Reflections on Reflections'
FOREWORD by David Jasper
For me, the process of ‘looking at’ Guillem Ramos-Poquí’s collages turned out to be a lengthy one. My primary business is the interpretation of literary texts, and when I say, “I see” I mean something like “I understand,” in the sense of “I see what you mean.” But that can only ever be a beginning for true understanding. I began by looking closely and for a long time at all the collages and only then turned, one by one, to the texts from Guillem’s diary, written after the completion of the works. I then returned once more to the images, and so on, back and forth, between image and word. Finally I put everything away and reflected at length upon what now lay within my memory.
According to Cicero in De oratore, it was the poet Simonides of Ceos who invented the art of memory, based upon, first, the importance of order, and then the discovery that the sense of sight is the strongest of all the senses. Across the boundary of word and image, I remember by what I have seen, but, at the same time, what I see is also is provoked or even discerned by what I remember. In these collages, as a series of reflections on culture and the ephemeral, the eye rests first upon the fragments of familiar, remembered works of art and we recognize the images of, it may be, the Tower of Babel or Leda and the Swan. This, in turn takes us back to books – to the Bible, or to Greek myth, and soon I find that my desk is littered with books as I seek to make complex connections. But the collages remain insistently eclectic and irreducible, obtuse in their presentations of, and participation in, bits of this and that – dead insects, coins, wire, pens, images of Brigitte Bardot, and so on. And as I look again, their titles haunt me, drawn from art, nature, music, and the hyperreality that is Las Vegas. I begin to try to ‘read’ the collages, to perceive their narratives, even their logic. I am impelled to interpret them, even as they themselves are interpretations of worlds.
We live, suggests the Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo in one of his essays, in the age of interpretation. He is, of course, looking back to Friedrich Nietzsche who famously wrote that “there are no facts, only interpretation,” a proposition that is itself, of course, ‘only’ an interpretation. And all acts of interpretation are inevitably born of a number of anxieties, for we are ever anxious both to understand and to be understood. I ask the question, “Am I understanding these collages ‘correctly’?” Should I be guided towards understanding by the artist’s notes, and if the clue is not here, how, then, should I read them? As Guillem himself says, artistic inspiration (or ‘visual creativity’) requires intuitive co-ordinations that are very different from the skills used in writing an essay. Creativity comes in many forms, and thus thinking also is manifold. Behind the written notes, as reflections, there are many figures from Husserl to Bergson, from Plato to Baudrillard. They go some way to satisfy my concern to ‘place’ things, my rage for order, but as my mind begins to assemble something like ‘meanings’, I return again to the collages themselves and new varieties and connections flood into my mind, and memory is up to its games again, trivia mixing with the profound and the scatological (perhaps) with the beautiful and the tragic. If memory is an art and may be nurtured by system, such art, as Giordano Bruno demonstrated, may also be occult and we all know only too well how memory enjoys playing tricks upon us. These collages, with their fragments of ‘distressed’ mirror that may include glimpses of the viewer in the work of art, remind us that all our reflections, our thinking and our interpretations work simultaneously at many, often conflicting levels, and each encounter with the work of art or the essay is both familiar and unique. Indeed, the words of Qohelet are never far from us – all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 1: 2).
And yet there is also wisdom inasmuch as art and writing always demand disciplined attention by which the disparate is drawn together, and beauty is called forth through juxtapositions and chance encounters that are caught by the intuitive genius of the artist. I am reminded of the cautionary words of the Christian mystic and scholar, Origen (c. 185-254) in his Commentary on the Song of Songs, as he warns us that the maturity of the glorious celebration of divine love in the Song of Songs is not for those lacking the strength and discernment of adults. Texts and art are powerful things, demanding our full and mature attention.
Thus it may be with the collages of Guillem Ramos-Poquí. Works of great and sometimes haunting beauty, they also perplex, both and at once demanding and dismissing our anxious interpretative responses. In their participations in the fragmentariness of the everyday they are kenotic works, reminiscent of the willing participation of the sovereign transcendence in the stuff of common life, thereby shining a divine light upon the quotidian world (Philippians 2:7-8). Thus they glow with a sacramental quality that is indicative of the eternal that remains precisely in the ephemeral and in the interstices between different world views.
The recovery of a sense of the sensus numinis, especially in our age of cultured despisers of the Holy (I am thinking back, of course, to Schleiermacher), will never be comfortable, and it will flee the inertia of settled conclusion and definition. In these works we find ourselves invited to explore such a recovery through acts of memory (which are always at the heart of the truly religious life) and recognition that bind the past to the present, and which are metamorphosed or transfigured (perhaps a better word) in strange provocations of seeing and mysterious visual narratives that withhold their secrets even as they offer themselves to our sight. The words and commentaries are necessary for thought, yet in the inevitable word-image opposition, words will take us back to the collages which deconstruct our thinking even as they stimulate further thought.
Frances Yates in her book The Art of Memory famously suggested that in the Renaissance the ancient art of Simonides dwindled in the face of a purely humanistic tradition and by the seventeenth century had become an anachronism. In the complex and riddling collages of Guillem Ramos-Poquí we might glimpse a recovery of the art of memory as it is rooted in the sense of sight, and in its further verbalisations, a haunting presence of the divine in the midst of the contradictions and strange encounters in the world around us.
Professor of Literature and Theology University of Glasgow
Distinguished Overseas Professor, Renmin University of China
'Mirror Spaces: Reflections on Culture and the Ephemeral'
Guillem Ramos-Poquí. Collages 2014
This project, consisting of eighteen mixed-media collages, centres around reproductions of paintings by the great masters. Initially in each case, the chosen work related to the issues in which I was interested, and was developing by means of interconnecting these with other elements in a contemporary context. The old masters remain an inspiration to contemporary artists today in their endeavour to interpret the world.
Each collage is accompanied by a text taken from my diary, written immediately after each work was finished. This was for me to keep as a personal record of the studio work, and is not meant to be didactical or imply that the work was done as a result of a pre-meditated narrative. In addition the texts were not intended in any way to pre-condition the viewer in his or her own interpretation or visual aesthetic experience of the work. Indeed, as Theodor Adorno argues in his 'Aesthetic Theory', and Susan Sontag in her essay 'Against Interpretation', written texts should not interfere with direct visual experience of any art work. As I mention in some passages, the 'genesis' of process of these collages is primarily the spontaneous result of visual intuition, what Henri Bergson describes as 'intuition' in 'The Creative Mind', a state in which we are aware of the quality and flow of inner consciousness.
