LandEscape Art Review, Special Edition

Page 1

LandEscape Contemporary

A r t

Anniversary Edition

R e v i e w Anna Fine Foer Brooke Major

BROOKE MAJOR ERIC HOTZ VIAN BORCHERT ELENA STELZER KAREN GHOSTLAW ASTRID HANKA RAJI JAGADEESAN JÉSUS BAPTISTA LEX LUCIUS

ART

Lex Lucius


scape

Land

SUMMARY

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Jorge Rojas

Naima Karim

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

Cécile Filipe

A r t

R e v i e w

Eric Hotz

Vian Borchert

Brooke Major

Karen Ghostlaw

Raji Jagadeesan

Jésus Baptista

Canada

USA

USA / France

USA

USA

France

I grew up next to forests and streams and went to various camping trips as a child across British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. As I put myself through art school, I found myself working in mountainous regions filled with forests, lakes, streams, and rivers. I haven't been far from nature in my life. This has greatly influenced my life and my artwork. I now live in an area of British Columbia that is minutes away from the natural wilderness. Recently, my vision has been centering upon the beauty of nature that is found within two hours from where I live, which includes alpine mountain valleys, seacoast beaches, or forests and lakes. I live in one of the most beautiful regions of the world and it continues to inspire my artwork.

I am an expressionist artist, I consider all my artwork to be visual poems. For me nature is very important and plays a very essential role in my life. Thus, I am a nature lover - mother nature is my sanctuary and my ultimate solace. I am an avid nature observer where contemplating upon nature helps me reach inner peace and attain moments of Zen. My artwork albeit abstract in nature offers symbolism referencing the status of a mysterious future and how life is such a precious commodity. My art also showcases a sense of identity of who I am as an artist: my hopes, my aspiration and my dreams. In my latest paintings of “Lavender Fields’ series" my aim was to create artwork that evoke the feelings of happiness and rejuvenation achieved through the love for nature and its abundant beauty and endless bounty that it bestows upon humanity.

American artist born 1979 and native of Atlanta, GA, Brooke Major has been living and working as a professional artist and sharing her time between the USA (Georgia) and France for the past 20 years. As a child, Brooke has always been top of her class in drawing and painting, as well as an avid equestrian, which led her to move to Normandy to breed and raise them for the sport of showjumping. She moved initially to Paris to study political science at an American university, but felt herself drawn more towards the arts and followed auditing classes at the Beaux Arts school in Paris. Her political science studies led her to work for over a year and a half as an intern at the US Embassy in Paris. Following her two childhood passions, art and horses, Brooke moved to Normandy and started her dream of breeding showjumpers and set up her art studio in a grain loft in a 18th century farmhouse on the beach where she creates her work and raises her horses.

Abnormalities seem to be the new normal. Life has changed and we see things in a new light. Living in isolation for the first three months of the Pandemic in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, I began to refocus my photography and began exploring a study that I conceptualized in the 1980’s termed: “Between Painting and Photography”. While in the Adirondacks, I explored the estuaries of the north country, and the reflections of color and light with the movement of water. I continued this exploration in the Shawangunk Mountains near where I live in the lower Hudson Valley of New York. I see illuminated landscapes melt into the water, fusing to the surface. The water becoming both transparent and opaque as the currant creates tension between the surface and the bottom. I ask the viewer to see the world in a new way, to notice the obvious but find unexpected discoveries, and new answers and solutions to their questions.

I am an interdisciplinary artist who works in still and moving image, sculpture, and installation. Instead of seeking out specific materials for a predetermined project, I use what is available to me in a particular situation, instinctively reacting within a given place and time. When I encounter new equipment or materials in a location, I experiment and collaborate with these places, at that moment, to discover their potential. I have a Renaissance-era commitment to the value of beauty; I believe that form, composition, and color, can create moments of intense reflection and power, even if fleeting. As such, I make my artwork accessible in the spaces of daily life. My photography and moving-image work are available online, where viewers can encounter it on their own devices. Much of my dimensional work is site-specific and designed for public places. Raji Jagadeesan is an interdisciplinary artist who works across still and moving images, 3D materials, and text and stories. She completed her MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins in 2020 and has shown in exhibits in the UK, Belgium, Bulgaria, and Switzerland. She is currently based in the U.S.

Arsarneq is a project that encloses different steps of conception and realization. I couldn’t do this project without my friend Philippe Zappadu: we create Arsarneq together. In the beginning, I was fascinated by the lights and the movement of the Northern Lights. To me, they were like living lights, as if they were spirits of something in movement in the sky. It was amazing, at times surreal, to have an artist residency on a boat locked in the ice. Before leaving for Greenland my wish was to catch a Northern light and bring it to Europe to share with the public. I create a character, Nicolas Rouyer, a crazy scientist and seeker of Northern Light. The story of that man was the starting point of my story and my initial idea once the residency finished, was to present a huge box containing Aurora Borealis lights.

Special Issue


Land

SUMMARY

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Karen Ghostlaw

4

lives and works in New York City, USA

Elena Stelzer

38

lives and works in Jerusalem, Israel

Vian Borchert Joe O’Brien

64

lives and works in Washington, DC, USA

Jésus Baptista

88

lives and works in Strasbourg, France

Brooke Major

106

lives and works in Paris, France

Eric Hotz Elena Stelzer

Astrid Hanka

Lex Lucius

Germany / Israel

Germany

USA

A society that no longer fears death, or at least fails to respect it, begins killing the wrong things. Simplicity is misunderstood as reductive. Seduction is perceived as violence. Art should pierce and provoke, bearing the inevitable, the eternal as well as the imminent, the present. Everything starts with the space: where we stand—a place, a room, a time. But also how we stand—a posture, an attitude, a stance. A tunnel between the moment and the unceasing public consciousness. Sculpture: reaching back to the original meaning of the word: to cut. An unfurling of resistance, disjunction, and interruption. A continual redefinition of material and form fracturing that which would try to delimit or contain it. Back to basics and simple gestures: conquering, creating, questioning. A sculpture of moments is a sculpture of movement. The endless complications: control in the face of the uncontrollable. Breathe in this captured time, this radical political stance, a series of unfrozen moments to puncture the veil, the screen, the spectacle.

I worked on dressmaking, pattern, dying, embroiling, new functional accessories. In addition I draw up texts, flyers, catalogues, promotional items, were my own model…and so on…My nickname „asha“ became signature for the resulting works. Arrival in the awesome surround of Kunsthaus Tacheles in 2006 influenced my activities highly. First a degree in natural science followed by withdrawn studies on textile topics: Here my immanent characteristics found a constructive valve the first time. In addition the lively surround enabled to rediscover ambitions in painting and thinking and gave it space without being misplaced. In these days asha became the art figure asha berlin. Well, that’s were I am from and my email account was named so since the browser needed an additive. So it fit.

I live in the Roaring Fork valley just north of Aspen Colorado, tucked into the Rocky Mountains. My life is full of family, painting and horses and my clothes smell of the stable, and on far too many days my boots of the pasture. Less than five minutes from my painting studio is the stable where my wife Aimée keeps her jumping horses and my daughter her pony. When I drive over to watch them ride, which I do several times a week, I pass by a field of polo ponies. It’s these ponies that have become my favorites to paint because I love their small muscled bodies and I see such strength and determination in their movements. At the stable, our warmbloods are huge muscled, yet incredibly calm, animals; even in my paintings they have a sureness of movement and a stillness that speaks of this confidence. I try to invoke the feelings I get from these animals, but just as importantly I also try to bring the stories and dreams we all carry within us when we think of horses and what horses mean to us all. I am focusing on art I want to see, art that makes me feel. It is my hope that these paintings bring out feelings of comfort and connection in the viewers also.

136

lives and works in British Columbia, Canada

Raji Jagadeesan

158

lives and works in the United States

182

Astrid Hanka lives and works in Berlin, Germany

204

Lex Lucius lives and works in Colorado, USA

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.

Special Issue


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

LandEscape meets

Karen Ghostlaw “Between Painting and Photography” is a study I began for my thesis at Pratt Institute in the 1980’s and continues today. The bodies of work selected for this interview are bridges between the two genres. All my stories are approached in the same way, they are investigations of layered spaces and details from an un obvious perspective, focusing on the overlooked, thought to be ugly, deformed, not important, disregarded, and finding a way of representing them in a new light. “My Story” is a study of self portraiture that started twelve years ago, and will span my lifetime. The global pandemic has made isolation and self contemplation unavoidable. We have soul searched, lived with our thoughts captive from external influences, void of physical connections. One wonders if we will ever be the same, or if we as people will become more independent and individualized, embodying the archeology left behind. I see a future of understanding individualities and strengths in our independence moving from unconscious too conscious. These self portraits take the viewer on a visual excavation, like unearthed sarcophagi, their wiser, enlightened souls emerging. I ask the viewer to understand their weaknesses and commit to making them their strengths, weaving together layers of the past and present to create a new future. “NYC Street Stories” has been a great opportunity to explore details of life through a multitude of layers, textures, and forms that I often feel we overlook. This series redirects focus to depict a whole new story that was there all the time, just waiting to be told. Layer upon layer, new details come to light evoking thought and contemplation, asking the viewer to make their own conclusions. “Dance Story” is a depiction of a dynamic choreography that challenged its spacial limitations when performed as a live, sitespecific installation. The work was a unique collaboration between the choreographer, dancers, and myself as the photographer, all moving through a space simultaneously. The dancers’ movement created compositions that made for an exhilarating and inspirational experience by all. The unexpected became the fever that drove the piece that night, it was embraced. “The Markets of Catania” document another brilliant environment, exploring layers and details in unique ways. The images are based off the fascinating cultural experience that is vibrant in color, smell, noise, taste; everything one needs for an exciting visual and visceral experience. The unique elements of these vastly utilized markets are the focus of the work, describing life in Catania, Sicily. The layers are real and authentic, paying respect to the culture and its’ people, seeing beauty in the unknown and unfamiliar

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

artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit http://karenghostlaw.com in order to get a

Hello Karen and welcome to LandEscape.

wide idea about your artistic production, and

Before starting to elaborate about your

we would start this interview with a couple




Karen Ghostlaw

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

of questions about your multifaceted background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a BFA (hons) that you received from the prestigious Pratt Institute, with a concentration in Photography, Printmaking and Bookbinding: how did those formative years — and more specifically the multidisciplinary perspective of your studies — influence your approach to photography and your evolution as a visual artist? Karen Ghostlaw: It established a great understanding of process, which enabled me to create just about anything. I am a visual storyteller, and with my tools and through processes, I tell my stories. I approach all of my stories with an open mind and eye for exploration. I study the details and decide what story I see. I don’t see my composition and frame as a photograph, but as a subject, vision, or idea. I don’t change what I see, I change the way people perceive what they would normally see. I have chosen photography to be the skeleton and spine of my stories. It is this visual language that transports the viewer to another place and time. In the 1980’s I began an exploration that continues today called: “Between Painting and Photography”. It is a visual language forever evolving and developing, giving me a broad platform for exploration that continues to lead to many new discoveries.

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 captured our attention for the way you sapiently found beauty in the details of the everyday. In particular, in your Self Portrait series, we have appreciated the way you sapiently unveiled the connection between individuality and consciousness: when walking our readers through the genesis of this stimulating project, would you tell us something about your usual setup and process? Karen Ghostlaw: My self portrait project began over twelve years ago. As an at-home mom and home school educator, I found self portraiture a way to not only find, but redefine myself. I studied my reflection on many surfaces, even by dragging mirrors into my yard, or panes of glass, I began to learn something new about self portraiture. I learned so much about reflections, and myself, that as my limitations of where I could shoot expanded, so did the tools and techniques I added to my toolbox. My process is a natural one. I have some ideas I always think about, for example: layers, illusion, reflection, geometry, shape, color, and gesture. These are visuals that always influence what direction I will take. I try not to let my preconceived ideas direct me. The time of the day may influence where I shoot and when I shoot, knowing that light


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

and shadow play an integral role in the way a reflection is defined. There is a depth of field to a reflection and it is a very interesting space to define. What I want in focus, is just as important as what is not in focus. I often keep my physical features a bit nondescript, allowing the viewer to step into my shoes and become a part of the story. Admittedly, sometimes it is all about 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? Karen Ghostlaw: I had an instructor at Pratt, Arthur Freed. He used to have us shoot ten rolls of film a week, and I would have them developed and printed for class. He would always say that it is not serendipity when you get that photograph just right, even in a quick reaction when you hit your mark, because you have trained yourself for that moment. Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” I believe this is what drives my diligence in practice. Yes I absolutely set my shot. In most instances these compositions have been made in a fraction of a second, while others I may take my time, if time will not change the composition. I rely on my training to see and define motor memory skills I trust like tools in my toolbox. A good piece of advice from William Gedney that I keep as a rule of thumb, is no to worry about


Karen Ghostlaw

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW




Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Special Edition


Karen Ghostlaw

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

the “Center”, make your edges clean and composed, and the center will just happen. I don’t believe I ever leave anything for chance, but take chances with my work. Your works drawn heavily from the peculiar specifics of the environment and we defintely love the way you capture such insightful resonance between the landscapes of Markets of Catania and states of mind: how do you select the specific locations and how do they affect your creative process? Karen Ghostlaw: I love confusion and chaos, it is inspiring for me to find order in chaos. It is so satisfying that I am addicted to it. I love to solve these puzzles and put the images together in a curious way. When I travel, I walk everywhere when possible, and treat it no different than I do the streets of NYC. I don’t just look, but I listen, smell, touch, taste, and I experience what I can in a very personal, visceral manner. I try to make eye contact and talk to people whenever I can. I don’t always ask permission to photograph someone, but I do not hide. I shoot with one camera and one lens and know my equipment so well that it has become an extension of my mind and body. My lens is a 35mm sum micron, and it forces me to engage my subjects, as well as myself. The Markets of Catania was a place I was able to explore more than once, presenting me with more knowledge of the people and culture. This allowed for a very real and authentic


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

interaction, creating a sensitivity to my subjects. I love to cook, eat and share good food. Markets are full of colors, shapes, aromas, flavors, and all the sounds of real life in wonderful places, with amazing people, that have beautiful stories to share. It's important to mention that your extensive international travel has allowed you to expand the breadth of your Street Photography: how

do your memories and your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? Karen Ghostlaw: I think that in order to learn and grow in your own work, besides committing to a diligent practice, you need to explore the work of others. I saturate myself with art, it is the air I need to breathe. I study architecture and sculpture to learn geometry, form and spatial relationships. Painting helps me to see abstractions and I learn about color theory.


