Throughout this course with extensive research I have investigated what the contemporary art world is and where my practice sits within it. On starting this course my aim was to explore abstract painting. I had never been in a wood workshop, metal workshop, 3D workshop or photo-developing workshop. In Unit 1 and with every unit within this course I have explored every workshop available learning new skills and experimenting with processes, materials, and ways of developing my ideas. On reflection, documentation and watching my practice grow I have learned what things are important in my practice and how I work and synthesis ideas. I have found a way to construct my own language, stay current, generate ideas, and be a sustainable professional visual artist.
Unit 1 I developed a series called “Spaces”.
This was my first experimentation with testing an idea and developing it in various media. Inspiration to make the work came from an incident I witnessed involving someone who felt their space was invaded. This got me thinking about personal space, how there is very little of it, tight spaces. I started to play around with materials I had on hand like cardboard, string, rubber bands. I started making these funny little maquettes. This was at the same time I was introduced to the film The Five Obstructions by Lars Von Trier. The director suggests rules to his colleague and filmmaker to develop his film 5 different ways. I found this idea fascinating and used it as a jumping off point for me to take this idea about "spaces" and develop work using these funny objects I made, Through investigating various techniques and new materials I developed these works. This series was made using sheet metal, metal rods, perspex and tape. I learned I had an interest in manipulating materials. I manipulated them by: cutting, folding, bending, wrapping. I was very excited by the variety, boldness and level of experimentation of these works. A hanging brightly coloured metal structure, an off centered bent Perspex floor work with neon tape wrapped around it and a large bent floor structure made with sheet metal. I loved to experiment and manipulate materials into unwieldy positions. I also continued to learn and develop traditional skills in woodwork and metal shop like making stretchers and welding but have a strong need to continue to ask myself “what happens if I do this?” or how can I make odd wooden shapes stick out from a canvas and make it stable? In this way my practice is process driven enriched by research.
Sheet metal cut, rolled, and stacked
On reflection I realised I had an affinity for wanting my work to jut out from the wall or stand in weird positions. Spring II was a wall to floor based work that I developed during this time. I was fascinated to see how I could make my painted wooden forms dance off the wall into space and back to the ground. Again this piece began with a smaller version of pieces of wood I poked through and feverishly fed wire through and wrapped around. I wanted to increase the scale of this work. I spoke with the technicians in metal shop on how I would go about doing this. Since the curves in the maquette were sort of improvisational it was a case of trial and error and devising my own plan and methodology. I began by clamping pieces of steel into vices and physically bringing the desired curves into being. Once each section was made I welded choice pieces together. The bent steel made gestures that suggested movement and would envelope the wooden forms and once it was hung make the piece appear like bending steel was “easy”. I had many failed attempts at getting the right curves of the steel rods. The physical process involved with making this work is important in my practice. This work was shown over the summer with a collaborative exhibition with my classmates at Lewisham Art House I speak about this more here:
Unit 2 My crypt piece brought about yet another way of experimenting and devising strategies of making work that gave me freedom to combine things in strange ways and make work outside of workshops. This piece was site-specific and I proposed to develop work that spoke to the architecture of the crypt. Also, incorporating and researching fashion and textiles worn during the time the crypt was in use. I spent time at the Victoria and Albert museum getting ideas on fabrics and techniques. Also, I worked on personal and professional development and testing out ideas considering how to make my work more sustainable an easier to travel with. I researched ways to make my work nomadic, mobile, in modules, portable, light. This also was the start of me designing and implementing the structure of my pieces at the beginning stages of development. On reflection the research I gleaned from V&A and the structure of Crypt made great fodder when combined with materials like pool-floaties and wire. I chose these materials for there ability to mould into weird shapes easily. I also thought they would make my structures light, I later added Mod Roc over the mouldable mesh and used gold spray paint to reference the gold painted in chapel upstairs, Plaster was used to weight down the individual structures. I placed wax squares pigmented with oil paint and colourful silk fibers that were incorporated using a hand felting technique. I chose silk that material showed wealth and only people of means were laid to rest in the crypt. I speak more about this work and exhibition here:
On further reflection I noticed in my practice the continued inclination to straddle between painting and sculpture. Also, I noticed my use of bold bright colours and leaning towards types of materials present in everyday life. This lead me to consider and narrow my research to develop work with themes related to expanded painting and popular culture.
