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Anniversary Edition

RADA YAKOVA TALI NAVON HYUNJI LEE LIANA PSAROLOGAKI HEIDI THOMPSON SPYROS KOUVARAS MARIUSZ SOŁTYSIK STEPHEN CHEN LESZEK PIOTROWSKI LESSTRO , video installation A work by

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SUMMARY

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

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

A r t

R e v i e w

Heidi Thompson

Mariusz Sołtysik

Rada Yakova

Liana Psarologaki

Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro Hyunji Lee

Canada

Poland

The Netherlands

United Kingdom

Poland

USA

My love for beauty comes from living in Canada surrounded by mountains, lakes, sky, fields and forest. Nature inspires me. I love her changing colours, random designs, luminosity and infinite space. My aim as a painter is to capture natural beauty – not by painting landscapes or sunsets; rather by painting the essence of nature using abstract elements of pure colour, light, texture and space. Lightness and darkness mirror who I am. I am both conscious and unconscious. Light and dark are metaphors for ignorance and enlightenment. Light elicits a primordial instinct of survival, safety and hope. Light makes me happy. Light removes fear of the unknown. Darkness is equally profound. Darkness evokes stillness, mystery and timeless infinity. Darkness is the womb of creation. Darkness comforts my eyes and lets me rest. When I paint relationships of light and dark I am expressing my emotional, philosophical and spiritual Truth.

In my creative work I frequently ask questions about perception of reality. My focus is on the relationship between objective and subjective sensual perception, and the role of consciousness and intuition in this process. I investigate this relationship in constant progress of things, which causes continuous confrontation of what we see and feel versus HOW we remember and present it. We recall and remember things in a variety of forms and at different times, and subjectively “colour” them. Whether consciously or not. This “colouring”, or dualism of things is my essential focus that informs my creative activities. This implies constant confrontation and inevitable incursion into the social sphere and its condition that I also describe and document in my works.

...it is all about dance and the beauty of a dancing female body. But also the efforts a woman has to make in order to achieve that status defined as "PRIMA"

As an architect by training and an artist by practice, I see myself as a conceptual space maker, fascinated by the poetics of immersive spaces. My art practice concentrates on the production of environments that challenge the visitors’ perception of space as related to the triplet of mind-body-surroundings. In my work, I use architectural elements, physical objects, immaterial components, video, drawing, and photography to create site-specific situations and immersive events. I contextualise my practice, which examines the reception of sensations and the creation of affects, through theories of neuroaesthetics and the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Brian Massumi, with a focus on the concept of event. I believe that space gives us its atmosphere and we give back our affects. Our expe-riences are temporal journeys of mood, memory and emotion. We sense and feel. We feel and think. We think and respond. We respond and create.

Even though it is still a bald artistic decision I create very classical art pieces. I am hoping to build a new movement of European art modeling itself after Dutch, Flemish, Spanish and Italian schools. Bringing together and reawakening enthusiasm for the Old Masters work and the urgent need for renewed reverence for reality, by bringing back skills and spirit of the pre-impressionist painters. My desire is to remind the audience we carry as human beings emotions, memory and dream. There are things in life that unite people. Art seems to be universal : feeling, color, our sensory reaction to it. I create visual art of perfect workshop, without falling back on experiment just for exercising experiment. There is so much evil and ugliness nowadays, that I would like everybody looking at my paintings to associate them with feelings of beauty and good only. That is why women are my favorite painting objects. I try to show their beauty and endless mystery by means of chiaroscuro, where light always wins, just like good overcomes evil.

My work is derived from the confusion and distrust about the perceptions of surrounding objects that were engendered by my physical and psychological experiences of displacement. Our perceptions are certainly limited: we see a lot of things everyday, but we sense only part of them, not their entirety. Though a figure definitely exists, we cannot discern its essence, as if we are trapped in a certain mode of viewing. The memories become distorted, and chronological order is broken. I am interested in this distinction and distortion between experience and memory and the way I perceive them in my nomadic situations. I strive to evoke the interaction between personal memories and the desire to link personal elements into a shared human experience.

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Rada Yakova is a Holland based visual artist. She builds her paintings up through layers of freehand emotional brushstrokes. Rather than planning the work in advance, she works intuitively and with lots of emotion. The main goal of her artworks has not been just creating paintings in beautiful shapes and colours, rather creating works of art, which reflect and show a certain stand in society. Yakova’s works are presented at several Art Fairs around the world, such as Art Santa Fe, AAF Amsterdam and others. She has exhibited and sold work in the United States and Europe.


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Spyros Kouvaras

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lives and works in Greece

Liana Psarologaki

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lives and works in the United Kingdom

Stephen Chen

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lives and works in Berlin and London

Tali Navon

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lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel

Leszek Lesstro LeszekPiotrowski Piotrowski Lesstro 96 lives and works in Gdynia, Poland

Heidi Thompson Stephen Chen

Tali Navon

Spyros Kouvaras

USA

USA

Greece

Bounded Nature is a photographic series that investigates the dialectic and tension between the natural and the man-made; how nature is contained, pruned, and rendered “invisible”. Nature becomes dis-“figured” through decentering, which is both a commentary and metaphor for urban dwellers’ ritualized and cultivated unconscious of their impacts on the larger environment in their everyday actions. Urban photography has created a pervasive trope of the city to the extent we learn not to “see” nature in depictions of urban settings; our gaze cultivated instead towards the geometry and lines of the man-made. On the other hand, landscape photography (whether the unspoiled vistas of Ansel Adams, or the degraded beauty of Edward Burtynsky) have favoured exotic and far-flung locales that further distance the urban dweller in appreciating their intricate relation to the larger environment.

My video works connect moments in time. The works connect the abstract and the concrete I test/check memories of the past in light of contemporary moments. ete: the abstract rules the domains where memories or dreams appear, relying upon sensations and feelings; the concrete contains various objects, such as an old book or a Snow White doll. I relate to this environment – an environment for growing (girls) – along with the realistic, contemporary, day-today environment. The works create a sort of “encompassing format” or space in which I choose to present “my world.” Observations happen from it – from inside out and from outside in. The 8 mm films that my father shot when I was a child (in the 1970s) are my raw material. The act of drawing (I draw) connected figures is a recurring motif in the works. The figures are from the world of childhood, but there is no doubt of their presence in the present. They rule the past, present, and future.

My choreographic research consists on a mechanistic approach of movement using at the same time the body as a canvas, as an abstract surface, so that the movement can be in the image and the movement can vibrates the image. I practice a research that focuses on the relation between body, sound and image and I am interest- ing on the sculpture tangibility of the bodies, the prolonged duration of the movement and the aesthetic precision. It is about a study of abstraction where its strength consists on the intensity between human subject and visual object, between time and space, movement and sound. An important area of creation is the approach of art and philosophy as well as art and science. The kinetic vocabulary of the company focuses on the development of a personal choreographic language which deviates from the recognizable forms of contemporary dance and usually takes a hybrid form.

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lives and works in Canada

Mariusz Sołtysik

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lives and works in Poland

Rada Yakova

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lives and works in The Netherlands

Hyunji Lee

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lives and works in Phoenix, AZ, USA On the cover

, video installation by

Special thanks to Haylee Lenkey, Martin Gantman, Krzysztof Kaczmar, Joshua White, Nicolas Vionnet, Genevieve Favre Petroff, Sandra Hunter, MyLoan Dinh, John Moran, Marya Vyrra, Gemma Pepper, Michael Nelson, Hannah Hiaseen and Scarlett Bowman, Yelena York Tonoyan, Haylee Lenkey, Martin Gantman, Krzysztof Kaczmar and Robyn Ellenbogen.

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Spyros Kouvaras Lives and works in Athens (GR) and in Paris (FR)

An artist's statement

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ynthesis 748 Company was established in May 2008 in Paris (FR), by the choreographer and performer Spyros Kouvaras. Powered by the National Dance Center of France and the French Ministry of Culture, the company has an international course over the years. Spyros Kouvaras’ works have been exhibited and performed in theaters, galleries, museums and festivals in various countries in- cluding France, Germany, Greece, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Argentina and Colombia. The Company has received warm reviews and has been referenced in international contemporary art publications. Since 2015, Synthesis 748 is also based in Athens (GR). « My choreographic research consists on a mechanistic approach of movement using at the same time the body as a canvas, as an abstract surface, so that the movement can be in the image and the movement can vibrates the image. I practice a research that focuses on the relation between body, sound and image and I am interest- ing on the sculpture tangibility of the bodies, the prolonged

duration of the movement and the aesthetic precision. It is about a study of abstraction where its strength consists on the intensity between human subject and visual object, between time and space, movement and sound. An important area of creation is the approach of art and philosophy as well as art and science. The kinetic vocabulary of the company focuses on the development of a personal choreographic language which deviates from the recognizable forms of contemporary dance and usually takes a hybrid form. My performances do not tell a story. The scenic installations that always make up the starting point of the global composition are characterized by the creation of timeless spaces, by the creation of situations and fields which are interpreted more by the unconscious and less by the logic. The company’s works, often like choreographic installations in movement, approaches the scenic space like an exhibition room, the performance itself like an exhibited object and propose to the audience the role of the visitor ».

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LandEscape meets

Spyros Kouvaras An interview by Katherine Williams, curator and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com

Choreographer and performer Spyros Kouvaras' focuses his research on the sculpture tangibility of the bodies, the prolonged duration of the movement and the aesthetic precision to consider the vital relationship between direct experience and visual interpretation. In his OPUS I # temporality that we'll be discussing in the following pages he trigger the viewers' perceptual parameters to draw them through a multilayered, unconventional experience. One of the most impressive aspects of Kouvaras' work is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of creating timeless spaces, by the creation of situations and fields which are interpreted more by the unconscious and less by the logic: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to his stimulating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Spyros and welcome to LandEscape: we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your

multifaceted background. You studied Graphic Arts in Athens, contemporary dance and choreography-performance in France and you also graduated from European Academy of Physical Theatre in Paris: how did these experiences influence the way you currently conceive and produce your works? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum due to the relationship between your Greek roots and your current life in France inform the way you relate yourself to the aesthetic problem in general?

When I started to study Graphic Design, I soon realized that it interested me more as an artistic background and less as a professional practice. At the same time I was always interested in movement, so I turned my orientation to contemporary dance because I found in it a huge horizon of an artistic freedom. My studies and personal research in Graphic Design, Fine Arts and History of Art, were for me a very important knowledge which I used and I am still using in my choreographic work. I believe that my 10 years of


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Ehud Schori


Ehud Schori

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Spyros Kouvaras


Spyros Kouvaras

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living, searching and creating in Paris will always characterize my artistic work in the future, even now that I have moved to Athens. I mean that living and working in Paris for a long period as an artist is something which marks you forever. My Greek roots also exist in my works but more in a subconscious way. I used to look always forward in my life but of course memory and past are welcomed and necessary elements for the artistic creation. You are a versatile artist and the results of you choreographic research conveys together a coherent sense of unity that rejects any conventional classification. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit https://vimeo.com/synthesis748 in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that such approach is the only way to express and convey the idea you explore.

I think yes. Personally, I couldn't exist just as a choreographer and performer. I first feel like an artist in a holistic way and secondarily like a choreographer and dancer. In my choreographic research I focus on the relationship between human subject and visual

object, between body and image using at the same time the music as a link point between them. I am also interested in the connection between art, science and philosophy, so all these influences lead me to create hybrid dance performances. When I teach or give a workshop, I ask my students: Are you a dancer? Ok, you have to visit contemporary art exhibitions. Are you a visual artist? Ok, then you have to see contemporary dance performances. And of course, you must listen to music and study History of Art and philosophy in a personal way. I mean, becoming an artist is a component of many things and influences. The «richer» your background is, the «richer» is your work. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected OPUS I # temporality, an extremely interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once caught our attention of your effective inquiry into the notion of physicality is the way you have been capable of creating a concrete aesthetics from direct experience: when walking our readers through the genesis of OPUS I # temporality would you tell us something about your usual process and set up?

When I was in Athens in October 2014, I visited the third part of the visual


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project «MetroLogos» at Owl Art Space Gallery. The project examined the relationship between art and science and I was impressed of the art works of the exhibition and the artists who participated. So, I started to talk with Alexandra Nasioula, visual artist and curator of the project, about my participation in the project. Our common desire to explore the idea of a choreographic exhibition led me to work on «OPUS I # temporality» and I started to work on a solo «in partnering» with the 15 visual works which were exhibited in the gallery. I also asked the composer Giorgos Kouvaras to compose a live musical environment for my performance, so thus to create a sound vibration to the whole project. OPUS I # temporality is centered on the idea of time as movement with the sense of change and being: we have highly appreciated the way your approach goes beyond a merely interpretative aspect of the contexts you refer to. As Janet Cardiff and Olafur Eliasson do in their works, «OPUS I # temporality» shows unconventional aesthetics in the way it deconstructs perceptual images in order to assemble them in a collective imagery, urging the viewers to a process of selfreflection. Would you shed a light about the role of metaphors in your process?


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Spyros Kouvaras


Spyros Kouvaras

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What I do mostly is choreographic installations, « performances which dance » than dance performances. I use to approach the body as an exhibited object and the object as a choreographed subject. I think there is a clear metaphor on this process, in a way that I like to change the stereotypes, the roles of the things, to give them an allegorical dimension. When I perform in a theatrical context, I want the viewer to have a sense of being a visitor in an exhibition room and when I perform in a gallery or in a museum, I want the visitor to have a sense of a theatrical viewer. 3 mountains not to climb inquiries into the interstitial space between personal and public spheres, providing the spectatorship with an immersive experience that forces such a contamination the inner and the outside: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space?

«3 Mountains not to Climb», is a performance which examines the inner and the outside, the presence and the absence and is asking us to see what exists behind the phenomenon. Producing an art work in public space, already changes the way that we see this space and urges us to have a different, shared, cultural


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experience. But it is not that simple; Personally, I don't believe in art as a ÂŤhappeningÂť. The thing is not just to get out and perform; the thing is to focus on the emotional response and perception of particular socio-spatial context in which an art work in public could be placed. And also, I believe that public art projects will be most effective when they will be part of a larger, holistic, multidisciplinary approach to enlivening a city or neighborhood. Only in this way, public art can contribute both to community life and to the service and vitality of public spaces. As you have remarked once, your approach consists on a mechanistic approach of movement using at the same time the body as a canvas, as an abstract surface, so that the movement can be in the image and the movement can vibrates the image: how would you define the notion of body in your practice? In particular, do you think that personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process? Could a creative process be disconnected from direct experience?

I believe that there are autobiographical elements in most of my works even if sometimes that happens subconsciously. They are just elements, we are our experiences of course, but that doesn't mean that a


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personal experience makes you create a work. When a creative process starts, it is already an experience of the present. When I work on a project, my mental connection with the materials that I use (bodies, sound, objects) already creates a new experience condition. I never start to create with an idea with a specific experience, I prefer to start pure, just using my main material which is the body, or the bodies of the dancers and the scenic space and its installation. In my collaboration with art@CMS program of the CMS Experiment at CERN - when I created «10^ -22 sec», there was not a direct experience during the creation process at all. I mean what experiences could we have on Higgs boson? When I created «L’Isolement dans un Space Infini», the experience was more direct than in my other works, it could happen, but even in this performance, the personal experience wasn't the starting point of the creation, it came after the pure experimentation of the form between body, movement and the costume material that I used. You have remarked the importance of abstraction where its strength consists on the intensity between human subject and visual object: while exhibiting a captivating vibrancy, your process seems to reject an explicit explanatory strategy:

rather, you seem to invite the viewer to find personal interpretations to the feelings that you convey into your pieces. How do representation and a tendency towards abstraction find their balance in your work?

