LandEscape Art Review, Special Edition

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LandEscape A r t R e v i e w Anniversary Edition C o n t e m p o r a r y ALEX GILFORD CEINWEN GOBERT DATIS GOLMAKANI ALEXEY ADONIN IRINA IVANOVA WILLIAM RULLER DORO SAHARITA BECKER ROSE MAGEE SAMUEL GOLC Datis Golmakani in his studio, 2021 ART

I’m interested in real time creation using structured improvisational skills –How does the current environment of the drawing and the present individual mindset alter the construction? What arises when a planned idea evolves in real time? What emerges visually and how does the final image reflect the initial ideas? My practice is about the tension and shifts between memory, dreams, and the reality of the inner landscape, and how our perceptions change due to movement between these three. I’m inspired by childhood nostalgia and a fascination with spells, words, and the longing for magic.

Alexey Adonin is a Jerusalem based abstractsurrealist artist. His works have been showcased locally and internationally and are held in private collections around the world. Alexey uses a unique and beautiful technique in which he layers oil paints solely on top of one another to create a mystical, transparent look. Alexey's philosophy stems from the idea that one's reality is made up of what they believe it to be. He uses his art as a platform to express his profound ideas about reality, humanity, and their intertwined behaviors.

The person is born to be an artist and art is a necessity for him. The need to create art has been with me all my life and has manifested itself in various forms. Art is a necessity for me! In my work I imagine sealed moments from my life, from the places where I have lived and everything that has surrounded me. The purpose of my work is to create joyful emotion in people, peace and happiness. One must unload from the hard everyday life when looking at art and creativity to have a positive effect on his senses.

Centered in the eye of the storm is about keeping calm in every situation, even if you are standing in the middle of the great salar de uyuni in Bolivia watching a huge sandstorm is making its way to you... All you can do is staying focused and watch the storm goes by. Every single artwork is a unique piece of my soul –without the right feeling I don’t start to paint. Therefore I regularly use goldleaf to create a precious, shiny look and the colours of nature to mirror my deep love for mother nature. Layer by layer I try to bring positive thoughts on to the canvas.

The primary influences in my life and art are an interest in history and an appreciation for nature. In addition to my work as an artist, I am a Stewardship Volunteer at a Wildlife Refuge and some State Parks. Doing this type of work provides me with an opportunity to physically care for the environment and use my hands to support its future health. When I paint and draw in these natural spaces, directly from life, I engage in a more intimate way. It is much like a naturalist who quietly observes a subject, interprets what is experienced, and makes notations. Personally, I have always gravitated toward historical stories as a way of unearthing origins and tracing a winding path to the present.

Samuel Golc

United Kingdom

The key emotion I wish to convey in my art is a sense of wonder. As a man, I am driven by perennial questions; the Whys of existence. In my professional life, I use curiosity as a tool of the trade. I have been making art for as long as I can remember. I spend my earliest years surrounded by nature in a rural corner of Poland. I was still a child when my family and I moved to a big city. Eventually, I settled in London where I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and Master’s in Art Psychotherapy. Currently, I divide my time between a clinical role and my artistic endeavours. Nature is my chief influence. Through my art, I attempt to capture ephemeral sights and mental states.

SUMMARY
Ceinwen Gobert
C o n t e m p o r a r y A r t R e v i e w
Germany Canada Irina Ivanova
Special Issue
Alexey Adonin Israel
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Bulgaria Alex Gilford USA Doro Saharita Becker

USA

William M. Ruller, Born in Gloversville NY, 1981 received a B.A. in painting and ceramics from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh in 2007. Following his undergraduate degree, Ruller moved to Oregon where he worked as a production potter and ceramics instructor. In 2014 he received is MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Ruller has been exhibited throughout Europe and the United States in group and solo exhibitions. His painting has been featured in Friend of the Artist Volume 12, Whitewall Art, New American Paintings Issues 111, 124 and Studio Visit Magazine Issues 20, 21, 23. His work is in private collections such as Hyatt Andaz Hotel, Savannah College of Art and Design and Museo Riso.

Samuel Golc

lives and works in London, United Kingdom

Rose Magee

lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Alexey Adonin

lives and works in Jerusalem, Israel

William Ruller

lives and works in the United States

Doro Saharita Becker

lives and works in Germany

Irina Ivanova

Rose Magee USA / Germany

My eyes are drawn to contrasts, dramatic lighting and bold colours, oils with their richness and depth are the ultimate medium for this. Colours create atmosphere and the shapes breathe that in, resonating together on a canvas waiting patiently to be experienced. My creative process is sparked by a glimpse, the stolen intimate moment between a couple, the way a street light illuminates the leaves on a tree. The core of my work looks to the essence of the first of the 20th century, the freedom of the unconscious that surrealism and cubism gave birth to. The aim is not to produce a direct translation of reality on the canvas but rather an impression of it, pure and ready for interpretation.

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lives and works in Sofia, Bulgaria

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Iran

In her work, Vytautė Trijonytė examines individual and collective memory revolving around cultural identity. She was born and grew up in Kaunas in Lithuania. Growing up in suburbia formed her initial close and intimate relationship with nature which resembles in her practice.

The interest in photography was cultivated during her teenage years after the death of a grandfather who used to be a professional photographer in Kaunas. He eventually turned into the main inspiration to develop a career as an artist.

Ceinwen Gobert

lives and works in Toronto, Canada

Datis Golmakani

lives and works in Mashhad, Iran

Alex Gilford

lives and works in Detroit, Michigan, USA

162 184 208

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, Miya Ando, Martin Gantman , Krzysztof Kaczmar and Robyn Ellenbogen.

Special Issue
SUMMARY scape Land CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW
Datis Golmakani William Ruller

LandEscape meets

Samuel Golc

The key emotion I wish to convey in my art is a sense of wonder. As a man, I am driven by perennial questions; the Whys of existence. In my professional life, I use curiosity as a tool of the trade.

I have been making art for as long as I can remember. I spend my earliest years surrounded by nature in a rural corner of Poland. I was still a child when my family and I moved to a big city. Eventually, I settled in London where I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and Master’s in Art Psychotherapy. Currently, I divide my time between a clinical role and my artistic endeavours.

Nature is my chief influence. Through my art, I attempt to capture ephemeral sights and mental states. I am intrigued by the mind's ability to generate seemingly seamless experiences from the unceasing flow of sense data, thoughts, memories, and feelings. I draw inspiration from psychology, quantum mechanics, and Kabbalah.

My approach to art is diverse. I engage in painting, photography, drawing, and printmaking. I enjoy experimenting and pushing the boundaries of my practice. For me, art is a language that allows one to express feelings and experiences that transcend what can be described in words. I think that using multiple means to tell a story is more important than following a particular genre or having a recognisable style.

I am enchanted by the alchemy of art. I often grind my paints and inks by hand. This allows me to get familiar with the characters of raw substances and pigments; to both have control and forgo control over my mediums. In my photography, I use self-made optical instruments that allow me to beguile the camera into capturing ambiguous semi-abstract shots. My treatment of photography evokes that of painting as I use various props in much the same way as I would use brushes and colours. My method of fractaloscopy allowed me to achieve a photographic equivalent of cubism.

Hello Samuel and welcome to LandEscape.

Before starting to elaborate about your artistic

production, we would like to invite our readers to visit https://hadashart.wixsite.com/samuelgolc-fine-art in order to get a wide idea about your multifaceted artistic production, and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted

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An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com

background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and Master’s in Art Psychotherapy: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum due to your clinical role as a psychotherapist address the direction of your current artistic research?

Samuel Golc: Hello. Thank you for having me. I’m really grateful for this opportunity.

Training to become an artist was a time of constant creative incitement. This stimulating experience pushed my practice into new and exciting directions that I would never have taken. That being said, I don’t feel those years changed much about my professional identity. Some time ago, I came into possession of a rather flimsy and tattered old drawing that changed hands several times. It was poorly executed, yet its dreamy quality, its combination of concrete elements and vague shapes, and its use of the composition as an invitation for viewer’s projections resonated with my own artistic style and sensitivity. The drawing was by seven-year-old me. I guess I didn’t make myself the kind of artist I am; it was in me all along.

The idea of working with art to help others has a great appeal to me. I have always been fascinated by the human mind. Art therapy presented me with an opportunity to use my scientific and creative leanings in the service of people’s mental well-being. Becoming an art therapist didn’t affect the content of my work. Instead, it changed my attitude and understanding of it. I become aware of the inner life of art as it were. A piece of art created by a client can become a cultural

object or a commercial item, but in most cases, it is made, viewed, and thought about only in the context of therapy. Art therapists also produce art- for clinical purposes. This may serve as a way to explore their own unconscious processes or think visually about their clients. Sometimes, therapists paint, draw, or sculpt together with people they support. Art in art therapy has no rights or wrongs, no need for criticism or applause, and doesn’t need to be aesthetic or accomplished in any way, but it always has a meaning. In art therapy, I found art free from the influence of current trends, the market, and even history. There is something wonderfully primal about it. I imagine that the cavemen didn’t have other reasons for painting animals or making stencils of their hands than the desire to leave their mark and give shape to their thoughts.

Researchers have been investigating the relationship between art and neurology for decades. In his book Inner Vision, neurobiologist Semir Zeki explores the brain’s responses to visual stimuli in the form of artworks. The neurologist Oliver Sachs relates numerous case studies where neurological impairments led artists to form new artistic tastes. Similarly, the link between creativity and mental health enjoys considerable attention in both academia and the art world. Take for instance the practice of posthumously diagnosing famous artists or the Outsider Art movement. All these investigations are highly relevant to my artistic research. My project Meditations, which includes Aleph and The Permanence of Sound, could be considered a crossover between fine art and art-based research.

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This series of paintings and drawings attempt to capture my experience of hypnagogia, or images spontaneously generated by the brain at the onset of sleep and in meditative states. Hypnagogic

hallucinations usually don’t carry any personal meaning. I experience them as a constantly changing melee of geometric forms and phosphenes. From this randomness emerges

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Dragonfly

Dragonfly

self-organising harmony, which bypasses all the workings of the conscious mind. I find these spectral episodes fascinating.

Interestingly, the works in Meditations

reverberate the aesthetics of my abstract photography, which emerged independently.

The body of works that we have selected for

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Samuel Golc

The Great Dream

this special edition of LandEscape and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article has at once captured our attention for the way it unveils the connection between reality —

with recurrent figurative elements, as in the interesting Moonrise, The Great Dream and the diptych Dragonfly — and such dreamlike ambience: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us

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how do you consider the relationship between the real and the imagined playing within your artistic research?

Samuel Golc: When it comes to the philosophy behind my art, I find the distinction between the real and the imagined blurry. More often than not, it is a question of an agreement based on arbitrary assumptions. Psychoanalysis already observed that many truths we hold about ourselves or take from society stem from illusions or, dare I say it, delusions. The scholar Raymond Barglow quotes Freud, who listed three blows to man's self-importance, two dealt by Copernicus and Darwin, and his

own theory of the unconscious, which took away man's charge over his own mental life. Barglow strikes the final punch by claiming that in modern society human subjects may not exist at all. Worse still, this may apply to the entirety of existence. Where the relativity theory robbed space-time of its absolute nature, quantum mechanics and its modern incarnations question the absolute presence of time and space. Naturally, this doesn’t come to us as a complete surprise. Mystics across the ages have always suspected something of that kind. So, how can we make distinctions between the real and the imagined? I don’t have an answer to that. It seems to me rather unsound and arrogant to

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taking the auspices
Blue Sunset

say that reality is as we see it. I would say that meeting life with an open mind and curiosity feels like a healthier position.

It is hard to say how my creative process begins. An idea resembling a finished painting may come to me in a flash. I hold on to it, rotate it in my mind’s eye, add and subtract elements, and play with composition and colours until I get a sense of what the image is about. From there starts the hard part of sketching and making preliminary studies.

In my paintings, I mix figurative elements and abstractions to capture something of what I imagine the flow of consciousness may look like. Some thoughts and ideas gain permanence, while others barely brush our awareness. The fragments of landscapes that I incorporate in my compositions tend to be places I saw either in dream or in waking. Clocks, pots, bicycles, and photographic enlargers that keep popping in my pictures are mostly things that I own and have endowed with symbolic meaning. As is the case with mental objects, their shapes change slightly according to the light and perspective in which they are seen.

We have particularly appreciated the way your works show that vivacious tones are not strictly indispensable to create tension and dynamics. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your artworks and in particular, how do you develop your textures?

Samuel Golc: My choice of techniques depends on the type of effects I wish to achieve in a given piece. For moody, dark, or misty paintings, such as The Great Dream, I

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Samuel Golc
Bridge

usually start by covering the whole canvas with tempera (ultramarine, Indian red, or burnt sienna are my preference). This ground gives a nice ‘toothy’ texture for further layers of oil colour. For lighter, more crisp paintings, I start by blocking dark and light areas with grey and beige tempera, taking care to make shadows thicker than highlights. In some cases, I use watercolours instead.

Hand-grinded oil colours have more fluidity and freshness than manufactured paints. Each pigment retains its characteristics. Thus, yellow ochre tends to be heavy and gluey, while helios red is light and buttery. In some paintings, I mix oil with other media, such as gilding (Taking the Auspices), encaustic (Storm), watercolour and pastel (Projections), or ink (Time). I achieved the broken colours in the sky area of The Blue Sunset by applying a thick coat of blue paint and then dipping it face down in a tank of water with a layer of diluted white oil floating on top; just as I would do when marbling a piece of paper. It was a crazy idea, but just this once, it worked. Another example of an unusual mixed-media piece is Vortex 2. I began by smudging the entire canvas with some tempera-crayons, which I have made previously. I then applied a coat of gesso mixed with powdered graphite. I drew the vortex with metalpoint, this most ethereal of the Old Masters’ drawing tools. As a result, the vortex seems to dissolve in the background which, to me at least, looks like the inside of your eyelids when you face the sun. Occasionally, I use collage to create textures. For example, the support for Aleph is made out of hundreds of flower petals.

Every new project requires an alternation of

style and technique, depending on what emotion or idea it is to convey. The change may be slight or drastic. This is one of the

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honey mushrooms

joys of making things.

Nature is your chief influence, and both your

oil paintings — as Blue Sunset and Storm — and the works from your photographic series, as (s)p[l]ace/s — reflect such important

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Samuel Golc

part of your sources of inspirations. How do your memories due to your earliest years living surrounded by nature in a rural corner

of Poland and your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process?

Samuel Golc: In constructing my images, I

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Drop Symphony

use memories and photographs of places I know. Whenever I get a chance, I take my sketchbook and camera and go recording

things around me; trees, flowers, and clouds. It helps me train my eye. Besides, it is a joy to interact with nature.

A lion’s share of my artistic production is autobiographical. When I was a child, stories and books would spark my visual imagination. Words would conjure up images in my mind’s eye that I just had to transfer onto paper. I was lucky enough to grow up in a place where it was easy to envision characters from my favourite fairy tales in the landscapes around me. Behind the dark orchard, there was a small lake. A little further stood a derelict brick factory worthy of a horror film set. The golden fields and wide pastures just asked to be populated with hobbits, and the dome-like hills carpeted with pine forests would teem with elves. Painting heroic landscapes led me to the discovery of magical realism and surrealism of my adolescence.

