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.