My performances do not tell a story, I defined realism in art many years ago. The scenic installations that always make up the starting point of the global composition are characterized by the creation of timeless spaces, by the creation of situations and fields which are interpreted more by the unconscious and less by the logic. I am more interested in searching an organic point of meeting between the performers-dancers and the audience. For example, in my work, «OPUS I # temporality», the choreography with its slowness and its gradual development, suggests to the viewers a situation of «waiting», where the form is captured easily. As the images change, the relation between space, duration and movement grow strongly and the viewers are able to get to it in their own way. As Olafur Eliasson said, we have to trust the abstraction… Your performances have on the surface, a seductive beauty: at the same time, playing with the dichotomy between logic and emotion, they challenge the viewers' perceptual parameters-


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establishing a channel of communication between the conscious level and the subconscious sphere: artists are always interested in probing to see what is beneath the surface: maybe one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your view about this? In particular, do you think that your works could induce a process of selfreflection in the viewers?

Synthesis is the most important element in my work: composition, structure, rhythm, and atmosphere. It is a co-existence in space and time through movement, image, sound and energy. Assuming that the energy of the visual work comes from the inner entity and diffuses outward, while we focus at the same time our attention on the moving bodies which are also pushed by an inner vibration outwards, we realize that these two energy lines pulsate. This fusion is realized in the «empty space» which is created between them and I think this «empty space» induces a process of selfreflection to each viewer… One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the

nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

What is more important to me is the orchestration of the space, the venue, where the choreography and the performance will be presented. This is important and affects the establishment of the project. It is quite different to work on a project for an exhibition room than for a theatrical context, although there is a clear line in my work no matter what the presentation framework is (theater, public space, museum or gallery). There are always common elements, for example, most of my works tend to be relatively «quiet», the sculpture naturalness of the body is always present, as well as the immobility that we acquire as performers-dancers, and the paradox of this choreographic immobility. What changes each time is the approach to the viewer, the duration of the project and the general idea if there is a clear start and end of the performance. It's no doubt that collaborations as the one that you have established over these


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years for the Synthesis 748 Company, established in May 2008 in Paris, are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something about this effective synergy? By the way, Peter Tabor once stated that "collaboration is working together with another to create something as a synthesis of several practices, that alone one could not": what's your point about this? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between several artists?

I truly believe in artistic synergies but in quite closed circles. It sounds paradox, but what I mean is that I seek to work and collaborate with people with whom I share common, human and artistic visions and aesthetics. There are not too many, you know. The composer Giorgos Kouvaras and the performer Korina Kotsiri work with my company since 2010. Their artistic contribution in many of my works has been vital and fundamental for the realization of these projects. There are also other artists who have collaborated with the Synthesis 748 Company depending on the project each time. What I like in collaborations is the


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possibility to work with someone in more than one project, to evolve our practices together. This is really interesting because I see how easily the quality of each artist is adapted each time in my concepts. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Spyros. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Right now, I work on the development of my workshop «Choreographic Installations», which is addressed to professional dancers, performers and visual artists and I also spend time with the Company to promote my last creation, «3 Mountains not to Climb». In my new performance for 2017 which is still in research and progress, I would like to work the choreography and the whole installation with at least six bodiesdancers and just one object-material in a large volume. Usually, until now, I preferred to work with many objects and no more than three bodies and I think it is time to change this «protocol». Actually, it is always a question of changing things… An interview by Katherine Williams, curator and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com


Liana Psarologaki Lives and works in the United Kingdom

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s an architect by training and an artist by practice, I see myself as a conceptual space maker, fascinated by the poetics of immersive spaces. My art practice concentrates on the production of environments that challenge the visitors’ perception of space as related to the triplet of mind-body-surroundings. In my work, I use architectural elements, physical objects, immaterial components, video, drawing, and photography to create site-specific situations and immersive events. I contextualise my practice, which examines the reception of sensations and the creation of affects, through theories of neuroaesthetics and the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Brian Massumi, with a focus on the concept of event. I believe that space gives us its atmosphere and we give back our affects. Our experiences are temporal journeys of mood, memory and emotion. We sense and feel. We feel and think. We think and respond. We respond and create.

Liana Psarologaki Liana Psarologaki is a Greek architect artist and academic based in the UK. She studied at the world renowned National Technical University of Athens and practised architecture before acquiring an MA in Fine Art at UCA Canterbury (2010). She was then offered a Design Research Scholarship and a full UCA Studentship to undertake a PhD in the Creative Arts, completed in 2015 for the University of Brighton. The research project was entitled: “Beyond the Physical Threshold: Enfolding the Ontology of Immersive Environments” and attempted to theorise an artistic practice that is ontologically architecturalised. Liana is currently a senior lecturer at the Arts and Humanities Department, University of Suffolk at Ipswich, UK. Her work has been exhibited and published internationally and recently held a solo sitespecific installation in Venetian Fortifications of Heraklion Crete, supported by the Municipality of Heraklion. The project is entitled “Spatial Sea” and used video and light projection to create an underground environment defined by water-like boundaries and thresholds, attracting more than a thousand visitors.


SPATIAL SEA, 2016 photo by the artist


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LandEscape meets

Liana Psarologaki An interview by Katherine Williams, curator and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com

Architect and installation artist Liana Psarologaki Liana Psarologaki's work rejects any conventional classifications: her pieces are marked with freedom as well as rigorous formalism, when encapsulating a careful attention to composition and balance. Her sitespecific installation Cryptopology, that we'll be discusisng in the following pages stablishes an area of intellectual interplay between memory and perception, condensing the permanent flow of the perception of the reality we inhabit in. One of the most convincing aspects of Psarologaki's practice is the way it invites the viewers into a perceptual journey of repositioning themselves simultaneously raising consciousness of their spatial awareness: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Liana and welcome to LandEscape. To start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training: you have studied both Art and Architecture and after having earned your MA in Fine Art, you nurtured your education with a PhD the Creative Arts, that you received from the University of Brighton: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist

in relationship with your training as an architect? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general?

Hello and thank you for offering me this wonderful opportunity to talk about my work. It is interesting that you bring the question of background as a first point of reference. Through my experience as practitioner and academic in various domains I have come to realise I do not believe in disciplines and titles. The creative endeavour we like to very romantically refer to as art practice (or occasionally architecture if you may) has become to entail a powerful dynamism of redefining the beyond-the-aesthetic world. This dynamism is intimate and unique from the point of view of the maker. I feel in that sense that my double-domain background has fundamentally shaped me as a maker and creative professional; to become spatially aware, conscientious, and at the same time open to new ideas, never settling, ambitious and restless. Having said that, I am not sure how conscious the reference to the cultural background is for the maker. It certainly is for the audience; the consumer of the work; the reader; the viewer, who can as external to the work –more sharply than the artist– define


SPATIAL SEA, 2016 photo by the artist


CRYPTOPOLOGY, 2016 photo by Andrea Vicentini


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associations, read precedents, and note patterns. For instance, I was recently asked in a public presentation, if I consider the high visual contrasts of the Greek classical world as a fundamental issue in my work –to be frank I have never considered this as a parameter for my making, and it is wonderfully odd! You are a versatile artist and over these years you have gained the ability to cross from one medium to another: your approach reveals an incessant search of an organic symbiosis between a variety of viewpoints. The results convey together a coherent sense of unity, that rejects any conventional classification. While walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that such multidisciplinary approach is the only way to express and convey the idea you explore.

The symbiosis you very cleverly picked up, I would define as synergy of methods, methodologies, and frameworks. My work aims to understand and create an index of the shared vocabulary that ontologically shape a spatial practice that is both architecturalised and artistic. I fear the term multidisciplinary is somehow commodified to frame such a practice and I would not necessarily be interested to explore where one domain starts where the other ends, although I consciously return to Kristeva and Rendell with regards to the interdisciplinary. On the contrary I focus on the temporality of the union that the domains offer when tangent or colliding to create space. As my methodology is investing on the power of multiplicity and the allowance for

something to occur, it would be contradictory to admit to the singularity of my approach. By default, multidisciplinary implies more than one domain –therefore more than one approach– and this is the magnificence of scholarly infused artistic practice; to create distinctive output establishing methods that can be widely embraced and applied. We would start to focus on your artistic production beginning from Cryptopology, a stimulating cross-disciplinary and site-specific installation that our readers have started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your inquiry into the relationship between time and space is the way you provided your research with a dynamic and autonomous aesthetics and it's captivating. While walking our readers through the genesis of Cryptopology, would you shed light to your main source of inspirations? In particular, did you conceive it on an instinctive way or did you rather structure your process in order to reach the right balance?

For me, there is no time and space in the empirical reading of an experience; rather the spatiotemporal occurrence of the latter. The installation was primarily part of a large research project, sponsored by the University for the Creative Arts and endorsed by Recreate under the European Cross-border Cooperation Programme INTERREG IVA France (Channel) England. Cryptopology was conceived as experimentation by intervention in response to the site –The Crypt of St. Pancras Church, in London and aimed to manifest in practice the key theoretical treatise of my PhD; namely the axioms of


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immersive experience. The process started with a primary visit and a first round of sketch-diagrams, to continue with long testing in studio and in situ. I am afraid in doctoral research there is very little left in intuition and I have always followed a solid rationale in making, however a challenging site as such always imposes more than it affords and the work always takes its final shape in-situ and literally hours before the opening. This is expected and part of the methodological ramifications already explored, still therefore less instinctive. The ambience you created for Cryptopology stems from a careful combination of light, sound, smell and temperature: we like the way you capture non-sharpness with a universal kind of language, capable of bringing to a new level of significance the elusive still ubiquitous relationship between experience and memory. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I am a passionate supporter of empiricism and I feel my work follows the pattern. We live and create within the same social constructs; there is no significant topological differentiation between an everyday practice and an art practice. I understand this may appear radical for a part of your audience who defend the polarities of art and life. The differentiation and perhaps discontinuity between two separated processes concentrates on the role of the experiencing mind (and subject) as space maker or space consumer. The maker triggers the spatial consciousness of


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CRYPTOPOLOGY, 2014 detail, photo by the artist


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CRYPTOPOLOGY, 2014 installation view, photo by the artist


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the consumers who actively mediate their own experience and that of others by becoming space. The maker’s role as –if I may– a more trained consumer will continue to manifest in the nature and articulation of the artistic language used in the work. The authoritarian status quo however of an artist who deliberately stages and dictates the output but is not there to consume has faded away. I consider myself the first consumer of my work but I refrain myself from becoming presumptive when doing so. The ethereal quality that marks out the architectural elements of Cryptopology provides the viewers with an immersive experience: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience in your process?

It has become apparent –and to follow Peter Osborne’s observations– that artistic endeavour does not rely upon institutionalised spaces that facilitate it as such; in other words, a (public) site does not need to be a gallery per se to become a vessel for art. Immersion as I perceive does not happen in a sterilised environment one is captivated into by the maker but on the contrary, an intimate empirical journey of spatial encapsulation through thresholds, distractions, and emotional transitions in real space and real time. Having said that, it is important to distinguish the ‘viewing’ experience from the ‘reading’ of work that may not be necessarily visual. The era when art is not anymore so much about looking started when Yves Klein created The Void


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Room in 1961. Since then and perhaps even at times before that, the objet d’art to be viewed has been de-centred and made way for the situation, the spatial articulation, and the cultural event. Now, the agenda is shifting again towards an architecturally and technologically reliant art that is close to all disciplines including science, IT, the creative industries and the humanities. While your work provides the visual experience with an augmented multisensorial feature, it also seems to challenge the blurry boundary between spatial consciousness and cognition, marking the complete installation with a subtle symbolic value. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how do you conceive the narrative and especially the unity for your works?

It would be naïve for a maker to demand the aphorism of the symbolic value of something the reading of is clearly intimate and therefore unique. There will be connotations carried by the artwork even so when the latter demands spatial cognition as related to memory and localised events. These connotations however may be orchestrated almost by chance as the work has been developed, intuitively as well as methodologically and may become apparent even in the most abstract of works. This is not a paradox, on the contrary an ontological characteristic of art that is indeed associated with the psychological –I would say psychosomatic– experience of the audience. I find the

expression of ‘symbolic strategy’ quite an oxymoron in this context. Art making must continue to be a vital and veomatic process much more than business –just like breathing (to oddly quote Marina Abramovic). As per the symbolic dimension of my work, my intention is to subtly and somehow sporadically approach the metaphor as a method of poesis. It allows the interplay between the virtual and the actual to take place – something that I am very interested in. Inviting the visitor to explore the elusive nature of immaterial enclosures and invisible boundaries, your work allows an open reading, a multiplicity of meanings and we daresay that rather than attempting to establish any unified sense, you seem to urge the viewers to elaborate personal associations: how much important is for you that the spectators rethink the concepts you convey in your pieces, elaborating personal meanings?

The multiplicity of affect evoked is very important for me as a maker. I feel the success of each project reflects on the gamma of responses and readings received –not necessarily documented or narrated. My belief in the intimacy of the artistic experience is strong; we –as space consumers– are what we bring with us. If we bring nothing we feel nothing. That is a response as well –it unashamedly confirms the absence of feeling, which eventually brings the longing for it. The unification the work attempts is perhaps one of sensory cooperation; a phenomenon Brian Massumi calls ‘hinging’ of the sensory faculties’ activity. In Cryptopology for instance air is the mediating agent; allows


ESTRANGEMENT , 2013 installation view, photo by the artist


ESTRANGEMENT , 2013 model, photo by the artist


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smells to travel and evoke memories, carries sound vibrations almost creating and impression of a virtual space, and temporally materialises light through floating dust and haze. The variety of visual and sound elements you merge together creates unpredictable affects to the viewers: how important is the role of chance in your process?

There is a very distinct methodology behind my recent work, with a clear intention to break the habits that people establish around space. The work aims to create a condition both spatial and temporal where the audience seizes to explore space in auto-pilot mode. This may result in a range of different responses –emotional and physical. Each individual will think, and react in unique non-patterned ways. This creates a new spatiality by itself; one that is fragile and interchangeable; a spatial serendipity that cannot be presupposed or reproduced, and manifests art as situated practice; as localised occurrence. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So, before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

This is a very difficult question. I always start with an idea triggered by a site visit, regardless of the outcome being site-responsive or not. There are no baseline assumptions then. Each locus prompts a complex set of making actions; some highly practical, some purely philosophical


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Liana Psarologaki (2013) HYDOR,photo by Liana Psarologaki


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Liana Psarologaki (2013) HYDOR photo by Liana Psarologaki


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but never singular in terms of discipline. I take it that the term language in this context is a critical one; it implies a visual vocabulary, and a syntax. Because the work attempts to establish the ontological relationship between architectural and artistic space, the vocabulary used is common for architecture and art as spatial practices. This is expressed via processes and methodologies, creative application of particular media, and the fusion of methods into hybrid models of making. This is autonomous from the audience capability to fully read the work, which is something that very little determines the outcome of the creative process. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Liana. Finally, do you have anything else coming out in the near future our readers should look out for? How do you see your work evolving?

Thank you very much for the invitation. After an intensive year on terms of making and publishing internationally, I am back in the studio experimenting with more physical media in 2D and 3D. My next endeavour is to publish my doctoral thesis as a monograph and I am currently in conversation with editors about a book proposal. All news will be published in my new website Aylos Topos’(www.aylostopos.com), which stands for ‘Immaterial Locus’ and is now launched as an online platform for presentation, publication record, and debate. Stay tuned!

An interview by Katherine Williams, curator and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com


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Stephen Chen Lives and works in Toronto, Ontario (Canada)

An artist's statement

B

OUNDED NATURE is a photographic series that investigates the dialectic and tension between the natural and the man-made; how nature is contained, pruned, and rendered “invisible”. Nature becomes dis“figured” through de-centering, which is both a commentary and metaphor for urban dwellers’ ritualized and cultivated unconscious of their impacts on the larger environment in their everyday actions. Urban photography has created a pervasive trope of the city to the extent we learn not to “see” nature in depictions of urban settings; our gaze cultivated instead towards the geometry and lines of the man-made. On the other hand, landscape photography (whether the unspoiled vistas of Ansel Adams, or the degraded beauty of Edward Burtynsky) have favoured

exotic and far-flung locales that further distance the urban dweller in appreciating their intricate relation to the larger environment. In hybridizing tropes of landscape and urban photography to focus on the dis-“figured” nature, BOUNDED NATURE attempts to center the relationship of the natural in the urban landscape by the intimacy of the subject matter, and in shifting the discourse of weeds/decay to a symbol of optimism and struggle. The use of false-color infrared imagery renders the typically “invisible”/”ignored” nature in those settings to the foreground; and represents a new way of seeing the everyday and our relationship to the environment.