Karen Ghostlaw

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Music is for rhythm, while dance is for

at Central Saint Martins in London for fashion. They were all home schooled by me through movement, gesture, and body language; the high school, and art has always been a major grammar of the human form. I am fortunate to part of their curriculum and life. Creative have a family of artists. My husband is an architect, my oldest son is an electronic musician, thinking follows them all through life in everything they do. my oldest daughter is a London Contemporary Dance graduate and is creating work and dancing in Berlin, my younger child is a sculptor studying at School of Visual Arts in NYC, and my youngest daughter is starting university this year

We appreciate the way your works constantly capture surrounding life, to address the viewers to appreciate also ordinary aspects of life, as in your interesting NYC Street Stories:




Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

how important is for you to highlight such little as epiphanic details of the urban landscapes and how do you select the people that you include in your works? Karen Ghostlaw: I find it interesting how people avoid things they don’t understand, or that make them uncomfortable. I admittedly feel uncomfortable at times, but find that as soon as I start looking more closely at the details, they can be clues or connections that make that uncomfortability a little more comfortable, and soon I am telling a very interesting story. I try to always be approachable by selecting people that allow me to engage them in some way, inviting me in to see a little more, and feel as comfortable with me as I am with them. It could be something that catches my eye, like a blue hat and hair, or a simple sweet smile, or maybe a humorous shirt, but often I look for a person that is confident enough in who they are, and will share that with me. When there are multiple people in a street scene and I am photographing from a distance, I often think of it like a dance performance, and I read their body language and look for the natural rhythms of their movements and how those relationships help tell the story I see. On the Rocks

Some of your artworks — more specifically On the Rocks and Weather Patterns — feature unique combination between reference to real places with dreamlike

ambience, that provides your works with visual ambivalence. As a visual artist whose


Karen Ghostlaw

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

work is focussed on real images, how do you consider the relationship between

reality and imagination playing within your process? Are you particularly interested in


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

arousing emotions that goes beyond the realm of visual perception?

Karen Ghostlaw: Picasso believed ”Everything you imagine is real.” I firmly


Karen Ghostlaw

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

something that can relay those thoughts and ideas to others. By redirecting the viewers focus I change their perception of what they are seeing. If I can elicit their participation and make them laugh through irony, question reality, smell those fish, see a constellation in garbage in a puddle, hear wind pass through the sway in the grass, then I feel I have succeeded in my work. I want them to stop and think about what they are seeing, question it, then draw their own conclusions from their own observations. If I can achieve this, then I have not just succeeded, but scored a victory. We dare say that you create new kind of languages that expand and transcends the nature of our relationship with our surroundings, inviting the viewers to elaborate such a wide number of interpretations. French Impressionist painter Edgar Degas once remarked that Art is not what you see, but what you make others see: how would you consider the degree of openness of the messages that you convey in your creations and how open would you like your works to be understood?

believe that it is the process of extracting our thoughts and ideas, and physically creating

Karen Ghostlaw: I invite people to engage my work, because the investment they make will undoubtedly leave an impression. I see it as a take away, or little souvenir. Like a seed, once it is planted, and nurtured it doesn’t just grow, but it thrives. There is no right or





Karen Ghostlaw

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

wrong, only the process of exploration and discovery. I see the abstractions in life first, this is my true reality; how I get others to see them, that is what drives me and is a constant inspiration for my work. I feel if I address issues in an open and honest way, with respect, dignity, and compassion, it will translate through my photography and be understood by its authenticity and integrity. Another stimulating body of works that has particularly impressed us and that we would

like to introduce to our readers is entitled “Dance Story”, and we have appreciated the way you captured the grammar of body language: how did you structured your shot schedule in order to achieve such brilliant results? In particular how important was for you to capture spontaneity? Karen Ghostlaw: When I work, it is almost always a spontaneous and intuitive process. When Bryn Cohn, the choreographer, asked me to photograph this gallery presentation


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

from her production called “Home”, she knew the way I work and she wanted the spontaneity. The space was narrow and filled with the audience, so the performance itself had to be intuitive in its flow of movement to accommodate the energy and dynamics of the space. When I work with artists and collaborate, this is one of many things I bring to the project. I like to experience the piece

much like the dancers, to move and feel their rhythm and timing. It is important for me to understand how her hand talks to his toe. What makes the shutter release, is when I can be one in that moment with my subject. I never try to change what I see, it is simply the way in which I choose for you to perceive it. In our age, constantly pervaded by editing techniques, you create refined images are single exposures: how do you consider the





Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

role of technology playing within your artistic practice? Karen Ghostlaw: I think change is hard, but not always bad, because when we change we grow. I have experienced many advances in technology with regards to photography and equipment and processing. I think it is most important to remember these are just tools and materials, it is the ideas that challenge the artist; it should not be the materials and tools in which they choose to use that should be an issue. There is a place for manipulation through technology, but for me, the process I utilize to get my message across is by creating the abstraction through the lens. In this way, I still retain the processes I developed many years ago behind an old box camera, but apply them to the digital world of today. I shoot no differently than I did with a film camera, but I no longer use a darkroom. I have stepped into the light with new technologies. I believe we are still growing as photographers and must adapt, but maybe not adopt. In a controversial quote, German photographer Thomas Ruff stated that ''nowadays you don't have to paint to be an artist: you can photography in a realistic way". Provocatively, the German photographer highlighted the short circuit between the act of looking and that of thinking critically about images: how do


Karen Ghostlaw

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Special Edition


Karen Ghostlaw

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

you consider the role of photography in our contemporary age, constantly saturated by ubiquitous images? Karen Ghostlaw: I used to let this bother me, but now I just focus on what I am doing, and why. I am doing it, and I let the chips fall where they may. I have been studying self portraiture for years, way before the “Selfie”. I consider my work to be much different than a selfie, so let people “Selfie” themselves out. I shoot a tremendous amount of images digitally, and this would not be possible with film. I don’t think of it as cheating, I think of it like a sketchbook. As a photographer I have always been held to a standard of perfection in every shot. I believe it is good to practice my craft, like a musician plays the scales over and over to not only learn them, but then to be able to deviate from them. Digital photography allows me to do research, and practice how to achieve my layering through the lens. This is my process, unique to me and my work. I don’t think it’s for everyone, and that is good. You are an established artist and over the years, and your works have been internationally exhibited, including your recent exhibition “Liquid Sky" at Praxis Gallery and the Davis Orton Gallery Annual Show. How do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? By the way, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to




Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

online platforms — as Instagram — increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience? Karen Ghostlaw: I am grateful for the global audience and international connectivity. It allows artists to make connections in places they never would have been able to in the past. This is not just beneficial to the artists, but certainly for the audience as well. It diversifies what they are exposed to, and allows them to hear different artists’ voices on an international, contemporary platform. I believe it is important to broaden our vision and include art from every corner of the world; making us more aware and tolerant in order to grow as people. Art is a reflection of our society’s journey. 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, Karen. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Karen Ghostlaw: Thank you, I thoroughly enjoyed my interview, and found the questions to be revealing about my methods and processes. I have recently joined Pictorial-List Magazine as curator and contributor. This is a new window of opportunity that I never expected to open, and I jumped with much excitement! I am

currently working on some very interesting projects - one of which will be a hand bound book of platinum palladium prints made from 35mm negatives from a class with William Gedney from the 1980’s. Another project I am beginning, is to make a maquette of what will eventually be a large, multimedia installation piece. I am exploring the layers I photograph in my self-portraits by separating and weaving them together again with multi layered materials; some of which are found in the images themselves. This is a natural progression in my work, and a further development in my processes. Last but not least, I am in the incubation stages of a very new exciting collaboration with a fellow woman street photographer and Pratt alumni, Sandy Fine. Without giving too much away, we are collaborating on a book together, one that is totally unique in every way. I feel like a new world is opening for me, with every step I take, every breath, I move forward with purpose. http://karenghostlaw.com https://linktr.ee/karenghostlaw https://www.instagram.com/karenghostlaw

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



Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

LandEscape meets

Elena Stelzer A society that no longer fears death, or at least fails to respect it, begins killing the wrong things. Simplicity is misunderstood as reductive. Seduction is perceived as violence. Art should pierce and provoke, bearing the inevitable, the eternal as well as the imminent, the present. Everything starts with the space: where we stand—a place, a room, a time. But also how we stand—a posture, an attitude, a stance. A tunnel between the moment and the unceasing public consciousness. Sculpture: reaching back to the original meaning of the word: to cut. An unfurling of resistance, disjunction, and interruption. A continual redefinition of material and form fracturing that which would try to delimit or contain it. Back to basics and simple gestures: conquering, creating, questioning. A sculpture of moments is a sculpture of movement. The endless complications: control in the face of the uncontrollable. Breathe in this captured time, this radical political stance, a series of unfrozen moments to puncture the veil, the screen, the spectacle.

Elena Stelzer lives in Jerusalem and works in Tel Aviv. Stelzer acquired a BFA at Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art and is currently enrolled in the MFA program at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, and also gained a Master’s degree at the University of Vienna.

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

about your multifaceted background. You

landescape@europe.com

Master’s degree in German Philology and

Hello Elena and welcome to LandEscape.

Philosophy from the University of Vienna and

Before starting to elaborate about your

the University of Duesseldorf, and you

artistic production and we would like to start

nurtured your education with a BFA that you

this interview with a couple of questions

received from the Department of

have a solid formal training: you hold a



1 m, 2020 concrete blocks, salt Sculpture At the shore of the Dead Sea, Israel


Elena Stelzer

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Multidisciplinary Art of the Shenkar College

something about the way you develop your

of Engineering, Design and Art: how did

ideas?

those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does

Elena Stelzer: Everything starts with the

your cultural substratum direct the

space - not the studio. The main task of art

trajectory of your current artistic research?

is to confront society persistently with other possibilities and this confrontation is

Elena Stelzer: The Department of

not to be found in isolation. I don’t like to

Multidisciplinary Art of the Shenkar College

work from a prescribed or preordained

is where I learned about obsession. After

plan. I look for work that is challenging

four years, I literally pierced the Art

mentally, physically, technically, legally. I

Department, an austere Bauhaus building,

work with the obstacles that arise. The

with my 12m long sculpture “Harpoon 12.”

process becomes an adventure, a

But I find myself not looking backwards in

discovery, exposing myself to more and

my work. Where I used to be or what I

more extreme experiences in order to

used to be doesn’t hold my interest. My

access my unconscious, my dreams. I only

trajectory moves outside myself, my

execute work I feel needs to be done. The

provisional experience, outside even my

aim is a single image, a pure moment that I

own systems of meaning-making.

couldn’t have been fabricated or conceived

The body of works that we have selected for

of in the studio alone.

this special edition of LandEscape and that

Some of your works, as the interesting 2582

our readers have already had the chance to

m, feature such unique atmosphere that

get to know in the introductory pages of

reminds us of the notion of non lieu

this article. What has at once captured our

elaborated by French anthropologist Marc

attention of your artistic production is the

Augè: how do you select the specific

way brings the notion of place to a new

locations and how important is for you their

level of significance, unveiling points of

symbolic charge?

convergence between the materiality of the medium and the message that it conveys:

Elena Stelzer: It feels impossible to me to

when walking our readers through your

speak of “selecting” a specific location.

usual setup and process, would you tell us

Certain places render insights beyond


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

speech, beyond the kinds of meaning speech defines. These places keep me in a state of restlessness. The medium of sculpture springs from a deeper source than words – the same deep source as music. I never fully understand my work. I am simply drawn to the untouched, the forbidden “non-places” where time stands still. For me it was always the Dead Sea, where everything is covered with a skin of salt, preserved for (and with) eternity. The work 2582 m is marking the distance measured from the military fence to the shore of the Dead Sea. A landscape of almost lunar quality where the water once was. The site - which remained off-limits for decades - has been partially opened by the Israeli National Mine Action Authority for the art project. The decreasing of the water level of the Dead Sea is an ongoing process as is the project. We have appreciated the way your artistic production 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 and the manifold significance of the work of art itself: how do you consider the relation between the nature of the concepts that


Elena Stelzer

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Harpoon 12, 2019 site -specific architectural large-scale installation, stainless steel sculpture, nylon flag Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, The Patti and Ernest Worth Gallery. Ramat Gan, Israel


Land

scape

Elena Stelzer

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Harpoon 12, 2019 site -specific architectural large-scale installation, stainless steel sculpture, nylon flag Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, The Patti and Ernest Worth Gallery. Ramat Gan, Israel


Elena Stelzer

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

you explore in your artistic research and the physical aspect of your artworks?

Elena Stelzer: Many if not all of my works can be described as site-specific, in the sense that each is a direct response to the physicality of a certain place. I’m especially interested in the transformation of logic into aesthetics regarding still-in-use landscapes, buildings, and institutions: the eloquence of the material, the architectural accidents, the coherent lines of force. But in thinking about the site, I never want to forget or forgo the experiential, that is, the body. Much of my work incorporates movement; the flag waving in Harpoon 12 but also the body stepping upon a chair to view Orphan. There needs to be social practice alongside the spatial. 5) Your works blur the lines between art and life, transcending the ordinary notion of everyday reality: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production? Moreover, how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic production? I am questioning everything and always asking myself - what if? I want to cut this work down to its core. I want to mine the essential because there, when whatever


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

2582 m, Land Art, site- specific large-scale installation, performance art, since 2018 ongoing Minefield near the Dead Sea within the borders of a military zone, Israel

we have agreed upon to call “reality” has

those uncertain futures we haven’t yet

been stripped clean and bare as bone,

agreed upon, those slippages and

when we are free of the gratuitous and

forgotten moments, those non-binding

redundant, we are able to access potential:

and possible worlds. My artistic


Elena Stelzer

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

production? Completion through removal.

materials. As an artist particularly interested in the hybridization between

We really appreciate the way your works

different artistic disciplines, we’d love to

unveils the communicative potential of

ask you about the qualities of the materials



2582 m, Land Art, site- specific large-scale installation, performance art, since 2018 ongoing Minefield near the Dead Sea within the borders of a military zone, Israel


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

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

Elena Stelzer: Whether it is acknowledged or not, all art is about material, the process of granting dignity - even in some ways life - to these inanimate materials. During my years in Shenkar I worked mainly with wax, burnt wood, plaster, basalt stones, pine wood, coarse-grained salt and straw. I let myself be absorbed by the material to understand every characteristic of it, deconstructing and reconstructing. Everything we think and feel, all of our wonder and desire and sensuous imagination, comes to us by way of the world of materials. Today the materials I select, and combine are steel, lead and zinc. They stir something within me, take me places, grant me spirit. Your art works are engaged with social commentary and political activism. 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: do you think that artists can raise awareness to an ever- growing audience on topical issues as that affect our everchanging

Orphan, 2021 Site-specific, architectural installation, stainless ste Kunst muß hängen said Martin Kippenberger, the late German artist. But sometimes art must also pierce. It must puncture. Along the wall is a three -inch hole, black. A stainless- steel pipe surrounded by rubber. You must raise yourself up to view it using the chair provided. Everybody is active, a participant. Everybody stands together: the same movement only at different times. When you look at the hole you see blackness, void. You feel the warm air on your face. You hear the whispers of those behind your back. But “Orphan” is also viewable from the outside of Bezalel.


