Red and Black – posted Sept 4th, 2016 in Boulder

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Sherry Inhabiting Red (after Helena), image by Robert Kittila, 2016

I asked photographer Robert Kittila to take the above image of me last September when I was preparing to go to Portugal to study Portuguese conceptualist Helena Almeida’s work and make my own work at the  Obras Foundation. This image was part of my process of embodying Helena Almeida, I just recently “painted” the red in Photoshop.  Almeida inspired me to use myself as the subject in my own artwork and this has engendered a deeply personal process for me, and in fact has led me away from Almeida’s methods to discover my own methods. Below is the image of Helena Almeida’s that I was imitating with her signature blue paint.

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Inhabited Painting, 1977, Helena Almeida, photograph with acrylic paint

My journey to Portugal last fall and the work I accomplished there has taken on a dreamlike and mythical significance for me. I love the work I accomplished in the studio at Obras using my own body in actions and performances with the red and black and white cloth constructions and environments. While working at Obras, I was also drawn into the beautiful surrounding landscape and environment. This broke me away from Almeida’s way of working. Her magnificent body of work of the last 40 years has been almost entirely enacted in her studio or in interior spaces.  Nature,  landscape and architecture has been part of my art and life from my early days making site-specific sculptures – so finding this mystical landscape in Portugal was a return of sorts for me. I am currently sorting through the images I took last fall and those that photographer Luis Branco took of me in various beautiful environments near the Obras Foundation and the nearby medieval fortress at Evoramonte. I am preparing for my next series of works in Portugal. I will be returning to Portugal in October (October 14th to November 14th) for a month’s residency at the Obras Foundation to complete this project.

There is a stark and mystical quality to this area of Portugal – with it’s ancient groves, magic stones, medieval castles, roaming sheep, and sacred mountains. The sorting and sketching (in red and black) process I have been doing is like analyzing and revealing a long and lucid dream. There is a very feminine and sensuous aspect to these environs and to my images and actions within them. A narrative is developing – a mythical passage of sorts. I have already begun this course and now I am compelled to finish it – though I am not exactly sure of its outcome or direction. It will take form on top of the mountain at Evoramonte and in the high tower there as well as in the valleys and groves below that I am returning to.

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on Evoramonte mountain with black, image by Luis Branco
“Black is primary to many forms of transformation, the imaginal hue of individual metanoia, a turning away, or a turning inward, or even a “dark night of the soul,” the luminous darkness of self-understanding. In the alchemical opus black signifies the eclipse of familiar patterns of identity and meaning. The nigredo is a state of disorientation, exhaustion, self-doubt, depression, inertia, confusion, and disjunction. Yet, the alchemists found the nigredo not cause for dismay, but for rejoicing; it expressed conjunction with psyche’s illimitable, teeming potential in which could be conceived the golden embryo of self.”– (Ronnberg, Ami ed. The Book of Symbols – Reflections on Archetypal Images, Taschen, 2010. pg. 658)

I am continuing to make  preparatory sketches in Photoshop for this new series and posted a few of them here as well as in my last blog post – “Sketches from Portugal.” For this new series I will use red and black paint on the black and white images and I will also install large swathes of red and black cloth on my body, in the landscape, in gateways and in the shadows of the trees, etc. and photograph these actions and installations. I am not sure which method is more effective, the paint or the cloth, so I will do both and figure it out as I go. For now I am sketching in Photoshop with black and red “paint.”

