Going back to “collage” can be both adventurous and challenging. There are so many talented artists exploring this medium that it is a bit daunting to look at pinterest and other amazing galleries, and realise the imagination of these artists creating surreal worlds. Notwithstanding, collage has become an ideal medium for me to explore colours and ideas. I am still to learn Illustrator software, and I think it will be really a nice tool, but in the meanwhile, collage is as technical as I can be. This year I feel that I am using collage and cuttings as sketches, ways in which large portions of coloured paper can convey the type of palettes and combinations of the images I want to convey. Collage is defined as a modernist technique and its name comes from the french word “coller” = “to glue” because it involves the collection of different “ready made” images, from newspapers, magazines, textures, papers, etc, pasted together. My collages bring together newspaper cuttings: the weekly iCuts of wisdom and luck, and colour papers. Perhaps they are closer to what is called “decoupage” and the late work of Matisse, and I enjoy working with blocks of ready made colour. The beginning of the year got me into collages, a medium I had explored before in the series of Fashion, still exhibited at the Foyer of the Business School, and also for the series of Holy Hearts for the Frida and Me exhibition. This time, I am not “focused” on a particular subject, but more in the exploration of the medium.
I wanted to have some sort of warming up, a way to get into the creative swing of the year and hence I started with a “recycling” of Christmas Cards responding to Ann Rippin’s invitation to work about Dragons.
SCOS Dragons 02/01/2016 – Upcycling Christmas Cards
In this collage, I used all the lovely Xmas cards that normally go to the big box of Xmas cards in the attic. I thought about the “scales” also following Ann’s beautiful apliques of fabric. And this was almost the beginning of my creative year. From here I moved toward drawing dragons and create a series of SCOS Dragon podcasts on the tales and fables linked to these mythical animals. More about this on a coming post.
After this, I decided to resume a series of collages on the topic of “love”, thinking on producing some St Valentin cards. The first of this series was inspired by the work of Saloua Raouda Chocair, a Lebanese painter of the 1930s and 1940s, whose abstract palette is vibrant and pretty defined. I chose a palette of rose, ochre, grey and brown, which has some sort of faded modernism.
Collage-Painting has led her…
The subsequent collages are a mixture of some pictures of wedding days and wedding cakes I took from the newspaper last year. The pictures are very domestic, nothing fancy or dramatic, and they show love in post-war times, inter-racial marriages and in general, the chosen photographs show that weddings were indeed a special day (one that deserves a photograph) normally celebrated in domestic surroundings: the wall paper and the homely windows or doors evidence its domesticity. I loved those images of normal love, that make such a contrast with the theatricality of nowadays weddings. The pictures are typical, a couple kiss in front of the wedding cake, surrounded by flowers and cards. Women are dressed in normal garments, without the “fairy tale” sugary imagery, or the carefully staged professional photographs. I wanted to create the idea of a “modernist” composition, in which the couple occupies central place but it is surrounded by abstract shapes of block colour. Although the couple floats in the promise of a “better future”, yet, they are very real.
Series: Happy ever After. Collage, Mixed media paper and iCuts
I like that very much because increasingly I get so incensed about the “most important day of my life” type of wedding of our times. For god’s sake, every day is important, and it seems that for that special day you need lots of money, gruesome planning and much stress. It is yet another pressure on women to spend stupid amount of money to look like virgin princesses… it is so culturally sick, and it feeds that other questionable idea of “women can have it all”… Nooo! we cannot have it all as it was allegedly promised! The cost is too high: the multilayered and overwhelming labour, the fact that even though we can be amazing successful executives, most of the homework and child rearing is given to women; the frustration of many of my young female colleagues getting stressed and sick in the pursuing of a “career”, while wanting to have children and trying to build long-lasting relationships… and the emotional and financial costs of this multiple aspirations! Oh please, don’t get me started!
In the last two weeks I have been using collage as a coloured sketch for many different purposes: from transforming my drawings from the V&A exhibition (the Fabric of India) into block of colours and shapes; passing through recording the salient events of the week (the death of David Bowie); or as a form of depicting dreams (The Monkey on the Pond). I think also that somehow my art at the moment is “collaging” different mediums: I rekindled my love of writing (thanks to this blog and the regularity of typing!), I am also fascinated with the potential of podcasts and story-telling and I have created four new series using Spreaker and Soundcloud. At the same time I keep on drawing and illustrating, and in all of this, collages are great ways to understanding and planning compositions and colour configuration. I also like the fact that collage are so “post-modern”, in the sense of collating fragments, stories, languages into a newly recreation of something totally new. I really don’t know where this will take me to… in fact, I am not terribly concerned about where all of this is going… I just want to play and to say things, using mediums that are not technically demanding but that show me some sort of path, or at least, that they are signalling a path (any)… so let’s go to collage!