I feel most at home in nature. When I can’t stay with it, I keep its memory on canvas. I spent my school years in a big city where I missed the Milky Way’s eternal ribbon of my early childhood like an old friend. Perhaps that’s why I keep painting so many spacescapes.

While hiking in the mountains or forests, I would contemplate my kinship with all living things. The sense of mystery of things fuels my creativity. Naturally, when seeking nature, one is drawn to think about its uncertain future. I don’t explicitly raise any of humanity’s problems in my art, including ecology. However, I think that the concern for what we do to the planet filter into my work.

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Samuel Golc
Pozo de las Calcosas
The Well of Health

You are a versatile artist, and your practice encompasses painting, photography, drawing, and printmaking: what does direct you to such interdisciplinary approach? In particular, are there any experiences that did particularly help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different techniques?

Samuel Golc: I think my attitude to experiment derives from my art education. To learn a technique, you need to try it first, and I never stopped learning. Art history has also shaped my approach. It is not only a tale of changing canons of beauty and the correspondent ideological, political, and social shifts; it is also a history of options available to artists at a given time. Nowadays, when there are heaps of materials to choose from, I don’t think I would do justice to my ideas if I limited myself to a single modality. The diversity of art materials and techniques offers a multitude of ways of saying things. I wish to say many different things in my art.

Becoming an art therapist strengthened my interdisciplinary tendency. I realised that a choice of materials and techniques can say a lot about the artist’s mental make-up. For instance, pens, markers, and pencils are ‘safe’ as they don’t require getting your hands dirty and offer reasonable control. Paints and clay, on the other hand, require a degree of risktaking. For some techniques, you have to be subtle and careful, while in others you need to assail the emerging artwork. Likewise, I choose techniques and materials according to the need of the hour.

In a more abstract sense, my interdisciplinary approach reflects my general attitude to things. In tackling an academic problem, it is often best to borrow from multiple fields of

knowledge, not just your own specialty. Similarly, I am a proponent of pluralism in interpersonal relations.

As you have remarked once, art is for you a language that allows one to express feelings and experiences that transcend what can be described in words. Visual artists from different eras — from Eugène Delacroix, passing through Pablo Picasso, to more recently Fang Lijun — communicated more or less explicit messages in their artworks: how do you consider the relationship between the evocative power of images — even abstract ones — and ''ordinary'' language? Do you think that there's a subtle point of convergence between the structured syntax of words and visual arts?

Samuel Golc: Visual art and language branch out from the same cultural matrix that rests on the bedrock of archetypes. I think art and language complement each other. Ultimately, they produce a very similar affect in the viewer or reader if you consider the gestalt of their experience. An overall sense in a piece of writing, and a feeling in a piece of art, are more than just the sum of their constituents. It is the elements that make up a visual scene and a syntactic structure that sets them apart. I call it the problem of graininess and smoothness. Briefly speaking, language and text are quantised; they possess their own kinds of indivisible atoms. Half a morpheme or quarter of a letter doesn’t carry any meaningful information. The lingual bits form larger molecules that obey the rules of grammar. Thus language, when zoomed into, appears grainy. Yet, this is not the case with pictures since the interplay of lines, shapes, and colours cannot be deconstructed just in the same

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way. Obviously, digital photographs are made out of pixels, while paintings are physical objects with chemical structures, however, the atomism of images plays a minor role in their creation and perception. In other words, a reader arrives at the meaning of a piece of text by taking a series of discrete steps, whereas an art viewer skips right inside a piece of art. One cannot retrace one’s ‘thoughtons’ that led to the visual perception because one’s journey from not-seeing to seeing is too smooth. This resembles Zeno’s ancient paradox about a race between Achilles and a tortoise. If the tortoise is given a head start, Achilles can never overtake it, as he needs first to reach the point from which the tortoise began the race. By the time he arrives there, the tortoise would already have moved ahead. Thus, reasoned Zeno, movement is impossible if time and space can be infinitely divided. Howbeit, in discerning a piece of art, we make a cognitive jump, which is logically permissible.

Perhaps people of the past had a more verbal relationship with art. The American psychologist Julian Jaynes speculated that the parts of the brain responsible for speech may have had more developed counterparts in the right hemisphere of the cerebrum of people of antiquity (in modern humans, the Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas are located in the left, ‘rational’ brain).

The right brain is more involved in symbolic, intuitive, and- yes, you guessed it- artistic sides of life. Did our ancestors hear voices of the world around them- and of their creative interpretations of it? If that is the case, in the

course of our evolutionary and cultural betterment, we silenced those inner voices. All we are left to do now is create, view, and use language to describe art and hope

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we can recover some of our sense of being.

New York City based artist Lydia Dona once underlined the necessity to re-evaluate each

step of the mechanism of art making itself, highlighting the fact that a work of art is a physical manufact, with tactile properties. In your artistic practice you often grind your

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Samuel Golc
Sign

The Eye

paints and inks by hand, in order to get familiar with the characters of raw substances and pigments: how important is for you to transcend the visual dimension of

the materials that you work with?

Moreover, is important for you that your artworks feature clear tracks of your process, or are you more interested in the

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final results, regardless of the process?

Samuel Golc: For me, every step in the creative process affects the next. Without a good drawing, I find making a good

underpainting difficult, and if there are faults in preliminary layers, they will likely show in the final painting.

I think that all the tracks of my process are visible in the finished work because it is but an amalgamation of all the steps I have taken. Actually, for me a piece of art never gets quite finished, rather there comes a point when I decide to stop working on it. Naturally, viewers don’t see all the scars of creative struggles written on the surface of my paintings. I think it makes viewing them more interesting. I would like my audience to be curious about the nature of my pieces as physical objects, not just the messages they sent. My approach to painting is in itself such an inquiry. I didn’t quite understand premodern painting before I tried using handgrinded colours, just as prior to discovering silverpoint and iron gall ink I was baffled by the lightness in the Renaissance artists’ studies and the warmth of tones in the Old Masters’ sketches.

At the start of my career, I was more interested in the finished artifacts. Once again, my art therapy training changed my attitude. The act of artmaking is a ritualised sensory experience that has great therapeutic potential. Becoming an art therapist helped me to rediscover the pleasure of the creative process.

When capturing ephemeral sights and mental states, your artworks invite the viewer to make personal associations. Austrian Art historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the viewers to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the

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The Age of Fire
Noncommutative Pillars Of Creation

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

Samuel Golc: I agree with Gombrich. I find that viewers’ associations and interpretations are crucial in giving a piece of art its meaning. The greater the scope for meaning-making an artwork presents, the more potential for re-evaluation it has. I like art that invites discovery.

For me, the creative process itself is intersubjective. While I paint, I simultaneously assess my creation through my artistic eyes and that of an imagined viewer. Art is a kind of dialogue. Having a theory about the other person’s mind is a prerequisite for any form of conversation.

After a piece of art is ready for viewing, it is the audience’s task to complete it. I don’t expect the viewers to ‘read’ all my symbolism and subtle references. What matters is that the artwork allows me to share an experience with the people who come to witness it. I learn a great deal about my art from the viewers. Take Dragonfly for instance. The teapot on the right-hand side of the painting bears a Chinese symbol fu, which translates as ‘good luck’.

The fu ideogram is traditionally displayed in reverse during New Year celebrations due to a play of words; the Chinese for ‘upside down’ sounds the same as ‘arrives’; thus, upside-down fu signifies wishing of good fortune. Now, I have purposefully composed Dragonfly so that it would visually make sense when hanging upside down. The

various elements in Dragonfly; the cyclists going round in circles, the Mandelbrot fractal, insects, and face emerging from splodges, all point to the tension between the mundane and the extraordinary, determinism and chance, permanence and ephemerality. Knowing this, you may think that I used fu as a visual pun and its cultural significance forms another layer to the story the painting tells. Wrong. I learned the significance of fu from a fellow art therapist who viewed the completed painting.

When Taking the Auspices first saw the light of day, many people naturally concluded that the globe surrounded by the omniumslooking flock of birds referred either to the Earth engulfed by the pandemic or the graphic representation of coronavirus that flooded the media. The problem is that the painting was based on a sketch that I produced before any news of Covid reached us. Nevertheless, the Covid interpretation inspired the title of the work. I felt like an augur of old prophesising disasters from the movements of birds. These ‘artistic premonitions’ happen to me surprisingly often. Is it a result of viewers’ projecting personal interpretations onto images that mean something else entirely or evidence of the collective unconscious at work? Perhaps sheer coincidence? I don’t think these explanations are mutually exclusive.

Another interesting body of works that we would like to introduce to our readers is your Fractaloscopic series, that has captured our eyes for its unique composition of tones and geometry, and that you created without

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the use of any specialist equipment, but through a series of optical devices made from household materials: when walking us through the genesis of such captivating idea, would you tell us how do you consider the relationship between Technology and your creative process? In particular, do you think that Technology could even shape creativity?

Samuel Golc: I think Technology does shape creativity in many different ways. Not only does it equip artists with new mediums and techniques, but it also produces problems that they are bound to respond to. Some of those issues are pertinent, such as people’s alienation in the technology-led era or the effects of interacting with screens on developing brains. Others are more fanciful, like the impending AI world domination. Speaking of which, I don’t advocate demonising technology. I think it’s amazing what we achieved with it, both in terms of scientific discovery and protecting people’s lives and health. Technology makes everyday life easier and more complicated at the same time. Ultimately, it is what we make of it; if we feel threatened by technology, it is because we are a peril to ourselves.

I appreciate digital art and sometimes employ it to create images (as in Noncommutative Landscape, Asymetriade, or Relativity). I use editing software in post-processing my photographs, but it is not the most important part of my workflow. The essence of my image is captured in-camera. I suppose most of the effects created with my optical devices could be achieved in Photoshop. Many of the instruments that I

use have mirrors that allow a single capture to depict the subject from multiple perspectives in a kind of photographic counterpart of Cubism (this is what inspired the name for this technique, the body of work, and the devices themselves). Perhaps the same could be done through some clever use of computer graphics. To me, my method seems simpler, faster, and more straightforward. In the end, I prefer to think with my hands to staring at the screen. The use of DIY equipment is also fundamentally me- you could call it my signature style. As a painter, I also prefer to use self-made materials customised to my needs over manufactured ones. It probably has something to do with my nonconformity. I don’t like starting where others have left.

While I was at art college, I had the privilege to learn the techniques of analogue photography. Seeing pictures coming into focus under this unreal red light or fixing a ground glass of a largeformat camera under a cloak felt almost like partaking in some magic ritual. Darkroom photography presents multiple ways of manipulating images. My pinhole and photogram props were the forerunners of my other optical devices. I asked myself: how could I achieve the same freedom of manipulation with my DSLR? Could I enjoy myself as much using a machine that does most of the work for me? Of course, digital photography presents a much wider repertoire for creative alternations. Where a traditional photographer is constrained to work

Land scape CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW Special Edition
Aleph
Galaxy
Hypnogogia

with the information carried by the light scattered from the subject, Photoshop artists are bound only but their imagination and skill. Having said that, I think that sometimes less is more. Limiting one’s pallet can result in a better picture.

The history of fractaloscopy is a tale of one idea leading to another. Once I made triangular, round, and square fractaloscopes, was there anything to stop me from trying spiral and oval shapes? This experimental process led to many unforeseen successes and even more blind alleys. My main inspiration was photography itself- the way it extended the reach of the human eye. Telescopes have taken us to the far reaches of space, while microscopes revealed the minute worlds beneath our feet. Long and short exposures, infrared and ultraviolet have exposed us to entirely new realms. I was influenced by the exotic aesthetics of electrophotography and holographs. Since making a giant hologram was beyond my technical and financial means, I settled to make something comparable with the stuff I found lying around. Perhaps, due to its ad hoc nature, the idea was even more original than building a hologram.

In a controversial quote, German photographer Thomas Ruff stated that ''nowadays you don't have to paint to be an artist: you can photography in a realistic way". Provocatively, the German photographer highlighted the short circuit between the act of looking and that of thinking critically about images: how do you consider the role of photography in our contemporary age, constantly saturated by ubiquitous images?

Samuel Golc: I suppose it all depends on what we mean by art and artist. The romantic notion of art as a masterpiece and artist as a representative of humanity, blessed with talents and skills beyond comprehension, is tempting but immaterial in the modern world. With the growth of the population and cultural shifts it brings, I don’t believe we will see any future VanGoghs and Picassos. They will get lost in the crowd, together with potential Einsteins, or get too numerous to ever reach the height of giants. To borrow a phrase from Barthes, the author is dead. Or is he?

Teenagers taking selfies on their phones or children scribbling in their notebooks are not bestowed with the title of artists. However, what I would ask is not how many years the person behind the lens spent in an art school or how likely their picture is to be hanged on a gallery wall; the question I would ask is what story does their image tell and what intention lies behind its creation. Art psychotherapy taught me that a selfie or a scribble could be as rich in meaning for its author and intended audience as Mona Lisa and Guernica is for the public. I don’t know if human experience and emotions are enough to produce art and artists. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that there is a potential for the inner artist in everyone, but this is just an exercise in semantics.

Without a doubt, we are constantly saturated by ubiquitous images that lack both story and intentionality. Whether they be taken by a Modern Master or a man in the street, to me, they are but the visual equivalent of white noise.

Over the years your artworks have been

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showcased in a number of occasions, including your Dreams and Dreaming exhibition at the Sharp Art Gallery, London: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? By the way,

as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to online platforms — as Instagram — increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

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The Permanence Of Sound
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Fractaloscopy

Samuel Golc: Obviously, different gallery spaces and platforms for viewing art attract different audiences. I think that my work is versatile and polysemous enough to sit comfortably on a gallery’s white wall and in more informal settings. For example, the (s)p[l]ace/s project includes many urban captures that affiliate with street art. Some of my drawings and paintings were found to fit the brief for a short indie film about a mentally unbalanced artist (Let Me In, theCANDOproduction). A number of them were used for the scenery.

I enjoy the fact that my art can be reached by different kinds of art lovers. The example of the Dreams and Dreaming show at the Sharp Art Gallery is an interesting one. The gallery is connected to the NHS Mental Health service. Many of the exhibiting artists are service-users. It would be an exciting opportunity to form a relationship with the audience for any art psychotherapist. I think that a sense of shared experience and empathy is required for any form of meaningful conversation. Art should make us feel that our experience of life is not limited to our evanescent being; it is experienced by others and will outlive each and every one of us living today. Moreover, the exchange with the viewers doesn’t have to be only about the work being shown but can also evoke deeper philosophical, social, and political issues. Art therapists often exhibit their work to promote their ideas and profession.

Nowadays, much of art viewing is done online. Accessing art with a click of a button is no doubt convenient, but takes away much of the experience. Looking and a bunch of pixels is not the same as interacting with a

physical object. Online platforms make viewing art a rather solitary affair; something it was never meant to be. That being said, I don’t think any of us can turn the hands on a clock. Art now lives online, along with most of humanity’s cultural heritage. To unplug it is all but impossible, so we could just as well make the best of this situation. Fortunately, physical art spaces still exist. I hope that we’ll maintain a balance between using them and taking advantage of images accessible by the computer. I too share my art on the internet through my website, social networks such as Instagram ( ), as well as platforms and marketplaces, like 500px, , and .

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

Samuel Golc: Well, there is a new fractaloscope on its way. I am also looking into ways of bringing my painting and photography together. One medium which I haven’t yet tried is screen printing. It combines the subtlety and freedom of hand drawing with the alchemy of darkroom photography. I think it has the potential to become a new playground for my artistic experiments.