Visual references to the works by the old masters (many inspired by Ovid's 'Metamorphosis') appear upside down or sideways, often as details, and are produced in black and white. They interrelate with the other elements of the composition, such as found objects, including objects such as dried flowers and leaves, insects, feathers, bottle tops and mirrors, broken clocks, pieces of embroidery, threaded paper, fragments of text or musical scores, and crystals. All these elements, as explained in my studio reflections, have intrinsic metaphorical values and, in terms of contrasts of textures, colours and formal transformations, relate to my previous work as a painter.
Ingres. Comptesse d'Haussonville, 1845
The Frick Collection
Guillem Ramos-Poquí. 'The Comptesse d'Haussonville and Aeroplane'. Collage 1968
Guillem Ramos-Poquí. 'KV-W'. Collage 1968
The use of reproductions of the old masters and ephemeral objects goes back to my 'Povera' and 'Conceptual' exhibition in London in 1968 (discussed in my PhD Fine Art Painting 1995 thesis), such as the mixed media collages 'The Comtesse d'Haussonville and Aeroplane' (which includes a reproduction by Ingres) and 'KV-W'.
Guillem Ramos-Poquí, London October 2014
'The Bumble-bee'. Collage mixed media. 2014. 38.5cm 48.5cm
Mixed media collage. Framed reproduction of Titian's painting 'Girl with a basket of fruit'. Photo of a modern girl advertising lingerie. Four bumble-bees. One wasp. A tin. A leaf. Distressed mirror film. Music. Pearls. Snail shell. Sweet. Ruler. Spiral contraption and bottle top. Biro. Illustration of beetles. Feather.
The elements which triggered the start of this work were two objects found in a local car-boot sale: a small framed reproduction of Titian's 'Girl with a basket of fruit (Lavinia)' (1), and a very small tin lid (which, from the start, was intended to hold a dead insect) .
Once these two elements were positioned on the paper, the rest of the elements appeared through an intuitive 'flow of visual consciousness', and without any premeditated 'narrative' in mind, similar to what in literature is described as a 'Stream of Consciousness'.
Swiss Lenguist and semiotician Ferdinand de Saussure made a distinction between two signs: the 'signifier' (the object, or word) and the 'signified' (the 'meaning' of it). He also explained that, when the interaction of different 'signifiers' are present, 'signification' needs to take into account the overall 'context' in which they appear. This is very relevant here if we are to find out why, after the instinctive (or intuitive) 'flow of consciousness' the 'visual interrelation' of 'signifiers' 'makes sense' at different levels, at least for me.
There is a tension between reality, time, and the ephemera (or 'Vanitas').
The positioning of the girl's body with the basket of fruits in the painting by Titian is mirrored by a contemporary girl advertising lingerie, a sign of youth, beauty and femininity. Cultural comparisons between the semi-erotic representations of females by the old masters and in modern advertising, was dealt with in John Berger's book 'Ways of Seeing'. However, here the female figure is accompanied by a series of 'Vanitas' elements such as the bumblebee and a broken pearl necklace.
The juxtaposition between beauty (the young female) and death (the dead bumblebee) finds echoes in P. G. Batoni's painting 'Time Orders Old Age to Destroy Beauty', at The National Gallery.
Unlike honey-bees, bumble-bees only make small amounts of a honey-like substance to eat themselves; they live in gardens and the countryside in nests with 50-400 bees. Honeybees die after they have stung (as their stinge is barbed and sticks in the skin). In contrast, when a bumblebee is disturbed it can procure a painful sting to areas of sensitive flesh (but it only stings if aggravated). Bumblebee populations are declining due to a shortage of flowers to feed from and places to nest in the countryside. Here five dead bumblebees are scattered across the surface, recalling the civilian massacres reported so often in the news. Human life seems more dispensable than ever.
But now let's look at the signifiers in the broader context of the composition such as elements of the ephemeral: a sweet, an autumn leaf which has been trampled on, a lost feather, four scattered bumble-bees, and a small wasp (inside a tin) placed over the leaf, which in turn is placed over a 'distressed mirror' in which the spectator is reflected. Underneath the mirror is a hardly visible fragment of Vivaldi's music and, over it, is a spiral spring of an old clock echoing the shape of our galaxy? as well as the empty shell of a snail, at the opposite end of the composition. Over this is, a clock spring, with a flattened bottle-top found in the road. The autumn leaf is also placed over an illustration of insects. Over this illustration is a biro pointing out to a small plastic square ruler.
So, the iconographical references of this work are those of memory, time, the ephemeral, life and decay.
(Notes from the artist' studio diary, 23rd August 2014)
(1) Titian's 'Girl with a basket of fruit (Lavinia)',1555. Staatliche Museum, Berlin.
'Cloud'. Collage 2014. 29.7cm x 21cm (11 3/4" x 8 1/4")
Mixed media collage on white card. Handmade lace and bobbin, two dry leaves, two bottle-tops and a flattened champagne cork cage wire. Pearl, quartz crystal, mirror film, ribbon. Black and blue card. Colour postcard(millinery illustration). Three black and white reproductions : a heart dissection, insects illustration, and a detail from Correggio's painting 'Jupiter and Io'. 12th September 2014, after a visit to Bruges.
The starting point for this work is Correggio's painting 'Jupiter and Io' (c.1530) (1) of which a detail is shown. The scene is based on one of the myths in Ovid's book of Metamorphoses.
Jupiter (or Zeus in Greek) had many lovers. Here, he is shown in disguise, embracing the nymph Io. He has enveloped himself in an evanescent/immaterial dark cloud (his hand and face barely visible), in contrast with the sensuous body of Io, who is shown in erotic rapture. This idea of the manifestation of a god in the form of a cloud is not unique in religious mythology.
Inspired by Correggio's painting, which triggered references to a variety of past and present cultural associations, a series of objects and visual elements develop in a dialectic spontaneous mode in the composition. This spontaneous flow is akin to visual poetry and not 'didactical' in any way.
The perennial oak leaf is a well known symbol for the male, and in turn is shown next to a small handmade lace of a similar leaf, placed over a mirror and over a colour reproduction of handmade female hats ('Costume Parisien' pc867. Amsterdam Historish Museum) - a reference to adornments of femininity .
The consummation of the union between 'Jupiter and Io' is represented two-fold, first in carnal form with a diamond, the other by a pearl - an indirect reference, maybe, to 'sacred and profane love' (?).
But here the diamond is embedded in an ephemeral vulva-like black bottle-top placed over a battered autumn leaf and, opposite, a pearl is placed over a flattened bottle top, in turn placed over an illustration of different insects.
