Transfiguring Landscape

Walking and being immersed in the landscape brings a connection to its integral beauty and its value to our mental and physical health.  Through these walks I absorb the sights and sounds the landscape of Somerset and elsewhere brings to my mind, as I consume the imagery for my painting and printmaking.  Lately I have expanded my printmaking with rock powder, obtained from the rocks and materials collected from my walks, using them as pigment to form new ways of layering and forming landscape art.
The latest works that can be seen below explore the connection we have with rocks and their connection to life on planet Earth.  Through the sciences of geology, chemistry and biology, I explore the obscure aspects of the landscape and its effect upon our perception of reality and its links to our past, the moment and where it is heading, particularly concerning the environmental aspects and our effect upon it through the industrial age and our current post-industrial digital age.

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Many artists have sought inspiration from the landscape and walking, including: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Hardy, Richard Long, Dr Mike Collier, Paul Newman, Deborah Westmancoat, Georgina Towler, Jenny Graham, Sara Dudman RWA, Andy Goldsworthy, David Bomberg, Michael Andrews (with his painting ‘Thames Painting: The Estuary’ a particular inspiration for me during my time in Cyprus) and many more.  Nature inspires new thoughts, ideas and ways of seeing – including current research from the British Medical Journal revealing the effect on our health being with nature and the value of exercise.

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These new paintings explore various influences coming from my walks in the landscape, either from rocks I have seen, cliff faces, caves, old walls, planet surfaces, moons, peeling paint and objects left to the elements of nature, bringing their own aesthetic to the object and the image.  These explore Zen inspired practices and landscapes resonating with the great Chinese and Japanese paintings of the past.
I have also included a video revealing some of the process that went into making these forms of painting. These explore the intervention of the artist with the materials, in this case rock powder taken from rocks collected from Watchet, Somerset and Soapstone powder, working with the natural consequences of chance, accident and natural forces of nature (maybe even those tiny microbes in the seawater and collected snowfall water added to these paintings).

Man, Nature and Materials: Revealing a synthesis of the Masculine & Feminine

Over the last year I have been exploring landscape art and investigating the various forms attributed to Landscape Art throughout the history of art.  Throughout the Modernist, the Postmodernist and into the Contemporary Art era, landscape art has changed and evolved through continual experimental research grounded in our link and relationship to forming new ways of seeing the world around us.  Interventions in the landscape; Abstractions; Shattered Landscapes – developed from the returning soldiers from the First World War; Found objects brought into the gallery space and extractions taken from the post-industrial landscape, explore landscape in new and interesting forms.   My particular journey began when I left the U.K. in 2013 for a residency for six months in Cyprus and six months in Spain, being drawn to the dry, eroding, weather worn and Sun scored land of Mediterranean culture.

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Soil Sample: Malaga

 

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Soil Sample: Bideford Black

During my explorations finding new ways of working, away from my previously Media inspired figurative work, I explored extracting information from my walks – using technology to record my pilgrimages via GPS, collecting rocks, soil and photographic images taken from the landscapes I was travelling, evolving my processes of painting and drawing in new ways.  These developed further once I returned back to the U.K. in July 2014 and whilst teaching at a PRU for a year.  I began to extract soil samples and develop bacteria cultures in Petri dishes. These formed the basis of my Petrus prints and since May 2016 have developed into methods of layering printing ink, forming and exploring through chance, intervention, will, Eco-Feminist and Zen principles – exploring landscape through seeking a synthesis between masculine and feminine co-operations, using nature (application and pressure) and material exploration to form memorial abstractions of the landscape and time.

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The Truth of the Matter | Water-based Printing Ink on Fabriano | June-July 2016
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The Truth of the Matter | Water-based Printing Ink on Fabriano | June-July 2016
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The Truth of the Matter | Water-based Printing Ink on Fabriano | June-July 2016
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The Truth of the Matter | Water-based Printing Ink on Fabriano | June-July 2016
Pink Moon
Pink Moon | Water-based Printing Ink on Cartiridge Paper | June 2016

Latest Etching Print Thoughts: Belalcazar and Ariadne

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Belalcazar | Zinc Etching | Proof Print on Fabriano | 22nd March 2015 | Adam R. Grose

The multiple images chosen from my many walks in and around Belalcázar, Córdoba, plays on a variety of levels. One initially being in the amount of images we, or rather our mind takes in during our walk, mostly registered unconsciously. These multi-layered images in the mind are negotiated on our behalf by our mind, shifted and sorted into like-minded events and filed away, either to resurface later through some obscure dream or appear as a mark, colour or form in an image an artist creates.  Our mind makes sense of the world around us – seeking the pros and cons of a situation, something evolution has given us as part of our survival strategy.  After all, it seems our DNA and the passing on of information to the young seems the goal of organic life.  Yet during our living spaces our mind continues to negotiate its way through the myriad of information frequencies to seek understanding in what it sees, is seeing, or has seen.  Through selecting key points from the journey, working with or against the biases from our own evolutionary status, existing from the discriminations of what we consider the aesthetic representation of our reality, the collation of years in seeing and educating through our individual research, our mind-image displays for us the journey of life which exists within our mind.