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An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com

LandEscape meets

Rose Magee

My eyes are drawn to contrasts, dramatic lighting and bold colours, oils with their richness and depth are the ultimate medium for this. Colours create atmosphere and the shapes breathe that in, resonating together on a canvas waiting patiently to be experienced. My creative process is sparked by a glimpse, the stolen intimate moment between a couple, the way a street light illuminates the leaves on a tree. The core of my work looks to the essence of the first of the 20th century, the freedom of the unconscious that surrealism and cubism gave birth to. The aim is not to produce a direct translation of reality on the canvas but rather an impression of it, pure and ready for interpretation.

Hello Rose and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.rosemagee.com in order to get a wide idea about your mulifaceted artistic production, and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. You have a solid formal training: after your studies in Art

and Design, at Worcestershire college, UK, you started your careeras a Tattoo artist and you later decided to retrain in the conservation of cultural heritage, nurturing your education with a Bachelor of Restoration and Conservation, at HTW Berlin: how did those formative years — as well as your work as a tattooist — influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, are there any experiences that did particularly help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different techniques and media?

Rose Magee: Firstly, thank you for

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An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com Lives and works in Berlin, Germany
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presenting my work in your magazine, I am extremely thrilled by the opportunity. I think my time in the Art and Design course showed me what I did not want which is why I did not complete the study. It felt convoluted and more about the way we speak about art rather than the art itself. From tattooing I took my love of clean clear colours and sharp lines.

Creating a tattoo design and working on a painting commission are also very similar, in both scenarios you are working under specifics whilst trying to find the balance

between what the client wants and what you think as an artist works.

Later the restoration degree introduced me to all the possibilities there are with organic and inorganic materials as well as working with a large range of tools which is proving invaluable in the experiments with different waste materials to create sustainable sculptures.

The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of LandEscape has at once impressed us for the way it captures the

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Mountainous Silk A smouldering nightstand

ephemeral of daily experience inviting the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop the initial ideas for your artworks? do you create your works intuitivelly, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

Rose Magee: Each morning I try to take the time to make a slight detour on my way to the studio, so I can walk through the woods. I find this time perfect to think,

I just let my mind run and this is normally when I come up with most of my designs.

Of course sometimes I will have a rough idea and as I try to implement it something better or more realistic occurs. I think I am naturally too impatient to sit and plan a sculpture or painting meticulously out.

The core of your work looks to the essence of the first of the 20th century, the freedom of the unconscious that surrealism and cubism gave birth to. Your artworks are marked out with such sapient combination between

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Uncomfortable Studio at Night
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of Grief
Colours
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rigorous sense of geometry — as in the interesting diptych Colours of Grief— and dramatic lighting and bold colours, that provide your works with unique aesthetic identityand that draw the viewers to a state of mind where the categories of time and space become suspended. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your artworkd and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such unique results?

Rose Magee: If I had to assess my own psychological tendencies I would say I tend towards optimism, in particular a nihilistic

optimism. This is possibly why I choose bright colours over muted ones. One of the paintings I am most happy with is dying tulips from 2016, the colours are bright and yet it shows flowers dying.

It is not a sad piece by any means and I find the thought that life has a perfect cycle of birth and death extremely comforting. Something about geometric forms also comforts me much like distorted perspectives and surreal situations. To express the anxiety I feel about not being able to be hyper productive during Berlin’s

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lockdowns I painted cacti growing out of beds and armchairs. The quarantine room series has tried to portray the isolated inspiration one can find if they look hard enough.

Your subjects often include domestic environments, and we really appreciate your ability to capture the aesthetics of the ephemeral from daily experience: how do you select such locations and what does you appeal of ordinary environment? In particular, how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?

Rose Magee: I am especially interested in the beauty of the mundane, how a shadow falls or the sunlight reflects. I think what I like so much is that it doesn't try to be anything showy, it's effortless and often overlooked.

In our modern lives we normally don't take the time to really look at the things around us and for me there's something peaceful, even luxurious about taking the time to look at the things I take for granted. The painting ‘English countryside’ is a manifestation of homesickness during lockdown, one wall disappears to show an imagined english scene.

With elements sapiently selected from the ordinary, your Uncomfortable triptych features powerful narrative drive: how do you consider the role of symbols and evokative elements playing within your artistic process?

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Rose Magee: Physical manifestations of emotions are an important part of the symbology in my work, often we find it difficult to express ourselves or it can be difficult to understand someone.

The cacti in this series represent the uncomfortable feeling we get when we are forced to stay home. We feel like we need to be constantly proactive and producing but during lockdowns this was often unrealistic. I wanted to portray that soft furnishings don't result in relaxation, being comfortable has to come from our mental state.

We have particularly appreciated the way your installation Hanukiah achieves the difficult task of expanding our traditional living space, turning it into a large-scale, panoramic vision that provides the viewers with such an immersive visual experience: how do the dimensions of your artworks affect your workflow?

Rose Magee: This was my largest installation to date and adapting to the space was initially intimidating, additionally I wanted to create a non traditional Hanukiah. I am happy with the end result and would definitely work on this scale again.

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, the aim of your artistic practice is not to produce a direct translation of reality

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on the canvas but rather an impression of it, pure and ready for interpretation: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In

particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

Rose Magee: Very open, if anything I would like the viewers interpretation to

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be limitless. When working on an artwork I have an initial intention but I really welcome people to give their own narrative to my works.

You often include unconventional materials, to pursue such unique tactile identity, as in your interesting I Want To Touch It and Hidden: how important is for you to highlight the fact that your artworks are

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characterized by remarkable tactile feel?

Rose Magee: Every piece of my art has its own unique conception. Generally the materials themselves initiate the thought and start the creative process, with I Want to Touch it I fell in love with the reflective quality of the Cds and wanted to create something fluid from them.

Hidden uses strips of paper collected from print shops here in Berlin and I wanted to create a piece where the final stage of production in this case paper, cradles the raw material, saplings.

It's important to mention that in the past year you have tried to be more conscious of climate change as a subject matter and practising better consumption by using repurposed materials. New York City based photographer and sculptor Zoe Leonard once stated, "the objects that we leave behind hold the marks and the sign of our use: like archeological findings, they reveal so much about us". We’d love to ask you about the qualities of the materials that you include — or that you plan to include — in your artworks: in particular, how important is for you to use found and recycled materials?

Rose Magee: Knowing that the materials have a second lease at life, aren't filling landfill sites and possibly serving an educational purpose to children make where I source the materials important to

me. In some cases it might be easier to buy brand new materials but in doing so they will lose most of their purpose. I also enjoy the challenge of creating something new from something already existing.

In my studies we focused on archaeological objects, materials that served a purpose or things that we associate with passion are of extreme interest to me. I am currently working on a project that involves moulding bird feeders from vinyl records, I love the thickness and quality of the vinyl. I also love the thought that someone collected these and had enjoyable moments with them.

I often buy these things from charity shops or second hand places so I enjoy the thought that in a small way my money is helping these small shops stay open.

Visual artists from different eras — from Eugène Delacroix, passing through Pablo Picasso, to more recently Fang Lijun and Thomas Hirschhorn — use to communicate more or less explicit messages in their artworks. As an artist particularly passionate about creating space for dialogue around difficult topics such as mental health issues, climate change and antisemitism, do you think that artists can raise awareness to an evergrowing audience on topical issues that affect our everchanging society?

In particular, does your artistic research

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respond to a particular cultural moment?

Rose Magee: Yes I believe art is a powerful means to address these topics, especially with social media, art has become more accessible without the restrictions of galleries.

Visual representations transcend the boundaries of language, in regards to the fact they can often be universally understood. I think I could summarize the aim of my art is tolerance and responsibility. Tolerance for different faiths, the natural world and each other, responsibility for how we act on these topics.

Over the years your work has been shown in independent galleries in Malta, Berlin and Montenegro as well as pop up exhibitions in Bonn and London: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? By the way, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces — to street and especially to online platforms as Instagram https://www.instagram.com/rosa.magee — increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

Rose Magee: A couple of years ago I was too shy to show anyone my paintings, after a long time I learned to accept not everyone will like my work and that's actually a good thing. If it was liked by everyone it would lack depth. So although

I love feedback and seeing how people react to my work I've lost the need to please, I am extremely critical of my own work and that's the only person’s opinion that I really need to live with.

As an artist at the beginning of their career I am financially limited by how much I can travel so I embrace the benefits that are brought about by exhibiting on online platforms.

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

Rose Magee: I'm currently working on a bird-feeder project where using vinyl records I mould them into small houselike shapes able to hold bird feed. I am them leaving them around Berlin with a note attached inviting people to take them home and use them. My aim is to encourage the public into looking at waste materials in a different way as well as promoting more interaction with our local nature.

An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com

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Rose Magee

LandEscape meets

Alexey Adonin

Alexey Adonin is a Jerusalem based abstract-surrealist artist. His works have been showcased locally and internationally and are held in private collections around the world. Alexey uses a unique and beautiful technique in which he layers oil paints solely on top of one another to create a mystical, transparent look. Alexey's philosophy stems from the idea that one's reality is made up of what they believe it to be. He uses his art as a platform to express his profound ideas about reality, humanity, and their intertwined behaviors.

Thanks so much for your warm welcome!

Hello Alexey and welcome to LandEscape.

Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.alexeyadoninart.com in order to get a wide idea about your mulifaceted artistic production, and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training, and after having graduated from the Glebov State Art College in Minsk, you moved from Belarus to Israel, where you are currently settled: how do those formative years at the College help you to develop your technical skills as well as your creativity?

During the USSR's historical events, in the early 90s, my family and I decided to leave for Israel. Those were hard times. People were afraid for their future. Fortunately, I was always busy with my own art world, which seemed to exist separately from all that turmoil and helped me to go through it. As I always stayed away from any political movements that elaborate into a huge mass of people in one place and with one (often crazy) idea, it allowed me to prioritize acquiring artistic skills. In that respect, studying at the college helped me to develop my artistic skills and gave me a large practical base that I appreciate much till today. Classical education has played an important role in the development of my artistic taste. I

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An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com
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Psychedelic Forest, oil on canvas, (39.4x31.5in), 2020

love being able to experiment, not to the detriment of basic artistic laws.

Intuition is the basis of your artistic practice, and as you remarked in your artist's statement, at the initial stage you approach your work without preconception, allowing spontaneous things to happen at the very first: how do you consider the creative role of randomness and improvisation playing within your approach?

Intuition remains the basis of my practice for a long time now. In my recent experiments, I elaborate a neater approach, yet, I don't think I ever gave it up completely. It is mainly because spontaneousness allows me to recognize different states within myself and transforms the most interesting of them onto canvas in real-time. Of course, I like the process of searching itself, toobringing fleeting thoughts to the lightexperimenting and mixing things. I often use sketches in basic forms, without color whatsoever, which allow me more controlled exploration of the canvas. I don't know in what direction it will go. My process is largely-intuitive - a voyage of discovery - this is how I like it.

You work with unique palette, often marked out with delicate, sometimes even ethereal nuances, that provides your artworks with such oneiric taste, transposing further figurative elements — as in the interesting Ancient Dreams and Sacred Portal — to the dreamlike dimension. Could you tell us something about your choice of colours? In particular, how did you come up to elaborate the distinguishable transparent look that characterizes your works?

The mysterious power of color works on many levels as a sensory activating experience. This is one of the many components that link the viewer to a multidimensional interwoven world that the artist longs to convey. Obviously, every artist has his unique sense of color, which allows him to create his inner world on canvas. It is expressed in subtle nuances that reflect his personality. My work with color is very personal and intimate too. I always create through the prism of my own vision and tell about the world, which I see and deeply feel. To underline that experience, I use a distinctive and beautiful technique: I layer oil paints solely on top of one another to create a mystical, transparent look - tapping into a uniquely symbiotic relationship between color and form.

On a philosophical level, an important aspect if your artistic practice concerns the notions of preexisting ideas, knowledge, and beliefs present in mind, something that he is born with rather than something he has learned through experience: when drawing inspiration from your inner world, do you ever happen to re-elaborate memories or references to your daily life? Do you think that the realm of imagination is completely separate from ordinary life, or do you think that ordinary life can influence imagination?

I do think there is something that makes every each of us unique. We do not come to this world completely blanked. We have definitely been "programmed" and possessed knowledge and ideas before we took this mortal shape. Sometimes these "notions of preexisting ideas" call us, and then the heart must follow the horizon's

Alexey Adonin scape Land CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

point and follow this magnetic pull and drive towards beyond. In my view, it what’s makes us alive and is a constant impetus for our life.

We are all humans and our minds are always busy and always re-elaborating something whether we want it or not. I'm not an exception. My mind uses every available information, making my existence on Earth better or what my mind consider it "better." Imagination is a part of the mind and has evolved under external and internal factors. However is only a tool of mind though' it mighty and handily one. Lately, I am increasingly inclined to believe that we are merely observers of the mind's thought processes, but the mind itself is firmly attached to matter. Accordingly, if imagination is a part of the mind, it cannot work separately from reality. So that's it.

Your artworks feature such captivating sense of geometry: in particular, spheres are quite recurrent, not only in Existential Spheres, but also in Enigmatic Incarnation and in Prana. Moreover, the way you play around with perspective is really intriguing, and we really appreciate the way it challenges the viewers' perception, reminding us of Giorgio De Chirico's works: would you tell us something about the composition of your artworks? In particular, do spheres play any role on a symbolic and metaphysical level?

I've been always obsessed with spheres. There is something in its shape that attracts me - so mysterious and straightforward at the same time. Maybe it because it is a universal shape that symbolizes big things like planets and also very tiny ones like molecules and atoms, to name a few. The

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Alexey Adonin Existential Spheres, oil on canvas (31.5x39.4in), 2019
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Prana, oil on canvas, 31.5x39.4in,2019

sphere is a perfect shape that gives a spacious feel and helps me create a 3Dimensional space in my artwork. I follow the natural perspective path with a clear center point in each painting around which every element revolves and impels from. Shapes, lines, and color blocks - everything works together to create a unique atmosphere. The kind that allows you to plunge into non-verbal contemplation by connecting your imagination and critical thinking.

Some of the works from your recent Beyond The Consequence Of Time series feature large minimalistic backgrounds — as MamaSubstrata, Man On The Beach and Walking On Yellow — that seem to detach the center of the canvas from the background: would you tell us something about this interesting aspect of your works?

As I wanted to make painting more laconic and neater, at some point, I felt the need to rid of minor elements, leaving only the most "precious" ones. I also felt the minimalistic background could have an exciting impact on the composition. This became the main tendentious of some of my recent pieces. At first, I ultimately make the background, and then I construct the center element using the prepared sketch. I am working inside its borders only. There are no other differences from my other work except mentioned above. But I think it may have an opportunity to develop a new direction in my creativity.

Your artworks often feature short titles, that often - as in Chernobyl - convey subtle hints while maintaining the element of ambiguity: how do you go about naming your work ? In

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Something To Remember oil on canvas, (71.3x99.3cm), 2020
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Enigmatic Incarnation oil on canvas, (100x80cm), 2020

particular, is important for you to tell something able to walk the viewers through their visual experience?