There is a flattened Champagne cork cage wire over the bottom of the detail of Correggio's painting and a distressed mirror, which, like the crystal and the pearl over the bottle-tops, acts as a metaphor for the ephemeral celebration of an embrace which was not meant to last, thus, in the composition, directly above Io, there is an image of a dissected heart. I have limited myself in these notes to an explanation of my work's iconographical elements which I wished to focus on rather than further expand on its formal aspects.
(Notes from the artist's studio diary, 12th September 2014)
(1) Antonio da Correggio 'Jupiter and Io', 1532-1533. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
'Puppets'. Collage 2014. 29.7cm x 21cm (11 3/4" x 8 1/4")
Mixed media collage on white card. Threaded paper, three bottle-tops, button, distressed mirror. Images: Jan Mijtens's portrait of W. van den Kerchiven and his family, hands shadows, characters from Punch and Judy, Japanese shadow puppets.
This work started with a reproduction of a family portrait by seventeenth century Dutch painter Jan Mytens (1). It depicts W. van den Kerchiven and his family: his wife and ten of their fifteen children; he was a Council-Ordinary of the Court of Holland and in this work he displays his wealth and rank in society.
In a first layer of the composition, Mytens painting has been taken into a broader cultural context and contrasted with images showing 'hand shadow animals', Japanese shadow puppets, and characters from a 'Punch and Judy' theatre.
On a second layer we have a distressed framed mirror, shredded office text, an old button for a pair of jeans, and three bottle-tops - symbols of the transient - the mirror reflection of the viewer - and the ephemeral, with one of the bottle tops symbolizing female fertility.
An interpretation of the interaction of elements and their iconography in visual-poetic terms suggest today's tensions between different paradigms across the world. The conflicting 'world views' of different cultures with their conflicting interpretations of reality, religion, politics and economic interests - are responsible for a crisis which often prevents true communication and, most importantly, harmony and peace.
(Notes from the artist's studio diary, 22nd September 2014)
1) Johannes Mytens, 1652. 'Willem van den Kerckhoven and Family'. The Hague Historical Museum.
(2) Handmade 'Punch and Judy' characters on a wooden stand. Mid. 19th century. Soane Antiques.
(3) 'Heritage' Japanese shadow puppets rubber stamp.
'Ecstasy'. Collage mixed-media 2014, 29.7cm x 21cm (11 3/4" x 8 1/4")
Mixed media collage on card. One penny coin. Three bottle-tops, old clock, beetle in clear resin, cotton thread, dry ivy leaf, elastic bands, feather, distressed mirror fragment. Two b&w prints: a detail from Bernini's 'Ecstasy of St Teresa', and clouds.
This collage is on the theme of sublimation as a creative force. On the left there is a detail, the hand of an angel holding an arrow, from a well known Bernini sculpture the 'Ecstasy of Saint Teresa' (1). This representation has parallels in classical mythology with Cupid, the god of love, attraction, desire and affection. He was represented as a winged youth with a golden arrow, and he himself falls in love with Psyche. This myth, such as the one of Venus and Adonis, mentioned in Ovid's Metamorphosis (or Book of Transformations, containing 250 myths) has inspired artists and poets throughout the centuries and produced an array of interpretations. And in modern times, in Psychoanalytical Psychology, Freud, Jung and others, gave their own interpretation in relation to sublimation as a creative force.
Here 'Ecstasy', a trance state in which a person transcends normal consciousness, refers to the creative force unleashed in terms of visual poetry, when the elements of the composition find their own space and interconnect with each other in unexpected ways, in terms of 'poetic tropes' in visual metaphors and oxymoron's. There is a hidden intrinsic meaning in the placements and selection of the various contrasting elements of the composition, it invites the viewer to bring forth his or her own interpretation.
There is a relatively heavy bronze coin over the clouds and, next to it, a squashed green bottle top over a distressed mirror and, at the other side a small broken clock upside down. Another flattened bottle-top interacts with three elastic bands and a battered tree leaf. The feather in the angel's arrow contrasts with an ephemeral small pigeon's feather. The beetle, as an Egyptian sacred omen has been preserved, a squashed blue sky like bottle top contrasts with the delicate thread next to it, needed to embroider the story of a new myth.
(Notes from the artist' studio diary, 5th September 2014)
(1) Lorenzo Bernini's 'Ecstasy of St Teresa' (marble, 1647-52). Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome.
'The Swan'. Collage mixed-media 2014, 29.7cm x 21cm (11 3/4" x 8 1/4")
Mixed media collage on card. White card, acrylic, tracing paper with Elizabethan manuscript, diagram showing the moon cycle, b&w reproduction showing a detail of Veronese's 'Leda and the Swan', feather, wooden peg. 2nd September 2014
Our memory is made of different depths or layers, within the context of our reflections and experiences about the world. Like ships buried in the depths of the ocean, or archaeological artefacts belonging to different periods, they surface at different times, in unexpected ways, as we look in our inner mirror.
Together with the memories and dreams of our past experience, visual culture, such as paintings from different moments of history and culture, play an important part in the creative act, unleashing imagery in unexpected ways.
This collage consists of the juxtaposition of various layers and elements. Against an initial layer of black clouds, a fragment of an Elizabethan Shakespearian manuscript (2) appears acting as a curtain covering Veronese's painting of 'Leda and the Swan' (1). The myth portrayed, so we are told, represents Jupiter disguised as a swan in the act of seducing Leda - how absurd or irrational can this be today? and yet we have been taught to accept it without blinking an eye! At an upper layer of the composition, a feather, a small diagram showing the sun and the moon cycle around the earth, and an old wooden clothes peg, set the stage for a poetic riddle, where the feather links with the swan, and the wooden peg echoes both the shapes of the cosmic diagram and the union between Leda and her unexpected lover.
The beginning of Surrealism saw Andre Breton reacting against the Parisian bourgeois society. He saw this as a corrupt type of rationalism caused by capitalism. He therefore saw the need to liberate the unconscious, and this led in art to a wealth of creative experiments and discoveries. This collage is not the result of a conventional pre-meditated process but the result of a spontaneous visual poetic inspiration.
(Notes from the artist's studio diary, 2nd September 2014)
(1) Paolo Veronese 'Leda and the Swan' ca. 1585. Musée Fesch, Ajaccio, Corsica.
(2) Elizabethan 16th c. manuscript.
'Purple Rose' ('A Letter to Batoni'). Collage mixed-media 2014, 29.7cm x 21cm (11 3/4" x 8 1/4")
Mixed media collage on card.Yellow rose embedded with wax medium and pigment, tree leaf, bottle top. Oil pastels, acrylic and sand , felt pen, and a B&W detail from a painting by Pompeo Batoni.
