Following up from my last blog entry I completed the body of work in the previous painting unit. My concept changed somewhat however (as is typical for practicing artists) resulting in work that addresses a serious issue with humour and absurdity. This was my Statement of Intent:
My work will address the theme of Light with a series of oil paintings loosely done in the style of chiaroscuro to evoke questions surrounding the darker nature of so-called ‘enlightenment’ associated with the New Age / Pagan movement. I chose chiaroscuro, typically dark dramatic paintings, to juxtapose the ‘love and light’ approach of New Age spirituality in an attempt to draw attention to this underbelly of the movement; the appropriation and subversion of spirituality. This will be a focus on the exploitation of people seeking spiritual enlightenment by individuals who have commercialised spirituality, making it a consumer commodity, to lure people with false promises and absurd claims whilst motivated only by money.
I intend to depict objects that typically would be found on a Pagan altar to represent the elements; Earth, Water, Fire, Air. However, to draw attention to the consumeristic angle of the New Age movement these sacred objects will be replaced with mass produced supermarket products instead. The labels on these products will reflect the absurdity and hilarity of claims made by self-professed Gurus who exploit spiritual seekers. Oil paints as my medium of choice is a connection to the classical as well as to the longevity of the old Pagan religions. Using humour I hope to draw attention to the seriousness of spiritual exploitation by the financially motivated whilst engaging the viewer in a lighthearted manner.
Anndelize Graf. 2018. Water. Body of work: Enlightenment for Sale. Oil on canvas. 40×40 cm.
Anndelize Graf. 2018. Fire. Body of work: Enlightenment for Sale. Oil on canvas. 40×40 cm.
Anndelize Graf. 2018. Air. Body of work: Enlightenment for Sale. Oil on canvas. 40×40 cm.
Anndelize Graf. 2018. Trust me, I’m a Guru. Body of work: Enlightenment for Sale. Oil on canvas. 100×100 cm.
After a 3-month study break to ward off mental fatigue I am ready to tackle my next unit; this time I will be engaged in traditional painting techniques to reinterpret one of my earlier exercises in which I examined Light.This involves setting up a still life arrangement and photographing it at different times during the day to record the changing light, then choosing the best to paint on canvas.
When I originally did this exercise I chose an hourglass, a crochet soft-toy (that I had made) and a lotus for my still life. The overarching theme was Time, I chose the soft toy to represent youth and the lotus to represent ageing. The exercise consisted of two parts, an interior still life (as mentioned above) and an exterior setting depicting the changing light. For the exterior exercise I chose our mail box as I was focussing on lost love letters delivered decades later whilst musing about how the delay in delivery might have affected the lives involved. Time, such a fragile thing isn’t it? Lost time, like lost letters, being most tragic of all.
In the exterior painting I wanted to attempt abstraction and quite liked how it turned out, especially the play of light and shadow as the nearby tree cast its shadows against the mail box. The style that I was playing with in both paintings is Fauve Expressionism, whereas I will be attempting classical realism in the reinterpretation of this exercise over the next few weeks. As I prepare for the start of the next unit I am spending time reconsidering this exercise and how I might approach it next.
Untitled. 2017. Oil paint on canvas. 50x50cm.
Untitled. 2017. Oil paint on canvas. 50x50cm.
Australian artist Shaun Tan’s landscape painting created from objects found at the site.
A few weeks ago I was working on an art project that involved subverting an architectural structure in a way that changes its original meaning. The building I focussed on was an old Victorian theatre (built in 1876) which I decided to conceal behind lace. The concept and how I came to deciding on my idea of subversion is drawn-out, so I won’t go into detail, but I took clues from the Victorian era (hence the lace) as well as from the original purpose of the building (to entertain) which I turned around into something hidden from view rather than exposed. This idea was informed by the decayed and neglected condition that the building is in now.
Whilst on site I took many photographs and spent hours absorbing the frayed and forgotten energies of the place; I discovered and observed cracks and holes in walls floors and other surfaces that became ‘peep holes’ through which I could see glimpses of its history. This eventually developed into a theme of concealment through which to subvert the historical meaning of the building.
I might write more in a later post on the different stages of my process, but for now here is one of the outcomes; homage to what was once a vibrant architectural structure built to entertain thousands of people in an age gone by. An old theatre that now echoes silence; forgotten and hidden from view amongst the dust and debris.
If you haven’t yet seen the award-winning film Loving Vincent I’d highly recommend that you do. Not only because it is about the life and death of one of the world’s most beloved artists – Vincent Van Gogh – but because of its unique production. It is the world’s first fully painted feature film using oils on canvas. The storyline was derived from more than 800 letters written between Vincent and his brother Theo.
Loving Vincent is a biographical animated drama about the life of Vincent Van Gogh, but more specifically about the circumstances surrounding his death. Comprising of 65,000 frames, each one is an oil painting recreated in the same style and technique as Van Gogh’s; the animation bringing to life each painting. The project includes the work of 125 painters, hand-picked from 5,000 applicants, who worked for five months to painstakingly paint each of the 65,000 paintings. The attention to detail is astonishing as every brush stroke counts when the paintings are blown up for the big screen.
All the characters in the film are based on characters that Van Gogh had painted throughout his lifetime, each painted scene in the film is based on live action, the cast was purposefully chosen to resemble his portraits. For the film production the actors were filmed on a green screen, these actions were then turned into black outlines and projected onto the artists boards. They painted in the full scene using Van Gogh pictures and references to inform them. Each completed painting was then photographed after which all the paintings in a scene were edited together to create a sequence, each painting being screened for a 12th of a second.
I left the film feeling sad for Van Gogh because of his obsession to be an artist yet he was not appreciated during his lifetime. I wonder how valued he might have felt if he could have known how many artists would have laboured to make this film. The results of which are breathtaking.
I came across an artist interview in BOMB Magazine online called Memory and Ritual: An interview with Doreen Garner by Forrest Muelrath, confronting the legacy of J. Marion Sims, the father of modern gynaecology. It concerns medical Apartheid, the medial abuse of African American women by a white male doctor. Sims has been exposed by “historical accounts of the brutality involved in the development of his surgical techniques and his racism against black people (Muelrath 2017).” The artist reconstructs severed limbs from prosthetics and other materials that informs her process and supports her conceptual premise. The Sims statue in Central Park, currently surrounded by police barricades and protestors, is the subject of Garner’s November 30th 2017 performance in which she addresses the exploitation of black people.
Her discussion of glass as a medium is insightful, argued to be very flesh-like in its molten form, rigor mortis being simulated as the glass cools and hardens.
The performance exhibition includes a surgical procedure, a vesicovaginal fistulas closure, by black women surgeons on an effigy of Sims, simulating a degrading and painful procedure performed on black women without anaesthesia.
This harrowing and emotional exhibition centres around exposure of a sadist who received acclaim as a white male doctor at the expense of many black female patients. Rather than memorialising him the artist is exposing him for many cruel and degrading procedures he performed that people are unaware of.
Muelrath, F. 2017. Memory and Ritual: “An Interview with Doreen Garner by Forrest Muelrath.” BOMB Magazine. Archive Issues. https://bombmagazine.org/articles/memory-and-ritual-an-interview-with-doreen-garner/