Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Expressing Masculinity: "World Trade"

I started this painting with some discarded high-density cardboard, originally used at a shipping company to transport heavy objects. Instead of the standard 24 x 18"--which I had been working with for a while-- I wanted to expand to a larger scale, so I cut the cardboard to 36" x 24".

This new size complimented my desire for unbounded experimentation. I began with the intention of expressing masculinity. First, high water-content splashes of paint, using a foam brush to smooth out various portions while leaving others raw and untouched. Alternating between phases of drying and reapplying, I created a number of effects which are synonymous with the marbling effect achieved in other pieces. But, as I worked with varying colors and strokes, some interesting iconographic forms seemed to appear:

After some work with the images, a conversation started to develop around cultural constructs and how they can inform answers to questions on identity: What does it mean to be masculine? What role does this play in society? 

This painting started with these questions, yet the process of its development was not bounded by them. This is to say, that though these questions were present in the work's inception, just as the work changed drastically over time so too did its meaning. 

I set the painting aside for a while, moving onto other artistic endeavors. This lead to some other interesting works, but this painting felt so unfinished... It was around this time that I went to Sarasota for the Halloween Palm Court Party.

I can't stress how much of an impact that night had on me, but there was a clear impact on my work afterwords:

I continued to explore the strong color contrasts, expanding specifically on the relationship between color and depth. This is perhaps most apparent in the Tree/Smoke portions which are intended to resemble on another. Eventually I darkened the smoke pattern, receding it to the background, and then allowed the foreground to bloom with orange blossoms. Finally, I added the displaced stars of the American flag in the bottom right corner in an attempt at easing the movement of the eye across the work:

"World Trade" 36" x 24" x 1.5"
Gouache, acrylic, ink, and high voltage electricity
on recycled cardboard (corrugated fiberboard)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Electric Pop-Art?

When I started this project I was working with classical oriental designs, essentially natural landscapes which used high water/pigment ratio media to convey form and depth. The recurrence of tree structures, fractal in nature, was easily communicable in the Lichtenberg figure forms of the electrical burn patterns. However, through practice I found that this was a limited perception of what was taking place in each work; these dendrite patterns had much more semiotic significance. The result was a shift into various attempts at abstraction: a street art understanding-- from my relevant personal history, geometric abstraction,  a post-modern inversion of geometric abstraction, then other experimentation which seems to me now as connected with cubism.

In an attempt at consolidating the depth of my abstract works with the free-association of the pop-art, I arrived back at the tree form.

"Tree 1": 24" x 18" x 1"
Gouache, acrylic, ink, and high voltage electricity on
 recycled cardboard (corrugated fiberboard)

In this work, the depth of multiple cardboard layers -- 
revealed through the burning process-- is offset by
the stark color contrast between the white acrylic gesso
and the burn corrugated medium. The result is a
deception, exemplified in the moment that the center
knot appears to be in front of the surrounding bark. 

"Tree 2": 18" x 24" x 1"
Gouache, acrylic, ink, and high voltage electricity on
 recycled cardboard (corrugated fiberboard)

In this work, the use of stark color contrast in the previous
work was exaggerated to create depth in a two-dimensional 
space. This is complimented by the drip patterns, outlined
in a reflective gold paint. The bottom layer (reminiscent of
lichen on the barks surface) is a similar depth deception as
the first painting, but it uses color contrast and paint texture. 

"Tree 3": 24" x 18" x 1"
Gouache, acrylic, ink, and high voltage electricity on
 recycled cardboard (corrugated fiberboard)

This third piece begun with a high water-content drip
pattern, employing the purple-yellow contrast. But
after the electrocution process the resulting burn pattern 
was obscured by the stark color contrast. I experimented
with high-contrast, colored, geometric forms to draw the 
eye from the background to the foreground. The off-
center circle in the center brings the viewer to the
marbleized, purple/alizarin crimson.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Collection: "Girl"

"Girl"     24" x18" x 5"
Gouache and High Voltage electricity
on corrugated fiberboard
This is the most recent piece I've done and it feels like it could be the end of this collection.

The painting started off with a stamp I found in a bargain bin at an art store. Amongst random fruit shapes and letters I found a script word "Girl". At first, backwards and upside down, it almost looked like kanji to me: a specific type of japanese calligraphy. Immediately I thought about the significance of the stamp in japanese culture, how a painting's worth was often determined by the people who had owned and signed it (through stamps).

How is a thing changed by the labels and signs we use to explain, define, and classify it? What about a person?

Here the tension and emotion created by the top layer which has been electrocuted repeatedly is intensified by a polyurethane coating, increasing the reflectivity and creating an almost shell-like appearance.