This collage is inspired by the themes dealt with by some artists such as Italian 18th century painter Pompeo Batoni (1) who, like previous 16th century German artist Hans Baldung Grien, was concerned with the subject of time, beauty and decay.
In this collage beauty is metaphorically represented by a rose embedded in a thick coating of purple wax, thus the title 'Purple Rose', which is followed by the subtitle: 'A letter to Batoni'.
The page contains two interconnecting elements: A rose (symbol of beauty) preserved in wax, and the reproduction of the face of the young woman from Batoni's painting 'Time Orders Old Age to Destroy Beauty' . Her face, displayed sideways in the collage, seems to be looking at us as if reflected in a mirror. In Batoni's painting the male figure representing 'Time' has not been included but, instead, replaced by ephemeral objects such as a silver milk top, and an autumn leaf.
(Notes from the artist' studio diary, 29th August 2014)
(1) Pompeo Batoni: 'Time Orders Old Age to Destroy Beauty' (ca. 1746). The National Gallery, London.
'Memento'. Collage mixed media 2014. 29.7cm x 21cm (11 3/4" x 8 1/4")
Mixed media collage on card. Four bottle-tops, metal heel shoe protector, clock mechanism, mother of pearl heart, distressed mirror film, melinex, acrylic, sand. Dry wild flower and fern leaf. A memento postcard; a 17th century Botanical Illustration by Maria Sibylla Merian. Reproductions: Titian's painting 'Venus and Cupid with Organist', African sculpture, wheels of a locomotive. Hand written text on melinex film taken from Michelangelo's poem 'Celestial Love'. 16th September 2014
This is a unified but intentionally complex collage which started with a painting by Titian 'Venus and Cupid with an Organist' (1) here reproduced, partly, in black and white, interpreted as an allegory to music and love. There is an upside down text taken from the beginning of Michelangelo's poem 'Celestial Love' which reads as: 'No mortal thing enthralled these longing eyes, When perfect peace in thy fair face I found; But far within, where all is holy ground, My soul felt Love, her comrade of the skies: For she was born with God in Paradise; Nor all the shows of beauty shed around.....' The image of lovers also appears in a 'Memento' postcard, which overlaps a botanical illustration (2).
This celebration of romantic union is shown in contrast with elements of the ephemeral (a dry wild flower and fern, three flattened bottle tops), time (a clock mechanism, a worn metal heel) and decay (a distressed mirror, a battered leaf). The silver heart in the memento is echoed by the mother of pearl heart over a bottle top and the flattened aluminium milk bottle top. The pathos and primitive earth-bound power of an effigy of a tribal African female sculpture lingers over the image of Venus and Cupid partly obscuring them from view, as is also the raw black lump of mortar which appears suspended in the composition over the text. In turn, a transparent square ruler floats over the African sculpture (3) whilst pointing to the mother of pearl heart.
(Notes from the artist' studio diary, 16th September 2014)
(1) Titian's painting 'Venus and Cupid with Organist' (1540-9).
(2) Maria Sibylla Merian's 'Rose with butterflies', botanical Illustration (ca.1679). Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
(3) 'Kneeling Mother and Child' (late 19th century).
Africa, Tanzania-Mozambique. Wood. Kimbell Art Museum.
'The Wave'. Collage 2014. 29.7cm x 21cm
Mixed-media collage on white card. Bottle-top, bird's feather, pencil, melinex clear film, distressed mirror film, black card, felt pen lines, pencil marks. Black and white reproductions: palmistry diagram of a hand, diagram of a bird, bomber fighter screen target.
This collage involves a series of visual references intended to interact as a whole and it is rather complicated to describe. At the bottom, the rectangular frame of a bomber fighter screen 'target', with the word 'deconstruction' written in reverse over it, appears next to two other frames, one being a weathered mirror film - with red underneath and partly overlapped by a flat bottle top - and, overlapping both the 'target' and a black square, the outlines of another two rectangular 'frames' or potential 'targets'. At either side of the composition: on the left, a diagram of a hand with the interpretation of the palm lines according to palmistry (1) and, on the right, an ancient interpretation of the Solar System (2) and, between them, the labelled diagram of a bird (3). The labelled bird's diagram is overlapped by a pencil whilst, on the far left of the composition, pointing down, there is a bird's feather overlapping the black square.
This collage operates visually as a form of 'concrete poetry'. However, it could be analysed according to the 'phenomenological' concept which the philosopher Edmund Husserl defines as the 'Lebenswelt' (the 'Lifeworld'). The word 'deconstruction' (or its initial 'd') takes a 'dig' at post-structuralist literary analysis when applied to the visual arts.
(Notes from the artist' studio diary, 12th August 2014)
(1)Diagram of a hand, naming the palm lines according to Palmistry, as a means to foretell the future.
(2) An illustration of the Copernican universe by Thomas Digges, a 16th century English astronomer, mathematician and politician.
(3) Labelled diagram of a bird's anatomy.
'Libretto'. Collage 2014. 29.7cm x 21cm
Mixed media collage on white card. Pencil, felt pen, wax preserved rose, ink, distressed mirror film, melinex clear archival clear film. Iconographical references: details of paintings by Memling and Chardin, music score by Vivaldi, solar system diagram.
This work explores beauty through references to music, the harmony of the arts and iconographical references to paintings by Memling 'Angel Musicians' (1) and by Chardin 'Attributes of the Painter' (2). In Memling's work, the angels wings and the instruments form a rhythmical pattern which, in this collage, is echoed with pencil drawing across the composition.
A diagram of the solar system (3) is juxtaposed with ' Vivaldi's 'Gloria''s musical score (4). A rose bud has been preserved in wax, and the word 'libretto' appears handwritten in reverse.
Composition wise, starting at the bottom with the distressed mirror, if we were to move clock-wise to form a circle and follow the directions of the sideways reproductions of the paintings by Chardin and Memling, to reach the musical score, finishing the circle with the wax-preserved rose, we find that both the distressed mirror and the rose act as a reminder that under the appearance of earthly beauty there is always an ephemeral dimension.
(Notes from the artist' studio diary, 9th August 2014)
(1) Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin 'Atributes of the Painter' ca.1725-27, Princeton Univ. Art Museum
(2) Hans Memling 'Angels Musicians' ca. 1487-90. From the right hand panel of a tryptych for the Church of Santa Maria, Antwerp Royal Museum of Fine Arts.
(3) Solar system diagram.
(4) Antonio Vivaldi's ''Gloria', ca. 1715-16, musical score.