Elena Stelzer

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

el sculpture, black rubber, black smoke (Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, MFA program, Tel Aviv)

It resembles a stovepipe. Innocuous, unchallenging, similar to those along nearby buildings. Perhaps you walked by the installation without realizing. Perhaps you did not notice something had been added. Perhaps you did not notice something had changed. At intervals, a black smoke rises. Smoke: a warning, a signal. Where there's smoke, there's fire. An ancient form of communication (recall: the Vatican). Sometimes a sign of destruction (a fire, a bombing, a war). Sometimes an injunction (“No Smoking”). The wind kicks up, dispersing the smoke. Drives it over the sea of Tel Aviv-Jaffo. The smoke is gone. It cannot be contained. The liminal space of “Orphan” is not simply inside Bezalel nor is it outside. It moves through the institution, entering and escaping at the same time. The stovepipe which passed unrecognized will no doubt look different to you after you have stood on the chair. Your participation has affected your perception. You have moved through the piece. The wind that disperses the smoke blows gently upon your face. Your breath becomes the wind.


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Exit White Cube, white smoke 2021 (Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, MFA program, Tel Aviv, Israel) In the event of an emergency, safety experts suggest you first look for the nearest exit. More than an open window or door, an exit is also a gesture. “Exit White Cube” materializes and dematerializes, sucking in and spitting out a puff puff puff of white smoke. An act of traceless withdrawal, the work dissipates the moment it exists, reconstructing the intransigent syllabus of expectation. A statue out-of-time, a refusal to be quantified, its existence offers an escape. “Exit White Cube” becomes a visual poem of presence and loss, a fugitive marker, a headstone mourning potential futures unlived. It is a storm gathering in reverse, a "sevenfold distant prophecy": to the place where in their dances they will be ashamed All of them." Look to the Exit. “Exit White Cube” becomes a visual poem of presence and loss, a fugitive marker, a headstone mourning potential futures unlived. It is a storm gathering in reverse, a "sevenfold distant prophecy": to the place where in their dances they will be ashamed All of them." Look to the Exit.


Elena Stelzer

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

consider the site of our collective consciousness. My sculptures often cut or pierce the physical, but what I long for is sculpture that cuts deeper. Joseph Beuys said we need shaman-like figures to save us from becoming overly rational beings, to keep us in contact with “the invisible energies.” When going to the desert, the Dead Sea, to minefields, I bring these “nonspaces” back, injecting an element of the unknown back into that collective consciousness. Site-specific, but also temporally specific: attuned to this specific moment. My work is steeped in the present, and yet it also points to the prophetic, like Pythia of Delphi, a bridge between this known moment and the not-yet-known future. We have been fascinated by the concept of art as a space tunnel, and we really appreciate the way your artistic production forces the viewers' parameters, triggering imagination and addressing to elaborate personal interpretations, and even — to quote English society? And how do you consider the role of artists in the contemporary age?

artist Simon Starling — forcing things to relate that would probably otherwise be unrelated. How important is for you to offer to your audience multiple interpretations? In

Elena Stelzer: We talk about “site-specific”

particular, how open would you like your

art primarily as spatial, but I also want to

works to be understood?




Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Passage series, 2019/20 Passage I, 2019_exhibition Rome

Elena Stelzer: The work of art is an

work as an object, I say goodbye.

intermediate station, a temporary halt of

Interpretation, to paraphrase Susan

one thought process.

Sontag, is a means of “taming” an artwork.

I do my part as an artist, and once I see the

I can talk of my intentions, my motivations,


Elena Stelzer

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

even my process, but to offer my own

were full of limitations to begin with?

interpretations of my sculpture. That would hinder the viewer more than help. What is

You are an awarded artist and you received

the purpose of the object when my words

the Excellence Grant from the Daniel Arison


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Passage series, 2019 Video Art/Performance Minefield near the Dead Sea, Israel

Foundation and the Shenkar Arts

from traditional gallery spaces, to street and

Encouragement Award 2019: how do you

especially to online platforms — as Instagram

consider the nature of your relationship with

https://www.instagram.com/ilstudioelenastel

your audience? By the way, as the move of Art

zer — increases, how would in your opinion


Elena Stelzer

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

relationship with a globalised audience via online platforms because I look at it as an interesting challenge, re-thinking redefining the borders of sculpture, how to exhibit, to convey, how to use various media etc. It also builds upon Plato's idea that art is a lie, a copy of a copy of a Form. Honestly, I feel complete boredom when I think of traditional gallery spaces. What excites me is art that takes place in the public sphere, where it can irritate and rupture routines and rituals, create alternative realities and make them perceptible. And yet, the only confidant in this game, the only comfort, the only real connection I feel is between the work (which has its own existence the moment is completed) and myself. 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, Elena. What projects are you currently working on, and change the relationship with a globalised

what are some of the ideas that you hope to

audience?

explore in the future?

Elena Stelzer: I am increasingly interested Elena Stelzer: I very much welcome a

in looking at empty space as architecture,



Passage series, 2019 Video Art/Performance Minefield near the Dead Sea, Israel


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Where can I look for her with eyes that cannot see, 2018 Video Art, still image

at producing complicated maneuvers in

It doesn’t touch the floor. I might burn

the air. Moving up; moving out.

the top of the ladder.

Elevation; escape. Really connecting the viewer and the

Currently I am at work on a short film.

space - when are we inside, when are we

So inspired always by the work of

outside? I’ve been thinking about a ladder.

Fassbinder. My film is an exploration of

Made of steel and rope, it appears to float.

Jewish mysticism, the theurgic practice


Elena Stelzer

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

of Kabbalah, between a mother and

expressing raw materials through a variety

daughter. I'm interested in capturing those

of forms, the dynamic and the static,

moments - the primal, the movement, the

immersed always in the exigent and urgent

drama - that explore the relationship

potential of sculpture.

between simplicity and complexity, between rules and freedom. My work

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

continues to be multidisciplinary,

landescape@europe.com


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

LandEscape meets

Vian Borchert I am an expressionist artist, I consider all my artwork to be visual poems. For me nature is very important and plays a very essential role in my life. Thus, I am a nature lover mother nature is my sanctuary and my ultimate solace. I am an avid nature observer where contemplating upon nature helps me reach inner peace and attain moments of Zen. My artwork albeit abstract in nature offers symbolism referencing the status of a mysterious future and how life is such a precious commodity. My art also showcases a sense of identity of who I am as an artist: my hopes, my aspiration and my dreams. In my latest paintings of “Lavender Fields’ series" my aim was to create artwork that evoke the feelings of happiness and rejuvenation achieved through the love for nature and its abundant beauty and endless bounty that it bestows upon humanity. The lavender color has been especially meaningful to me during COVID times since I took on interest in gardening during quarantine by planting lavender in my garden since the plant has aroma-therapeutic benefits along being a source of relaxation in stressful times. I have always been an avid lover of nature; and the lavender smell and sight bring back sweet memories of good times along with a sense of calmness and peace. Hence, an escape to painting and gardening help me connect to mother nature while giving back to the world through my artistic vision, talents and art. Consequently, my artwork becomes a reflection of my life’s journey along with connecting the past to the present while approaching the future with a sense of wonder to what it holds.

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

Hello Vian and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.vianborchert.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: you are a graduate and “Notable Alumni” from the Corcoran College of Art and Design George Washington University, Washington, DC:



Misty Waves, Acrylic On Canvas, 2020


Vian Borchert

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

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? Vian Borchert: The formative years of education in an artist's career are very essential to the artist’s growth and their vision. For me, as an artist who is educated in the arts, and currently as an art educator of over a decade in the Washington DC area. I wholeheartedly emphasize on the importance of a proper art education, and how education is essential in forming a budding artist’s vision, growth and self-knowledge. I believe every aspiring artist should undergo the training and the education needed to become an artist. Thus, a degree in fine art/visual art and the actual attending of an art school do wonders in helping the growth of a person who aspires to be an artist. In regards to my background, I have always been talented and creative ever since I was a child. You see, I come from an art background, my mother’s side of the family are all artists. Thus, art as they say runs in my blood. So, I grew up in an art household where I was surrounded by professional artists, art critics, art writers along with being immersed within the art world. I grew up attending many art receptions and art lectures. Therefore, naturally between the hereditary factor and growing up engulfed in the arts all these elements

refined my natural talents and polished my art growth. The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of LandEscape — and that our readers have already had the chance to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for its unique dreamscape atmosphere: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you consider the relationship between abstraction and figurative in your practice? In particular, how does representation and your marked tendency towards abstraction find their balance in your work? Vian Borchert: Thank you for your keen observation on the unique dreamscape atmosphere that my paintings embody. I do firmly believe that the artwork is a reflection of the artist’s soul and personality. I am a dreamer - in a sense my head is always in the clouds. I am literally observing the beauty of the sky and the formation of the clouds on a daily basis along with enjoying the atmospheric sunsets and sunrises that mother nature’s gifts us every day. As a dreamer and a person who loves to use her imagination, I find that a changing skyscape helps me escape into my own wonderland dreamland world. In regards to the relationship between abstraction and figurative work, I have been doing art for decades. For many years the figure was my main subject


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Clouds Reflection, Acrylic On Canvas, 2019

matter. There was almost an obsession for me in working with the figure since my approach to the figure was almost a

scientific one, where the emphasis was on the expression and the psychology of what the person in the painting projects


Vian Borchert

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Lavender Waves, Acrylic On Canvas, 2019

to the world. Even since then, I was always interested in presenting the figure in a more expressionist abstracted way

rather than the traditional realistic approach. If you look back at my figurative work from years ago, you’ll find


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Over Seas, Acrylic On Canvas, 2020

elements of abstraction that you still find in today’s work. Consequently, the difference between the early work and

the current work is that the subject matter has transformed from the figure to the natural world. Hence, the current


Nautical, Acrylic On Canvas, 60x91cm, 2019


Birds, Acrylic On Canvas, 60x91cm, 2019


Vian Borchert

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Spectrum, Acrylic On Canvas, 2020

abstracted paintings are derived from the environment around me, be it lavender fields, seacapes, and citiscapes. The

execution is done through my signature painterly expressionist abstracted minimal vision which is very much true to



Chopped Waves, Acrylic On Canvas, 91x60cm, 2019


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

my identity, my sense of aesthetics, and who I am as an individual. Balance is essential in creating skilled and satisfying works of art. I do believe such a skill comes from years of practice and work. For me as an art professional and an art educator of many years, it is the element of balance that can make or break an artwork. I also believe my formative training along primarily being a figurative artist where anatomy, scale, perspective, and perception are needed – these all helped in the development of my art and making it strong. Such elements eventually come together in forming a skilled artist. This matter is derived at with time, perseverance, and hard work. The path of becoming a skilled artist comes with learning the basics such as how to draw well, and then proceed to painting and other art forms and mediums. Your artworks are marked out with such sapient combination between rigorous sense of geometry and precise choice of tones, that provide your works with recognizable aesthetic identity: do you create your works intuitively, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes? Vian Borchert: All of the above. For me at this point in my art process. Creating an artwork is like a dance between doing something well while having fun at the same time. In general though there is no throwing colors haphazardly and seeing what happens – I am very much beyond such a

Lavender Fields Forever, Acrylic On Canvas

point. My approach as you have noticed is rather precise. I do like certain aesthetics and favor certain colors and shapes to merge together which again goes back to my identity and who I am as a person, and what I want to present to the world through my art and vision. Moreover, a keen sense of intuition and being connected to


Vian Borchert

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

one’s instincts and intuition give the work that magical feel where a viewer can tell “this is a Vian Borchert painting”. I love geometry and always loved it as a subject matter even back during my school days where geometry was taught in the Mathematics's class. I contribute

my love to geometry to the fact that I am a visual person and the idea that shapes can come out of other shapes is fascinating and logical to me. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your artwork also showcases a sense of identity of who you are as an


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Lavender Shadows, Acrylic On Canvas, 2021

artist: your hopes, your aspiration and your dreams. How important is for you to draw from your inner landscape, in order to create your artworks? And how does your daily life's experience fuel your creative process? Vian Borchert: Yes, this is very important

for me to always stay true to myself and to my vision and to the person that I am. First and foremost, I do art because I love art but I also feel that I was born with this special gift. Albeit I want to pinpoint that the path of an artist is not a breezy easy one. There are lots of ups and downs to


Vian Borchert

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

this point where I am at today. Thus, yes my inner landscape is projected in my artwork and my daily life be it watering my plants, planting lavender in my garden or walking in the woods, all format the world of Vian Borchert. Sometimes it is the travels and adventures, the smell of flowers, or the gawking of seagulls along with the ocean breeze that awaken my senses and motivate me in creating artwork. It is sometimes the nostalgia to distant lands along with the love for nature and sources of light such as the moon that make the occasional appearance in my art. Nature plays a very essential role in your life, and we really appreciate the way your works communicate to the viewers sense of peace, inviting them to contemplate upon the idea of nature, in our media driven society. Are you interested in bringing in a new perspective environmental issues? In particular, do you think that artists can raise awareness to an evergrowing audience on topical issues that affect our everchanging society? the artist’s journey and career. If I have to give an analogy it would be like viewing an iceberg, the viewer only sees the tip of the iceberg but doesn’t see how deep and far below the surface it goes. For me my art career of many long years of hard work and rigorous painting have gotten me to

Vian Borchert: Yes to all of these questions. When I create artwork, my focus is on my world, my environment and what surrounds me. In a way, this is the totality of me as a person and what makes me the individual that I am. Yet, beyond this, the


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

soul emerges through art. I do feel for me at least mother nature is the mother of all. To know nature is to become more in tune with who we are as humans. After all, we come from nature and we return back to nature. I am an avid nature lover. Upon meditating on nature, I find a peace like no other. It is for me through my connection to nature that the inner peace and love is obtained. I have recently found a certain amount of happiness and pleasure in planting flowers and plants in my garden. The actual act of digging up the soil and the smell that the earth emits is very satisfactory to me along with connecting me to the earth. Thus, it is the little things that evoke such pleasurable moments that inspire the creation of great works of art. I have found that the issues close to my heart, such as the importance of nature in our daily life not only better one as a human but bridges a connection to all as well. I have noticed in my art career whatever I present in a series of work to the outside world somehow becomes the latest trend in the art world. This is not something I go out seeking becoming a trendsetter in the art world – I observed that it simply happens. I do think the reason for it is that people observe a good thing when it happens, be it a work of art, a return to nature, a reflection of the soul – all these themes that I present circulate and create a domino effect not only in the art-world but the world as a whole. Through technology our world is definitely much more connected and is a global village.