  It is in the image above (and others I am working on) where I make sense of past events experienced and form new ways of understanding where I was and what I was experiencing each day.  Memory is a dynamic set of repeating patterns of rhythm and rhyme, an ongoing flow of information of the present which seeps back to the past, re-informing the present experience which exist only at this moment of remembering.(1)  Through selected imagery of the mind and the re-minding myself of objects seen, exploring the active journey taken as I travelled from the South of Spain towards the North.  These elements of my experiences living and working in Spain for a period of six months is played out, exploring the role of the line drawn in the landscape, both physically and mentally.  The line of the journey evolving from El Greco and Goya towards the Modernist work of Miro, Zobel, Chillida, Picasso and Tåpies.  

  Through these artists and my discovery of Zen and the art of meditative walks, my journey carving its line across the land is re-translated into the line of vistas, objects and sights taken in through the passing of my body in time and space.  Sean Scully remarked he once saw a piece of graffiti as a student which said ‘Time was invented to stop everything happening at once'(2), but like his work explores, in my current drawings and prints I am also ‘squashing out space [and time]'(3) by placing a whole experience into the same time-frame.

These overlaid images I keep to a minimum, through ‘choosing’ enough to form new ways of revealing where one is in space and time, through mishmashes of constant re-interpretations by the mind, filed and classified for a future recall.  

 Where I place an image on the plate is decided upon through the particular experience I had – a key moment reminding of an event from a second.  Even though I restrict the controlling aspect of where I place a particular object, I can not completely eliminate the particular aesthetics in structure of the composition I am drawn towards.  This is key to understanding my artistic endeavours.  Like a piece of music or poetry I seek a balance between objects and ‘non’ objects, or so-called positive and negative spaces that relate to form and objective space – yet, I am keenly aware that even ‘no-thing’ is something and  itself gives form to ‘things’.

  The focus is where attention is drawn and for what purpose ‘some-thing’ is given presence over ‘an-other’ thing.

 How these mash-ups of images plays reveals, for me, a general sense of entropy.  An entropic state of decay in the mind over which and what images to form a composition, through a saturation of ephemera from the thoughts and experiences I lived during time living and working in Målaga, Granada, Belalcåzar at the residency La Fragua, and subsequent journeys through Spain as I headed to the North of the country.  However, there is a realisation that this process in creating these forms of poetical images leads to a renewal; the creation of something more profound.  Through the poetics of space and line, in this labyrinth of line-work I am negotiating my way through time, and also for the viewer in its viewing – without the thread of Ariadne to guide us, we become the seeker of the signifier.  

  There is a sense of the overgrown and overabundance, a reclamation of structures by nature.  

  Previous experiences seen in the erosion of buildings and art seen in Cyprus and Spain has become, in this image, a signifier for the entropic state of reality, a sign of the times we are contributing to, through the re-evaluation and eventual destruction of one ‘self-image’ towards another more educated and informed image of the self.  These confused, mashed-up, interwoven, inter-connecting, saturated world of images and information leading to the break down of previous negotiations, leading to changes that evolve beyond the moment.  

  Could these changes lead to pulling threads towards one which will lead to an opening away from the labyrinth of information and seek a route map away from the Minotaur of unknown appetites (Ego)?

 

(N.B: This piece will change as more thoughts and information come to light with references)

References 

1: Watts, Alan, The World in Flux, On-line Audio Lecture, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJqR06KfSWU > [Accessed March 2oth 2015]

2: Scully, Sean, Smithsonian On-line lecture, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpTo7LgsU5g >  [Accessed March 21st 2015]

3: Ibid

The Journeying Mind

Over the last three months since returning from spending a year abroad I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the work I had created and the experiences I had in Cyprus and Spain. I left England to change the way I was creating work and to push my boundaries a little more – to seek another way of making work through placing myself in another country. This small piece of writing is a way of getting to the crux of what my practice has revealed and the practice-based research I have been exploring. Something which has evolved through the many experiences, sights and people I have had the opportunity to meet on the Cyprus residency, Flow and Art residency, La Fragua residency and my pilgrimage across Spain from the South to the North.