There is a saying, "Brevity is the soul of wit." It's why I enjoy the short, not too straight titles, especially since some works

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Winter Garden, oil on canvas, (90x90cm), 2019

do not provide an obvious interpretation. I think the title aims not just to tell what is going on here but also to express emotions

present in the artist's mind while creating. It should arouse healthy curiosity. I'm counting on viewers who have the patience

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New Age oil on canvas, (90x90cm), 2018

and self-discipline to stay attentive and can draw their own conclusions.

After all, there are many different ways one

could see the same thing.

Over the centuries art has been used as a platform — sometimes even as a tool —not

Elaine
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Solace In Solitude oil on canvas, (90x90cm) 2018 Egregore oil on canvas, 70x100cm (27.6x39.4in), 2016.

Objects In A State Of Consciousness oil on canvas, (90x90cm) 2018

only to express ideas, but also to communicate actual messages: do you think that Art could shed new light specific themes, raising greater awareness on topical

issues that affect our society?

I like to think of art more in terms of philosophy. In my view, these two

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Chernobyl, oil on canvas, 90x90cm, 2019

concepts are inseparable. They both explore and reflects - that's all art needs to do. We don't have to invent additional art

usage; otherwise, it will lose its timelessness and enigma and become a mundane, banally-political message about

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Alexey Adonin
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Man On The Beach oil on canvas, (100x80cm), 2021

society's issues. Art has the most crucial ability to heal from humanity's most terrible disease - fossilization, callousness. I will say it with a quote from "Stalker" (my all-time favorite Tarkovsky's movie): "When a person is born, he is weak and flexible, and when he dies, he is strong and callous. When a tree grows, it is tender and flexible, and when it is dry and tough, it dies. Callousness and strength are companions of death. Weakness and flexibility - express the freshness of being."

You are an established artist: your works have also been acquired by notable private collections worldwide and over your long career you have participated to a number of international exhibitions, including five solos, as your recent retrospective Beyond The Consequence of Time, at the Artios Gallery, New York, USA: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? By the way, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to online platforms — as Instagram https://www.instagram.com/otherworldlydr eam — increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

My achievements wouldn't be possible without my family and friends, who have supported me all these years in my art research. Thank you all!

The feedback of the audience is critical to me. In that regard, online presence allows me to meet various people from various backgrounds. Opinions may be different, but an interest itself in my art always inspires me. I was fortunate to communicate with some of them directly, and one of my favorite

thing I was told is that my art touches something subtle in the soul, and the feeling of enjoyment replays and resonates in their mind long after.

So, obviously, online platforms are excellent tools for connectivity and publicity. It may sound like a cliché, but you still have to work hard to be noticednothing comes easy. It may help if you will keep in mind that your art is unique, and there is no one like you.

We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Alexey. Where do you see your work going in the future? Any new direction you feel you might like to take your art?

It's my pleasure. I've really enjoyed answering such interesting questions. Thank you!

I've gotten interested in pure surrealistic art lately. So gradually, I started moving away from randomness. I still appreciate my abstract side and want to keep it but with more excellent selectivity.

It's been curious to appear with a new style that's really different from my more oneiric one and get feedback. I was pleased to know that audience love it. So, I may have a chance to surprise with something new in the future.

An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com

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LandEscape meets

William Ruller

William M. Ruller, Born in Gloversville NY, 1981 received a B.A. in painting and ceramics from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh in 2007. Following his undergraduate degree, Ruller moved to Oregon where he worked as a production potter and ceramics instructor. In 2014 he received is MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Ruller has been exhibited throughout Europe and the United States in group and solo exhibitions. His painting has been featured in Friend of the Artist Volume 12, Whitewall Art, New American Paintings Issues 111, 124 and Studio Visit Magazine Issues 20, 21, 23. His work is in private collections such as Hyatt Andaz Hotel, Savannah College of Art and Design and Museo Riso.

The abandoned mills and tanneries of my youth and the dilapidated areas of metropolitan and rural sites, with its rust grey tones inform the visual and aesthetic language present in my work. These residual sites serve as the foundation for the work, which allows for a reinterpretation of the space into abstracted images.

landescape@europe.com

Hello William and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://williamruller.com in order to get a wide idea about your mulifaceted artistic production, and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. You have a solid formal training: after having earned your BA in Painting/Ceramics from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, you nurtured your education with an MFA in Painting, that you received from the Savannah College of Art and Design: how did those

formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum address the direction of your current artistic research on the theme of landscape?

William Ruller: Thank you very much for including me in this issue, it’s an honor to be able to discuss my work with you. Before attending SUNY Plattsburgh, I want to Fulton Montgomery Community College. There I was taught by two incredible teachers, Carl Sedon and Joel Chapin. They both introduced me to the world of painting. Which to be honest I had no idea existed. I didn’t know at the time that there were even artists alive, I really only knew of Picasso and Van Gough. At Plattsburgh I learned how to commit myself to the studio. To really treat it as a job, and rigorously keep to working on my

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practice, whether it be painting or ceramics. After my BA I was smart enough to take a about 5 years before going after my MFA. During that time, I learned to work a full time while still working as an artist. That taught me to really value my time when I was in graduate school at SCAD. When I was pursuing my MFA I really focused on my career. I cared very deeply what my faculty thought during critiques but I tried to treat my time there as a residency. Networking and trying to show as often as I could. I had nothing but time and a studio so I really made the most of it, I hope.

At my time in graduate school I decided that attempting to make work that was not personal for me just fell flat. At that point I looked at the place I come from Gloversville, NY and decided to make work about that. I think for a long time I ran from the influence of the postindustrial landscape that I grew up in. Around 2011 I just decided to run at it instead. And at this point I shifted to working predominantly on landscapes. Where I grew up, the area around Fulton County NY, really imbued itself upon me. It is not that the area is especially amazing or horrible, it’s very middle of the road. But there was a shift that occurred in the mid-late 80’s where stopped being what it was in my youth to what it would eventually become in my adulthood. My interest in creating works that live within that landscape really come out of necessity to remember. The city itself was like a friend growing up for me so all the work I create, that has that influence visually from that place, act like requiems for it.

The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of LandEscape has at once impressed us for the way it invites the viewers to explore the relationship between reality and abstraction within the theme of landscape: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us what did

lead you to shift your focus from industrial areas to the rural settings of the Luberon Valley in southern France?

William Ruller: My process has changed a lot in the past year and a half. I have a two-yearold son, so my studio time has to not be wasted. I generally work on multiple pieces simultaneously so that there is if any issues of being stuck on a piece occurs, I can just shift to something else. I try my best to be practical with everything I do, so working on multiple pieces gives me the ability to use paint that has been mixed for other pieces in a second one. The same will go with a particular idea, or feeling or constructed space. This helps to build an overall narrative within a body of work. It also helps me to build an idea out. Usually I know somewhat where a painting might be heading, with what has originally sketched out, but that changes usually halfway through. Somewhere near the point where I think the painting is totally lost and I should just start over. Then suddenly out of seemingly nowhere things will start to click in one piece which rolls into the next and so on, like a set of dominoes.

In 2016 I had the chance to teach for the Savannah College of Art and Design’s campus in Lacoste, France. I year later I participated in a residency program that SCAD has built for its alumni. And at that point the landscape of southern France had sunk its teeth into me. Look at a place with ruins that predate Europeans colonizing the country I come from just blew my mind. And I wanted to try and push myself into trying to place what I saw in the universe I know how to make in a language that I wasn’t sure I could speak.

So that to me was a push to take me out of my comfort zone and really make me explore something totally unknown to me. But in

William Ruller scape Land CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

deeper inspection I realized that the themes of both industrial areas of north eastern NY and the Luberon Valley in southern France are very much the same. “humans make their mark and time and nature slowly erode it.” Which to me is where really beauty is. The truly ephemeral qualities of existence. It’s what really connects all my work, my work will eventually be gone, I will be gone and there is a good chance that the landscapes that I have seen will still be there. Mostly likely different, but still there.

Your artworks are marked out with such sapient combination between rigorous sense of geometry — as in the interesting Under Our Knives and Leatherstocking — and careful choice of tones, that provide your works with such unique aesthetic identity: do you create your works intuitivelly, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

William Ruller: It’s really a combination of all three. I usually lay out a base drawing that helps me get started. Some works stick to the original lay out but for others it can change completely in the middle of the process. Usually at the end of a work I go back into structural elements that I put down in the beginning to pull out areas that I felt would extenuate what I created.

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, the visual and aesthetic language present in your work is informed by the abandoned mills and tanneries of your youth and the dilapidated areas of metropolitan and rural sites: how do you consider the role of memory playing within your work as an artist? And how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?

William Ruller: To me memory is the foundation of what I do. I feel that I cannot really speak to experiences that are outside of my own. Which is why I generally do not try to paint anything that is overtly political or social. My childhood was really the thing that made my understanding of beauty.

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As I am sure most people that come from the rust belt feel. The idea of an area that is really falling in on itself is what you know to be normal. If I was born and raised someplace else, I would make different work.

At this point in my life I don’t think that what happens now changes my aesthetic. But I am drawn to things that are in line with what I find beautiful. Most of my days revolve around my son so to be honest, playing with cars or

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reading a book about a bear on Christmas morning I am sure are floating in my head but not outwardly in my work.

My most recent work has really been looking

at personal memories of mine with my father who recently passed away. I am trying to capture either actual memories of experiences with him, or ones that in my childhood I have created into something

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different than what actually happened. These works that I have done in 2021 have really been some of the most personal works that I have done in years.

Your artistic practice is marked out with sapient reinterpretation of the space into abstracted images: your artworks seem to invite the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

William Ruller: I am really interested in how people interpret what they view in my work. At some points I am not fully aware of what is there when the painting is done. So sometimes the views interpretation is clearer than my own. And I don’t like works myself that give a direct line that the viewer is to follow.

So, I like giving people room to figure things out on their own. I can only speak to what I know is in the work. In works like Toto or even The Space to Breath, I tried to create space and imagery that, although specific to me was somewhat universal. That way there seems to be a hint of a narrative with a combination of symbolism that strikes at the collective psyche.

We have appreciated the delicate and thoughtful nuances that marks out your artworks, and that in Frontiers draw the viewers to a state of mind where the concepts of time and space become suspended. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your paintings and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such unique results?

William Ruller: Most of the time my mental

state in the studio fluctuates from a slight melancholy to somewhat of a mindlessness. I have, which I am sure most artist go through, these swaths of time where my mind is just in it and there really is not any real thought or feeling just this kind of void. In a way like what

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meditation I believe must be like.

Most of my works have a number of very thin layers that slowly build to the finished piece. I use a very thinned down oil paint that is brushed on then manipulated with a rubber

squeegee. I also use large pieces of plastic that I place onto the works while the paint is wet to pull areas up. This creates these frostlike patterns within the paint, which are then layered onto. This way these very subtle, nuanced areas of the painting begin to come

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out. Once the painting is really done, I usually add a layer of very thinly ground down clay dust. There is a reaction that occurs, due to the thinner and linseed oil that creates a vail over the work that accents the sections is not on.

Your artworks, and more specifically Rosemary and Limbo, feature unique combination with dreamlike ambience and reference to real places. Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from

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within the head than from what's out there in front of us, how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production?

William Ruller: Most of all the imagery in my work is strictly from memory. I usually work

off a sketch but even the sketch is partly from memory. I don’t believe that the purpose of painting is to show the viewer what a photo can give you. It has to be something more. Even our most vivid memories have alterations in them that fit the narrative of our lives. Like speaking to someone about a shared experience, the both of you have two separate memories of the same event. I think that’s the beauty of art in general. It is something that calls us from a place that’s unknown and known something that is tangible and yet just out of reach.

Year of Silence and Anniversary of an Uninteresting Even have reminded us the concept of non-place, elaborated by French anthropologist Marc Augé: when walking our readers through the genesis of such stimulating paintings, would you tell us how do you specifically select the locations that inspire your artworks?

William Ruller: For me inspiration comes from every landscape in front of me. And luckily through the course of my life I have gotten to see quite a few. I then can take aspects of someplace outside of Los Angeles in the US and meld it with a landscape near Palermo, Sicily. I think when I am thinking about a specific place that would make for an interesting painting, I really focus on the emotion I had at the moment I was in that landscape. From there I try and use the landscape as the same emotional catalyst to present the viewer with something that can touch them or have them recognize the place, even without ever actually being there.

You are an established artist: your work is in private collections such as Hyatt Andaz Hotel, Savannah College of Art and Design and Museo Risoover. Over the years you participated to a number of exhibitions, including fifteen solos:

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how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? By the way, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces

— to street and especially to online platforms as Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/williamruller —

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

William Ruller: The audience never really plays

that much of a role to me. I enjoy sitting back, watching and listening to people at openings to see what they react to and how

Land scape CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW Special Edition
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William Ruller
Land scape CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW Special Edition

the show feels to them. I always want to make work that effects people in some way either good or bad I believe every creative person wants a reaction. The worst is when people simply dismiss what you’ve done. In the past year with Covid-19 my interaction with the audience has stopped almost completely. As of recent I have taken the idea of social media like Instagram more seriously. But I personally feel like it’s a double-edged sword. I enjoy the fact that I can see work from anywhere in the world and I can stay up to date with what my contemporaries are doing. But the constant barrage of images and the need to get X

amount of likes really bothers me. Seeing platforms on Instagram, of which I have taken part of some of them, that you pay for exposure is really an ugly beast. I feel like it brings out aspects of art world that are the worst kind. And for someone like myself that came up in a time when social media was not a thing, it’s a weird thing to try to expand your audience with constantly showing work as it evolves in your studio. It used to be that no one really knew what was going on in your studio until you showed it, now you can see work evolve over time. Which again is really exciting and casts some form of fear in me.

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

William Ruller: I have really enjoyed our conversation also and I want to thank you for including me in this issue. Your questions are very well thought out and made me think a lot about my work, which being alone in the studio, one doesn’t get to do that often. At the moment I am working on a new series of paintings that will be accompanied by a series of 70 pieces of pottery that will hold branches that have been tinted a red ochre that is common in the area of France that I currently live in. It somewhat of a departure for me since I am usually not creating a body of work where both pottery and paintings fully coexist and feed off each other, so I am really excited about it.

An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com

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Photos by Elise Hamon Ruller

LandEscape meets

Doro Saharita Becker

This painting is about keeping calm in every situation, even if you are standing in the middle of the great salar de uyuni in Bolivia watching a huge sandstorm is making its way to you... All you can do is staying focused and watch the storm goes by.

Hello Doro Saharita and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.dorosaharita.com in order to get a wide idea about your mulifaceted artistic production, and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. Are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your long, adventurous and eventful stays abroad fuel your creative process?

Doro Saharita Becker: As you mentioned, my art is beeing strongly influenced by many individual long-term-travels all around the globe.

Especially the People from all the different nations and cultures with all their colourful forms of lifestyle, beliefs, loving an welcoming

behavior as well as all the different landscapes, the nature and the endless lush green forests. On every travel I soak in the colours of nature, the structure from soil and plants, to bring them back to life on to the canvas at home.

Also, If I feel stuck in negative feelings it’s a relief to walk alone off the beaten track through the forest, there I always get back to a positiv mindset.

The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of LandEscape has at once impressed us for the way your exploration of the tension between figurative elements with unique abstract sensitiveness. In particular, Centered in the eye of the storm has captured our eyes for the way it highlights the aesthetics of environment unveils the bond with our surroundings: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop the initial ideas for your artworks?