Stephen Chen


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LandEscape meets

Stephen Chen An interview by Katherine Williams, curator and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com

Multidisciplinary artist Stephen Chen's work rejects any conventional classifications and is marked with freedom as well as rigorous formalism, when exploring complex ideas and issues immanent in his works through experiments in form and technique. In his BOUNDED NATURE Project that we'll be discussing in the following pages, he investigates the dialectic and tension between the natural and the man-made; how nature is contained, pruned, and rendered “invisible”. One of the most impressive aspects of Chen's work is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of unveiling the ubiquitous connections between Man’s and his surroundings: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to his stimulating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Stephen and welcome to LandEscape: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your multifaceted background? You have been an avantgarde concert pianist, fineart photographer, filmmaker, performance artist, poet, and opera singer. How do these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? In particular how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general?

Thank you for having me! It sounds as if I did a lot of different things at once, but what happened was I moved from discipline to discipline trying to find the medium best suited to the ideas I was exploring at that time.


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Having experienced how different disciplines have their own set of aesthetic standards and boundaries, which in turn imposes limitations on what can be expressed and how it can be expressed, made me realize the boundaries of style, theory, interpretation et al. imposed on art are not only arbitrary, but made to appear “natural” and immutable. I think when I started to evolve as an artist was when I rejected how the institution of art enframes (to borrow Heidegger’s term) the artist and the artwork such that meanings are circumscribed by the ontologies they are assigned to. Playing in those sandboxes no longer appealed to me, instead I am more interested in subverting these boundaries, and poking at the slippages in-between. Your approach reveals an incessant search of organic investigation about the dialectic and tension between the natural and the manmade that marks out our media-driven lives that affects our unstable contemporary age. The results convey together a coherent and consistent sense of harmony and unity: before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.dissonanceonline.com in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process and set up, we would like to ask you how did you develope your style and how do you conceive your works.

One of my first photographic series, PLACES OF THE SPIRIT, juxtaposed American landscapes and churches to compare and contrast different ideals of the sublime; so even early on I was attracted to dialectic and tension. However it was not until graduate school, when I began to delve into the critical philosophy of Adorno, did I acquire the language to articulate and expand on what I had been doing. I felt a real affinity to Adorno – his meth-


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Stephen Chen


Stephen Chen

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odology defied boundaries, his commitment to the dialectic, and his prescient concerns about the relationship of art and capitalist production (whereby even the avant-garde gets reduced to mere style for aesthetic consumption). By the time I left graduate school, I had synthesized and structured my artistic practice into the dictum of Aesth(Ethics); whereby every aesthetic decision is a political one. This is why I conceive of my work as allegory, and try to uncover adjacencies and connections beyond the basic idea, to find some way to recontextualize them or distill them into the work. At the same time I don’t want the work to become a jumble of random tangents, so I strive for what I term “Complex Simplicity” – the work appears simple and direct on the surface, but encodes multiple meanings and relationships within. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected BOUNDED NATURE, an extremely interesting series, that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article, and which is both a commentary and metaphor for urban dwellers’ ritualized and cultivated unconscious of their impacts on the larger environment in their everyday actions. When walking our readers through the genesis of this project, we would like to ask you what is the role of chance in your process: how much improvisation is important for you?

The genesis of BOUNDED NATURE came about during a dry spell in my photoraphy. A lot of my early work in the medium was in fine-art landscape and urban photography and I stopped taking photographs because I had become somewhat jaded - my immediate surroundings didn’t seem as interesting or inspiring compared to other places. I tried to kick myself out of it by working on a series with the idea of focusing on little moments of everyday beauty, like a dandelion poking out of a sidewalk crack. However, I eventually abandoned it out of frustration as


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I could not figure out how I could represent these moments such that people “got it” they just looked like “bad” photos. At around the same time, I began experimenting with false-color infrared photography, mainly because I had an unused digital camera lying around that I could convert. I never felt an affinity to digital photography before because I loved the element of chance in darkroom work – you never quite know how your pictures are going to turn out. You could control all the variables to get consistent results, but that would take away the fun of discovery and happy “accidents”. I liked that what was displayed on the screen in digital infrared did not represent the outcome when you process the image on the computer (by making “visible” the channel the infrared data was captured on). I also could not pre-visualize the image (like in film or digital photography) as my eyes could not see the levels of infrared light reflected off different objects, which introduced another element of chance in imagemaking. The idea for BOUNDED NATURE came about when I was thinking of how to push infrared photography beyond the tropes of white trees and dark skies. I realized that certain images in my abandoned project would work in falsecolor infrared, that dandelion would “pop” from the sidewalk crack without having to sacrifice compositional context. This started me thinking on how we are taught to see and visualize the world through the tropes of photography. Nature in landscape photographs is grand, heroic, and exotic; and is largely invisible in urban photography. I saw this as a metaphor for urban dwellers’ cultivated unconscious on our larger environmental impacts - where the idea of Nature only exists in an idealized form but is suppressed in the day to day.


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Stephen Chen


Stephen Chen

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Now that I had a new framework for “seeing”, I found photographic opportunities everywhere in the city, that my own ritualized way of seeing had blocked out. I started the project by replicating landscape and urban photography tropes in infrared, but it got constraining as things started to look the same after a while. I realized that if I am proposing a new way of seeing, I would have to do better and began to improvise and experiment with subjects and framings that would not have “worked” in conventional B&W or color. So the process itself became a monad of the tension between the natural (i.e. chance, what is out there) and man-made (e.g. rules of composition) that the project explored. BOUNDED NATURE accomplishes the difficult task of centering the relationship of the natural in the urban landscape by the intimacy of the subject matter: in this sense, your project could be considered a successful attempt to create a body of works that stands as record of existence and that captures non-sharpness, going beyond the elusive relationship between experience and identity in our globalized mundanity. Even James Turrell’s obsession with light and color is often associated with his early experiences as a pilot... So we 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?

Thank you so much for the compliment, and for articulating that problematic, as trying to transcend categories of thought is an ongoing concern of mine! I think while some artists have attempted to utilize esoteric theories or abstracted


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concepts in lieu of direct experience in their creative process, the works I personally find intriguing are those that stemmed from personal experience – somehow I feel that comes through in the work. Even if one did not have direct experience, I think one has to somehow make sense of it through one’s personal experience to better connect with the audience. For example, I was recently invited to create a hybrid projection-performance piece for a fundraiser for Haiti victims. I have never been to Haiti, the last time it was in my consciousness was media coverage of millions of dollars that was raised in aid. The easy route would be to just show scenes of devastation. As I did more research, I was appalled to discover most of the aid money went to corrupt contractors and organizations, and the majority of Haitians were still living in slums 6 years after the earthquake. I was incensed at what had happened, and at the apathy and complacency of most people and myself that allowed this to happen. By structuring the piece around this anger, I was able to relay and relate what happened to my and the audience experience. Where I think personal experience is absolutely indispensable (which you have already pointed out in James Turrell) is in one’s creative obsession. Growing up in Singapore and eventually ending up as a refugee in North America in my mid-20s; what struck me was how people can’t see the limitations imposed on their thought, whether in a repressive regime or democratic society. I became obsessed with trying to transcend the limitations of existing knowledge structures through art. My investigations into the tensions and dialectic of what is considered “natural” vs. man made, is an outcome of this obsession.


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Stephen Chen


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BOUNDED NATURE also inquires into the interstitial space between personal and public spheres, providing the spectatorship with an immersive experience that forces such a contamination the inner and the outside: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space?

I think the public sphere has only existed as an idea and ideal – there has never been a unified and inclusive public sphere, even within art. Instead shared concerns are regulated in a social field, whereby hierarchies exclude certain voices, and dictate the boundaries of what is appropriate to express in public vs. private. I think the prevalence of bad art in public spaces is a function of this social field, whereby art is reduced to anodyne decoration, as repressed stasis, instead of interrogating or pushing those boundaries and hierarchies. Yet I think it could be so much more. I was inspired to find a way to critique and recover the potential of public space when I was in Frankfurt few years ago. I heard of a statue (the Frankfurter Engel) near St. Peter’s church dedicated to LGBT persecution during the Nazi regime. I went to look for it and found it was situated in a “dead” space – between the back wall of a building and the driveway of a Best Western, and frequented by drunks needing a spot. So I did a guerrilla performance piece, GEBROCHENGEL, as a means of reclaiming that space and questioning the sufficiency of “apologetic” monuments; where over a period of 3 hours on the anniversary of Marlene Dietrich’s death, I performed her signature song “Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß” (“Falling in love again”) twelve times at random intervals, one for each year of the Third Reich. What has at once captured our attention of your inquiry into urban ritualization is your


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successful attempt to produce a dialectical fusion that operates as a system of symbols creates a compelling non linear narrative that, walking the thin line between conceptual and literal meanings, establishes direct relations with the viewers. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how do you conceive the narrative for your works?

I totally agree with that statement as contemporary art practice and criticism has moved beyond the production of a singular art object into building and understanding a body of work respectively. As a result art is no longer “pure”, viewed in isolation on a separate plane, but within a larger context. Even in my early photographic work, I was cognizant of the problematic “purity” inherent in the art form passed down since the early masters such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston (especially when the medium inherently fetishizes the idea of an iconic moment). If you were to go to an exhibition of their work, you will see a wall of beautiful photographs; each perfectly contained that does not speak to the next, nor collectively build into something larger than the sum of their parts. I think it is this containment that leads to the sort of ritualized seeing e.g. where people pick out their favourite pieces, offer bland compositional “critiques”, or consider how it would fit in their décor.

To counterpose that, to try and make viewers engage in the work as a whole, I structure my photographic projects like a musical score; whereby each photo (like a musical phrase) loses something when taken in isolation. Your observation on how the work creates a non-linear narrative is both perceptive and correct; I don’t think most people are consciously are aware it is what I set out to accomplish. My musical/narrative inspiration is the Passacaglia form which is non-linear, as opposed to the Sonata form, which is linear (having a distinctive exposition and development). I see linear narrative as both ritual and tyranny. From children’s fairy tales to corporation press releases, linear narratives dictate meaning – there is only one way to think (and one way to behave). In contrast, the Passacaglia form (which itself has so many variations that scholars can’t agree on the distinctions) is a set of continuous variations over a bass; and it is this structure of shifting meanings over a base that makes it especially suited for allegory. By layering and varying conceptual and literal meanings, I hoped to convey and encourage the viewer to see beyond the manifest, to uncover hidden references, and even create new unintended symbolic connections for themselves. You are a versatile artist and over these years you have gained the ability to cross from one media to another: in particular, we wouls like to spend some words about another interesting piece entitled THE SCHOOLING OF DESIRE. We have appreciated the way your approach reveals such incessant search of an organic symbiosis between a variety of viewpoints. So we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that such multidisci-


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plinary approach is the only way to express and convey the idea you explore.

ent modes, expanded the possibilities and complexity of ideas I am able to explore.

It is funny you should ask that in the context of THE SCHOOLING OF DESIRE because it was actually my past opera training featured in that piece which made me commit to the multidisciplinary route.

When investigating the dialectic and tension between the natural and the man-made you also convey a subtle but effective socio political criticism Your work conveys a subtle but effective criticism concerning the materialistically driven culture that saturate our contemporary age. But while artists from the contemporary scene, as Ai WeiWei or more recently Jennifer Linton, use to express open socio-political criticism in their works, you seem more interested to hint the direction, inviting the viewers to a process of self-reflection that may lead to subvert a variety of usual, almost stereotyped cultural categories. Do you consider that your works could be considered political in a certain sense or did you seek to maintain a more neutral approach? And in particular, what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in the contemporary society?

Up until 2008 I was still trying to make it as an opera singer, preparing and going for auditions and competitions. My training had made me capable of producing a big beautiful sound but I was profoundly unhappy. That beautiful voice was not mine; it was shaped and molded by how others thought I should sound, and what it sang was dictated by what others thought was appropriate for it. It is this same paradox of sensuality and discipline that I worked into THE SCHOOLING OF DESIRE via my operatic voice. Basically I quit opera when I realized why I was so unhappy. I had lost my voice, both in the physiological and political sense, and surrendered my agency and my most intimate mode of expression to others. The notion of each aesthetic decision was also a political one, shifted from a rather academic and abstract concept into something personal that I embodied.

I think the sort of Political Art you reference has become a style in itself, which makes it problematic. By being blatantly political, any criticism of the art gets conflated with a criticism of the cause, so concessions are made because the intent was “correct� (not to mention the issue of the vested interests of curators and collectors who benefit from marketing the artist as political).

It was during the process of rediscovering my voice that I realized going multidisciplinary was the way for me; not just for ideas I want to explore, but who I am as an artist. Previously, I had kept everything separate (in fact my old work is still on separate websites) and tried to fit into existing aesthetic structures. Being able to shift between, or even hybridize differ-

The majority of my works are rooted in a political intent, so in that sense they are political. But they are not explicitly so because doing so means you either shut out those who disagree, or preach to the choir; both of which are passive and untenable positions and do not engender change.


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The power of being indirect lies in the perception it is less forceful. Neutral is a shade on a swatch, not a stance. I don’t want to tell people, I want people to think; which is why I prefer to work with non-linear narrative structures, so as to create spaces for people to make their own linkages. Particularly for those working in a climate rife with censorship or conformity, I think it is one of the few viable strategies for expression that does not overly compromise one’s authenticity. I believe the role of the artist is to somehow break through the sea of apathy and complacency in the public sphere of our highly mediated and materialistic culture. I have no utopian delusions about sweeping social transformations from art. More so than ever, one has to guard against the codifying, commoditizing, and co-opting impulses of the contemporary age. However, if we all create enough ripples, it just might become a wave of change. One of the hallmarks of your practice is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

Thank you. The issue of audience reception is a critical component of my creative decisionmaking process. One of the things that resonated with me in Adorno’s conception of the dialectic is the notion of immanence, of coming from within. When I am creating a piece, many of the decisions are around how to create the conditions and symbolic structures to encourage the audience to think actively, to


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reflect beyond what is manifest before them. This is why I prefer a less explicit approach, and why I often don’t like to talk about my work, as that would be telling the audience what to think. Yet at the same time, I don’t want the work to be so esoteric and so veiled that I have to explain every reference! These tensions and decisions between what is latent vs. manifest, what is immediate vs. resonant etc. inform the type of language used, and how it is used (as language encodes relations of power in its meaning). In BOUNDED NATURE, I chose to bracket the visual language of fine art photography as it relates to landscapes and urban subjects, as a means of showing what they have excluded. Other times, I have explored the use of language both as connective thread, and as context to add layers of meaning. For example, in BALLAD 4 (that was created to counter the whitewashing hype of Sochi Olympics) a single aria connects the antiLGBT hate and violence in Russia, Uganda, Nigeria, India and other parts of the world. The aria I chose is a French aria that Tchaikovsky used in one of his operas. In tracing the aria to a French (who are against marriage equality) opera about an English king, I connect the colonial roots of language and homophobia in the other countries. In BALLAD 4, this history appears in English subtitles, in tandem with the French words I am singing, while I am gesturing in sign language (to represent the silence of the victims). Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Stephen. Finally, would

you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Thank you so much for having me, and for the opportunity to share my practice with others! I am actually not working on anything at the moment, which is new for me! I had been averaging a new work every month for the past 3 years, and I think I need time off to reset, to re-evaluate where I have been, and rethink where I want to go. One of the areas I think I would like to get into is the so-called New Media Art, things like interactive installations, virtual reality, robotics etc. I find a lot of what has been done in that space rather gimmicky and merely demonstrate how “cool” the technology is instead of saying anything meaningful. I think it would be interesting to explore how this diverse set of practices and technologies could be shaped and harnessed as commentary and critique. Another area I have been giving a lot of thought to is ways of extending the notion of the artistic gesture, moving beyond the model established by Tehching Hsieh, using non-art forms as a mode of expression. It is something I began experimenting with a year ago when I created the CENSURED IN CANADA film festival, which subverted and commented on the cliquish Canadian art scene, and how film festivals are curated. An interview by Katherine Williams, curator and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com


Ehud Schori

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Tali Navon M

y video works connect moments in time. The works connect the abstract and the concrete I test/check memories of the past in light of contemporary moments. ete: the abstract rules the domains where memories or dreams appear, relying upon sensations and feelings; the concrete contains various objects, such as an old book or a Snow White doll. I relate to this environment – an environment for growing (girls) – along with the realistic, contemporary, day-to-day environment. The works create a sort of “encompassing format” or space in which I choose to present “my world.” Observations happen from it – from inside out and from outside in. The 8 mm films that my father shot when I was a child (in the 1970s) are my raw material. The act of drawing (I draw) connected figures is a recurring motif in the works. The figures are from the world of childhood, but there is no doubt of their presence in the present. They rule the past, present, and future.

