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Nigel P : 'Heads or Tails' - is the small round object between the two figures a coin? Is the 'fragility' of the title a reference to the play of logic & chance? Is this a contest between the two, or a lineage - a line from one to the other? Bodies once balanced on the edge of becoming, or imagined missing links, evolutionary glitches- dead ends.

A kind of driftwood serendipity, drawing the figures into being through luck and ingenuity: endeavour & creativity directed by the fates: held together by anatomical conventions & laws of physics. If I throw enough words down, some are bound to land right. Others perish on the harder ground.

Then again, the figures are placed & pinned, deliberately poised. Though the whole is framed with some weighty institutional cues, as Nina noted - like in a Natural History museum: the figures are tensed, arched (in at least two senses of the word).

I like these improbable imposter monsters - seeing a family resemblance to Donna Haraway's trickster cyborgs: mammalian forms combined from flotsam thrown up by the sea, a perverse evolution: a mythical return -debris of ancient forest from fantastical lands drowned for millennia, now given up from the deeps, recombined to Iive again. Or bits of a wrecked shipping pallet, the chippngs of global commodity exchange. Either way, adds up to a game of gloriously botched Darwinian permutations.

Giovanni Longo: Hi Nigel, yeah the small object between the two figures is a coin as in a game for their survival. Thank you so much for your comment.

Nigel P : Hi Giovanni My money is on the little one, looks nippy & snappy, and just about to spring! Great stuff.

Nina Parys: About "Heads or tails" we can see two skeletons of animals, quite complicated to identify for a no professional in biology (dogs?). They are both vertebrate, face to face, an adult and a child, maybe his child. And these skeletons are made of wood. The wood is dry. It seems fragile and light. The fragility is increased by this confrontation between the big one and the small one. The tail draws an "S" like a necklace of pearls. There's a little object in the middle of the scene, the smaller animal seems to play with this object. The space is neutral, almost the same clear color as the bones, and the light gives an atmosphere of serenity. A strange feeling takes place, the postures refers to living actions whereas skeletons refers to death, but in addition to this, the skeletons are not real skeletons, they are made of dead wood. It's more dead than death, it's more silencious than a silence of death.
This sculpture makes me feel alone, like if nothing on Earth really existed, because these sculptures put like in an museum of natural history, using the same scenic language as a scientific exhibition, mimics and fakes reality. These animals have never been. And that's a deeply interesting point in art, to make you doubt of what you think you know. You're just looking at sculptures, and gradually, you realize that your strongest certainty are light like dead wood.

Giovanni Longo: Thank you Nina :)

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TONY ANTROBUS: How's the work going? Mark making can be obsessive and drive you mad sometimes. No narrative or planning something before hand can be fun and frustrating but it's what I do everytime I get to my studio or give it a good sweep and tidy up.
Respite from the symbol, like that phrase! Symbols can creep in, brains are hard wired.
Lineage of abstract painting is s tough one, I love lots of types of painting but my work is or has been inspired by a plethora of painters including Klee, De Heyl, Wool, Hilton, Nash and far more I can't remember.
Questions I'm addressing is hard to say, where I'm going is impossible as well. I think my work like lots of others is based in the Modernist painting template, and I find it difficult to overturn that habit. It's all a play of competing forces, qualities of colour, spatial arrangements, stuff which makes a functioning effective piece of work, well sometimes! I still throw away or recycle 90% of my work.
Great to talk to you
Tony

TONY ANTROBUS: Hello Catherine
Mental zero point, I suppose it's not really possible before starting painting or any piece of art. We have too many memories, muscle & cerebral, sensations etc to really do that not to mention emotional content which is always part of your brain working stuff out. Chance and subconscious directs much of my work, and lots of looking and waiting.
But does it stem from a fully formed place?
In painting a mark, a patch of colour, line can indicate what to do next, the problem is not to repeat yourself and catch yourself out. I like to think of Beginners Mind relishing the brush in hand, paint on the brush and the contact of the surface, whilst thinking of absolutely nothing allowing the body to interact with the material.
Look forward to your reply

Catherine Haley Epstein: Hello Tony,

Yes, beginner's mind. A beautiful and enviable place. And even the beginner's mind still reflects the very heartbeat, and psychology tied to the hand. On no uncertain terms we are either born acorns or mules. I think I agree with what you've said, only that I see when I act as a mule, I must stop and remember I'm an acorn:) This said in all seriousness. I've worked figuratively for YEARS and have recently moved forward with abstract work - right now my studio work is full of marks and gestures that have no narrative, but a gesture right now. I know this feels urgent, and I'm very much enjoying the respite from the symbol. Hence my connecting with you and others on the PL platform with respect to the abstract - where are you coming from? What questions are you addressing? And where do you see yourself in the lineage of abstract painting if at all?**

Thank you Tony again for sharing your thoughts and your paintings!