In particular, do you create your works intuitivelly, instinctively? Or do you

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An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com Bruchstück I +III - 150x30cm, mixed media on canvas

Love is - unconditional - 60x90 cm, acrylics & gold leaf on canvas

Eucalyptus and the moon - 40x40cm, mixed media & gold leaf on canvas

methodically transpose geometric schemes?

Doro Saharita Becker: Mostly when I start a painting, I have at least a kind of an idea but

as longer I am in the process more and more things are coming. It’s like a journey where you only have a ticket to anywhere but not knowing exactly where you will end up. I just

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Elaine Crowe

go with the flow and let my mind guide my artistic journey. Sometimes its weird, abstract or fluid, sometimes my deepest feelings of love and passion will pop up in a figurative painting or portrait.

The geometric patterns a great new way for me to complete a painting with a certain energie, to make the unseen seen and combine different styles to a new one. I just love it.

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Tzolkin - 40x40cm, acrylics on canvas Waldbruch - 90x130cm, mixed media on canvas
Centered in the eye of the storm - 80x100cm, acrylics and gold leaf on canvas
Wüstenbruch - 60x80cm, mixed media on canvas

Zärtlichkeitsausbruch

70x100cm, mixed media on himalaya paper on wood

As you have remarked once, Centered in the eye of the storm is about keeping calm in every situation, even if you are standing in the middle of the great salar de uyuni in Bolivia watching a huge sandstorm is making its way to you... All you can do is staying focused and watch the storm goes by.

Doro Saharita Becker: Exactly. I belief that everything which is happening is there for a reason. You are are at the right place at the right time-always. Theres no need to get in a rush or mess things up, just be still, be patient,

Zusammenbruch der welt

70x100cm, mixed media on himalayapaper on wood

ceep calm – until the situation is over and you can see the clear blue sky again and make the best decision. In the end it will be all good, if its not good - it is not the end!

We have appreciated the sapient combination between refined sense of geometry and delicate and thoughtful nuances that marks out your artworks, and that in Eucalyptus and the Moon draw the viewers to a state of mind where the concepts of time and space become suspended. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide

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Doro Saharita Becker

to include in an artwork and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such unique results?

Doro Saharita Becker: Let me answer this question with little explanation about my name – “Doro Saharita” – Doro is my given name and in my signature I write it as “D’oro” which means ‘golden’ Gold is my all time favorite, therefore I try to bring it up on every artwork. Sometimes just a little bit of almost invisible golden sparkle, sometimes a big bright golden bar…

Saharita is a combination of the arabic name ‘Sahar’ and the sanscrit name ‘Sarita’ which describes perfectly my devise – to live a positve life by floating towards the sun.

Every single artwork is a unique piece of my soul – without the right feeling I don’t start to paint. Therefore I regularly use goldleaf to create a precious, shiny look and the colours of nature to mirror my deep love for mother nature. Layer by layer I try to bring positive thoughts on to the canvas.

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Aufbruch - 70x100, mixed media on canvas Bruchlinie - 70x100cm, mixed media on canvas

Pure energy - 60x90cm acrylics & goldleaf on canvas

Indigo child - 70x100cm, acrylics on canvas

In the special painting “Eucalyptus and the moon” I used real dried eucalyptus leafs covered with goldleaf infront of the magical fullmoon. It’s a pity that a picture will never be

able to bring the full texture and the shiny gold to life. I wish you could see it in real.

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Elaine Crowe
Selfportrait with wolf - 50x50cm, acrylics on canvas

We have appreciated your successful attempt to draw the viewers to a state of mind where concepts of space and time becomes suspended. We dare say that your artworks

highlight contours of known reality in an unknown world and seem to invite the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the

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Floating - 50x50cm acrylics & resin on canvas

Passionate - 50x50cm acrylics & resin on canvas

spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal

interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

Doro Saharita Becker: 3 years ago I

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Elaine Crowe

participated a truly lifechanging, interdimensional ceremony – which was literally a break through in every inch of my body and soul. I felt the deep connection to

everyone and everything and that really changed my art as well. From the belief that I have to do only this or that to be “a real artist” or that I would need to stick at only

Land scape CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW Special Edition
Grounded - 50x50cm acrylics & resin on canvas

Love is - longing - 60x90cm, acrylics & goldleaf on canvas

Bruchlinie - 70x100cm mixed media on canvas

one genre or only one style to an openminded state of “fuck that shit”! I am here to create whatever I want. That’s it. And I love it. At this time I started to work with the sacred geometry too, and with all that stuff that is beyond our limited thinking and what we barely can´t see. I was and I still am looking to work out a technic where I can combine the inner and outer world.

The sacred geometry is a beautiful tool for that.

Of course I want my artwork to be seen as open as possible – It is not all about what I see but what you see!

You often include unconventional materials, materials such as coffee powder, sand, synthetic resin, to pursue such unique visual and almost tactile aesthetic identity: how important is for you to highlight the fact that your artworks are characterized by remarkable tactile feel? In particular, how do you select the materials to be included in your artworks?

Doro Saharita Becker: Theres a really personal idea behind these tactile paintings – my brother is blind due to a rare eye-desease. Until he was 10/11 he could see well and was interessted in all kinds of arts and science and he still is. I was looking for a way to create art wich is not only possible to be seen but also to be touched and feeled, as a fusion of flat paintings and 3d objects.

The usual ready mixed structure mediums which you can buy didn’t satisfied my ideas enough so I started to mix my own structure paste with likely unusual things like lime putty, marble dust, sand, coffee, bark, moss… At the beginning it

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Elaine Crowe Vulkanausbruch 70x100, mixed media on canvas
Land scape CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW Special Edition
Riffbruch - 90x130cm, mixed media on canvas

was a total trial &error with hours of mixing,testing, spreading, sraping and starting all over again. Now I use my very own technique and mixture to create a thick and stable texture.

I try to channel all my thoughts on the canvas and combine it with as much opposites as possible. So in the end my abstract paintings combine soft and hard, rough and fluffy, blunt and shiny….and not only blind people like to touch them ;)

You are a versatile artist and your practice encompasses both abstract and figurative subjects. In particular, the subjects of your figurative paintings — as the interesting Jyoti and Liebe ist - bedingungslos — are immersed into such dreamlike atmosphere: how do you consider the relationship between figurative and abstraction, playing within your artistic research?

Doro Saharita Becker: I love the combination of mixed materials and mixed art styles as well.

Just as life is never black and white, this or that, straight or winded. It rather is a neverending combination of all sorts of stuff. Why should you get stuck with just one part of art? We should be open to all kind of variation of life, mind and art without the limited thinking in boxes.

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

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Elaine Crowe

Doro Saharita Becker: It’s a pleasure to work on large canvasses and spend hours and days on it until it comes finally to an end. Each piece is the result of an inner journey and kind of meditation.

It is my break out from the normal life and I love every second working on it.

We have appreciated the way you combine reminders to reality — as in the interesting Sunrise and Breaking wave- into the blue— with such unique dreamlike visual qualities. Scottish visual artist Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic works of art are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production?

Doro Saharita Becker: I like Peter Doigs statement! It is both, (my personal) reality and imagination which appear in my paintings.

As every painting is also a little escape from reality - from the very first beginning of creating until you look at it at the wall. Also Picasso once said “everything you can imagine is real” that’s it

You are an established artist and over the years you participated to a number of exhibitions: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? By the way, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces — to street and especially to

Land scape CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW Special Edition
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Elaine Crowe
Tagesanbruch 90x130cm, mixed media on canvas

online platforms as Instagram — increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience? (if you like you can include the link http://www.instagram.com/doro.saharita to your Instagram page, in your answer)

Doro Saharita Becker: I am pretty shy and introvert. So during my exhibitions I like to stay in the backround and watch people looking at my artwork. It is beautiful to observe the reactions, the talks between the people, the desire to touch my textured artworks.

Once there was guy standing aproximately 40 minutes infront of my painting “indigo child” He had a really deep connection to this painting. I didn’t wanted to interrupt him by starting a conversation or asking questions or something, it was just magic and the pure pleasure watching this scene. That is what I love most. To see people getting a real connection to my art.

I love to make individual and adventureous travels around the globe, which has a huge influence on my personal life and artwork. I see myself as an international human rather than just a “german” so the more international my audience is the more happy I am.

Social media like Instagram ( if you would like to visit my account just follow this link: http://www.instagram.com/doro.saharita) is a great way to represent art all over the world. it’s just a pity that pictures never will be able to show the deep texture.

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

Doro Saharita Becker: Thank you so much, it was a pleasure!

Since the 2nd Lockdown occurs due to Covid19 I didn’t have the time and muse to create something. I have two little Girls in fulltime homeschooling so you can imagine that’s hard to find time for myself, just like every other parent at this challenging time. Mothers, I feel you (and fathers,too of course!)

But neven this will be over soon – breath inbreath out- repeat

I am looking forward with tons of ideas in my head to go back to my studio.

Due to limited space in my atelier I cant go bigger than 1x1m,therefore I am looking for a larger workspace right now to create xl-size artpieces.

Also I am still exploring new mixtures and structures, stay tuned

An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com

Land scape CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW Special Edition
Energetic wave 60x90cm acrylics on canvas

LandEscape meets

Irina Ivanova

The person is born to be an artist and art is a necessity for him. The need to create art has been with me all my life and has manifested itself in various forms. Art is a necessity for me! In my work I imagine sealed moments from my life, from the places where I have lived and everything that has surrounded me. The purpose of my work is to create joyful emotion in people, peace and happiness. One must unload from the hard everyday life when looking at art and creativity to have a positive effect on his senses.

Hello Irina and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit http://www.irinaivanova.eu/en in order to get a wide idea about your mulifaceted artistic production, and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. You have a solid formal training and you graduated with a degree in Fine Art from the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist?

Irina Ivanova: Hello, first I want to thank

you for the opportunity to show my art in your special edition. The training I received at university and high school was extremely formative for my development as an artist. The basis given to me by my teachers was extremely important to me and certainly has an impact on my work now. The atmosphere of being in the atelier(studio) among colleagues, to see how my works look next to theirs, communication with teachers - these are the things that I miss now while working alone in the studio. The years at my university were a great experience for me. They gave me enthusiasm and inspiration to continue to develop and demand more of myself.

The body of works that we have selected

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An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com Lives and works in Sofia, Bulgaria Irina Ivanova in the studio

The end of a summer day

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for this special edition of LandEscape has at once impressed us of for the way it seems to suggest to the viewers that in order to see beauty, we just need to pause a little bit and look around ourselves: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop the initial ideas for your artworks? In particular, do you create your works intuitivelly, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

Irina Ivanova: I agree that in order to see the beauty around us, we just have to stop for a moment and look around. This is exactly what I try to achieve when I create my own works.

People are usually so busy, hurried and tense in their daily lives and they do not have a quiet moment to look around and notice the beauty of everything around us. I like to collect experiences from my everyday life and then recreate this emotion on the canvases. Beauty is all around us, everyone sees it from a different prism, some see it while drinking coffee and a cup on the table, this is beauty for them, others see it in the lamp upstairs while walking along the boulevard, others see it simply in space and the atmosphere.

You just have to calm down and not think about your hard life, stop and look around, and then you will see that even the things that have seemed ugly to him so far, even they are beautiful and have

their own unique charm. I love when I am guided by my intuition and emotion and I think that is felt in my works. I think that sometimes following a certain method like a textbook kills the emotion in a work to some extent.

It is good for a person to be guided by certain norms, but they should not bother him too much while creating.

We like the way you draw from reality to create works of art marked out with such unique poetic atmospheres, as the interesting The Beach, conveying such a stimulating combination between reminding to ambiguous figurative elements and captivating surrealistic feeling: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination playing within your artistic practice?

Irina Ivanova: The connection between reality and imagination in my artistic practice is emotion. I like the brush to be visible in my works, it remains a different texture on the canvas and this affects differently every time. I like to alternate more layered textures with more velatantly applied, because the emotion is different.

We have appreciated the thoughtful and delicate nuances that mark out your artworks, and that in The end of a summer draw the viewers to a state of mind where the concepts of time and space seem to be suspended. How does your own psychological make-up determine the

Irina Ivanova scape Land CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW
In the studio with the painting "Port of Capetown" participated in the Friends of the Sea Biennale 2020 in Burgas, Bulgaria

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

Irina Ivanova: I always portray what I have personally experienced and what the harmony should be - cold, warm or mixed, depends on the emotion of the experience.

It comes intuitively, but very often before I start working on a work I imagine it in advance in my mind what it will look like. and I strive for this while working. Regarding my textures, those that are multi-layered are achieved extremely slowly and I need patience for them.

While with the thinner layer I can work on prima vista and the emotion comes instantly, in multi-layer painting patience is required for the final result. But in the end the emotion from this multi-layer painting brings a captivating feeling of nuances of the viewer.

We definetely love the way you extract such deep emotional sensations from a living room or from a terrace covered with snow, going beyond the surface ofyour subjects: what kind of emotions would you like to convey in your paintings? In particular, how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations?

Irina Ivanova: In my paintings I want to

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Irina Ivanova
The Beach (Kavatzi)
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Coffee on the beach

convey warm emotions for a better world. I want to show that even if something seems cold and ugly in our everyday life and we surround it with ease without paying attention and looking for its beauty, even it can have nice side. I am very happy when I managed to convey it to the viewer and he felt the emotion with which I created the works. Of course everyone interprets the paintings differently, everyone sees a part of themselves in the painting they like and connects it with their personal memory.

Many of your artworks feature urban places teeming with life: how do you select the locations that you depict in your artworks?

Irina Ivanova: I like to depict the places in the cities where I have lived or been on vacation. I love the city and the madhouse in it. I don't have an exact landmark, just when something grabs me I seal it in a picture. The aim is to show the viewer that even a dusty and ugly street can look very different when interpreted correctly.

We really appreciate the way your artworks encourage the viewers to capture beauty in ordinary, daily life: in this sense, your approach seems to reflect Edgar Degas' words, when he once remarked that “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?

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Garibaldi square

Winter day at home

Irina Ivanova: I love when I see something different or encounter an unusual type of composition. Then I try to explore these things on the canvas

and give the viewer a different interpretation of the landscape and our everyday life. And I am happy when the viewer can see and feel this different

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Cat at the window

side of the landscape.

Your landscapes reflect a sense of connection with your surroundings: how

do the places you inhabited inspire you? And how do you consider the role of memories in your artistic process?

Irina Ivanova: I paint the things I love and

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Irina Ivanova
Plovdiv street landscape
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Lights on Slaveykov Square

On Graf Ignatiev Boulevard

this is exactly the environment that surrounds me and my surroundings. The ideas I accumulate sometimes mature for years and when I feel ready I realize

them. I like to think about my ideas and not rush. Just when I feel it's time to create this work I do it. Otherwise all the time I gain impressions of everything

Irina
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Ivanova

around me, but unfortunately the time is still not enough to depict everything together, so I act them slowly one by one.