Thus, my ideas, my style, my approach has proven to be rather contagious and make its rounds. We live in a fast moving world and what I do in my neck of the woods does create an effect on what is happening and trending in other parts of the world. Speaking from experience, an artist can shape the world and bring awareness to important matters that affect us all. Although I am a private person and I try to stay discrete throughout my career, I do notice even the little things that matter to me that I present in my work do make a ripple effect in the world. I clearly see that my work has a positive impact on our world in shaping it into a better and prettier place for all to love and enjoy. We definitely love the way your works feature such stunning combination between reminders to realistic elements and such unique abstract sensitiveness, to create seductively ambiguous images. Scottish artist Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic work of arts 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? Vian Borchert: Peter Doig’s words are true and ring closely to my art practice. Although I am a lover of nature, it is again what happens in my head that makes it to the canvas. I do believe my work of art sprouts from my


Nostalgia, Acrylic On Canvas, 60x91cm, 2020


Wavy, Acrylic On Canvas, 2019


Vian Borchert

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

subconscious which I firmly believe is my higher creative realm. Thus, one can say my body and hands are a vehicle for the subconscious and inner soul to come forth and make an appearance on canvas. For me imagination reigns supreme in my art practice. I don’t make a painting to make a likeness to something. For me to create work is to see my imagination at work. This is one of the main reasons why abstraction to me is the perfect genre since with abstraction I can let my mind run free while allowing my imagination to spring and play within the art field. Austrian Art historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the viewers to project onto, so that they can 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? Vian Borchert: Ernst Gombrich is very correct in his beliefs on the importance of providing space between viewer and work for interpretation. I’ve been doing this for years, when I present my artwork in exhibitions I enjoy observing from afar the interaction between the viewers and the art. I’ve seen first hand numerous times conversations being created on works of art I’ve painted that intrigued people. Sometimes, I stay anonymous and listen in to the conversations while finding myself nodding

with pleasure to the intellectual dialogues that occur between strangers about the art. It is important for me to trigger the viewer's imagination, and I am open to the viewer’s own interpretation of the work of art. At times the viewer’s interpretations open up portals in my mind along with new ways of viewing matters that I didn’t see beforehand. Your artworks have often titles that seem to offer guidance to the viewers: how do you go about naming your work? In particular, is important for you to tell something that might walk the viewers through their visual experience? Vian Borchert: Titles can really help in making one understand my thoughts and the ideas behind the works of art. They simply spring out of me to what I feel deems appropriate for each created work. I do think part of my lyrical self comes through in the titles presented. Albeit my work being abstract, it also tells a story. The titles are like a work of fiction that capture the story-line of the work. Therefore, the titles lend a hand to the viewer's visual experience to spark their imagination in a thought provoking manner and engage them with the artwork. There is more to me than being a painter: I am a multifaceted creative person, a writer, a poet, a sculptor, a teacher. Hence, with the titles I give the audience an extra bit of the storyteller person that I am through engaging their visual senses.


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

You are an established award-winning artist: your works are in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Art in Amman, and over the years your works have been showcased in many group and solo exhibitions both in the USA and internationally: 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 globalized audience? Vian Borchert: As I said earlier, we live in a rapidly changing world. In 2019, nobody would have foreseen that we would be living currently in a pandemic. Our world is changing so fast in so many ways – some of them not so wonderful such as living in COVID times, and some changes are driven out of need more than choice. Our world has proven to be rather unpredictable as of late. I cannot predict how the future of art and its direction will be. Yet, one thing I learned throughout my life and career is to appreciate the moment, and live in the present along with enjoying the simple pleasures as they come along. The art-world and where the exhibits take place are obviously changing. In my humble opinion, the gallery space where the viewer can view the work in person tends to be the most pleasurable of art interactions. Yet, I am adaptive to the online virtual gallery tours and VR exhibitions that are currently

Imagine Lavender Fields, Acrylic On Canvas, 2021

taking place and becoming the norm. With such online exhibits and platforms one can definitely connect and reach out to an audience that lives too far to be in person in NYC or LA as an example. In regards to social media, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to it. I personally try to keep a low key profile on social media


Vian Borchert

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

since I cherish my privacy. Social media platforms come and go. Till recently Instagram was grabbing attention, yet it appears it has been in decline in the recent months, and other social media such as TikTok seem to become more prevalent. Thus, yesterday the rage was Facebook, then Instagram, and now it’s TikTok – and so on and so forth. The

world, especially the technological world, is ever changing. I try to be adaptive, yet my main concern at this point in my life is to be true to myself and to be aware of my quality time and energy. In the earlier days, I invested more in Facebook where I built over the years a follower-ship of over 12,000+ art fans. This takes a lot of energy and time. In regards to other social media


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Distant Lavender Fields, Acrylic On Canvas, 2021

such as Instagram and Twitter, for me they are just a shout out to announcements rather than a spot to collect followers and likes. I do art for the love of art and not for the likes. Here are my social media handle: Facebook: Vian Borchert Fine Arts Facebook Link:

https://www.facebook.com/VianBorchert FineArts Twitter: ViansArtCorner Link: https://twitter.com/ViansArtCorner Instagram: @vianborchert We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this


Vian Borchert

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

and intellectually stimulating questions. Thank you for your keen perceptive interview. I currently have my latest paintings made in June 2021 of “Lavender Fields Paintings’ Series” on exhibit in the “In Full Bloom” art exhibition in LICHTUNDFIRE where I am represented at in Manhattan, NYC, USA. The exhibition is for the Summer 2021.

stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Vian. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Vian Borchert: Thank you so much! I also enjoyed answering these very insightful

Also, I will be jurying an art show in the Washington DC area. I will be teaching art classes for adults in painting and drawing for the Summer and the Fall online and at the Yellow Barn Studio at the historic Glen Echo Park, Maryland, USA. For the Winter, I have some exhibits in the plans in NYC. Some of the ideas that I would like to explore more in the future is working beyond the frame and moving to present 3D effects in my artwork. Also, I aim to explore showcasing my love for architecture in my work. In June 2021, I presented in an art exhibition titled “Abstract Singularity” in NYC a number of my abstracted monochromatic citiscapes, and they have been well received – Thus, I plan to explore further this line that is of interest to me. An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

LandEscape meets

Jésus Baptista L’identité est la reconnaissance de soi en l’autre et vice-versa. Un aller-retour de correspondances et de différences. On construit son identité, elle est le fruit d’une appropriation d’un certain nombre de codes qui servent à la vie en société, ou du moins à s’inscrire dans un groupe donné. À la frontière de ces notions complexes se trouvent l’individu, le groupe et enfin la société. L’identité se joue, elle se meut.

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

Hello Jésus and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit http://jesusbaptista.fr in order to get a wide idea about your mulifaceted artistic production, and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you studied at the Haute école des arts du Rhin: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Jésus Baptista: The Haute école des Arts du Rhin (HEAR) played a key role in my artistic development. Since I was a teenager I dreamt to attend an art school and just being admitted was for me an achievement. The philosophy of the school is learning by doing and this approach allowed me to develop and explore a personal sense of research and to build a coherent artistic approach. The interaction

with teachers and their attitude to bounce my ideas off was important to sharpen my gaze and my projects. The school proposes a range of different disciplines to which students have the access to develop their projects. This multidisciplinary teaching drove my curiosity and gave me the chance to leave a wide-open window for me. Moreover, the history and the German and Swiss influence gave the school a wide open to contemporary art. You are a versatile artist: what does direct you to such multidisciplinary approach? Moreover, are there any experiences that did particularly help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different artistic disciplines? Jésus Baptista: I don’t really consider myself a versatile artist. I consider myself a builder of stories, images, and feelings. To give the shape to different stories and meanings, I feel the need to use different channels of expression. At school, I focused my studies on video and photography, but I soon realized that they




Jésus Baptista

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

somehow luck of a real and immersive contact to talk and interact with viewers. Even if I continued to use video and photography in my work, I consider the installation art form as primordial on my work now. During my studies, I have never found a way to bring together the different meanings of my works. This happened when I meet AV Exciters collective and I started learning video mapping practice. From the beginning, I felt so thrilled to video project on solid objects to tell stories and to see the effect that has on the spectator. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected Arsarneq, a stimulating project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article, and that can be viewed at http://jesusbaptista.fr/portfolio/arsarneq-v2/. Drawing inspiration from Nicolas Rouyer's works, your work sheds a whole new light to the idea of architectural landscape and the stories hidden in it: when walking our readers through the genesis of Arsarneq would you tell us something about your usual setup and process? Jésus Baptista: Arsarneq is a project that encloses different steps of conception and realization. I couldn’t do this project without my friend Philippe Zappadu: we create Arsarneq together. In the beginning, I was fascinated by the lights and the movement of the Northern Lights. To me, they were like living lights, as if they were spirits of something in movement in the sky. It was amazing, at times surreal, to have an artist residency on a boat locked in the ice. Before leaving for Greenland my wish was to catch a Northern light and bring it to Europe to share with the public. I create a character,

Nicolas Rouyer, a crazy scientist and seeker of Northern Light. The story of that man was the starting point of my story and my initial idea once the residency finished, was to present a huge box containing Aurora Borealis lights. This is what happened but, during my residency, I was also interested in sharing images of that “Iceland” and what emerged it’s a movie. Once arrived in Greenland, ice, and lights, fascinated at the most. We started to sculpt an iceberg to do an immersive video projection on it. This part of the process has a real meaning to me today, because the images of that ice video projection, represent central parts of all the forms of representation related to my artist residency. In my eyes, these images are amazing, not only for their beauty but also because are a reminder of how difficult it was to collect them. Just to give an example, we had a video projector on battery but it was too cold outside (-35°) to turn it on normally and this is how we wrapped the video projector with a thick balaclava. It happened the same with the camera. Also, we recorded during the few hours of light per day and we focused on writing the movie during the long nights. When we came back, we work on the installation to present it at an exhibition but we were not convinced of the result. We redesigned it totally up to the final version Arsarneq V2. Right now all is more meaningful and coherent to us, the choice of the material, the way we control the lights etc. This version was possible because we edit the movie that we conceived as a kind of manifesto of our artistic approach to which I still refer. Arsarneq seems to be meticolously conceived, and we have been particularly fascinated by the unique aesthetics that


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

marks the point of convergence between real parts of the environment and the realm of imagination: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production? Jésus Baptista: I consider reality as the baseline of my stories. Even when these foundations are not true, it’s important to me it appears to the eyes of the spectator real. I initially present the story as reality, with physical elements. The public start to follow me and, when the story is well established, I combined it with some elements of magic, that stunned the audience, and the illusion is accomplished. Through the narrative process, I develop mythology. In the case of Arsarneq, the geographic position helped me to narrate spiritual mythology. Through the augmentation of the reality and the connection with nature in a place very far that somehow seems to be another planet and the mythology history with the spirits of the Inuits, I aimed to carry the spectator on magic history and create the illusion. Nowadays, pictures and videos used in social networks, play an important role and contribute to witnesses magical events, so it’s a way to contribute to the illusion too. We are in a world where the legend and the pictures on social networks are the truth. In the installation art where the works are ephemeral, the pictures are the artworks. Your practice links artistic research with multimedia technology and we have really appreciated the way you draw from scientific imagery, to expanded the relationship between Art and Science: how do you consider the relationship between artistic research and scientific method? In particular, how does in


Jésus Baptista

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Special Edition


Jésus Baptista

Land CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

your opinion art could be used to explain scientific themes? Jésus Baptista: The link between art and sciences is the foundations of my studies in Visual teaching. Both of this camps presented abstract approach of the world where we evolve. By their commun abstractions, the complete each other. In my work the technologie is omnipresent. It’s my tools to create visuals and to create the illusions so this link is present in the pictural representations. I think the abstraction of the technologie today is well represented and get some code who comes from the science fiction. Is the same with science, i love all the representations of the adventure of Jules Verne. It’s this references I got in my head when I create the character of Nicolas Rouyer. I use the reality in my stories to let the spectators immerge itself on it, until one point the story became magic but for the spectators it doesn't matter whether it's still true or not. They are just living the story, like we are when we read Jules Verne's sotries. Maybe Nicolas Rouyer ’s character is the personal mythology, I built to go in a adventure like this one. Through your artistic production you explore the themes of ecology issues and environmental consciousness. 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 on the viewers' experience, do you think that artists can raise awareness to an evergrowing audience on topical issues that affect our everchanging society?





Jésus Baptista

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Jésus Baptista: The art history shows use that the context always inspire the artists and their productions are linked to the world where they are involved. Our time is marked by the digital age, and I’m impacted to. More than the tools

this gave to me, what’s interesting me is the harmful effect on the human being. I’m convinced that art and artist can aiming to raise awareness. In my work I talk a lot about the environment, specially in Arsarneq but it’s


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

present in «Immersive waves» too, and more recently in « K2-18B ». This latest project is a tale of an exoplanet composed by water where humans could live if it weren’t’ so far from earth. I use the water as an element like my

identity. Both evolve in function of their environment. Themes of ecology issues and environmental consciousness are a common thread since the conception of my artworks, but the


Jésus Baptista

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

message is indirectly conveyed letting the spectator find its own meaning. Another interesting project of your that has particularly impressed us and that we would

like to introduce to our readers is entitled Immersive Waves, a stimulating installation that can be viewed at http://jesusbaptista.fr/portfolio/immersivewaves and involves the audience into such


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

dreamlike atmosphere: how did you structure your work to achieve such brilliant results? Jésus Baptista: I always seek different video

effects depending on the materials on which are projected. According to these effects, it creates moods of sensations that allow me to tell the story


Jésus Baptista

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

immersion per se and not representation of it. I conceive an immersive exhibition or installation as a multi-sensory experience where visitors are not detached from the object and, at the contrary, they are completely merge into to reach a sense of selfforgetting. Your works have 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? Jésus Baptista: Understanding projects is a subject often addressed by those who receive it. I admit that I don't really ask myself the question about the level of understanding that my forms allow, and I don't expect a complete understanding.

that is perceived by the public through different levels of reading of my projects. Immersion is an important point in my work and the aim is to use installation as an

Above all, I try to bring out sensations, more in the order of feelings that of the rational. On the basis of my works , I write to myself because it is essential for me in order to find a form and it is part of my creation process. I need a lot of writing and design before starting to produce. I need to have a complete freedom of understanding. For the moment the visual, sound and physical production lead the spectators to find the codes of my projects.