'Welcome to Las Vegas'. Collage 2014. Mixed media, 29.7cm x 21cm (11 3/4" x 8 1/4")
Mixed media collage on white card. Section of an eye shadow palette. Balloon, bottle-tops, clock face, wooden bird, distressed mirror film, mirror film, black plastic. B&w laser prints showing details of: a Las Vegas sign, paintings by Hans Baldung Grien ('Death and the Woman') and one by Hendrik van Cleve ('Tower of Babel') , and a detail from an engraving by Joris Hoefnagel.
This collage came about as a result of reflecting on issues of meaning and interpretation (hermeneutics) today. The issues involve conflicts of language as a result of different worldviews discussed by French post-structuralists & deconstruction thinkers in relation to literary texts. This prompted the use of a picture of the 'Tower of Babel' (1) alongside a welcome sign in Las Vegas (which prompted the title). This particular representation of the Babel tower, by Hendrik van Cleve, with the wide roads leading to it, reminded me of big avenues in American cities such as NY.
Las Vegas has been used, according to Jean Baudillard, as 'Simulacrum' or the 'hyperreal', an example of today's' delusions and escapist fantasies which are also found in computer games.
I do not like to use the word 'composition' because it often implies a contrived and pre-meditated exercise. On the other hand, although the elements of the finished work are not pre-determined but the result of the flow of a dynamic and spontaneously visual consciousness, they are not arbitrary, in the sense of being random but are instinctively chosen in relation to their size, texture, colour and position, to maximise their interactive iconographic visual final impact.
This work, as in previous collages, combines echoes of the 'Vanitas' and the transient throughout. There is a metamorphosis of flattened bottle tops into a clock over a distressed mirror, a broken balloon, a mirror to reflect the viewer, an ephemeral broken section of an eye shadow palette. These combine with images of a monkey (2) chasing insects and a wooden parrot, and a detail of Hans Baldung Grien 'Death and the Woman'(3).
(Notes from the artist' studio diary, 11th October 2014)
(1) Hendrik van Cleve 'Tower of Babel' (16th c.) in the Kroller Muller Museum.
(2) The engraving of the monkey is a detail of the frontispiece 'Archetypa Studidiaque Patris' (1592), one of 52 copper plates, executed by Jacop, based on the works of his father, the Flemish manuscript illuminator Joris Hoefnagel.
(3) 'Death and the Woman' (1517) is a painting by Hans Baldung Grien, a pupil of Dürer.
'Icarus'. Collage 2014. 29.7cm x 21cm
Mixed-media collage on distressed mirror-film, melinex. Pigeon feather, and black ink. B&w reproduction of the statue of the 'Townley Discobolus'.
Icarus, the title of this image, refers to a mythical figure of this name. Icarus' father Daedalus had invented a way to escape from Crete consisting of a pair of artificial wings partly made of wax, but he warned Icarus not to fly too high or the rays of the sun would melt the wax and he would fall, but he disobeyed and fell. This myth is often seen as a metaphor for those who foolishly attempt to reach the heights of the sun, a symbol of wisdom, or as a metaphor for the breakdown of communications, due to the conflicts of interests and values in today's global markets and multicultural world.
In this collage, the fallen Icarus is only visually referred to by a feather (as a poetic form of visual metonymy). He has been replaced by the broken upside-down image of a marble statue of the 'Discobolus' (or Disc Thrower) at the British Museum (1). Ironically, a quotation taken from Plato's Phaedo appears written in reverse as if reflected in a mirror: '...not only that the soul survives the death of the body but also pre-existed the body and that it is immortal'.
These elements are all laid over a distressed mirror film, where the spectator is reflected, and thus becomes a passive spectator, or somebody who acts as an accomplice, identifying with of the fall of Icarus himself. In an ironic twist, the marble statue at the British Museum called 'The Townley Discobolus' is in fact the inaccurate reconstruction from a marble Roman copy (which in turn had been a copy of a lost bronze statue by the Greek sculptor Myron) (2) in the sense that the positioning of the head is wrongly re-attached, and will therefore not make any sense at the moment when an athlete is about to throw a disc.
(Notes from the artist' studio diary, 5th August 2014)
(1) The 'Townley Discobolus' at the British Museum.
(2) Roman copy (2c. AC) of the original bronze statue of the Discobolus by Greek sculptor Myron (ca. 460-450 BC).
'The Black Rose'. Collage 2014. 29.7cm x 21cm
Mixed-media collage on paper. Egg-tempera, acrylic, felt pen, pencil, black paper, distressed mirror film, clear melinex film, newspaper. Leaf, wax preserved rose, feather. B&w laser prints: fragments of clouds, bird diagram, section of Durer's Apocalypse woodcut.
At first glance, this collage reveals a series of ambiguous female- male silhouettes.
Embedded in one of them is a fragment of Durer's 'Apocalypse' engraving (1) (shown sideways) and a series of dark clouds. The clouds also appear embedded in the mirror figure opposite, with which it appears to be interacting, the connecting space between them being a distressed mirror, in which the spectator can be reflected.
In the lower part of the composition, there is rectangular black outline framing a section of Durer's engraving, the mirror, a tree leaf (with the word 'leaf' written in reverse over it, as if seeing in a mirror, in different languages, a reference to words as symbols in semiotics) and a bird's feather.
On the right, outside the black frame, there is a wax preserved ominous 'black rose', over a labelled diagram of a bird (2) and a torn piece of newspaper text.
The black frame appears again at the top right of the composition, this time in a dynamic sequence approaching the storm, overpowered by a lump of yellow mortar. Next to the ornithological diagram, the feather acts as a poetic visual metonymy, or semiotic indexical sign, in lieu of a real bird.
All elements interact, to form a series of semiotic triadic sign relationships, with the 'black rose', from which the collage takes its title, acting as a visual metaphor, possibly a warning for an impending nuclear apocalyptic disaster.
A text by Foucault came to my mind: 'There are moments in life where the question of knowing whether one might think otherwise than one thinks and perceive otherwise than one sees is indispensable if one is to continue to observe or reflect' (trans. from 'L’usage des plaisir' Vol II, p. 15-16).
(Notes from the artist' studio diary, 14th-17th August 2014)
(1) 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' . A woodcut from a series of fourteen showing scenes from the Book of Revelation, published at Nuremberg in 1498, in both Latin and German.
(2) Labelled diagram of a bird's anatomy.
'Symposium'. Collage 2014. 29.7cm x 21cm
Mixed-media collage on Japanese paper mounted on card. Felt pens, colour pencil, oil crayons, acrylic, dark paper card, acetate. Objects: wasp, bottle-top, cigarette end, shredded paper. Section of a Greek ceramic vase reproduced in b&w.
This work deals with issues of memory and identity.
