Serendipity, upcycling, democracy: The Art of Collage

Collages allow you to make your own images, break with the “ready-made” visuals of consumerist intention and subvert, distort and challenge conventions. It is a democratic type of art that only requires scissors, glue and paper, and a good playful eye. It is about upcycling those thousand of magazines and images and re-empowering ourselves through playfulness, serendipity and fun.

Although I have done some collage in my work, it is until recently and inspired by my friend Opoloch Dibujos, that I have dived fully into this amazing medium. For starters, this is a type of art that is accessible and rather available. You only need scissors, glue and printed paper, this includes: magazines, newspapers, leaflets, books, journals, postcards, etc. We are inundated by paper every day and although we are voracious visual cannibals, still there are limits. But this is like to eat lots of takeaway food: it is already pre-packed for you and not very often you get to distinguish its materials. When you start cutting and literally dissecting the amount of material you have, then you can create your own images, playful, surreal, unusual juxtaposition of images, that can be disturbing, amusing or simply new ways of looking at those old images.

Original Work by #BeatrizAcevedoArt Copyright

The technique of collage emerges as part of the new abundant market of images and according to wikipedia: “Collage (from the French: coller, “to glue” it’s a technique of an art production, primarily used in the visual arts where the artwork is made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole.”  This possiblity of playing with ready made images became popular with the surrealist artists, the Dadaists and also for cubist and other avant garde artists of the beginning of the century, and it reached a sort of summit with the Pop Artists, which saw in the consumerist abundance of images the perfect medium for expression. Nowadays there are amazing artists working with collage, you just have only to check instagram to find magazines, artists and a variety of collage expressions: from the analogue cut and paste to more digital assemblages.

Original Work by #BeatrizAcevedoArt Copyright

Sometimes I’ve used collage to “block” some colours, as to create a composition.  I am very influenced by Matisse cuts and I used it to understand more about colour and balance. I have also drawn upon the beautiful work of Saloua Raouda Chocair, the Lebanese painter who worked with the big figures of modernism in Paris to find her own language in the islamic tradition and the push for modernity in vibrant Lebanon. Sometimes we forgot how fantastic Beirut has been as a cradle of different cultures, a place of sophistication and esplendour.  In these series I wanted to create a modernist background for a traditional picture of weddings and love.

Original Work by #BeatrizAcevedoArt Copyright

Some other times, I have just used the combination of cuttings with drawings and words in order to create meanings, illustrations and some sort of omens including quotations or simple phrases from my weekly iCuts. This interplay between words and images, surrounded by drawings can be quite interesting too, as I am reacting to the serendipity of the iCut, while embelishing its significance with the images. The whole image is completed by the viewer that can apply it or interpret it to her own life. The idea of iCuts comes orginally from my friend Opoloch Dibujos, he collected those from newspapers in Colombia and when I travelled to Europe he gave me an envelope with instructions: in times of question or doubts I shall choose six strips with random phrases, place them in ascendent order and interpret them according to the question. It has been a hit! I decided to do my own iCuts that I share weekly in instagram as good luck or monday motivation, normally harvested from the weekend newspapers.

Original Work by #BeatrizAcevedoArt Copyright

But in the latest collages I wanted to respond to my friend series on Feminas and I turned to my huge collection of Vogue and Fashion magazines. Those strange poses ambiguosly directed to the male gaze through the female gaze (it is complicated, because women are the major consumers of fashion magazines) can be subverted, distorted and challenged through the process of collage. Once again this is also a matter of serendipity and playfulness, as I do not have a fixed image of how something will emerge in the collage. On the opossite I leave the images to tell me something, to wink at me inciting me to play with them.  In responding to Os feminas, I have tried to highlight the submissive nature of females in the fashion magazines, the objectification of the body, and at the same time, the potential of women to break with such limitations to embrace our own wild nature and power.










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