LandEscape Art Review, Special Edition

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LandEscape Contemporary

A r t

R e v i e w

Anniversary Edition

MATEJ MLAKAR ANGELA KINCAID SETH SEXTON JOYCE CAMILLERI NIKO KAPA KATIE HALLAM KIM ESHELMAN KRISTA GURCKA JANE HWANG

ART

Jane Hwang


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SUMMARY

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Anna Fine Foer

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

A r t

R e v i e w

Kim Eshelman

Niko Kapa

Joyce Camilleri

Seth Sexton

Katie Hallam

Matej Mlakar

USA

Greece / United Kingdom

Malta / Canada

USA

United Kingdom

Slovenia

Painting is a meditation that allows me to focus and become still, leaving the world outside and entering a place where I can fully express myself. Translating the beauty of nature around me into paintings has been incredibly healing for me. I believe the subjective lens though which we all view the world is a common thread between us. We have different stories but they’re all human stories intertwined with love, loss, pain, and joy. As with everyone, my experiences have shaped my reality both figuratively and visually. Painting has become the intimate bridge between my inner life and the outside world. What began as an intense desire to express myself has evolved into an aspiration to evoke emotions and a feeling of human connection in others.

Niko Kapa is an interdisciplinary artist, the essence of who’s work lies in experimentation, exploration of emotion and the projection of identity in space. Guided by his architectural background, he considers that environment is not something static, but is constantly reconfigured through its intercorrelation with people. He is concerned with the expressive and associative potential of art, perceiving artworks as fundamental spatial explorations, capable of describing experiences while manifesting their interrelationship to life. In his practice, object is treated as a metaphor of the human being, by linking place and its constituents directly to behaviour and activity. Using observation of surroundings, Niko seeks to discover and create new possible worlds and surprising multisensory occurrences.

As an artist teacher, my work aims at exploring the experiential value of drawing as a form of critical enquiry characterised by a timeless state of incompleteness recalling mankind’s continuous journey of becoming on paper and beyond its linear boundaries. Theory and practice meet in the drawing process as a visually poetic praxis, nourishing one’s intrinsic sense of wonder for the unknown and bringing about instances of meaningmaking and learning compelled by the artistic process itself. Such applied enquiry is drawn on a personal narrative of becoming both as an artist and researcher; a journey informed by theoretical and practical avenues of thought, which culminate in captivating visual forms that unite thought and action in the creative process.

Seth is a Seattle based multimedia artist whose current work emphasizes large scale painting choreographies. Raised on a farm in Chimacum, Washington, he spent his childhood summers alternately mowing fields, stacking hay bails and studying ballet. He left dance to pursue an education in biochemistry at the University of Washington and later went on to receive a BFA in painting. He began a successful collaboration with metal artist Cathy McClure called SID INC. This collaboration focused on multi-media installations and led to subsequent collaborations with artists internationally. Seth moved to Panajachel, Guatemala and spent 3 years studying Tzu'tu'jil and the indigenous arts and rituals of the Mayan people of the Atitlan region.

Technology can create visual problems. It is hard to see, it is difficult to understand the scale of or imagine as a physical infrastructure. It is also problematic to fully understand the environmental issues it can create beyond our personal devices. Technology is hidden in code, buried in tubes, stored in data centers and the ‘cloud’. As a visual artist and photographer, I am exploring ways of how to bring the digital into physical spaces through sculptural objects and site-specific landscapes, visualising how the technological sublime will disguise itself or fossilise within the Earth’s strata millions of years in the future. My practice began creating work with new media technologies through the construction and deconstruction of digital imagery, coding and unintentional errors that occur in our technological experiences.

My art comes simply from inner necessity to create. I usually get inspiration while I am outdoors immersed with nature. Sometimes when I see something interesting that start running my neurons I just take a shot with my cell phone and use a picture as a starting reference. The finished painting is usually quite different as I imagine it at the beginning. I usually need some starting point but then I expressionistically go with the flow. Sometimes I finish my painting in one go but other times I might fight with it many many times and even left it for a while. Some are also overpainted later or recycled. I am expressionist by my heart although I’ve been painting also realism and much more impressionism in the near past.

Special Issue


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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Katie Hallam

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lives and works in the United Kingdom

Jane Hwang

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lives and works in New York City, USA

Kim Eshelman

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lives and works in Battle Ground, WA, United States

Joyce Camilleri

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lives and works in Malta

Krista Gurcka

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lives and works in London, United Kingdom

Niko Kapa Angela Kincaid

Krista Gurcka

Jane Hwang

United Kingdom

Latvia / United Kingdom

South Korea / USA

My process-led practice is based on my personal engagement with the natural environment. In particular I am fascinated by the geological history of the Scottish landscape, and the movement of the sky, land and sea. As a starting point, I use my surrounding environment to research and develop visual documentation through the use of photography, film and drawing which I see as a collaboration between myself and the landscape. This approach often develops into site specific installations, sculptures and paintings that could be seen as having a performative aspect to them. In all my work, I hope to bring about an awareness of location that facilitates not only the exploration of place, but the emotive feelings of tranquillity and solace that can be felt, when we allow ourselves to fully experience the elemental nature of the ever-changing landscape.

Krista Gurcka is a London based visual photographer, whose work explores culture, landscape, environmental sustainability and community. Krista received a BA (Hons) in Photography graduating from Kingston School of Art, London, UK in (2018). The never ending change of landscapes is what draws Krista to travel, documenting its shift and impact on our communities while photographing the every day surrounding areas. This curiosity of movement has lead to an array of projects, that explore the human interaction with the natural while bringing in a new perspective of the environmental issues that may arise. Krista’s dynamic vision aims to highlight the strength and beauty of the land while displaying the negative and positive effect of the societies interactions upon the natural.

I explore boundaries. I observe dichotomous worlds prevalent in society and investigate their intersection, which has a unique and distinct character from both worlds. Through my interdisciplinary research into myths, religions, topography, and history, I uncover artifacts of the middle ground from various cultures. I materialize my research through multimedia video installations that feature images, sounds, and voices harvested from the endless circulation of time and space of human history. My work weaves through diverse subjects that examine life and death, time and space, fantasy and reality, nation and territory, and the self and the other. It questions and provokes skepticism about categorizations we have canonized over centuries and invites new discourses on categorical boundaries.

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lives and works in Dubai and London, UK

Angela Kincaid

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lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland

Seth Sexton

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lives and works in Seattle, WA, United States

Matej Mlakar

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lives and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia Special thanks to Miya Ando, Juerg Luedi, Urte Beyer, Beth Krensky, Rudiger Fischer, Lisa Birke, Haylee Lenkey, Martin Gantman, Ariane Littman, Max Epstein, Nicolas Vionnet, Sapir Kesem Leary, Greg Condon, Jasper Van Loon, Alexandre Dang, Christian Gastaldi, Larry Cwik, Michael Nelson, Dana Taylor, Michael Sweeney, Colette Hosmer, Melissa Moffat, Marinda Scaramanga and Artemis Herber.

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LandEscape meets

Katie Hallam Technology can create visual problems. It is hard to see, it is difficult to understand the scale of or imagine as a physical infrastructure. It is also problematic to fully understand the environmental issues it can create beyond our personal devices. Technology is hidden in code, buried in tubes, stored in data centers and the ‘cloud’. As a visual artist and photographer, I am exploring ways of how to bring the digital into physical spaces through sculptural objects and site-specific landscapes, visualising how the technological sublime will disguise itself or fossilise within the Earth’s strata millions of years in the future. My practice began creating work with new media technologies through the construction and deconstruction of digital imagery, coding and unintentional errors that occur in our technological experiences. I question the shape and form of digital culture and how this could be represented when it’s forced to slow down making us pause. I create work that goes against a logical order, that interprets the moments a ‘pure’ digital system can stretch, navigate and reveal its nonsense within a physical space even away from switched off devices. My research has developed through ongoing explorations connecting digital culture, ecology, geological deep time and the future use and sustainability of technology. Currently, I am exploring the concept of fossilised technology. Going beyond cause and effect, the material language I consider traces the digital and its geological constraints. I explore the idea of the legacy our digital culture will leave on the earth through combinations of experimentation creating hybrid manifestations through sculpture and digital materiality. Like alchemy, specific works connect new media technology with archaic power. These ‘digital-mineral hybrids’ are hypnotic works that sit against a background of open, natural and urban landscapes as I tease the question of a glitch in nature. My online archive is a way of visualising imperfection in digital culture and exploring technologically inspired sculpture.

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

Hello Katie and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your

artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.thebeautifulerror.com in order to get a wide idea about your multifaceted artistic production, and we would start this




Katie Hallam

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. You have a solid formal training: you hold a BA (hons) from Bishop Grosseteste University and an MA in Contemporary Art Practice, that you received from the University of Edinburgh: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your current artistic research? Katie Hallam: Early artistic practice for me began learning about the fundamentals of photography and how to use a camera from my grandad who also lectured on the subject and was incredibly technical and knowledgeable in his approach. I then chose to study photography at university developing an instinctive drive and further passion for it which led to working as a photographer within the commercial sector and then pursuing a career as an art teacher. My interests and explorations developed in the darkroom using alternative processes and techniques working with various films, papers and chemicals and I soon became fascinated by the unpredictable nature of creating imagery in this way. I rarely take a logical approach in my practice; I’ve always taken risks when it comes to traditional practices and tried to avoid being overly formal or stylistic. Experimentation has therefore been my strength to understand the limitations in whatever I do.

Having taught art and photography in secondary education for the past seven years, I have seen the phenomenal potential in the creative use of digital technologies and have certainly learnt a lot from the students being digital natives themselves! It’s been fascinating to see the increase in the use of technology to adapt the way we teach and learn about art to new generations. However, it has also highlighted both negative and positive effects on how we rely on technology and can become consumed with it. These personal experiences both in industry and through education continue to develop my practice; my work is always in a state of flux through continuous learning and response. In 2017 alongside teaching, I started ‘The Beautiful Error’, working mainly with photography and new media technologies creating aesthetically exciting works through the deliberate corruption and deconstruction of digital photographs. This was my way of visualising imperfection in digital culture and exposing it in every way possible, seeing beauty in images that are disrupted or frozen in a static space. In purposefully damaging and altering digital files I realised an important aspect of my process is that I could never recreate the same effect on an individual image, the results of my intentional experimentations were a surprise making each error unique


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and ‘beautiful’ in its own respect, similar to my explorations in the darkroom. Currently, my artistic research has dramatically transitioned through completing my recent MA at Edinburgh College of Art especially from a materiality point of view. I have begun looking at complex digital photographic collages and sculptural works which encourage dialogue between the connection of nature, technology and their future implications. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected Powering the Cloud, a stimulating body of works that our readers have already had the chance to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your exploration of the concept of fossilised technology is the way it raises questions about the everchanging idea of materiality in our media driven society, unveiling points of convergence between the nature of the medium and the message that it conveys: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us something about the genesis of Powering the Cloud? Katie Hallam: The glitched photographic imagery I was creating during the MA reminded me of harsh and rugged landscapes and chaotic pixels that wanted to break out from liquid crystal displays. This led to question what ‘digital’, in


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Special Edition


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comparison to a photographic format, could look like in a physical space or as an object, using different materials and surfaces placed in illogical environments that allow the viewer to touch digital or have a sense of disorientation as to what they were looking at. The concept of ‘Powering the Cloud’ therefore evolved through these ongoing explorations and focused on the impact of digital culture on our physical environment. Our landscapes are changing as landfills are being created across the globe piled high of disused and redundant technological devices and so the infiltration of chemicals, metals and materials will inevitably seep back into the earth’s surface, turn to dust to re-enter the air we breathe or merge and crystalise within new stratum; these works explore this idea and manifest in various shapes and form. The collection shows pieces of coal I sourced just before first lockdown from what was the last remaining Scottish surface mine quarry in Ayrshire. Coal was an obvious raw material to begin working with as it is natural compressed energy that was once viewed as an affordable and reliable energy source powering society. The extraction and burning of coal has been a subject of controversy in the past but I am using the material for its aesthetic qualities and symbolism for generating power.





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I created various digital renders of proposed sculptures which combined the archaic power of coal and digital imagery of eroded

and corrupted technology to not only to be seen but also touched by the viewer encouraging them to think about how our


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use of technology will eventually and literally become part of our future landscape. As part of my final master's

project, I created the ‘Powering the Cloud’ publication that takes you through the research areas, development ideas and




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methodologies to create large scale public sculptures together with photographic collections of digital collage and rendered print designs. The format and content in the book were created during lockdown and the location shots with sculptures in situ were taken in urban spaces in Edinburgh and local nature spots on my isolation walks. An important aspect of your artistic research is centered on the visualization of imperfection in digital culture, and we find

it interesting as much in process as it is in subject. In a certain sense, glitches and imperfection trigger the viewers' imagination addressing them to elaborate personal interpretations. How important is for you to offer to your audience multiple interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Katie Hallam: I am fascinated with the complexity of a digital image and the


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unpredictable nature of how an image can be altered either intentionally or via the simple product of an error, a glitch. These

errors in technology are normally fleeting moments or hiccups in transmission where screens freeze and break up the data. We




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all find these errors a lot less tolerated and something that just shouldn’t happen as we continue to strive for perfection and instant results in our visual culture. My work therefore offers the viewer to interpret a ‘glitch’ or an ‘error’ in technological experiences. Is it about too many people using a search engine at once or simply a bird sat on your satellite causing the interference? Errors are rare and have a bad reputation, but I find there is something aesthetically beautiful about their brief appearances and invite the audience to look beyond the broken pixels. I myself have reflected on the fact that I cannot wait around to capture a glitch happening, so I force the interruption and flow of my own photographs into evolving works which consider the value and degradation of images in the first instance. Similar to technology, my works have a simultaneous duality in their form and in their intrinsic content. The ‘digital-mineral hybrids’ are hypnotic works that sit against a background of open, natural and urban landscapes as I tease the idea of a glitch in nature. By placing these digital manifestations into contemporary settings, I like the humor, oddity and unsettling feelings they may bring to potentially come across one of these objects in everyday life, making us consider our use of technology and the impact it has on our future ecologies. The work should evoke some familiarity with the

digital colour palette and pixelated screens we consume everyday but by combining this aesthetic with natural materials creates a hybrid of uncertainty. The work goes against logic, intentionally capturing mistakes, interruptions and creating a physical example of how technology could be embedded into the Earth’s landscape. We have appreciated the way Powering the Cloud sheds a whole new light on the importance of the physical aspect of a work of Art, responding to Gerhard Richter's view about the emergence of meanings from the ''thing'' and its manifold significance: how do you consider the relation between the nature of the concepts that you explore in your artistic research and the physical aspect of your artworks? Katie Hallam: I appreciate nature, its textures, colours and changeable forms and I have always been drawn to the epic scale of impact of natural volcanic mountains, rough coastal lines that continue to be washed away to sea and even manmade formed landscapes such as quarries. We can take for granted the ground underneath us and the rich cultural history is holds in the many compressed layers of strata. When I pick up rocks, I find no matter what the scale, I am interested to notice the patterns and structure, how and where it was formed and what its journey has been; the


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relationship to nature in my work is paramount as I suggest that these objects and materials have long been before us and technology and will be around a long time after to show our imprint. I am currently working on projects to create large scale sculptural works in direct response to local geological and urban landscapes. Fossilisation takes on many forms and I interpret the subtle marks of glitches embedded, aged or uncovered within natural formations. The idea that these large digital fossils from the future that are placed deliberately in awkward and unhelpful situations means that the viewer is not only encouraged to notice them, touch them and to be seduced by the digital visuals but equally consider an awareness of the impact our technologies may have on the landscape and environment around us. Imagine on your walk that you came across one of these works hidden in a rock face, I believe that sculpturally the physical presence of these future fossils will create much more of a connection to the audience compared to printed works. I'm incredible proud of how my practice has developed from photographic into sculptural works and it comes at a poignant time relating to how we access and value public art, sculpture and monuments moving forward. We have been particularly fascinated by the aesthetic quality of the combination

between the tactile feature of your works and its reminder to the digital realm, to capture "the real", then digest it through your unique process, giving life to such ambiguous images: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production? Katie Hallam: Technology can create visual problems. It is hard to see, and it is difficult to understand the scale of or imagine as a physical infrastructure. It is also problematic to fully understand the environmental issues it can create beyond our personal devices we use every day. Technology is presented in many forms constantly flowing and hidden in code, buried in tubes and cables, stored in gigantic data centers and the virtual ‘cloud’. As a visual artist and photographer, I play with the illusions that are created where melted pixels look like painted brush strokes or threads of material and where recongisable textures look like deep cavities and futuristic data landscapes; the abstract has a significant part to play in my practice. This is a great question as we have become saturated and so desensitised to visual culture in a way that we could be in a position to lose the sense of value and materiality of an image. I purposefully exaggerate the seductive quality of colour




