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Studying Art (18) – Getting over it…

What a year it was… I mean – not easy one… In fact – bl…y difficult…

Studying art is a bit like diving in Le Grand Bleu… further down, the less light and more dense matter… Waters around get less inviting, more frightening and yet – strangely captivating, with that pulsating, magnetic force, which commands you to continue, in moments against your self-preservation instincts and despite of all…

It became a sort of my habit to use this web-space to express my gratitude to everyone involved (voluntary or by an accident) into my studying and ‘getting over’ it… It’s been always my ambition to present this site – its research and its ethos as a natural extension of everything, what had happened to preoccupy me in my ‘actual’ studio. I wanted it to be a virtual companion of my ‘real’ studies in ‘real’ life – yet, it came out as a sort of a separate project, fairly independent and inspiring – must say… What I only regret is that a real, stimulating link between ‘Terra Incognita’ online and the ‘unknown land’ in my studio has failed to be established… I mean, my work was either behind or ahead of my writing here, often pulling in directions, I couldn’t find the words for; or (even worse) – trying to ‘show’ the abstract thoughts and complex ideas expressed here. Also, I’ve chosen a low-key profile sharing this site with few… well, not very generous of me…

Generally, in this very moment, when my time as an ‘undergraduate’ is heading quickly to the end, I would strongly recommend to any art student to have his/her ‘grassroots movement’ online – to establish and take time in developing a site, a club, a gallery… a space, which is infinite and incredibly enriching, which gives freedom of expression and a great training in responsibility/persistence… Besides, where else you could tease your tutors publicly or discuss your view on art with visitors from the US, Trinidad/Tobago or Tbilisi at the same time?

Yes, that was a confusing year… I can’t remember the last time, when I was that intensely and unsettlingly aware, that carrying on the way I’d chosen would have cost me much more than the lost appetite or the minor melancholic headache… Omnipresent futility and fragility of life in its countless scenes unfolded with its cruel arbitrariness. An admirer of Shakespeare couldn’t help to tease his master: ‘where – on Earth – did you get your sense of drama from?… You’re a great charmer and a liar, nothing more… There is nothing truly dramatic or spectacular in one’s world going to pieces… Just a quiet surprise, being repeated as a mantra: ‘was it really so frail?… I used to think it will go on for ever…'”

Anyway… getting over it, emerging, transcending…

My traditionally big and sincere THANKS to you all guys – online and offline, accidental and doomed to meet me everyday – for your presence, your patience, your time, your support… it’s been simply priceless and won’t be forgotten, not easily anyway…

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Studying Art – Diary (12)

There is never enough of them – do you know this feeling? Books. Books. Books. You would spent your life in the libraries and your savings on purchasing yet another title with a delight, that an art collector enriches his ‘stable’ with yet another beautiful, desirable piece of an artwork. It usually starts very early in a childhood – once being firmly and passionately ‘hooked’, one can sense it over time, that there is hardly any w07ay/chance of escaping (and rarely one is attempting it either) from this quite unique, vast world of words, stories, concepts, titles, authors.

I remember time of a pure addiction when I had to have my room filled in tightly with the piles of books and I would never read one at the time, but four or five of different titles enjoying the interweaving of the themes, stories and styles the way the cocktails aficionado marvels at the minute transformations in taste/smell/colour of a drink once the one or another ingredient contributing takes over the rest. But there was also a rebellion time when all the questioning of the written word (or ‘word’ at all), its sense and purpose took place – I believed that one casual conversation is worth more than a dozen of invented stories. That was obviously a passion-boosting fight between two lovers and quite quickly I found myself simply unable to keep my hands of the printed pages and my mind of that very strong, existential need to devour their contents feverishly and with a wild enjoyment.

What is more important in terms of a self-discovery and my artistic research  is that I’m becoming increasingly aware of a strong link between my condition of being a still-born writer (or – never truly born yet, from different reasons) and my ambition of pursuing an artist’s path. It seems that I’m trying to approach and master that beloved universe of the human spirit – described, analyzed, transformed, invented anew and ‘written down’ in all the books I read (and tried to write in vain) from another – the visual aids-based angle. In this sense I share that struggle with many other artists/painters, who chose (or have been destined to) the liminal/boundary and cross-disciplinary spaces to function and work in, rather than to focus mainly/predominantly on the purely aesthetic, fine-art based exploration and display.