Tali Navon Tali Navon’s visual language is characterized by local themes based on her life in Tel Aviv so that her work appears anthropological in nature. Her work also explores universal themes. Major themes in her work include: autobiographical issues, Tel Aviv and Israeli history and contemporary culture, urbanism, collective memory, identity, femininity, motherhood and the fragility and innocence of childhood. This sense of fragility is common to all her works. She incorporates elements of drawing into her minimalist paintings (that are often indistinguishable from drawings), focusing on a limited number of human figures in mostly abstract environments. Using a few major colours, her palette is


Forward, installation, video and painting


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LandEscape meets

Tali Navon An interview by and

, curator , curator

Exploring the expressive potential of a wide variety of materials, artist Tali Navon’s work inquires into the themes of contemporary culture, urbanism, collective memory, identity, femininity, motherhood, and the fragility and innocence of childhood. Her approach considers the vital relationship between direct experience and visual interpretation, drawing viewers into a multilayered journey. In her work Forward, that we’ll be discussing in the following pages, she encapsulated both traditional heritage and unconventional sensitivity to trigger viewers’ perceptual parameters. One of the most impressive aspects of Navon’s work is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of unveiling the elusive connection between the abstract and the concrete. We are very pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating and multifaceted artistic production. 1) Hello Tali and welcome to LandEscape. We would like to start this interview with a couple of questions about your

multifaceted background. You have solid formal training, having studied textiles at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, art at the Kalisher School of Art, and film at Tel Aviv University. How do these experiences influence the way you currently conceive and produce your works? And, in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate to the aesthetic problem in general? I have been creating art for as long as I can remember, from the time I was a child. As an adult, I have always had a studio. My family has an affinity for art, especially my father and my grandmother’s brother, who lived in Thessaloniki. I started to delve into this more seriously at the age of 16 by taking private art lessons. Later I went on to study at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, art at the Kalisher School of Art, which connected me to the world of art, and began to exhibit my work at galleries. As an artist, I found myself responding to my surroundings, to the land, to the different cultures in Israel and to how I fit into all this. In my video work, Land of promise, which was displayed at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, I questioned the importance of the existence of the State of


Girls, oil and graphite on paper


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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Israel. My question was not cynical, but sincere. When I was 29, my first child was born. This completely changed the way I think. I was very aware of my responsibility to take care of him, which is a much greater responsibility than simply taking care of myself. I also came to the realization that my newborn son is not just mine, but part of a whole community of people that will have a variety of impacts on him that I cannot control. My work focused on daily life, which served as a distraction of sorts, as can be seen in IVSHA, a series of oil works on glass. He was born during a tumultuous time in Israel, in 1993, when terrorists were randomly blowing up buses all over the country, so I thought a lot about how to keep a child safe and alive in such circumstances. This led me to contemplate whether I should consider leaving the place I had been born and raised for somewhere I would feel safer and less anxious. They were confusing days and what got me through them was the daily routine of waking up every morning and focusing on what I needed to do instead of on the big picture, which I found quite threatening. My works from this period focus on home and family as well as the multifarious effects a community has upon its members. So my painting career began with exploring my identity as a daughter and then as a mother. I am one of three sisters and sought a way to function both as an individual on my own and as part of a family.


Tali Navon

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Girls, oil and graphite on paper


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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Girls, oil and graphite on paper

Tali Navon


Tali Navon

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Over the years, I participated in exhibitions and shows on my own. In 2005, I joined Saloona, a group of artists that worked together on joint projects. Being part of this group gave me a place where I could express myself differently. I felt that it was different to create art as part of a group; the process of working together led me to new realizations that I would not have reached by working alone. At this point, I felt I needed a new tool – a new medium – to express myself so I went to study film at Tel Aviv University. My studies covered both classical and Eastern European film as well as avant-garde. Video lets you express yourself in multiple dimensions so you can include many images, sounds and perspectives. With video, you can create an experience for the viewer that is even more powerful than a painting. That said, since drawing and painting are part of me that is manifested in the videos I create and connects them to the world of art. You are a versatile artist and your practice includes a wide variety of media and disciplines ranging from paintings to video art and installations. The kaleidoscopic nature of your practice shows an organic synergy between a variety of expressive capabilities. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit www.tali-navon.com in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production. While walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask if you have ever happened to feel that such a


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multidisciplinary approach is the only way to express and convey the ideas you explore. I employ these media because of the way they influence one another. Right now, every work I create incorporates drawing, video and installation. On example of this is Forward, which is the central piece of my solo exhibition, which is on display at the Haifa Museum of Art until January 2017. I use multiple media at once to give the viewer an experience that is inspired from my experience. The viewers, of course, can give the work their own interpretation, which may be different from my own. Some of the material I use is meditative and relates to where we think. What interests me is the place of thought. This is where we are free from everything that is outside of our mind, including the thought that we can create our own worlds in our minds. This can be the places that we want to run away to like in Could Be Me, a video I displayed at the Petach Tikvah Museum of Art that shows asylum seekers and foreigners in Israel learning to read. In my eyes, reading is also a way of creating a world of your own and to get to places that you want. You can run away to a place and from a place. So yes, drawing is no longer enough in my work. Now I am broadening my works to involve installation and film as well. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected Forward, an extremely interesting video that reflects the multifaceted nature of our relationship to nature and that our readers have already started to get to know


Tali Navon

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Stills from Land of promise, video


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Forward, installation, video and painting

Tali Navon


Tali Navon

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in the introductory pages of this article. What caught our attention at once was the anthropological nature of your research and the way it brings a new level of significance to the ubiquitous, still-conflictual relationship between abstraction due to the environment and realism. When walking our readers through the genesis of Forward, would you tell our readers how do you view the concepts of the real and the imagined playing out within your works? There is the reality of what is happening around us and there is the abstract of what is happening in our mind. This is precisely what Forward is about and why it is composed of a combination of real and abstract materials. Reality and abstract actually are interlinked. Reality is in the eye of the observer and so the abstract can change from person to person. Forward presents my interpretation of reality and, of course, each viewer can create a new layer of interpretation of it that continues it. That is what humans are and that is the human experience – building thought upon thought. So reality is the jumping-off point, but reality can be different for each person. In practice, the relationship starts off as being between the artist and the work. Afterwards, it is between the work and the viewer. So a piece that begins in solitude ends with bringing people together. I see that as the essence of life – the relationships, the connections and the threads that tie everything together. One of my paintings that delves into this issue is on display at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, in the exhibition “Wire(less) Connections,” until March 2017.


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Jean-Jacques Rousseau found that personal intimacy is not isolated from connecting to the outside world, which is becoming increasingly homogenous. For Rousseau, philosophy was a way of life and an exercise in the art of life. He concluded that the artist, who is alone in his or her studio, creates a work as an individual. However, the moment the artist unveils a work to viewers, a relationship is created with the work’s surroundings and the work becomes part of society. Another installation of mine displayed at the Israel Museum addresses the subject of birthdays and incorporates 88 mm film that my father shot during birthdays and a series of works on glass, including Birthday Bouquets. Forward emphasizes mindfulness towards nature. For this work, I researched biophilia, the psychological concept that nature is an integral part of our lives and humans cannot survive without it. Just think of our connection to animals, to all that grows, to water and so much more... Today the environment we live in is more digital than ever before, but nature still can be found in it. That said, sometimes what we find is a replacement for nature such as when cities attempt to introduce nature into urban environments. I address this in Double Landscape, which was displayed earlier this year as part of a group exhibition at the Rothschild Fine Art Gallery in Tel Aviv. The Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv also displayed a work of mine that explores this topic: an installation that is a combination of nature and human nature.


Tali Navon

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Forward, installation, video and painting


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Forward , two-channel video

Tali Navon


Tali Navon

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Forward could be considered an exploration of the interstitial point between the figurative and the abstract in the constructed space of our media-driven age. We appreciate the way your research unveils the flow of information through an effective nonlinear narrative, establishing direct relations with the viewers. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated, “nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead.” What is your opinion about this? In particular, could you explain the recurrent reminders of the acts of painting and drawing in your works? Of course art must depend on psychology. For me, it is more about philosophy – for example, Greek philosophy that tries to explain the reality, thought and morality. The base is figurative, but it immediately becomes abstract. Many times, I begin by bringing materials that interest me to the studio and processing them in an expressive manner. The next step is to search for an explanation, which immerses me in philosophy. This is the process I often go through. At other times, I feel something and search for research to help me understand it. That is how I found biophila – I felt that it is impossible to live without being connected to nature. Then I found that there is indeed research supporting what I felt. So yes, I agree with Thomas Demand. I feel that as an artist my role is to serve as a messenger of sorts to the public. If my work causes a single viewer to think, than I accomplished something.


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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Forward , two-channel video

Another interesting project of yours that has particularly impressed us and to which we would like to dedicate some attention is entitled Anyway. We were profoundly impressed with your approach to narrative form. How did you develop the narrative structure of Anyway ? Like Forward, Anyway highlights the relationship between imagination and reality. It manifests the freedom to create

your own world in your imagination. I filmed it in Tel Aviv’s Levinsky neighborhood, which is home to many foreigners from around the world today. When I went to this neighborhood, I felt that as an Israeli, I was foreign there and this gave me a taste of the experience that they have in Israel. Anyway is about places that we flee to in our imagination. These places can be an imaginary world or the world of books and stories. One of this work’s central motifs,


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Snow White, is drawn from a fairy tale. Anyway returns me to my childhood as well as to my video, It’s There. You often incorporate local themes based on your daily life in Tel Aviv, providing the viewers with an intense experience of real time. We appreciated the way you have been capable of creating a point of convergence between a kind of imagery belonging to universal imagery and direct experience with concrete aesthetics you

convey through a personal language. So we would like to take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of the creative process... Do you think the creative process could be disconnected from direct experience? Of course not. Direct experience is an inseparable part of the creative process, in my opinion.


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Wires, oil and paint on paper

My work moves back and forth between personal and universal. I think I felt the relationship between them the most when I became a mother, when I realized, as I mentioned earlier, that they are not only my children and perceived how much we all are dependent on our surroundings. My video To

Be Noticed, which shows a baby swinging over water, expresses this maternal need to protect along with the awareness of how much we cannot control or protect against. As you once remarked, these works create a sort of “encompassing format� or space in


Tali Navon

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As an artist, I cannot and do not wish to force the viewer to do something, though I would be happy if my work were to have an impact on the viewer. The Janco Dada Museum in northern Israel displayed an installation I created in which a video work connects to an environment in which the viewer can experience a utopia of sorts. It too connects nature to human nature. I do think that connecting to the inner self is a beneficial process. Through all my years of work, I have found that the deeper I go into myself, the more I succeed to reach a broader audience that is touched by my work and identifies with it. There are a lot of reminders of childhood in your video It's There. How do you see the relationship between memory and time?

which you choose to present “your world.” Would you elaborate on this aspect of your practice for our readers? In particular, do you think that your practice would establish a channel of communication between the inner self and the outside?

It’s There does indeed include scenes from my childhood, but it is not actually related to memory for me since I do not remember anything from when I was two or three years old. This work utilizes slides and 8 mm films that my father made during that period of my life and that I am analyzing and addressing now as an adult. The 8 mm films my father created when I was a child also are part of an installation that I displayed in the Israel Museum’s exhibition, “Happy Birthday.” Examining this material from my childhood provides me with insights about interfamilial relations, such as what a mother, father or sister was then and what it means to me today. It also enables me to better understand how I function today as an individual, as a parent and as a member of a complex, interdependent society.


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We like the way you structure your pieces. They leave space for the spectators to replay the ideas you explore in their own intimate lives, letting them become emotionally involved in what you are attempting to communicate. As Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, “the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living under.” Do you think that the role of the artist has changed these days with the new global communications and the new sensibility created by new media? Absolutely. I strongly agree with Gabriel Orozco’s statement. Our ability to respond is much faster today thanks to digitization and this of course influences art. Now I can disseminate my art and make it more accessible – it is possible to send a video to London or any other part of the world. That is one of the advantages of the medium of video. This creates all sorts of opportunities, such as making it possible for me to participate in exhibitions outside of Israel in London and at John Hopkins University in Baltimore. This change also made it possible for me to interact with artists who are physically located far away from me, but are working with similar ideas. How do you go about naming your work? In particular, is important for you to tell something that might walk the viewers through their visual experience? I like to give my works meaningful names, but I do not want to direct the viewer to

Still from Double Landscape, video

something. I want the viewer to have an independent reaction. This is why I tend to give names that are hints; the names emphasize what is important to me in a


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work, even if that is not the first aspect that the viewer notices. I had a solo exhibition at the Zaritsky Artists’ House in Tel Aviv in 2009 titled, “Murmur.” The moment

viewers entered the exhibition hall, they might not have felt this, but after walking around for a few minutes, hopefully the reason for the name became clear.


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Over the years, your works have been showcased both nationally and internationally, including screenings at the Jerusalem Film Festival as well as in London, Boston, Middlebury College in Vermont, the Total Museum for Contemporary Art in Seoul and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before concluding this conversation, we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context? The viewer is important to me – I want the viewer to think, to feel, to have the experience. Actually, everything you just asked about is important to me. I value the interaction with people from all over the world and want my work to be universal, so I generally do not rely on a specific language, but on sounds that have the potential to move everyone, whether the sound includes words they understand or not. One example of this is my video Confetti, in which a choir of children from Heraklion in Crete is heard singing. Children at play is an important topic to which I have dedicated some of my works, such as the series I titled, Not in Tune. These oil on glass works were displayed in my solo exhibition at Mishkenot Sha’ananim in Jerusalem.