This is shown in a series of silhouettes which juxtapose in a series of layers, like a palimpsest, evoking various sources of memory merging and dissolving into a pattern.
Iconographic elements include fragments of a Greek vase (1) depicting a 'Symposium' (from which the collage gets its title), here shown upside down in which (as in the case of Plato's philosophical text) people gather, in this case, to discuss the nature of love.
It also includes a series of broken outlines roughly sketched from various sources such as: a family dinner, Bellini's painting of a woman looking into a mirror*, female outlines, and an ancient Aramaic alphabet (3).
These broken outlines often defy recognition and are only meant to hint at overlapping records of different types of memories, past and present, 'pushed back' in space by a lump of sand and mortar, a cultural reference to a fresco wall. They are 'bracketed', tied up together, inextricably defining our physiological continuity and identity and, in this sense, they relate to Edmund Husserl's phenomenological concepts (such as 'Lebenswelt' or 'Lifeworld'), and to Henri Bergson's ideas which consider intuition as a form of knowledge, and that reality is continuous and indivisible, and always changing.
On the far left of the composition: a green circle with a letter 'a', with arrow pointing to another 'space' beyond the composition boundaries.
On the bottom left a shred text, myriad of letters and broken words, as the thousands produced in offices today, here 'glazed over' the vocal letters, and a few musical notes.
On the bottom right, over a dark grey card, a mirror film, with three 'found objects': a cigarette bud, a flattened bottle top and a dead bumblebee. When we look at these objects closely, we will see ourselves reflected in the mirror.
This work shows a 'continuity' with my collages and overlapping silhouettes done in Paris in 1965**, my Conceptual and Art Povera 'found objects' exhibited in London in 1968, my series of London lithographs 1968-69 printed at the Slade (UCL) , where I juxtapose images ....right up to my twenty three recent painting-collages shown last June at the Royal Art Circe in Barcelona.
(Notes from the artist' studio diary, 23-24th July 2014)
(1) Greek vase painted by Nicias, an Athenian artist, in 420 BC. It depicts a Symposium scene, were a girl plays the aulos to entertain the banqueters. National Archeological Museum, Madrid.
(2) Aramaic alphabet.
* Giovanni Bellini 'Naked Young Woman in Front of the Mirror', 1515, Museum of Fine Arts, Vienna.
**G. Ramos-Poquí. Sketch book drawing, Paris 1965.
'Io'. Collage 2014. 29.7cm x 21cm
Mixed media collage. Toy cow, metal debris, mobile phone frame, key, shredded paper, bottle-tops, clock face. B&w reproduction of David Teniers 'Io Transformed into a Cow and Handed to Juno by Jupiter'.
This collage is the result of my recent personal reflection on issues of interpretation in art and culture, but is not intended to be an illustration or a didactical exposition of them. Ultimately, in the first instance, the work should 'speak for itself' in the sense that it should present an unexpected, but coherent, visual experience. I mean 'coherent' in the sense that forms and images must 'cohere' as if they were held together by an invisible web. This invisible web is what, at first impact, instinctively, is 'recognized' as having an 'inner consistency or coherence', even if the elements seem to be arbitrary. This visual 'aesthetic autonomy' of a work of art (which must not be confused with 'formalism' or 'art for art's sake') has been discussed by authors, including Theodor Adorno's 'Aesthetic Theory' (*) and Susan Songtag's essay 'Against Interpretation' (**).
Before I did the collage, one of the things I was looking into was Ovid's 'Metamorphosis' (or 'Book of Transformations') (***), a collection of poems relating 250 myths, which inspired a large number of Renaissance artists and was to become one of the most influential works in Western Culture .
In my studio I have a collection of 'found objects', one of them was a toy cow, and this led me to a 1638 mythological painting by David Teniers entitled 'Io Transformed into a Cow and Handed to Juno by Jupiter'. As I was working,and these two iconographical elements had come together, instinctively, the key appeared (surrounded by shredded paper) also the broken window of a mobile phone, two bottle tops, and a piece of aircraft debris (****) .
Artistic inspiration (or visual creativity as you may or may not like to call it) requires coordinating the formal and the iconographic intuitively, in visual terms, which is very different from writing an essay.
When doing a collage, when I feel one of my works 'holds together' (and nothing more needs to be added to it or taken away) then I sit down and I enjoy 'analysing it' for my own satisfaction. Then is when I realize that the objects selected ring bells with what I have been reflecting on, and then I am able to give myself a plausible interpretation. This is when I write my thoughts in my studio diary so, in the future, I can remember what I did, the context and the process involved.
So, how do I interpret this work I have just finished? On the one hand it is to do with the remoteness and absurdity of Ovid's metamorphosis when read now.
This does not mean they are less interesting to read, especially if we are to have access to understand, if only as mythical metaphors, great works of European art and culture.
Our 'logocentric' (word-centred) culture is trapped in words; in this collage a text has been shredded (or 'deconstructed') and its scraps, like the arms of an octopus, try to ambush the key, take it as hostage. The idea that a woman called Io can become a cow after undergoing a metamorphosis ordered by a god call Zeus, who then offered it to his wife Juno, (who was in fact his sister) seems to be absurd. Like the text, the cow has been 'deconstructed', cut in half, with her skin floating about in the sky like a mythical constellation.
The ancient mythical world view is now replaced by mobile phones and I-pads. It is often through them, as windows, that people try to communicate and understand the world. But on these mobile phones and I-pads we face the debris of the consumer society, the ephemeral left overs such as bottle tops squashed flat by cars in the roads, each one undergoing a metamorphosis into a broken clock.
(Notes from the artist' studio diary, 18th October 2014)
(1) David Teniers the Elder 'Io Transformed into a Cow and Handed to Juno by Jupiter' 1638, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
(*) Theodor W. Adorno 'Aesthetic Theory' 1970 (in German), English translation 1997, paperback edition by Bloomsbury 2013.
(**) Susan Sontag's essay 'Against Interpretation', first published 1961. Published by Penguin Classics 2009.
(***) Ovid 'Metamorphoses' ('Book of Transformations') an epic poem comprising 250 myths (in 15 books) written in Latin about 8 A.D., one of the most influential works in Western culture.
(****) Metal debris. Allegedly found in Chichester Harbour in 1944, when a 'B17 Flying Fortress' aircraft crashed.
'Baroque'. Collage 2014. 29.7cm x 21cm
Mixed media collage. Quartz crystal, ornamental aluminium, pearl, wax preserved roses, mirror, locomotive, clock face in reverse, bottle-tops, sari trim, metal debris, silver leaf, black card. B&w reproduction of 'Ships on a Stormy Sea' by W. van de Velde, poster of film 'Le Mepris' .