**One could rightfully respond - "why pull out the flower to inspect the roots?" - just let it grow, as I'm certainly doing in the studio! Cheers - C

Catherine Haley Epstein: Hello Tony! Thanks for posting your recent work here on P+L. I think this is twice in one week where I have read about an artist starting from a "mental zero point". While I love the idea of this, I'm rather jealous actually, I wonder if it's possible to reach a zero nadir point when starting new work. I've recently started a series of work explicitly on the idea of rhythm, pattern and chance. That said, after doing a handful it all seems to stem from a very specific place, not so much a zero place but a fully formed place. Do you see that in your work? Despite the desire to start with an empty canvas, all of the fully formed subconscious directs itself onto the canvas? Thanks again for sharing the work!

Discussion

Ann Ploeger: Daniel,

I'm thrilled to hear from you and so happy you were able to see my prints at the Portland Art Museum.

Oh, that shutter click - how vital and how revealing of myself. Staging these portraits is me trying to control the image; the shutter click is the magic moment of spontaneity proving no matter how much I try to control things, there needs to be this divisive moment where the click dictates the final result: where it erases my preconceived notions about what I thought I wanted the image to be allowing it to become my art.

The "My Melinda" series has more of agenda than the other portraits in that I wanted one subject to be the many sides of femininity within the horror framework. The most successful images in the series are the ones where spontaneity played a major role; where there was freedom to explore within what I thought the images should be. I shot this series in my own house, so I had to look at my domestic environment as the stage. This was very challenging for me because "My Melinda" worked best when there were less props, less environmental clues because they ultimately distracted from the imagery.

"Ivey and Colin" is a great example of how the subject's home environment is a major player in my portrait photography and how important the objects are to the imagery's creation. The home and its pieces allow me to create this puzzle within my frame. I truly feel most present and alive when I get to create these images on the spot. Often I make a portrait in a home I've never been to before where my photographic eye is boss: I choose the space, often the attire, and yet the subjects and shutter clicks do all the talking. There is always an inherent truth to the portraits no matter if I know the subjects or not.

I love making both types of work. My portraits, like the one of "Ivey and Colin" come very easily to me. The "My Melinda" work was a lot harder for me to figure out, but the challenge of making the work informed my environmental portraits in an invaluable way. Controlling chaos is one thing, but trying to evoke emotional chaos through simplicity made me a better photographer.

Daniel Leng: Thanks for the generous reply. It's so interesting to hear you talk for the process, down to the words that you use to describe it. I think a lot of photographers who I've talked to empathize with the idea of trying to "controlling chaos", or trying to finding the decisive moment that represents of a what they're seeking, whether that's figurative or abstract. I love the idea of "evoking emotional chaos through simplicity" as a process description though. As a humble photography student, I find myself doing that in the darkroom, on the other side of the shutter click... trying to distill the ideas what were captured through controlled chaos... in order to create something that evokes... I don't think I've ever considered that what we evoke is "chaos" in the end, though it seems very accurate. A beautiful symmetry.

Daniel Leng: Ann,

I feel fortunate to have seen your prints recently in the Portland Art Museum and am thrilled to see more of you work here on Point + Line now. The installation at PAM was perfect to me, as viewing the prints in a dark room really accentuated the already vibrant images and stories that the work tells. Overall, I love the questions that your work asks so eloquently by navigating the line between real, hyper-real, and unreal.

I'm curious to know about your process for creating (or perhaps just unveiling) these "accidental unspoken narratives." I'd imagine that in the case of this image, which seems to be a bit more dramatic, outspoken, and purposefully staged, the concept and story preceded the image, but in the case of a portrait like "Ivey and Colin" (https://www.pointandline.com/works/1865), you might meet the family and let the people and objects lead the storytelling, perhaps even revealing unintended layers of meaning after creating the image.

Where does the click of the shutter sit in relation to the "making of the image" for you? Assuming this varies, is there one process for making images that is more rewarding to you? Why?

Discussion

Catherine Haley Epstein: Hello Sarah! I'm enjoying looking at the latest works you have posted here. I am particularly interested in the combination of chance and formal qualities in your work. In your artist statement I see you mention a "ritualized process" when making the works - to what degree are you conscious of the formal (color for example) qualities of the work? At the beginning or the end? Or is it really more of an organic process fully based on chance or feeling? Have you always worked in colorful mixed media formats? Lastly - is this really to become a rug, or is this a conceptual rug? Thank you for posting the work!

