Preparation: Texture, Index and abstraction

Texture & found materials:

Already in previous parts and projects I worked with textured grounds for my paintings.

My examples:

I contextualised especially Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945) – see link to my Pinterest collection board: https://de.pinterest.com/sjschaffeld/anselm-kiefer/ )

I was interested in finding how other are motivated to use found materials or objects. So far I have seen many artists doing it. Jean Dubuffet (1901- 1985) was using found materials to convey a sense of materiality of the paint. Marcel Duchamp (1887 – 1968) avoided using traditional materials like canvas and oil paint. He used found materials not only as large ready-mades but also to assemble an imagery on the glass surface with out various materials (wire, foil, glue, varnish etc.) He also allowed dust to collect on the sieves on the glass. Dust collected from his studio. E.g. his work ‘The Bride Stripped Bare by HerBachelors, Even (The Large Glass)’1915 – 1923. Detailed imagery can be see at: http://www.toutfait.com/unmaking_the_museum/Dust%20Breeding.html  [accessed 14 Feb 2017]

This kind of use of authentic materials for visualising objects made from or with this material in real life is better known as index. Francis Bacon (1909 – 1992) used this in some of his paintings as also Vermeer did do so by using found sand for the foreground beach in his painting ‘View on Delft‘, 1660-1661. (Bond, 2015)

In order to see how I could successfully use found materials for my subject matter I experimented more and extended my approach (see above examples).

In previous exercises I created already the following paintings in scope of my project:

  • A collage based and mixed media approach with texture on the ground:
Stefan513593 - Project 2 - assignment 5 - texture_index_abastaction #11

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – assignment 5 – texture_index_abastaction #11

=> index of local newspaper and glued photographs from location visit. With some shapes reminding of timber beams

  • A textured ground with fluid oil paint handling:
Stefan513593 - Project 2 - assignment 5 - texture_index_abastaction #12

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – assignment 5 – texture_index_abastaction #12

=> purely abstract and emotionally driven visualisation with a shadow share reminding of a house.

In the last project I did two abstract paintings in the scope of my personal project, derived form man-made forms.

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - assignment 5 - texture_index_abastaction #1-2

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – assignment 5 – texture_index_abastaction #1-2

My further studies

From my last project works, especially in the context of abstraction without a representational context, I was wondering how far I could push that to deliver on uncanny sensation, unsettling emotional responses and haunting imagery. As I am much involved in the making I have to see with others on there respective responses.

  1. Abstraction of textured ground:

Abstraction of ground texture alongside abstract tonal variations in charcoal:

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - assignment 5 - texture_index_abastaction #3

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – assignment 5 – texture_index_abastaction #3

and

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - assignment 5 - texture_index_abastaction #4

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – assignment 5 – texture_index_abastaction #4

=> fully abstract textures as interplay of texture, shadow and light. Asking questions and raising emotional responses with the viewer. Cat litter as texture enhancer and local index as many people do have cats in our neighborhood. A possible perception of human figure – idea? absence?

2) Abstraction of textured and tonal ground

Tonal textured ground with gradation (Amaco Sculptmold and charcoal)

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - assignment 5 - texture_index_abastaction #5-6

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – assignment 5 – texture_index_abastaction #5-6

=> fully abstract partly index to ask questions and to raise emotional response with the viewer. Charcoal as burned and old residues, sculptamold as index for house building and wall textures. Convincing? I will keep those for the time being and see what else is coming up, whether I’ll come back to them as they are or just use them as a textured ground for other paintings.

3) Process and collage 

A process driven triptych painting: with textured ground (cat litter and local newspaper as collage), with ink and acrylic paint. A kind of continuation with less found materials as Project 1 – Ex 1. More about this and the process in separate post on ‘process painting’ –  click here.

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - assignment 5 - process#4-6

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – assignment 5 – process#4-6

4) Index overpainted photograph

From my studies with overpainted photographs (click here) – pls found local material:

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - assignment 5 - texture_index_abastaction #10

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – assignment 5 – texture_index_abastaction #10

=> Representational painting with index of found materials, sand reminding of bricks. A study to see how to work with overpainted photographs and how I do respond to those images. A kind of dialogue.

Another artist mentioned in the OCA discuss forum is Antoni Tàpies (1923 – 2012) who used tangible materials for his art, emphasizing a physical transformation and a spiritual transformation evoked through signs and symbols from Western and Eastern cultures. As Kiefer he continuously investigated the nature and materiality of physical objects. I did not consider his in the making my studies but will possibly look at him deeper for my final assignment.

Learnings:

  • Textured and index materials can trigger emotional responses when used as abstract only.
  • Materials can be used as process index for deterioration. The material (cat litter) doesn’t stick well to the surface and breaks off.
  • For partly representational painting a conscious and partly use of found materials inside the paint (see example 4)  more successful.
  • The use of builders materials are for me more successful, see project 2 – exercise 1 (sep post)
  • This is the first time I paint fully abstract (besides perhaps #7-10). I am not sure whether this would be sufficient or enough. I will therefore to post #1, #2 and #3 for peer review and critique on the OCA discuss forum. I will reflect on the responses and take my learnings from that. I can possibly envison to add an abstract painting as part of my final series of paintings. More to reflect on that later.
  • A key question is the level of abstraction – does the narrative comes from the medium, the index, the image, or from the viewer’s response?

Reference:

Amendment: Learnings from peer review

General comments and common aspects from the review (on three abstract paintings posted (above #1, #2, and #3)

  • “Some of the most sophisticated works I’ve seen come from Fine art”
  • “How little we need to build a world” with “Subtleties to immerse oneself in”
  • Derelict and worn out
  • Relation to memories, house and hidden layers
  • Human presence and intervention
  • Past lives and traces
  • Familiarity and remove
  • Quite photographic though abstract
  • Relation to Mono-Ha, Japanese art from 1960/70 which ‘locates the work in the structure through which things revealed their existence’
  • Tactile and materiality

It doesn’t need representational elements to evoke memories and emotional responses. The materiality of textured surfaces and abstract patterns do invite the viewer into the picture plane and give space for open enquiries.

As my first shot on abstract painting I could sense my strong emotional engagement with the making and looking at them. I thought that they would fit well into my chosen theme of the uncanny and the unhomely. Having some misgivings like ‘too simple’ I decided to post three works for peer review. I truly appreciated provided feedback from my peers. I was surprised how close their emotional responses were to mine at times. They related the paintings to the familiar, memories, and decay. To human presence and intervention, to stormy sea and calm. The materiality of tactile sensation came across strong. Questions were raise about hidden and concealed layers. All very close to aspects I related to in my project. Saying that I would say that those works are successful as they were engaging the audience.

I feel encouraged to put some of my abstract paintings into the series for my assignment.

A few feedback comments really intrigued and touched me:

  • How little we need to build worlds from”
  • “A feeling of not wanting to go near it”
  • “Melancholy on the old”
  • “Subtleties which one can immerse in”
  • “Something which has lived, I can’t smell it, I can’t touch it”
  • “A remove from the familiar”

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