The figure in the center, created by the revealed bottom red layer which has been coated in layers of poly-acrylic resin, ink, and salt crystals, is actually the recurring "girl" stamp pattern which has been inverted, outlined, and splattered with paint. Again, what remains primary is the highlighting of natural, stylistic elements through outline and color contrast.

New Collection: "La Guitarra"

"La Guitarra"     24" x 18" x 5"
Gouache and High Voltage electricity
on corrugated fiberboard
After "Stripes" I didn't know what to do next. While I was brainstorming my brother, an aspiring musician here in Miami decided to set up on my patio where I work. Under the spinning ceiling fans I was serenaded, and it seemed even the mosquitos were lulled from their swarm.

After he left to go play at one of his gigs (probably the barracuda bar in the grove), I picked up his acoustic guitar and ran my fingers across the strings. After pretending to play Flamenco for a while I decided that it was as good of a model for a painting as anything else. So, I traced it onto my painting, an outline I later burnt away and replaced with a Polyurethane coated pattern of thinly painted lines: the pattern which decorated the wooden face of the guitar.

The texture on the surface of the painting, specifically the red abstractions which seem to be emanating from the guitar, was achieved by adding high water content paint to layers of salt. Again, I tried to focus as much as I could on the natural development of the painting, how the process itself shaped the resulting image. 

New Collection: "Stripes"

"Stripes"     18" x 24" x 4"
Gouache and High Voltage Electricity
on corrugated fiberboard
After "Sunset" I decided to move away from reference material all together and allow myself a little more liberty in creative expression. This piece was the most difficult one so far.

For this work I decided to go back to the idea of the layers being separate from one another, and how the interplay of unlike parts could create an interesting whole. This effect was intensified by the highlighted repeating pattern of orange and red which, unlike the green and blue, is on one plane yet contrasts enough to pull the viewer in.

Ultimately what became the most important part of this piece was the organic patterns which arose from high water content. The blending between the red and white is highlighted by thin, white, black, and red lines.

New Collection: "Sunset"

"Sunset"    24" x 18" x 8"
Gouache and High Voltage electricity
on corrugated fiberboard
After my first piece in this collection I decided I needed some new reference material. Seeing as how I really don't have much experience with contemporary art, I decided to branch out to try and find someone to teach me a thing or two. I started with a long conversation with one my friends who is also an artist, currently at school in California. What stuck with me most from the talk were the fragments that seemed almost rehearsed, like they had been repeated to her over and over till they stuck. Strange words like "atmosphere", a metaphor for the foundations of a painting, far removed from my knowledge of atmosphere in its literal sense. Similarly, she told me to move away from geometric shapes, and to allow my art to be expressed beyond the boundaries of the canvas, separate and unconcerned with them.

What I came up with was "sunset", ironically my homage to geometric abstraction. What was important for me in this piece is the relation between the colors and the dynamic edges of the work. The fanning which occurs on three sides of the piece is actually multiple layers of corrugated fiberboard cemented together, this is complemented by the one static edge on the bottom left, and is intended to complicate the boundaries between where my art begins and ends.

The electrical burning creates a deep fissure which runs along the edge of the blue, this depth is a stark contrast between the rising layers of yellow, white, and ultimately red.

My favorite part of this piece is the marbling effect that occurred in the topmost yellow layer: a result of the burning process and other factors. 

New Collection: "Pattern-1"

"Pattern-1"   24"x18"x5"
Gouache and High voltage electricity
on corrugated fiberboard
These new pieces come out of a movement away from works which are rigidly defined and who's influences are clear and limited. As such this piece "Pattern-1", being the first of the collection, was an experiment in pattern and deviation. 

I wanted to examine the compounding nature of contemporary art (visual and non visual); how different works across populations interact, and build off of and upon one another. I also wanted to show how most art is by nature allegorical, with meaning which is not always obvious but often hidden. 

As with all my art most of the motivation comes from the process itself i.e. works are in flux and change dramatically from one stage to another. The electrocution process, for example, changes the color and texture of the paint; when the burning is severe enough it allows for access to deeper layers which I paint separately, and all of the black in the painting is the strong, burnt, charcoal color. 

Most of the feedback I have received from this piece likens it to street art or graffiti. This is probably because of the stencil-like appearance of the enlarged stamp pattern, the dripping white gesso, and the bold color contrasts. The reference material I used for this work was fairly eclectic, ranging from old birth announcements my parents had printed while they owned their printing company, to a graffiti reference book "Graffiti World". But, it is clear that my past history with street art has presented itself here.