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

You are an established artist and over the years your artworks have been showcased in a number of occasions: 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/jesus_s.baptista — increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience? Jésus Baptista: It's hard to say if I am an established artist. The principle of being in the creation is to work on new formats or to question oneself perpetually. Failure also allows us to bounce back, if we fail in our society, does that call into question our position as an artist? I hope that, in 10 years, I will have the same feeling of constantly learning and therefore staying at the start of my career. If I manage to have the longevity of Pierre Soulage, maybe I would look at it differently. Instagram is a very effective communication platform although I cannot use it to its full potential. Artists use this platform to create or to suggest stages of their creation, I admit that I have not yet integrated these gymnastics although it is a goal. My work, as I mentioned above, questions the immersion and activation of the senses of the viewer immersed in my work. Through platforms, this immersion is more difficult even if there are tools such as virtual reality headsets. I admit that I prefer the physical immersion of the public in a common space. Living an experience with the public necessarily leads to a different feeling. This allows the viewer not to be captivated by other things that the work

presents before their eyes and thus to go more into the substance of the work. 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, Jésus. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Jésus Baptista: At the moment I am exploring the question of the search for life a lot and especially the search for life in an elsewhere through my project "K2-18B" exhibited until September 4 at the Metz constellation festival. I am currently in the process of finishing a project called "perspectives" which does the opposite in my research. With a form in volume in space, I try to reconsider these perspectives to recreate new forms. I am currently leaving a residency in a school environment which has allowed me to shape a subject that is close to me, which is immigration. At the end of the summer, I am pursuing this subject through a collaborative project with unaccompanied minor migrants. And for September I am selected for the contemporary art biennial in Sélestat where I will create a monumental new work of 12m in diameter by 3m in height which questions the relationship between nature and the city. I would also like to thank Av Extended company who have supported me in my artistic endeavors since I started and who I can count on.



Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

LandEscape meets

Brooke Major American artist born 1979 and native of Atlanta, GA, Brooke Major has been living and working as a professional artist and sharing her time between the USA (Georgia) and France for the past 20 years. As a child, Brooke has always been top of her class in drawing and painting, as well as an avid equestrian, which led her to move to Normandy to breed and raise them for the sport of showjumping. She moved initially to Paris to study political science at an American university, but felt herself drawn more towards the arts and followed auditing classes at the Beaux Arts school in Paris. Her political science studies led her to work for over a year and a half as an intern at the US Embassy in Paris. Following her two childhood passions, art and horses, Brooke moved to Normandy and started her dream of breeding showjumpers and set up her art studio in a grain loft in a 18th century farmhouse on the beach where she creates her work and raises her horses. Brooke sculpts oil paint, using pallet knives challenging both techniques of painting and sculpting and exemplifying light and shadow. She chooses all of her subjects from her childhood experiences: travelling, horses and architecture. Brooke also depicts her everyday life in her recent subject of her landscapes of the typical Normand

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

Hello Brooke and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.brooke-major.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 after political science studies, you nurtured your education at the Beaux Arts School in Paris: how did those formative years influence your approach to Painting and your evolution as a visual artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your current artistic research?



Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Reminiscing Fontainebleau, 80cm x100 cm, oil on canvas, 2020


Brooke Major

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Apple Orchards, 50cm x 60cm, oil on canvas, 2020 Brooke Major: As soon as I graduated from high school, it felt almost a necessity to live in Europe. I chose to live in France to be able to learn a foreign language as well as to live amongst some of the most beautifully built architectural edifices in the world. The political science studies taught me several things that helped me in my art career: the vital role artists play in documenting our history and more important, the transparency of using art

as a tool to document the truth in politics since the outbreak of WWI. While auditing courses at the Beaux Arts Paris, we were taught to master the techniques of mixing chemicals and paint, mounting canvases as well as the drawing of light and shadow. This was essential to then formulate the bodies of work I would soon embark upon as a professional artist. As I had always been a fan of European art: all periods from Renaissance


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Walks in Springtime, 50cm x 60cm, oil on canvas, 2020 to Dadaism, and more especially the rebels such as Monet, Pissarro, Bonnard, Van Gogh, Millet and my allright favorite M Marcel Duchamp. Since the majority of my favorite artists and artistic movements were born in or inspired by the Normand landscapes: the light and shadows of the skies of Normandy, the landscapes of paisible rich French provincial farmland, I hence moved to Normandy to immerse my work in this environment . I chose

to use these master artists as references to my work, studying their work through my hand and vision while applying my techniques in search of perfecting my landscapes. The upmost important thing that I learned after completing my courses, interning at the US Embassy and obtaining my Bachelor of Arts degree, was that I concluded the careers of the future lie in the visionaries and are limitless in terms of self rewarding gifts of


Brooke Major

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Summer Walks Normandy, 46cm x 38cm, oil on canvas, 2020


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Poppies in the Valley, 27cm x 35cm, oil on canvas, 2020


Brooke Major

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Coquelicots and Mountains landscape, 70cm x 70cm, oil on canvas, 2020

life’s pursuit of happiness only if we are creators. Becoming a full time professional artist was granting myself the opportunity of the luxury of freedom.

As being raised as an American, we have always been taught that everyone is equal, the only nobility lies within someone that properly and passionately cares for their work. The


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

divine are the creators, the saints and angels of G.od. 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 captured our attention for the way you capture the beauty of Normand countryside, unveiling our connection with Nature: when walking our readers through the genesis of this stimulating project, would you tell us something about your usual setup and process?

Brooke Major: I inspire my work either through the influences work of great masters or through photographs of my travels and scenery that had recently inspired me. Travelling is also creating and is an essential for any artist to influence change throughout their work as well as meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. I use “Mastertoiles” linen canvases that are pretreated with Gesso. I then paint the canvases with black oil paint black and wait about a week until they are dry enough to commence a work of art. I use Royal Talens Rembrandt paints, for I am fond of the richness in texture and colour it provides. The metallic series of this brand are definitely my favorite paints to work with and are very easy to use and apply either through brushes or palette knives. Quite recently after completing a portrait I submitted that led to my nomination of the top ten artists chosen on the series “Portrait Artist of the Week” competitions during lockdown and organised by SkyArts, I have currently been working on a series of portraits of people I love and admire. Capturing them by photograph at moments that most show


Brooke Major

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Wheat Fields Summer Walks, 27cm x 35cm, oil on canvas, 2020


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Coquelicots, 46cm x 38cm, oil on canvas, 2020


Brooke Major

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

their personalities and things that make them happy help me in creating the best expression in their faces. Your works — more specifically Reminiscing Fontainebleau and, with its powerful perspective view Summer Walks Normandy — seem to be laboriously structured to pursue such effective and at the same time thoughtful visual impact: what is your working schedule like? In particular, is spontaneity important for you?

Brooke Major: Being an artist can be compared to any sort of liberal profession or even to an athlete. Mornings consist of waking up at 6am, doing meditation for an hour then 45 minutes of aerobics. I like to listen to artistic documentaries on my headphones while painting which I can consider continuing education, Painting sessions last throughout the morning with a one hour lunch break , then recommencing my work until late afternoon when I take a break to train my horses for showjumping. Most of my work has been created after being inspired by an event or a quote that has left an impression that needed to be visually captured in time on a canvas. In example, The Reminiscing Fontainebleau painting was made after winning the Grand Prix of the Town of Champagne and the Grand Prix Rene Clement Bayer, two super salons held in the vicinity of the city of Fontainebleau. I consider that the only mistake someone can make in their art, whatever it may be, is to not make art. Some days are better than others, but the most important thing is to continue creating for it will always pay off in the long run. “The only thing to fear is fear itself”- Winston Churchill. Your works drawn heavily from the peculiar specifics of the environment and we definitely love the way you capture such insightful resonance between the landscape of Reflection and states of


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Snowy Day, 80cm x 80cm, 2020 mind: how do you select the specific locations and how do they affect your creative process?

Brooke Major: It is with great pride that you pose this question for the energy that resonated in me

when I saw the reflections of the trees of the great moats of the castle of Saint Pierre de Semilly in the Manche region near Saint Lo gave me such a positive sensation that I had to get this image down on canvas. It is when


Brooke Major

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Snowy Road, 80cm x 80cm, oil on canvas, 2020 you arrive at a place, you stop and it takes your breath away that you can capture this image by photograph and recreate what you amazed you as you stopped in amazement at it’s beauty visualised in a precious instant .

We have really appreciated the vibrancy of intense nuances that marks out Coquelicots and Mountains landscape and Fragments as well as the thoughtful ones that provide Golden Spring Morning with such dreamlike atmosphere: how


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Cathedral-Notre-Dame-100cm-x-100-cm-oil-on-canvas-2020

did you come about settling on your color palette? And how does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your artworks?

Brooke Major: As following the Scriptures of Genesis 1:3 And God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.…


Brooke Major

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Golden-Spring-Morning-80-cm-x-80-cm-oil-on-canvas-2020

According to ancient Egypt and in their hieroglyphics (pf which I have studied in my former series of white sculpted oil paint, Since its earliest appearance, gold has fascinated

virtually every culture on Earth. Its reflected light, perpetual luster, unfading and invariable distinctiveness, and its connotation linked to the sun’s eternity have until today been most


Neville In Snow, 30cm x 40cm, oil on canvas, 2020



Lusitano Stallion, 100 cm x 73 cm, oil on canvas, 2020


Brooke Major

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Amarpour-DADA, 100cm x 100cm, oil on canvas,2020

likely at the quintessence of its symbolic value. “The sun itself, it is of pure gold” (Goethe, Faust II). I give light to the dark through the richness of gold. This discovery after many

hours of studying ancient history of the value of different colours . Since I am early to rise and meditation is of primordial value to me, watching the sunrise is the richness of gold


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Landscape-Val-de-Saire-81-cm-x-54-cm-oil-on-canvas-2020 touching our fabulous landscapes, every new day is a new gift, the present is our present. All of my gold paintings have originated from these theories and philosophies: a divine inspiration.

It's important to remark that you are an avid equestrian, and that horses are the subjects of a part of your artistic production, as Amarpour and Lusitano Stallion: how do your memories and


Brooke Major

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

two very precise predilections : showjumping and painting. I had always envisioned myself as a horsebreeder, for I am fascinated with the research of genetics in order to create top quality bloodlines. By creating my horses, not only am I creating and training top quality warmbloods for the discipline of showjumping, yet I also consider them my “ready made” living sculptures. By doing this I am forming a lien with the Dadaists, quite especially with Marcel Duchamp. I have currently began naming my horses all after the dadaist movement. Dada is initially the way that children call horses in French, and a way for a French adult to say that an object is cherished. The question was posed what to do with them once deceased. I resolved this in maintaining that I should keep them in order to mount and stuff the deceased animal in order to eternally keep the sculptural presence. I have studied under a French master craftsman, Roland Brillot in Normandy, who has taught me the practice of taxidermy for whom I’ve stuffed and mounted a 12 point buck.

your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process?

Brooke Major: As a child I have always had

As for the training of my horses, I am proud to say that that my horses have excelled in showjumping thanks to a proper young horse education. Amongst my products, one won at the French young horse championships as a 5yo, another competing and winning at the 150 5 star Grand Prix level and most importantly Seringat, who brilliantly won twice the Nations Cup in Wellington, 3rd in the Hermes Grand Prix in Paris and placing 7th in the World Cup. I have been guided and influenced by professionals and champions of the showjumping discipline, all residing in Normandy, France’s horse country and birthplace of the Selle Francais breed.


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Apple-Blossoms-Normandy-100-cmpx-100-cm-oil-on-canvas-2020

Captivating these horses in all of their splendour and glory on canvas is a true privilege for I consider them the most noble of all animals.

Some of your artworks — as Poppy Fields and Wheat Fields Summer Walks — feature unique combination between reference to real places with dreamlike ambience, that


Brooke Major

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Pommiers-80-cm-x-80-cm-oil-on-canvas-2020

provides your works with visual ambivalence. As a visual artist whose work is focussed on real images, 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?


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Cherry Trees, oil on canvas, 70cm x 70 cm, 2020 Brooke Major: After learning the correct techniques of light and shadow, I no longer have to concentrate on the. How to paint, but why do I paint. I consider painting to be a

source of inspiration. When I speak of inspiration, I mean to say that we are “in spirit”, or inhabited by another force while creating. I try as little as I can to paint while


Brooke Major

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

concentrating every time putting myself to the test to not focus on what I should do. I allow my hand to guide itself over the canvas and the palette, all the while letting my hand choose what it wants to do. Strange as it may seem, the results are what you see in the images produced. A true work of art can be exemplified through all of our senses and emotions and it should be the objective of every artist to make a painting that stops people in their tracks making us contemplate on the who, what, when, where, why and how or a work of art. Whether the emotion be one of love or hate, desire or despise, it can be considered a true work of art only if it makes one talk about it.: “Don't pay any attention to what they write (say) about you. Just measure it in inches.”― Andy Warhol We dare say that your visual language transcends the nature of our relationship with our natural surroundings, inviting the viewers to elaborate such a wide number of interpretations. French Impressionist painter Edgar Degas once remarked that Art is not what you see, but what you make others see: how would you consider the degree of openess of the messages that you convey in your creations and how open would you like your works to be understood?

Brooke Major: In contradiction with the phrase of Degas, I can only say in my experience that “Art is what you saw, but what the others didn’t see.” Art is captivating that very moment in time that surprised you, inspired you or that you thought was beautiful., shocking or of value. Even when others passed by an image that you chose to exemplify in your work, lots of people pay no attention to the small pleasures, splendours or

surprises that give us the make of a small thing a great subject. Since we are all different our truths can be varied, all that we interpret what we read, see or hear and the work of an artist is to qualify and exemplify life little pleasures. You often work with large canvass, that provide the viewers with such immersive visual experience: how do the dimensions of your canvass affect your workflow?

Brooke Major: No matter the size of the canvas, I try my best to adapt the image to the size. Larger works allow for people to better see your work, taking up more space and also allows the minds eye to see a greater vision by projecting a small image into a larger scale and is a real challenge as an artist. However, as an American, we are used to using larger sized canvas taking into consideration the spaces we must fill in order to accommodate the immense walls of the homes and galleries in my native country. I would do as large as 5m x 7m canvas if I was back in my American studio, however since the outbreak of COVID, I’ve been concentrating on small works for the European market as well which has been a nice change as well as really a joy to do . I also take into consideration doing smaller works to be able to create small works which in turn can be made into larger works facilitating the transportation of work. You are an established artist and over the years, and your works have been exhibited in several occasions, both in France and in the United States: 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



Printemps Walks, 100cm x 65cm, 2020


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

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

Brooke Major: I am quite a traditional person and quite prefer the aspect of a gallery or museum over the social media aspect. Seeing a work of art in real life is the best way to be seduced by the image and has always been traditionally the way I sell my work the best. I feel that social media has turned artists into mass numbers. Seeing the explosion of the number of artists is a positive experience thanks to these types of methods of communication, but quantity is not quality and that’s where I feel it is tricky to be able to identify with these types of exploits. I do have an instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/brookeseeart ) mainly just as a tool for a quick review of my portfolio to galleries art critics and customers, however I have been less and less interested in social media, and I have been actively signing up for and putting up my work in galleries salons and art fairs since lockdown has lifted in France . I feel that an artist who wants to exhibit and sell their works needs a proper studio, a proper exhibition hall and a proper website highlighting the styles and career changes with an up to date CV and artist statement. 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, Brooke. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

Poplar Trees Summer walks 46cm x 38cm, oil on canvas, 2020 Brooke Major: While I am constantly searching for new outlets and exploits to research and work with, I am happy with my current series of the black and gold paintings, especially the portraits of my family. My next vision is to take historical landmarks such as castles, churches and priorys and turn them into exhibition halls and artistic residencies in the near future. I prefer to not go into detail on a project that is in the first stages of it’s process, but architecture and it’s history is a real passion for me. It would be a great blessing to other artists to be able to permit them to live and work in environments filled with so many past and present spirits. This would be the greatest work of art I could create for my fellow artists and I hope to achieve this goal in the next couple of years…. To be continued !!!