Over the years your artworks have been showcased in a number of occasions, including you recent participation to the International Biennial of Small Forms, in

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View of the terrace
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Irina Ivanova The lady in retro tram
in
the house
View
front of

Pleven: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Your works can be admired also at Behance.net/irinaartlife and at https://www.instagram.com/irina.art.life. By the way, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces — to street and especially to online platforms as Instagram — increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

Irina Ivanova: I think it has always been more impressive for the audience when watching live works presented in a gallery is a suitable exhibited species. This for me so far can not be replaced. It is much more fascinating when you see the texture of the picture live and much more The paintings look live live under the lights of the galleries. Whenever I watch a work in digital version, it is not so fascinating at least because it is viewed from our small screens. While when the art is seen live in a wellpresented form in a gallery, you can even get a shiver of pleasant emotion. It is important to note, of course, that while the art on display on the street or on the Internet, such as Instagram, there is no selection, anyone can upload art. While the gallery has a quality selection of works and this gives the viewer additional confidence that what he sees quality work.But despite everything we live in a modern world and such an option as browsing online galleries, art in digital format must be

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Irina Ivanova
Coffee on the beach In the studio
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Coffee Espresso

presented from different platforms. Otherwise it is extremely difficult to reach any art. And with the Internet and the media it is much easier and to quickly learn about art and reach it.

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

Irina Ivanova: Apart from the landscape and the still life as an object in my work, I like to depict people and living beings in general. The emotion there is different and much deeper. There is a state and feelings.

My next projects will be just such showing compositions from our everyday life. I am a realist and I like to portray moments from people's everyday life. Moments that a person in a hurry in his daily life passes easily without paying attention to their beauty. And when the viewer sees my painting and says "oh yes, that's great! I'm not it seen nowhere. " so I managed to achieve it.

Thank you for the conversation and for being so kind and patient. I found great artists in your publications and I was amazed by the art that is being created around the world!

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Irina Ivanova

LandEscape meets

Ceinwen Gobert

I’m interested in real time creation using structured improvisational skills – How does the current environment of the drawing and the present individual mindset alter the construction? What arises when a planned idea evolves in real time? What emerges visually and how does the final image reflect the initial ideas?

My practice is about the tension and shifts between memory, dreams, and the reality of the inner landscape, and how our perceptions change due to movement between these three. I’m inspired by childhood nostalgia and a fascination with spells, words, and the longing for magic. To begin, I usually start with a simple idea, such as a word or phrase, and then allow the drawing to shift and change focus as new information and images emerge. This is part of the real time process I am interested in and familiar with through my dance training, and I chose to use pen, pastel, and digital altering for most of these pieces.

All of the work shown here was created during lockdown, when the world’s relation to space was drastically changing. Our landscapes were forever altered, and I felt compelled to transpose my dancing, the choreographic process, and these shifting realities on to paper. I was drawn to the idea of holding on and letting go, which I found incredibly relevant in today’s world, as well as a desire to move beyond the confines of my space and my body. While my physical world shrank I delved into fragments of memories, dreams, and the turbulent emotional landscape that will forever mark this period of time.

Hello Ceinwen and welcome to LandEscape.

Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://ello.co/ceinwengobert in

order to get a wide idea about your multifaceted artistic production. We would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. You are a versatile artist and your creative production incorporates poetry and improvisational skills: what directs you to such an interdisciplinary approach? In particular, are there any

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An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com
You Should Smile More

experiences that helped you to develop your experimental techniques?

I was directed to this interdisciplinary approach through my professional dance practice. I have created structured improvisational dance for many years, often with a focus and particular interest in poetry and generating movement by transposing language through my body. When the pandemic caused a massive disruption to public performance and the ability to create dance in group settings and public spaces, I was driven to continue creating with materials I had on hand – continuing with similar ideas, but

transposed to paper instead of my body.

The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of LandEscape has at once impressed us of for the way your insightful exploration of the tension between figurative subjects and such compelling dreamlike atmospheres, as you did in the interesting InterStellar and Worlds Within, that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how you usually develop the initial ideas for your artworks?

Initial ideas stem from a few places. It

Ceinwen Gobert scape Land CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW
Worlds Within Mermaid Rocket
InterStellar

might be a passage of poetry that resonates with me, images from a dream, memories that I want to either purge or that I nostalgically want to reimagine, or even ways that the world is fractured into shapes and how I can save these shapes (as memories of things I’ve seen) and reconfigure them in new ways.

Meticulously refinished in their details and intricate patterns, your artworks has struck us for the way you sapiently convey and effective combination between spontaneity with such unique rigorous aesthetics: do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

I do enjoy certain geometric shapes. I find the repetition soothing and often shapes re-emerge in various pieces. The work starts spontaneously, as in I don’t sketch out a complete idea or world, but as it progresses I focus on elements that draw my attention. Sometimes I can’t complete a piece for quite some time since I need to sleep on it and acquire new “material” from either my dreams or other external stimulus from my day to day life –sometimes just a shape, a feeling, or a colour. I’ll know when it’s done, just not when that might be.

We have really appreciated the vibrancy of thoughtful nuances that mark out your paintings, and we like the way you sapiently create tension and dynamics in InterStellar and You Should Smile More: how did you come about settling on your color palette? And how does your own psychological makeup determine the nuances of tones that you

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Ceinwen Gobert
Smoke Dream
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Hooked

decide to include in your artworks?

These two pieces reflect two of the three colour palettes that I’m particularly drawn to. In InterStellar I’m working on inverting my images digitally to see what hidden nuances I could be missing. I love how it creates an unearthly quality and a feeling of night and space. I tried to create this feeling using white ink on black paper in a number of drawings, but digitally altering this piece gave it that complete feeling I mentioned earlier.

You Should Smile More is a favourite of mine and an extension of the original drawings I made using materials I had lying around – ink and highlighter. I love the brightness of this piece, and you’ll also see a lot of neon colours and contrasting inkwork in many of my other pieces. This work is an abstracted face giving the finger, and a feminist refusal of the male gaze and the need to appease. The bright tones create a harsh contrast with the black ink, that I find suitable for this theme, but also a vibrancy that conveys an uplifting and sassy retaliation. This piece is aesthetically different from other pieces of mine that are usually dreamlike, whimsical, and sometimes dark. However it still explores an aspect of my personal internal landscape – the experiences and memories of being a woman of colour. The world isn’t all about magic, as much as I’d like it to be.

With its powerful narrative drive, your style is both figurative and rich of surrealistic atmosphere, that marks out Fools and

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Neruda

Hooked, providing it with recognizable identity: how do you consider the relationship between the real and the imagined playing within your artistic practice?

I see the relationship between the real and the imagined as a very fine line, and one that fluctuates based on the environment. I often try to imagine an image and reproduce it in separate parts. It could be a more recognizable image, but skewed based on how my memories and my feelings adjust it. It’s what I love about abstract and impressionist work –this ability to draw feelings with subtle

placement of shapes and colours.

Both Fools and Hooked are based on the idea of the stories we tell ourselves within romantic relationships. What is real for one is not always real for the other.

Your works often challenge the viewers' perceptual parameters, inviting your audience to discern and interpret. In this sense, we daresay that your artistic practice seems to aim to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to

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Underwater Foetus
Daisylady
Rand
Fools

address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

I love when people look at a work and can tell you what feelings it evokes for them. It’s why I’m drawn to abstract art and creating it in the way I do, where ideas are shaped in the process and I’m waiting for images to emerge that I can focus on. I see it as a reflection of one’s internal landscape. It’s also the way people interact with their dreams, possibly drawing attention to what they are currently thinking about and working

through in their own lives. I like to add small “spells” to the drawings, and when someone is drawn to these parts I feel a real sense of connection with them. I sometimes joke that it’s like those magic eye posters that were so popular when I was growing up. What can you see? What’s hidden? Can you see it today, or will you see it tomorrow? I love that!

The hybrid visual quality that marks out Pulled Apart allows you to capture fleeting moments providing the viewers with such an emotional impact: how do you consider the role of memory playing within your artistic practice? In particular, how does your travels

Ceinwen Gobert scape Land CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW
Pulled Apart Surrender
Portal

and your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process?

I am fascinated with memories and how they are influenced and altered by everyday life experiences. Memories feel unreliable, even the ones that are crisp and clear and detailed. Other memories feel like shadows that you can only glimpse from the corner of your eye, like dreams that you feel but can’t quite remember.

Memories shared with another person become more solid, but I’m more interested in those memories that you carry alone. What happens to them? In my mind it feels like they are pulled apart like taffy, with some parts stretched and weakened while others are condensed and sharpened. Living and travelling by myself has made me want to capture this dreamlike quality of memories held alone.

How do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? By the way, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to online platforms — as Instagram https://www.instagram.com/feral.dreams increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

I’ve spent much of my dance career creating and performing dance pieces in relation to gallery art, within these traditional gallery spaces. I’ve also danced on rooftops, streets, and other outdoor public spaces. All of these environments have different atmospheres and I’d love

to have the experience of placing my artwork in these different environments. Right now with the online platforms, such as Instagram, there is the ability to share globally, but I think you lose texture and the visceral response that you experience when face to face with artwork that resonates with you. I’m excited for the world to open and to have those opportunities.

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

Thank you! It’s been a pleasure. In the future I’m going to be exploring more digital, watercolour, and acrylic techniques. I’m still fascinated with the idea of transposing movement, literature, and various landscapes on to paper, so I haven’t finished with that, but I am interested in increasing the scale of the work. I’ve also recently started another dance process based on some incredibly moving poems.

After these projects wrap up I have some ideas I need to explore dealing with reflections and light. So hopefully what I see in my mind I can get down onto paper. It will be an exciting challenge!

An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com

Special Edition scape CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW Land
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Ceinwen Gobert
Olwen

LandEscape meets

Datis Golmakani

Today, all over the world, human beings have found a separate and unique behavior that can sometimes be to the benefit of the whole of nature and sometimes to its detriment. The artist believes that today's man or contemporary man completely separates himself from nature and tries to ambitiously enclose and limit the world. But this end is nothing but failure and destruction. And fortunately, nature dominates everything. In his paintings, the painter tries to mix human beings with nature and natural elements, and sometimes separately and together.

Hello Datis and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.instagram.com/datis.golmakani_ in order to get a wide idea about your mulifaceted artistic production, and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a Diploma in Painting, that you received from Mashhad University, in Iran: how did this experience influence your evolution as a painter and a cartoonist? Moreover, how do your cultural substratum due to your Persian roots and your current life in Germany address the direction of your artistic reserch?

Datis Golmakani: In the beginning I should say that I only got familiar with different styles and techniques throughout my training courses. To see and to experiment with different things such as materials and the approaches toward them can be considered as characteristics of a good training course, but something more took place within me: the potential talent that has its root in my childhood. Everything begins with education—the beginning of putting every experience in use in order to obtain increasingly novel experiences.

In the beginning I was affected by realism but by passing through different stages my works got more conceptual and abstract.

About caricature one can say that it plays a key role in developing ideas and finding the hidden layers of art, the sides I eagerly attended to for a while to augment my creativity and idea development.

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There is but little doubt that artists have always attempted to explore the undiscovered realms of art, some artists from the east follow the western styles and techniques, and artists from the west seek to get insight from the oriental art. The art and artist have always articulated the spirit of their time, influenced by the behavior and mindset of the society. Perhaps I have also been affected by the experiences passed down by my birth culture in one way or another, whose traces may be tracked in my artworks; yet, my intention is to create works of art through which to discover the essence of art in regard to human, unaffected by place and time. Today the modern world has become a

common language for all the artists throughout the world; this undoubtedly develops and strengthens the ties between the artists and artistic language. Thus, an avant-garde artist can create her/his work while having the future prospects in mind.

The process of evolution within artists is different, my works in Iran took negative and critical perspectives, and at times they were affected by the artistic community of Iran and the understanding of both general and specific audience. The only way to see the western art was through the internet. But when I settled in Germany and got in direct contact with the spectators I could better communicate with

Datis Golmakani scape Land CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

the audience or the society. This was a huge step for me. It brought about a different understanding of abstract art, its creation, and idea development. It can be said that I both migrated within place and time.

are a versalite artist and your creative production encompasses also incorporate poetry and improvisational skills: what does direct you to such interdisciplinary approach? In particular, are there any experiences that did particularly help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different techniques?

The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of LandEscape has at once

impressed us of for the way your insightful exploration of the tension between figurative subjects and such compelling dreamlike atmosphere: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how does your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process?

Datis Golmakani: What we objectively appoint for art can lead to various fields and styles through consideration of different materials, tools, and techniques. But what art states for its own sake can go beyond that and enjoy a limitless freedom. To excavate deeper layers of art, I have also studied other fields. One dare say that painting reveals the least

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reliance on tools and materials; so, it is of great help in understanding what is called the introverted art. Through improvisation I can get in touch with my unconscious and get a fuller view of my genuine self. I did not limit myself to one particular style. I see the world around me and observe the human life from an outer perspective; this fact at times leads to my seeing human and the entire life through a distinct angle in comparison to my genuine self.

Your artworks has struck us for the way you sapiently conveyed effective combination between spontaneity and with such subtle still

effective rigorous aesthetics: do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

Datis Golmakani: If an artwork is improvised on the spot, it can certainly become both intrinsic and creative. I mostly benefit from the inner logic, relying on the principle of commitment to forms in order for the work not to be scattered and to follow a coherent line.

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Datis Golmakani scape CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW Land
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We have really appreciated the vibrancy of thoughtful nuances that mark out your paintings, and we like the way you sapiently create tension and dynamics: how did you come about settling on your color palette? And how does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your artworks?

Datis Golmakani: Adopting a scrutinizing perspective, I have always surveyed and modified what is considered as a rule and questioned the common principles. I have opted for the middle ground in regard to my works, that is, as there exists a complementary color scheme, there also exists a complementary counterpart for the

characters, proving the spectators with a narrative story.

Your artworks feature such effecive combination between human figures and natural elements, that in your interesting Nature in human nature series seems to establish a dialogue: how do you structure your paintings in order to achieve such equilibrate balance?

Datis Golmakani: Yes, as it is evident, human and nature stand beside each other; indeed human is part of this nature. So, it is fair to say that my works are naturalistic and human is not depicted in isolation from nature. Probing into the physical structure of humans and the physical structure of some man-made

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productions, I noticed that human structure is purely naturalistic and it is man-made creations that sever their ties with nature. Therefore, by eliminating the human associations and using merely the human figure, I managed to return the human to his

maternal abode, i.e. nature. So, here, once again, it is the form that helps me reunite this unbreakable chain.

Your works often challenge the viewers' perceptual parameters, inviting your audience

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to discern and interpret. In this sense, we daresay that your artistic practice seems to aim to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception: how important is for you to trigger the viewers'

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

Datis Golmakani: Using the obvious elements and those which are similar to our environment, constitute merely a part of the spectator’s understanding of my works. It is indeed the work itself that marks the route to more conceptual and deeper layers of the works; to investigate the relation of these elements requires more time and broader research. The spectator may share the same opinion in the beginning, but after spending more time on it, s/he may come up with new ideas and understandings. Nonetheless, to scrutinize the audience is always absorbing to me, even if we have conflicting opinions. An artist can choose his audience through his approach toward his art and the complexity of his created concept. The audience may take a different stance in regard to my artworks. My language is the language of art, so surely it makes me happy to see that the spectator highly appreciates my statement.

Your artistic production highlights our connection with nature around, that is undoubtedly essential for future generations living on this planet. What is in your opinion the role of artists in our unstable contemporary age? In particular, do you think that artists can raise awareness to an evergrowing audience on topical issues that affect our everchanging society?

