In honour of World Bee Day, May 20, 2019, I’ve created a composite of experimental cyanotype works using actual bee specimens. (Only dead bees found in the garden were used here). With the 3-dimensional bee forms, the resulting images have considerable blur — where the bee actually touches the sensitized paper, the silhouette of the bee is recorded with some degree of clarity, but in other areas, the forms are more ambiguous. In terms of the text, the work of British poet, Carol Ann Duffy came to mind; her book “The Bees” is a marvellous compendium of her ruminations on bees, on us, and our relationship to the environment. I’ve used fragments from two of her poems to create this animation.
I’m working on a variation of the what then series, this time starting from a lightjet image and then adding scribbles and text drawings overtop. This is the technique I’ve been using for 3 years now (cf. the Withdrawn:scribing Nancy series). The collaged bits of magic tape are new to this project, but not new to my working process. The tape adds another dimension to the petals, and gives me another opportunity for adding text.
The process of working on/with an expensive medium such as the lightjet print creates an interesting tension. There’s no erasing possible. The ink and dip-pen overdrawing has a will of its own, with dribbles and blobs an inevitable part of the process. Sometimes the blobs add their own charm, other times, I’m not so lucky. Regardless, it is this tension, this dialogue between medium and hand that keeps me coming back for more encounters.
I’ve been working on a new series recently. It’s going through various permutations, so basically I am at the exploration stage. Here are 4 images from the first permutation. Still rose petals, still Nancy texts, but dark petals arranged in doubles. They remind me of leaky lungs. (The petals have always alluded to body parts). The Nancy text fragments speak about existence and time – well, to me they do.
I’m putting together and arranging images from my most recent drawings. Still working with fragments of text from Jean-Luc Nancy, stuck as they are in my imagination, I begin with one image and then build around it, working on a narrative and expanding the initial text-idea. I’m borrowing from my Withdrawn:scribing Nancyseries, from the Greek images, and from the even earlier drawings of birds. What is this? Drawing as a daily process and an eclectic search for form.
I’ve done two more of the large pastel-over-white-inscribed-rose-petal drawings. I print the images myself to the largest paper size that my printer will accommodate and then tape the pieces together to form the large petals. The pastel I use for the over-drawing is Schminke. It has a buttery texture, easily crumbles into a powder and the colors are super intense. I’m ready to do more drawings, but I’ve run out of the Schminke pastel, have to wait for an order to arrive, and reluctant to change to another brand of pastel in the middle of a series.
In this essay, Visitation (Jean-Luc Nancy), which I have been exploring for some time now, Nancy talks about painting – as painting (another visitation, another “site of conception”). In fact, as I interpret Nancy’s words – he sees Pontormo’s work as pure painting, beyond its religious content: pregnant with birth – but another kind of birth – that is, of painting itself. “This mêlée begins and ends in the painting, and as a painting,” he says, describing the unfolding and the interweaving of color and cloth and light and figures.
I have been thinking about drawing – and what drawing as drawing would mean? Cy Twombly comes to mind – mark, gesture, scribble, color, paint, texture, surface and script. No attempt at representation, yet his work is laden with references, to art history, to literature, to poetry. I think also of Elizabeth MacKenzie’s iPad work (cf: Scribbles and other entries on her site). There too is the act of pure mark-making. Even her portraits, dissolving in puddles of inky color, straddle the tense space between recognition of a face and the blur of ambiguity.
The text in the drawings below comes from the Coda of Nancy’s essay.
For the past month, this essay of Nancy’s has been occupying my thoughts. His concept of the “threshold”, the intimate relationship of viewer to a work of art – a looking at death – at painting and the painting of death, and no less than a beautiful, close, poetic reading of Caravaggio – that is what I see in Nancy’s essay. There is more of course, to Nancy’s complex writing on art, I am painfully aware. Understanding is always partial and fragmented. But the pleasure and engagement of art is not a bounded, enclosed space, but open to return, to re-encounter, to new interpretations.
Some of Nancy’s final words form the basis of my response. The “open,” says Nancy, has no access, for the open is always already access.
I have taken Nancy’s words out of their context – for no other reason than their beauty – and placed them into a sequence on their own. In the original, Nancy discusses the viewer’s place and relationship to the death represented there in Caravaggio’s painting, (“The Death of the Virgin”) but to me, the words may speak of any death.