Unit 3 I continue to experiment with materials how I develop my ideas, and move deeper into my research. I use popular culture as a lens to develop wall and floor based works that explore expanded painting.. I continue to combine this research to see what interesting hybrids I can come up with. Earlier on in the course my focus was on learning new skills and techniques and experimenting like crazy. In this final Unit 3 I choose themes to work from. I take more time to make a work to make sure it is made to the best of my ability. My experimentation is more considered and centred on the specific themes I am working on at the moment. My work has changed a lot and moving forward from the course I will continue, maintain and perfect the skills I have learned and move deeper into my research.
This series of works developed for the degree show investigates signage and way finding.
The physical structure of my work and how it will be displayed is another important aspect of my art practice and is considered at the beginning of the making process. With this in mind I looked at what I could learn from physical features in signage.
"Modular sign systems have always been an integral part of store signs, but successful store systems are growing more closely linked to store merchandise fixtures themselves, often becoming part of the same system. This approach also has succeeded in raising the quality of store signs, by matching them to the same material standards as fixtures." Signs.org
This series was developed with this modular system in mind. This is a wall piece with 3 separate structures that can be switched around to present different compositions. Similar to looking at a painting not only head on but from the side and from underneath. The artist Simon Callery is a painter that works in the expanded field. I have looked at his way of exploring paintings spatially by using various shaped and exposed stretcher bars that hold his paintings. He says in his work he is trying to show the image of a line or a paint stroke that you would see in a painting with a physical activity. My choice to use wood in these structures was based on me wanting my work to stay connected to some tradition of painting. I chose to paint portions of the shapes and expose the wood in certain areas because it is something I find quite stimulating to look at and I wanted to reference that in these works. I chose to use fluorescent perspex and vinyl because of its use in signage. By me cutting and moulding the perspex I am presenting my physical act as a representation of a gesture of colour in space. The contrasting colour code is set to call your attention. In The book Why we Buy the science of shopping by Paco Underhill © Obat 1999 he explores how as consumers we move throughout retail shops and what catches our attention. Looking at various placement of product displays, and signage in malls to lure shoppers.
Colour is very important in my practice. I am constantly searching to adapt new ways of using colour in my work. Through research into this book called Wayfinding by Paul Arthur and Romedi Passini I discovered and appropriated methods of colour coding used in wayfinding signage.They developed this colour coding system:
for the penultimate way of viewing signage. Each colour has a number and is used in a mathematical equation to determine the best colour text on a specific colour background. Numbers above 80 have the best contrast outcomes. I have appropriated this colour coding system in this series of works. Although I’m not interested in having text, on reflection of using this system in developing these works I found it takes me out of my comfort zone for colour choices I would normally use in making work. For instance black usually does not feature in my work. However in these floor and wall works I made black prominent paired with fluorescent to see if I could achieve a similar affect.
“Romedi Passini’s 1984 book Wayfinding in Architecture expanded the definition to encompass a combination of sensory elements including visual graphics, tactile surfaces and audible communications. |”
“Profitable stores tend to be meticulous record takers and are constantly experimenting with approaches that will attract customers. “
I have been looking at the work of artist Julian Opie. He has been influential to my work because of the way he appropriates signage vocabulary in his practice. I speak more about his work here:
“Early in its history, Ikea® broke store planning traditions with a format that combined practices from showrooms, supermarkets and warehouses. The signs employed are also revolutionary, taking graphic approaches and typography from transportation facilities like airports and train stations and applying them to a retail environment.” Retail signage signs.org
This floor piece "Stars in her eyes" has references on this modular idea. With the usage of dowels to connect the pieces. It is made up of 4 components that can be switched around. This is in addition of using faux fur to the side and aluminium coating just along the top to allude to the idea of a luxury brand showroom display. Also, This addition of texture gives another sensory experience to the work.
