By Katerina Papazissi

Δευτέρα, 9 Ιουλίου 2018

Flesh of the world- 2016/18

In 2016 I started recognizing that the quality of flesh that I had been exploring, was also a quality found in  nature. This was the result of daily trips to the forests of the Ipirus region. What caught my interest were especially trees and fungi developing on them.
I drew and painted these natural bodies, approaching them in the same way as I approached my own flesh.  This was the start of my work on the connection of the body and nature, something that has come to interest me more and more. A view of nature as bodily flesh, and the body as an extension of nature.
Since then I have been aquainted with the phenomenology of Maurice Merlau Ponty, and his final work 'The Visible and the Invisible'. Also with the writings of David Abram and Suzi Gablik. I was so happy to find a connection of my thinking to these approaches to the world and art, bringing me before the realization that  my work had a strong link to contemporary ecological thinking.
Ever since my first studies in Social Psychology, my work has been about going beyond the dualistic dichotomies between e.g. the self and the world, the human body and nature that have dominated the worldview of our Western culture. Exploring and revealing the fundamental unity of the human being and the natural world is the basis of my recent work and the start of a new period.
As Suzi Gablik says, relationship is the key insight of ecology.
Here are some examples of this  work, from 2016

The Fall (After Rubens) 2016, Soft Pastel on paper

Unknown pleasures, 2016 Soft pastel on paper 70x100cm

Inferno, 2017 Soft pastel on paper, 87x125 cm

Attachment, 2016 Soft pastel on paper, 1x1.5m

Κυριακή, 1 Ιουλίου 2018

connections and inspiration -2017

Some of the paintings that inspired me in 2017  in my work on the representation of the element of flesh. I see all these paintings as having an organic quality that is actually the guiding principle of their design. It is the twists and turns, the folds of the flesh that guide the hand of the artist in their creation. The result is much more than the representation of the actual scene depicted. It is a whole worldview experienced and presented in paint.

Titian 'The Flaying of Marsyas'

Rubens 'Bacchus' 1638

Oscar Kokoschka 'The Bride of the wind' 1913

Cecily Brown 'The Gang's all here' 1998

Rubens 'Massacre'

Hokusai The Dream of the Fisherman's wife 1814

Francis Bacon -Two Figures fucking on a couch 1953

Πέμπτη, 7 Ιουνίου 2018

Flesh in the Baroque

The subject of flesh is dominant in the Baroque, where voluptous bodies or cascades of bodies and cloth create endless  folds.

I  see the baroque as the demand and desire of the flesh, or matter, to represent itself and expand into space. The Baroque celebrates the 'Flesh of the World'. It predates Merlau Ponty's vision of 'Flesh as a choreography between the flesh of the world and the flesh of the body'.
According to Giles Deleuze, writing in 'The Fold' about the Baroque,  'the world is interpreted as a body of infinite folds and surfaces that twist and weave through compressed time and space'

The Baroque is movement, and this is why it interests me. 
Moving away from the idealism of the Renaissance it is more related to life and the turbulence and change it entails. 
It is closer to my experience of my insides, my doubts, my desires. 
The Baroque characterises a period of change and instability itself. So form communicates with reality. 

A characteristic of the Baroque is excess. It is the excess of flesh that demands to assert its own self. Art moving closer and closer to life instead of an ideal representation of it. 
The Baroque builds on the depth of pictorial space created by the Renaissance but adds to it the dimension of forwards. It is thus that its pulsating surface moves outwards to real space. 

In the development of my recent work I have been inspired especially by the work of Rubens. And especially by the painting The Fall of the Rebel Angels. This painting for me represents at the same time the joy of experiencing flesh and the pain and suffering its breaking free entails. 

Rubens, The Fall of the Rebel Angels

Study for the Fall
The Ecstasy of St. Teresa


Fontanta di Trevi

Σάββατο, 2 Ιουνίου 2018

Psychomachia 2015-2016

2015- 2016
Making space for painting

I wanted to go beyond the focus on the orifices characteristic of the previous work (see That That is Not on my site )  to  more painterly and juicy approach.
To attain a pictorial expansiveness, and assert materiality.
A desire of the flesh to expand, to see itself portrayed.

I had a vision (I think maybe a dream) of many folds, many bodily orifices creating their own kind of space perpetually in movement. This drawing resulted

Soft pastel on paper, 18x24cm

Thus result this series, subsequently entitled Psychomachia, which consists of drawings with soft pastel and smaller watercolours.
The drawings,  that oppose geometrical to organic abstract forms, make a transition from my past to my current work.

Still, in this series the body is trying to break free from the grids and hard structures that contain it.
Here is a sample of the drawings

The Battle I, 2016 87.5x125cm

The Flood, 2016 87.5x125cm
The Battle II, 2016 87.5x125cm

Quay, 2106 Watercolour and soft pastel on paper, 21x30cm

Untitled, 2016. Watercolour on paper 24x29cm

Gross anatomy, 2016 22x33cm

Παρασκευή, 1 Ιουνίου 2018

Space Oddity, 2014

A step further back to consider these three collages from 2014.

Watercolours of studies of skin are combined with photos of the burnt down buildings of Athens in 2008

They are actually a sort of battle between my painting and my photography and signal a transition to a more complex pictorial space. However, they were an anarchic strand at the moment, still within the time frame of the extreme close up focus period, the period of the That That is Not.

I love the combination of subdued skin tones with the grey tones of the burnt down buildings. The harsh actual composition is compensated by this subtle contrast.
Buildings are torn down by an invasion of flesh.
My idea of a revolution.
Rather spatial or sci-fi

They are all 35x50 cm each.

