Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Outdoor Type

For the last few days, I've been painting outside, underneath my pole house. The space is a large, concrete slab on which I can position the boards and canvases so that they're sheltered even from the worst weather. Working in the open air eases the toxic effect of the enamel fumes. I still feel sick, especially the next day, but it's not as bad as when I paint inside.
I love this new studio without walls. I can look across the wide, forested bay with no windows or doors framing the view. I can smell the rain before it comes, and the fragrant scent of frangipanis in the warm breeze. I usually play music while I work but in these past few days I've been content to listen only to the sound of cicadas
and native birds.
I love the idea of breaking out of the confines of the traditional studio space. I have always wanted to be more mobile with my work. Many artists travel. I've been looking at how Francesco Clemente divides his time between Italy, New York, and India, filtering his observations and experiences of these places through his own visual language. Miquel Barcelo lives and works in Paris, Majorca and Mali, using pigments, ash, and materials from each of these areas.
I've begun researching the rich tradition of 18th and 19th century expedition artists – artists as explorers. Before I studied art, I began a degree in languages and anthropology. I grew disinterested in anthropology – I couldn't help thinking of it as the most exploitative, self-serving form of tourism - but I remain intensely curious about cultures, customs and beliefs very different to my own. More and more, the mindless, spiritually bereft, predictable routines of the developed world's consumer society are wearing on me. I long to live and work elsewhere for a while, away from so-called 'civilisation'.

1 comment:

EBriel said...

Yesterday I stopped by a wood-printing studio near Hanoi, and interviewed a woman who makes prints with 100-year-old hand-carved blocks.

An hour later, I left with some of her unique prints in hand. Even better, I'd picked up some supplies for my illustration project in Yunnan (China) next month. She happily sold me some of the iridescent powdered seashells from the nearby northern sea, and ink from bamboo charcoal: it takes a year to make, and when they mix it w/strong Vietnamese tea it produces a warm black I've not seen anywhere else.

It's the kind of thing one won't find at home every day.