Whilst wandering around London, I went to look at a large variety of artworks and objects in a variety of Galleries and Settings. These included: The Royal College of Art: Australia Exhibition, The Hunterian Museum, The Tate Modern and The Tate Britain. However, It was in the Tate Modern, that I came across the work of Anya Gallaccio. As soon as I saw her piece “preserve beauty”, the connection between her work and mine was obvious. It was only after researching her work that I found out how influential she really was. Gallaccio is known for her work with organic materials such as ice, flowers, fruits and sugar. Her installations often change over time as they melt, decompose or sprout new life.
In her piece “preserve beauty” 2000 gerberas are sandwiched between huge panes of glass and left to decay over time in the gallery. Shown below is an image of how the piece looked when it was first displayed. After researching this piece I discovered that this piece is a metaphor for her own perception of the male-dominated art scene that she feels faces us today.
Shown Below, is an image of how the artwork looked when I visited the Tate Modern.You could smell the decay of this piece when you walked into where it was displayed.
Anya’s work gave me confidence in my own, because I viewed her work as an inspirational art piece rather than just some rotting flowers which is what I want to capture with mould and Food Decay. I know that if I saw a rotting flower in a vase I would never be as impressed but because they are displayed as art and have a concept behind them, they are. I did think that the piece had a certain beauty to it and encouraged me to continue making work changing the perception of something that may usually be considered repulsive. This also made me realise how closely decay relates to death which could be a new concept to work with in the future of my investigation into food decay. I feel Gallaccio’s work is a real triumph and I look forward to seeing what she creates next.
“Pictures from a Rubbish Tip” by Keith Arnatt includes photographs of moulding foods that people have thrown away. The wastage of food here is an interesting concept. Keith Arnatt makes things that usually are horrid, normal and plain or maybe not even considered interesting and photographs it as if it is art. This is of highly relevance to my project. Below is a photograph of a discarded loaf of mouldy bread taken by Keith Arnatt.
His attention to detail in his photography is remarkable and he turns things that are commonly taken for granted like the growth of mould and its beauty into art. His work is inspirational to my project and encourages me to create mouldy artworks to almost force people to look at them so the idea of decaying over time and the mould produced is no longer just overlooked and thrown away. Obviously, you are not going to keep food items if they’ve gone mouldy because they look nice, or are interesting. But in the right environment, mould and decay shouldn’t be considered as it is, repulsive and almost useless. I believe anything can be made into an artwork. ITS NOT THE MATERIALS YOU’RE WORKING WITH, IT’S WHAT YOU DO WITH THEM.
Joseph Beuys (born 1921) was brought up during the war. He came part of the Hitler youth and took part in the Nuremberg Rally. In 1941 he volunteered for the German Air force and it was actually around this time that he seriously considered becoming an artist. He had a crash in one of the aircraft’s in 1943 and famously told how he was rescued by tribesmen who used fat and felt to warm and heal him. Consequently, Two of the main materials used in his art work are Fat and Felt. These materials are seen in his pieces ‘The Chair’ (1964-95) and ‘The Chief’ (1964).
Beuys was heavily influenced by the Rudolf Steiner who created a new spiritual movement where he tried to combine science and spirituality.Following the war Beuys decided to study sculpture after which he took up teaching. In his piece ‘How to Explain Images to a Dead Hare’ (1965), Beuys has used materials such as Bees, hares, Fat, Honey and Gold to represent his feelings and artistic Ideas. The Bees represent an ideal society, the Hare comes from Irish superstition that anyone who harms a Hare will suffer and the iron shows a connection to the earth.
Beuys has used art as a release to help him deal with the memories of war-time. Seen in his piece “Auschwitz Demonstration.” He has also challenged what art is and pushed boundaries. He signed lots of bananas and called them art which encouraged people to think about What art means. Does Art change society? Does Art change you as a person? Is Art useless? Does art change you as a person? Is it a release? Do many people not understand Art? Can Art give you a sense of the Artists personality? This is highly relevant to today’s art world as artists are constantly trying to push the boundaries of what art is.
Andre Stitt became very inspired by the performance work of Joseph Beuys, particularly Beuy’s performance “I lIke America and America likes me” also known as ‘Coyote’ from 1974. In this performance, Beuys spends 3 days sharing a room with a wild coyote, this piece looks at time and the relationship between the Coyote and the artist.