Datis Golmakani: Artists have always surpassed the masses in discovering cultural aspects and they have stepped ahead throughout the history, especially the avant-garde. In retrospect that we will all become a part of history, it is imaginable to predict by time passing what undergoes modifications and what remains stable. Human, the human essence, and art—which is integrated to the introverted side of the human essence—

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are always steady, though they take various guises in each era.

With its powerful narrative drive, your style is both figurative and rich of surrealistic atmosphere, providing it with recognizable identity: how do you consider the relationship between the real and the imagined playing within your artistic practice?

Datis Golmakani: To sum it up in a sentence, I can say that it instinctively and intuitively takes place in my unconscious. But as a whole, the significant point about surrealism for me is its mood and not its techniques. I

sometimes follow abstractionism for my technique and improvisation, abstract expressionism for a richer emotional expression, surrealism for combination, and the harmony created by them as a whole.

You are an established artist: over the years your artworks have been showcased in a number of occasions and more recently your works have been featured in the UNESCO Art Calendar, and you wona special award at the Mellow Festival, Japan: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? By the way, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW
Datis Golmakani scape Land

especially to online platforms — as Instagram — increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

Datis Golmakani: As I said before, human being and her essence is stable, since art occupies the introverted side of human it also remains stable. If you look for the manner of its presentations in different eras you will come across different answers. Today, not only in art but in all walks of life, it is easier for the humans throughout the world to access things, which will undoubtedly change in the future. The crucial point is that the artist should be aware of the middle ground that marks the mutual influence of the artist on the society and vice versa.

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

Datis Golmakani: I am still studying the relation of the contemporary individual to nature and the surrounding spaces. This is an ongoing project for me. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity afforded to me to exhibit my works to the audience.

Land scape CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW Special Edition

LandEscape meets

Alex Gilford

The primary influences in my life and art are an interest in history and an appreciation for nature. In addition to my work as an artist, I am a Stewardship Volunteer at a Wildlife Refuge and some State Parks. Doing this type of work provides me with an opportunity to physically care for the environment and use my hands to support its future health. When I paint and draw in these natural spaces, directly from life, I engage in a more intimate way. It is much like a naturalist who quietly observes a subject, interprets what is experienced, and makes notations.

Personally, I have always gravitated toward historical stories as a way of unearthing origins and tracing a winding path to the present. Through books, storytelling, and visiting historical sites I piece together stories of society, a region, as well as how I connect to it all. The answers are never finite, but lead to even more topics to explore. This state of being enthralled with history is evident in many of the subjects that I choose to depict in my art, whether it is buildings or landscapes with deeply woven histories, cross-cultural folk stories, or people and places that I feel tied to in my own story. Wetlands, woods, islands, Turkey Vultures, Catfish, ruins, churches, factories, freighters, ghost ships, fisherman, workers, family. It all works together in the simultaneous disintegration and reinterpretation of the excavated tales that I surround myself with.

Hello Alex and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://alexgilford.carbonmade.com in order to

get a wide idea about your multifaceted artistic production, and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a BFA with honors majoring in Illustration and minoring in Art History at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural

scape Land CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW
An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com Alex Gilford (photo by Kristen Eakin)
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Persistent Oak, Rifle River State Recreation Area, 12/28/20, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11"

substratum address the direction of your current artistic research on the theme of landscape?

Alex Gilford: In terms of my cultural substratum and how it relates to my research on the theme of landscape: I come from and have always lived in the Great Lakes region of the midwestern United States, a relatively short distance from Canada. I grew up on the outside edge of a metropolitan sprawl which originates from a city that, for many, has come to define post industrialism, Detroit. My childhood home hung somewhere in the balance. If I went roughly north, the scene quickly became rural and agricultural. If I went south, the scene became progressively suburban, then urban. The immediate surroundings which came to define my childhood memories were characterized by this delicate balance. I lived within a small, quiet, and relatively established neighborhood stocked with plenty of other kids to run around with unattended. Right out our door, we could easily walk to the woods, the swamp, the pond, the field, the sledding hill, the lagoon, and the lake - all cherished and integral parts of the neighborhood community. The neighborhood was surrounded by miles of dirt roads, which as an adolescent I independently pushed out into on my dirt bike sojourning my favorite patches of woods and fields, riding trails that I had memorized. This is where, in a short span of time, I began to witness the erosion of seemingly wild places for the first time as the sprawl of development pushed itself further into every crack and crevice of supposedly open land. Some of the woods where I would ride all day were stripped bare and became gravel pits, which then became subdivisions of large characterless McMansions spaced out evenly, casting long shadows across the

barren landscape. Now, when I leave my rented apartment in Detroit, where I’ve lived for seven years, and take the interstate north to visit the areas around where I grew up, I can see where the new subdivisions are proliferating and where the capitalist tendrils of ubiquitous commercial development crawl out from the exit ramps and stretch up the roads intersection by intersection, artificially fabricating and simultaneously satiating the consumer desires of the growing population. What is lost isn’t easily replaced and each generation that grows up without it doesn’t miss what they’ve never known. And as people continue to move further out searching for greener pastures, the concrete wave follows close behind, most fervent at the edges. This is the emotion that I tried to convey in the painting, Light Pollution, Independence Oaks County Park. The ever brightening sky glow is a harbinger of the approaching sprawl. It is alluring in an eerie ominous way but it is blinding and it will cause us to lose our way as the dome of artificial light widens and snuffs out the constellations in the night sky.

In terms of my formal art education: Someone once said to me condescendingly that one of the issues with art school is that it teaches students to take themselves seriously as artists. To some degree, I think this person was right but I don’t see it in the negative way that they intended. Navigating a career as an artist sustainably for the long term is not clear cut even though so many have trod this path before. Also, for a field that requires so much external validation, most of the sustenance that keeps an artist going through the inevitably thin times comes from selfdiscipline and the steadfast, but realistic, belief in oneself. This is difficult to do if one is only moderately serious about what they’re

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doing. I think that an artist has to be determinedly invested in their practice to keep going and to push back against the most prevalent cultural norm that I see constantly being reinforced, which is that choosing to be a professional artist is an irresponsible life decision and not a serious career choice. But I also think it’s a tragedy when artists take themselves far too seriously, which leads to delusion and reckless, self-centered egotism. I don’t think the educational framework which provides aspiring artists with the tools to competently build a career in the arts is the issue, astronomical tuition rates and student debt aside. I also don’t believe that going to art school is necessary for all artists but I do think it is beneficial for many.

As a teenager, I enrolled at Kendall with a thus-far lifelong interest in visual arts and a genuine desire to learn the skills to become better. The Bauhaus curriculum which Kendall’s program is modeled on gave me a well-rounded base of knowledge and skills. The general education courses expanded my worldview and triggered my curiosity. These courses along with my own real life experiences foddered my mind with ideas for what I could make art about. The art history courses were like an epic saga that I was completely captivated by. Reading art history and visiting art museums remains a great passion of mine and provides me with inspiration for making my own art. The preliminary arts courses laid the foundation and taught me the language of the visual arts through near universal elements like composition and color theory. I was then able to become sufficient in the basics of a wide variety of 2D and 3D mediums. From there I narrowed down to my specified areas of painting and drawing. The lessons became progressively more focused, and I developed

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Alex Gilford Sumac & Phragmites, St. John's Marsh, 11/23/20, Oil on Gessobord, 5" x 7"
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Enrico Fermi II Nuclear Power Plant and Rockwood Landfill Beyond Pointe Mouille State Game Area, 11/29/19

greater acuity with the materials and techniques related to my chosen mediums. The course that had the most influence on me and really changed my approach to painting was Alla Prima Painting, taught by the phenomenal artist and educator, Damian Goidich. I graduated from Kendall feeling like I had a firm grasp of my craft. I’ve learned that being an artist, and a painter in particular, is a lifelong education and one has to continually work at it. That is what keeps me going though. After Kendall, I went to Eastern Michigan University for my MA in Arts Administration in order to learn more about the business side of being an artist as well as to further my career working in art museums.

The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of LandEscape has at once impressed us for the way your naturalistic exploration of the aesthetics of environment unveils the bond with our surroundings: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop the initial ideas for your artworks?

Alex Gilford: One of the primary parameters that I have set for myself with my current body of plein air paintings is that I must go to parks, refuges, and preserves to work. Within that, I rarely have a preconceived idea of what my subject will be on a given day that I go out to paint. It is important for me to remain open to the possibilities that working from a living subject has to offer. The main factor that is within my realm of control is positioning myself to be in a receptive head space. This starts from the moment I wake-up. The quiet morning is a cherished liminal space for me that, when utilized, will influence the course of my day and how well the painting session will go. For the last year or so, this has consisted of rising early, making coffee and oatmeal, then

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& 12/11/19, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14" Ford Powerhouse from Belle Isle State Park, 3/15/20, Oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14"
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Shore Birch, P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, 8/3/20, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11"

sitting in my front room with it where I read from a book and do a short French language lesson. From there, I will go for a drive out to the areas that I plan to paint, often taking the long way and listening to music. Once I get to where I am going I will go for a hike, keeping my eyes and senses open, looking for a subject that inspires me.

Some days I will not see any compositions, while on other days I can go to the same place and I will see image after image as I hike. Through this I have learned just how influential my state of mind is in determining whether I will be productive or not. I also have a mental log of certain locations and subjects that I am interested in painting based on topics that I am learning about in my own independent studies. I often consider my overall body of plein air paintings and how it fits as well; however, as I said, even if I am already familiar with the scene that I set out to paint, it is always in flux and appears differently depending on countless factors from moment to moment. Sometimes, I set out to paint one thing, and end-up being captivated by something totally different.

Your artworks are marked out with such sapient combination between rigorous sense of geometry as in the interesting Persistent Oak, Rifle River State Recreation Area — and careful choice of tones, that provide your works with a unique aesthetic identity: do you create your works intuitively, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

Alex Gilford: The painting Persistent Oak, Rifle River State Recreation Area came out of a painting trip that I took to that location at the end of December 2020. As I was hiking through the trails around the cabin, I noticed a number of persistent oak and beech trees

whose rustling rufous leaves seemed to float against the subtle cool colors of the deep snowy woods in winter. These persistent deciduous trees have carried important symbolic significance to me for a number of years. The idea to include them in my art had been simmering in the back of my head for a while.

During the times when I am in need of a greater perspective, I often seek out the sanctuary of nature and open myself up to its eternal lessons. I took the painting trip to Rifle River in order to momentarily step outside of what felt like a yearlong relentless barrage of human turmoil and to carve out a slow space to reflect back on the year, consider my trajectory, and assess what is and is not within my reach to affect. The persistent oak somewhat isolated atop a hillock felt like a pertinent symbol of hope, longevity, and future-planning that connected particularly well to the thoughts and feelings that I was focused on at the time.

In terms of the painting’s aesthetic qualities, part of what made the persistent tree in a snowy winter landscape so eye-catching was the overall complementary orange and blue color scheme of the scene, which was something that I really wanted to emphasize. I began building the composition in a controlled way, transcribing the details of the scene with a precise geometric approach; however, as the wind on the small hill pickedup, as the snowfall started to mix with the paint on my palette, and as the hours of sitting in the cold began to set in, I began to work in a much more brushy gestural way. Painting in this quick, less conscientious way can be a very cathartic experience and the end effect communicates a set of emotive qualities altogether different from those communicated through a more restrained

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approach to painting. Persistent Oak, Rifle River State Recreation Area is an example of a painting where I began in the methodical way that I am naturally inclined, but as the painting progressed, my instincts came to play a more dominant role and the undercurrent of my emotions came to the fore.

Your subjects include Wetlands, woods, islands, Turkey Vultures, Catfish, ruins, churches, factories: how do you select such unique locations?

Alex Gilford: These are some of the sacralized subjects and characters that inhabit the stories I tell myself about the place where I live, the region I’m from. As I say in my artist statement, “it all works together in the simultaneous disintegration and reinterpretation of the excavated tales that I surround myself with.”

When I say wetlands, I think of the swamp behind my childhood home, the fireflies that hovered in the tall grass at its edges, and the chorus of frogs and toads filling the air every Spring and Summer night. Their songs are still the most comforting sound in the world for me.

I use the word woods instead of forests because the word woods just feels like the humble Michigan forests that I’ve known my whole life. It's where I go to catch my breath.

Islands make me think of the scattered islands around the Detroit River that I am continually exploring. Many of them have colorful names like Pêche Island, Fighting Island, Mud Island, Rat Island, and Bois Blanc Island. Some of them have colorful histories as well such as being used as rendezvous spots for bootleggers during prohibition, as a once private island for a whiskey baron, as previous toxic waste dumping sites turned wildlife refuges, as a storage site for explosives, as a washed away lighthouse, as the

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Alex Gilford Coyote & Eastern Cottontail, Orion Oaks, 2/22/21, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"
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Light Pollution, Independence Oaks County Park, 1/11/21, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"

site of an abandoned amusement park, etc.

Turkey Vultures and Catfish have mysterious otherworldly qualities to me. Turkey Vultures are one of the biggest birds of prey in the Midwest with wing spans that can reach up to six feet. When they are high up in the sky slowly circling, they appear all black except for the gray trailing edge that is backlit by the sun. They sometimes appear to never flap their wings. They just hold them in a slight dihedral and calmly scan the ground for carrion. I’ve always associated Catfish with some kind of hidden underworld because of the way that they linger in dark murky waters. There is also a little known local folktale that tells of a giant Catfish that leapt out of nearby Lake Saint Clair and swallowed a werewolf.

Ruins are like clues to the past. They often contain some strain of tragedy in them and they hold answers about a world that once was.

Detroit abounds with historic houses of worship. The church buildings themselves are behemoths. They are cultural jewels with such a high level of craftsmanship in masonry, stained glass, mural painting, woodworking, and symbolic architectural sculpture - the likes of which belong to another era. They also help to tell part of the story of Detroit’s rich multicultural patchwork. As the congregations shrink, many but not all of the historic churches are in peril. They are beautiful and I’d love to see them all preserved.

The landscape around the Detroit River also has a lot of factories. Some are empty and some are chugging away. They are the cathedrals of manufacturing with their stacks punctuating the skyline like church spires.

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Fort, Crosswinds Marsh, 1/19/21 & 1/25/21, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11"

Many of the subjects that you depict in your artistic production refers to historical places, as well as people and places that you feel tied to in your own story: how do you consider the role of memory playing within your artistic process?

Alex Gilford: I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what has passed and situating it in my mind. At times history can feel like fantasy because it is the study of people, places, and situations that will never exist again as they were. On the other hand, studying history has been the most useful tool for me in developing a realistic perspective. As the student of history digs through time, searching for the explanations and points of origin which led to the present moment, one’s point of view necessarily broadens in order to accommodate the new knowledge. In essence, history teaches one to zoom out and put things in perspective of the long view. I believe that individuals and societies that do not have a memory of how the present moment came to be and do not realize that their moment is a slight blip connected to a multitude of sequential blips are in danger of acting ignorantly because their perspective is narrowed to the present without hindsite or forethought. Many of the lessons that history teaches are an antidote to potential stumbles in the future. Gaining knowledge about how I am connected to a process that is anchored in history and extends into the future has imbued me with a strength of character and a sense of responsibility to not take the time that I’ve been given for granted.