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at the gate of the Evoramonte Fortress with red, image by Luis Branco
“In many cultures, red is associated with fiery intensity, ardor, daring, bravery, which can move into fury and cruelty. This aspect of red is expressed in African symbolism both by the color and by the idea of nyama, the potential force in all things and the bodies of all beings, especially in the blood. This potent energy fills witnesses with both wonder and fear. And to the alchemists, rubedo or reddening was the last stage of the long process of making gold or, psychologically, integrating the personality. It meant nothing less then bringing spiritual realization into full-blooded reality, lived out fully in everyday life.”(Ronnberg, Ami ed. The Book of Symbols – Reflections on Archetypal Images, Taschen, 2010. pg. 640)

I am imagining and developing a narrative for this new series (in red and black) that I hope to accomplish next month in Portugal with the help of photographers Luis Branco and Rui Fernandes, and with the support of Ludger van der Eerden and Carolien van der Laan of the Obras Foundation. I have found a loose and fruitful relationship with the ancient Greek mythical figure of Psyche. Psyche accomplishes a series of tests and tasks in the  Myth of Psyche and Eros – many of which  I have found to be similar with my own experiences.  There are sacred mountains, black rivers, plunging valleys, many obstacles, as well as talking towers and helpful eagles in Psyche’s journey– which all correspond to the Portugal of my imagination and my experience. I am very excited (and a little afraid) to be going back to Portugal to enact this dreamlike narrative.

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on the top of Evoramonte tower with red, image by Luis Branco

 

 

Sketches of Portugal – posted July 31st, 2016 in Boulder

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All of these images are preparatory sketches/ ideas I am working on for the next series I will make in Portugal in October. I am happy that I will be returning to the Obras Foundation and working with photographer Luis Branco to produce this new series with a working title On Land / Em Terra.

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The red “paint” indicates where I am planning on placing large swathes of red cloth and the black “paint” shows where I will place large pieces of black cloth. This work all references the several series of images I made in the studio and on the terrace and at the castle with the red and black cloth constructions last year. Here I plan on taking the hybrid methods of photography / drawing / installation / performance into the landscape and environs near the Obras Foundation.

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Please excuse my rudimentary Photoshop skills. I made these “drawings” in Photoshop with red and black “paintbrushes” on top of images from last fall. All the images show the beautiful landscape and ancient architecture between the grounds of the Obras Foundation (Herdade da Marmeleira) and the Castle at Evoramonte (Castelo de Evoramonte) three kilometers away. Cydney, Rachel, Akiko and Ludger appear as my models in some of the images I took and I am the subject in the images that Luis Branco took.

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Again these are just sketches, not final images. I think the effect of inserting and draping these large pieces of red and black fabric on the actual ground, behind ancient olive trees, within the architecture and on myself will be quite interesting. There is a magical and dreamlike quality of this region of the Alentejo and I think “painting” with the red and black cloth will emphasize this.

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I have been listening to Miles Davis and Gil Evans’ “Sketches of Spain” while I sketch. There are both classical and improvisational aspects to this project – like Davis and Evans’ compositions. I go back to Portugal in the middle of October to produce this work – can’t wait!

Corpo de Obras and back to Portugal! – posted June 30th, 2016 in Boulder, Colorado

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Square / Quadrado Installation, four color photo-documents, 4 x 4 feet.

I have almost finished producing and printing the photo documents of my actions / performances in the various constructed fabric ‘drawings’ and environments I made at the Obras Foundation in Portugal last year. I have finished six different series of multiple images that total forty-seven photo documents. My dream team (photographers Luis Branco and Rui Fernandes and my dear Cydney Payton) helped me produce these works in and around the studio at the Obras Foundation and at the nearby castle at Evoramonte last fall. I am calling this whole project Body of Works / Corpo de Obras. The remarkable Portuguese artist Helena Almeida influenced and empowered these works. However, I think this work quickly became ‘my own’ in Portugal and in production afterwards. The project crosses the boundaries of drawing, installation, performance and photography and the process has pushed my work in a very personal and productive way.

In Portugal last fall I had intended to apply this installation / performance / photographic process within the beautiful landscape and environment near the Obras Foundation. There just wasn’t enough time. So I am going back to Portugal in October to complete this series. I am fortunate that photographers Luis Branco and Rui Fernandes will work with me again. Unfortunately I won’t have Cydney with me. I am excited about this opportunity at the Obras Foundation and happy to try and ‘finish’ this body of work.