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in my work and when placed in opposition with a rough exterior of rock it creates a juxtaposition for the viewer to question what is real and what is digital. As there is no one format that digital technology presents itself to us in, the imagination is left to visualise a tactile version of moving pixels outside of a screen. New York City based sculptor and photographer Zoe Leonard remarked once that "the objects that we leave behind hold the marks and the sign of our use: like archeological findings, they reveal so much about us". As an artist particularly interested in the hybridization between sculpture and digital materiality, 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, do you plan to use found and recycled materials in your future projects? Katie Hallam: As well as using Photoshop and digital software programs to design and create printed compositions, I have considered the surface and presentation of many other formats to break down colour channels from my original glitched photographs. I have worked with building multiple layers and details through screen and riso printing for example and laser etching out digital designs into wood or perspex panels to them emboss and print with. I really enjoy the idea of over

production using one work in multiple ways to transfer images over and over, the results degrade the quality of the original digital image so it is almost unrecognisable but familiar at the same time recycling works where possible. However, I am developing works that now move between spaces critically asking how the work operates on a sensory level with the audience. The work challenges tactile, sensory and visceral de-materialised 'space' of the digital predominantly in sculptural form. The processes involved in current projects aim to use large scale metal frames, cast rocks in bronze, resin, silicone and concrete combined with digital imagery printed, embossed, stretched and wedged between these forms. I use printed webbed and woven elastic straps as a material to suspend, touch and stretch manipulating the space and balance in comparison to cold, smooth concrete slabs or aluminum surfaces. This encourages bodily responses to either walk on, sit on, touch or simply look at the works and highlights some of the materials used in our own devices. Over the years you had you artworks featured in a number of group exhibitions around the United Kingdom, as well as your solo The Beautiful Error, at Gallery St. Martin, Lincoln: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your


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


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Katie Hallam: The way we access, buy and discuss art online has transformed dramatically and I have actively grown a

broader network of support during my MA and in lockdown especially at a time when physical degree shows were taken to the


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virtual realm; social media has played a huge and successful part in this and opened new opportunities for artists to consider alternative gallery spaces. My practice has been predominantly photography based showing works in art fairs and various exhibitions but during the last year the time in isolation allowed me to think differently and transform the way I create and promote my work. During lockdown I got involved in online artist residencies, artist features in magazines, livestream art events, I designed a virtual art exhibition and now sell work through various new online galleries and art initiatives such as the Artist Support Pledge. I have been impressed by the creativity, support and generosity shown through social media to support emerging artists and to keep the art economy going in these recent times. The emergence of NFT’s to promote digital art has also created a huge buzz in the artworld and as I read and research more about these new platforms, I continue to see where my work fits best. 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, Katie. What projects are you currently working on, and

what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Katie Hallam: I am currently directing time to settling into my new studio space whilst continuing to create a balance between my teaching and art practice. I have a few collaborative projects this year with local sculpture workshops and exchanges with an Indonesian artist organisation. There will be a new series of Powering the Cloud sculptures coming soon, and I am delighted to be planning a commission for a new bronze sculpture of a rock and embedded circuit board! I am most excited about working with artists collaboratively, finding ways to exhibit work locally and getting involved in open calls and opportunities to help develop the sculptural work. Having settled now in Scotland I am interested in finding locations that have a historic or geological interest where once there may have been a disused quarry, a commercial data factory, a prehistoric cave or an archaeological site. Derelict sites with remains of industry, especially related to technology, would be interesting to respond to creating installation work perhaps with sculpture, projection and sound work combined. An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com



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LandEscape meets

Jane Hwang I explore boundaries. I observe dichotomous worlds prevalent in society and investigate their intersection, which has a unique and distinct character from both worlds. Through my interdisciplinary research into myths, religions, topography, and history, I uncover artifacts of the middle ground from various cultures. I materialize my research through multimedia video installations that feature images, sounds, and voices harvested from the endless circulation of time and space of human history. My work weaves through diverse subjects that examine life and death, time and space, fantasy and reality, nation and territory, and the self and the other. It questions and provokes skepticism about categorizations we have canonized over centuries and invites new discourses on categorical boundaries. Often, I float on a secluded island in the middle of the deep abyss, stand on it, and look at the land of ‘I’— an accumulation of time. The island, both utopian and dystopian, is riddled with desires and taboos, regardless of society and culture. I would find our island, record it, and collect forgotten pieces of artifacts from the bridle of life somewhere among an infinite repetition of cognition, experience, and memory. In this era, when people are dragged into the digital world and are demanded to embody their senses into this immaterial realm, my practice focuses on expanding territories of engagement between viewers and artwork. In this context, I analyze the inertia of perceptions and customs in our society, and pursue decolonization through my art. Korean society has developed rapidly with multi-layered narratives such as colonization and liberation, war and division, and dictatorship and democracy. During this reformation, only few traditions were valued and recognized; all others were deemed unimportant and branded public enemies that must be defeated. Through my work, I explore the memories, people, emotions, and values that have been forgotten from this gap in history. I want to fill the gaps in history that are taboo by giving them a narrative. This is to occupy the areas left blank in our memories with stories and reveal the lands of memories from our history to the public.

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

Hello Jane and welcome to LandEscape.

Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://janehwang.com in order to get a wide idea about your mulifaceted



Cloudchoir for our Beloved (2020) Compact cassette, 20mins (Photo: Dongryoung Han)


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Cloudchoir for our Beloved (2020)

Cloudchoir for our Beloved (2020)

Compact cassette, 20mins (Photo: Dongryoung Han)

Compact cassette, 20mins (Photo: Dongryoung Han)

artistic production, and we would start this

do your formative years influence your evolution as an artist?

interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training: you hold a B.F.A. in Painting, that you received from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, and you are currently nurturing your education with a Master of Arts in Art in Context, that you are currently pursuing at Berlin University of the Arts: how

Jane Hwang: Hello. Thank you for having me. I am pleased to introduce my work to LandEscape readers. As you mentioned, I studied undergrad in Boston and am currently based in Berlin and Seoul. While studying at the Massachusetts College of Art, I constantly asked myself


Cloudchoir for our Beloved (2020) Compact cassette, 20mins (Photo: Dongryoung Han)



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questions about and perpetually interrogated which society I belong to. Since I was born in the U.S. and raised in South Korea, both countries could be my home, but I could also be a bit of a foreigner anywhere. During that time, my major concern was how to embed the perspective that I formed as an insider and as an outsider into my artistic production. After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I went back to Seoul immediately and got various jobs in the art field over several years. From a curator at commercial galleries, an artist’s assistant, a freelance illustrator to a virtual set designer at the broadcast system, I utilized my creative skills and knowledge as much as I could. Meanwhile, I could fully be immersed into the Korean society as a part of the system, experiencing the beauty and the ugliness of the art industry as a young female artist, including unstable employment, underpaid income, unpaid overwork, and gender stereotypes. Throughout that period of time, I became acutely aware of the perspective and lens that I want to witness the society through, and with whom I want to share myempathy. Ironically, this evolution as an artist arose at a time in which I was not producing any original artwork. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected CloudChoir for our Beloved, a stimulating an online movement and performance project in which artists of various nationalities sing the song "The

Cloudchoir for our Beloved (2020) 1-ch. video installation, 4:45, HD

March for Beloved," a symbol of freedom struggle in Asian countries. What has at once


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captured our attention of your project is the way it goes beyond any cultural and

linguistical barrier, to convey a message of freedom, communicating at the same time a


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island of is and yous (2019) Exhibition Documentation 5-ch. sound installation, 24:26 (Photo: Wan Ham)

sentiment of hope: when walking our readers through the genesis of CloudChoir for our

Beloved would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea?


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composed of compact cassettes and a video. Last year, I had a chance to play a South Korean protest song, 'March for our Beloved' in front of the peer artists without explaining the lyrical context. Although most listeners didn't understand the original Korean lyrics, they could perceive the climate of the music and its urgency. We were able to resonate with the music immediately, almost instinctively. That moment catalyzed the development of this project. The original song was recorded under the military regime's radar in 1982. Singing and listening to this song was banned at that time; therefore, labor movements circulated the song by word of mouth. Considering its history, I couldn't think of a better format than collective work for this project. I gathered participants who could sing the song in one of the Asian languages and, more importantly, who support freedom and democracy in Asian countries. Through Facebook posts, group emails, and word of mouth, I posted a call for contributors. Finally, nine artists from different parts of the world were invited to collaborate.

Jane Hwang: 'CloudChoir for our Beloved (2020)’ is a collective audio project,

Despite the widespread accessibility of the song in the ‘80s and ‘90s throughout many Asian countries, currently, only a few translations are available online. Therefore, some artists worked on translation and confirmation of the lyrics in their chosen languages. Accordingly, the project could include Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin,



island of is and yous - artist’s book (2019) 32 pages, riso print, 100 Edition (Photo: Dongryoung Han)


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Stone Stacking (2020) 1-ch. video installation, 4:09, loop, HD

Japanese, Bahasa Indonesia, Telugu, and English, as well as instrumental languages.

Solidarity was undoubtedly the core foundation of this project.


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Stone Stacking (2020) 1-ch. video installation, 4:09, loop, HD

CloudChoir for our Beloved is the result of

group of creative minds. It's no doubt that

the collaboration between a multicultural

collaborations — especially between artists



Stone Stacking (2020) 1-ch. video installation, 4:09, loop, HD


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from different backgrounds and culture — are today ever growing forces and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds meet and collaborate on a project: how do you consider the role of randomness and improvisation bound up to the large number of contributors?

Jane Hwang: This collaboration taught me the importance of sharing the spirit and context of a project. As a matter of fact, it was explicitly open for the improvisation of participating artists. It was moreso a display of solidarity with freedom in Asian countries than a technical collaboration. Consequently, despite our work being virtually all remote, it was possible to allow each other flexibility throughout the production process. Artists chose in which language to sing, where to sing, the tempo, the pitch, and how to record. Moreover, one artist sent me an email that he wanted to participate with an instrument because it was his voice and didn't speak any Asian languages. I believe that this openness manifested itself in unique and compelling contrasts between pictures and audio in the final result of the project. When thinking of the collaboration in a larger sense, I hope this project will reach potential contributors in the future. Some artists showed interest but decided not to participate in this project, because singing for democracy in a public space could place


Jane Hwang

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Water and Blood (2020), Exhibition Documentation 2-channel video installation, loop, HD


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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Water and Blood (2020), Exhibition Documentation 2-channel video installation, loop, HD


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them in a compromised political position in their home countries. To illustrate this predicament, I put some blank space at the end of the cassette tape. If someone wants to participate unofficially, they can press the record button and add their version of the song to the project at any time. That would be the completion of the collaboration of this project, I believe. Artists from different eras and geographical locations — from French painter Eugène Delacroix, passing through Pablo Picasso, to more recently Fang Lijun — use to communicate more or less explicit political messages in their artworks: how would you consider the degree of openess of the messages that you convey in your artworks? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

Jane Hwang: Although I try to convey political messages through my artwork, this is no more than my personal view of society. The political messages that I convey in my work tend to mirror past events. Specifically, the threads of the past are so inextricably woven together, like a gigantic knitting ball, that it is often difficult to know where one begins and where one ends. Even though some of my work is quite Korean-specific or Asianspecific, I believe that there are common threads present in the political histories of different countries across the globe. Once we identify these patterns, it is possible to


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empathize with others and it is this empathy for others that will let viewers weave these narratives into their current context. We have appreciated the powerful allegorical feature of Water and Blood, a stimulating twochannel video installation that our readers can get to know at https://janehwang.com/Waterand-Blood. How did you come up with the idea of this interesting work? In particular, how do you consider the role of symbols and metaphors in your creative process?

Jane Hwang: ‘Water and Blood (2020)’ is the main project I’ve completed during the artist in residency program in Iceland, occurring during my second visit to the island. On my first visit, I completed a soundscape project titled ‘island of is and yous (2019)’, which includes multiple layers of the locational sound of Iceland. Since then, Iceland has always been a great inspiration for the central themes of my work, such as life and death, a space beyond visibility, and the communication across existence. ‘Water and Blood’ started from one old Icelandic sorcery. It is said that this specific spell gives the power to see the past and the future throughout the world from a day over centuries. Based on the documentation, the spell requires certain ingredients such as 'the water from a raven's eye’ and 'blood from the hearts of a man and a woman who have loved each other with all their hearts but never consummated their love.’

In this video installation, the ingredients are symbolized and liquified as different water sources in Iceland. Through my journey to find magical materials, I collected metaphorical water and blood and brought them to the exhibition space. The ingredients of the supernatural power are embodied in various forms of water resources between the endless circulation of the sky and the earth, such as glacier water, geothermal water, and fog particles. You are a versatile artist and your artistic practice encompasses multimedia video installations that feature images, sounds and voices: how do you consider the role of technology in your approach? In particular, do you think that the chance of taking advantge of cutting edge technologies could even shape and direct creativity?

Jane Hwang: Technologies are alluring. It is obvious that technology not only inspires my artistic methodology but also expands the actual art productions. Nevertheless, my experience demonstrates that it has something to do with the intensity of impression, not with the impression itself. Although I am always open to learn new technologies and enjoy seeing artwork related to it, I am pretty cautious about bringing them into my artwork. When I worked as a VR designer many years ago, I learned how delicate it is to apply a proper degree of new technologies, in order to instill excitement and not fear into the hearts of


Water and Blood (2020), Exhibition Documentation 2-channel video installation, loop, HD


Water and Blood (2020), Exhibition Documentation 2-channel video installation, loop, HD


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viewers. For me, technologies are merely carriers of what is already inside. ‘Stone Stacking (2020)’ is a short video that I made using photos of stones I collected over the years. It shows the incessant movement of assemblage and deconstruction of stones, and it was intended to be displayed at the exhibition space entrance. In Korean culture, people stack stones to wish for blessings, and stone towers at village entrances often symbolize warding off evil spirits. The restriction of movement during the pandemic, motivated me to rediscover my old archive which included photos, sound recordings, footage, collected objects, and texts. As our digital carbon footprint becomes a pressing issue in the face of increasing technological development, this project aims to explore alternative solutions by recycling data as opposed to perpetuating the existing patterns of unrestrained data production. Your artistic production weaves through such wide variety of themes, and as you have remarked in your artist's statement, you want to fill the gaps in history that are taboo by giving them a narrative: as an artist particularly interested in the themes of myths, religions, topography, and history, how does your cultural substratum due to your Korean roots address the direction of your artistic research, and how does your current life's experience fuel your creative process?

Jane Hwang: If you could place a snapshot of Korea during the Korean War beside a

snapshot of Korea in the present day, you will be overwhelmed by the massive contrast before your eyes. Now more than ever, the polarities and distinctions between generations, genders, social values, regulations, and so on are clear. While the economic development of the nation was prioritised after the war, many other values have been neglected. Through my artistic research, I aim to uncover the narratives about the people, events, and tragic memories that have been buried following the war and to illuminate the gaps between times. Over the years your works have been showcased in several occasions, including Octagon, Museum für Fotografie Berlin, Atelierhaus Salzamt, and Icelandic Visual Artists Association: as an artist whose practice focuses on expanding territories of engagement between viewers and artwork, 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 and Vimeo — increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

Jane Hwang: The interventions of my artwork and my viewers happen by transcending time and space. As an artist who primarily works with digital art and media, my relationship to my audience is


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rather unpredictable due to the nature of my artwork. It is uncertain where and when someone will meet my work. However, art showcased on online platforms is trickybecause you do not know under which circumstances the viewers will consume the artwork. For example, they can watch the video on Instagram involuntarily while scrolling down or watch the same video with full HD television at home. It is impossible to control every inch of the viewer’s environment like I can in my own exhibition, such as technical specification, the brightness of the space, volume, etc. In contrast, it would be utterly ignorant ifartistsdo not care about how their work will be seen unless randomness is theirintention. I think that the transmission of art from physical spaces to online platforms causes a lot of loss in artistic details. Compared to physical exhibitions where artists can direct the environment and mood of the art in its surroundings, art showcased on online platforms is subjected to an unpredictable environment that the audience is in. 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, Jane. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?


