could be awarded.

Visual art like music or dance, and (depending on its format), can jump geographic location and thus jump audiences. That is what has happened with the Three Dancers image I spoke about earlier; coming as it did from European ballet, but working in an African situation. In that case yes, consideration of the audience of a geographic place is important, but it also has to contain something which acts on a universal level. Art is International, all cultures make art. But the one thing which really jumps any cultural hurdles is building art which has a base in mathematics and science. These remain the same whatever the culture. The Snail is an example. As are paintings which use the Golden Section and so bridge the viewer into mathematics of compositional structure and the perspectival organisation of the picture plane.

It is important never to allow an audience to tie you down. Never to let them think they know you. It’s important to keep in mind why Rothko killed himself in his 70’s. Because of rampant commercialism he was not allowed to change. Thats why there seems to be a diference between my paintings of the seventies, the objective drawing of the eighties, and from the

The Bird series are heading me back to reexplore colour. And as for an audience, that doesnt matter. What is important is developing an harmonic within a work – any work, and it will gain an audience. Schwitters never thought of audiences. His merztbaus were built in a way which meant that only one or two people at most could experience them at any one time.


Alex Flett

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Demagogary feeds on large audiences, perhaps that is why Scwitters built his merzbaus, giving them a position as a counterweight. I see the work of Beuys as a counterweight to that same demagogary in which he was caught up as a young man. I think that is how I like my work to be seen, as a counterweight. It is not the reaching of an audience which has to be solved, as it does not matter whether one or two or several thousand people see it. What has to be solved first is the development of the idea and how to make that idea have a form.

of my prints are being exhibited. The show is called The Legacy Continues, and was put together by the young curator Lunga Poho, who developed it around the idea of older artists influencing and mentoring younger ones. I feel very honoured to be included as a “foreign� artist. It is currently in Bloemfontain having already been in Soweto, Polokwane and Durban. I am planning to go to Japan to see my daughter, son in law, and first grandchild. I am also going to South Africa to print, and will also be visiting Botswana.

Thanks a lot for this interesting conversation, Alex. Finally, I would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

The next solo exhibition will include my flock of three birds and I will tell you about that another time.

There is a traveling show in South Africa where some

I am also looking for a publisher so I can finish my autobiography. So far it is nineteen chapters long but has been on hold for the last few months.

Peripheral ARTeries Art Review Summer 2015 Special Issue  
Peripheral ARTeries Art Review Summer 2015 Special Issue  
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