Below I am showing one image from each of the six series we produced last fall in and around the studio at Obras and at the castle at Evoramonte. It is difficult to convey these works on the blog because they are all series of multiple images. Several of these completed series are installed in my studio now. If you can, please come by and see them. I am planning on exhibiting this Body of Works / Corpo de Obras in both Colorado and Portugal.

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Square / Quadrado One of a series of four, color photo-document, 24 x 24 inches.

 

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Enter / Entrar – One of a series of ten,color photo-document, 24 x 24 inches.

 

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Circle / CirculoOne of a series of three, color photo-document, 24 x 24 inches.

 

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Flower / FlorOne of a series of three, color photo-document, 48 x 48 inches.

 

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Performing the Drawing / Realizar o Desenho – One of a series of nine, color photo-document, 24 x 24 inches.

 

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Performing the Drawing / Realizar o Desenho – Installation, nine color photo-documents, 6 x 6 feet.

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Horizon / Horizonte – One of a series of eight, color photo-document, 18 x 12 inches.

This last series above titled Horizon / Horizonte was shot on top of the castle at Evoramonte. In the new series I hope to accomplish this October – we will be working in the landscape and environment between the Obras Foundation and the castle on the mountaintop at Evoramonte. I see it as a very ‘feminine’ landscape with rolling soft hills and sheep, magic stones and ancient trees, beautiful ruins and ramparts, and of course a castle🙂. It is a mythical and mystical environment. I will be applying this performance / installation / photographic practice in these lovely environments.

The working title for this upcoming series is On Land / Em Terra. Below are some snapshots I took of the environs surrounding and near the Obras Foundation and at the castle at Evoramonte. You can see why this place draws me in.

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at the Obras Foundation – looking towards the castle at Evoramonte

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at the Obras Foundation – the ancient solstice stone

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near Obras in a meadow – with cork trees called sobreiro in Portuguese

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in the castle at Evoramonte – looking at the landscape

I am so happy to be going back to this remarkable territory – the Alentejo region of Portugal! If you are new to my blog and this project you can look at the previous posts by looking at the archive listing which is a bar at the top left hand corner of the blog or by scrolling down.

 

 

performing the archetype – posted May 11th 2016 in Boulder

A1 72 1200 _DSC67212ªfrom the series Horizon, 2015, image by Luis Branco

While writing the previous blog post on the concept of immanence in Nasreen Mohamedi’s body of works – I got to thinking about my own “body” of works and the ongoing appearance of specific archetypal forms and spaces in my work. The series of images titled Horizon that photographer Luis Branco took of me on top of the castle in Evoramonte Portugal come to mind as the performance of the archetype of the feminine. These images “happened” while working with the photographer in a very intuitive and collaborative way. These forms and spaces: the triangle, the trapezoid, the horizon and the feminine form have been apart of my work consciously and unconsciously for decades (and probably lifetimes.) I am slow to figure🙂 So here is a compilation  of these connected forms in my work:

 

A2 1200 Med Draw vocationfrom the series Meditation Drawings, 1999, graphite on paper

 

A3 72 1200 Vestal Virgins installSecrets of the Vestal Virgins, 1988, pigmented concrete and wood

 

A4 72 16 x 16 Pointfrom the series Me and Maya, 2013, gouache and graphite on paper

 

A4Shift, 1991, installation of wood, mirrors, cloth and projections

 

A5  72 1200 Sanskriti _DSC5059from the series Out of India, 2014, black and white photograph

 

A6 72 16 x 11 Mehrauli _DSC5248from the series Out of India, 2014, black and white photograph

 

A7 72 16 x 16 DJI_0003-P2424from the series Performing the Drawing, 2015, black and white photograph, image by Rui Fernandes

 

A7 72 1200 Vestal Virgin120from the series Secrets of the Vestal Virgins, 1988, pigmented concrete and wood

 

Artfrom the series Out of India, 2015, India ink and graphite on paper

A9 72 Trapezoid-3802

from the series Enter, 2015, black and white photograph, image by Luis Branco

 

A10 72 16 x 11 _DSC6765from the series Horizon, 2015, black and white photograph, image by Luis Branco