This collage is called 'Baroque' because of both its iconographic and its formal interactive complexity. In its own time the Art of the Baroque was a revolutionary, innovative movement.
The collage shows three journeys: a journey through the sea (ship), a journey by land (locomotive) and a journey through the sky (diagram). These different journeys are set against three interconnecting layers, showing contrasting textures and patterns, upon which a 'metamorphosis' (or formal transformation) of objects takes place - from a precious pearl to an ephemeral vulva-like bottle-top over a poster of 'Le Mepris' (2),(where Bardot is depicted like a modern nymph, her face replaced with a silver mask and the clock face (here in reverse) which, with the locomotive, hints at some of the iconographical elements in De Chirico's paintings).
When I finished this collage I realized, without being conscious of it beforehand, that I had created a work that is connected with the tradition of 'sequential narratives' in painting, such as those of Medieval and Early Renaissance times, where a legendary holy figure is depicted simultaneously in different scenes in the same panel. In this regard some beautiful paintings at the National Gallery come to mind including: Giovanni di Paolo's 'Baptist Predella'* panel (left),
and Lorenzo Monaco's 'Incidents in the Life of Saint Benedict'' panel.
In my collage however, the legendary figure is the observer reflected in the mirror across which travels a train (the mirror being Heraclitus 's metaphor for reality in 'continuous flux' or change). The spectator then is invited to identify with a passenger travelling in a ship on a stormy sea (1) and, above, as the character appearing in a cosmic diagram (3). The diagram is an old engraving depicting a man who kneels down and passes through a gap between the star-studded sky and the earth, to discover a realm beyond the heavens - here overlapped by a geometric embroidery pattern of flowers, accompanied by the elements of a quartz crystal pointing towards an ornamental organic silver pattern.
(Notes from the artist' studio diary, 26th-30th October 2014)
(1) 'Ships on a Stormy Sea' by Willem van de Velde the Younger, 1672.Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, USA.
(2) Poster for 1963 French film 'Le Mepris' ('Contempt'), directed by Jean-Luc Godard, with Brigitte Bardot.
(3) 'Flammarion', engraving, unknown artist. First appeared in Camille Flammarion's book "The Atmosphere: Popular Meteorology" (1888). It has been used to represent medieval cosmology.
'Monsters'. Collage 2014. 29.7cm x 21cm
Mixed media collage on watercolour paper, 29.7cm x 21cm. Black ink on melinex film, distressed mirror film over black background, clock mechanism, broken tile, safety pin, battered dry leaf, beer can 'pull tab', baby's sock, sari trim, black and nine white and colour reproductions.
In this collage elements from different historical-cultural times, from great masters to popular culture, combine with those of the ephemeral. Two of its the main iconographical references are a fragment from Caravaggio's painting 'Cardsharps' (1594) (1) and the 1953 Cartoon 'Death Has Wings Out of Night' (2).
The Caravaggio depicts two card players, and an onlooker. The player selected here is cheating and, following the advice of his accomplice (the onlooker) is about to pick up one of the two cards hidden behind his back under his belt.
The cartoon depicts a young woman combing her hair, watched through the window at night by a monster (inspiring the title of this collage). It is an example of the modern tradition of dealing with a subject matter that thrives on people's fears (for example, extra-terrestrial invaders, experiments with animals, or terrorist attracts).
The complex juxtaposition of contrasting elements in this collage is deliberate in the sense that the collage is dealing with issues of culture, language and communication, addressed by thinkers such as Wittgenstein ('language games') Michel Foucault ('Archaeology of Knowledge') and Fredrick Jameson ('Postmodernism or the Cultural Capitalism').
As in previous works, this collages has come with the flow of intuition, with visual poetry as its main driving force, always giving the contrast and dynamics of the formal elements the decisive role.
Elements of time and the ephemeral include a clock's mechanism, a baby's abandoned sock, a broken sari trim, a tattered leaf, a beer can 'pull-tab', a broken tile. A safety pin over a cartoon points to the broken tile.
There is a text by Heraclitus over the clock wheel mechanism, the Caravaggio, the broken tile, and a distressed mirror film. This reads: 'I am allowed to gaze at what I cannot touch...he sees all this reflected in the dissolving waves...''...Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same river...Everything changes and nothing remains still...and...you cannot step twice into the same river'
Apart from the Caravaggio and the cartoon, the contrasting iconographical elements from various sources include a Buddhist Thangka (3), a Mexican etching (4), selections of a Chinese Acupuncture chart (*) over a measurement drawing of a seated Buddha (**), a section from a page illustrating insects (***), a Medieval illustration of sea monsters (5), and a circular astrological celestial map of the Southern sky (6).
Almost lost within the picture is a pearl. The pearl is trapped inside a broken tab placed over a detail of an old map showing sea waves and a ship (5). The pieces of the broken tile mirror the elements of the composition which together are the result of a process of 'reconstruction' rather than 'deconstruction'.
(Notes from the artist's studio diary, 9th December 2014)
(1) Michelangelo da Caravaggio 'Cardsharps' c.1594, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth Texas.
(2) Cartoon 'Death Has Wings' by S. Cooper, from 'Out of the Night' Issue 9 (America Comics Group Publ. July 1953).
(3) Tibetan 'Yab Yum' Thangka, showing the Tantric union of Buddhist deities.
(4) José-Guadalupe Posada (Mexican, 1852-1913) 'Ni aquí te olvidaré' ('I will not forget you, even here!'), relief etching.
(5) Detail from early illuminated map (shown upside down) a ship in the sea (illustrated in 'Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps' by Chet Van Duzer)
(6) Celestial Map of the Southern Sky, 1515. Albrecht Dürer. Woodcut (Harris Brisbane Dick Fund).
Other iconographical sources:
(*)Reproduction from a Medical Chinese Acupuncture textbook
(**)Seated Buddha drawing by Yoonmi Nam
(***) Insects drawing (detail), from a folio copper plate by Caspar and Matthias Merian, Published by John Jonston in Amsterdam in 1718.
'The Blank Sheet'. Collage 2014. 29.7cm x 21cm
Mixed-media collage on white card. Oak leaves, shredded paper, two bottle tops, amethyst, glass diamonds, clock face, distressed mirror film, melinext film, black felt pen ink, acrylic silver, black and grey green cards. Indian Ocean shell (a 'terebra guttata'). Winged insect embedded in clear resin (unnamed, possibly a 'pigeon tremex'). B&W Photo of Mildred Bart, 1939 cig cards of 'Film and Stage Beauties'. Postcard: 'Tulip and Spider', (a 1660 watercolour by Bartholomeus Asstey).