‘My practice explores associations with drawing through a variety of media: Printing, Painting, Mark making of one kind or another. In terms of printing I have always been particularly drawn towards linocuts, woodcuts, etchings, mono-prints, lithography and alternative methods of print production through the use of a third party, usually the environment. I have always continually sought new techniques in drawing and printing, exploring and questioning the traditional modes of production and experimenting with new ways of producing a line or print mark in my work. In the past it has been said that my working practice is a little eclectic and that it is problematic in some trying to contain my work in one category or another. In part I agree, yet my work is in some ways more consistent with processes and the way images are produced. Although one could say that in the past I was more concerned with ‘mirroring reality’[1] rather than creating a response to reality or acting as a gateway into another space beyond the picture plane, that may well exist at some level[2].

Drawing is central to many artistic practices and it has played a prominent role in my work. James Elkin remarks in his letter dated 29th January 2004[3] to John Berger about the appearance and disappearance of the line, and how these end up becoming part of a playful game in drawing, and that through this push and pull between the visible and the invisible. Drawing has the ability to capture the invisible line. Each time we draw the act redraws how our imagination sees it, ‘remaking my own imagination… reform[ing] the figure on the paper… redraw[ing] the model, because it changes my capacity to perceive.’[4].

Through alternative methods my aim is to reveal these invisible facets through the drawn line, exploring what ‘drawing’ exactly is and through this discipline reveal through relooking at what was missed on the first observation and the way my imagination reveals something more of reality, in its portrayal and how, we relate, respond and draw something fresh from this physical and mental act of seeing drawing as ‘…going for a walk with a line…’[5].

Through alternative methods of production using a variety of implements I record my journey or pilgrimage through a landscape, either literal or imaginatively, creating a response to one’s thoughts, emotions, feelings or reactions to the moment. Capturing as I move through physical space or back in the studio and move through ephemeral space, the memory of what stood out for me during the journey.

  • In September this year I collected soil samples to extract bacteria. I obtained 10 samples during a ten-mile walk, and explored another form of drawing and reveal/ observe hidden realities, creating another form of mile markers. The results where extracted and drawn in petri dishes. I drew the part of the walk I collected the particular soil sample – each representing a marker of one mile (1.6km). This act is experimental into ways of drawing and seeing reality from another perception. One of no boundaries accept for those brought to the table through human intervention.
  • Through multilayered drawings and paintings I explore memory and ephemeral reality. Using digital drawings created through the use of an application on the ‘smartphone’, I set the program to record the journey walked, cycled, train-travelled or driven. I observe the application drawing a travelled line in real-time. A hyper-real mapped image contained within the digital realm; the virtual reality of the replicated map.

I use this captured realities from the satellite as a foundation for translating into calligraphic Zen inspired art drawings, akin to the Spanish artists Antonio Tåpies and Eduardo Chillida. These drawings and eventual prints record a retranslation of the hyper-real into a moment of time through the hand, the gestural mark of bone, sinew and muscle; retranslating through the energetic emotive force of the ephemeral relived through the process of its creation and the remembered moments of time passed.

These ideas are born from my year away from England and pastures green. Six-month residencies in Cyprus and Spain, mixing and meeting wonderful artists and people who live now within my memory – reminding me of those moments of joy, frustration, events, shared space – now replaced with ghost-images, like photos, standing in place of that moment caught and experienced for one second, consigned to the corridors of memory. These phantoms from past time form a mapped history in the mind. The passage of time and its effect on our identity and the relationships we have.

Its contribution to our sense of place as I move from one place to another. Experiencing new realities, new experiences, new people who bring something new to the table – and those I remember and wish were still a part of my reality. Each phantom contributes to my continual fascination with reality, aesthetics, entropy and my insatiable appetite for mark making. The exploration of the cultural influences and contributions we all make with our interaction with contemporary society. Exploring through practice the research and thought exercises on those influences in our time, resulting from past moments in history – ancient and contemporary. The continual influence upon our present age and the resultant understanding of ourselves, individually and collectively, and our cultural development through the visual arts and the culture we each have contributed towards and become part of in some small way.

Adam R. Grose MA PGCE

[1] Susan Stewart, The Open Studio, (University of Chicago: Chicago, 2005) Pg 23. This passage deals with the aesthetics of ‘matching or mirroring’ reality as a form of narcissism and awakening the hidden realities brought to the work through the viewer’s previous experiences in life. I reference this piece purely for the realization that in previous work from the last 20 years I purposefully sought to bring about reactions within the viewer, to reveal the hidden realties we bring to a piece of work and how the artwork viewed awakens something within us and acts like a mirror in its effect to reflect something within us, rather then act as a gateway into another realm of existence – something explored through Dr Michael Paraskos’ New Aesthetics movement with the artist Clive Head.