To be continued…

 

A DAY OF THINKING BEGINS – Nasreen Mohamedi, posted May 11th 2016 in Boulder

1 72 1200 Diary x NM Diarya detail from one of Nasreen Mohamedi’s notebooks, ca. 1968-1988, graphite and ink on paper

“ While the concept-use of immanence has been developed within contemporary philosophy on a vastly intensified scale, it may still be useful to understand immanence in the way it is ardently interpreted by artists: a willing subsumption within the cyclic transformation of nature; an embodiment of the life force-a bodying forth, a becoming; a means of precipitate presencing and liminal absencing within an always relational world. This ground overlaps with phenomenology-the precise sphere where the artist-as-subject, her perceptual experience, and art practice meet, and meld. Nasreen’s subject- presence is aligned to the horizontal axis, but her spatial conception reveals complex orientations: the stabilizing horizontal lifts to make a diagonal. Using this as metaphor, I tilt Nasreen’s philosophic inclination towards transcendence. Her drawings test the limit-veracity of the finite and attempt to scale what is conceptually possible in relation to an ultimate abstraction-the infinite.”

 – Quote from Geeta Kapur’s essay “Again a Difficult Task Begins” in the catalogue for the Nasreen Mohamedi exhibit Waiting Is a Part of Intense Living.

I have been processing this concept of immanence that Geeta Kapur so aptly describes in relationship to Nasreen Mohamedi’s practice since seeing the beautiful exhibition of Mohamadi’s work Waiting Is a Part of Intense Living at the Met Breuer in New York. The title of the exhibit comes from Nasreen Mohamedi’s extensive notebooks. I have been thinking about these notebooks/diaries as well as her stunningly simple black and white photographs and photograms. Mohamedi did not exhibit the photographs or the notebooks during her lifetime. So in viewing the notebooks and photographs we are gaining a bit of voyeuristic access to Mohamedi’s process and way of thinking and seeing. The notebooks are layered with ink markings and poetic text: aggregated evidence of how diligently and deeply she led her life – equally surveying and self-aware and marking it down.

2 72 1200 Diary June NasreensDiariesExcerpts1-1from one of Nasreen Mohamedi’s notebooks, ca. 1968-1988, graphite and ink on paper

 

3 72 1200 Diary September NasreensDiariesExcerpts1-1from one of Nasreen Mohamedi’s notebooks, ca. 1968-1988, graphite and ink on paper

 

I also loved seeing (in person) and in the catalogue so many of Mohamedi’s abstracted photos: of the warp on a loom; the stone patio at Fatehpur Sikri, sand and water on the beach, a desert building, etc. all are assiduously observant but also coursing towards a more abstracted absence of self and direct experience of phenomenon.

4 72 1200 photo NM weaving 685ca. 1970, silver gelatin print

 

5 72 1200 photo Fatehpur nasreen photoca. 1972, silver gelatin print

I also love her strange and wonderful photograms.

7 72 1200 photogram 00681 NM photogramca. 1970, black and white photogram

 

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ca. 1970, black and white photogram

The drawings are a revelation and refinement of Mohamedi’s perspective that you see her developing in the journals and photographs. Here are just a few from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Again all untitled but I have given approximate dates. You can see what Kapur means in her essay that I quoted at the beginning:

“Nasreen’s subject- presence is aligned to the horizontal axis, but her spatial conception reveals complex orientations: the stabilizing horizontal lifts to make a diagonal. Using this as metaphor, I tilt Nasreen’s philosophic inclination towards transcendence. Her drawings test the limit-veracity of the finite and attempt to scale what is conceptually possible in relation to an ultimate abstraction-the infinite.”