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Water and Blood (2020) 2-channel video installation, loop, HD


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Water and Blood (2020) 2-channel video installation, loop, HD

Special Edition


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Jane Hwang: Since 2019, I have been working on a project that is researching the civilian massacre in South Korea before and during the Korean War. I am developing an artistic methodology of not forgetting the history that our generation did not get to experience and share memories with victims through a multidisciplinary approach. Now, the digitalization of art has become an inevitable task for artists. It started from a question of how the present generation will be able to share empathy by shifting the physical logic of commemorative culture to the digital world. Besides this long-term project, I am also working on a short video that can be considered a sequel to my previous work, 'island of is and yous (2019)' and 'Water and Blood (2020).' This new project will tell a story about an encounter of two women, while one has passed away and the other is still alive. In terms of future works and ideas I hope to explore, I am interested in incorporating the scientific approach to my main themes of my work relating to life and death, and communications over time and space. Physics always inspires me with its poetic explanations of time and space, and I hope to bring this scientific essence into my future artwork. Thank you to the readers behind the monitor for reading me.


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LandEscape meets

Kim Eshelman Painting is a meditation that allows me to focus and become still, leaving the world outside and entering a place where I can fully express myself. Translating the beauty of nature around me into paintings has been incredibly healing for me. I believe the subjective lens though which we all view the world is a common thread between us. We have different stories but they’re all human stories intertwined with love, loss, pain, and joy. As with everyone, my experiences have shaped my reality both figuratively and visually. Painting has become the intimate bridge between my inner life and the outside world. What began as an intense desire to express myself has evolved into an aspiration to evoke emotions and a feeling of human connection in others.

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

Hello Kim and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.kimeshelman.com in order to get a wide idea about your stimulating artistic production, we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have been painting in a variety of mediums and styles for over 30 years: are there any experiences that

particularly influenced your evolution as a visual artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum address the direction of your current artistic research on the theme of landscape? Kim Eshelman: My journey as an artist has gone through many iterations. When I first began painting I worked abstractly on very large canvases. I was drawn to the pure color and energy that I had seen other artists work such magic with. As I evolved as an artist and my skills developed I began to incorporate figures into my abstract pieces. One of the first series I created that was widely exhibited was an


Kim Eshelman Photo by Lisa Mize Photography


Last light, 12 x 9


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abstracted series of jazz musicians. My father is a saxophonist and he instilled an appreciation in me for the intuitive and spontaneous creative force that many jazz virtuosos express through their music. In a sense I was working at translating that creative force into another art form, painting. Throughout the years as I have grown more introspective, so has my body of work. Moving into a rural area has certainly influenced my choice of subject matter and I’ve naturally gravitated toward painting the landscape. After living many years in the Seattle area with my studio in a large artists community downtown, I recently moved to a very rural area near the base of Mount St. Helens, close to where I was raised. I grew up exploring these forests and lakes and as my body of work has progressively veered toward landscapes it is like coming home both figuratively and literally. 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 sense of oneness of human perception and the connection 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? Kim Eshelman: The generation of ideas for my paintings is aligned with my setup and process in the sense that I don’t have a systemized set of working steps for either. Exploring new processes by experimenting with different substrates, incorporating different mediums into my work such as pumice or marble dust, using different

underpainting techniques, exploring new subject matter and the like is what keeps me coming back to the easel. I get bored easily and I’m constantly searching for new and exciting ideas that will stimulate my creative process. That stated, there are a few constants in my work. I have gravitated toward working solely with pastel as my medium of choice. The immediacy of using dry pigment and the ability to layer directly on the surface with no drying time fits my restless personality. It allows me to paint and bring a piece to a finish quickly, which is my preferred method of working. I also love drawing, and working with pastel gives me the ability to combine the aesthetics of drawing into my painting more so than I’ve found with other mediums. Slashing in hatch marks or allowing the underlying armature of a piece to become part of the finished painting by either leaving areas unfinished or loosely indicating the “bones” on top of the “body” of a piece is something I love to do. Having the stick of pigment directly in my hand with no brush in between myself and the substrate also removes a layer of distance between myself and the painting. Inspiration for my work can range from reference photos I’ve taken of a passing forest while driving, dreams I’ve had, or just walking out my front door and learning from the constantly changing environment around me. In the era of Covid and the limitations of travel it’s imposed I’ve also occasionally worked collaboratively with friends/photographers who have allowed me to garner inspiration from a reference they’ve provided. Your artworks are marked out with such sapient combination between rigorous


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sense of geometry and careful choice of tones, that provide your works with a unique aesthetic identity: do you create your works intuitively, instinctively in order to capture your idea and crystallize it on your canvas? Kim Eshelman: As I delve deeper into the landscape I find my compositions are largely intuitive. For example, I’ve noticed that I paint much more often in a vertical format rather than the traditional horizontal format without consciously realizing until recently this is my preference. When painting landscapes I find myself drawn to composition in a more traditional sense of arranging elements in the picture plane in a stable geometric structure. Even though much of my landscape work edges toward abstraction I believe a strong armature is key to a successful painting. Moving from abstraction to more representational work has allowed me to experience composition in a myriad of ways. I have never spent a lot of time planning a painting, probably because I am such an immediate painter and want to delve straight into the piece. I believe this method helps me create some of my best works because the spontaneity translates to the substrate. If I’m working on a commissioned painting I will more likely do some thumbnails and color studies prior to starting in order to achieve a final piece that is aligned with what my client wants. But overall I don’t have a formula, I have ideas. If I’m quiet enough, the painting comes out on its own instead of me trying to make the painting come out. To me that is a successful piece. You are a versatile artist and your artistic production encompasses a wide variety of


Kim Eshelman

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End of the day, 12x16


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Country road, 9x12

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subject matter and style: what does direct you to explore such a wide breadth of subjects? Kim Eshelman: For me subject matter is subverted to the overall goal of my work, which is human connection. If I have an idea or emotion that I want to express, something that I believe will resonate with my viewer, I’ll paint it regardless of whether is’s a tree, a portrait of a person, a still life, or anything else. Allowing a wide repertoire of subjects in my work also keeps the studio experience fresh for me. it might be wiser from a career perspective to build a cohesive body of work that focuses on one genre such as landscape, but I’ve always been more interested in cultivating my personal growth as an artist. And I believe exploration whether it be regarding subject matter or anything else- is key to encouraging growth. One of your primary goals as an artist is to distill your subjects into their absolute essence, and we really appreciate the way you capture their inner spirit, released from contingency and from any kind of contextualization. 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? Kim Eshelman: Yes, my hope is to engage my viewer and allow them to bring their


Evening song, 12x18



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own perceptions to what they’re seeing. That’s part of the reason so much of my work edges toward abstraction. Engagement occurs when all parties are actively engaged, not when one tells the whole story and the the other just listens. I recently had a viewer ask me about what I meant to say with a particular painting, and my response was that my goal was to have them interested enough to study it and come to their own conclusions. The process is initially a communication between myself and the painting, but it will eventually become three way communication between myself, the painting, and the viewer. We have appreciated the delicate and thoughtful nuances that marks out Here with me, as well as the intense tones that provide Market Day from your Still Life series with such unique visual dynamism. 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 in order to achieve such unique results? Kim Eshelman: Who I am and how I perceive changes daily based on my moods and experiences, and my art reflects this. I’ve gone through tonal phases where my palette is quite muted as opposed to the intense color work of the above mentioned pieces. Walking into the studio daily is as much as exploration of who I am as it is an exploration of the painting process. Here with me and Market Day were both created on Sennelier La Carte paper. It’s a beautiful


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The glen at dawn, 9x12


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This moment, 12x 15.5

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French substrate that’s created by spraying a vegetable grind onto an archival surface. This surface doesn’t allow any wet underpainting but the texture lends itself beautifully to a loose and painterly approach. I use this substrate when I want to work directly without putting a lot of time into an underpainting. Usually I’ll start with soft willow charcoal to loosely lay in the armature and then directly start in with very soft pastels. With other paintings such as The River Now, I work on a sanded paper (UART 320) and implement a layering process of pastel with various other mediums such as gamsol, pumice gel, clear gesso, acrylic, watercolor, and even surgical spirits to create the textural effects I’m after. I also use palette knives, push pins, and various other found objects to create texture and variety. Many of your artworks feature natural spaces, that seem to be captured directly from life, engaging in such an intimate way: how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research? In particular, how do you consider the role of memory playing within your artistic process? Kim Eshelman: Living in the country and having immediate access to the forest and field that surrounds my home provides a lot of my inspiration. I am fortunate enough to be able to open my studio door and walk into the glade of trees in my front yard, which I have painted many times (A Study of Light is an example). However, I am mainly a studio painter because I enjoy having the wide range of tools and materials I need at hand to create the effects I desire. Regarding the role of memory and how it


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Happiness, 12x9

If I entered, 16x12

works in my process, I think it is one of many facets that contribute to my work. When I begin a painting I try to start by truly seeing, truly listening to the scene. It is inevitable that my mood, my memories and experiences, will all influence the outcome of the piece. I think it’s the combination of my immediate response to what the scene is, as well as who I am as an individual and my past experiences, memories, moods, and current physical experience that creates a unique painting, a piece with my signature, my thumbprint on it. I’ve had many viewers tell me they recognize my work immediately

regardless of whether it is a portrait, still life, or landscape. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, painting has become the intimate bridge between your inner life and the outside world, and we have appreciated the way you combine reminders to reality 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


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Portrait of a tree, 12x9


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A study of light, 12x9

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Storm impression, 12x9

The River Now, 16x12

and imagination, playing within your artistic production?

consciousness of a scene that lies beyond our tangible world -our so called everyday realityyet a place that everyone will naturally recognize. I believe that in this place lies the connection of all people and in fact all living things. Rumi said “There is a field beyond all notions of right and wrong. Come, meet me there.” In order to find these paintings within myself I often have to flesh out many other paintings whose end result may not reflect what I initially desired. I might even find them cliche or a bit boring, a bit too conventional. But I don’t look at these paintings as failures. They are simply steps on the path that are

Kim Eshelman: I attempt to keep my landscapes open to engagement by leaving out detail and creating a space for mystery to enter. Perception is reality and everyone perceives differently, yet my goal is to find a common ground between myself and my viewers. I would posit that the question should instead be how I consider the relationship between reality and perception playing within my artistic production. I want to express the sense of place, the


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Summer bouquet, 12x9

Market day, 16x12

taking me closer to the destination of the painting in Rumi’s field, finding a painting that is distilled to it’s truthful essence. So my work is not about the landscape as much as it is about connection; human connection, but also the individual’s connection to everything. When I capture the truth and essence of something for what it is, I have succeeded. People often say my paintings are peaceful yet full of energy. This is a great compliment to me because the landscape (as well as all other subject matter) communicates emotion and energy and I try to translate that to the picture plane. It’s not about the subject

matter, it’s about the emotion and connection that is conveyed. You are an established artist: your work is in public and private collections worldwide and over the years you have participated in lots 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/kim_eshelman — increases, how would in your opinion


Kim Eshelman

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Sleepy asters, 12x9


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Here with me, 12x18

change the relationship with a globalised audience? Kim Eshelman: By and large I think the move

from traditional gallery spaces to online platforms is positive for both 2-D visual artists and viewers. It vastly expands the ability to reach a wider audience. The costs


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community. I’ve made many virtual friends with fellow artists and we’ve been able to help each other grow and learn through sharing techniques and giving each other support. On the flip side, there is something lost when you take away the real life experience of walking up to a painting and viewing it live. Seeing the textures, colors, and feeling the energy of the piece is something that cannot be replicated through the internet. 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, Kim. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Kim Eshelman: I’m currently exploring figure work and learning from life models, which is something new for me. I’ve also been finding myself more fascinated with portraiture lately and have been dabbling in that. I believe landscapes will always be my primary passion but challenging myself with new subject matter always yields positive results that can be incorporated into all facets of my work. On the landscape front I’ve been experimenting lately with new textural materials seeing how it affects my final vision. I’ve also been enjoying pushing the color envelope to new levels by desaturating reference photos I’ve taken and completely imagining the color palette instead of relying on local color. of shipping work to galleries is also diminished for the artist by using an online platform. I think globalization has also created a stronger bond within the artistic

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


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LandEscape meets

Joyce Camilleri As an artist teacher, my work aims at exploring the experiential value of drawing as a form of critical enquiry characterised by a timeless state of incompleteness recalling mankind’s continuous journey of becoming on paper and beyond its linear boundaries. Theory and practice meet in the drawing process as a visually poetic praxis, nourishing one’s intrinsic sense of wonder for the unknown and bringing about instances of meaning-making and learning compelled by the artistic process itself. Such applied enquiry is drawn on a personal narrative of becoming both as an artist and researcher; a journey informed by theoretical and practical avenues of thought, which culminate in captivating visual forms that unite thought and action in the creative process. The latter process of becoming succeeds to transcend the linear boundaries of the paper, as other forms of creativity manifest themselves in other aspects of life, where new knowledge is continuously formed and reformed. My art practice is grounded on the regular and intensive dedication to the life class, which is postulated as a practical site to rehearse my performative capacities of research, which are grounded on the sheer observation and visual understanding of the human body. In this sense, life drawing is regarded as a form of ethnographic field of enquiry that puts me, as an artist and thus art researcher, in the position to witness, study and eventually document the visual narratives and experiential knowledge conveyed by human forms. The utter manifestation of the self is thus stimulated by the corporeal presence of others, through an interactive mode of observation that draws on the meaningful relationship that exists between experience, practice and research, which act as knowledge signifiers. Such art practices eventually result in the development of contemporary studio-based drawing approaches that are regarded as essentially interpretative forms of art, particularly fuelled by dynamic semiotic processes. In this view, the purpose of drawing is not restricted to the mere representation of the external world, but is valued as a tool to construct alternative visual realities based on thoughtful negotiation between external visual signifiers and in-built symbolic systems. Indeed, such concepts value the poetic space of drawing for its power to unite verbal and non-verbal forms of expression. In this sense, whilst drawings take the form of non-verbal poems, poetry takes the form of a verbal image. My non-verbal and verbal works draw on possible conclusions from the previous enquiring discourses that explore the nature of drawing as a true learning experience that involves an audacious leap into a new ontological space; a space characterised by a continuous renewal of the self. In turn, such artistic processes nurture my view of the world as a state of intermittent change, through a phenomenology of thought and action uniting concrete experience and consciousness into an ephemeral and yet visually tangible dimension.

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

Hello Joyce and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your

artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://joycamilleri.wordpress.com in order to get a wide idea about your multifaceted artistic production, and we




Joyce Camilleri

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would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training: after having earned your first degree in art teaching at the University of Malta, you nurtured your education with a diploma course in artistic printmaking at the Malta School of Art under the tuition of Anton Grech. Meanwhile you also pursued further training at the International Summer Academy of Fine Arts in Salzburg, through masterclass workshops with German artist Michael Morgner and most recently with Austrian artist Tobias Pils: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your current artistic research?