Tali Navon

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Towards, video installation


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murmur, installation

Tali Navon


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Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Tali. Finally, would you like to tell our readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? My next work will explore the concept of alienation or foreignness as a means of “fleeing� a reality that is difficult to cope with. I began working on this while contemplating what it means to be a stranger in a strange land that one was not born in. For me, a Jew born in Israel, this is an especially complex issue. So I am thinking about my connection to Israel as well as the connection that Jews in the Diaspora have to Israel. Zionism introduced the concept of the new Jew over a century ago. Does the new Jew of today reside in the Diaspora while enjoying the support of a Jewish state? I also am processing the feeling of being in another country. It is interesting to create in a different place. Doing so connects me to artists who created in a place that was not theirs, like Milan Kundera, who wrote in France. So I am not only thinking about Israel, but also about the universal connection of a person to a land. The artist can be contacted at talinavon@gmail.com

An interview by and

, curator , curator


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L eszek Piotrowski Lesstro Lives and works in Gdynia, Poland

An artist's statement

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ven though it is still a bald artistic decision I create very classical art pieces. I am hoping to build a new movement of European art modeling itself after Dutch, Flemish, Spanish and Italian schools. Bringing together and reawakening enthusiasm for the Old Masters work and the urgent need for renewed reverence for reality, by bringing back skills and spirit of the preimpressionist painters. My desire is to remind the audience we carry as human beings emotions, memory and dream. There are things in life that unite people. Art

seems to be universal : feeling, color, our sensory reaction to it. I create visual art of perfect workshop, without falling back on experiment just for exercising experiment. There is so much evil and ugliness nowadays, that I would like everybody looking at my paintings to associate them with feelings of beauty and good only. That is why women are my favorite painting objects. I try to show their beauty and endless mystery by means of chiaroscuro, where light always wins, just like good overcomes evil. Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro


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LandEscape meets

Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro An interview by and

, curator , curator

Artist Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro's work draws from Old Master heritage to produce pieces of ar marked with contemporary sensitiveness, highlighting the vital bond between direct experience and visual intepretation. In his recent body of works that we'll be discussing in the following pages he speaks of emotions and memory, to trigger the viewers' perceptual parameters, condensing the vital relationship between direct experience and visual intepretation, to walk the viewers through a multilayered aesthetic experience. One of the most impressive aspects of Lesstro's work is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of urging the viewer to experience an increased awareness or way of seeing: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to his stimulating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Leszek and welcome to LandEscape : we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted professional background. You have a solid formal training and You graduated from European Academy of Arts in Warsaw with a master degree in Painting : how did this experience influence the way You currently conceive and produce your works ? And in particular, how


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Ancient Rome Beijing

Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro


Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro

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does your cultural substratum inform the way You relate yourself to the aesthetic problem in general? Studies at European Academy of Arts

were undoubtedly very important for me. I met there a few outstanding professors : Franciszek Starowieyski , Wiktor Zin , Antoni Fałat . They favored and praised my works, pointing out, that I am very talented , and it strengthened my decision to continue studying and become a painter . Young students of Painting are often exposed to dilemas whether it makes sense to continue , they are also doubtful of their ability to sustain a career as painters at a time when collectors, curators and galleries are seemingly more interested in other media. At the same time facing critics of the art one produces may result in quitting painting studies. Fortunately it was not my case – professors encouraged me and I am grateful for this. As regards formal training studies have awakened my consciousness relating to light and block. I was very interested in Old Masters technology which unfortunately was not priority subject at my Academy and due to this I was exploring this topic by myself . During technology lectures I have learned a few basic issues , which did not satisfy my curiosity . By coincident I got the book by Munich professor Max Doerner “ Old Masters technology “, which became a great help in answering my questions and developing my painting . During my foreign travels I used to visit famous museums and study Old Masters paintings, watching originals. Some


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crucial point for me was visit to Vatican Pinakoteka , where I saw Leonardo Da Vinci painting half-done, at the stage of painting ground ( underlayer ) and suddenly I understood everything ! However it also happened during my studies, that I was even pursued to create conceptual art, abstraction – as something “ new “. Nevertheless I continued classical painting , feeling that this is my only way. That is why I can say that Academy neither had any vital influence in creating my style nor created the way I currently conceive and produce my works. I am Polish, raised in European art heritage and I respect very much tradition and beauty. I appreciate and exploit the experiences from the past ages of art history, fortifying them with my own feelings and visions. My desire is to remind the audience we carry , as human beings – emotions, memory and dream. One can never get it by means of photo-based works , installations, video, digital work – such works appear and disappear very quickly from our memory much like this stream of mass-media information. The figurative language you convey in your pieces seems to be the result of a constant evolution of your searching for new means to express the ideas you explore in your works : your inquiry into the expressive potential of colors combines together figurative as subtle expressionistic features into a coherent balance. We would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.leszek.piotrowski.netgaleria.eu in order to get a synoptic view of your work : in the meanwhile, would you like to tell to


Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro

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Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro


Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro

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our readers something about the evolution of your style ? In particular, would you shed light on your usual process and set up ?

I am 32 years old and at this stage of my career it is difficult for me to determine the evolution of my style. I started with painting female nudes. With the passage of time I found, that I feel very good by creating big and very big scale paintings – usually historical genre scenes. However it is not a rule: I like very much painting commissioned portraits, landscapes, seascapes, horses. Generally speaking I enjoy painting a lot. And I am searching for beauty in my painting objects. Women are my favorite painting objects. I try to show their beauty and endless mystery by means of chiaroscuro, where light always wins, just like good overcomes evil. Here I can say, that the basing element of my usual process – incentive which makes me paint is light. Deep light and shadow game are indispensable for me to create good painting. Regarding technical questions : my canvas are hand-made. I use raw linen. After stretching it on the loom, the surface is lubricated with rabbit glue. When it is dry it needs to be rubbed until it is completely smooth. Then I apply with a brush a layer of proper prime coat, which is solvent mixture of glue, champagne chalk and linen-seed oil. The process of drying canvas takes up to two months. I paint with the technic of Old Masters, it means, that at first I make underpainting in the form of painting sketch and then I apply many coats of paints in order to get deep color effect.


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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Finally I apply varnish. All this process is time consuming, as the paint coats need to dry properly. I paint gesturally, instinctively. My paintings have nothing in common with popular at present photo-realism. I think, that methodically transposing geometric schemes from paper to canvas can’t be considered as true painting. In my opinion it is rather skill and craft than art. I mix colors on the palette completely instinctively, but as far as glazing goes it is necessary to be acquainted with technics, so in my practice technique supports intuition. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected „Dominique” and „ Majorelle Garden, a couple of paintings from your recent production that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. Your paintings communicate a successful attempt to transform tension to harmony and what has at once captured our attention it ‘s their dynamic and autonomous aesthetics : are your works painted gesturally, instinctively ? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes from paper to canvas ? In particular, how would you describe the relationship between intuition and technique in your practice?

My paintings have nothing in common with popular at present photo-realism . I think, that methodically transposing geometric schemes from paper to canvas can’t be considered as true


Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro

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Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro


Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro

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painting. In my opinion it is rather skill and craft than art. I mix colors on the palette completely instinctively , but as far as glazing goes it is necessary to be acquainted with technics, so in my practice technique supports intuition. The effective combination between both intense and thoughtful nuances of tones sums up the mixture of a variety of feelings that in “ Shocking Red “ and especially in “ Maya” seems to speak of struggle and emotions. How much does your own psychological makeup determine the nuances of tones you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develop a painting’s texture ? Moreover, how did you think about your style – your choices of composition and palette?

There is very close relation between my psychological make-up and painting, it has been even medically stated. I had some problems at school and my Mother decided to check what is wrong with me. After series of psychological examinations it was confirmed, that I have dyslexia, dysgraphia, dysortography, which is typical for people extremely gifted artistically. Developing a painting texture I usually focus at right proportions, closed composition, providing “breath“ – free space from the side where light is dominating. I am using very intense, clean colors. I draw from Old Masters heritage to produce my pieces :


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Rembrandt/Caravaggio is the pattern for incredible light, Vermeer for colors, Rubens for vigor and Velazquez for free brushstrokes. While your pieces highlight the urgent need for renewed reverence for reality, the brushstrokes that condense your visual vocabulary have a very ethereal quality, that in “ Brown Study “ is capable of drawing the viewers into a dreamlike dimension. How do you view the concepts of the real and the imagined playing out within your works ?

Once I was told , that I had very rare feature; I can see in my imagination the ready painting before I start to paint. True is, that when I am painting it sometimes goes beyond my control , I can even talk and paint at the same time. However there are moments, that I must concentrate completely, I am very tired afterwards and surprised that I was me who did this piece , it is incomprehensible for me and difficult to explain. We like the way your works accomplish an insightful investigation of the subconscious sphere. We daresay that your art practice also challenges an inner cultural debate between heritage from the past and traditions that carry on to this day : despite the reminders to traditional figurative approach, your work is marked out with stimulating contemporary sensitiveness. Do you think that there is still a contrast between Tradition and Contemporariness ?


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Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro


Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro

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Or there is an interstitial area where these apparently opposite elements could produce a proficient synergy ?

In my opinion classics in art is timeless and from this point of view we can also consider traditional, classical painting as contemporary. So called “contemporary art“ (here I mean for example video art , performance) became banal and artists are dealing now more with sociology than with art. Others turned towards abstract painting. Realist painting (photorealism) became monkey handiness and human being - as the subject of art – degraded . Such contemporary art became dispassionate, not to say nightmarish banal in its message content, raggedly produced, deprived of vision. These are not features of traditional art and due to this I think, that proficient synergy is rather impossible. Moreover, people are fed up with so-called pieces of art , they return to classics. The exhibitions of Old Masters attract to museum crowds of art lovers. I am young and I am not afraid, that my paintings are not “trendy“, it is a paradox , but sometimes I feel my figurative art like completely new phenomenon, as there is no space for such paintings in the contemporary art galleries . I paint what I feel and create different representations : it may be traditional still life with the abundance of elements ( Still life with mask ) or horse head with some unreal background(Espinozja) and I never consider in terms whether the art I create is traditional or modern, I just

paint what is in line with my soul. We like Ancient Rome for the way it successfully attempts to capture the physical feature of such wide place and at the same time leaves space for the spectators to replay the scenes in their own intimate lives, letting them become emotionally involved in what you are attempting to communicate. How do you conceive the narrative for your works ? In particular, do you think that there is a central idea that connects all of your work?

As I mentioned before I like to paint big historical genre scenes and in this particular case the only base to conceive the narrative for my works are old movies and photos. Having this base I add and change elements and create my own vision of the scenery. There is central idea, that connects all my works : I am searching for beauty in my painting objects. There is so much evil and ugliness nowadays, that I would like everybody looking at my paintings to associate them with feelings of beauty and good only. You seem to direct your exploration of elements from environment – as the waves of the sea in “ Fala” and the background of “ Camels” – not only as a terrain that can be geographical but also a terrain that can be about memory and human presence, accomplishing an effective investigation about the relationship between perception and memory, to challenge the viewers’ parameters. What is the


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role of memory in your work ? We are particularly interested in how you consider memory and its evocative role in showing an alternative way to escape and overcome the recurrent reality.

Generally I can describe the role of memory in painting as essential. Physical human presence in certain environment causes summing up the feelings of different senses. Best paintings of land and seascapes are made live, unfortunately it is not always possible – then memories can help a lot ( memory of not only images but also reminiscences of wind, smell, sunshine or cold ). Human being usually finds comfort in the nature, sometimes people are longing to escape from civilization. A certain kind of escape and overcoming the recurrent reality, an element evoking memories may be a painting – made under influence of artist’s personal environment perception, while having viewer’s vivid feedback and associations. We appreciated the way “ Spices of Arabia “ creates a point of convergence between a kind of imagery belonging to universal imagery and direct experience with concrete aesthetics you convey through a personal language. So we 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?


Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro

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Leszek Piotrowski Lesstro

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In my opinion and in my case personal experience is not an absolutely indispensable part of creative process, moreover – a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience.

When I paint, it is like subconscious is switched on. While painting object ( for example fruit ) I imagine its block, smell, taste . Other words imagination is quite good substitute of direct experience


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How do you go about naming your work ? In particular, is important for you to tell something that might walk the viewers through their visual experience ?

I do not bother overmuch with naming my work. Usually I have problem with finding names and I follow others advices, it happened a few times, that gallery named my paintings , due to the missing title and the name was great ( for example it was “


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Shocking Red “ ). For me it is important, that name of my work associate with the image, although I don’t have to explain the meaning of my work , perception of my works is very good and I am happy about it . Over the years your works have been internationally showcased in several occasions and your painting “ Maja” is exhibited within permanent collection of MEAM Museum in Barcelona. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decisionmaking process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context ?

Referring to this question I have ambivalent feelings. The answer is simultaneously YES and NO. Having in regard, that thanks to my family support ( both financial and moral ) I have never had to care about the sale of my production and I don’t need to satisfy others taste or follow what is trendy in art . I can afford painting what I like. So in this aspect I don’t care about the audience or critics. On the other hand – when I am facing appreciation and admiration for my works I feel that the audience is so very

important for my work, it simply makes sense to paint. This is more important that classical contemporary painting nowadays, in the era of mass media is not easy accessibly for common audience, as I mentioned before there is no space in contemporary art galleries for this kind of art. Generally the issue of audience reception is not crucial component of my decision-making process, my language is universal and I don’t adjust it in particular context . Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts . Leszek, would you like to tell our readers something about your future projects ? How do you see your work evolving ?

The nearest project is a female nude , painted on the bigger size canvas, with enriched technology comparing to the series of nudes I made a few years ago. It will be a new challenge for me as I will have possibility to see my work evolving . Next summer I am planning to have open-air painting in Balkan countries and I am looking forward to it . These are my nearest future projects . Regarding long-term project my dream is to make really huge historical, genre scene painting . Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts. Leszek, would you like to tell our readers something about your future. An interview by and

, curator , curator


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Heidi Thompson Lives and works in Canada

M

y love for beauty comes from living in Canada surrounded by mountains, lakes, sky, fields and forest. Nature inspires me. I love her changing colours, random designs, luminosity and infinite space. My aim as a painter is to capture natural beauty – not by painting landscapes or sunsets; rather by painting the essence of nature using abstract elements of pure colour, light, texture and space. Heidi Thompson

academies. From 1975-1979 she attended the University of Art & Design Zürich earning a Swiss Diploma for Professional Photography. In 1980 she studied painting at the Nürnberg Art Academy. Her final year in Europe was at the Hungarian State University for Fine Art in Budapest. In 1982, Thompson returned to Canada where she worked as a photographer, painter and book publisher. Currently, Thompson paints full time and exhibits her work in Europe, Canada and the USA. Representing Heidi Thompson Galerie Halde http://www.haldegalerie.ch (Switzerland)

Heidi Thompson was born in Vernon, British Columbia. After graduation, she moved to Europe where she studied art at various

Alexander Salazar Fine Art http://alexandersalazarfineart.com (San Diego) Onessimo Fine Art http://www.onessimofineart.com (Palm Beach Gardens) ARTe Funktional http://www.factorykelowna.com/arte-funktional (Kelowna)


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LandEscape meets

An interview by and

, curator , curator

Inspired by natural beauty, artist Heidi Thompson's work is an insightful investigation about the point of convergence between experience and imagination. When interpreting the reality she perceives, her paintings condense the vital relationship between direct experience and visual interpretation, to walk the viewers through a multilayered aesthetic experience. In Thompson’s recent body of work, that we'll be discussing in the following pages, she encapsulates both abstract and figurative, to trigger the viewers' perceptual parameters. One of the most impressive aspects of Thompson's inquiry into the notion of beauty is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of capturing the essence of nature, urging the viewer to experience an increased awareness of way of seeing. We are very pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Heidi and welcome to LandEscape: we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted professional background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your Swiss Diploma in Photography from the University of Art &


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Heidi Thompson


Heidi Thompson

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW


Heidi Thompson

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Design Zürich, you nurtured your education in the field of Painting studying at the Academy of Art in Nürnberg and at the Hungarian State University of Art: how do these experiences influence the way you currently conceive and produce your works? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to the aesthetic problem in general? Thank you for asking about my multifaceted training and how Europe developed my particular aesthetic sensibility. I moved to Europe after graduating high school in 1974 with the intention of learning a trade. I wanted to be a pastry chef. This idea quickly vanished after being accepted into the University of Art & Design Zürich. During my four years of study, I discovered my passion was painting. However, I majored in photography because it would provide a way to make a living. Studying photography did develop my love for light and dark – the visual language of emotions. This love can still be seen in my paintings today. After earning my diploma, I moved to Nürnberg. I worked as an apprentice for a fairly well-known artist, Oskar Koller. I learned about the business of art including framing and exhibiting. I then attended the Nürnberg Academy for Fine Art. After one year, I felt that German abstract expressionism and the turmoil in the school was not for me. I moved to Budapest Hungary seeking a more traditional education. The Hungarian academy was so traditional I thought I’d travelled back in

time. This was marvelous, but at times frightening because of the ominous communist government. During my stay in Budapest, I developed a love for people. The Hungarians were oppressed, yet artistic and passionate. I tried to express universal suffering using themes of people travelling in subways, trains or talking together in cafes. Before I was permitted to leave Hungary my artwork had to be inspected and stamped for approval by the government. While in Europe my most influential mentor was a 43 year-old Transylvanian artist, Klaus Schmidt. Klaus was the son of a SS officer who ran away from home after his father threatened to have him shot. Now that was dark Europe! Klaus was accepted into the Austrian Art Academy and studied under the Austrian painter Oskar Kokoschka (the guy who received the famous art scholarship that Hitler unfortunately didn’t get). Klaus had a sensitive but tortured soul. He told me that that life and art are one. “If you want to be a great painter, you have to live life deeply and embrace suffering - not only your personal suffering but the pain of others.” His paintings were raw, passionate, semi-abstract portraits. His technique used shifting, slashing forms similar to the artist Francis Bacon. Klaus taught me that great painters “Throw the paint onto the canvas with emotion, passion and pain until Truth reveals itself.” He told me, “Study the masters like Goya, Velasquez and Rembrandt. Study their brushwork. See how every dab of paint is executed with energy and intention. See


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how the smallest section of the painting is wholly abstract. That makes for great painting!” Klaus believed that the secret to painting was to build up an image using abstract elements until what you see feels real. Many people never have the opportunity to stand inches away from an original Rembrandt. When I did, along with other paintings from Monet and Van Gogh, I knew Klaus was right. I stopped thinking that a good painting should be photographic. I now felt that a great painting is a collage of

abstract elements. When the elements are successfully positioned with the correct values, the painting feels real. When it feels real, whether abstract or “realistic” we feel great beauty and Truth. When I returned to Canada – land of MacDonald’s, beach volleyball, barbeques and velvet paintings I suffered severe culture shock. However, something lifechanging happened. I realized that I was not a tortured European soul like Klaus, rather a free-spirited, optimistic Canadian woman who loved peace and nature. Rather than


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denying life, I celebrated it. I started living healthy, met my husband, a guitar maker, and we had a beautiful daughter. We have

now been together for thirty-five years and I am grateful to have reconnected with my Canadian soul. Most significantly, after


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returning home, I discovered Abstract Expressionism. Painters like Jackson Pollock, Paul Jenkins, Sam Francis, Mark Rothko and

Mark Tobey inspired me to be free, playful and dive into the messy creative process making art for art’s sake.