When I look at paints/art materials I see ideas to be embodied, when I listen to my work on its way of a development and a metamorphosis I sense its intense desire to become, to come to existence, to get the ‘face’ and a very distinctive, believable story – just the way, the would-be characters of my fiction have had… “Give birth to me”! “Help me to be!” – they would haunt me in a sweetly-sour manner, the same is true to my paintings now… the blessed curse, the cursed blessing of the life-giver, a creator – to be a midwife, a womb, a medium and to be entirely and for ever responsible for what has been helped to happen…

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Studying Art (11) – Studio Work or Chaos…

Please note:

Photos presented feature the below-mentioned efforts in my studio from September-December 2008. For my statement, concept, more images/descriptions – please visit “My Work” and my Flickr page.

It had started during the summer months – a sort of a rather noxious fermentation darkening slowly over time. On coming back to the college in September it has been intensified to an explosive degree 04by some rather complex personal troubles – one small trigger has freed all the anger, doubt, confusion and a sorrow. And I launched this academic year in a rather audacious manner (my big sorry to all of you there), by sending a clear message to my tutors and my friends: Do keep away.

Then I took off with a ceaseless frenzy of attacking my studio and corridor walls with a flood of images and all sorts of artifacts I managed to drag on a spot. Paint (oil) was used merely as an excuse to stick even more random pieces on it. And I took a pleasure in questioning and destroying all the artistic attempts I regarded as ‘successful’ to some extent, mocking and wasting away my ‘capital’ I managed to gain through the last year of study. To my surprise – the more anarchistic battles I provoked with art and with my surroundings, the more rudely I attempted to annihilate the commonly-accepted boundaries – the less and less opposition I felt, and more and more excited, positive response I got.05

Some of my viewers refused to stay at bay, where I put them, and I heard “Rauschenberg”, “DaDa”, “extravagance” – I shrugged my arms – So what? That my work was similar to that of one of the artistic idols (actually, I adore Rauschenberg’s myself) was of the least importance to me at that time – I was trying hard to make sense of the world around, of my entire life; and there was something really sad about that, that what my great audience had read as an exciting, artistic effort was, in a fact – a confused expression of a personal despair.

It took me weeks to gain some theoretical, sensible insight into my activities – and it all,  luckily for me, has ended in a self-assurance. Thanks to my background – the classical education and still respected values it proved to be impossible for me to ‘lose my mind’ – even if I would have made a lucid decision to do so (for a 06self-protection); so – there was always a clear method in that  ‘madness’, and even from the longest, the most scary and lonely spiritual journey I made I was able to come back on my own – stronger and smarter than before, or so I choose to think…

Though, it all would be much more difficult to achieve without the loyal, so understanding and wise support of my friends – manifested in various ways (so, do accept my gratitude, all of you, who know, what I’m writing here about – I’m indebted to your noble patience and the above-average openness of mind…) By the way , I must make this point – for an artist, especially the beginner or the one in a crisis – there can be nothing more precious and desirable than the intelligent audience ready to take on and even – to acclaim – all sorts of oddities, provocations, anti-art behaviours and silly games, the individual is pervertedly happy to display…

Those were truly stimulating months – and even if there were things I regret now and wouldn’t do having a chance to move the clock back – in general, I would have been disappointed with myself choosing any easier option. Through struggle and a passionate building up of a negative language I’ve reached to some of the ideas and ways of expression, which are well able to nourish my studies for some time. And the work that finally emerged showed me the art once again – in its most universal and glorious epitome – as a primordial force able to initiate, control and tame chaos of the both – the physical and the inner reality…

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Studying Art (10)- The Crisis

Crisis (Oxford Dictionary 2008):

a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger : the current economic crisis | a family in crisis
• a time when a difficult or important decision must be made : [as adj. ] a crisis point of history.
• the turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death.
• the point in a play or story when a crucial conflict takes place, determining the outcome of the plot.