Joyce Camilleri: These varied forms of formal training altogether have influenced my practice in a scaffolded manner. The course in art teaching was mostly pedagogy oriented, giving me a theoretical insight into the elements of art and principles of design as foundations for art teaching and learning. Such pedagogic focus left little or no space for hands-on artistic practice, thus not quenching my thirst to delve

into a thorough studio research. For this purpose, I soon sought further training under the mentorship of Anton Grech at the Malta School of Art, who introduced me to various printmaking techniques that included, xylography, etching and monoprinting, paired with the regular practice of the life class. It was here that I developed an extended interest in printed textures and where I rediscovered my earlier fascination for the representation of the human form through drawing. Alongside I attended two masterclass workshops with Michael Morgner, who introduced me to a variety of ink drawing and painting techniques, also paired with life figure drawing. Here the observational and the interpretative merged perfectly into a body of work that united idea and method in tangible manner. A sheer interest for line and form started emerging, and whist the element of colour gradually transmuted into a rather limited palette, my work developed into filtered traces of black and white spaces and textures on paper. Such training was followed by the M. Ed Artist Teacher at the University of West of Scotland, which


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combined my dual interest for teaching and art practice. The latter master’s degree was a pivotal experience in not only upkeeping a more regular artistic practice but also in developing a sharpened ability to articulate my arts practice verbally, hence giving it a higher relevance as a form of continuous visual research. My latest workshop with Tobias Pils was a mere celebration of the above experiences altogether, where critical theory and practice out-balanced each other flawlessly. Nowadays I have extended my home studio, I am organising weekly life drawing sessions in my hometown for myself and other fellow artists and have also started teaching on a full-time basis at the Malta School of Art, where my arts practice journey had begun. Your artistic practice is centered on the use of drawing and printmaking on their own and the merging of the two into mixed media practices, and we have really appreciated the way your approach highlights the creative potential of paper, going beyond its use as a surface and exalting its materiality. We have found this aspect of your

practice particularly fascinating since it shows that apparently ordinary materials can be used to create


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stimulating works of art: would you tell us something about this captivating aspect of your artistic approach?

Joyce Camilleri: Paper is in itself a fascinating material. The variety of hues, textures, weights, finishes and


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quality of materials used are infinite and so are the ways different papers respond to the applied media. Drawing

is the first form of mark making we experience at a very young age; it opens possibilities to the first symbolic


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communication. Printmaking is a discipline that demands planning and foresight and yet one never really knows how the print will really look like until it is peeled off the plate. The planned approach to printmaking, the spatiotemporality of drawing and the unforgiveness of paper altogether, provide me with a challenging scenario characterised by risk taking; a continuous research into the known that provokes a sense of wonder for the unknown that is transposed towards the sheer merging of media via the manipulation of raw materials.

representations of the visual world and develops alongside other modes of verbal and non-verbal modes of

For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected the Nebula series, a stimulating project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your body of works is the way it raises questions on the issue of perception, and providing the elusive notion of visual interpretation with such stimulating tangible quality: when walking our readers through the genesis of the Nebula series, would you tell us something about your usual setup and process? In particular, do you create


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your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

Joyce Camilleri: This body of work set off through the practice of the monotype. Many a time I consider the monotype as my icebreaker with the paper. I would apply printing ink onto the plate searching for a visual balance of positive and negative spaces. Once this balance is achieved, the plate is printed and the image uncovered. Chromatic balance is eventually sought in conjunction with the resulting composition. The immaculate white space around the image recalls the practice of traditional printmaking and enhances the overall final result. Your Nebula series features a balanced combination between rigorous sense of geometry and abstract sensitiveness, showing that vivacious tones are not strictly indispensable to create tension and dynamics. How do you structure your process in order to achieve such brilliant results? In particular, how does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your artworks?

Joyce Camilleri: My work is mostly monochrome with velvety blacks, vivid earthly ochres, sober burnt umbers and


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traces of the raw uncovered paper surface. My sensitivity to form and space brings about a minimalistic

approach to the world of colour. Whilst many techniques usually depart from light tints and colours and gradually


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overlay darker shades, I work the other way round. I block the darker spaces and progressively elaborate where the

light will fall and with what intensity in a way that does not disrupt the overall visual balance of the image.


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real and the imagined: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production?

Joyce Camilleri: In an attempt to allow the artistic process to follow its spontaneous course, I initiate new works without a predetermined figurative idea in mind. Such works usually result in a series of artworks that belong to a common visual narrative.

With its unique dreamlike ambience and a bit enigmatic visual quality, the Nebula series unveils the bridge between the

The nonrepresentational gestures on the plate are in themselves the catalysts that allow the image to take a life of its own. Eventually figurative elements emerge naturally on the plate. Such forms are intentionally modified via the direct scraping of lines on the plate to enhance unforeseen figurative elements. Such an approach is characteristic to various works forming part of other visual anecdotes, which include the Corpus et Anima series, where human forms surfaced on the plate amidst the darkness of the black printing ink. This latter series represents my timeless fascination for the human form; the physical presence of human figures that allude to various




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states of mind experienced throughout

perception. Austrian Art historian Ernst

the course of life.

Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the

We daresay that your Nebula series

viewers to project onto, so that they

seems to aim to look inside of what

can actively participate in the creation

appear to be seen, rather than its

of the illusion: how important is for you

surface, providing the spectatorship

to trigger the viewers' imagination in

with freedom to realize their own

order to address them to elaborate




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

Joyce Camilleri: Alongside the visual arts I have always manifested a keen interest in poetry, which I consider to be both a verbal and a visual form of expression. My artistic process is a continuous exploration of the poetic space of the visual image, thus allowing the viewers unlimited openness to reinterpretation as they deconstruct, reconstruct and ultimately articulate their very own understanding of the image. It is through these varied perspectives that the artwork truly becomes independent from its own creator. I encountered similar notions of thought in the written oeuvres of Milosz, particularly in the following stanza from his poem, Ars Poetica. The purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficult it is to remain just one person, for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, and invisible guests come in and out at will.

It's important to remark that you are also an experienced art teacher in the fields of drawing, printmaking and mixed media practices, and that your creative work nourishes your constantly evolving pedagogical approaches to art theory and practice: does your work as a teacher influence you as a creative? In particular, did you ever draw inspiration from the creative process of your students?

Joyce Camilleri: Teaching is an art in itself. My artist teacher role is pivotal, for every new question asked and novel discourse tackled nourishes my need for constant research in the artistic field and its philosophical side. The art class becomes a platform for new knowledge to be formed in collaboration with my students, as we delve into a critical understanding of the artistic process, which is also affected by the surrounding context. Teaching young students allows me to maintain a fresh and uninhibited outlook on the arts practice, whilst teaching adults pulls me into a continuous challenge to research what I know and yet strive to seek unknown territories of thought and action.




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Over the years your artworks have been showcased in several group exhibitions, both in Malta and abroad, and Far But Close was recently selected for exhibition at the Florence Contemporary Gallery: 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?

Joyce Camilleri: The current situation has definitely called for novel measures, where art can still be enjoyed from the comfort of one’s home. I view these virtual exhibitions as a positive experience for I am taking the opportunity to expand my international network of contacts within the artistic field and hopefully collaborate on more tangible projects once the situation has improved worldwide. In spite of this I yet admit that I miss going to exhibitions, viewing the work in real life, observing the artworks up close and meeting the artists face to face. Such intimate encounters with the arts

can hardly be replaced by a screen, for the arts are a phenomenon that can


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only be fully appreciated in the proper sites that are meant to host them like

museums, galleries and public spaces among others.


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We have really appreciated the

research and before leaving this

multifaceted nature of your artistic

stimulating conversation we would like


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projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Joyce. What

Joyce Camilleri: I am currently collaborating with Muza, The National Museum of Fine Arts in Malta on an artist in residence programme. The museum gave me the opportunity to use their Community Space and transform it into my very own studio throughout the weeks between the 23rd April to the 30th May 2021. This residency is unfolding into an inspiring experience, as this historical site acts as a platform to introduce my artistic process to the public, whilst also showcasing different works from one week to the next. Due to covid restrictions the residency started when the museum was still closed, a short initial phase that proved to be beneficial as I had time to settle in the provided space and get the process started at my own pace. Visitors can now visit this temporary studio space and participate in this art project as they share their views and seek answers to their questions with regards to my work. I look forward to other similar experiences both locally and abroad both on my own as well as in collaboration with other fellow artists.


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LandEscape meets

Krista Gurcka Krista Gurcka (b. 1996, Vergale, Latvia) is a London based visual photographer, whose work explores culture, landscape, environmental sustainability and community. Krista received a BA (Hons) in Photography graduating from Kingston School of Art, London, UK in (2018). The never ending change of landscapes is what draws Krista to travel, documenting its shift and impact on our communities while photographing the every day surrounding areas. This curiosity of movement has lead to an array of projects, that explore the human interaction with the natural while bringing in a new perspective of the environmental issues that may arise. Krista’s dynamic vision aims to highlight the strength and beauty of the land while displaying the negative and positive effect of the societies interactions upon the natural.

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

Hello Krista and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.krista-gurcka.com in order to get a wide idea about your 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 gold a a BA (Hons) in Photography, that you received from the prestigious Kingston School of Art, London:

how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum due to your Latvian roots and your current life in the United Kingdom direct the trajectory of your current artistic research?

Krista Gurcka: As an introduction to this interview I would like to say a big thank you for featuring me in your LandEscape Magazine as I love to share my work with the hope of the readers seeing my vision. Studying at Kingston School of Art has allowed me to really explore my work with no


WOULD YOU LIKE THAT

HERE WE INCLUDE A PHOTO OF YOU?



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boundaries as every other project was set for the students to manage themselves - this allowed us to come together in groups and work towards something that we were all very passionate about and I believe this also boosted our creativity as we were given full power over how far we can take a project. Which initially allowed for me to discover that I am very drawn to nature, as I had moved from a small town in Latvia to a big city such as London at the age of 11, my whole world had changed. Later on in the years I felt that the longer I was living in the city something was missing, so I went on travel adventures to see what that was and through being able to see all the landscapes of other countries I went to ‘I fell in love’ again with the rural space. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected The Other Side, a stimulating project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your work is the way it invites the viewers to explore the bond between the environment and communities that inhabit it, highlighting the complexity of the relationship between local sociopolitical situation and the theme of environmental sustainability.

Krista Gurcka: When walking our readers through the genesis of The Other Side, would you tell us something about your usual setup and process? I have been fortunate enough to figure out my ideas and the theme of what my photography

is from a young age while traveling and exploring what my practice is during my studies in College and University, therefore I no longer plan where and what I will be photographing. I let the journey take me with it, as my intuition and eyes work together in order to realise exactly what is happening in certain areas within my travels, while also talking with the locals and going on journeys on my own or with a group to think and two fully observe the space I am in. Then comes the photography, I shoot as I go of what I see and what’s in the moment as it captures the realness of the location I am in. This allows the viewers to experience it in the same way as I am making them feel like they are with me. Your works seem to be laboriously structured to pursue such effective and at the same time thoughtful visual impact: what was your working schedule like? Did you carefully plan each shot?

Krista Gurcka: My work consists of shooting on the go and letting my viewers come along on a journey with me through my travels, exploring the landscapes as they are In their most natural way. I believe through traveling and just shooting I have managed to pick up my photography style, therefore my work is not structured at all. I want to be able to show the world in its most natural state including the social and global issues happening in the areas photographed


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as this provides the realness and truth that we need to see. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you the never ending change of landscapes draws you to travel, documenting its shift and impact on communities. Your works draw heavily from the peculiar specifics of the environment: how do you select the specific locations and how do they affect your creative process?

Krista Gurcka: As mentioned earlier my work is very free-flowing I let the place guide me rather than selecting destinations, as the whole purpose of my work is about boosting natures natural side. I believe the environment helps me, due to its colours and structures as well as the mood the space holds allows me to connect within. It is essential to feel the landscape in order to be able to create that effect of strength that it holds and bring viewers into what it feels like while being there. For an example my ‘Pyroxene’ project focuses on mostly how the natural habitat claims its own identity so most of the images consist of huge forms and natural structures that have not been edited or staged where the images are so centred on the landscape itself it makes the viewers feel small allowing for nature to show its masculinity. We appreciate the way you sapiently combined sense of beauty with the urgence to raising awareness in the viewers. In this sense, we dare say that you used beauty as a tool to


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reach the depths of consciences, in order to sensitise the viewers: do you agree with this analysis? In particular, how do you consider the role of aesthetics playing within your artistic research?

Krista Gurcka: Yes, I agree with this statement, due to the simple fact of believing in energy and it aligning itself naturally. Once the viewers see the images there is always something there for them to connect with even with the most simple image on view. But once they connect your senses instantly start to heighten and you want to explore more about the place, its beauty and why that image was taken. I want my viewers to be drawn to something because they want to not because they have to. The aesthetic itself of my work consists of colourful imagery, bright and bold natural landscapes as this allows for the viewers to be more drawn to the subject as well as the main focus within the photograph which is to allow nature speak for itself. Through your artistic production you explore the themes of culture, landscape, environmental sustainability and community. Many contemporary artists, such as Thomas Hirschhorn and Michael Light, use to include socio-political criticism and sometimes even convey explicit messages in their artworks: As an artist particularly interested in bringing in a new perspective to environmental issues, do you think that artists can raise awareness to an ever-growing audience on topical issues that affect our ever-changing society?




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Krista Gurcka: I believe we can make a difference, as even the smallest event or project can bring something positive to someone due to the snowball effect. All things start small but once more people start to believe and join together as a group the bigger the impact and change on environmental issues. Us artists have a huge use of social media platforms where we can playfully create narratives and stories to introduce to our viewers which is a huge opportunity in order to educate people as well as with getting them involved within art shows / exhibitions and events that could help raise awareness. Some artists have even gained access to much higher companies and organisations such as within the government and local authorities who have helped artists show their work on a much bigger scale, as well as receiving help and funds to create art and events with, which is such a huge accomplishment and shows that we can do it with enough dedication and hopefully this will be my journey in the future too. We appreciate the way your works capture surrounding life of such unique landscapes, to address the viewers to appreciate also ordinary aspects of life: how important is for you to highlight such little as epiphanic details of the landscapes that you capture?

Krista Gurcka: Capturing the hidden and the ordinary as well as the unseen areas and objects in my photos is the true form of my photography style, as they display real factors


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of what is happening around the world. I believe most every day photographs only focus on the pretty side of the area and forget to highlight the communities and truth about our landscapes. Therefore I believe by introducing this aspect within my images and storyline highlights the real importance. This form of photography is also a way for me to help my viewers connect back within the natural, as we have become so technology consumed that we have forgotten to look around or just sit back and observe what we have. This is a way for people to get grounded and find beauty within the ordinary so I hope they take it in as much as they can even if its for a few minutes. Another interesting project of yours that has particularly impressed us and that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled Pyroxene, a stimulating series that unveils the aesthetic potential of Canary Island's wild landscape, and that has particularly fascinated us for the way it shows the relationship between the environment and its inhabitants. An important aspect of your artistic research is centered on the exploration of the human interaction with the natural: how does your everyday life's experience as a traveller fuel your creative process?

Krista Gurcka: Curiosity is the key, it keeps me alive and exploring - constantly learning new aspects and ideas of what life is. Without this I would have never been able to go deep with my research and learn the truth about society and how affected communities are. It’s like a scientific experiment coming up with solutions, seeing how two things work together ( such as landscapes and communities ) or by simply throwing two




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together and waiting for an outcome and ways to see what works best. This way of photography allows me to talk with locals and go in freely with my subjects and what I am photographing as this does not take away from the fun of it - it helps me naturally come up with ideas and solutions. Manipulation in visual arts is not new, but digital technology has extended the range of possibilities in the field of Photography: as a visual artist who started her journey with an analogue camera, how do you consider the role of technology playing within your artistic practice?

Krista Gurcka: As much as I love my analogue camera and the authenticity it brings to my photography, I also love technology. It allows us to go further and show more of what has never been seen before such as aerial shots of landscapes - I believe this is the strongest point of showing change as it covers such a vast area of land in a simple and quick way. Furthermore, I don’t delve too much into who has the best quality camera or holds the most expensive equipment I believe it is more about the idea behind the work it shows the artist cares. Then once the idea is perfected I believe its right to make sure that the work catches up to it also - its detail and production depending on how big your work is and to ensure it is represented to its best potential as the visual side will hold great weight and the rest may follow.


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Over the years you have produced a number of publications including Pyroxene (2018) and The Other Side, and you also participated to a number of group and solos in 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?