Πέμπτη, 31 Μαΐου 2018

Starting anew 2015

These copies of the painting by Caravaggio were the beginning of the journey for my recent work.

I was reading Frank Stella 'Working Space', a wonderful book on abstract painting with a proposition that it opens up its notion and construction of pictorial space, something that abstract art of the time had narrowed down to the surface, by looking at the masters of the past.

I began to study flesh and how  space is created through and around flesh. Flesh that is a marvel for sensation can be found in Baroque paintings and this is where I looked at.
I actually see the Baroque as space created through the form of the movement of flesh. It follows the twists and curls of flesh and objects that parallel it, like cloth and leaves.
The Baroque is 'Movement imported into mass' - Heinrich Wolfflin

Both of these studies are with soft pastels on paper and measure 60x80cm

Δευτέρα, 1 Απριλίου 2013

Ach Alma Manetro - Is it a great work of art?

Ach Alma Manetro is a decollage, or torn-poser work by Raymond Hains and Jacques de la Villegle made (or rather presented) in 1949.

The practice of the decollage artists was to raid the streets of Paris (or Rome) and collect pieces of torn billboard posters, which they presented as they found them, sometimes together with the support on which they were glued, or by subsequently mounting them on canvas with minimum adjustment. Sometimes they presented the works in the streets rather than in a gallery.
I am generally fascinated by the images created by torn posters around the city. I photograph them and I  also collect posters in order to make artworks from them myself (with a lot of adjustments).
In discovering the decollage artists of the late 40s and 50s, I was therefore once more confronted with an image which I particulary like. However, the problem was that it seemed to me that as soon as one had seen a torn-poster (affiche laceree), one had seen it all. There is no big difference between a torn poster of today and a torn poster of then. Moreover, I could not easily accept them as art. A curious fact, I know. How can you be fascinated by something and still not accept it as art. Well I think it has to do with my belief that an artwork is not the presentation of a reality, but a transformation of reality. These seemed to be mere documents of reality. Not creations.
Reading about this work has made me reflect more deeply on whether it can potentially not be merely an interesting, even striking picture, but also a great work of art. Which in turn made me think some more about what the heck is a great work of art. Here we go.

Ach Alma Manetro is  a great work of art because it is the complete and perfect solution to the artistic problems and questions of the day.
Which were the circumstances and artistic problems of the city of Paris in late 1940?
1. World War II. The artists had a living memory of and wanted to speak about an environment
 devastated by war.
2. The restoration and rebuilding of cities was under way, and this restoration brought with it a new form of urban life, organized around consumerism and advertising culture. The way out of the strife of the war was proposed as the ability to consume better and ever- newer products.
3. Advertising takes on a huge part of public space. Large advertising posters are hung on billboards, forming atttitudes, guiding the world. The critique of advertising from the part of artists, the critics of the images of reality, is a must.
4. The artists had already seen the american Abstract Expressionist works, were familiar with the idea of Action Painting and the view of the canvas as an arena on which to act.
5. However, the particular circumstances of Europe, with its profound historicity, precluded mere gestural abstraction, with no deeper underlying meaning.
6. The artists were born in the city of the Surrealists and shared their ideas about uniting art and life, as well as imagination and reality and the idea of making the street the locus of the Magnificent.
7. The artists shared the Dadaists' and (especially) Surrealists' questioning of the idea of the artist as  a genius. They wanted to develop more collective forms of creation.
8. The question was how to overcome the alienation which is the result of life in the modern city.

The discovery of decollage epitomizes all these requirements of the artists of the time.  The torn poster is first and foremost an image that speaks about a rupture, a dislocation, even dismemeberment. It resembles a war zone. It is also an object created over time by the actions of anonymous passers-by as well as by the effects of the weather. Not by an individual artist. It gives us the image of an action, but we do not know whose action.  No glory to the creator here. Moreover, Ach Alma Manetro in particular  is not even the discovery of one creator. Two persons have discovered this together and presented it as a pair.  The object was furthermore situated in the street. The continuous layering and tearing of the posters speak about a process of decay as well as creation, which ultimately creates an image of the passage of time in the realm of the urban environment. A kind of history of the city. It shows the relationship between degraded public space and radiant advertising space. The torn poster deconstructs language and communication, and at the same time proposes a new form of communication. It is therefore a critique of advertising. Advertising language is still there for the audience to see and ponder on its effects.  It is in this sense the continuation of the project of the futurists and dadaists. The torn posters speak about the possibility of disalienation via the acceptance, understanding, manipulation and communication of the very products of this alienation.
Therefore, a found object (objet trouve) is the artwork par excellence of the time. No creator needed, no adjustment required, no artistic standards set or fulfilled. An art object is discovered, collected and presented as such. A ready-made.
Still have to persuade myself on this possibility, while my creation-greedy self moans.
On the other hand, what this work does not create is a transformation of reality. Of course, this was not the point for the artists. They wanted us to see reality in a different way. Anyway a transformation has already taken place, as the posters got changed by the actions of the passers by and the weather. However, at least for me, this remains an unanswered question, a thorn in the argument on whether Ach Alma Manetro is  a great work of art.

p.s. Weeks after writing this post, I have come across a very interesting interview of Herbert Marcuse, in 1978. Marcuse says about the avant garde.
''Art in its radical forms—the present day avant-garde, for example: I would say yes, it is art. But the question is to what extent aesthetic criteria can be applied to some manifestations of avant-garde art. I had a long discussion on that here with the Visual Arts department two or three years ago. There was an exhibit that simply reproduced a garage sale. That wouldn't do because it just isn't art; it's a repetition of the given reality. It does not have the transcendence and dissociation which in my view are essential for art.''
Very clearly put...