Artista Eli – Artist’s Statement expanded
I was recently asked to write an artist’s statement. While I have a small one on this site in the “about” section, the one I was asked to write was of some length. When I had written it, I realised that although it was the right length and fitting in most of what I wanted to say, it lacked some examples of what I meant, so I have decided to expand it to include further explanations in order to clarify my thoughts further.
My work combines my interests in:
The Human Condition – “the characteristics, key events, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence, such as birth, growth, emotionality, aspiration, conflict, and mortality.” Wiktionary
Ecology – the relation of living things with their environment, spacing and interdependence
Science – in particular social science, basic particle physics and geometry
Philosophy– in particular, the nature of realities
I am especially interested in Chaos Theory and The Butterfly Effect. I am also interested in opposition theories.
How I use the elements of art (composition and art “grammar”)
Opposite forces are the primal forces of existence. In order to translate this into art, I examine and utilise the points where these opposing forces meet. This is the point of collision and change from being one thing to becoming another. This can be done using opposites of the elements of art such as line, tone, colour, texture, shape and space. The points where opposites meet produce energy and energy creates life.
Process – How I make my paintings
I employ five layers when creating a painting, excluding the preparation and two coats of varnish, I sketch out the basic compositional structure, apply the base coat, apply the colours, add the tones and highlights and then refine the details. Recently I have been including gold veins in my work as a reference to Kintsugi, a Japanese ceramic repair technique, which focuses on making broken pottery more beautiful by mending the breaks with gold lacquer, so the breakage can be viewed rather than disguised, the philosophy being that it shows the pot’s history.
Artistic Style – How/why it was created
The fragmented nature of my work represents the fragmented nature (the brokenness) of both life and realities. For example, we are imperfect and are forever striving to perfect our lives. We destroy and recreate. We prove and disprove, always looking for something more and for another answer to our difficulties. This is a Post Modern age where we are constantly looking for the quickest, fasted, cheapest, most profitable and most effective way of doing things. I dispute that this way of doing things is the best way, because it misses out important aspects, like human and environmental cost. When we do not factor these into our efforts, the absence of them can produce problems which interfere with our original aim. For example, it is no good making profit by destroying the earth, or the well- being of its inhabitants, in the process.
“When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.”
Cree Native American prophesy/proverb.
The modernist period called for:
“re-examination of every aspect of existence, from commerce to philosophy, with the goal of finding that which was ‘holding back’ progress, and replacing it with new ways of reaching the same end.”
I believe we need to re-examine what we are doing in according to this Modernist way. We need to work together to resolve the world’s issues. We need to remodernise society and this includes not just finding the most profitable way of doing things, but finding a way which is profitable but not at the expense of human/environmental well-being.
I am interested in the fractal nature of life and how our universe expands outwards and inwards into repeating patterns. I often include bits of sacred geometry into my art, but I warp these into something imperfect. Imperfection is beautiful. Imperfection is what makes us human, a living thing as opposed to an inanimate object.
I use dark coloured outlines in order to split the surfaces of my compositions and represent realities as not being solid, but instead being a creation of our individual perception which can change of the course of our lifetime. Throughout time we have held up theories of what is “the truth”, what can be “proven by science”, what can be “proved as our history”, what is the “right way to make art”, but all these things are just theories which go through a process of being proven and disproven through our generations and get written into our history by a fortunate elite few. Our reality is what we as individuals perceive to be true, hence some shapes within my work are fluid and open to interpretation. I like to make art which can be accessed and enjoyed by everyone. I like to make art which can be read on several different levels so it does not alienate people according to their level of knowledge.
Why I joined Stuckism and what I think of the art movement Postmodernism
I joined the Stuckism movement because I agree with most of the manifesto. I love the egalitarian nature of this group and how people of all kinds, from all around the world, are able to work together and share their love of art. I also like Charles Thomson’s quote that the Stuckists believed it was time to:
‘re-modernise’ art, incorporating ‘a renewal of Spiritual values for art, culture and society to replace the emptiness of current Postmodernism’ (An Antidote to the Ghastly Turner Prize, The Stuckists, Victoria Press).
For me “Spiritual values” do not have anything to do with organised religions, but instead describe our relationship with each other, our world and the universe, in a positive way which allows us all to grow into becoming our authentic, fearless, compassionate, creative and productive selves.
There is an argument that painting and drawing are outdated. I disagree with this theory. Painting and drawing are a way to record our history and challenge what is being written /created in the mainstream. Painting and drawing the Human Condition are as relevant now as they have always been throughout history. The nature of the Human Condition has changed with our technology and Globalisation, but there is always something new and interesting to paint. Paintings and drawings don’t leave a huge carbon footprint in our world and yet they can say so much. Paintings and drawings allow everyone to be able to create, not just a privileged few and therefore, are a very egalitarian way of producing art. Also, if you examine nearly everything that has been designed and made in our world it all started out as some form of drawing/combination of the elements of art. Whether or not this was done with a pencil or with a computer version of this tool, the fact is it was “drawn” out initially in some way.
Viewers should not feel alienated from art. Visual Art is a language of visual communication. If it cannot communicate/connect visually, it has failed as art. “Art” The use of many different painting techniques (a common occurrence in Stuckist art), as opposed to having one stylistic technique though out the art movement, is not a problem for me, because it represents the exploration of past ideas, which were good ideas, in order to come up with new hybrid forms of art. No art is original because we learn from previous references and experiences. I love this quote which represents this fact:
“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” – Carl Sagan
That does not mean I agree with total plagiarism, where art work is merely a copy of someone else’s work. Work that utilises knowledge and techniques from the past must create something new and unseen.
There has been a lot of controversy over the divide between Stuckism and Postmodernism. Contrary to what others might think, I don’t dislike Postmodernist art (I even started my artistic life as a “Postmodernist” artist of sorts), because without this Commercial Investment based art movement maybe we would not have had the wonderful free Fine Art which has come out of the Stuckist and Remodernist movements. Opposites always produce the best energy and thus, the best creations. Postmodernist art reflects the problems of our time – a love of money/power and a lack of soul/compassion, over the love of people, animals and the environment and does an important job of showing future generations of what it was like to live in these “Emperor’s New Clothes” times of fakery, fraud and inequality. Stuckism reflects our inter-connectedness; it reflects the importance of looking deep inside ourselves for the answers to life’s big questions. Once we looked out to the stars in the universe for our answers to questions about matter and life, now our scientists are investigating these subjects by looking at the small parts of how we exist. The answers to life’s problems and creative challenges are thus inside each of us as individuals. Our individual small actions can magnify into big actions as they travel away from us around the world (Chaos Theory and The Butterfly Effect). Hence much of my art has autobiographical aspects.
I am inspired by all kinds of art but especially Orphic Cubism, Dali, the Pre-Raphaelites, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, The Bauhaus, Johannes Itten, Klimt, Expressionism and Graffiti Art.
Music is also a hugely inspiring medium for me, allowing me to intensify the rhythm, tone and pitch of my work. I enjoy listening to all kinds of music, with the exception of certain commercial pieces/songs and have favourite pieces in most musical genres.