Artist Sylive Fleury has been influential in my practice. She looks at Popular culture in her work. I am inspired by the freedom she has in using outrageous colour and adapting materials from pop culture to suit her needs. I have written about her work here:
“Wegmans invests heavily in high quality fixtures, displays and finishes which serve as visual cues for key landmarks. In addition Wegmans promotional strategy extends to marketing displays that use colorful and high contrast materials.”
Shapes used in this series are simple shapes and grammar used for symbols in signs. These shapes are used to regulate behaviour, warn of hazards and to identify objects and services. Three simple shapes are circles: used for Regulation, triangles: used for warning, and squares: used for identification. I have adopted these shapes in the work from cutting out shapes with a jigsaw, to open up the plane and insert perspex shapes throughout. Looking at colourful and high contrast materials This signage purports to send you in the right direction but fails. With the folded purple undulating perspex giving no clear direction and the fluorescent pink arrow of sorts, calling your attention to give some sort of direction but in essence it's sending you on a wild goose chase.
Olivia Bax is an artist that I have looked at for her ways of manipulating materials and building strange playful structures She makes 3D and 2D wall pieces that are very textural with vibrant colour. She seems to have an amazing ability to adapt the strangest materials in sculptures. I speak more about her work here:
Through my process of collating and abstracting shapes and colours, to develop drawings, collages and assemblages I find in my work I am honing in to what I will call graphic glamour.
In popular culture graphics“different elements may be combined to create appropriate communications.” Pg. 10 Graphic Designers Essential Reference . Colour and form is so important in developing what I would call a successful piece. The title of this work "Cloverlawn Drive" is the address of my childhood home. The colour palette has a nostalgic feel of late 70’s 80’s décor. This harkening back of a happier time is a trend in popular culture. I wanted to pushes the sharp edges and flat colour you see in advertising typeface. I’m enjoying incorporating more elements that enhance the feel of the piece to help tell its’ story. I am giving myself freedom not to be too precious of the assembly and array of materials I use. To create my language through using materials in a way that Gary Webb calls a “kissing” relationship. In this piece I chose to use stripes or animal print. It is present from fashion runways, wallpaper, etc. It is also used in design to fill backgrounds and suggest textures that viewer are able to recognize “a concrete reference that can speed communication” pg. 59 Graphic Designers Essential Reference.
I speak more about the artist Gary Webb here:
Struttin' In This Game piece was developed while experimenting with my collages and assemblages I use to develop larger works on canvas. Since I had this need to push my work forward into projecting into the gallery space I decided to make an assemblage for a relief painting instead of how I normally start a regular stretched canvas painting. I looked at the work of Frank Stella and his Hybrid Paintings. In the book Frank Stella Connections © 2011 by Ben Tufnell He spoke of his relief paintings: "I think of them as paintings I know they are reliefs, they are basically pictorial reliefs..I see them more as paintings because they are really meant to be seen head-on." I liked the idea of making my paintings look more object like by constructing it and placing each section however I wanted.
Also, I looked at the work of Robert Therrien in his exhibition Parasol Unit was very eye opening for me and influential in the way I want to further develop my work. I like his attention to the surfaces of his pieces and his simple but powerful reliefs made of various materials. Ranging from reclaimed wood to metal. I speak more about his exhibition here:
After varnishing the edges of my "Listening for the weather" I wanted to push the quality of the surfaces forward to get a really modern feel. Stella was known for using readymade paints as well as artist Gary Hume. I find Hume's work interesting as he uses bright playful colors and he enamel to get a shiny finish and quality I am after in my work.