 

1 72 1200 KNMA 1655ca. 1960, ink and watercolor

 

72 dpi KNMA 1623ca. 1965, ink and watercolor

 

72 dpi KNMA Untitled- Nasreen Mohamedi (1)ca. 1970, ink and graphite

 

4 72 1200 drawing mohamedica. 1975, graphite gouache and ink

6 72 1200 drawing NM.203 3ca. 1975, ink and graphite

 

72 1200 detail drawing NM 2-untitled-ca-1975ca. 1975, ink and graphite

 

A remarkable artist – I am so happy to have searched and found so much evidence of this artist’s life and work.

 

ea7477db-3776-4568-80ba-c4a189afb285_lportrait of Nasreen Mohamedi by artist Jyodi Bhatt , 1971

some things I loved in NYC at Museums – I am a sucker for the 60s,70s,80,90s, architecture and conceptual art, posted in Boulder, CO April 12, 2016

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Nasreen Mohamedi, ca. 1970, silver gelatin print, in Waiting Is a Part of Intense Living at the Met Breuer

Of course I was in NYC to see the Nasreen Mohamedi show at the Met Breuer. I was so elated and will write more about this fabulous exhibit and catalogue later, but I had never seen her photographs in person. So this was great!

2 Robert Gober slides of a changing painting 1982

Robert Gober, Slides of a Changing Painting, 1982, at the Met Breuer in Unfinished. One of my favorite works of Gober’s – over a period of a year Gober painted the same 11″ x 14″ board and took slides of the ongoing painting.

3 Robert Smithson mirrors and shelly sand 1969 to 70

Robert Smithson, mirrors and shelly sand, 1969-70, in Unfinished at the Met Breuer

4 Yayoi Kusama 1962

Yayoi Kusama, 1962, love this painting in the Met Breuer show Unfinished! Even though I know she is crazy – she is still alive and living in a mental institution in Japan – what a remarkable artist!

5 Whitney IMG_0368

Renzo Piano is still my favorite architect. The New Whitney Museum – I love it, a wonderful place to look at art and look at New York (and New Jersey) from the balconies!

6 Liliana Porter 1973

Liliana Porter, The Line, 1973, Photoetching with graphite pencil, at the Whitney Portraits exhibit. I never  knew about this artist born in Argentina lives in New York – this kind of reminds me of Helena Almeida…

7 Rosalyn Drexler 1963

Rosalyn Drexler, Marilyn Pursued by Death, 1963, acrylic and paper collage on canvas, at the Whitney Portraits exhibition. I never knew about Drexler either, very cool, writes as well as makes very cool art.

8 Glenn Ligon 1996

Glenn Ligon, Self-Portrait, 1996, silk-screen ink on canvas, at the Whitney Portraits exhibiton

Robert Ryman IMG_0374

Robert Ryman, painting ca. 1965, at DIA Chelsea, a beautiful exhibit – it is hard to photograph white paintings

9 Toyo Ito Sengai 1996- 2001

Toyo Ito, Sendai Mediaheque, 1996 – 2001, exhibit at MOMA The Japananese Constellation, I loved this show at MOMA! Great Japanese architecture and all his cohohorts in this exhibition.

10 Gego 1966

Gego, 1966 , lithograph, I love this Venezuelan artist’s work!, at MOMA in the 1960 – 1969 exhibit

11 David Hammon Pray for America 1969

David Hammons, Pray for America, 1969, pigment and screenprint on paper, at MOMA in the 1960 – 1969 exhibit. I love this print and this artist. 1969 Yeah! and we still gotta pray!

12 Fischli Weiss Guggenheim installation 16-suddenly-this-overview.w750.h560.2x 2

Okay at the Guggenheim the best exhibit other than Mohamedi’s. Certainly the funniest and the best installation. Fischli and Weiss: How to Work Better. Dynamite!

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Fischli and Weiss at the Guggenheim, ca. 1980

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Fischli and Weiss at the Guggenheim, so funny!

14 Fischli Weiss How to Work Better 1991

Fischli and Weiss, How to Work Better, ca. 1990., at the Guggenheim

AND …. our son Joseph Logan designed a beautiful catalogue for this  exhibit:

http://www.guggenheimstore.org/books-and-posters/books/peter-fischli-david-weiss-how-to-work-better/

Wonderful to see so much art. More on Nasreen Mohamedi soon.