Krista Gurcka: My relationship with the audience is quite inviting I would say, I usually make myself present at events or exhibitions so that people can come and speak with me to get to know me or my work in more detail. But as we are evolving into the digital world faster than ever I believe it is important to ensure we stay connected and post daily on platforms such as Instagram - it has also become much harder to stand out on social media as an upcoming photographer so it is all about the work you put into it such as advertising and engaging! For some social media seems daunting but it is all about adaptation and knowing what works best for you, some artists only post images of their work and some introduce themselves and some just have an amazing portfolio that pops and they instantly get likes! So don’t give up and experiment see what works see what does not and keep it going - as I am still figuring it out myself so don’t let it bring you down. P.S you can check out my work @belles.studios.





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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, Krista. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

Currently, I am working on a solo exhibition and a project that explores travel during COVID 19 and how this has affected our communities as most countries abroad main income consists of tourism. So keep posted on my social media accounts as well as my website for more information.

Krista Gurcka: Of course, it has been a pleasure to talk with you and share my thoughts, I hope you and the readers have enjoyed this and can all take a bit of knowledge away from it.

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


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LandEscape meets

Niko Kapa Niko Kapa is an interdisciplinary artist, the essence of who’s work lies in experimentation, exploration of emotion and the projection of identity in space. Guided by his architectural background, he considers that environment is not something static, but is constantly reconfigured through its intercorrelation with people. He is concerned with the expressive and associative potential of art, perceiving artworks as fundamental spatial explorations, capable of describing experiences while manifesting their interrelationship to life. In his practice, object is treated as a metaphor of the human being, by linking place and its constituents directly to behaviour and activity. Using observation of surroundings, Niko seeks to discover and create new possible worlds and surprising multisensory occurrences. Studying impressions generated by spatial relations allows him to describe the vibrancy of being as expressed by people’s acts. Niko is not just trying to depict and outline form, but the function and life imprints which bear witness to actions. His work aspires to reveal the way presence or absence becomes the tool of understanding our settings, seeking to find links between activity and creation of territory. Considering of the world as an extension of our physical bodies, he is attentive to human behaviour as revealed through the contact of individuals and their backdrop. In that sense he aspires to connect architect’s and artist’s point of view in his practice which focuses primarily in shaping space and its components rather than shaping form. Niko’s works attempt to initiate a connection of what is tangible and intangible, providing an intimate insight to creative procedure through craftsmanship, while withholding individual evidence of their construction. Combining traditional sculptural materials such as clay, plaster, concrete and steel, along with mechanical devices and electronics, enables him to blur the boundaries between creative and technical language as a way to link his interests on both fields of Fine Art and Architecture. This combination is further enhanced with the introduction of organic matter, referring to the exploration of the presence of corporeal in space and the relation of the two. Balancing different methods of expression, he tries to encourage the interdisciplinary interaction that is central to his objectives, investigating the interrelationships between people, space and time and the ways traces and memory capture life and emotion.

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

Hello Niko and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your

artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit http://niko.me.uk in order to get a wide idea about your mulifaceted artistic production, and we would start this interview with a couple of



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5 Days Walk, from My City series

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questions about your multifaceted background. You have a solid formal training in Architecture: how did those formative years 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 artistic disciplines?

Niko Kapa: As an architect a significant part of my work consists of independently researching ideas, striving constantly to expand and improve efficiency in a diverse profession. From my perspective physical works are nodes in the ongoing activity of knowledge production, underlining the experimental nature of art and architecture. One of the great virtues of art is its potential to let us see the world through different eyes, enabling us to keep moving and push the boundaries of knowledge. I believe that art is not exclusive or limited in a closed sphere but reaches beyond. It can engage with architecture, science and design offering ground to be explored. Investigating architecture’s ability to communicate cultural content, I have developed a specific attentiveness in interface of architectural traditions of craft, materiality, pattern and the ways material effects can be tuned to human occupancy. Through my work I try to find points of contact between the world of art, science and technology. Following a creative approach lead by experience rather than a fixed discipline, I experiment with a variety of materials, processes and environments in fields of interest ranging from

architecture, industrial design, installation and art. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected My City, a stimulating project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article, and that has at once impressed us for the way it unveils the connection between space and human nature, highlighting the ubiquitous bond between the categories of space and time. the genesis of My City, would you tell us something about your usual setup and process? In particular, do you create your works gesturally, instinctively?

Niko Kapa: It all starts from observation. Using observation of surroundings, I seek to discover and create new possible worlds and surprising multisensory occurrences. Studying impressions generated by spatial relations allows me to describe the vibrancy of being as expressed by people’s acts. I am not just trying to depict and outline form, but the function and life imprints which bear witness to actions. ‘My City’ aspires to reveal the way presence or absence becomes the tool of understanding our settings, seeking to find links between activity and creation of territory. The concept of repetition was also of primal importance in the particular project since it explores the repeated motion through public space in order to investigate alternative ways of experiencing the familiar. Despite the fact that works require extensive planning, I keep investing on the power of instinct that is informing artistic decisions. In that


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sense the final result is always set against personal expectations and the activity is constantly re-evaluated throughout the making process. We have particularly appreciated the way your artworks accomplish the difficult task of going beyond the dichotomy between space and time, establishing such a bridge between such apparently distant categories, to become solid containers of memories and emotions: since for My City you expressly drew from your life in London, we would like to ask you how does your everyday life's experiences, as an architect and an artist — as well as your personal memories — fuel your creative process. Moreover, how does your cultural substratum due to your Greek roots and your current life in Dubai and in London address your current artistic research?

Niko Kapa: I perceive place as an extension of self. The space in which we live and grow sends countless stimuli and creates a form of communication with the relation being reciprocal. Individuals influence their environment to turn it into an effective receptor of own activities, as much as the environment itself directs or limits to specific responses. As I am exposed in diverse environments, gradual absorption of the habitual reshapes my identity fuelling my work with such change. Moreover, our relationship with history changes constantly. My recent work draws from interaction with my culture more evidently, since I believe that cultural expression can capture through history the evolution of the human species. Inclined


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Breaths, from My City series


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Clay Play, from My City series

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towards introversion, my practice investigates ways cultural identity shapes individual identity while commenting on the overwhelming desire to belong. Being an expatriate and continuously on the move, I am referencing tradition as a way to trace origins and consider how the past impacts upon the present. Thus, I recover and reinvent traditional techniques instilling own physical presence into them, as a way to include the creator’s consciousness in the final result. Each of your artworks seems to be meticolously conceived and laboriously crafted, highlighting the fact that a work of art — besides any retrospective look at its ever-present philosophical aspects — is a physical artefact with tactile qualities. In this sense, we dare say that your artworks expore the connection between what is tangible and intangible to rediscover the concept of materially: how important is for you to highlight the physical aspect of your artworks? In particular, how important is intuition in your creative process?

Niko Kapa: For me physicality reflects a notion of control and is a critical aspect of my practice. ‘Fight’ with the material is solidified to a tangible entity, which in turn becomes a container of repetitive and explorative actions. Maintaining an enduring preoccupation to find purpose in the procedure of interacting with matter my works solidify this personal relationship. Outlined by materiality and gestures, exploration of human activity is seen as an extension of self, aiming to provide an innermost insight


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Tough from Traces and Surfaces series

Autograph from Traces and Surfaces series

into the artist’s creative exercise. Always preoccupied with the medium’s potential, artefact is used as continuance of the body, dealing with the link between myself and physicality of the object.

raw process, extensions of body movements. Retaining marks of working, emotion and frustration, I try through intimate pieces to intertwine the psychological with the physical, as surface and mass is traced by evident human resonance. Investing in the realm of craft, a hand in action highlights the sense of touch with the subject as personal traces of gestures are captured in

Performance-based artworks are concerned with the ‘making’ and how creator’s acts can be defined as the actual work of art, encapsulating its existence as a


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Time#2 from Traces and Surfaces series


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Field from Traces and Surfaces series

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the works providing evidence of individual identity and expression. As an artist particularly interested in human behaviour as expressed through the contact between people and their surroundings, how do you consider the role of the exhibition space, as bearer of semantic value? In particular, what kind of experience do you aim to encourage your audience to receive?

Niko Kapa: Art it is not about reality but its perception. I believe that any kind of creative work should be open to interpretation regardless of substantive merit. The way an artwork is perceived and processed shouldn’t be directed by its originator. Referring to the notion of ‘museum’ or ‘gallery’ as places of adding value to artefacts, the concept of meaning and rationale arises from the relationship between artist and audience. Worth is something manufactured by context and in case of the exhibition space the context itself is enough to strengthen the role of an artwork irrespective of other qualities which might or might not possess. While concepts of value and purpose are central to my practice, I don’t have a clear perspective of what is art, so in that sense my work does not intend to be didactic. I am more interested in the power of ‘statement’ and the rendition of the ‘incident’. We have really appreciated the vibrancy of delicate, thoughtful nuances that mark out your Traces and Surfaces series: how does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your artworks?

Niko Kapa: Showing an interest in

personalizing the mark, process-based pieces transform body energy and inner turmoil to celebrate temporary liberation from anxiety. Sometimes artwork emerges out of sheer boredom. Panels become receptacles of discharge reflecting a form of vandalism against own work. Exemplifying gestural strength actions are instinctive and informed by the effectiveness of raw process. Creation and destruction coexist clashing with each other to convey the power of emotion. Here the trace functions as a signature as the body rhythm is projected on the surfaces of industrial components. Concerned with materiality and procedure while engaging with object’s physicality, gesture disrupts the perfectness of construction materials exploring the possibilities spontaneity is able to offer. Conceived as mental and emotional landscapes such arrangements provide multiple perspectives at once, being demonstrative of the experimentation among dimensions and physical presence. Evident of activity blending natural and humanmade, representation of time becomes co-dependent of wrinkled emotions materialized through eroding forces impacting on matter. Defined by their own inherent dynamics, these are compositions one can observe self-evidently uncovering the way they were formed and occupy space. Perceiving such pieces as explorations of human body’s presence in space, records of activity are seen as purified expression similar to Lucio Fontana’s works which exemplify importance of art as gesture. Industrial materials evocative of construction processes establish a formality merely to be


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destroyed by artist’s acts that structure the composition. Dynamic in their configuration these primarily artistic experiments are expressing frustration, anxiety and anger through the use of demarcation introducing the element of deterioration. As raw matter intersects with collision forces, accident informs the work accumulating time and actions into surfaces that are highly individual. In the words of Arshile Gorky: ‘abstraction is the emancipation of the mind’. The works from your Traces and Surfaces series has fascinated us for the way they invite the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the viewers with freedom to realize their own perception. 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 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?

Niko Kapa: Perception is always contaminated. Personal interpretation is inherent in both the creation process and its ‘consumption’ by audience. For me there is no such thing as misinterpretation. I believe in individuality. When people fail to understand the purpose or even the subject of my work they exercise the same right I have on every facet of the world surrounding me. I don’t think art can be perceived by purely intellectual means and therefore I consider expression more

Grid#1 from Traces and Surfaces series

important than communication. The role of either ‘viewer’ or ‘participant’ is something to be decided by audience and not the artist. Treating perception as a building experience I look into the


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potential of art to convey emotions of confusion. In the particular series, the strong sense of witnessing the unfolding of an act in process becomes evocative of universal emotions. The viewing condition

of the surface and the way it curtails physical movement examines the strength of subjective interpretation. In that sense I am interested in work able to construct its own situation, investing on the aspect of


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Time#1 from Traces and Surfaces series

individualism as demonstrated by Abstract

the world articulating the correlation

Expressionists and their relationship with

between body and space. Negotiation of

anxiety. The gestures dominating the

uncertainty takes place through different

composition trigger a primal relation with

methods of distorting, since emotion itself


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presence in an effort to visually represent such distortions. Symbols play an important role in your practice, and your artworks achieve the difficult task of expanding our traditional living space, turning it into a large-scale, panoramic vision that provide the viewers with such an immersive visual experience: how do you consider the role of metaphors playing in your artistic practice? And how important is for you to create artworks rich of allegorical qualities?

is a power of distortion. Allowing for a degree of improvisation during the course of execution, chance incidents activate surfaces as diverse ways to express my

Niko Kapa: Art is a journey of seeking. It is a sophisticated method of encryption. Therefore, artworks have to be creations of mysterious nature. Examining the language of representation, in my work symbols become representative of complex psychological states. Deeply intrigued by history as well as the dichotomy among old and new, with the use of symbolism I explore how images relate to memory allowing for alternative interpretations. I am interested in the feeling of obscurity by evoking a sense of puzzlement through allegories, since the symbolically shaped can challenge limits of perceiving. Open to serendipity, the viewer’s perspective is set against the creator’s intention, while audience is inclined to find significance of their own. Through the use of symbolism and artisanal production, I see my works as contemporary explications of the ancient and primal, able to establish a dialogue between the past and the present. You are an established artist: among the others, you received the IAI Award,


Gesture from Traces and Surfaces series



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Blades from Traces and Surfaces series

Shanghai and the iF Design Award, Munich, and over the years your artworks have been showcased in a number of occasions, including your participation to the Biennale, Dnipro Art Museum, Ukraine and the International Crafts Fair, Munich Trade Fair: 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?

Niko Kapa: Duchamp believed that the artwork is completed with the


Niko Kapa

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participation of audience and obviously this point of view is shared by many artists. Globalization widens access and makes expression of opinion much easier, but this idea of inclusiveness can be misleading for both creator and spectator. For me the physical relationship with work is very important and so is the time

investing to ‘unfold’ them. Some of my pieces are intentionally more open than others and the degree of penetration plays crucial role in defining their nature. Artworks which are difficult and demanding maintain effectively individual perspective of their originator, requiring informed and patient audience. Claiming viewer's cooperation while challenging


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#2 from Everything series

their expectations can be more rewarding for the recipient. I don’t believe in ‘transparent artworks’.

multifaceted nature of your artistic

We have really appreciated the

thank you for chatting with us and for

research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to


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#1 from Everything series

sharing your thoughts, Niko. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

Niko Kapa: Developing approaches to the diverse ways we inhabit the world, I am assimilating architectural design and construction techniques into the field of


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Occupied from Everything series

Fine Arts trying to strengthen the ties

provides a platform for further research,

between sculpture and architecture.

creating a dynamic experimentation that

Defying the conventional classification of

hopefully will enable me to establish my

design disciplines, their interwoven nature

position in a constantly changing


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Meteorite from Everything series

environment. Affected by the pandemic condition, my recent work produced during

through the artist’s creative process.

isolation reflects on the emotional impact

An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator

of personal experience as experienced

landescape@europe.com


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LandEscape meets

Angela Kincaid My process-led practice is based on my personal engagement with the natural environment. In particular I am fascinated by the geological history of the Scottish landscape, and the movement of the sky, land and sea. As a starting point, I use my surrounding environment to research and develop visual documentation through the use of photography, film and drawing which I see as a collaboration between myself and the landscape. This approach often develops into site specific installations, sculptures and paintings that could be seen as having a performative aspect to them. In all my work, I hope to bring about an awareness of location that facilitates not only the exploration of place, but the emotive feelings of tranquillity and solace that can be felt, when we allow ourselves to fully experience the elemental nature of the ever-changing landscape

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

Hello Angela and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://linktr.ee/Angelakincaid in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production, and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You are currently pursuing your BA in Contemporary Art Practice student at

City of Glasgow College: how do these formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum address the direction of your current artistic research? Angela Kincaid: Hello, I am delighted to be here and given the opportunity to talk to you about my work. I actually graduated last year after 4 years of studying, and it was what I would describe as a journey, of not only developing my artistic practice, but of self discovery into why I am driven to ceate the art that I do. I have



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Fragments of Time, silicone and corn flour