In this work there is an interplay of textures, contrasting shapes, representations and real objects, texts and music, where the formal, the conceptual and the 'synesthetic' interact. In poetry words bring to mind images and in collage images bring to mind ideas or words. Here, ordinary objects and fragments of cultural memories become visual poetic metaphors and in the interaction with fragments of text, they trigger creative, dynamic associations, inviting imaginative interpretations.
Visible through a film of distressed mirror there is a fragment of a poem by Paul Valery ('La feille blanche' or 'The Blank Sheet', from which this collage takes its title) which reads: 'En vérité, une feuille blanche / Nous déclare par le vide / Qu’il n’est rien de si beau / Que ce qui n’existe pas...' ('In truth, a blank sheet/ Declares by the void / That there is nothing as beautiful / As that which does not exist...').
Directly below, over some oak leaves and seen in reverse, as in a mirror, a Heraclitus quotation reads: '...Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same river... Everything changes and nothing remains still...'.
Over a plastic 'protactor' for measuring angles there is a shell. The shell points towards the top right, to the 'Musca Australis' (Southern Fly) constellation (which used to be called 'Apia', in Latin: Bee). Over it is a winged insect embedded on resin, as if caught in amber millions of years ago.
On the left, a photo of 1930s star Mildred Barth (1) with a clock dial lying on it and only partly visibly through a circular distressed mirror, onto which the observer is reflected when looking at the work.
In the lower part of the composition a coloured postcard depicts a 'Tulip and Spider' (2), a 1660 watercolour by Bartholomeus Assteyn, with five objects resting on it: a dry rose, a dead bee, a bottle top holding an amethyst pointing upwards and, as if it was part of an origami, a small a flying fish (3) a b&w reproduction of a watercolour by John White. These elements create a dialectic between the real, the represented and the imaginary. Other ephemeral objects scattered throughout the composition include: shredded paper, a squashed red bottle-top and distressed mirrors, creating a new series of poetic interactions. For example, the ephemeral crashed bottle-top at the bottom appears as a strange sea-shell holding a timeless amethyst, whilst the representation of an insect in John White's watercolour contrasts with a dead bee next to it. The withered dried rose contrasts with the squashed red bottle-top which resembles a living rose. Time and memory are evoked by the forgotten film star and a broken clock with a mirror, whilst leaves from the perennial oak contrast with a constellation and with fragments of text.
(Notes from the artist' studio diary, 28th December 2014)
(1) B&w Photo of Mildred Bart, Ner. 7 of 54 Carreras' cig cards of 'Film and Stage Beauties', 1939, Arcadia Workshops, London.
(2) 'Tulip and Spider' c. 1660, watercolour by Bartholomeus Assteyn (Dutch 1607-1667) . Amsterdam Historical Museum.
(3) Flying Fish, 1580s watercolour by John White (The British Museum)
'Reliquary'. Collage 2014. 29.7cm x 21cm
Mixed-media collage. Pencil shaving. Clear plastic bag containing a strand of hair- over a rubber band. Six black and white overlapping reproductions: female academic drawing with skeleton overlapping on the left: an anatomical engraving, and a comic, and on the right: a painting by Rembrandt, a comic, a prehistoric female sculpture, and a diagram showing the positioning of a foetus in the womb.
Three ephemeral 'found objects' of contrasting shapes and material: a strand of hair, a rubber band and a piece of pencil shaving. These are placed over six overlapping reproductions in black and white of images from prehistoric times to the age of the comic.
Coincidently, in the comic, depicting a young couple in love, in the top speech bubble the female says: "When Dennis kissed me I got about as much thrill out of it as brushing my hair" (3).
A statue of a prehistoric female goddess (5) interacts with studies of female anatomy and fertility (1) (2), as well as with the drawing of a female skeleton (1) and the pathos of the dead ox painted by Rembrandt (4).
At the same time a foetus appears inside a female womb (6), the round shape of the womb echoing several other shapes such as the rubber band, the curl of the hair strand, the curve of the pencil shaving, the open belly of the female anatomy, the shape of the prehistoric goddess. The juxtaposition of cut-out reproductions echoes the pattern of a grid appearing in the comic, and the rectangular comic balloon is echoed by the shapes of the cut-outs as well as the plastic bag containing the hair strand.
These are all formal considerations which do not directly explain much, but then neither the content nor the choice of objects or reproductions was premeditated. It was only the result of what Henri Bergson describes as the flow of creative intuition, a state of consciousness, when the visual takes over and becomes the creative force, which enables the recognition of when the work is 'whole', coherent, aesthetically complete, when nothing else can be taken away or added to it.
Having said this, if we are to subject the work to hermeneutical analysis after its completion, it could reveal unexpected free associations by the similarity or dissimilarity of forms, and the connections inherent in the work, when understood as 'visual poetry'.
Mixed media collage, 2014
|* Rene Magritte 'Personal Values'
1952. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA, USA
|**Valentine de Boulogne 'Card Players'
ca.1615. Gemäldegalerie, Alte Meister
When looking at, for instance, the pencil shaving, we could argue that it may suggest a process of metamorphosis: from tree, to pencil, to shaving, and then, because of its shape and position, to a fan, and from a fan to air. Similar transformation from organic materials to ordinary suburban objects are to be found, for instance, in Rene Magritte's 'Personal Values' *. The positioning of the black and white reproductions may suggest a hand of cards (and, for example, bring to mind paintings of Card Players by artists like Valentine de Boulogne**, Caravaggio, George La Tour, or Chardin). These visual poetic connections, however far-fetched they at first may seem, enhance the onlooker's imagination in creative new ways, providing a range of metaphors and links to our cultural memory.
All the same, in hindsight, the set of overlapping black and white reproductions suggest a hand of cards depicting cultural memories, with three ephemeral objects, representing matter. This bring to mind Henri Bergson's book 'Matter and Memory'.
(Notes from the artist' studio diary, 18th November 2014)
(1) Russian academic drawing for the study of female anatomy.
(2) 'Tabula Anatomica' (Anatomical Charts,78 illustrations, 1627) by Giulio Cesare Casserius.
(3) 'Putting it Together' (in 'Just Married' comic). One of nine pages of illustrations by Luis Avila.
(4) Rembrandt's 'Slaughtered Ox' painting,1665. Louvre, Paris.
(5) 'Venus or Woman of Willendorf' estatuette (40.8 cm high, 28000-25000 BCE) Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna.
(6) Diagram showing the positioning of a foetus in the womb during a normal vaginal delivery.
Link Guillem Ramos-Poquí at: Wikipedia Enclyclopedia
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