Thesaurus:

critical point, turning point, crossroads, watershed, head, moment of truth, zero hour, point of no return, Rubicon, doomsday

Well – you have it all considering the definition alone – you are in a trouble, yet – it’s a fertile ground, even though it may look like a disaster-in-happening. But – in a crisis, in this alter ego of any serious artist – there is always something redeeming… You have your Rubicon to cross – the dice to be thrown, a pathway to be chosen, a truth to be faced/accepted/rejected… New life – out of chaos is to be conceived… It’s a powerful element, which forms/displays the true character of humans; the only time when even ancient, sanctified delusions of ours can be annihilated… Though it may be confusing and/or painful like hell, you’re much better off accepting your struggle the way your child accepts the everyday piece of bread from you – something as natural as the life itself. But don’t be fooled by this apparent heroism of mine… If I had to point out the mistakes I’ve made during the last few months… well, here it goes:  self-indulgence to a point of a narcissism, self-avoidance, lack of a self-imposed, healthy discipline, letting the personal to overwhelm and to command the work, excessive expression, pretense and so on, and so on…

What else? Maybe only this, that it seems to be the tabu-word in today’s career/success-orientated world… the ‘crisis’ – say it out loud in our Western, Anglo-Saxon ‘winners’ ‘club’ –  and you’ll meet with a disapprobation, a distrust, at best – with a pity. It’s OK to weep publicly over the drama of a world-wide recession, yet – to admit – my private recession is not less acute – that would be reckless – just like to plant explosives on your own threshold… O c’mon people – fellow artists – the aristocrats of the spirit… being noble doesn’t necessary mean being flawless…But to say – out loud and out of honesty – ‘I’m just a pretentious, little bastard/ I lost my way/ I have nothing to say/I’m doing this cos I still believe in this exotic, dying flower – the integrity of an artist…’ and so on – that sounds right in the right, critical time, doesn’t it? There is something in the air nowadays that silence the great, the exceptional, the above-average; a man is more afraid of his lightness than his shadows… He is afraid of his own innate nobility, greatness, genius… it looks like the democratic system in its full swing discourages the truthful expression of an individuality the way the communists regimes were designed to do.

Well, it becomes incoherent a bit – I’ll better finish this strange post, the post of a crisis… But – you there – don’t you be afraid to think the nonsense… Was it Wittgenstein who wrote, that if we were too scared to proclaim nonsense, nothing smart would had ever been said?…


Art Diary (9) – The Sublime

What these images have in common? Is there any sensible link between C.D. Friedrich’s “Wanderer”, the Cosmos, Barrack Obama’s image and Andreas Gursky’s photo (the last image) of the stock exchange? What would be that feeling, that intangible sensation of ours, or maybe even their own – those propositions’ intrinsic quality, which keeps us utterly speechless pondering over the infinity of the Space, which leaves us completely ‘knocked down’ facing Friedrich’s vision of the Nature, which makes us truly enthusiastic and ‘bowing’ to the charisma present in people (the new US president is the ‘fresh’ example); which leads us on a verge of an absolute confusion scanning the artificial universe of the stock exchange?

Philosophers and art critics called it “The Sublime” and, quite predictably, they made a whole, complex and disputable aesthetic concept out of this elusive spiritual phenomenon, this metaphysical ‘slap on the face’ that we feel entering unchartered, unknown and frightening (yet always in a pleasure-giving way) territory. Would it be the Romantics’ wilderness or the contemporary jungle of the financial markets or the true power of the human character reaching to its heights – its far more than just ‘beautiful’ – ‘beautiful’ can be a humble flower in your garden… Sometimes you cannot even call it ‘beautiful’, at least not in a classical meaning of the word… But it is ‘sublime’ – it’s intense, powerful, vast, superhuman – it both terrifies you and cast a spell upon you, it never ‘asks’ to be followed, it simply launches a rocket straight to your soul – but the answer is yours – be overpowered or reject it.

My humble belief as for now is that the new, re-thought and skilfully presented Sublime can have a redeeming power over the contemporary art. Maybe this is the time, when we could and should dare to reach to the depths of the human spirit again, the way our great grand-grandfathers from 18th century did?… Obviously, the simple return is impossible – not ‘after the Holocaust’, not after the death of god and not after the traditional philosophy had bankrupted as a ‘rescue’ to the overwhelming confusion of the existence. But to create that experience of being ‘uncompromisingly alive’, of being struck like by the lightening by the world, by another human being again – to invent, to design and to make it inhabitable anew… That would be something – wouldn’t it?

This is my intuition for today. I will give it some more thought in the future…


Diary (8): ‘Strawberry Fields’… Forever?

Fascinating, how the same (or very similar) ideas circulate in the air and through time/space passage ‘tapping on’ heads of different individuals.