Special Edition


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always loved art, even as a young child I would lock myself away for hours on end each day to draw. But speaking about my art was not something I was used to or had ever been expected to do until I began studying for my Art Degree. Most of us do not really get the chance to explore or follow our curiosity when we are young. We tend to learn all the same things as our peers, at the exact same time, and live a life consumed by the mastery of these things instead. Long hours of seated study in early education leaves our minds overwhelmed, trying to memorize facts, and that leaves very little room for free thinking. When I began studying for my degree I was not just encouraged, but expected to talk really openly and honestly about my work. At first this made me feel extremely vulnerable, but it pushed me to start questioning how I engage with my surrounding environment, and to make work that was more true to myself. You are a versatile artist and your multidisciplinary approach often develops into site specific installations, sculptures and paintings: how important is for you to experiment with different techniques and materials? Angela Kincaid: Although I would primarily describe myself as a painter, I also see my sculptures and installations as paintings which has come off the canvas to interact with their surroundings. So I guess I see each technique as an extension of painting; it is all just a process of discovering what feels right for each specific project. Sometimes a painting is the final piece, and sometimes it will lead me

to do something else, the possibilities are endless. When I am out walking, or standing watching the waves at the beach, the artistic process has already begun. Allowing myself to really immerse myself in my environment is the starting point, and where my ideas and inspiration come from. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected Absent Spaces, a stimulating site responsive art installation that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your artistic production, is the way it unveils the connection between space and human nature, inviting the viewers to capture beauty, as well as feelings of tranquillity and solace. When walking our readers through the genesis of Absent Spaces, would you tell us something about your interest in the geological history of Scottish landscape? Angela Kincaid: I think that when you really love something you naturally want to know more about it. If you think about it in terms of human relationships, when we fall in love we find ourselves wanting to know more about that person, as this helps develop our understanding of them, It is the same process with my artwork. I wanted a greater understanding of the Scottish landscape, why it looks the way it does, and what formed the hills, mountains and lochs. So I began researching the geological history of Scotland, and learned that during the last the Ice Age meltwater rivers left channels and distinctive landforms. This is how Scotland’s landscapes


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continued to take shape even after the glaciers had melted. This fascinated me and I had the urge to create a body of work that would bring about a connection to the past. A sense of putting back into the absent spaces where glaciers once existed. In a previous installation “Here Comes The Waves" I sewed together large pieces of blue and white voile, and then draped them over the rocks at my local beach. This was to represent the waves bringing the objects I had collected there to the shore. I held onto this material as I knew one day I would use it for something more powerful. For Absent Spaces, I expanded the existing material by sewing on more shades of blue. I then took it to various locations throughout Scotland where glaciers had once existed, and used it my installation. I decided to let space dictate how each installation took shape, rather than have a pre confirmed idea in my head of how I wanted it to look. I worked freely and responded to my surrounding environment and this was how each installation took form. The work was temporary and existed only for the period of time that I was there. I then took it to the next location, where it took on a new shape according to that space and surroundings. Along the way it collected dirt, sand, residue, and rain, but this only added to the beauty, and it connected each location to the next. You draw inspiration from your surrounding environment, and — as you have remarked in


Angela Kincaid

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Fragments of Time, Installation, gallery view


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Fragments of Time

landscape: how do you select specific

creative process? In particular, how does your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process?

locations and how do they affect your

Angela Kincaid: I often head out on road trips

your artist's statement — you are fascinated by the geological history of the Scottish


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Absent Spaces, Site responsive art installation, Pease Bay

with my son who has a keen interest in

again. Other locations I have chosen by doing

geography, as we both love exploring.

some research, or seeing a photograph, and

Sometimes a place just truly captivates me, like

this has prompted me to visit and do work. The

Glencoe, and I am drawn back to it again and

awareness of my surroundings comes not only


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Absent Spaces, Site responsive art installation, Glencoe from looking, but from listening to the wind, feeling the rain on my face and watching the waves at the beach. I can only describe it as a feeling of tranquillity and a sense of peace, that takes me away from the stress of every day life. And so as well as taking a physical journey, it is also very much an inner journey. We appreciate the way your works invite the

viewers to fully experience the elemental nature of the landscape, communicating such a wide variety of feelings, to address them to appreciate also ordinary aspects of life: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Angela Kincaid: Last year I was working on my “Fragments of Time” project, and was doing a lot of research and work based on rock


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formations. I was visiting lots of places and

possible, and I felt quite lost.

doing work outside, but then life as I knew it

I had been working on a series of rock

began to change. The UK had entered into the

sculptures, and making casts by taking a direct

first lockdown due to the Coronavirus, and

imprint from the rocks at my local beach and

everything came to a standstill.

this was not something I could continue to do.

Access to my studio space was no longer an

As the days went past and I contemplated

option, neither were the long drives to distant

how to take my project forward in a practical

locations, or making working outside. All the

way, the concept of Fragments of Time began

ideas and plans I had would no longer be

to change. I began to develop a deeper


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Fragile Layers, Weather Beaten Canvas, mixed media, emulsion, acrylic, ink, pastels


Angela Kincaid

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Fragments of Time, Installation, gallery view

understanding of, what I was trying to communicate through my work, and why I felt so motivated to do it. I began to view my silicone rock casts as a visual metaphor for the fragility of Human life. A rock is a symbol of strength and stability, a solid object that depicts stubbornness and inflexible behaviour. My sculptures gave the appearance of a solid object, when in fact they were fragile, hollow, and some almost almost weightless. I wanted to communicate this fragility to my audience,

during a time when things were so uncertain and we all needed a little hope. Many of us are uncomfortable with fragility, as it makes us feel vulnerable. But contemplating on the fragility of life connects us with our own vulnerability, and helps us to face up to the fact that we only have a temporary place in this world. This should be reason enough to apply a degree of clarity and purpose to our day. In contrast to a rock we are ephemeral beings, here only for a short space of time.


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Fragments of Time, Installation, gallery view

Fragile Layers feature balanced combination between rigorous sense of geometry and careful choice of colors, showing that vivacious tones are not strictly indespensable to create tension and dynamics. How do you structure your process in order to achieve such brilliant results? In particular, how does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your artworks?

Angela Kincaid: I think sometimes and in particularly with Fragile Layers it was about allowing myself to let go and work very feely and intuitively. Again this piece was created during a time when Covid-19 and lockdown were dominating most of our lives. I was limited to where and how I made work and so found myself working extremely vigorously, pouring ink over the canvas, making bold marks and ripping bits off, before leaving it


Fragile Layers, Weather Beaten Canvas, mixed media, emulsion, acrylic, ink, pastels


Absent Spaces, Site responsive art installation, Glencoe


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Exhale, Oil on deep edged boxed canvas, 30 x 30 cm outside for days to let the wind, rain and sun do

With its unique visual ambivalence, Fragile

the rest. I think I was rebelling against the

Layers draws the viewers through the liminal

restraints that were implicated on me at that

area of perception where reality and

time, and was trying to break free.

imagination find such unexpected point of


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convergence: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination playing within your process? Are you particularly interested in arousing emotions that goes beyond the realm of visual perception? Angela Kincaid: While working on Fragile Layers I focused on memory of place rather than naturalistic representation. So it was less about reality and more about my thoughts, feelings and memories of the locations I had visited. Often it can be a mix of reality and my imagination working together. I always try to communicate what my artwork is about to my audience and hope that people can take something personal from it. Sometimes people will see something different in my work, because it’s their own personal perspective, and I like this because it means it has touched them or got them thinking. 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? Angela Kincaid: I think we live in a time where online platforms such as Instagram and Facebook have the power to reach a much wider audience than gallery spaces can. But visiting a gallery or exhibition is so important, because you get real sense of the Artwork on a deeper level. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can encourage people to do this by promoting galleries and exhibitions. I think one of the advantages of

social media, is that new and emerging artists now have the opportunity to get their work seen by a global audience. I have also been able to connect with some really amazing Artists, and communicate to my audience on a more personal level. I personally find Instagram an amazing platform to show my work, and it means I can stay updated with other Artists and the creative industry too. https://www.instagram.com/angelakincaidart 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, Angela. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Angela Kincaid: I appreciate that and have really enjoyed our conversation. Right now as well as continuing to make Art, I am continuing my studies towards teaching art within an educational and community environment. This is something I feel passionate about because I know first hand the benefits Art can bring to our mental health and wellbeing. I want to encourage others to express themselves in a creative way and gain a new perspective of the world around them. An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com


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Aig Star (meaning: From A Distance, in Scottish Gaelic), Oil on deep edged canvas 30cm x 40cm


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LandEscape meets

Seth Sexton Seth is a Seattle based multimedia artist whose current work emphasizes large scale painting choreographies. Raised on a farm in Chimacum, Washington, he spent his childhood summers alternately mowing fields, stacking hay bails and studying ballet. He left dance to pursue an education in biochemistry at the University of Washington and later went on to receive a BFA in painting. He began a successful collaboration with metal artist Cathy McClure called SID INC. This collaboration focused on multi-media installations and led to subsequent collaborations with artists internationally. Seth moved to Panajachel, Guatemala and spent 3 years studying Tzu'tu'jil and the indigenous arts and rituals of the Mayan people of the Atitlan region. Having returned to Seattle and to Modern and Contemporary Dance practices, he continues to incorporate the labors, rituals and patterns of agrarian society with visual and performing arts. He has showcased his collaborative multimedia choreographies at Seattle based institutions such as Velocity Dance Center, On the Boards, Jack Straw New Media Gallery, Hedreen Gallery, Soil Gallery, Bumbershoot and others. He is currently self-represented and takes clients on a limited basis. Inquire about his availability for commissions and collaborations

An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator

interview with a couple of questions about

landescape@europe.com

training: you hold a BFA from the University

Hello Seth and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.sethsexton.com in order to get a wider idea about your mulifaceted artistic production, and we would start this

your background. You have a solid formal of Washington, Seattle, and your are currently pursuing your MFA at the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago: how did those formative years — as well as your experience at the Velocity Dance Center — influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural



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substratum direct the trajectory of your current artistic research? Seth Sexton: Hi LandEscape. All of these are great questions. Thank you for taking the time to propose them and allowing me the space to share my thoughts. I want to talk about the cultural substratum first. I grew up in rural America. My parents were initially subsistence farmers but after their divorce I spent a lot of time working on a certified organic cattle farm. I think people tend to forget that rural America privileges a different kind of knowledge. This fundamental knowledge is broadly about space and time and materiality?. It's also about an emotional and physical positioning within the landscape. You become tethered umbilically to the moon and the sun. You become acutely aware of yourself in relation to weather, herd migrations, water cycles, plant growths, and also what becomes the quotidian labor of maintenance and progress. In effect you become a fractal body within nature. This kind of knowledge isn’t always accessible even there, though. America has been driven towards a cultural class war primarily through the extraction of resources and cheap labor, the deleterious effects of religious and political ideas, and a lack of quality education in general.


Seth Sexton

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Polyhedra I, 22.5” x 30”, Pen and Ink on Paper, 2019


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Polyhedra I, 22.5” x 30”, Pen and Ink on Paper, 2019


Seth Sexton

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My mother enrolled me in ballet classes before I was enrolled in public school. While I was formulating an understanding of the labors and cycles of the natural world on the farm, I was simultaneously concretizing a language of art, around multi-media performance. My dance instructor, Betsy Frazee, would hand-sew the costumes, paint the sets, make the props, stage the choreography, set the music, and prepare sound cues and lighting for our performances. While I was training my body to be a fluid vessel, rigorously for 10 years, I was also gathering information on how to do all of these other haptic things rather osmotically. Eventually and for various reasons I stopped dancing around 13, but one of the critical reasons concerned how I saw myself in relation to performances of gender. Ballet has a long tradition of encoding misogyny, elitism, colonialist narratives, and what we would consider white supremacy today, in its repertoire. And because ballet sits at a difficult intersection for boys in rural communities, contending with my queerness and disclosure became a constant anxiety that centered around safety both inside and outside of my family. When I first entered the University of Washington, I was enrolled in the biochemical engineering program for the first several years, with the hopes of contributing to knowledge of neurodegenerative disorders. You see, the early context, behind the backdrop of


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dance on the setting of the Farm, was growing up with an abusive mother with severe Obsessive Compulsive Hoarding Disorder. The tidal pull of labor, the training, the maintenance, the progress and the acts of obsessive repetition were profound. It's beyond my body and the environment. These notions have been so deeply central to my life, and my relationship to them remains complicated. So it’s no surprise that I heeded the sonorous echo and returned to art as a painter and drawer for the final years of my undergraduate degree. What brought me to Velocity Dance Center, nearly 20 years after I stopped dancing was a kind of reclamation of my past, born of a new kind of agency around self-awareness and self-love, and most importantly, a healthy mind and body connection within a healthy community. You are an extremely versatile artist, and your practice encompasses, among the other, Painting & Drawing, Printmaking, Sculpture, Performance, Video, Mixed Media and Photography: what directs you to such an omni disciplinary approach? In particular, are there any experiences that did particularly help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different techniques? Seth Sexton: As I mentioned I was learning about various artistic media through this branching tree whose trunk was constructed from Dance. It was easy for me

to recognize the branche: listening to Bach and Beethoven on a record player in an old clapboard church while doing Grand Jetes under the dusty light of stained glass windows, learning french horn and making elephant sounds for giggling pre-teens in Junior Highschool Orchestra, playing Deputy Governor Dansforth from Arthur Miller's Crucible, or Si Crowell from Thornton Wilder's Our Town, singing “My god is an awesome god” in the Lutheran Church Choir, darning socks with my mother, pouring bronze salmon sculptures with Tom Jay at the local foundry, and taking my first life drawing class in high school. My point is that, growing up I was allowed to, and encouraged to, access open spaces, to climb trees. I had an understanding and confidence in my body that allowed me to swing from branch to branch. As I got older, I realized that art was not just the tree, and all of the recognizable media we call art its branches, but it was also everything below. My tree was rooted on a farm, so as I got older, I began to take a closer look at the roots, at the ontology of the tree. It’s not terribly far-reaching to say fixing barbed wire fences or stacking wood is a kind of sculpture making, or digging a 100-foot trench is land art, steaming offal from a fresh slaughter on green grass is mark-making, or raking hay in a field on a tractor is a ritual performance on a grand scale. This secret poem ??. As an adult this intermingling of new materials and


A work created in collaboration of Rachel Green


A work created in collaboration of Rachel Green


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abandoned practices lead me even further into a conceptual discourse. How do I understand the ecology of the soil that this tree is planted in? This is what the incredible queer Latina author and philosopher, Gloria Anzaldua, calls the shadow work. This work, my work now, though still serial and very much rooted in the body, is not about the object or the aesthetic as much as it is about the effects of the laboring mind and heart, the artefact as consequence of thought and feeling. The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of LandEscape and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article, have at once captured our attention for the way you create such unconventional combinations between visual and performing arts, to shed a whole new light on the concept of meditation: would you mind walking our readers through your usual setup and process? Seth Sexton: I’m going to talk about a particular kind of work that I do that intersects dance with drawing. But first I think it’s important to tell you that I have been practicing Bikram, Vinyasa, Mysore, and Hatha style yoga for two decades. I have learned so much about the ritual self in relation to the world but the most important thing I’ve learned, in relation to this conversation, is this: Yoga is first conscious breathing, then unconscious

breathing, and finally, conscious breathing again. I use this principle of connecting breath to movement when entering into all of my somatic practices. I rely on the memory of the body, not just its autonomic resource, but it’s ability to access experiential history in other places besides the brain. This is not a novel idea; Art Therapists often say that trauma is stored in the body in this way- and the same with joy. If you believe in this, it's easy to predict its noetic potential and recuperative effects. When I make dance compositions on paper this is what I’m doing. I’m changing the speed, the energy, and scale of the drawing and transferring conscious and further, selfconscious thought, to the unconscious, to [purely physical ?] thinking. This frees the mind to practice nothingness. Where typically drawing is localized between the hand and the material at the scale of the hand; I begin by making a page in scale and relation to the size of my body. DYBBUK began on a durable paper in 2017. At that time I was reflecting on the notions of restorative justice. This thought was an echoing lament in my body. When I was a child my mother had begun collecting feverishly at my step-father’s farm. She would gather recyclables, garage sale materials, moving leftovers, thrift store refuse, abandoned materials on the side of the road. Anything she could find really. It was our duty to assist her and I resented her for it. Our family and the community


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Pink Skull Shroud

Shroud (Nuclear)

Pen and Ink on Paper

Pen and Ink on Paper

42” x 54”

6” x 9”

2021

2020

knew that she had a severe anxiety disorder,

otherwise a minimal footprint of human

but she believed that she was being

intervention. As a child I would pray for God

commanded by God to prepare for the “End

to stop talking to my mother, and for life to

Times”. Slowly our house and the surrounding

return to the way it was. I held onto this

acres began to fill with junk. The house fell

notion that someday I would have to unfetter

into disrepair, and the face of the land

the land of garbage, that it was my burden,

appeared as a scrapyard, pocked with mounds

my promise, my destiny, and that I was

of processed materials of all sorts. Before we

somehow tied to its freedom. I felt possessed

moved to that farm, I remember it being well

by it, not just as an object of my mother, but

manicured, shrubs trimmed, lawn moved,

that I was attached to her Karma. These ideas

flowers sprouting in the garden out front, and

were nuanced with feelings of love, loss and


Seth Sexton

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Aureole, Pen and Ink on paper, 38” x 50”, 2020