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My two styles of painting – figurative and abstract - appear opposite. Yet, I believe they are similar in that they express mind states and emotions like joy, sadness, inspiration, mystery, unity and infinity. Living in Europe and Canada shaped who I am today. The hybrid visual language of your works combines together abstraction and reminders to figurative features into a coherent balance. in your pieces is the result of a constant evolution of your searching for new means to express the

ideas you explore in your works: your inquiry into the expressive potential of colors We would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.heidithompson.info in order to get a synoptic view of your work: in the meanwhile, would you like to tell to our readers something about the evolution of your style? In particular, would you shed light on your usual process and set up? My painting process is continually evolving. As I change, so does my art. While in Europe I expressed the aesthetic world of people, architecture and art that surrounded me.


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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

When I returned to Canada, I found culture was non-existent. I looked for new themes and decided to look within myself . This search led me to a ten-day meditation retreat. I learned Vipassana - an ancient meditation technique of observing sensations. This was Buddha’s pure technique he taught to his followers. It provides students a path toward liberation liberation from suffering. The more I observed sensations, the more I experienced my physical molecular reality. The experience affected the way I painted. My themes became non-objective, monochromes of nothing. These works comprised of zillions of tiny flecks, spots, lines woven together into one unified field. When viewing the paintings, you feel a flow of subtle energy vibrations. My Breathing Blue series show examples of these colour energy fields. I am not a conceptual artist. I prefer being a non-conceptual. I think artists get trapped in their intellects and imagination and miss something even deeper. I keep my paintings void of symbols, associations, concepts, ideas, pictures, allegories, figures and representation. This will help the viewer transcend his or her intellect and experience a different part of the mind. I want my work to mystify the viewer with an inexplicable feeling. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected Ochre Energy and October Passion, a couple of paintings from your recent production that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. Your paintings communicate a successful attempt

to transform tension to harmony and what has at once captured our attention it's their dynamic and autonomous aesthetics: are your works painted gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes from paper to canvas? Ochre Energy and October Passion are comprised of explosive colours and broken shapes. They resemble natural phenomenon like a volcanic eruption or a fiery forest. A permeating light floods through their abstract shapes which helps to unify the separate shapes. The paintings may appear tense because of the jagged forms suspended in space. The paintings may also feel harmonious because there is symmetry, balance and unifying light and space. I do not make preliminary sketches. Rather, I prefer simply to imagine the final work. I visualize something glorious, uplifting, breathtaking, magnificent, massive, deep, vast or dramatic. I “see” golden light, peaceful greens, mysterious shadows, uplifting yellows or ethereal blues. I might imagine a field of deep blue space, a vast field of orange vibrations or green veils over blue. Although, I create a clear picture in my mind, the final results are usually not similar. However, if the finished work resembles my original image, I am ecstatic. Nature inspires my process and is my best teacher. I look to her for ideas. How does she create patinas? How does she erode her surfaces? How do her colours change value and hue as the sun sets? I imitate nature’s processes with wind, sun, light, water, gravity, erosion and texture. Here are the steps. First, I stretch my canvas then prime


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its surface with gesso and silica glass to create a texture. I use acrylic paint and start applying layers. I dribble, splatter and pour the paint while the canvas is lying flat. I tip the canvas and use gravity to pull the paint in different directions. I dry areas of the painting with a hairdryer and then apply more paint. When all the wet and dry layers are applied I spray the painting with the garden hose. Dry layers remain; wet layers disappear leaving a patina. I do not paint gesturally with a brush. I do not want to show my “hand signature”. I like the work to feel anonymous, as if they happened without human interference. I like that the final painting reveals each change that happened during the process. Change is one of the main themes of my work. Meditation has allowed me to experience Buddha’s essential teaching of impermanence. I feel my paintings are artefacts of change; that they express Buddha’s observation of nature - that everything, animate or inanimate, is subject to change. "Decay is inherent in all component things." The idea of change, decomposition, decay, dissolution, birth, rejuvenation and renewal are fundamental ideas to my art. If you would like to see this process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV7cx mrIxWg The brushstrokes that condense your visual vocabulary have a very ethereal quality. How do you view the concepts of the real and the imagined playing out within your works?

I want to create illusions of space. I would like the viewer to walk into my paintings. Get lost behind the veils seeking what may be hidden. I hope to evoke in the viewer an experience of boundlessness, infinity and vastness. Space in a painting mirrors the space within me. Artist, Mark Tobey wrote, “The dimension that counts for the creative person is the space he creates within himself. This inner space is closer to the infinite than the other, and it is the privilege of the balanced mind... and the search for an equilibrium is essential - to be as aware of inner space as he is of outer space.” Your abstract landscapes ignite joy and a profound feeling of harmony and peace and we like Inspiration Explosion for the way it successfully attempts to capture the physical feature of such wide place and at the same time leaves space for the spectators to replay the scenes in their own intimate lives, letting them become emotionally involved in what you are attempting to communicate. How do you conceive the visual unity for your works? In particular, do you think that there is a central idea that connects all of your work? Light is central to my life and art. Without light there would be no life. No hope. No consciousness. Light shows us the way. While painting, I create illusions of light. Flooding the painting with warm light enhances its harmony and elicits feelings of joy and optimism. The old masters used light to unify a picture, create a focal point and infuse landscapes with atmospheric beauty, like William Turner. Buddha’s final words were, “Be a light unto yourself.”


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When we look at the pieces from your Breathing Blue Series, we are struck by the atmosphere suggested by the combination between darkness and bright tones that saturate the canvas. Is this a reflection of you? Can you describe us how this combination between darkness and brightness that appears in your works connects to you personally?

instinct of survival, safety and hope. Light makes me happy. Light removes fear of the unknown. Darkness is equally profound. Darkness evokes stillness, mystery and timeless infinity. Darkness is the womb of creation. Darkness comforts my eyes and lets me rest. When I paint relationships of light and dark I am expressing my emotional, philosophical and spiritual Truth.

Lightness and darkness mirror who I am. I am both conscious and unconscious. Light and dark are metaphors for ignorance and enlightenment. Light elicits a primordial

While your works are marked out with a deep abstract feature, the themes of natural environment in general are particularly recurrent in your imagery. How does


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representation and abstraction find their balance in your work? Everything you see is abstract. A tree, a flower, a face are compositions of abstract elements. To create a “realistic” illusion you need to arrange abstract elements according to natural laws. These natural laws include aerial perspective, pattern, symmetry, organic forms, colour, size, movement, light and space. Because my goal is to create paintings that feel natural, I arrange abstract elements in accordance with these laws. For example, I will paint a

light grey blue background which deepens into cobalt. A yellow light diffuses over the blue. Dark red shapes rise in front of this background. Presto! I have created something that appears “real”. In reality, nature is not made up of trees, clouds, flowers, mountains or “things”. These things are visual symbols – conditioned seeing. Nature is comprised of abstractions – tangle of lines, random patterns, shadows, shapes, space, light and colour. Since childhood, we have been conditioned to think in terms of visual


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Heidi Thompson


Heidi Thompson

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symbols. Common symbols are like stick men, sun with rays, or a Christmas tree. The first lesson a teacher gives the art student is one that will help the student see reality as it really is. The effective combination between both intense and thoughtful nuances of tones we can admire in your OK Sunshine Series sums up the mixture of struggle and emotions. How much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develop a painting’s texture? Moreover, how did you think about your style—your choices of composition and palette? My paintings reveal the state of my mind I was in when I painted it. If my mind was agitated, reactive or insensitive, my painting will look agitated. If my mind balanced, my painting will appear balanced. As well, my choice of color and brushstrokes are governed by my state of mind. If I don’t like my work, I know the problem lies within me. I believe that the greatest advancement of an artist lies in his own self advancement. Recently, I worked on a commission for the Kelowna International Airport. The series was called OK Sunshine (reference to the Okanagan Valley where I live). I was in an agitated state. My first attempts turned out very red, black and explosive. My husband kindly pointed out those explosive colours might heighten stress of travelers about to board their flight. After an angry reaction, I realized he was right. I took time off to calm down and establish inner peace. When I did, my palette changed to bright, light yellows

and uplifting compositions. I have to establish harmony within before I can create a harmonious work. Painting is a journey of self-discovery. A painting will mirror who I am. I can use my paintings to self analyze. My paintings will honestly expose both my noble and ignoble qualities. As you have remarked once, painting is a journey of self discovery. How would you describe the relationship between intuition and technique in your practice? Having developed my painting technique to a point where I can trust what happens, I am free to paint intuitively. My feeling-mind guides the process and chooses the colours and method of application. I believe my intuition is my “higher” mind which has the capacity to experience space, infinity and timelessness. Your work allows an open reading, a multiplicity of meanings and interpretations: associative possibilities seem to be of greater importance. How important is this degree of openness? When someone takes time to look at my paintings, I am honored. I enjoy people interpreting my work. Everyone’s reaction is unique. My paintings offer little for the viewer to recognize. That makes their reactions even more interesting. The viewer can only “experience” the work’s colours and composition. Some people see angels, faces or figures. Some feel a sense of mystery. Some see outer space. And others just like the work’s tactility, texture and messy chaos. I’m happy if my paintings draw the viewer in. And if they resonate this might indicate that the viewer recognizes something. Perhaps


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they see the mystery which is in them. Maybe they experience something subliminal and profound. Sensing mystery might be the closest we come to experiencing God. Over your long career your works have been showcased in several occasions, including your recent show at the Kelowna International Airport. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decisionmaking process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context? When I was younger, I rarely considered the viewer’s opinion of my art. I felt that art should not be made for anyone but me. Art was spiritual, and not for sale. My teachers urged me to paint my truth, no matter how desperate, chaotic or aggressive it was. For years, my work was dark. That is until1989, the year I gave birth to my daughter. After this marvelous day, everything changed. I was a mother with a new life to take care of. I no longer wanted to express “angst” or be selfabsorbed. I wanted our daughter to grow up in a positive environment full of sunshine, humor and optimism. The moment I changed my attitude was the moment I became a pure abstractionist. Since that day, my goal is to create beauty. It’s not easy, but it’s what I want. To accomplish this lofty dream, I have no choice but to

cultivate harmony within. The real work lies in personal growth, becoming more conscious and establishing inner peace through meditation. Every person or artist has a choice to be a light. We can use our gift to create a beautiful world. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Heidi. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? My future project is to develop myself. Go deeper, grow more aware and live life with equanimity. Life is full of ups and down. I have to fight against doubt and depression. I have to stay strong despite crazy world affairs. I have to find reasons not to give up or lose purpose. I will keep struggling and perhaps, as I develop, my paintings will. I continue my journey. Each painting marks an important milestone along the way. Mark Rothko sums up my artistic quest. “I do not believe that there was ever a question of being abstract or representational. It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude, of breathing, and stretching one's arms again transcendental experiences became possible.” Representing Heidi Thompson Galerie Halde http://www.haldegalerie.ch (Switzerland) Alexander Salazar Fine Art http://alexandersalazarfineart.com (San Diego) Onessimo Fine Art http://www.onessimofineart.com (Palm Beach Gardens) ARTe Funktional http://www.factorykelowna.com/arte-funktional (Kelowna)

An interview by and

, curator , curator


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Mariusz Sołtysik Lives and works in

An artist's statement

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n my creative work I frequently ask questions about perception of reality. My focus is on the relationship between objective and subjective sensual perception, and the role of consciousness and intuition in this process. I investigate this relationship in constant progress of things, which causes continuous confrontation of what we see and feel versus HOW we remember and present it. We recall and remember things in a variety of forms and at different times, and subjectively “colour” them. Whether consciously or not. This “colouring”, or dualism of things is my essential focus that informs my creative activities. This implies constant confrontation and inevitable incursion into the social sphere and its condition that I also describe and document in my works. I often turn to spaces — temporary or transitory places like tunnels, terminals, changing rooms, waiting rooms — apparently empty and devoid of energy, which

nevertheless have their history, ambience, and climate. They are a pretext to show impermanent and transitory human actions. Spaces and objects, but also ephemeral phenomena inspire my aspiration to create a “model” that would express my interests and characterise and document them. The tool to produce such a “model” are combined creative activities and various media, e.g.: video, installation, sculpture, drawing, or painting. I am visual artist, painter, author of documentary movies, typographer, designer, lecturer. My works consists of different mediums as video, sculpture, drawing, installation – include the ephemeral materials as light or smoke. I exhibited my works in Poland and abroad as in Germany, Israel, Ireland, Iceland, France, Sweden, Italy, Romania, India, Australia and USA. In 2010 I awarded the scholarship from Polish Minister of Culture.

Mariusz So tysik


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LandEscape meets

Mariusz Sołtysik An interview by and

, curator , curator

Rejecting any conventional classification artist Mariusz Soltysik's work focuses on the relationship between objective and subjective sensual perception, and the role of consciousness and intuition in this process. His projects consider the vital relationship between direct experience and visual intepretation, to draw the viewers through a multilayered journey. In his photON that we'll be discussing in the following pages he unveils a channel of communication between the inner landscape and outside reality to trigger the viewers' perceptual parameters. One of the most impressive aspects of Soltysik's work is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of questioning the notions of memory, space and perception in our unstable contemporary age: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to his stimulating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Mariusz and welcome to LandEscape: we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. Are there any particular experiences that have influenced the way you currently conceive and produce your works? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to the aesthetic problem in general?