Sarah Arriagada: Hello Catherine! Thank you for your comment on my Design for Rug series.

These assemblages bring together different found materials and pieces I made during the course of two years. Working on the screen prints on veneer I had little notion of what they would become and I let chance happen. However, I did have certain ideas in mind while making the stencils, choosing the colours and veneer surfaces. When creating the paper cuts, I was very much aware of the formal qualities of the pieces. However, both works – the screen prints and the paper cuts – were incomplete as such and so I kept them in folders. I viewed and combined them regularly with other work, wallpaper fragments and fabric. Meanwhile, I had been thinking a lot about the aesthetic and functional qualities of domestic rugs. Finally, a few weeks ago the assemblages made sense on a formal level and were completed. I would like them to become rugs, their scale to be blown up and their material quality to become entirely different to the paper, acrylic and wood veneer surfaces. Ideally, they would be approximately 170 x 240 cm and hand-knotted with a short pile wool. I would love to see them laying on the floor and be used to sit or lie on.

I have always worked in colourful mixed media formats, but have at times been more concerned with a particular medium, such as painting. The painting process is very similar to the process I just described. When I paint, I tend to work with layers of paint and patterned fabric. I also use stencils. In other words, I assemble different materials and media and alternately layer and remove them in order to arrive at a point of visual clarity.

Catherine Haley Epstein: Thank you so much for the generous response Sarah. I like how the foundation of your process is with paper cuts, screen prints and eventually using stencil - all methods usually reserved for precision work, all in the name of chance. I look forward to seeing more. And I do hope your designs find themselves on rugs and being used in a completely new way. Best of luck!!!

Sarah Arriagada: Thank you, Catherine!

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Catherine Haley Epstein: Richard - I'm really enjoying seeing this work here. I wish I could be in this space to fully experience the work - yacht varnish? Terrific. Since I have seen your work years ago, where you were still working with vestiges of the figurative, can you talk about that which bumped you fully into the realm of the material and abstract? I find it fascinating with this work, as well as other works of this nature (Burri comes to mind though on a more intimate scale), that with all the focus on the material in the process, the result leaves the viewer to ultimately consider the immaterial, the spirit, and that which is not seen or felt. Thank you for posting these works!

Richard Zeiss: Catherine, excuse the delay!

Let me give you a quick run-own on what happened there...
Back in late 2012 I was feeling like I had hit a bit of a dead end in terms of research and decided to apply for an MPhil in Painting at the Royal College in London (i.e. a research degree; much like a PhD, but only 2 years). I applied with a specific project in mind, which collapsed pretty early on; as these things happen. I remember I ended up overpainting my canvases, and became curious how people reacted to what were effectively monochromes, and how my preference for egg tempera, which I make myself, could inform my research path from there on out. There was of course no way around delving into the Russian Avantgarde, what with their material-driven art production ("Productivism"!), and at some point, looking at the monochrome in the modernist canon, I came across an essay by Michael Newman on Agnes Martin, where he applied a concept created by the Belgian linguist Paul de Man, called pure, radical materiality, to Agnes Martin's work. Basically de Man talks about the material texts are made up of, i.e. letters - which, when reading, you have to forget in order to form meaning. The letters would be the pure, radical, non-phenomenal materiality. My question was whether and how that could be translated into visual art, especially painting (the crux being that this meant one would have to be able to see before seeing; Kant's apprehension and comprehension in the mathematical sublime can be brought to bear here). My way around has been the clash of material with strong external connotations that would be unlikely to meet in any given context. Like egg tempera ("medieval religious painting") and tarpaulin ("lowly material in industrial use"). The strong external referents would, to my mind, potentially erode and even delete each other, leaving you with pure, non-relational materiality. ("Pure Materiality In The Painted Linguistic Turn" was the title of my MPhil thesis)
In recent months I have expanded this field to questions like where literature and painting overlap, how so, etc. I have somewhat moved from de Man to Blanchot, whose double-negative of writing, i.e. literature, has fascinated me. Basically he rejects the idea of a stable meaning, but not only in deconstructivist terms, but beyond that. Basically every piece of writing establishes writing anew, and in a sense creates a microcosm with internal references, like vestors shooting back and forth; or indeed like a good science fiction story, that is completely unbelievable out-of-universe, but works perfectly in-universe. That is where I am currently at. Creating loops within works that consist of more than one piece on the one hand, and possibly fictionalising a project with a sci-fi twist.

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