Brooke Major

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Coquelicots, 100cm x 65cm, oil on canvas, 2020


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

LandEscape meets

Eric Hotz I grew up next to forests and streams and went to various camping trips as a child across British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. As I put myself through art school, I found myself working in mountainous regions filled with forests, lakes, streams, and rivers. I haven't been far from nature in my life. This has greatly influenced my life and my artwork. I now live in an area of British Columbia that is minutes away from the natural wilderness. Recently, my vision has been centering upon the beauty of nature that is found within two hours from where I live, which includes alpine mountain valleys, seacoast beaches, or forests and lakes. I live in one of the most beautiful regions of the world and it continues to inspire my artwork.

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

Hello Eric and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.erichotzportfolio.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 studied at the Langara College and at the Capilano University: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum due to your work as a

designer and an illustrator direct the trajectory of your current artistic research? Eric Hotz: Both of the art programs I attended offered respected art programs. Langara College offered a Fine Art program designed to break young students from creating tight technical art by encouraging them to create free-flowing abstract art. I was a technical artist so there were clashes but I conformed to the principles offered and I graduated. Capilano University offered a much wider art perspective, embracing all art styles. Two of Canada’s top watercolour painters taught here so I was taught by some of the best. Capilano University’s Illustration & Design Program encourages its students to experiment and embrace all forms of art using many of the art masters from the past as examples. Their



Beaver Pond, 18x24 inch


Eric Hotz

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Hayward Lake Railway Trail No.7

Hayward Lake Railway Trail No.1

teachers liked that I worked in a technical art style and encouraged me to pursue my course. I learned a lot about art and myself by attending both art institutes but Capilano’s Illustration and Design was a much better fit for how I intuitively painted and drew.

do today without first having had the art background I have had. In many ways, I discarded much of my formal training and went with what I liked to see and paint but much of that was influenced by my art teachers. It is difficult to discern just where a technique originated. I sometimes go back over a painting I created and ask myself, for example, “When did I start working from light washes of dark paint to ever heavier coating of light coloured layers?” This was a deliberate choice. It was April 1984 when I was commissioned to work on a book cover for a

Having worked as a designer and as an illustrator, my art style has evolved to become more structured and planned out. I find myself thinking more about the design of a painting I am about to create. The actual painting part is secondary. I wouldn’t be able to create the art I


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Stand Of Trees No2, 10x13 inch

Stand Of Trees No2, 10x13 inch

local publisher. It was then I realized that much of what I know as an artist are hundreds of techniques that I have experimented with over the years that worked so I continue using them. It shows me the importance of working at your craft and painting as much as you can throughout the year because every day you paint is a potentially new learning experience.

of the landscape of British Columbia, highlighting the sense of connection with nature with such unique aesthetic quality: when walking our readers through the genesis of this stimulating project, would you tell us something about your usual setup and process?

The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of LandEscape —and that our readers have already had the chance to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way it captures the beauty of the natural wilderness

Eric Hotz: I usually work on hot press watercolour paper or illustration board. I prefer these surfaces to canvas because they are very smooth although I will also work on canvas. With regards to watercolour paper, I hand stretch my paper, which can roughen the surface slightly but it is still very smooth to the touch. Illustration board has a smoother surface, is


Eric Hotz

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Lighthouse Park, 11x14 inch


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Queen Elizabeth Park, 11x14 inch

Special Edition


Eric Hotz

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

quicker and easier to use than watercolour paper, which is why I prefer it, but matting and framing can pose a bit of a problem. I start a painting with a fairly detailed drawing using a soft pencil or black waterproof felt tip pen. Then I cover most of the art surface with washes of acrylic paint. It always feels like I need to have a large portion of the painting covered in a base layer of washes. This was how I was taught to paint while in high school and it became a habit but I later discovered that many artists do not do this. This may appear that I am painting a watercolour painting but I work from dark to light, which is the opposite of a watercolour painting. Once I have the majority of the surface roughly painted, which can take a few hours, I go in and start painting in some details in specific spots. Because I am using dark, thin washes of paint, these layers dry quickly. I can then start adding black ink to help map out the detail better. At any time, I will start smudging the pen lines to create tonal values. Much of this is done quickly. Then I will go back and work over the inked areas with more paint washes and then go back and add more ink. It is this dance between paint and ink that I use to create shades textures and the shape of objects. In most cases, I will eventually cover up pen lines so they disappear from view depending on what effect I am trying to achieve. Each painting is different. I often use pen lines as a guide and painting up to them to achieve very sharp defined edges. It is a method I have used over the years. It is a bit time-consuming but I like the results. This is how I will paint the entire painting. As I progress, my painting style will change to a more opaque technique, which is reminiscent of impressionism. I have noted this happening in other artist’s work so it is a shared acknowledgment of achieving a similar

feel or look among artists. I will often rework areas up to three times or more. That means I can, and often do paint an entire painting three times with additional washes of paint and ink, usually applying heavier layers of paint each consecutive time. The subjects I like to paint often have dark shadows and bright highlights. Contrasting light and textures attract me to a scene and often it will also exhibit reflection. Much of British Columbia has streams and lakes, which reflect light and shadows. The dark recesses of a forest are often where animals hide. I want to capture that feel of dampness, which is often found in the coastal regions of where I live. I seek to paint what I felt at that location. Each location is different. Each location painting tells a story, has a different texture, air, etc. When painting, I rarely will use more than five colours and these are Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Phthalo Blue, Titanium White, and Carbon Black. I was taught in art school to mix the colours I need rather than relying upon tubes of coloured paint and this over time became a habit. I prefer to mix colours on the fly because it is quicker than fumbling around looking a specific tube of colour hiding somewhere in my art box. Your works seem to be laboriously structured to pursue such effective and at the same time thoughtful visual impact, as in the stunning Wild Pink Rose: do you create your works intuitively, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes? Eric Hotz: Much of my work comes from learned intuition. I have been painting full time for over 30 years and much of this time was spent experimenting with various art styles and techniques. My sense of design improved


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Yellow Rose, 8w x 11h inches

Fall Leaves, 12x16 inches

a lot from my art school years. I developed an eye, an instinct, to see a scene in nature and recognize that it has potential as a painting. The Wild Pink Rose painting is one such example. What drew me to paint this piece was the rose, its delicate petals, its leaves, and the branch with its thorns and textures. I saw layers of mixed textures, which I knew would be a challenge to paint but I also knew that the end result would be worth it. I also liked the dark recesses in the background and knew this would work nicely to punch out the textures. I enjoyed working on this painting, which led me to render two more rose paintings. The Fire Red Rose painting, which I created right after completing the Wild Pink Rose painting,

was all this again but also offered the potential of reflective light, which I recognized as a construct to create the feel of the main flower glowing. I enjoy creating paintings that function. Red Path features such sapiently structured combination of intense and at the same time thoughtful nuances of tones: how does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your works? in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such brilliant results? Eric Hotz: To create the various textures in my paintings, I built up multiple translucent paint layers. In many cases, this will amount to well over eight paint layers, some of which will also be


Fire Red Rose, 8x11 inch


Wild Pink Rose, 8x11 inch


Eric Hotz

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

under layers of ink. I use eight different inking techniques when rendering my paintings but the one technique I use the most is smudging the wet ink before it has a chance to dry. I will often paint over the ink to create the textures that I was to show through the paint. I want to feel the ground, its dryness, the dust, and I imagine this texture while I paint. I feel the ground when I was at the location so I could keep it in my mind while I rendered this painting. Sometimes the roughness of the paper surface is used to help convey a texture. If I purposely overwork watercolour paper it will create a roughened work surface that helps convey the texture I am aiming to create. This was a technique one of my watercolour teachers taught me in art school. Using a waterbased acrylic paint is not that different from using watercolours but the acrylic medium holds the roughness of the paper more permanently. The one technique I cannot explain occurs occasionally when I paint. I call this painting subconsciously. It is definitely a psychological painting method. I had given myself 10 hours to complete a painting. I started at 5pm and by 11pm I had barely made any headway. I needed to get this painting finished before I went to bed because I had to be at work teaching art the next afternoon. I decided to pull the stops out and just focus all my energy on the painting. I started at it again at 11pm and finished it. I looked up at the clock and saw that it was 5am. I felt like I had been painting for two hours but 6 hours had elapsed. I went to bed without looking at my painting as I was too tired to do more. Upon waking I was greeted with a finished painting that I don’t remember painting. I remember small details but the thought process that went into it just wasn’t in my head. I painted it with my subconscious. It was as if I had been watching someone else

paint. I didn’t think much more of it as I had, at that time in my life, 14 more paintings to create for my upcoming art show in three months. At the art show, this painting was the one that people gravitated toward and commented upon. It still is. I must paint this way more often. It's important to remark that you often go out to explore the many outlying regional parks within a 2-hour drive from your studio in Maple Ridge: how do you select the specific locations and how do they affect your creative process? In particular, how does your daily life's experience fuel your creative process? Eric Hotz: I live in an interesting region. Almost everything west and south of where I live is civilization while east it is rural farmland that turns into rugged mountains and valleys. North of me is pure wilderness. Here resides mountains, lakes, streams, bears, cougars, lynx, coyotes, deer, elk, and a host of other animals. Not far away is a glacier with ice caves. Much of what lies north is not accessible along many if any roads. It is a rugged coastal mountain range all the way up to Alaska. As subjects to paint, it is all amazing, plentiful, and offers many different locations. It is also filled with mining and pioneer history, which also intrigues me. Choosing my painting locations has often just been driving along scenic routes until I see something that catches my eye or I go to a region I once visited as a child. I will Google certain spots that I learned about from speaking with neighbours and friends. In many cases, it involves going into the various provincial parks and just looking over all the sites that are accessible, which may mean a bit of hiking. Much of what attracts me is the sense of isolation of these places and the feel


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

of their ruggedness. Many times I have ventured out to a remote lake along a gravel road to discover that I am alone for the entire day. If it is raining, you will often find yourself alone out there in large valleys surrounded by tall rugged snow capped mountains. These would have, and almost did, make good locations for Lord of the Rings films. I keep thinking about how this land must have been 1000 or more years ago when many of the trees were older than 500 years old before logging. Now, these areas are second and third growth forests. Many of the places I visit were once logging camps, mining settlements, and pioneer homestead locations. With Kanaka Creek, I am lucky to live close by. I first came to this creek when I was 14 years old. It traverses down a mountain and then meanders through a spot known as Cliff Park, which is across the street from where I live. The creek carved its way through this park over the last 20,000 years or more. It is a picturesque location, perfect for both painting and photography. There are many locations and scenes here to paint. The park has been in existence for many years and feels it. It is a place of beauty that speaks to me with its many ancient, tall cedar trees growing along its course. Most of the time I go here I am alone although more recently I go with my girlfriend. There are the bears and their cubs to think about. In my Kanaka Creek painting, I eliminated the picnic tables and people, which occupied a space in the far back center portion of the grass lawn between two large cedar trees. I will always strive to create the ideal rather than the reality. Gold Creek is an amazing place to hike. I was attracted by its rugged location and large pools of crystal clear water. When I see a creek or river that is strewn with rocks and boulders, I see it as a very interesting subject to paint. I


Eric Hotz

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Kanaka Creek, 16x24 inch


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Loon Lake

Special Edition


Eric Hotz

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Fraser River, 18x24 inch

Gold Creek, 12x16 inch

want to include every rock because as a whole, they tell a long story of the waterway’s history. I wonder if the same boulders were here 1000 years ago, did they recently tumble from a nearby mountain to their present location, or were they deposited here from a retreating glacier 12,000 or more years ago? The whole province of British Columbia was once covered by more than a mile thick of slowly moving ice until a great thaw occurred. Much of the gravel and large rocks seen in British Columbia valleys and passes are remnants of retreating glaciers. Geologically, British Columbia is very interested and was why there were various gold rushes, as well as silver,

lead, copper, and zinc rushes during its pioneer period. We definitely love the way your works, and more specifically Fraser River At Sunset, feature such stunning combination between reminders to realistic environmental elements and such unique dreamlike atmosphere. Scottish artist Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic work of arts 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?




Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Eric Hotz: Reality forms the basis of most of my work while imagination creates the ideal that enhances reality. I guess what I create is more real than real. To paint reality is OK but I will change details, enhance focal points, and fade features that conflict with the design. I will integrate a colour theme throughout my paintings to again enhance my final art. Sometimes I feel that I am creating fantasy but I am creating the perfect scene without taking away the feel of reality of the location. My painting, Fraser River at Sunset, did not require a lot of enhancement to create beautiful results. Summer and Fall sunsets along the Fraser River are often spectacular with their cloud formations coming in from the distant Pacific Ocean and the sun providing spectacular glowing colours throughout any given year. To capture the feel of the trees against the setting sun required a lot of work and patience. I felt painting the many branches essential to capturing the feel of this location and also essential to be loyal to the tree species that grow along the river banks. Anywhere along the Fraser River’s 1,375kilometer course, you will find a multitude of alders and cottonwood trees. Nature plays an essential role in your artistic production, and we really appreciate the way your works communicate to the viewers sense of peace, inviting them to contemplate upon the idea of nature, in our media driven society. Are you interested in bringing in a new perspective environmental issues? In particular, do you think that artists can raise awareness to an ever growing audience on topical issues that affect our ever changing society? Eric Hotz: My goal with my artwork is to show local nature to people who may not be aware of just what is literally in their backyards. I

believe in Biophilia, that people, as a whole, naturally tend to seek out nature and animals. I also see this as advertising for my province as it shows the rest of the world just what British Columbia has to offer. We live in an era where much of nature is disappearing, being bulldozed at a whim whenever the need is perceived. Artists can raise environmental awareness and should whenever possible to an ever-growing audience to make them aware of the beauty that exists to help preserve what remains for future generations. The environment must be protected. It is not something that can be replaced easily once it is gone. Artists can change people’s perspectives about nature and I feel one of the best methods available to us is to simply show what is at stake. Show the beautiful places in paintings. Hopefully, my paintings will be seen as an attempt to show what needs preserving than as a record of what was lost. You are an established artist: over the years you have had several art shows, and more recently you have had the solos An Eye On Nature, at MAC Art Gallery, Mission, BC, and A Study of Nature, at Pitt Meadows Art Gallery, Pitt Meadows, BC: 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/eric_hotz_art ist) — increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalized audience? Eric Hotz: I was amazed at just how many of my relatives traveled from Europe just to see our forests, lakes, natural hot springs, glaciers, alpines, and mountains. I also


Eric Hotz

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Blue Mountain Railway Trail, 11x14inch


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

The Three Sisters (Rolley Lake)

Special Edition


Eric Hotz

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

allows for viewing from a very large audience worldwide. I don’t think I have wrapped my mind around all of the implications of this just yet. However, I am starting to see the implications starting to mount. I keep hearing back from people from various locations on our planet. People do seem to like my art. 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, Eric. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

Portage park acrylic paint on canvas, 16x20 inches worked with people who came from Europe and, like my relatives, they explained to me just how lucky I was for being able to live in British Columbia. You can drive for just 2 hours and find yourself alone on a forested snowcapped rugged mountain, far from the nearest paved road or store. Bears, deer, cougars, lynx, and coyotes, to name just a few animals, roam free in my backyard, and yet, I live 40minutes from a city of 1.5 million people. The scenes change from location to location. This amazed visiting relatives. It seems you can travel from one realm, a city, to being alone in an alpine meadow less than 2 hours later. There is something magical about that. Having my artwork available on various platforms such as websites, or on Instagram,

Eric Hotz: I just completed another Fall Leaves painting and I am working on another painting of Kanaka Creek. My first Kanaka Creek painting proved to be the most popular piece I have created within the last 10 months. At recent my solo art show, it drew a lot of attention. The painting was sold in July to an American collector/artist. I want to replace it with a similar piece but also a painting that has a slightly different focus. I am always intrigued with subjects that show water depth and reflection as well as demonstrate the temperature of the air and can also convey the sound of slow-moving water. Kanaka Creek offers all this and the water levels are low right now so more rocks and boulders are exposed to the eye. This is a very interesting location to paint that is full of potential. There are a number of similar creeks in streams in my area that I will be visiting over the next while. There are many opportunities to paint from locations that are almost literally in my backyard. An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com


scape

Land

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

LandEscape meets

Raji Jagadeesan I am an interdisciplinary artist who works in still and moving image, sculpture, and installation. Instead of seeking out specific materials for a predetermined project, I use what is available to me in a particular situation, instinctively reacting within a given place and time. When I encounter new equipment or materials in a location, I experiment and collaborate with these places, at that moment, to discover their potential. I have a Renaissance-era commitment to the value of beauty; I believe that form, composition, and color, can create moments of intense reflection and power, even if fleeting. As such, I make my artwork accessible in the spaces of daily life. My photography and moving-image work are available online, where viewers can encounter it on their own devices. Much of my dimensional work is site-specific and designed for public places.

Raji Jagadeesan is an interdisciplinary artist who works across still and moving images, 3D materials, and text and stories. She completed her MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins in 2020 and has shown in exhibits in the UK, Belgium, Bulgaria, and Switzerland. She is currently based in the U.S.

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

Hello Raji and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.raji.studio in order to get a wide idea about your mulifaceted artistic production, and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. You

have a solid formal training, and you hold an MA in Art and Science, that you recently received from the prestigious Central Saint Martins: 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? Raji Jagadeesan: I was drawn to a university that embraced many different disciplines and was open to people coming from a wide variety of backgrounds because I



Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

actually have an unusual background – I spent 20 years working in economics, government, and politics in the United States before starting my art practice. Central Saint Martins was so integral to the development of my practice, especially because my specific MA program was cross-disciplinary across both fine arts and non-fine-arts fields. I have never wanted to be trapped into a box or a definition of how I work, or how I live my life. We all have so many facets to our lives, to our personalities, to the things we care about. To be honest, it’s not that I’m so much interested in “art”, per se. What I’m interested in is life, and our very brief and precious experience of it. You are a versatile artist and your practice encompasses still and moving image, sculpture, and installation: what does direct you to such interdisciplinary approach? Moreover, are there any experiences that did particularly help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different artistic disciplines? Raji Jagadeesan: At the most basic level, I am an explorer – I’m curious about materials, about ideas, about color and form and the visual experience overall. So my art practice is very open-ended; I tend to be drawn to new materials that I can play with, and to whatever I can find in a particular place and location. For this special edition of LandEscape we


Raji Jagadeesan

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Special Edition


Elaine Crowe

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

have selected Plague, a stimulating work that our readers have already had the chance to get to know in the introductory pages of this article, and that can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/439072418. What has at once captured our attention of your film is the way you sapiently combined fictional and documentary approaches, to develop such engaging visual experience, as well as your sapient use of associative structures: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us something about the genesis of Plague? Raji Jagadeesan: I’ve always been drawn to Venice as a lush, almost hallucinogenic location – a dream world that doesn’t feel real, despite having centuries of history as a real city, full of real life. I had gone to Venice in November 2019 to do some experimental video shoots and accidentally ended up in the city when it experienced historic flooding. It felt heartbreaking to see the city drowning under water. And as a result, I ended up shooting film that of course related to those floods. In February 2020, I returned to Venice with a loose narrative idea based on fairy tales, and was planning to do location scouting for more experimental video shoots. But real life had other plans; I was in Venice as the coronavirus pandemic emerged in northern Italy and was there when the Italian government began to seal off parts of northern Italy and shut down Venice.




Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

I was filming at the tomb of Titian – who himself died of the plague in Venice in the 1500s – the day before everything went wrong in Venice. It makes you realize that history moves in circles, that humans go through the same cycles over and over again. I’m not sure we actually learn from history; the human propensity to make the same mistakes over and over again seems eternal. And yet, I do not know if we should judge ourselves so harshly for this human weakness. Venice itself feels like a reminder that the human desire for beauty, for joy, can outlast plagues and floods and all our misfortunes. Elegantly shot, Plague features well structured cinematography: what were your aesthetic decisions when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? Raji Jagadeesan: I used a Canon 6D DSLR camera for my filming, and I often do handheld shooting, instead of using a tripod. When I shoot, I instinctively react to what is in front of me – I did not really want to compose scenes just for the camera. I wanted to film things I happened upon, by accident, by chance, such as the Carnival performers I happened upon, who allowed me to film them. At some level, the camera is simply capturing my memories. Plague features such intriguing combination of both fictional and documentary approaches, and was


Raji Jagadeesan

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Special Edition


Raji Jagadeesan

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

inspired by your personal experience of being in Venice when the coronavirus outbreak enveloped Italy in late February 2020: how important was for you to draw from your personal experience, in order to make a personal film, about a theme that you know a lot about? And how does your daily life's experience fuel your creative process, in general? Raji Jagadeesan: My still and moving image work really is a reflection of my own interior experiences and memories; it’s almost a way to process my own understanding of an experience. My travels are another layer of this process: I’m drawn to locations of cultural, geographic, or historic importance because I want to understand a place through that lens. I think I’m fundamentally trying to capture the essence of a place, at a particular moment in time, through my still and moving image work. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you have a Renaissance-era commitment to the value of beauty: how do you consider the role of aesthetics playing within your artistic practice? In particular, how important is for you to ''use'' beauty to trigger the viewers' imagination addressing them to elaborate personal interpretations? Raji Jagadeesan: Aesthetics has such a negative connotation in the context of art schools and contemporary art; it’s almost like a bad word. But I know that for




Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

myself, seeing beauty in visual art has been an emotional experience, not merely a visual experience. I remember the first time I saw Simone Martini’s Annunciation at the Uffizi – it brought me to my knees, it took my breath away. Those Renaissance painters were not creating these magnificent works of beauty out of nothing; they were creating them out of belief, a pure and sincere belief. Choosing beauty in this world is an act of affirmation, an act of will, a choice to see the world in such a way. We would like to introduce our readers to your urban sculptures: how do you create them and how important is for you that your sculptures interact with their exhibition space? Raji Jagadeesan: To me, sculpture and architecture exist in the same universe of spatial relationships; building for a specific space is my preferred way to create largescale sculpture. In another vein, I believe so strongly in public spaces that are open to everyone in society, beyond museums and gallery spaces. Kings Cross in London has this remarkable pedestrian area, anchored by Granary Square, that allows for everyone – families and children, students, office workers, tourists – to come together in ways that resemble a small village. It’s a wonderful feeling. It feels democratic to have public spaces. I wanted to create a sculpture that worked in that type of space, that


Raji Jagadeesan

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Special Edition


Raji Jagadeesan

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

honored the intention of this space, of a place for all sorts of people and of all ages to gather and feel joy in public spaces, open to everyone. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, instead of seeking out specific materials for a predetermined project, you use what is available in a particular situation, instinctively reacting within a given place and time. 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". 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, what does direct you to use found materials? Raji Jagadeesan: One reason I have worked with found 3D materials, for example in wood or metal, is that I tend to create component parts in a modular way, and then assemble them, almost like a collage. I have never started with sketches, for example, and then built towards a finished construction idea. I never work that way. I build a little bit in a corner over there, then a little bit in a corner somewhere else, and then somehow it clicks and I start to combine 3D parts together. It really is an improvisational process. Over the years you had you artworks




Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

featured in a number of group exhibitions in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Bulgaria and Switzerland. Moreover, you I make your artwork accessible in the spaces of daily life: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Raji Jagadeesan: I imagine audiences engaging my work in settings that are already part of their lives, whether it be public spaces, or online on their phone, for example. I almost never imagine people in a gallery! Which is surprising, because I actually encounter almost all the art I see in museums and gallery settings. You know how the Renaissance masters were almost always creating works for church interiors, or an altar, for example? I find the spatial encounter of where you see art to be intrinsic to how you interpret it, and I would love for audiences to see my work in environments that are already part of everyday life. It's important to mention that your photography and moving-image work are available online, where viewers can encounter it on their own devices: 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? Raji Jagadeesan: The ability to view art online, which has accelerated so much


Raji Jagadeesan

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Special Edition


Raji Jagadeesan

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

during the pandemic, has made art and ideas so much more accessible. I can only interpret that as a positive thing. But at the same time, there is such a value in being out in the physical world, seeing things in a physical space, actually living outside of our screens. I don’t know what the correct balance is, but I think we’re moving into an era where everyone will be trying to do both. 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, Raji. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Raji Jagadeesan: I am looking to return to making more large-scale sculptural installations in site-specific contexts; I’m really just searching for the right location as the pandemic and travel restrictions evolve. And on a very different note, I’m curious to explore narrative concepts – and a very early screenplay treatment I have written! – through a re-fashioning of archetypical fairy tale stories. It’s a little bit of everything, but I think that’s probably how life was meant to be. An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

LandEscape meets

Astrid Hanka I worked on dressmaking, pattern, dying, embroiling, new functional accessories. In addition I draw up texts, flyers, catalogues, promotional items, were my own model…and so on…My nickname „asha“ became signature for the resulting works. Arrival in the awesome surround of Kunsthaus Tacheles in 2006 influenced my activities highly. First a degree in natural science followed by withdrawn studies on textile topics: Here my immanent characteristics found a constructive valve the first time. In addition the lively surround enabled to rediscover ambitions in painting and thinking and gave it space without being misplaced. In these days asha became the art figure asha berlin. Well, that’s were I am from and my email account was named so since the browser needed an additive. So it fit.

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

Hello Astrid and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://ashaberlin.de 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. As a basically self taught artist, are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as a visual artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum as well as your studies in Textile direct the trajectory of your current artistic research? Astrid Hanka: Stays in Africa and Arabia and some relocations in childhood offered the opportunity to experience different flora,




Astrid Hanka

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

fauna, ways of life and colours. Natively I was also enthusiastic about self-doing and drawing. As a teenager I did my first pieces of clothing and accessories. From the idea to the finished part ride away. Often including functional aspects and far removed from the current trend in terms of style. I guess than was the initial moment of starting a self-taught discovery tour. The breakthrough in painting was an oil painting consortium in Highschool. We were given some technical advices but no further guidelines. I was just as fascinated by the consistency and manageability of the slowly drying oil paint and the portrayal of form and light not based on lines as by creating something that primarily has no functional requirements to meet. Nevertheless, I put this ambition aside for the time becoming a food technologist. In the years of studying I only made trousers for my own and just while travelling little watercolour paintings replaced taking photos. All in all the collected impressions flowed into my work and found non verbal expression in a pleasing and colourful design. I only rediscovered painting years later when I was lucky enough to move my studio to the open, multidisciplinary art house Tacheles, where I found my private luck and a valve for my ambitions:

Designing surfaces moved into foreground, while my manual skills in sewing and patterning were almost professional then. To make use of all of them in a creative context was a relief to me. It lead to an intense collaboration which finally took me close to modern technologies and ways of production, which are from scientific rationality again. Our conversation takes place during the special time of Covid-19. I live in Berlin and the measures to contain the pandemic have had a major impact on urban and cultural life. While the lockdowns luckily included private delight I personally experienced them as a revitalising period of reflecting my own development and experiences especially of the last twelve years and set up priorities new. Concerning textiles this means orientation on process management and product development in recognition of actual methods. The challenge is launching a contemporary sustainable large-scale manufactured product with my design. My creative work currently focuses entirely on painting. A series is created that consciously correlates and rearranges content and painting techniques that are newer and those that have remained essential to me. On my mind a next series already grows which I dedicate to Landscapes and moods. Visualisation of moods, the ambiguity of what is seen and the irritation of the eye


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

and mind will also play a role in the future as my idea of Land(E)scape. The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of LandEscape has at once impressed us of for the way your insightful exploration of the relationship between reality and abstraction, creating such dreamlike atmosphere: 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? Astrid Hanka: The Development varies in accordance to my personal "field of research”. Some topics I take up again and again and work on them new, others arise from the moment. Scenic motifs in particular, which are also inherent in figuration, mostly arise from an accumulation of more or less random triggered stimuli, such as catchphrases, encounters or daily events, that I put in relation to each other. In this way I create images and moods that are not necessarily logically related. Their context might have been consciously dissolved or arranged new. The result may seem dreamlike or surreal. Since dreaming especially stands for clear and semiconscious brain activity it is great successfully conveyed some - open to encourage the viewer to make their own variation or extrapolation. Meticolously refinished in their details and intricate patterns, your artworks has struck us for the way you sapiently


Astrid Hanka

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Special Edition


Astrid Hanka

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

conveyed effective combination between spontaneity and with such unique rigorous aesthetics: do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes? Astrid Hanka: In my perception, geometry is inherent in all matter. The distance of the observer is essential for their perception: even any pebble is microscopically seen of accurate and geometrically structure and the exact structure of the Nazca lines in Peru can only be seen from a great height. My handling of geometric shapes is generally not methodical - a few exceptions included. As i.e. some perspectives in which the choice of the vanishing points methodically creates "oblique" views. But definitely I pick them and the structure and systematics inherent them up. In particular, Liquid and Lua are correspondences: Lua is obviously based on geometric shapes. The strict look of which is relativized by the repeated superimposition of geometric shape and color. Liquid, on the other hand, picks up on its own geometry of the color movement of paint drops of different viscosity applied wet on wet. Only the repetition creates a connection, structure here, similar to a flower meadow, the superimposition a hint of spatiality. We have really appreciated the vibrancy of intense and at the same time thoughtful nuances that mark out your paintings, and we like the way you sapiently create tension and dynamics in Abklatsch and




Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Fragments: how did you come about settling on your color palette? And how does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your artworks? Astrid Hanka: Naturally I started with generating of the entire colour spectrum based on blue, red and yellow: The possibility of achieving most colours by mixing is a basic experience and offers the opportunity of little equipment or luggage. The expansion of the basic colours by CMY to simulate the light colours has been awakened by increasing contact with printing technology and the display of colours on the monitor. The chroma of these hues with their clear intensity cannot be produced by mixing blue, red and yellow. In addition, it has a decisive influence on new aesthetics of visual perception. In continuation of this approach, in recent years I have repeatedly dealt with the use of addition and contrasts in close, intellectual collaboration up to the achievement of an almost three dimensional effect.

expression, sometimes more of compensation. I do not recognise complete stringency myself. Your artworks, and more specifically Hugs Enlighted and At The Lake feature unique combination with dreamlike ambience and reference to figurative elements. 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? In particular, how does your travels and your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process?