Stitt says: “If it’s an artwork it is haunted by the idea of a document, if it’s a document its haunted by the idea of the artwork”. With this in mind, Stitt decided to create his own piece entitled ‘Dingo’ in which he uses very similar ideas and makes a response to “Coyote”.
When we view art and performance art we feel various emotions which inevitably change our lives in come way or another, in that we had that experience and it is now part of us. “The best performance art occurs what subjects or images are wrenched out of context using unexpected, destabilizing or unfamiliar methods and materials. They challenge the spectator’s preconceptions” – Stitt. Performance is almost anti art market. It cannot be bought like a painting it just leaves memories in the mind of the viewer.
At the end of this Lecture, Andre Stitt was asked if he feels his work is about Loss. He replied: “Isn’t everybody’s?”
What are you going through when making art? or when you look at the work of others? “As you get old, I feel you experience Loss more”. Does making art make you feel immortal? “The Idea that a painting could be in a gallery long after you die could give you a sense of immortality”.
Joseph Beuys is very human and full of contradiction which is what Stitt likes about him. Being a human being makes us full of opinion. Beuys really is quite revolutionary and there are countless artists influenced by Beuy’s Legacy.
Whilst doing some research yesterday I came across a few artists that relate to my work. Looking at the work of Gail Wright, Haruko Okano and Robert Rauschenberg instantly made me think of the moulding artwork that I have created (shown below for reference). Like me they have created artworks that decay over time and used mould to create an art piece. I am starting to see that making a moulding artwork can change people’s perception of decay. If there is a mouldy canvas displayed in a gallery it is instantly less disgusting and more appealing to the viewer. The viewer is encouraged to look at it as a piece of art rather than a horrid entity that has grown on your food in the fridge. It’s quite interesting that the setting and context of something can change how people feel about it. CreatIng time lapses (as seen below) are also an interesting concept as it allows the viewer to see a process that normally they would not.
Mould and Decay is constantly overlooked and considered to be something horrid and that should be thrown away. But in reality, mould can create homes for millions of tiny organisms and as I found out fruit flies love to live in it. Most importantly, without studying the growth of mould and its properties we would be without certain medicines and antibiotics such as Penicillin. If we can ingest tablets that are made from it, then WHY CAN’T WE CONSIDER IT AS ART.
Gail Wight has produced many moulding artworks and time-lapse videos of the development of living organisms. She is highly interested in the idea of living art mediums which could not be more relevant to my project on food decay. Her work, I feel captures a beauty within the mould, something I would like to capture within my work. The work definitely changes the human perception of how you would describe mould and pushes the boundaries of what art is.
Gail Wights work encourages me to be confident in my project and not to worry about what other people think of the work I am creating. I would like to make people see that there are a lot of hidden beauties in the world that we overlook and mould and decay is included in that statement.
Below, are some of Haruko Okano’s mould paintings created in 1997. Okano’s pieces were among the first existing moulding artworks I saw. In this artwork, the mould was cultivated in a large 8ft by 4ft tank in a solution of black tea and sugar. His work encourages me to use tea and sugar within my work at some point to see what results I get. However, Unlike these artists I have far more limitations and do not have the facilities to leave things to mould over long periods of time.
There is a very specific colour palette to these moulding artworks and they almost do not look like mould at all. They could easily be paint or mixed media canvases. I like that the viewer here would wonder whether they are looking at actual mould which is something I have tried to capture in my paintings of mould using sugar and paint and cotton wool. I know that this is the case because my peers and tutors have had to ask me whether they are made using real mould or not. To me, this means they are highly successful artworks.
Rauschenberg – Dirt Painting (For John Cage)
Rauschenberg has used a combination of dirt and mould to produce this artwork. It was a highly controversial piece when it was produced and as it was exhibited, people were creating their own response to it and questioning whether it could really be called art at all. Personally, I feel that it is visually beautiful and interesting to look at.
All of these artist are deeply influential to my project. All see mould and decay as a medium in which to create art. I will continue researching artists that relate to my work because I feel it is highly beneficial and helps you develop new ideas and concepts.