Using gloss enamel on the black background area of this piece contrasted well with the matte finish of the graphic shapes. On reflection of the development of this work it is again highlighting my interest in “Popular Culture”. Investigating how and why we are so attracted to certain colours in advertising, and products and the allure to shiny new things. Investigating signage and wayfinding I was looking to get a sleek look with this relief painting to represent what I see in many objects we purchase: cars, I-phones, new appliances, gadgets, jewelry. This work developed as a relief painting with a found object is a step forward in work I’ve done previously in that I considered the shape of the canvas in the development stages, I made certain consideration in the application of paint to control how the surfaces would behave. The addition of the found object to the other pieces I’ve made is a way to ask the viewer to make other considerations. I could have painted the nob with shadows etc. but by using an actual nob that can’t be used in it’s normal way it brings other associations with it and I like the idea of engaging the viewer in this way.
I have been looking at David Batchelor’s writings on colour. There is this idea that serious art does not focus on the applied surface of colour. In my work I am interested in exploring all facets of using colour. I focus on incorporating the inherent colour of a particular material I use, to the way I apply a colour onto my pieces. I have started using ready-made enamels used in households to construction sites for buildings. The application gives a flat solid surface I’m looking for and what’s in many products, advertising, in popular culture. In this book he talks about the feeling of being suspicious of colour. That it is artificial, an adornment and unnecessary. Colour is considered feminine, merely cosmetic, and associated with primitive cultures. Batchelor also speaks on colours that are close to pop art; “Found colours, commercial colours, industrial colours, and often bright, vulgar, modern colours in bright, vulgar, modern collisions with other bright, vulgar, modern colours.” Chromophobia by Batchelor, David ©2000 Pg. 12
This exhibition featured David Batchelor as well as other International artists in which colour is a major focus in their practice. I speak more about it here:
This piece was developed from research I conducted at the Canary Wharf Residency that I participated in over the summer. It took a while for me to decide what work I wanted to make from it. So this piece was made during this last term. In making this piece I wanted to used the research and reference imagery I collected. Using this information intelligently without sacrificing how I already develop work within my artistic practice. I chose aluminium as a ground in considering a globalisation trade and transactions that function in this environment and is the material that affected me most during my time there with the towering office buildings. I chose to screen print this image because it's used in popular culture. Screen print. is preferred because of it's ability to be printed on various media, like aluminium, glass, and canvas i.e. like works made by Robert Rauschenberg. It also carries with it the associations with mass production.The title "Upgrade U" hales from the constant construction going on upgrading in the Canary Wharf area. Also, it is a title from a popular song by Beyonce and Jay-Z.
I speak more about the residency here:
I have also been looking at work of Robert Rauschenberg investigating his extreme experimentation of mediums and his way of repurposing objects and inserting them into the canvas.
I have spoken more about his work here:
Themes & References
“Listening for the Weather" nomad -series
My next work began with me setting up a manifesto for my practice. Rules I set for myself in the beginning of the development stage. One idea I wanted was to give the work flexibility in viewing it and in it’s display.
Art & Objecthood
A section of this looks at ideas of Frank Stella’s irregular polygon and his ability to successfully investigate the shape of his canvases. “not merely that of the outlines of elements in a given picture (which I shall call depicted shape), but shape as a medium within which choices about both literal and depicted shapes are made and made mutually responsive.” Art and Objecthood by Fried, Michael ©1998 Pg. 77
I have been considering not just what I have on the canvas but allowing myself freedom in that it doesn’t have to be just a rectangle or square on the wall. I am looking at the myriad of ways in which I can develop a serious of works looking at it’s overall shape and function, colour, and surface.