Hello. My understanding of aesthetics is not a constant, but a variable. It is a variable within a certain scope, perhaps quite like a sinusoid. Aesthetics, you are asking about was born in opposition to reality that surrounded me. I talk about very distant times, before 1989, I talk about the times of Communism and overwhelming greyness, where every expression of colour was an emblem of freedom. That was what Poland looked like before 1989. I was a teenager then, however it represented a missing element, I was trying to compensate for it in my works then. That reality was an overwhelming and sad picture, a picture of poverty mainly, imprisonment and powerlessness, as well as a fight for the


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Mariusz Sołtysik


Mariusz Sołtysik

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Mariusz Sołtysik

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culture goods such as music, or books. I was growing up in such aesthetics. Points of transformation, which shaped me in the context of changing reality played a decisive role in my future creative path and they also influenced changes in medium used in my works. No artist ever creates in a void, his works always reflect changing times. After my studies in Łodz, the first important point was studying at L’ESAPV in Mons in Belgium. The new tool was screenprinting, there were elements of photography involved in the process of that medium. It was a way of leaving the aesthetics of greyness for the benefit of colour. The next point was a decision to enter space and to create ephemeral works with the use of light, water, and materials changing under the influence of temperature (for example wax). Next, there were video projects, installations and site-specific works. I have never resigned from, for example, drawing. The freedom of expression does not mean, in my opinion, a prison, which I see in focusing on one medium only. The tools to expose your own thoughts/meanings do tend to increase, change with time and context. I wonder if contemporary teenagers think about a phone, or an HD tablet in a different way to how people used to think about a pencil, or crayon in 20th century. It also seems to me that the features of intermedia works, which were formulated by Dick Higgins, are now widely available to all viewers. Now that, I mentioned Higgins, I found an important inspiration in Fluxus group. I still feel that the group is a

great inspiration for me. I am one of the lucky ones, who belonged to the International Association of Artists in 1990s, it was led by two artists Emmett Williams and Ryszard Waśko. Thanks to that, I could participate in performances of Fluxus artists, for example Fluxus Dinnes in 1998 and in 2010 in Lodz, or in Construction in Process in Israel in 1995, or in Melbourne in Australia in 1998. The Museum of Artists set up by Ryszard Waśko and Wschodnia Gallery (started in 1983 by Adam Klimczak and Jerzy Grzegorski) represent the first independent galleries showing then ‘other’ art. They had a colossal influence on my development and later projects. Joint exhibitions during Construction in Process placed a firm emphasis on the process of art creation and on an exchange of thoughts amongst artists. Those actions represented the opposite to the commercial approach to art, where artwork is a form of product. All those mentioned above represented an important inspiration and motivation for me. An opportunity to exhibit works together with such artists as Dennis Oppenheim, Alison Knowles, Jessica Higgins, Charlie Citron, Sean O'Reilly, Anna Macleod, Paul Panhuysen, Josh Selman, Erica Kneer, Suzy Sureck, Laszlo Kerekes czy Józef Robakowski gave me the drive to create a common platform for art creation. This is how the series of exhibitions came to be for example Marcowe Gody (as part of Museum of Artists), or later CamouFlash 2007/2008. Those were my ideas and they allowed me to widen the ‘field of view’. I was able to confront my own actions with


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such artists as Dmitry Strakovsky, Eric Van Hove, Atsuhiro Ito, Sarah Browne, Garreth Kennedy, Wiktor Polak, Ela WysakowskaWalters, Olga Bergman, Paco Simon, Kristaps Gulbis and many more. When I look at my history, I think that culture roots shape us, but they also may put a brake on our development. I feel, I am a European, I belong to Western civilisation. I need to mention here European Union – this project has got a particular value for me – a person born behind the Iron Curtain. EU is all about bringing together cultural diversity without the use of weapons as it used to be in the past. Over these years you have experimented with a wide variety of different techniques, ranging from video and sculpture to drawing and installation. The figurative language you convey in your pieces is the result of a constant evolution of your searching for new means to express the ideas you explore in your works: your inquiry into the expressive potential of colors combines together figurative as subtle abstract feature into a coherent balance. We would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.mariusz-soltysik.com in order to get a synoptic view of your work: in the meanwhile, would you like to tell to our readers something about the evolution of your style? In particular, would you shed light on your usual process and set up?

Experimenting… I think I would call it researching and expanding the field of activity. Perception is not only an act of recording, but also a concentration of a thinking eye/vision (Rudolph Anheim). If we assume this assertion to be right, there is a question of an individual approach versus


Mariusz Sołtysik

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Mariusz Sołtysik


Mariusz Sołtysik

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biologically determined one. Although we can observe a changing medium in my creation, the transcription of perception – the balance between the subjective and objective – is rather constant and concise in my works. The acts of combing the figurative with the abstract depends on a particular project, or idea. Many artists during their creative path go through various periods of their art making. Clinging to one medium was once called being consistent, but it has little to do with freedom. It is said that Piccasso when asked a question: Master, what would you do if you were in prison and you didn’t have anything to draw? answered: I would draw with shit (Jean Clair DE immundo). Perception as a phenomenon has a significant value for me, since thanks to it we may distill something and reverse, for example, the understanding, or we may change the focus of the viewer. I believe that balance concerns the composition of the work/project – it completes the content, or it is the content. The way I work was shaped in the times of academic approach to education. I believe printmaking had a great influence on me in particular woodcut and screen printing, which dominated my studies in Mons in Belgium. This search for colour, which was a composition content, was then the scope of my action. ‘Exit into space’ made me think in a different way. The context is very important in case of site-specific, or installation works. The context of place, time and history – both the context that concerns the place and my answer brought about by the relation with the place


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(„Fallible eye” or„Invaders”, WaterTower Festival, 2010.). It is also a relation to social conditions already there („6 miles from the border”, Ireland, '96) or an attempt to examine the relations between virtual observation and reality („Different forms: forgetting”, Wschodnia Gallery, Lodz, Poland, 95; „Touching space”‚ Cardiff, Wales, UK, '97) and finally an attempt to examine rationality of confrontation with emotions („Endroit touché; telepatie”, Strasbourg, France, '99). https://www.behance.net/mariusz_soltysik For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected photON, an extremely interesting video that reflect the multifaceted nature of our relationship to nature and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once caught our attention of your effective the inquiry into the relationship between objective and subjective sensual perception is the way you provided the visual results of your analysis with autonomous aesthetics: while walking our readers through the genesis of photON, would you shed light on your usual process and set up? In particular, what are your usual sources of inspiration?

As I mentioned before, some ideas are created in relation to place, history but also time. In this case, I was interested in the phenomenon of movement/dance, recording and transforming. While in trance, we stop controlling the rational. Emotions and subconscious take control – we are in the state of trans. It is a rather primeval experience known from tribal rituals, or therapy. During that state, the camera


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records unemotionally the act of being in that state. After recording, the material is transformed using a standard 1970s video effect (conscious decision). We receive an ‘objective’ image/visual trance performed by a ‘subjective’ person in trance. This trance increases the impression of time and describes a particular space. This trace, this recording is an ephemeral sculpture, which writes down the movements of a body. It is not only Muybridge’s recording of movement. It is an extension of body and time done digitally. It is not only a technical image (Villem Flusser) which records the reality. It attempts to mutually describe: space, time and body. It is inspiring for me. The power of visual arts and especially of photography in the contemporary age is enormous: at the same time, the role of the viewer’s disposition and attitude is equally impoartant. Both our minds and our bodies need to actively participate in the experience of contemplating a piece of art: it demands your total attention and a particular kind of effort—it’s almost a commitment. What do you think about the role of the viewer? Are you particularly interested if you try to achieve to trigger the viewers' perception as starting point to urge them to elaborate personal interpretations?

Great question. There isn’t probably an artist in the world, who would not want for his or her projects to be the ones invoking emotions and personal interpretations. To paraphrase Macluhan – in art the most important is suggestion. Thanks to the fact that something was not fully uttered, the viewer has got a chance


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to finish the thought…and then you have an impression that you have become a part of it (Herbert Marshall Macluhan, „Through the vanishing point). We do not know how the viewers reacted to the paintings of Fra Angelico. We know what their reaction to the paintings is now. If the artwork is ‘spacious’ in a sense of craft and meaning, it will be alive. A photographic image is different. We deal today with a recording, which is happening in millions of copies every second. Images are technical, they become sharper and sharper and I agree with Flusser, they start to cover the reality. This is a question to the viewer, what the viewer expects from the photography, which he creates. It is also a question about describing and expressing instead of mindless clicking. It is finally a question about our social condition. Changing Room provides the viewers with an intense, immersive experience and the dualism of things that marks out your artistic research leads you to investigate the social sphere and its condition: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience?

The ‘Changing room’ is an immersive experience. It was created on Videy island, which used to be a thriving with life place, a workplace of many fishermen. Nowadays, it is a nesting place for birds laying eggs amongst the works of such artists works as Richard Serra’s ‘Afangar’. In my work, you can notice several threads. My personal experience contained in a memory from my childhood.


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Mariusz Sołtysik


Mariusz Sołtysik

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The feeling of being separated, listening to sounds from inside a changing room with a full awareness of intimacy, safety and the function of the place. At the same time, there is an aspect of focusing on oneself and my own body. It brings to mind the life choices we are faced with: to be inside without engaging into social sphere. There are different scales of activism, or artistic expression. I am not very interested in decorations, I am more interested in manifestations stemming from experience and context of the place, where the art utterance took place. Apparent simplicity of a person’s figure in the changing room connects those spheres, and it is its advantage. Perhaps not directly, but the viewers must discover it by themselves. Here the documentation may not be sufficient. Iceland is a country without trees, it is a country of hard conditions and wonderful people. By implementing the experience, I connect it with the historical context and my own memory. Elements from environment and reminders to the notion of landscape are particularly recurrent in your imagery and working on both the subconscious level and on the conscious sphere, it never plays the role of a mere background. Do you see a definite relationship between environment and your work?

This is the essence of site-specific works, or installations, but also collage works. I do not create in a void. I have a particular pleasure, and I pay a particular attention


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to creating a balance between the environment and the work. I draw on context and I give sense to both sides. This is a construction which allows for creating the whole. Your tunnels, terminals, changing rooms, waiting rooms remind the notion of non-lieu elaborated by French anthropologist Marc Augé and establishe a channel of communication between the conscious level and the subconscious sphere: artists are always interested in probing to see what is beneath the surface: maybe one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your view about this? In particular, do you think that your works could induce a process of self-reflection in the viewers?

I know the works of Marc Augé, they are very important to me. They were published in Polish as late as in 2010. His work was important for me scientifically, and it also confirmed my intuitions. As a child, I used be ill very often. That in turn meant that I often visited waiting rooms, temporary places, doctor’s offices, etc. Finding or discovering something captivating, interesting, imagining someone’s history, or a pleasure of observation, in places were I spent so much time, is similar to loneliness, which you want to share with someone. It has got an intimate character, often unconscious, but you may feel well there. There is another important thing. I grew up in a non-place similar to others like that. It was a high-rise block of flats surrounded with other similar blocks, they

all had a network of internal corridors. My places have some visual features of the places already known to me, but a relation to a place, proportions, scale or selected medium differ. I remember at the opening of one of the exhibitions, just before its closing time, from the darkness, I heard the voices of some viewers asking to keep it open for a bit. This was an important experience for me. It convinced me that an induction of self-reflection is possible when as an artist I am authentic on all levels. There were other incidents such as the project of a swimming-pool in closeddown power station in Melbourne, when the viewers instinctively felt the energy of the huge interior, but the water and its reflection changed the perception. We like the way you structured invaders balloons: it leaves space for the spectators to replay the idas you explore in their own intimate lives, letting them become emotionally involved in what you are attempting to communicate. As Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living under". Do you think that the role of the artist has changed these days with the new global communications and the new sensibility created by new media?

The work entitled ‘Invaders balloons’ has got various levels of reception, but yet again the most important is context. While thinking about different parts of the world, we tend to think about those places in terms of images known from television,


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newspapers, films, and documentaries. We often do not have time to find out about the relationships present in a particular place. In case of Invaders balloons, the organiser of the event prepared information about historical knowledge and the context of the place. A lonely, closed down (again an abandoned place) pressure tower surrounded with blocks of flats and highrise buildings, which are rather familiar to me, was a challenge for a message about something that can poison our minds. Something that can be wrapped as an attractive product. The role of the artist is certainly changing in the same way life conditions, and social relations are changing. Our knowledge about the world and the objects we use are more complicated then 100 or 50 years ago. This can result with bigger misunderstandings concerning the language of science, and the language of art exposed by a part of society, which has got an awareness of unequal access to common goods, education, etc. We shall not achieve ‘new sensitivity’ thanks to ‘new media’, or any other technological devices. This work has to be done by us in order to change a perspective, mentality, traditions which persistently lead us to ignorance, wars and conflicts. No devices can give us freedom like that. Although they allow us (the artists) for a variety, interactive possibilities of expressing a message, in my opinion, the most important message does not lie in the tools. The content of artworks, and the artists activity, their attitudes, not only

official but also they way they are everyday – carry the meaning. Besides producing your artworks also hold the position of lecturer at the ASP Faculty of Intermedia, in Kraków: how does this aspect of your work influence your practice? In particular, have you ever been inspired from your students' ideas?

The faculty of Intermedia in Cracow is a special place. I feel close to it because of my projects and experiences. But also thanks to the team which creates that place. My official status there is scientifically-didactic, that implicates combining my own artistic work with teaching work. The relations amongst lectures and students are based on partnership. In my teaching work, I try not to make a mistake of my professors, that is to continue the relationship of a master and a student. I am interested in creating common language and working out common insights. That is incredibly stimulating. The energy and devotion of some young artists sometimes bring to my mind my own dilemmas, actions, or similar paths. If something inspires me, then it is the energy to act, to see common questions, which can be answered in an individual way. My work follows its own path and I realise my own ideas. I would like to mention here the work I do as the curator of the Faculty Gallery. I created a series entitled YOU / I which focuses on a co-operation between a lecturer and a student in a given space. This is a platform for joined creation


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which has been enjoyed my colleagues and students for a year and a half.

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

Over the years you have showcased your works in several occasions, both in Poland and abroad, including shows in Germany, Israel, Ireland, Iceland, France, Sweden, Italy, Romania, India, Australia and USA: one of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decisionmaking process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

I am working now on a rather big project, which deals with the topic of the condition of humanity. It uses small gestures in both virtual and real space. Except for planned works, I returned to doing interactive works. Political situation in Poland and in the world is becoming radicalised while at the same time we witness a state of indifference for the tragedy of the ‘other’. I have an impression that societies equipped with technological gadgets do not pay attention to content, common knowledge and agreements. There seems to be an overenjoyment of hyper-textual links, superficial descriptions of situations and popular slogans, as well as ever growing ‘likes’. For that reason, I am working on the second version of the work, where the viewer discovers normative acts such as constitution in the context of his or her present situation. This is a commentary on the situation, but also a possibility to show / read constitution acts which are known only from the names, not from the content.

At the stage of idea creation, I don’t think, I consider the viewer. When it comes to a sketch and during the developmental stage – yes, I do. Taking a viewer into consideration has got a great meaning in case of interactive works, installation or sitespecific works. You have to consider how to lead the viewer and where the work is done. In one of your questions you mentioned globalisation. The awareness of common behaviours allows us to suspect and plan the reactions reserved for our species in terms of perception. My language is a visual message, when it becomes universal through the use of media, tools and contexts of time and place, it becomes mine and the viewer’s. Of course, only if the viewer wishes to appropriate it. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Mariusz. Finally, would you like to tell

I would like to thank you very much for your insightful and interesting questions. They appreciate the viewer’s needs, which is of great importance for me and for the reception of my works. My web: www.mariusz-soltysik.com An interview by and

, curator , curator


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R ada Yakova Lives and works in the Netherlands

An artist's statement

...it is all about dance and the beauty of a dancing female body. But also the efforts a woman has to make in order to achieve that status defined as "PRIMA" Rada Yakova is a Holland based visual artist. She builds her paintings up through layers of freehand emotional brushstrokes. Rather than planning the work in advance, she works intuitively and with lots of emotion. The main goal of her

artworks has not been just creating paintings in beautiful shapes and colours, rather creating works of art, which reflect and show a certain stand in society. Yakova’s works are presented at several Art Fairs around the world, such as Art Santa Fe, AAF Amsterdam and others. She has exhibited and sold work in the United States and Europe.