The theme of memory features prominently in my painting Fort, Crosswinds Marsh. I had set out to this location to paint a view of the neighboring landfill as seen from the marsh while it was lit up with the golden glow of the

sunset; however, as I was walking through the woods to get to the marsh, I noticed this fort made out of sticks and I was immediately transported back to my own childhood in which I spent year after year in the swamp and woods behind my house with the other kids in the neighborhood exploring, playing imaginary games, and building forts. Not only did I look back on my own time building forts as a kid but I was reminded of the open lot across the street from where I currently live in the city. There is a patch of a few trees in the lot and each summer, kids from the neighboring apartment complex find whatever is available to build forts around the tree trunks, where they play games probably not too different from the ones that I had played with my friends in the woods of my youth. As I stood in front of this fort in Crosswinds Marsh, I realized that wherever there are kids playing and a bit of nature, it is likely that a fort is nearby. The one before me in that moment came to symbolize a sacred space of sorts, sheltering generations of childhood memories.

We have appreciated the delicate and thoughtful nuances that marks out your artworks, and that in White-tailed Deer at Fix Unit, Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge draw the viewers to a state of mind where the concepts of time and space become suspended. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in an artwork and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such unique results?

Alex Gilford: The Fix Unit of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is near Lake Erie, hidden away at the end of a dead end road, and wedged between farm fields and the DTE

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Alex Gilford (photo by Kristen Eakin)

Energy Fermi II Nuclear Power Plant. Although the unit is open for public visitation, it is a small somewhat secluded place that someone would likely not happen upon unless they were looking for it. Out of the way incongruous places like this are where I am most at ease and where I feel most inspired to make art. At its core, being an artist is an independent activity for me. It is an occupation which gives me the freedom to pursue my own authentic path to the outer edges, where most others don’t presently seem to be looking; this is where I feel liberated and where I seek to know a truer version of the self that I am in pursuit of.

Keeping up with contemporary trends in the field of the arts really does not play a role in motivating me to be an artist. I don’t pay much attention to whether what I am making is in sync with the current direction that the art industry is going in. I’m trying to stay sincere on my own path and if that happens to rub up against what is trending, that’s okay, but it isn’t guiding me. In fact, if I feel external pressure to take my art in a particular direction that doesn’t resonate with me, whether that pressure is real or imagined, I tend to push in the opposite direction in my own quiet determined way.

On the day that I went to Fix Unit to create this painting, the temperature had risen a few degrees from the previous day and some of the snow on the ground had begun to evaporate, creating a haze that hung over everything. As I walked into the field, a heavy wet snow began to fall. The snow mixed with the hissing steam that billowed out of the nuclear power plant’s cooling towers into the grey overcast sky. The features of the scene beyond my vicinity became dull and muted. In this floating space that seemed to exist

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Alex Gilford Beaver Stumps, Lake Erie Metropark, 12/15/21, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14" Alex Gilford (photo by Kristen Eakin)
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Willow, Lake Erie Metropark, 2/16/21, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"

somewhere out of time, a White-tailed Deer silently leapt across the dike into the tall grass, checked me, then disappeared into the mist. When I witness wild animals, I often get the feeling that they are divine beings that exist within a logical natural system. In these moments it feels apparent that we humans as a species, although yearning to be natural, exist in an artificial system of our own devising which has been progressively destroying animals and their world. This is the story that I tried to tell in the painting.

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you create your artworks in natural spaces, directly from life, engaging in a more intimate way: how important is for you to paint en plein air and how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?

Alex Gilford: In a simple way, the decision to get a portable french easel and begin painting en plein air started with a contemplation of time and how I want to spend it. I recognized that, for all I know, my time alive is limited and the minutes that have passed can not be resurrected. In considering this fact, it was clear to me that being outside in the presence of nature is when I feel happiest and healthiest and that I would experience a smaller degree of regret when looking back on my life if I had managed to spend a considerable amount of it in this way. I began to feel a sense of urgency to make this change in my life when I started working a full time job because the amount of time where I can choose to be outside, to dedicate to my art became much more limited and consequently more valuable.

The decision to begin painting en plein air also came from a desire to spend more time directly witnessing the world around me. I

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Alex Gilford (photo by Kristen Eakin)

don’t consider myself a luddite who denounces twenty-first century technology on the whole; however, in the context of how my time is utilized, I do lament the amount of it spent on screens having pseudo experiences. I feel that every irretrievable minute staring into a computer or a device is one where I am not fully present in the world around me. I am also concerned about the lack of peripheral vision and depth perception that goes into being on a computer or personal device and how those hours of physical sedation may detrimentally affect me when considered cumulatively.

We have appreciated the way you combine reminders to reality — as in the interesting Sun Pillar, Pointe Mouillee Marsh— with such unique dreamlike visual qualities. Scottish visual artist Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic works of art are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production?

Alex Gilford: Everything revolves around the particular subject matter that I choose; it is what I play off of. There are three primary dimensions that influence how I paint a subject: The elemental and temporal factors which are constantly in flux and changing the way that the subject appears, the interaction between my own feelings and state of mind with those of the subject, and whether or not there is a particular message or idea that I have about the subject that I would like to communicate. I feel that the most successful paintings contain a mix of these three dimensions.

Often, when a painter keeps an impartial distance from the subject and is solely concerned with the overly accurate depiction of the subject’s physical characteristics, I find that it falls a bit flat. I

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Alex Gilford Mute & Trumpeter Swans, Humbug Marsh, 2/19/21, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"
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Sun Pillar, Pointe Mouillee Marsh, 2/15/21, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"

appreciate this kind of work for its technical execution, but it rarely holds much mystery and doesn’t often pique my curiosity beyond an inquisition into its plastic elements. This type of verbatim painting is essential to any painter during their developmental phase because it advances the fundamental skills of picture making; however, a painter must build on these fundamental skills, push further, and communicate something that isn’t readily apparent about the subject. On the other hand, I often find that paintings that predominantly focus on emotions and cryptic ideas while neglecting craft and an understanding of materials, similarly don’t hold my attention for very long. Successful paintings strike an appropriate balance between the three aforementioned dimensions, as determined by the subject and what the artist is attempting to say.

In my painting, Sun Pillar, Pointe Mouillee Marsh, one of my primary concerns was to visually translate the emotions that I felt when I witnessed the sun pillar. One of the primary questions that I have received about this painting is, “did it really look like that?”

In a way, it did. When I drove out to the tip of the marsh and looked out past the frozen swampy archipelago to icy Lake Erie, the hot orange sun peeked over the horizon and shot a warm beam of light straight up into the cold purple sky. At first, I was looking through my windshield and I thought I might have been seeing a glare through the glass, so I got out of my car to find the shimmering vertical beam of light still there. I had never seen this atmospheric phenomenon before and I didn’t know anything about it at the time. In the painting, I tried to depict the perplexity and awe that I felt while looking at the sun pillar as well as the feeling of being

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captivated by an unknown and dwarfing force of nature. What I found out later is that “sun pillars, or light pillars, are shafts of light extending from the sun or other bright light sources under the right atmospheric conditions. They’re caused by ice crystals drifting in Earth’s air” (Byrd, “What are sun pillars or light pillars?”). The pillar of light had dissipated before I had begun putting it down on canvas so I relied on my memory and my impression of what I had seen. In memory, objective realities lose their definition as they dissolve into one’s personal narrative. I tried to embrace the dreamlike veil that memory drapes over everything to pull out the sun pillar’s emotive qualities.

It's important to remark that in addition to your work as an artist, you are a Stewardship Volunteer at a Wildlife Refuge and some State Parks, a work that provides you with an opportunity to physically care for the environment. Many contemporary artists, such as Chris Jordan and Michael Light, use to include socio-political criticism and sometimes even convey explicit messages in their works: do you think that artists could raise awareness about topical issues — as environmental themes — in our globalised society?

Alex Gilford: At its core, painting is a visual medium for communicating ideas. While I do believe that painting can be a valuable tool for theoretically grappling with important topical issues and affecting cultural change, I do not believe that the ideas presented in a painting have to, in all cases, be didactic in nature. In addition to having moral motives the ideas that a painting communicates could be deeply personal, they could reflect a familiar comfort or transport the viewer far away from the mundane, the ideas could challenge one’s perception of a subject thought to be already understood; the types of ideas that can be

communicated in a painting are endless and multiple idea categories can exist simultaneously within one painting. Not only that, they are dynamic and can shift depending on the interpretation of any given viewer and what they bring to the painting.

I feel that I approach my paintings from within my own personal narrative. I am painting scenes and subjects that I sense a connection with and I choose them because they reflect what is important to me. Between moving to an urban area to live closer to arts resources and working daily inside a building in the city, it became apparent that there was an integral part of my identity that I was not being nourished, the part of myself under the open sky roaming around in the woods somewhere. I started to volunteer with citizen science activities at parks and a wildlife refuge as a way to intentionally stay immersed in and engaged with the natural environment. The more time that I spend volunteering, the more I learn about, value, and feel responsible for the ecosystems in my region. Painting en plein air is a minimally invasive outdoor activity that utilizes natural spaces. In this way, it relates to the stewardship activities that I am involved in, which is why some of my paintings have an overt theme of conservation.

One example of this would be the painting, Sumac & Phragmites, St. John’s Marsh. The Phragmites depicted in the background of this painting are a variety that is not native to North America. It was transported and planted by people as an ornamental. In North America, it is considered invasive because it rapidly spreads, blocking native plants and wildlife from nutrients, causing eutrophication, and reducing biodiversity as

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Crows Over Snowy Field, Rifle River State Recreation Area, 12/27/20, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11"

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Elaine Crowe
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Downtown Detroit from Lake Muskoday, Belle Isle State Park, 7/20/20, Oil on canvas, 14" x 11"

it takes over and threatens unique wetland habitats like Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands such as St. John’s Marsh. The monotypic stands also present a fire hazard. The Sumac in the foreground, with its cones of bright red berries, is native to this region and has medicinal value.

Another example of a painting which contains the theme of conservation is, Enrico Fermi II Nuclear Power Plant and Rockwood Landfill Beyond Pointe Mouillee State Game Area. I painted this to direct attention to the hypocrisy of having a designated wildlife area beside a nuclear power plant and a landfill. Simultaneously, a view such as this is one of the idiosyncrasies of this rustbelt landscape. The environmental regeneration of previous industrial sites and the preservation of the fragmented natural habitats that remain is the reality here. While my motives are personal and my subjects are regional for the most part, I think that being inspired by nature and being concerned for its conservation are global themes. Particularly now, the existential threat of climate change and the decline of our natural world as a result of human greed and exploitation is something that is being reckoned with worldwide. It is a situation too big for any one person to solve completely, but individuals can start by learning about and actively caring for the natural world in the places where they live. I suppose that is the awareness that I am trying to create with my plein air paintings.

You are an established artist: you recently received the Honorable Mention from the Michigan Annual XLVIII at Anton Art Center, and over the years you participated to a number of exhibitions: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? By the way, as the move of Art

from traditional gallery spaces — to street and especially to online platforms as Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/alex_gilford_art — increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

Alex Gilford: One of the roles that the audience plays in the arts is determining societal value. As a painter, I am responsible for creating paintings that come from an honest place and for staying vigilant against producing superficially affected work. Because I made the paintings, I naturally feel that they have intrinsic value due to the fact that I am connected to them through the act of creation. Each painting is a part of my story. With that being said, paintings are ultimately made so that they may eventually be viewed by others.

Once the eyes of the public fall upon them, it is mostly out of my control to steer the way in which they are received. It would be maddening and futile to do-so. My original intent blends with the diverse experiences, interpretations, and intentions of the audience. They situate paintings in a broader societal context and determine whether they are worthy of being shared further or not. This process of broader transferability through audience validation is ongoing and is dependent on the shifting values, ideals, aesthetic tastes, etc. of each era. Societal judgment determines whether paintings are revered, despised, or whether they fall away from collective consciousness into obscurity; however, while audience endorsement plays an integral role in deciding the value of paintings, it does not account for the total value. In many cases the lowest common denominator is the most easily shared while

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Alex Gilford (photo by Kristen Eakin)

the most artistically ambitious paintings are disregarded by the least discerning public opinion. Also, in my opinion, the fundamental value that should never be overlooked lies in the relationship between the painting, the painter, and their original intent.

While online platforms are an ever-growing alternative to in-person art viewing venues, whether outside or indoors, it is my hope that they will not supplant them. A painting is a tangible manifestation of an idea, successfully achieved through the practice of a simultaneously thoughtful and physical activity. There is a, sometimes indescribable, energy that I feel when standing in front of a painting, knowing that the painter touched and created it with their own hands. This is especially pronounced when the painting comes to the viewer across time, by an admired painter who is no longer alive. Being in the presence of their original painting makes me feel like they are still there and that I am getting to know them personally as I contemplate their intent and study the physicality of their brush strokes.

Online platforms are a splendid resource for getting the word out there about one’s artistic practice and making connections that would be near impossible otherwise. This is especially true for painters that may live in areas where there are not bountiful arts resources in their local area. Painters and audiences can now directly connect on a global scale in the blink of an eye and that is profound; although, I do have some concerns about the relationship between artists and online platforms like social media.

When using social media, the volume of readily available images from across geography and time displayed on screens via algorithms is inundating. The benefit of this is that it briefly exposes the viewer to a vast amount of potentially inspiring

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Elaine Crowe Old Oak Hollow, Shiawassee Basin Preserve, 1/4/21, Oil on canvas, 11" x 14"
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White-tailed Deer at Fix Unit, Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, 1/26/21, Oil on Gessobord, 14" x 11"

imagery. But, I think it also presents challenges for artists trying to cut across the fray when their paintings become tiled images amongst infinite thumbnails presented in a format intended for passive scrolling. This format does not lend itself to in-depth engagement and thoughtful communication. The pressure to constantly produce content on online platforms in order to prove activity and increase one’s audience drives productivity in some ways but it also discourages prolonged research and development into a single piece because there is an expectation to rapidly create something new before the life of one’s previous post extinguishes. I also often reflect on what the impact is on the artistic process and intent of the painter when they know from the outset that their painting is destined to become a post on an online social media platform. Whether the impact is detrimental or not, I don’t quite know but it is certainly an influencing factor for artists that utilize these platforms.

All-in-all, I hope that online platforms drive broader audiences to view art in person, where they can take time to connect with the real thing.

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

Alex Gilford: Thank you so much for highlighting my artistic practice and I really appreciate you providing me with the space to share my thoughts. Coming up, I will have a

handful of paintings in an invitational group exhibition called Land to River. This will be at Studio 23 in Bay City, Michigan. It is curated by Valerie Allen and it is a partnership with Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy. The, “ …exhibition features artists as communicators, explorers, and environmentalists…The artwork will span topics that spotlight the natural beauty of Michigan as well as present narratives that have messages of conservation and awareness” (Studio 23). It will be on view from March 25thMay 15th. I will also have a couple paintings in an exhibition called Our Changing Climate at Huron Valley Council for the Arts in Highland Charter Township, Michigan. The exhibition will highlight “…local artwork that speaks to people about the importance of protecting our planet and inspires people to act now” (Huron Valley Council for the Arts). It will be on view from April 9th-April 30th.

Currently, I am focused on producing onehundred 11” x 14” plein air oil paintings that, for the most part, adhere to the alla prima format. At the moment, I’m about halfway there. I’m also striving for opportunities to partner with environmental organizations as an artist. I submitted an application to the Voices of the Wilderness Artist in Residence program with the U.S. Forest Service in Alaska. If I am accepted, that would take place this Summer 2021. Fingers crossed!

scape Land CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW
Elaine Crowe An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com
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