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Catherine Haley Epstein: Lovely observations Nigel. This too is one of my favorite pieces by Corinna, likely for different reasons. I'll digress here slightly - My question to the artist/community would be the convention of a faceless figure. While many of Corinna's portraits are frontal, with vestiges of faces, they are not faceless. Many painters have used the faceless convention to aplomb (e.g. Gideon Rubin, don't love the work though it's commercially successful). I've never been able to fully understand, or appreciate the faceless figure and feel it represents a much larger symptom in the zeitgeist. In the gallery setting, the less face the more seemingly easy it is to project oneself onto the piece, therefore more appealing to more people. It's rare to see fully rendered faces gaining major attention (except for Chuck Close, and a handful of others). Even Michaƫl Borremans rarely has a face facing front, confronting a viewer. I recent;y saw a showing of Hannah Van Bart's work and I always find it compelling - the face confronts the viewer in all the paintings. Thoughts on faces?

Nigel P : Hi Catherine & Corinna

Wonder if you'd indulge me in relating a small coincidence? I'm reading Catherine's piece and then came across the 'faceless" images by artist Deborah Sheedy on Instagram - comprising of collaged works, where the heads of depicted figures are pasted over, or cut away. One effect is to estrange, or at least to perform estrangement as a knowing Surrealist homage. Maybe of more interest, I was struck by how the artist tagged a number of these as associated with struggles for self definition. Sometimes it's the facelessness of authoritarian bureaucracy, at others, an individual crisis, a loss of personal identity. Sheedy offers a Sylvia Plath quote: 'And I sit here without identity: Faceless. My head aches".

Wonder whether there is a limit, a minimal measure beyond which a being fails to represent to others - becomes faceless. Passport photographs, iris recognition technology etc involve specific tolerances outside of which images fail to be understood as viable faces. We see each other through conventions framed by administrative technologies- seem to remember Chuck Close started his grid portraits around the time that Scientific America featured early digital imaging experiments in mid 70s. Remember painting my own pixel heads and trying to place them just the right distance away so that they were almost legible.

Which brings me back to Corinna, and her sequences of ladies - how much the paint can smudge and streak but remain within the conventions of facial recognition- within the frame of our expectations?

Nigel P : I've been a fan of Corinna's painting for some time, since becoming acquainted with her serieses of 'ladies' shown here and on social media. Typically these images epitomise the play of difference & repetition, her signature compositions involve multiple portrait paintings arranged in grid formations. Loosely painted heads emerge from ominously dark grounds - each head, individual and unique, yet sharing some familial resemblances with their kin. The multiple pairs of eyes staring back at the viewer are from another age - possibly complicit in some unspecified institutionalised trauma, or just actors' mugshots for a gothic costume drama.

There is a powerful tension in these works between the conceptual frame - the structured presentation of historical stereotypes, rubbing up against the fluency of paint and the marvellous theatricality of the narrative conceit. I find a similar tension holds here, in this painting: Bust. Familiar framing devices are in play - the roundel figures as uncanny historical anachronism held in place by a thicker white overpainting covering the rest of the picture plane like ruined plaster. The Bust - turned away, commemorative of some long forgotten triumph or poignant defeat.

Finally, I think it's the knowing delicacy of the thing, the nuanced compositional control of depth between the two vertical lines, keeping the image, the narrative, hovering in its theatrical indeterminacy that really demonstrates the facility and fluency of Corinna's practice.

Wonderful stuff!

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Catherine Haley Epstein: Joyce thank you for sharing these works with the P+L community! Quite brave works. I noticed some of the titles of the works allude to the clothing items, turning the body into an object of sorts, and the head and faces are removed where the clothes items are describing the works. I wondered if that was intentional? I like the contrasts of marks in this "Pencil Suit" piece. If clothing and it's evolution are at all an interest in your work, I highly recommend "Seeing Through Clothes" by Ann Hollander - it's an anthropological review of the history of clothes. Promise it's a smart but light read, and you might find curious some of the deeper details of how we humans have "covered" ourselves over the years. Thanks again for sharing!

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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?

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