Arcimboldo Giuseppe was an Italian painter best known for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of such objects as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books. His most recognised work today is called “Vertumnus”. After encountering the work of Arcimboldo Giuseppe, I instantly had an idea of how to relate his influence to my project work. Making moulding food faces was something I was keen to experiment with to add a new angle to my project. I think his pieces are incredibly clever and well thought out. Also, they are very contemporary considering they were made so long ago. I imagine at the time he was making these people wouldn’t really have appreciated his genius but today his work is distinct and recognisable to many. Giuseppe manages to create a very balance composition within his work and like I have, choses appropriate objects to represent certain facial features. I am highly inspired by his work and it encourages me to create things that people could appreciate years down the line.
I think it is important to play with lots of different ideas with in a project because after all it is an investigation. I started by drawing a face made up of moulding food. It was relatively easy to choose which food would make which feature. For example a decaying orange was the obvious choice for a cheek here. In this sketch, I have tried to incorporate as many rotting foods as I can. I decided where to place them by considering their shape and colour. Giuseppe would definitely have made conscious decisions when creating his works.
I feel that creating moulding food faces is quite an innovative way of relating the decay of food to the decay of life. To me, the piece below symbolises how the person’s life may be decaying or crumbling around them. I used a variety of materials to produce this artwork including acrylic paint, sugar, salt and cotton wool. I was worried that the facial features may get lost in the similar colour palette or it would end up just looking like a pile of moulding food, but actually I think it is relatively easy to see that this is a painting of a face. I think the result is fairly successful and is a great addition to my project work.
Overall, I am pleased with the way that this moulding face has turned out. It captures the essence of decay accurately and almost changes the viewers perception of decay. This no longer looks like a horrible painting of mould, it is far more interesting and thought-provoking than that. Since creating this piece I have experimented with creating a few more using different materials like pens and palette knifes. The results are shown below.
I think the 1st of these two pieces is quite successful. I used a palette knife to highlight the foods and incorporated cotton wool into it to give the decay a more realistic look. However, I don’t think the 2nd piece with the pen work look mouldy or decaying enough. I enjoyed creating these pieces and it was definitely beneficial to experiment with different ideas and techniques but for now I think I will move on from Giuseppe’s influence. There are many ways I could progress from this however. I could create landscapes made up of mouldy food or make a sculpture. I feel as if I am progressing as an artist and Giuseppe’s artworks are just some of many that have helped me do so.
In this Workshop, I experimented with a variety of drawing techniques using black indian ink and charcoal. I feel these techniques have helped me to draw the life model more successfully than if i was just using a pencil or charcoal on its own. The ink almost guided me and took all my anxieties about proportion and making things perfect away. In this workshop I worked with two conditions: Wet on Wet and Wet on Dry. Wetting the paper first encouraged the ink to bleed and run more where as just painting it onto dry paper gave it a little bit more control and I was able to produce more crisp lines.
I started the portrait below by wetting the paper and painting on the rough shape of the life models face and features with ink. I had no control over how the ink was going to spread or how much it would bleed, which in a way was positive as it stopped me worrying about making a completely proportionally accurate drawing and more about making something visually exciting. I added water to the ink in different quantities in separate containers so I could use the different strengths to create a sense of light and shadow and tone. The Patterns that the ink made were completely involuntary and out of my control. After I was happy with the appearance of the ink on paper I let it dry and used it as a guide to draw in the face and details in charcoal. I was surprised by how well this drawing turned out considering I didn’t think about scale or proportion at all. I usually find drawing the human face extremely challenging but the ink made my drawing style more free. I let the ink guide me and then drew into it rather than drawing the details in first and then applying the ink.
Before undertaking this workshop I looked at the ink artworks of south african artist Marlene Dumas. Her work encouraged me not to worry about what the ink is doing on the page because it’s the natural “mistakes” that can make the best outcomes.
Marlene Dumas portraits are very free and almost abstract in some ways. Rather than representing an actual person, Marlene’s portraits represent an emotion or a state of mind. Themes central to her work include race, sexuality, guilt, innocence, violence and tenderness. Her work encourages me to be more free in my drawing and to think about drawing in a wider spectrum rather than just putting pen or pencil to paper, she has opened my eyes to the fact that you can draw with many materials. I really like her work, it has so much passion within it and the fact that she displayed all of her portraits together as one big piece inspires me to do the same. One piece doesn’t have to be a large painting or drawing it could be a series of them. This is something to think about when displaying my artworks in relation to decay.
Ink and Charcoal together are materials I am definitely going to use in the future. I will also revisit wet on wet and wet on dry using indian ink as it is an easy way of making interesting and creative drawings and achieves a great result.