All in all a balanced picture is also based on harmonic composition, concerning both the color tones and their proportions However, there are colours that I prefer to use - originally blue, green and berries - and with which I like to work in all nuances.

Astrid Hanka: Peter Doigs paintings reflect a familiar perspective. He enriches what is seen and graphically reproduced by dissolving and embedding it in color compositions that complement the visible. I feel wonderfully understood with his statement. The two paintings you mention here are of special choice. Hugs Enlighted is a small (20x30 cm, oil) painting from a series putting the embracing couple in different environments. At The Lake (150x170 cm, acrylic’s) is part of my private collection and was done by brillant artist Andrea Colitti, whose acquaintance and mentorship is one of the most important encounters in my life. They represent early contrasts and overlaps.

I would like to discuss the question of "psychological make-up”. Personally, I think sometimes the choice might be

All in all, reality and imagination are best friends in my artistic mind. I would even go so far as to say that it is the core of my


Astrid Hanka

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Special Edition


Astrid Hanka

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

entire artistic production to unify these two in a harmonious assemblage. Clearly any move adds various impressions and sensual discoveries to be woven into the entirety. Reality corresponds to a standarised representation and recognition which evokes individually determined and frequently momentary clusters of emotions. It is left to art to use its aids (shape and color, visual or auditory, etc.) to incorporate these into the representation or to convey them into a hint. The ultimately resulting uncertainty regarding the meaning or the freedom to interpret what is perceived suggests at most an association inviting to a personal journey. Your works — and more specifically 8th May — challenge the viewers' perceptual parameters, inviting your audience to discern and interpret. In this sense, we daresay that your artistic practice seems to aim to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Astrid Hanka: I am quite open to individual perception and interpretation of my arrangements. Of course and although they transmit an expression of mine I often consciously leave a meaning purposefully at hints. A message passing multiple personal filters from creators idea to viewers interpretation is sent. Sometimes it is quite

interesting how the are understood, especially as some viewers perception turn even daydreams into night mares and vice versa. Knowing the illustration, symbols and general information there are ways to make sure a painting or picture is understood clearly of course. In my personal perception and work painting here reaches a touchy overlap with drawings, posters or even words. If my work appeals to the viewer and further stimulates an own interpretation, an integration into his personal context, then I see it as a successful experience and the possible opening of a dialogue between sender and recipient. You also create stimulating installation and textile works, as the interesting Garments Make People, that we have particularly appreciated for the way it highlights the physical nature of art making: how do you structure your process in order to achieve such brilliant result? In particular, how important is for you to highlight the material, tactile quality of your artworks? And how do you consider the role of aesthetics playing within your artistic practice in Textile? Astrid Hanka: Of course, I am pleased when the installation appeals to you so positively. The "ingredients" have been washed up by life and arranged by me. TrashArt or taking up existing leftovers or surpluses as a basis for something new. From the same context, a stylistically selected collection of




Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Special Edition


Astrid Hanka

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

upcycling fashion and trash cou(l)ture was created in the years 2007-2010. In fact, the entire work, including the title, tells a story and at the same time provides a sample of possible outfits. The materials are barely highlighted by myself. All material naturally comes with special properties that make up its special charm or specify or enable functions. From a creative point of view, there are hardly any limits. However, when it comes to fabrics in particular, lightness and high wearing comfort play a major role. These two

requirements can be met with an astonishing variety of materials. In question of design, silhouette and wearing comfort, I attach great importance to suppleness and flow. In terms of design, I keep it similar to painting: My creations are addressed to people already grounded and wear their style in a relaxed, self-confident and fresh manner. Stylistically, they waver between the highest standards and a deliberate break, they are part of a creative process. Little uniform, often self-willed and always timeless.


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

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? Astrid Hanka: I think a piece of art should stimulate you first and foremost. It is liked according to individual feelings and the degree of contemporary aesthetics. It

pleases when it radiates a positively perceived energy. Because I communicate with my works on the one hand and at the same time always offer an idiosyncratic assemblage of content and resolution, I find reaction and interpretation quite interesting. So far, the explicit exchange about this has generally taken place orally and in a very targeted manner. Presentations relocation opens up the possibility of a cross-cultural dialogue with a large, global audience. Or the discussion




Astrid Hanka

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Astrid. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Astrid Hanka: Information and offer shall become implemented in the form of a labeled online platform, which is dedicated to a smart and conscious consume and thus sustainable lifestyle. Luxury and aesthetics included.

by the audience, in which you become a reader yourself. It runs the risk of being an endurance run for sensation and likes. The digital presence that precedes the dialogue with a globalised audience will shape an art that lives primarily from its depiction. What takes place on the street (and thus also temporarily) will, just like other art on online platforms, have to exist in the publication on the monitor. In my opinion, this includes a shift in color aesthetics and speed. There is no additional haptic or tactile experience. Messages have to be clearly formulated. We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic

This platform can become a marketplace for my own designs as well. An opportunity I still keep in mind. I am focused on shoes since those are definitely not as easy to do yourself and a change of their treatment is necessary while they produce a lot of waste and their reuse is rare. From the modernisation in way of working and presence I promise myself extensive geographical independence, various interesting topics and strong base to combine functionality with shared enjoyment. I wouldn’t call me a workaholic but painting, colours and textiles will join me in future also. As well as people, food and music. An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

LandEscape meets

Lex Lucius "I live in the Roaring Fork valley just north of Aspen Colorado, tucked into the Rocky Mountains. My life is full of family, painting and horses and my clothes smell of the stable, and on far too many days my boots of the pasture. Less than five minutes from my painting studio is the stable where my wife Aimée keeps her jumping horses and my daughter her pony. When I drive over to watch them ride, which I do several times a week, I pass by a field of polo ponies. It’s these ponies that have become my favorites to paint because I love their small muscled bodies and I see such strength and determination in their movements. At the stable, our warmbloods are huge muscled, yet incredibly calm, animals; even in my paintings they have a sureness of movement and a stillness that speaks of this confidence. I try to invoke the feelings I get from these animals, but just as importantly I also try to bring the stories and dreams we all carry within us when we think of horses and what horses mean to us all. I am focusing on art I want to see, art that makes me feel. It is my hope that these paintings bring out feelings of comfort and connection in the viewers also."

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

Hello Lex and welcome to LandEscape. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. You have a solid formal training, and you hold a BFA in Printmaking from the

California College of the Arts and an MFA from the University of New Mexico: how did those formative years — and more specifically the multidisciplinary perspective of your artistic practice — influence your approach to visual art and your evolution as a versatile visual artist?

Lex Lucius: If one were to examine the multidisciplinary aspects of my background and how it has influenced my current art making, it



Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Young Polo Pony

Special Edition


Lex Lucius

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

would be necessary to look further then just my academic years. While it is true that the layering of information learned in printmaking is still how I structure a painting today, I actually attribute more to my years as the owner of a sculpture patina business in California where I developed patinas for such influential artists as Peter Voulkos, Bruce Beasley and Stephen De Staebler, among others. It was during those years that I applied the layering technique I had learned in printmaking to a combination of additive and subtractive chemical processes that used translucent layers to shape the finished patina. I continue to use those exact methods in the work I am doing now, using inks and gesso in place of acid. 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 captured our attention for the way you sapiently found beauty in the details of the body of horses, unveiling the connection between strength and gentleness: when walking our readers through the genesis of your current body of works, would you tell us something about your usual setup and process?

Lex Lucius: When I am in the presence of horses they always seem greater than just their bodies and their muscle structure. When working in my sketch book at the stable or

looking at photos I have taken of our horses, I seek that original connection I felt and then try to impart that. In the studio with the images I have gathered from the stable, I begin with a very detailed pencil rendering of the image I want. Then, as I layer marks over the initial information, I move away from the meticulous drawing and hopefully towards the life energy of the animal itself. Your works seem to be laboriously structured to pursue such effective and, at the same time, thoughtful visual impact, and we have appreciated the way you captured the grammar of body language of your subjects: how did you structure your work schedule in order to achieve such brilliant results? In particular how important was for you to capture spontaneity?

Lex Lucius: Your question is interesting because while I value spontaneity and my more gestural studies that show the movement and life force of the horses, my larger now more accomplished works are more about the language of mark making and being able to show the life in the stillness of the animals. There is an academic interest that to a certain degree takes over when I am in the studio; the marks become the language that, while they may look spontaneous, are actually the end result of much contemplation and labor. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you try to bring the stories and


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

dreams we all carry within us when we think of horses and what horses mean to us all: how important is it for you to create works of art related to personal themes, to something that you know a lot about?

Lex Lucius: I am incapable of separating myself from the depth of the stories that have shaped who I have become. It is the relationship of who I was when I first read “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Tennyson or “All the Pretty Horses” by Cormac McCarthy and who I am now that informs the mark making and images I create today. It is the personal in all these experiences that elucidates everything that I do, and if a work is to be successful it must communicate this personal aspect. If it does not, the work remains academic and without life. We have really appreciated the thoughtful nuances that mark out your artistic production: how does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your artworks?

Lex Lucius: As I alluded to earlier, it is impossible for me to separate myself from my work. Indeed, one of my goals has been to make myself as vulnerable as possible in these paintings. It would be accurate to say I feel contentment rather than happiness while making art. This is because the range of emotions I am exposed to through the creation of a painting can take me from the highest of highs down to complete sadness. I


Lex Lucius

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Malibu


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Special Edition


Lex Lucius

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

suspect that I use my art making, as many artists do, to process and help bring understanding to my own life. The residual from that processing remains in the best paintings as life itself. Some of your artworks — more specifically Erased Horse — feature a unique combination between references to reality with dreamlike ambience, that provides your works with stunning visual ambivalence. As a visual artist whose work is focused on real images, 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?

Lex Lucius: Erased Horse is perhaps my favorite of this body of work, and I believe that is because it is the truest representation of who I am. To be in the background or behind a veil, to be barely visible but still able to convey beauty and life’s force, has been a defining characteristic throughout my life. Without diving too deeply into my childhood upbringing and its enduring life impacts, I can say that the masking of emotions is integral to who I am. I can also say that I have never been truly successful in masking these emotions in any long term way and that these suppressed emotions lie in my art like traps for the viewer. But hopefully as gifts for the viewer as well. With their powerful narrative drive and sapient use of figures rich of symbolism, your artworks communicate a deep sense of



Erased Horse


Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Thoroughbred Standing II

Special Edition


Lex Lucius

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Horse in Rain

connection: how do your memories and your everyday life experience fuel your creative process?

Lex Lucius: In my artist’s statement I spoke of the visceral aspect of living with horses. This, combined with my love of literature and




Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Horse in Paddock

childhood memories of being raised on a farm in Canada, form the very structure of what I do.

We dare say that you create new kinds of language that expand and transcend the nature of our relationship with our


Lex Lucius

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Thoroughbred Standing II



Polo Pony


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Study of Pancho I

Study of Pancho II

surroundings, inviting the viewers to elaborate

becomes art. But there is more to language than the mark making; it is the communication of an idea that holds importance. And just as important for me is the communication of a feeling or an emotion. It is this feeling that somehow I hope my viewer experiences. The combination of beauty and emotion, when successful, is what makes my art best.

such a wide number of interpretations. French Impressionist painter Edgar Degas once remarked that Art is not what you see, but what you make others see: how would you consider the degree of openness of the messages that you convey in your creations and how open would you like your works to be understood?

Since my graduate school days, I have been interested in how language affects or informs visual art. The writing on a chalkboard, when photographed and presented to a viewer,

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


Lex Lucius

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Study of Pancho III

Study of Pancho IV

Lex Lucius: I prefer to work on a large scale, although galleries and private commissions often have me working on a smaller scale too. I combat the length of time that is required in painting a large work by painting three or even four paintings at a time. This enables me to stay fresh as I shift between works and to let one painting inform the others.

gallery spaces to street and especially to online platforms — as Instagram — increases, how would this in your opinion change the relationship with a globalized audience?

Over the years your works have been exhibited on several occasions: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? By the way, as the move of Art from traditional

Lex Lucius: I am afraid that I am not very knowledgeable about the current changes in our art world. I know that gallery shows are not the beginning and end that they once were, and that social media has led to my obtaining many commissions and private sales. But in truth I would rather be with the horses or my paintings then with the art world. Fortunately there are


Land

scape

Special Edition

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Study of Pancho V

Study of Pancho VI

very competent people that take care of these

shed some light on how and even why I make

things for me.

my art.My studio is currently full of

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

commissioned work, but as I complete those paintings I have two projects to which I plan on turning my attention. The first is a series of large close-up portraits of one of our thoroughbreds that I love dearly and the second is to further investigate the hiding, or erasing, of images that I began with “Erased Horse.” This removing without removing

Lex Lucius: Thank you so much for this

intrigues me, the line between taking away

opportunity. I hope that my statements have

too much and not enough is so small.


Lex Lucius

Land

scape

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Thoroughbred Standing II