Looking at Isa Genzken’s work “Hyperbolo” lacquered wood sculptures and her columns like “Little Crazy Column” I enjoy her wild experimentation with materials and using found objects.I made decision on the shape of this piece. I stayed with the traditional rectilinear format for painting but added canvas board on both sides for me to paint on. I made the wooden frame wide to have options for displaying: to stand straight, lay on the ground and/ or lean against the wall. This gives it a somewhat human quality looking at how our bodies work with and in certain environments. Standing straight up next time I might consider widening the base for a more solid stance. I was also thinking about the fact that I travel a lot and don’t really have a permanent home. I am a nomad. Thinking about mobility, globalization the fact that I love living in other countries being an outsider and that I chose to go to school in another country. I’m interested in tribal prints so I researched wanderers, gypsies, and nomads from many countries some African countries with tribes known to wander the garments and textiles they carry with them searching for patterns or color palettes I found interesting. Also, looked at how African culture has been appropriated to influence many artists and the reluctancy of European scholars to accept this "primitive" culture as "Fine Art". In pop cultural trends to "fetishise" African culture from fashion, to music, and advertising without credit being properly given. By mixing patterns with modern graphic designs using stencilling screen-printing techniques to apply shapes, and flowing lines. I found this clash of "high and low cultures" gave the piece an interesting energy. I decided to varnish the exposed wood. Initially I wanted to leave it raw to maintain the connection with painting and the structure of the stretcher but I also liked the idea of Isa Genzken saying “that a sculpture must be at least like the latest thing, the most modern equipment available. So a sculpture must be at least as modern…” pg. 34 Isa Genzken:Retrospective ©2013
Although I could push the components to express modernity in this piece more for my art practice this was a huge amount of Material experimentation: using varnish this way in an attempt of bringing an upscale, more polished look to this piece, adding found objects likes beads and fabric to enhance the character of this work, adding layers of tribal pattern and graphic shapes. I think this might have been a little heavy on design and added objects. But as I explore I’m learning I lean toward a more minimal aesthetic so I will be more considered in how and what objects I use.
"Time will tell" piece
oil paint, acrylic, collage on canvas. I continue to make traditional paintings on canvas constantly finding ways of deconstructing the image, maintaining balance and creating depth and movement for the viewers eye to dance around the canvas. Inverting and playing with shapes through framing techniques. Experimenting with various painting strategies to push and develop new ways of working with the abstraction. This work began as a way at looking at staining the canvas as a means of creating depth and colour as form. Even though I continue to make works like this one I am working towards more of a merge taking what I learn from painting in this abstract way and creating something more present in space. In this piece I began to investigate how to go about it. Again the artist Simon Callery is known to stain his canvases to great affect. Also referencing Helen Frankenthaler's method "effect of staining conveys a sense not only of colour as somehow disembodied and therefore more purely optical, but also color as a thing that opens and expands the picture plane." pg. 21 Art & Object hood.
I have been looking at the work of Charline Von Heyl a contemporary abstract painter. I like her technique in that it has many layers and she has a way of editing out pieces of the image as she goes along.Her way of working backwards as she paints on the canvas adopting graphic and screen-printing techniques.
I speak more about her practice here:
Themes & Influences
-Charline Von Heyl
Art and Objecthood
Themes & References
“The Safest Place" is a screen print Series
Screen-printing in popular culture is associated with mass production and can be built up through many layers. I’ve always wanted to continue working with screen-printing but it has been a technique that has always felt to rigid for the way I like to work. I hadn’t figured out a way to utilize this repetitive technique to suit my needs until I made this piece. With this work I decided to use screen-printing in a freer more painterly way. Instead of the rigid multiples I made one off individual pieces. Using inks with paintbrushes and applying them to the screen differently than the normal printing process. More (Alla Gerhard Richter and his squeegee works) I wanted to experiment with opening up my marks and gestures. Allowing the process to dictate how each print would look. Not every print was perfection but the outcome saw some glimmers of exciting expressive marks and contrasts that worked well in the finished pieces. Looking for other options to display the 2D prints were pushed further in line with my practice and were made sculptural. I rolled and stood them on their ends, taking cues from Anna Barriball an artist I’ve looked at for her sense of working with paper in sculptural ways.I also attached some to the wall with red Perspex pieces that I cut and heated, and bent into shapes.With development of this series I explored new ways of material experimentation with using screen printing in a painterly way. Finding new materials to bend, fold, stand on end and adapt continues to be a line of inquiry into my extended painting practice.
Guillermo Mora is an artist that has been influential to my practice. He works within expanded painting.Traditions of painting are at the heart of his work and he finds various methods of deconstructing painting. I have gained insight for his playful use of colour, humble materials and his way of recycling work. I speak more about his practice here:
©Jacquelyn Hodges 2017