Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Deconstructing Books

Donna Watson, Authenticity, mixed media, 24"x24", 2005
I am becoming more and more interested in book art.  I recently discovered this artist who uses books as his part of his mixed media pieces by deconstructing books down to their essence of paper and ink.

Jordi Alacarz lives and works in Barcelona, Spain.  His works have been shown at numerous exhibitions and museums around the world.

Alcaraz combines sculpture, paint, writing and woodworking into glass encased "books".
 The deconstructed books are created in layers:  first the paper object, ink, paint and pencil.  These are then enclosed in plexiglass which Alcaraz melts, distorting the surface image to which he often adds
more paint.  He then creates a wooden frame and a second, smooth plexiglass surface which frames the entire piece.

Here is an example of a surface of plexiglass that has been melted and distorted.

Alcaraz plays special attention to literature and the use of books.  The essence of literature can be found in the written word laid upon paper.  Ink is formed into letters, then into words, and further into text.

He focuses on the material aspects of writing by reducing them to their physical elements for artistic and compositional purposes.  There is a parallel between the work he creates and the literature that these materials represent;  both transforming books, paper and ink into windows into our imagination.

      "... Within the book, or doubled,
Freed, in silvered glass;
Into all other bodies
Yourself should pass.
The glass does not dissolve;
Like walls the mirrors stand;
The printed page gives back
Words by another hand."
                                                           --- Louise Bogan, Man Alone   

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Reluctant Artist

Donna Watson, altered digital image of nest, rice papers, acrylic

Miroslave Tichy was born in Czechoslavia in 1926.  He studied painting but never finished due to communism in his country in 1948.  Tichy dropped out and became a dissident and a hermit.  He refused to kowtow to the communist regime and spent 8 years in prison.  He retreated from society, grew a beard, left his hair uncut and wore tattered clothing.  He became interested in photography but had little money.

Tichy would gather trash such as empty cans, old glasses, shoe boxes, plexiglass and other junk that he could use to make his own cameras.  For his lens, he would cut plexiglass with a knife.

  Using these cardboard cameras constructed from found materials like clothespins, spools, tubes, string), Tichy shot about 2 rolls of film per day, mostly of females caught unaware in the midst of their day-to-day activities (sunbathing, reading, riding bikes, sitting on park benches).

By the end of each day he would have about 100 shots.  While there is an element of voyeurism to his images, the women became used to Tichy wandering about and taking their pictures from a distance.

Tichy never showed anyone his photographs.  As a matter of fact, he usually threw them into a heap on the floor.  They would be stepped on, scratched, crumpled up, or left out in the rain.  Old and neglected, many of them have partially oxidized.  They are covered with fingerprints, grit, insects...they are small and oddly shaped.

The photographs looked like the mistakes other photographers would throw away.  But for Tichy
the imperfections are where the beauty resides:  "The flaws are part of it.  That's the poetry."

Many of Tichy's photographs ended up in a big heap on the floor.
Tichy lived in a small hut most of his live.   He never traveled far from his hut nor the town he lived near.  He never showed his photographs to anyone.  He was considered an eccentric artist.

He may have had a foot fetish.  A lot of his photographs are of women's legs, feet, or shoes.

It is only a few years ago that the public was able to view the pictures he took with his homemade cameras.  His first solo exhibit went straight into the main exhibition space in the Kunsthaus Zurich.
Tichy refused to go to any of his exhibits.  A number of books have published his images.  Tichy passed away this year.

"Photography is painting with light!  The blurs, the spots, those are errors!  But the errors are part of it, they give it poetry and turn it into painting." --- Miroslav Tichy

"Identity is gradual, cumulative; because there is no need for it to manifest itself, it shows itself intermittently, the way a star hints at the pulse of its being by means of its flickering light.  But at what moment in this oscillation is our true self manifested?  In the darkness or the twinkle?"
---  Sergio Chejfec,  The Planets