Can’t tell exactly how my last concept has originated, it seemed just to sprout like a spring wild flower – out of nothing. Out of sudden I became quite preoccupied with strawberries: their smell, colour, flavour, their sweetness and delight, their dark Bosch’s meaning (still have before my eyes those angelic figures from his “Garden of Earthly Delights” devouring those enormous red fruits with those lascivious smiles).

Then a flow of associations came in a natural way: I. Bergman’s great Wild Strawberries with his concept of the Smultronstallet – a blissful patch of memory, a time/space and energy, a moment, that person – the Golden Age which we once possessed being incomparably happy… Then J. Milton’s Paradise Lost with some great analyses of how human mind deceives itself – having the power to change, ignore the reality (The mind is its own place, and in itself/ Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n. Book I, 254-255)…

Starting from an almost literal view of a fruit (sweet, delicious and… forbidden) I’ve ended up with a mental-scape of glimmering, colourful (yet, not without the dark spots) ‘jungle’ – my own Strawberry Fields (see above and in ‘My Work’) What’s funny, I didn’t pay the slightest attention to J. Lennon’s the Strawberry Fields Forever vision – I was, in a fact, quite surprised when getting aware of that (yet another proof for the  ‘traveling’ ideas)… A series of paintings has followed all that brain-storm… I have never yet experienced such an easiness and such a satisfaction when painting… Seems like one has to think things through and through before attacking a patch of canvas with paint. But sometimes, one real conversation with someone (especially when love/admiration is in the air), one thought having been read somewhere can act as an attitude/life changing trigger.

I’ve learned awfully lot during the last three weeks of this year academic study. More than in the last ten months put together – or, should I say – just because of that apparently painfully chaotic period of a struggle, I could have performed my own little wonder of a true metamorphosis. Nothing is to be lost in nature and so in art, or – as it looks like for today…


Studying Art – Diary (7)

First year of a truly personal work (and 2nd of BA Fine Art degree) has just finished – I mean, in an ‘official’ meaning of the word, since anyone lucky enough and doomed enough, who is even mildly familiar with art studying, accepts as a matter of fact the perpetual, omnipresent nature of it. In a sense, there is no escape from art once it gets into one’s blood for good…

Art is a formidable force, it arises out of blue and from nowhere and takes an individual’s life in her passionate, jealous possession. She knows no moral scruples nor ontological doubts, you devote her all and entirely – the most personal and painful, purely golden or even the ugliest or most ridiculous aspects of your being – or she calls you a coward, a cheat and refuses to deal with you on a serious basis. One has to have a considerable personal maturity and strength of character and well-established relationship with the world around, and even with the loved ones, to not to get devoured by that absolutely irresistible, life-giving and life-transforming energy.

I am Art – it’s always, always on my mind;
not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure for myself,
but as my own being.
Oh – be with me always – take any form – drive me mad!
Only do not leave me in an abyss where I couldn’t be able to find you!
I couldn’t be able to live without my life!
I couldn’t be able to live without my soul!

Let this paraphrase of my favourite parts of the Wuthering Heights be a sort of my personal confession for today – 18 May 2008 – just after the tough ‘baptism’ of this ‘junior’ period. As weird and self-teasing as it sounds it speaks my spirit out better than any intellectualised essay-like nonsense.

My dear friends, and by that I mean everyone, who has shared hers/his time with me silently, in a dialog, in laugh and tears, or maybe in thoughts, who has been and is there to make my journey – our journey less lonely – thank you again and again. Telling you all this not because I’m an emotional sort of a girl who gets ‘high spirits’ easily – as most of you know – but because art has taught me anew to appreciate the most important thins in their importance, the most beautiful in their beauty, the most necessary in their necessity. It’s still a difficult battle and it’s not going to be easy for the next, lets say – fifty years, but at least I made (hope we all made) an important step forward.

‘Forward’ – that’s the key-word: in our times, when even science and technology makes no longer any optimistic prognoses in terms of general, positive ‘progress’ of the human world – art is all about life-affirmative ‘moving on’. Like Nature – it transforms its own decay and even death into a new beginning, its evolution is both linear and magically circular – it’s got the power over fleeting time, yet it respectfully responds to its needs. Lets move forward – my friends – always forward and always on a move.

Enjoy your summer. I’m going to paint my garden with oils…


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