[2] Dr Michael Paraskos, Reviving the Corpse of Art, www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKCXTz73JDM [Accessed 12th December 2014]

[3] John Berger, Berger on Drawing, (Occasional Press: Co. Cork, 2005) Pgs111-2

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid Pg 129

Zenism and Art Syncronicity

During my time travelling in and around Cyprus and Spain I had begun to become increasingly aware of the many synchronisations which seemed to appear in these places.  In such circumstances it appeared that whatever I had been thinking about during the week or a couple of days before, the object of these thoughts would materialise in some form, presenting an uncanny reality that either a) I was synced into some process of reality which was presenting something for me to take note, or b) it was all by strange chance.

Now, I know what some might think – however, as a scientifically-minded person I default to the avenue of ‘chance occurrences’ and that the only possible explanation is somehow, unconsciously, my thought process was already aware of something I was seeking, from the peripherals of memory, and over a given period of time it played itself out, until I became conscious of that reality through the presentation of the particular information, image, person or object.  I equate this to the phenomenon that sometimes, after not seeing a particular object for a while, for example a type of car; i.e. Morris Minor, suddenly we see one and then we begin to notice more.  For me this reveals a power of the mind in which our focus, whatever it be, is determined upon the reality we choose to be part of and incorporate into our day to day moments.

Two situations came to me during my travels through Spain:

1)  Fluxus, an art movement which sought to break from the elite control of the art market, presented itself in two instances.  Upon reflection I now realise it has followed ever since this art movement was presented to me from the artist and Senior Lecturer at Falmouth University, Gillian Wylde.  When visiting the El Greco museum in Toledo, I happened to ‘get lost’ and come across the Synagog.  I decided to take a look inside and there before me was the painting Shoah by Wolf Vostell.  He is considered a pioneer of ‘Happenings and Fluxus’.  Later, upon arriving in Bilbao, unknown to me before arriving, I happen to see a retrospective show was on at the Guggienheim of Yoko Ono’s work, who is also considered a leading member of Fluxus.  Coincidence for sure – yet, at this time, I noted the message my mind was deciphering from this experience – ‘take note of Fluxus’.

2)  During my time in Cyprus I had happened to come across the British Zen Philosopher Alan Watts on You Tube.  Every now and then in the evening I would listen to some of his lectures, as I found these interesting, enlightening and full of humour.  Later, during my travels in Spain I found myself being presented to artists, unknowingly, who had been influenced by Japanese Zen art and applying the principles to their practice.  I came across Fernando Zobel (a retrospective book I pulled from La Fragua’s Library), Antonio Tápies, at the foundation in Barcelona and Eduardo Chillida, who I came across with Tápies and Zobel again in Bilbao at the exhibition on Japanese Art & Zen at the Museo Bellas de Artes and who also has a wide collection of contemporary art in the last gallery – an amazing space.

I mention these experiences purely because of the coincidence in coming across these artists, and that even though I am aware of their work and seen them over the years, I had not gone out of my way to see them in Spain, consciously.   In some way, through subtle resonances to my past, it felt I had begun this pilgrimage through Spain because I needed to ‘see’.  In a strange way it is though eventually we become aware of our inner-mind/ self/ being, and what it will make us aware of, once we stop and listen.  For me, the multi-layered images I have been producing are symbolic of the multi-layered images of thought, held in the mind for years, and over time, as we allow ourselves to open up to the creative mind, fully, we are drawn on journeys into a multi-layered reality of the mind-set and we unknowingly follow a path we have already mapped out years before.  The mass of similar events, together in our mind, overlapping to be played out in some future time.

Through these experiences I am becoming more aware how my mind relates and interprets my reality around me.  Creating forms of drawing which explores and resonates the multi-layered reality of our world.  Now, through practice-based research and the Art of Zen, I am beginning to see where the application of these ‘events’ I have been creating over the years is leading me.  No refinement, no erasing, no habitual changes.  Pure flow in the production of a mark on the surface – pure light vibrational energy – from sight to transference into a mark; one sweep of my arm, hand and tool upon a surface – producing an immediate response to a fleeting experience, recorded as a moment in time which has passed as quickly as it had appeared.  An ephemeral, transient reality, suspended thought as a mark, a line, a dot, itself affected by the passage of time.