Rada Yakova radayakova.org


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LandEscape meets

Rada Yakova An interview by Katherine Williams, curator and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com

Visual artist Rada Yakova's work accomplishes an insightful exploration of the connection between moving body and painting, turning them into one united language, to walk the viewers through a multilayered experience, inducing them to elaborate personal associations and interpretations. Her style rejects any conventional classifications and is marked with freedom as well as coherence, while encapsulating a careful attention to composition and balance. One of the most impressive aspects of Yakova's work is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of transforming tension to harmony: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Rada and welcome to LandEscape: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production would you like to tell

us something about your background? You have a solid formal training and after having graduated from the National High School of Fine Arts “Iliya Petrov” in Sofia you moved to Austria to further your education degree from the prestigious University of Applied Arts, Vienna. How did this experience influence your evolution as an artist? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general?

I believe that Bulgaria and the whole eastern Europe have big influence in classical art. Dance, painting, music… and I thing this was the best place to learn the basics. Apparently to become a true artist is not enough to learn how to paint. In Vienna I had the privilege to study graphic design and advertising in the class of prof. Luerzer, one of the giants in the advertising world. To work close and


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Rada Yakova


Rada Yakova

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be tought by such a person is an incredible adventure and honour. I’ve learned to read between the lines, to express a position, to give my work a symbolic meaning. I’ve also learned that "May you live in interesting times" is not a curse, it’s a blessing... You learn how to swim, only in deep water. And you can wait to be discovered, or you can be the one who discovers the world. You have to open all your senses and breath the surrounding world, feel the pain, feel the sorrow, and use all your power and senses to express this on the canvas or whatever medium you use. When I graduated from Vienna I chose to follow my passion and continue with painting. Since then I call myself an artist. You asked about the esthetic ... In Vienna, Bulgarian artists are not accepted in the painting world because they are thinking too much and are working in a frame. To a certain degree I tend to agree with this. As much as classical school gives us, it can also harm us. If you are not critical enough to yourself

and rely on the school only, it could ruin your future as an artist. Furthermore, we are responsible for the way our children will see the world. The beauty idols we sell to them, the strive to be perfect and never to reach this perfection... the esthetic categories we create and teach our chuldren are the way we see the world around us, they are also what we make and project with our art. So, we have to be mindful of the messages we coney with our work. In 21th century art is not only beautiful forms, body or landscape. It is a statement, it’s a position in society. In modern art, the idea is more important than the visual itself. There are no more rules and boundaries. I believe in the strong idea but I stay old fashioned and use the power of the brush. And by giving symbolical meanings in my paintings, I tell stories and the viewer is actively participating with his own interpretations. Your approach is very personal and your technique condenses a variety of


Prima


Prima


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viewpoints, that you combine together into a coherent balance. We would suggest to our readers to visit www.radayakova.org in order to get a synoptic view of your work: in the meanwhile, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up? In particular, we like the way it combines formal research with improvisation: how did you developed its main idea? And in particular, how would you define the roles of chance and improvisation in your approach?

You paint like a man.” That’s is what my Professor in Bulgaria used to tell me when I was in highschool. I wasn’t sure what this meant at that time. Professor Ganovski is a person I will keep in my heart forever. He was not only teaching the technic of painting, but also how to be an artist with every part of your body, brain and soul. My paintings have the aesthetic of a sketch. This way they breathe more. A sketch is very often more emotional. I work very fast, almost torture the canvas, but in the quick work/moves of the arm and hand there is a lot of improvisation.

That’s why it is important to have an idea first. Sometimes I do one painting again and again, until I am happy with the result. And it turns out that “painting as a man” is a compliment. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected My Name Is Prima, an interesting project that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your captivating investigation about the relationship with the audience is the way you provided the visual results of your analysis with autonomous aesthetics: while walking our readers through the genesis of My Name Is Prima, would you shed light to your main sources of inspiration?

...it all started with the dance and the beauty of a dancing female body... and the efforts a woman has to make in order to achieve that status defined as “PRIMA”. This project has the ambition to create yet another platform for presenting the perfection of women and dance. I wanted to


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Reborn

present the emotional world of every woman - as each woman is a Prima in her own way, full of ups and downs, small or large life-

shattering misfortunes or enormous moments of happiness. Prima may fall; she can lose parts of herself and struggle to find them...


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Reborn

But no matter how great the misfortunes, Prima gets over them, manages to come out, though broken at times, but only to rise up

again and be reborn stronger, to overcome any challenge, more real and brighter, having realised her own self of Prima.


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Reborn

My Name Is Prima provides the viewers

How do you see the relationship

with an immersive experience capable

between public sphere and the role of

of challenging their perceptual

art in public space?

parameters.

In particular, how much do you


Inner conflicts


Passion


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consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience?

One of my favorite Bulgarian writers Vladimir Zarev said it perfectly in one of his books: “The unsaid, the omitted in every art work is loaded with special meanings. Sometimes the unspoken is the most important and is probably the only possible perfection.” I love that. We have to leave space to the viewer to be part of the painting by creating their own stories of it. Last time, at an art fair in Barcelona, I had a painting with no name. Apparently a lot of people liked especially this one and they were all asking me why the painting had no name. Well, sometimes even a name gives that exact meaning and if you want the public to participate more with their own imagination, then leave the name out. A crucial aspect of your work is the insightful investigation about the connection between moving body and image: how does this relationship affect your practice?

The first time I’ve entered the act hall in Vienna, I couldn’t show a lot

of my potential. The model was moving every minute. It was a disaster. As you just said, its all about the practice. In the moving body there is much more power just like in a moving brush. This is very important for my idea of Prima, where I want to show the power of a women. Your pieces are marked out with an effective combination between both delicate and thoughtful nuances of tones sums up the mixture of thoughts and emotions. How much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develop a painting’s texture? Moreover, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

My resent work is mainly black and white. Or with some very delicate colours. When I first came to the Netherlands, I got a great working space, only for me. For the first time I had finally the chance to work on bigger size canvases. I wasn’t painting for somebody or for something, just experimenting with the sizes and … just having fun. However, when buying all the


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materials I needed, I realised, there was not enough money for colours. I got only black and white. That’s how I started. As I had the atelier of my dreams, it would‘ve been very stupid to have excuses not to work. And then, the year after, something terrible happened in my life and I just didn’t like the colours any more. Now, I don’t need them any more. I see them as a special effect, which I don’t need any more in order to express myself. Your works communicate a successful attempt to transform tension to harmony: are your works painted gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes from paper to canvas?

I have the idea, sometimes photos. I work close with professional dancers in Netherlands and in Bulgaria. I go to rehearsals. But at home, I start on the canvas directly, I never work with geometric schemes. I was never good in mathematics. Maybe pencil, graphite, pastel or something else. I try not to overwork a painting; it has to breathe.


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Before a performance


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Dance me

Your pieces combine figurative approach wisely balanced with subtle

abstraction: while exhibiting a captivating vibrancy, you seem to reject


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Strong language

an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to invite the viewer to find

personal interpretations to the feelings that you convey into your paintings.


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How does representation and a tendency towards abstraction find their balance in your work?

Thank you for this question. A lot of people can not accept figurative painting as an abstraction. Abstraction is something unreal and everything that leads us to dream and imagine has something abstract in it. So in my work, the idea is abstract, I use the woman's body to show my ideas that are far more beyond what you see. Over the years you have exhibited in several occasions, including your recent participation to the Barcelona International Art Fair: one of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decisionmaking process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

from anyone or anybody else‘s stories and expectations. That’s why sometimes I need a lot of time before beginning, just to stay in front of the canvas. It‘s like taking a shower, washing your brain from all expectations. You can not satisfy everybody. Not everybody will like you, and that’s OK. If everybody likes you, something is wrong. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Rada. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

My newest work is about memories and letting them go. It has more the esthetic of an old photography, where the details are not important. Important is the emotion, the feeling, the story that you remember. With my new work I will invite the audience to remember… I will have the chance to present some of it at Florence biennale 2017

An interview by Katherine Williams, curator

Not really...I believe one can only be free if released from any tought,

and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com


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Hyunji Lee Lives and works in Phoenix, USA

M

y work is derived from the confusion and distrust about the perceptions of surrounding objects that were engendered by my physical and psychological experiences of displacement. Our perceptions are certainly limited: we see a lot of things everyday, but we sense only part of them, not their entirety. Though a figure definitely exists, we cannot discern its essence, as if we are trapped in a certain mode of viewing. The memories become distorted, and chronological order is broken. I am interested in this distinction and distortion between experience and memory and the way I perceive them in my nomadic situations. After coming to US, I have become acutely self-conscious, almost disembodied, as if I am observing myself. The foreign environment seems to violently pierce though my body and make me feel vulnerable. As I gradually accepted my dislocation, I was able to reconstruct myself by connecting the current and past simultaneously and navigating space within the sense of displacement. My cultural dislocation becomes evident as my way of seeing changes. This work explores the visual and conceptual interventions in cognition and memory through my personal immigrant experiences and stories, including how we see our surroundings, how the images are stored within our memory, and how they change overtime.

Hyunji Lee is inspired by the distinction between experience and memory within the sense of displacement. Her works explore thoughts and emotions generated between "the experiencing self" and "the remembering self." In doing so, she links the personal history of her own and the experience of others by creating a new environment, which is the combination of the true, imagined, and imitated spaces. She strives to evoke the interaction between personal memories and the desire to link personal elements into a shared human experience.

Hyunji Lee

Hyunji Lee earned her MFA from Pennsylvania State University and her BFA from Korea University. She has participated in various exhibitions internationally, including the United States, Belgium, and South Korea. She was a recipient of the 31th Joong-Ang Fine Arts Prize at the Joong-Ang Culture Media Co. and the SongEun Art Award at the Song-Eun Arts and Cultural Foundation in 2009 and a nominee for the Dedalus Art Grant in 2012. She was selected to participate in the New York Foundation for the Arts mentoring program for immigrant artists in 2013 and was awarded the NYF A Van Lier Felloweship. In 2014, she was a recipient of the Contemporary Forum Emerging Artist Grant at the Phoenix Art Museum.


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LandEscape meets

Hyunji Lee An interview by and

, curator , curator

Artist Hyunji Lee 's work a channel of communication between abstraction and reality. Encapsulating a careful attention to composition and balance, she explores the distinction between experience and memory as two different kinds of human consciousness, walking the viewers through an unconventional aesthetic journey in the liminal area in which experience and imagination converge to a unexpected still consistent point of convergence. We are very pleased to introduce our readers to her multifaceted and stimulating artistic production. Hello Hyunji and welcome to LandEscape: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid background and after having earned your B.F.A. from the Korea University in Seoul you moved to the United States to nurture your education with a M.F.A. that you received from the Pennsylvania State University. How did these experiences influence your evolution


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Hyunji Lee


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as an artist? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to art making?

Thank you so much for having me in LandEscpae, and I am very glad to participate. As a culturally displaced artist, I explore how my physical and psychological experiences of displacement affect and reshape memory in my personal nomadic situation. Studying in KU and PennState were a important part of my artistic development. I was trained both practical and theoretical art, which help me to define my artistic perception and express the ways of my investigation. Your approach is very personal and your technique condenses a variety of viewpoints, that you combine together into a coherent balance. We would suggest to our readers to visit http://hyunjilee.com/ in order to get a synoptic view of your work: in the meanwhile, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up? In particular, would you tell our readers something about the evolution of your style? In particular, are your works produced gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

I record my experience in the form of photograph and use the documented images. The images are individual memory cells that create my work. For me, photograph is a testament to time past. I read photographs as information

of my experience and select and edit the images repeatedly according to the flow of consciousness. Through this process, the final image could be interpreted in viewers’ stories. In choosing personal photograph as exemplars, I explore the distance between my memory (my work) and the original object (photograph). I can entertain myself by filling in the holes of my imperfect memory with imagination and provide a personal, creative touch to reality. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected Untitled series interesting works that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your captivating exploration of the distinction between experience and memory as two different kinds of human consciousness is the way you provided the visual results of your analysis with autonomous aesthetics: while walking our readers through the genesis of this body of works, would you shed light on your usual process and set up? In particular, what are your usual sources of inspiration?

After the big moves of my life, the foreign environment seems to violently pierce through my body and makes me feel vulnerable. I become acutely selfconscious as if I am observing myself. As I gradually accepted my dislocation, I was able to reconstruct myself, not by finding


Hyunji Lee

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

the common experience at some level of cultural dislocation; the experience of cultural displacement, living in another language, and being in the position of constantly having to translate myself for others as well as others for myself. To evoke this sense and allow the viewer to experience it, I use disrupted and distorted images that I remembered rather than describing or explaining it for them. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you strive to evoke the interaction between personal memories and the desire to link personal elements into a shared human experience. So we 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?

a new place, but by discovering the hybrid form as a principle of meaningful order within the apparently confusing and contradictory sense of an unfamiliar world. My cultural dislocation becomes evident as my way of seeing changes and I begin to look at surroundings as an interested participant rather than as a spectator. We have a natural network based on

I focus on the distortion between actual experience and memory. Memory is abstracted experience; Even in the hypothetical event that several people share the same experience, the mental imprint of that incident will vary among them, since they will unconsciously single out different elements of the experience to commit to memory. What I want to do is figure out how to get out of my own way sometimes, and


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Hyunji Lee


Hyunji Lee

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

explore a particular outcome of the thoughts/feelings between the experiencing and remembering. In this sense, my own experience is used as a reference point for comparing experiencing self and remembering self. How much importance has for you the aesthetic problem in general? in particular, are you attracted by objects which encapsulate cultural meanings or are you rather interested to the visual nature of the images you capture?

My work is about sharing the experience of transition, which is an experience that everyone is familiar with. I create an introspective journey into my past and present by visualizing to personal situations and memories. What I hope to present to viewers is a sense of my sight between a feeling of the loss for the familiar environment that I left behind and the excitement or anxiety of the new environment in nomadic situations. For me, culture could be the processing of sensory information that guide what information should be attended to and filtered out. The way you to capture non-sharpness with an universal kind of language, suspending the viewers between imagination and reality marks out a considerable part of your production. How would you define

the relationship between abstraction and representation in your practice? In particular, how does reality and a tendency towards abstraction find their balance in your work?

The memories are fragile, precious, fluid, and changing, and I have tried to show them as such. The elusiveness of memory is shown in the mixed layers, blurry and distorted parts of the work. A Viewer could guess the details of each story or understand some aspects of the pieces on an intuitive level. Through a mix of personal and instinctive images, I am trying to achieve a balance between what is seen and understood and what is left to interpretation of the viewer. You allow an open reading, a great multiplicity of meanings: associative possibilities seems to play a crucial role in your pieces. How important is this degree of openness?

My work is an invitation to step inside memory and encompasses inner reflections on subjects that are personal for me and possibly for the viewer. I think the degree of openness allows viewer get to experience some of their own hidden images and memory. We would like to pose some questions


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Hyunji Lee


Land

Hyunji Lee

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

about the balance established by colors and texture: we have really appreciated the vibrancy of thoughtful nuances that saturate your works suggests such a tactile feeling. How did you come about settling on your color palette? And how much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develope a painting’s texture?

Images of my work that are taken in different places where I have lived and visited before still feel timeless to me, but slightly intangible when I transfigure them. Nevertheless, I transform them in an intuitive manner though my final visual composition sometimes remains unclear to me. I cannot visualize the final images but they always remind me of the freefloating memory with no defined space or time in some manner. It may end up resembling a place with no beginning or end, or it may be more like the interweaving of time and space. I am not too sure how to depict that timeless moment. But repeatedly I transfigure those moments into visual images and these images affect almost every aspect of my art and life. Over your career you have exhibited your works in several occasions, including your recent “Defend & Advance” at the National

Immigration Law Center, Los Angeles. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

I do not consider a specific audience, but want to impact on the viewer since my works could be huge different stories for each others. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Hyunji. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

I am working on installations now. I haven’t been to Korea since 2011 and will travel to there next summer. I expect to create new works in Korea.

An interview by and

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LandEscape Art Review // Special Issue // February 2017  
LandEscape Art Review // Special Issue // February 2017  
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