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study for Memory of Water, 2018, 8” x 11”, Pen and Ink


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desire. This is how I usually begin, by consciously examining the ontology of recurrent actions, ideas, thoughts and feelings that reside in my memory. Concurrently, I stage large format paper, and allow an unconscious drawing response with my whole body, it proceeds with a conscious organization of repertoire. I use the term repertoire to describe the physical patterns that make the drawing. In this way the drawing is both a palimpsestic artefact and score that can be taught to other performers. After sharing my intentions, one of my performance collaborators, Israeli born Gil Bar-Sela, offered the Jewish Folklore Dybbuk as a way of understanding the possession and exorcism of memory and thought. My performance on paper was conceived as a loose re-interpretation of the original play by Russian author S. Ansky, Michal Waszynski’s film noir adaptation (1936), and a Jerome Robbins production for the New York City Ballet (1974). I even found some inspiration from Yvonne Rainier’s quotidian Hand Movie (1966). Dybbuk is memory work; that strange existence of identity formation in liminal spaces. DYBBUK remains a work in progress haunted by these past creators and yet more. With their unique sense of geometry and a bit enigmatic visual quality, your artworks seem to unveil the bridge between the real and the imagined. Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most

realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us, how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production? Seth Sexton: I think this question can be interpreted in many ways. But I have already revealed so much about how critical identity formation is to my art making, that I’ll continue down that path. I begin with an obvious truth. I believe how we see the world is a reflection of ourselves. In order to know who I am, I need to see what is real in me. To help clarify, I would like to invoke the words of Jeanne de Salzmann from the Reality of Being “We are all, such as we are, under the influence of our imagination of ourselves. This influence is all-powerful and conditions every aspect of our lives. On the one hand, there is this imagination, this false notion of myself. On the other, there is the real “I” that I do not know. I do not see the difference. It is as though this “I” were buried under a mass of beliefs, interests, tastes and pretensions. Everything I affirm is the imagination of myself. What I cannot affirm-because I do not know it-is the real. “I.” It calls to be known and has a nostalgia for knowing.” Salzmann continues by saying “I try to understand why I came. I see that it is my


Memory of Water I 2018 pen and ink 22” x 30”



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ego, my person, who is here, to which I cling, and I see, If I am sincere, that it is mixed up in large measure with what led me here” It follows then, that the next obvious truth is that we see the world as a reflection of others. It can often cast a great shadow across the light of our imagination. But it can also bring us to the edges of what is real within us. This is why art making can be such a powerful tool for understanding the ontology of your being. The vibrancy of your imagination really depends on the quality of the source of light within and without you, and in turn, directly affects the reality of the world around you. And of course, all of the objects, movements and utterances you put into it. You draw a lot from your personal sphere, and especially your current work is about your relationship with your mother: how does your everyday life's experience and your memories fuel your artistic research? Seth Sexton: My mother had severe mental counter-orders. She was very self-absorbed, narcissistic, and delusional at times. This was the nature of her OCHD. She had no sense of appropriate boundaries physically and sexually. She would talk for hours, without a question in return. As I’ve alluded to, and because of this, I was buried under a pile of debris in many ways. I villainized her as a way to cope with an inchoate sense of mental illness. What I have grown to

understand is that Mental illness or madness is not a trait of the mind but a relation to others and a result of relations of power. I think normalizing disclosure is an important pathway for myself out from under this debris. I understand that it’s a certain privilege; It’s not safe at some intersections of marginalized communities to do so. But I think a reader can gain a certain empathy here. I present my trauma as an artistic case study, for psychiatric evaluations of “mental disorders'' in order to permiss and relinquish the anxiety that I may be similarly afflicted. I counter that with deeply biological explanations and representations to arrive closer to an understanding of the indomitable spirit. I am my own Doctor and Shaman; the compiling, the programming, and the transcripting author and artist, through selfdisclosure, highlights the inconsistencies in the overarching social architecture of both reason and madness, both in psychiatric and biological etiologies. I offer my highly iterative, repetitive, obsessive, and durational performances and their artefacts as a way to continue to unfold the complicated dialectic around order and disorder. Your work has more than one story to tell: 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


Escapism Pen and Ink 30” x 22.5” 2020



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to realize their own perception. 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 illusion: how important is it 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? Seth Sexton: I have no expectations for other people’s interpretations of my work. I am just grateful that they would arrive to face it. Meaning is so very relative even to me, it changes constantly through space and time, and it’s certainly hard to predict what I might understand my work to be communicating to even myself in the future. We sometimes tend to ignore the fact that a work of art is often a physical artefact, and we have particularly appreciated the way your approach reevaluates the physical language behind the mechanism of art making itself, inviting your audience to treat the work of art more as a window, or a even as a portal towards new kind of perception: as a choreographer and performer, how do you consider the role of the physical act of creating your artworks, of being there, when your artworks take birth? In particular, how do you consider the relationship between space and the body playing within your artistic practice?

Seth Sexton: I’d like to complicate the notions of movement, space and choreography for a moment. So I’ll focus on my circle drawings. My circle drawings are mimetic, really an ongoing investigation of how I have been influenced and partly formed by counter-orders (other forces too of course). This is difficult to articulate, but they are a kind of performance, a dance, about my mother, of epic duration, a performance for me, as an audience of one. My body often betrays what my mind thinks is true. This performance is laden with irony and ambivalence. It looks like an obsessive meditation, and in some ways it is. This slackline between order and disorder is suspended over a chasm of powerful forces consisting of conventions, religions, ideologies, and mental health. And then these forces are represented on the surface of the paper. Making the drawing is more important than the drawing itself in this regard. I struggle with sentimentality and ego in relation to making and keeping a surplus of objects. Of course this may be the result of living with my mother’s OCHD. Not to say that the resulting drawings or image can't be sacred, or rather, immortalize a certain questioning. Previously, I cited Yvonne Rainer’s Hand Movie (1966) and I’ll mention a similar work by Richard Serra called Hand Catching Lead (1968), now. Both films frame the body as potent vehicles for communication. They



House Head Pen and Ink on Paper 24” x 18” 2021


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also explicitly mark the space where physical communication can be construed as the dance. This minimization and reductive device, made possible through the framing of the camera, can be taken even further, into the internal realm of imagination. The body doesn’t need to move to continue to communicate and dance. The mind and the organs and bones will continue to do so, even in apparent stillness. I think of myself as dancing even when it’s just the tips of my fingers holding a pen for several hours. The circle drawing Spiritual Escapism is a good way to recapitulate the preceding ideas. American Evangelicalism, as an example, has convinced people that the mythological hero Jesus will return to take people up to heaven in an act called the Rapture in a period of disaster called the “End Times”. My mother cites both of these religious ideologies as being the root of her collecting behavior. My mother, like many others, also believes in alien abductions. In the yogic traditions, the ones I participate in, reaching the final stage of spiritual enlightenment or Nirvana is accomplished through ascension meditation. The difference between these “Rising Upwards” allegories is internal, as opposed to external forces. I understand this internal force as agency. Agency, as I am describing here, also refers to the tautness of the

aforementioned slackline. The questioning in Spiritual Escapism is; if I’m meditating through art all the time, making tiny circles for hours and hours every day for years on end, making art via an internalized dance, a flick of the pen, a conscious breath, and depending on an ascension meditation for me to rise above the suffering inherent in the body- am I really living fully? Or is this a form of Escapism from a necessary condition of life? This goes without saying perhaps, but these are inherently about patterns. Patterns of thinking created by and in response to forces within our society. Hence Patterns show up on the surfaces of my work. Your choreographies last from several hours to several days, and are generated through repetitive mark making and a mixture of rehearsed movement and improvisational dance: how do you consider the creative role of chance and improvisation playing within your artistic practice? Seth Sexton: This is a fantastic question. I use the terms improvisation and chance very loosely. I have years of movement and dance training. This training, taken in its entirety, is about establishing patterns within the body. When I am asked to improvise movements I’m drawing from an exhaustible library. The limitations of this library are evidenced depending on the duration of the “improvisation” and the


Seth Sexton

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Black Chokmah 2018 22.5” x 30” Pen and Ink


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extent of my physical capacity at that time. An improvisation of several minutes is unlikely to visually repeat itself. Given several hours or days, however, one might begin to notice repetitions of quality, speed, phrasing, direction, and stillness of the dance. This becomes even more clear when we ask someone with less training to improvise. This is a great example of the ways that the body betrays the mind. We think we are operating by chance, but our body reveals the patterns of physical behavior.

general, the more clearly I see negentropy acting in the universe. This is exactly why our thoughts and intentions are so important. Art can certainly be a form of therapy if you think that it is, and I do.

Since attending Chicago Art Institute you have become more acutely aware of the therapeutic nature of your art practice, and you have developed your attitude to address the theme of mental health through empathetic conversations as well as art practice: do you think that art making could be considered in general as a kind of therapy, especially in this current hectic and unstable version of society?

I want to create emotional closeness and sensitization of and with the psychic self. I want to change my energetic pathways at the very root of me, I want to affect the organization beneath the flesh and bone to the level of DNA. There are curious pathways between trauma, memory aversion, mood disorders, psychological pathologies, and physiological responses at the cellular and proto cellular level. I have, over the course of my reclamation, been offered the advice to let go of my trauma, to focus on the accumulation of joy, and to stay intently focused on the present self. But I have come to believe that remembering trauma, harnessing its power, has changed me for the better, potentially at the level of DNA on the level of spirit.

Seth Sexton: I think our patterns of history and behavior are transformed through selfawareness and agency. I think I’ve come to know more about how my patterns imbricate the patterns of the agents around me. I have become more aware of that on a deeper level. I just don't think I have come this far in my life by chance. I’m recognizing my intuition is my Higher Self. The more I have become aware of the systems at play in society, in the body, in the world in

Over the years your artworks have been showcased your collaborative multimedia choreographies in several Seattle based institutions such as Velocity Dance Center, On the Boards, Jack Straw New Media Gallery, Hedreen Gallery, Soil Gallery, Bumbershoot and others: 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



Performance Drawing on Opening Night 2005 Charcoal on Paper 50” x 48”



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— as Instagram https://www.instagram.com/sethpsexton — increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised Audience? Seth Sexton: I am really grateful for the opportunities to have my work, the objects and the performances, relate to people in a physical way. I still privilege the idea that a certain ethos comes from being in physical proximity to the practice. But, I think there is also something really romantic in the notion that we can unite the world in the same ethereal space and time, as computers endeavor to do. And I guess I’m rather romantic at times. Being online and sharing in the ways that we can has been a necessity for school. So while recognizing the immateriality of the online world as a medium can be incredibly useful, I think we have to remember that even though community is gained a real luxury of information is lost. At a certain point the poverty of information doesn't justify the extent of community. Though I certainly appreciate the global audience, I’m at a place in my career where most of my attention and physical energy is spent on a more immediate community and quality of interaction. On top of that, my work is very slow, I don’t create at the current speed of global attention and consumptive habit. 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, Seth. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Seth Sexton: I’m working on a manuscript describing some of the key ideas I have mentioned here; It's an experimental writing at the intersection of auto ethnography, poetry, and critical analysis. I draw on authors from the lineage of the antipsychiatry movement to deconstruct mental illness and madness as necessary counternarratives to intersections of pathologization. It attempts to suggest an alternative to accepted reading structures and challenges the ambiguity of truth and voice. I’m also working on a set of accretive drawings inspired by the essay written by Malcom McCullough called “Ambient Commons:Attention in the Age of Embodied Information” (2013). I will also be participating in the 2020-21 Codex Project at the Works on Paper Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. this September. An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com

Photos by Joseph Lambert


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LandEscape meets

Matej Mlakar My art comes simply from inner necessity to create. I usually get inspiration while I am outdoors immersed with nature. Sometimes when I see something interesting that start running my neurons I just take a shot with my cell phone and use a picture as a starting reference. The finished painting is usually quite different as I imagine it at the beginning. I usually need some starting point but then I expressionistically go with the flow. Sometimes I finish my painting in one go but other times I might fight with it many many times and even left it for a while. Some are also overpainted later or recycled. I am expressionist by my heart although I’ve been painting also realism and much more impressionism in the near past. I am now mostly engaged with spontaneous brushstrokes and vivid colors and not paying so much attention to a nice finished look of a painting. I am mostly stylistically driven from post-impressionism and early expressionism and I get huge inspiration from artists such as Cezanne, Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Jawlensky, Munter and other from this period.

An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator

your background. You have a solid formal

landescape@europe.com

are a basically self taught artist: are there any

Hello Matej and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.matejmlakar.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

experiences that did particularly influence

training in Mechanical Engineering and you

your artistic journey? In particular, what does appeal you of post-impressionism and early expressionism? Matej Mlakar: First of all thank you for showing your interest in my artistic production and for inviting me to this



Starry Night-Departure, detail, oil on linen,2020


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interview. I am very grateful to be a part of it and happy that you gave me a chance to introduce myself to your readers. As you already mention my formal training is anything but artistic. I am an engineer by profession. I have a Bsc of Mechanical Engineering and I was trained as a pilot. As a child I was obsessed with airplanes and already at that time decided to become a professional aviator. All other things were just subordinate to that. On the other hand I always liked to create,draw and paint, as usually almost every child does, but stops when they grow up. I admired paintings of great and famous painters from books and magazines. At that time I was especially struck by impressionists how they were able to convey a feeling of light. I liked messy brushstrokes and vivid colours in their paintings. I was really in love with Van Gogh heavy brushstrokes. In our Primary School art classes the teachers mainly introduced to us our local artists from art history and the most I liked were four of them from the beginning of the 20th century - Rihard Jakopič, Ivan Grohar, Matija Jama and Matej Sternen. You most probably never heard of them but I highly recommend to google them. They had some really interesting stuff. So already at that time I fell in love with a rather more expressionistic way of painting. At the end of primary school the art teacher who probably saw some little talent in me

tried to convince me to follow artistic path but I stubbornly turned her down. In the years that followed I realised my need to create in a more practical way and that was in building model airplanes and flying models. I paint very rarely then and after I start flying in local aeroclub almost quit entirely. When I was at University the times for aviation in our country were really bad. There were practically no jobs. But life as a student was fun and carefree so I extended my study and found again some time for painting. I also tried to enter the local Fine Art Academy but I took it too easily and I wasn’t accepted. After I finally start my flying career I dedicate all my time to that and to my growing family. After more than a decade of flying I started to realize that I was slowly losing my health due to an unhealthy working environment. Daily breathing of toxic air in airliners put me to the hardest decision in my life. I quit my beloved job and forgot about aviation. I turned again to my art. But not only the painting, I also started to learn digital art, illustration and game design. During sleepless nights I study painters and art history, watch their paintings endlessly on the web and discover so many new artists unknown to me at that time. I started where I finished so many years ago - with impressionists. But everything opened to me with Cezanne whom at first I didn’t like at all because his paintings seem ugly to me. And it was almost an overnight revelation. Suddenly I see beauty in his structured


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brushstrokes, his different use of colors unfamiliar to impressionists. I started to love the flatness of the painting, deformed and tilted elements and bent perspective. I suddenly started to see beauty in things that I couldn’t before. Fauvism, cubism, expressionism, ..etc. I started to admire the spontaneity and immediacy in terms of color, line or brushstroke and use of that to convey a feeling instead of representing a real world. I was struck by color combinations of Matisse or Kandinsky, or powerful, long brushstrokes and rough textures in Munch or Nolde paintings. And cubism as bringing flatness and perspective distortion to the limit. I like flatness in painting because it brings all elements to the front, it’s all there in front of you so you have a feeling that you are a part of the painting, not just the distant observer. You don’t need to go beyond the frame and enter the scene like in paintings before where you had the atmospheric illusion and perspective which was still the case with the impressionism. I started to see a painting more like a song where the certain colors, linework, shapes, textures etc. forms a rhythm and a melody of that song and where the lyrics of that song(that is to say subject or narrative of the painting) becomes unimportant or have only a second importance. Those are the things that appeal to me of post-impressionism and expressionism. I think for me the period of Modern Art is the most important because it introduced the freedom to art


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Emsho, 80x60cm, oil on linen, 2020


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Pomjan, 65x50cm, oil on linen, 2020

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and that is the most important element of art for me. It allows the soul to have all available resources to speak without limitation. Yes, it was the Renaissance which improved painting hugely in terms of craft but for me for example the songs of the cave paintings sing more beautifully than the renaissance symphonies. The body of works that we have selected for 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 impressed us of for the way it invites the viewers to capture beauty in daily experience: 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? Matej Mlakar: Thank you. I really don’t have a certain process nor do I follow the same rules every time I make a painting. I don’t make a series and every mine painting is a story of its own in terms of process. When I start painting it’s like going on a trip and every trip is different. It's true that at the beginning I need an idea or some sort of initial kick. I almost never start in front of a blank canvas and just start painting without even slightest idea what I am going to do. I only sometimes play and do small sketches in a way to maybe get some ideas or just to loosen myself. But for the “real” painting it all depends on how developed my idea is.