 

finding a profound sense of feminine space with Nasreen and Helena– posted in Boulder, Colorado, April 1st, 2016

 

The image above on the left is a portrait of Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi (1937 -1990) from the 1970s. The image on the right is a portrait of me embodying Nasreen Mohamedi before I made the trip to India to seek out her work in 2014. Next week I am going to New York to see the largest exhibition of Nasreen Mohamedi’s work ever at the new Met Breuer!

http://www.metmuseum.org/press/exhibitions/2016/nasreen-mohamedi

You can see in the six images below (of Mohamedi’s work and my own) how Nasreen Mohamedi has influenced my work. I am obviously not copying Mohamedi’s style but I have been inspired, enlightened and encouraged by her remarkable work. Mohamedi “looks” with a metaphysical eye in her delicate linear drawings and spare photographs. Her work is transcendent and sublime. As I have recorded on this blog previously, her art practice has affected me deeply. I met curator Roobina Karode (the curator of this exhibit at the Met Breuer) at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Contemporary Art in Delhi. I looked at Mohamedi’s work closely and also learned about her life story – which is wonderful, sad and compelling. The photographs that I took in Delhi in 2014 with Nasreen as my imaginary “guide” became templates for a drawing practice in my studio at home. I made these drawings in ink and graphite and gouache on a large architectural drawing board. This drawing practice is more exacting and physical than my previous drawing methods (though still not as meticulous as Nasreen’s.) One of the things I “draw” from Mohamedi is a strong sense of connection to space: architectural space, the space of my own body as perceiver and as renderer, the space of the paper, and the spaciousness of my own mind. I think this work is very feminine (both mine and Nasreen’s) and I can’t tell you why exactly.

 

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Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled, ink and graphite on paper, ca. 1970.

 

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Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled, ink and graphite on paper, ca. 1970.

 

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Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled, ink and graphite on paper, ca. 1970.

 

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Sherry Wiggins, Out of India series, ink and graphite on paper, 2015

 

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Sherry Wiggins, Out of India series, ink and graphite on paper, 2015

 

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Sherry Wiggins, Out of India series, ink and graphite on paper, 2015

 

I stopped this specific drawing practice temporarily last fall to go to Portugal to look at Helena Almeida’s work and continue my investigations into feminine space there. I was inspired by Almeida to make new “drawings” using my own body.

 

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Helena Almeida, Pintura Habitada, photograph with acrylic paint, 1977.

Discovering Helena Almeida’s work was also a revelation for me. It is such beautiful, conceptually sound, personal and feminine work. Also I just love that color blue! Almeida has used her body in her work in black and white photos often painted with the special blue paint over a span of 40 years. Almeida questions the notion of artistic space in a unique way – trained as a painter, she inserts herself in the “painting” as both material and author. I created a large body of work while at the Obras Foundation in Portugal (much of which is documented on this blog) that was emboldened and empowered by Helena Almeida’s work. My body of works from Portugal is distinctly feminine work – there is a sense of vulnerability, vitality and power. The sequence of works titled Performing the Drawing below express these qualities of a profound feminine space in a visceral way.

 

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72 16 x 16 grid performing the drawing copy

images above: Sherry Wiggins, Performing the Drawing, nine color images printed on watercolor paper, 24” x 24” each, 2015, photography by Rui Fernandes

Helena Almeida and Nasreen Mohamedi have helped set me on a course where I am discovering and uncovering a profound sense of feminine space in my work. I intend to stay on this track in my art practice. I am so excited to see Nasreen Mohamadi’s work next week – it is like looking forward to seeing a dear and important friend. Try to see this exhibit in New York at the Met Breuer through June 5th. Also check out the short video about Mohamedi’s work on the Met website below:

http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2016/nasreen-mohamedi

Also Helena Almeida’s big exhibit is up at the Jeu de Palme in Paris through May 22nd.

http://www.jeudepaume.org/index.php?page=article&idArt=2484