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Sometimes I just see something that strikes me, it can be just an interesting shadow or maybe a beautiful evening light and see a nice color combination or do I find a certain place that starts burning my imagination. In that case if I see something interesting and want to make something out of it, but I don’t know where exactly I am going to end, I just start sketching directly on canvas. That was the case for the painting “Window” . But more about that later. Sketching can be with charcoal or if I am more sure it can already be with oil paint. Sometimes the sketch is very rough and I don’t follow it blindly. Just to have started somehow. After that I start blocking in the areas of color that I think will work but usually don’t. Then I start correcting colors, start adding details and develop ideas that appear during the process. During the process I might find other ideas and then the painting can go in a totally different direction. Rarely I finish the painting in one go. A lot of times it's just not working right and I need to scrape it down partially or entirely and start all over. When I know exactly what I want, then the process is easier. That was the case for example for the painting “Starry Night-Departure”. I’ve got an idea, make some sketches with watercolor to determine the composition and color scheme and when I was satisfied started on canvas with oils. I surely made changes but the overall composition and idea of the painting remain the same during the process. It is quite relaxing and joyful to paint that way because you already know


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Game On, 90x70cm, oil on linen, 2020


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Game On, 90x70cm, oil on linen, 2020

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what you are doing and so you just indulge yourself and enjoy painting strokes. And then there are really rare moments when all just feel right and you just grab the brush and immediately get inspiration. And then go with furious energy and finish a painting in one go and most probably in a very short time. And then you leave it and never touch it again. It usually happens when I make sketches on paper or painting with watercolors when I am not burdened with empty white canvas. I also made a “Pomjan” painting that way. I started this painting on rare occasions painting plein air when I was still painting more in an impressionistic way and wanted to depict this village in real life. At the end I wasn’t satisfied with the painting and tried to fix it several times in the studio. It was scraped many times and at the end it really got a nice worn out texture on the linen surface. I finally lost hope over it and I put it aside. And then one day, maybe a year or more later, I just grab it, put it on an easel, make some swift outlines and just throw the paint on it in one go. And it was there, one of my favorite paintings. We have particularly appreciated the rigorous sense of geometry that marks out your artistic production and that — more especially in Game On and Emancipation of the Scapegoat — creates such unique ambiguous atmosphere, that becomes even unsettling in the interesting Emsho: would


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you tell us more about this important aspect of your works? In particular, do you transpose geometric schemes? Matej Mlakar: Yes,it’s true that I made preparatory drafts for both Game On and Emancipation. In both paintings I wanted to have a more geometric feel as you already found out. But in Game On I was more exploring the relations between different geometric shapes and textures of those shapes while in Emancipation I went for color relations of shapes. The idea for the first painting came out from memories of my past flying job. So many times after take-off I was observing how the shadow of the airplane was beautifully sweeping across the fields with different kinds of crops and crossing swiftly all kinds of textures and colors. And a dark shadow had always a beautiful, subtle halo glow around it. And just as an interesting fact, if you carefully observe your own shadow in early morning or late afternoon light you can see a bright glow around it and that glow is the brightest just around the shadow edge where your eyes would be. So just around your head shadow because the sun is right behind, on the same line. I’ve used that effect also in painting Extinguishing. So if you carefully examine some photos of airplane shadows taken near the ground you can tell from the position of the brightest glow where the person who took the photo was sitting. And to continue,the Game On was drawn totally from imagination while Emancipation was

drawn after a real location from the beautiful river Soča Valley, but greatly simplified into more geometric shapes. The geometry of Game On changed quite a lot because I found compositional problems along the process while the composition of the Emancipation painting didn’t change. Here I was searching relations, some kind of a melody between color fields and also subtle relations between hues inside the same color field for example green, blue and cyan in the sky, orange and magenta in the backmost mountain, blue and purple in the hill on the right side or yellow and green in the grass. That produces interesting shimmering because of subtle temperature variation of slightly different hues. So I would say that the hues inside a geometric shape are the tones that make one chord and then all shapes are different chords that at the end make up a melody of this painting. For the Emsho painting it was different. I didn’t make any drafts. It was the power, the energy of one abandoned place of old ruins in Istria. I took a picture while I found it during my mountain biking tour and some time later used it as a basis for my painting. Although I took my expressionistic freedom to paint it it still quite resembles the real place which was mysterious and at the same time quite beautiful in its slow decline. Maybe that’s why it is more unsettling. Obviously I was able to capture the energy of the place :).


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Window, 100x120cm, oil on linen, 2020


Window, 100x120cm, oil on linen, 2020



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Night Trolling, 100x120cm, oil on linen, 2020


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A work of yours that has particularly impacted on us is entitled Window and we were struck not only by its effective composition, but especially by an apparently secondary detail: the red little bird leaning in front of the boy at the window. Would you tell us something about the genesis of this stimulating work? In particular, how do you select the locations that you depict in your artworks? Matej Mlakar: There is a story behind this painting. One day walking down the street of a small mediterranean town I saw a little cute window with nice green shutters, situated on a house with a reddish-ochre facade. The shadow of the opposite house was falling on that house below the window and made an interesting contrast. There were also flowers on the shelf, the window was closed with nice rustic curtains behind it. Nobody was at the window. I took the picture of it because of the nice colors and contrast. Then I forgot about that picture and it was a year or two later when I found it again on my computer and it immediately striked me again. Then I knew that I had to do something about it. I knew that I wanted similar composition and similar colors, I wanted to have a textured surface and I wanted to have that shadow of the opposite house below the window. That was the main drive for that painting. All other options were opened. After the initial sketch I started blocking with colors and quite soon

realized that the painting won’t work. I struggled with composition and somehow the window felt strange in the painting. I scraped down the color a few times, took a picture of a painting and left it for a few days. I usually do that when I am at dead end and don’t know how to continue. Then at home in the evenings I usually lay on my couch, open my photo of a painting in photoshop (and maybe a beer) and just start playing around and improvise what works and what doesn't. Maybe I get new ideas that way, sometimes I find a solution, sometimes I don’t, but definitely I save some precious oil paint, time and nerves by doing that. That way I realised that I need a shadow above and over the window and that this could be a shadow of the roof over the window. Then I needed something below the window. I didn’t know what it could be. I just felt that something must be there. Then it suddenly struck me and immediately got it. I need a cat at the window. There will be a cat looking up at the birds sitting on the opposite house. Next day I wasn’t sure about the cat anymore. It was the time that just the corona virus started to spread around and there were restrictions to move freely around the country. We were all unhappy because it was the springtime with nice sunny days but we couldn’t go far from home. And then finally the story just wrote itself. I took a picture of my son to get a pose, made a sketch of him, went in my studio and started painting. From that on it


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just went with the flow. I changed the shadows of the birds to be sitting on a cable wire instead on the roof and made some yearning graffiti on the facade to spice up a bit everything and there he was. A boy in the middle of quarantine longing for better days to come. But of course this was just my idea which enabled me to finish my painting. Everyone can have his story when looking at the painting. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you are now mostly engaged with spontaneous brushstrokes and vivid colors and not paying so much attention to a nice finished look of a painting: how do you consider the creative role of randomness and improvisation playing within your artistic practice? Matej Mlakar: I always try to be relaxed and spontaneous as much as possible. It’s not always easy, it really depends on your state of your mind. I am sure that randomness and improvisation play a big role in the creative process and I would like to have them both in my paintings but all that needs experience and mileage. You need to be self-confident to make a spontaneous brushstroke that makes an impact and to throw the colors on canvas that make sense. First you have to learn and study things a lot so that you get some kind of automatism. I think that only then you can fully open up to your subconscious and start using randomness and improvisation in your


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Emancipation Of the Scapegoat, 120x100cm,oil on linen, 2021


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Emancipation Of the Scapegoat, 120x100cm,oil on linen, 2021


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favor. I am at the very beginning in that sense but at least I know that I must work on that. If you take into consideration randomness, a lot of times it happens that you get something interesting just purely by accident. But then you also must see it as an opportunity and take advantage of it. A happy accident Bob Ross would say :). I think that watercolors are a perfect medium for that if you know how to use them in the right way. So, right now I see my artistic development in the direction of using improvisation by means of gestural painting, usage of color and texture combinations to make more impact with that and less with narrative. For me Matisse is a beautiful example of improvisation mastery. And also Kandinsky in his “Blaue Reiter” period and Jawlensky. You usually get inspiration while you are outdoors immersed with nature, and Saffrons seems to be a clear example of this aspect of your artistic practice. We like the way you draw from reality to create works of art marked out with stimulating combination between reminding to figurative elements and subtle still captivating dreamlike ambience: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination playing within your artistic practice? ? In particular, how do your memories as a professional pilot and your current everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?




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Matej Mlakar: Experiences in life are very important. This is our raw material from which we build. Like clay. I am really an outdoor type and I like to absorb images, colors, and smells like a sponge. I like to collect impressions from nature or generally from life. It all adds to your subconscious which later fuels your imagination that helps you to express your feelings, state or whatever. Our personality is built from genes of our previous generations and from our own experiences. So it is important that you walk around the world with your eyes wide open and do a lot of interesting things in life, not just art. That way you become more open minded and more individual and you can add something personal to your art. So in a way I just use reality and shape it according to my needs to express something that is within me. And that is for me what expressionism is about. The reality just helps me to get me started and trigger my imagination. That’s why I think it’s quite natural that a lot of artists progress later to abstract art because they don’t need figurative elements or reality any more and are so experienced that they know how to trigger the imagination without that. So to sum up, I use my memories and everyday life experiences as impressions that help me to express myself. And I like to express myself through painting because it’s easier for me than talking. We have appreciated the thoughtful and at the same time intense nuances that mark

Saffrons, oil on linen, 100x65cm, oil on linen, 2019

out your artworks, and that in Extinguishing draw the viewers to a state of mind where the concepts of time and space seem to be


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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 brilliant results?


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Recycle 1-19, 130x90cm, oil on canvas, 2019

Matej Mlakar: The Extinguishing is really quite personal painting and also psychological. It was the year that I stopped

flying and I was with my son on a hill that we often go on a walk with my family to get some fresh air. The sun was setting


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behind our backs and our shadows were slowly eaten by the rising shadow of the night. The glowing orange light of the forest

with white trunks of birches was extinguishing and there were vapor trails of airplanes over the sky as a reminder of a promised future. I was quite down at that time and very touched by the scene. The first idea was that I want to make a bleeding sky that is flowing through the forest down into the cold, dark area of a painting. Then I changed my mind and decided to develop the painting around the boundary line between the cold and warm area - the rising horizont of the night. There are still some traces of that bleeding sky in the painting. That coarse texture of the forest developed on its own because of so many applied layers and scrape downs. At the end I just applied very thick lines of oranges, reds and purples with the palette knife to get some sort of feel of fire. The cold, bluish part of the painting was quite different at the beginning and I overpainted it later after my first consideration that the painting is finished. I wanted to make that area very cold, unfriendly, that you don’t want to enter but unfortunately you have to because you can not stop the sun going down. At the end this area of painting came out really cold and ugly, textured with fat, thick paint. So in a sense how this painting was made it makes it quite unhappy or dark but I see it differently now. It just represents the transition from one light period through the darkness to another light period. At the end the sun still comes up every day, doesn’t it? And you can see the opposite effect every morning. So


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how do I choose the nuances - I try to convey a certain feeling or effect. I try to do that also with textures but sometimes they develop on their own and I let them do so. Through sapiently structured visual quality, Recycle 1-19 challenges the viewers' perception to evoke a sense of mystery, inviting them to switch between opposite interpretations. 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? Matej Mlakar: I actually don’t think about how somebody would understand my painting and I don’t want it to be an object to think about. I rather wanted to be an object of joy or as you already said an object to trigger the viewers imagination. If I put a subject or narrative into it, it is then just an option for interpretation and I usually put that more for compositional reasons. I sometimes choose the title that can also have some meaning and it can be used as an interpretation of the painting, but in most cases I make it up only after the painting is finished or even change it later. So there's actually nothing to understand here in my art. It’s just to like it or not to like it, feel it or not to feel it. Does it trigger something or not? The Recycle 1-19 painting was made out of three different paintings that I made long ago and I didn’t see them interesting

anymore. I first wanted to use the canvases to repaint them and make totally new paintings but then I got the idea to combine all three of them into one surface and try to make a new composition with the use of some existing elements. It was a pure improvisation. I wasn’t thinking, I was just playing with the colors, strokes and texture. At the end I only left one element from each original painting - nude, fish and a sailboat. Whatever else was created or can be seen and interpreted is just a coincidence, random shapes. But it is interesting to see how human brains always want to find something tangible. I made another painting in a similar way, Recycle 2-19, but out of only two old canvases. 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? Matej Mlakar: As I started painting more seriously only a few years ago I really don’t have any direct audience yet, except my friends. Until now I only had few online exhibitions so my public is mostly from the internet. I regularly post on my Instagram account ( https://www.instagram.com/mlaki_art/ ) and also update my web page occasionally with some new updates. With social media it


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Extinguishing, 100x120cm, oil on linen, 2019


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Starry Night-Departure, oil on linen,2020

is certainly much easier now to start and get your first audience established than it was before the internet revolution. It is much more likely that somebody who will really love your work discovers you. The base of potential audiences is really huge, practically the whole globe. But on the other hand you never know how honest this

online relationship is. I think the online platforms are great to start but at the end there still must be a psychical contact with the painting. It is really difficult to judge a piece of art through the computer screen and it’s always a pleasant surprise (sometimes also unpleasant ) to see the painting for real


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after seeing it online. For me it’s like food. You can watch and admire it on the screen but at the end you must eat it to really taste it. And how would increasing move to online platforms change the relationship with an audience? I think in most cases it will become more superficial. 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, Matej. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Matej Mlakar: At that very moment I am dedicating almost all my time to digital animation. I am making an animation for a proposal and at the same time learning new things in that specific area. Presently I am not able to make a living out of painting so I am trying to earn my money from other projects that are somehow connected with the things that I love to do, and that is art. Animation is one of those things. I would also like to start making some funny cartoons and start publishing them on my social media on a regular basis.I have certain ideas and I just need to get started. Recently I also bought myself a black indian ink and a nib pen for the first time because I would

like to make ink drawings combined with watercolors. But for now I haven’t done anything specifically yet. And there is a blank canvas waiting for me in my studio already for a month and as soon as I get some time and inspiration I'll start working on a new painting. My wish is to start making bigger paintings because I started to feel a bit limited with the present sizes. I started to have needs for a more gesturally style of painting and for that I need to have more space available. I will continue to explore the color, stroke and texture relations in my paintings and I would like to become more immediate and spontaneous in my work. And finally maybe a less pleasant part for me is that I will need to start working more in social areas and get me started with physical exhibitions. At that point I would really like to thank you for this lovely opportunity that you gave me with your interview and for your interesting questions. I was a bit sceptical about having to deal with all of them because I don’t have a formal artistic education but then it just opened up. On the other hand, I hope I didn’t sound too pretentious. I wish you and your readers many great artistic experiences and all the best.

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