Still Drawing – posted at Kaaysa Art Residency, Brazil on October 26th, 2018

I am still drawing – I only have one or two more days to work at Kaaysa. Though I am hoping the sun will come out and I can go to the praia 🙂

All of these “sketches” are 10 inches x 16 inches or 16 x 10 inches, which is 25 x 40 centimeters or 40 x 25 centimeters. All India ink and some acrylic ink.

I want to continue these sketches when I get home and perhaps go to a larger size for some of them.

They are all related to the I Ching and also the water and landscapes I have encountered here.

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more sketches / mais esbocos

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I have been taking more photographs with my new Sony camera in the landscape when the sun comes out. I am developing ideas for performances with different colors of cloth in the forest, in the waterscapes and cachoeira, and in the beautiful gardens here at Kaaysa art residency. I am preparing ideas to work with photographer Fernando Lima. He will be coming, hopefully, this week to work with me – and I am hoping for some good weather. Like I said these are just preperatory sketches in photoshop, I will be using transparent red, white and nude fabrics to cover my body.

Esbocos para performances na photoshop…

Sketches for performances in photoshop…

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practicing for the waterfall in the pool –

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In Lourdina’s garden –

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Flor / Flower, archival digital print, 60 cm x 60 cm, 2015, image by Luis Branco.

Drawing Water / The Abysmal – posted at the Kaaysa Art Residency, Brazil on October 11th, 2018

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Red Canyon 1 / Desfiladeiro Vermelho 1 , archival print 32 inches x 48 inches, 2017, photography by Luis Branco.

I threw the I Ching yesterday. I got the double hexagram of water, which seems to be a theme for me here in the Mata Atlantica at the Kaaysa Art Residency in Brazil with waterfalls and so much rain…. And it has also been a theme for me in my previous work in Portugal in the rivers, lakes and canyons of the Alentejo.

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Drawing – Red Canyon 1 / Desfiladeiro Vermelho 1 , India Ink on watercolor paper, 2018, 20 inches x 16 inches.

The I Ching hexagram is 29. K’an / The Abysmal (Water)

“In man’s world K’an represents the heart, the soul locked up within the body, the principle of light enclosed in the dark – that is, reason. The name of the hexagram, because the trigram is doubled, has the additional meaning, “repetition of danger.” Thus the hexagram is intended to designate an objective situation to which one must become accustomed, not a subjective attitude. For danger due to a subjective attitude means either foolhardiness or guile. Hence too a ravine is used to symbolize danger; it is a situation in which a man is in the same pass as the water in a ravine, and, like the water, he can escape if he behaves correctly.” – pg. 115 The I Ching or Book of Changes (The Richard Wilhelm Translation)

I made the performative photographs of me with the red cloth, called Red Canyon 1 and 2 or Desfiladeiro Vermelho 1 and 2, last October in Portugal in collaboration with photographer Luis Branco. I thought of these images, especially the one below as somehow portraying this elemental aspect of the abysmal (water) or in Portuguese o abysmal (agua).

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Red Canyon 2 / Desfiladeiro Vermelho 2 , archival print 48 inches x 32 inches, 2017, photography by Luis Branco.

So this is something of a meeting point of my continuing work with drawing, photography and performance. I have made 4 simple ink drawings this week, simple but they take some time. They are diagrammatic (of course) and based on my experiences and photographs I have taken here in Brazil with water and waterfalls. They could become still photography performances. I hope to work with a photographer here in the coming days. I also hope to continue drawing water (and other things too). The four new drawings are all small,  they are either 16 inches x 10 or 10 inches by 16.

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Below I am taking the image on my table top in the atelier with my (dirty feet) standing on the chair.

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caichoeira / waterfall

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more too come… it is raining…

 

sketches in the forest and in water – posted at Kaaysa art residency in Brazil, October 8, 2018

esboços na floresta e na água

These are very simple sketches in photoshop in the forest and in the water.

They are the beginnings of  ideas for drawings and also for still camera performances.

I am thinking of using fabrics again – transparent red fabric and nude fabric and a white fabric.

 

 

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I am just getting started! There is alot of rain here in the Mata Atlântica !!!!!!

 

looking for Mira / procurando por Mira – posted in São Paulo on September 30th 2018

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Yes / sim I have been in São Paulo for 5 days now – looking for the works of Mira Schendel and also experiencing the vast array of contemporary art and architecture that São Paulo offers. It is strange because I am aware of the big political problems in Brazil and the demonstrations that are going on in São Paulo, but I have not experienced this in the art museums and the hotel that I am staying in. Though I have discussed the politics with some friends of friends I have been introduced to here.  I will be going to the coast to the Kaaysa Art Residency tomorrow and I hope I will learn more about the current situation from Brazilian artists.

Sometimes I question this drive I have to go to the territory of these artists that I admire, to travel long distances and try to connect with art in a “foreign” land. Once I am in the experience, in the new territory, I do not question it. It is incredibly stimulating to do this “embodied research” as my friend Sandra Firmin has described this part of my artistic process. Other friends have likened this search to a “treasure hunt.” But there is also the aspect of a strange land that I do not understand. Perhaps this is a little bit similar to Mira Schendel’s experience many years ago.

Mira Schendel (1919-1988) was born in Switzerland and immigrated to Brazil in 1949, a refugee of WWII. Schendel was raised Roman Catholic, though she had Jewish heritage. Mira had studied philosophy in Italy and maintained her interests in philosophy her whole life. Her artistic production began in Brazil – she was self-taught as an artist. Mira worked over a period of 4 decades across many mediums in Brazil. She was a prolific artist. Her work is collected by museums, of course, but it is also in many private collections so it is not always easy to find.

Please excuse me if I do not date and title all the works of Mira Schendel in this blog post. Many of her works are untitled. And I do not have access right now to the information on all the works.

Before coming to São Paulo I had researched the museums and galleries that hold collections of Mira’s work and are actively exhibiting her work. There were two recent exhibitions in São Paulo, both of which I missed but which I wanted to find out more about.

One was at MAM-SP (The São Paulo Museum of Modern Art) curated by Paulo Venancio Filho titled “Sinais / Signals.” It looks like it was a small but vital exhibit of Mira’s graphic works. I have the beautiful catalogue as well. Here are two images from this exhibition below.

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MAM-SP holds the largest collection of Mira Schendels’ work (I think this is true). So I contacted the collections department at MAM – SP and communicated that since I had missed the exhibition “Sinais / Signals” I would like to see some of Mira Schendel’s work in person that is in the permanent collection of MAM- SP. Two wonderful women from the collections department met with me on Friday to talk to me about the possibility of seeing Mira’s works in person. This is a difficult request the works are in storage… However I might get to see some works in person on my way back through São Paulo at the end of October. They printed a document for me of every piece in the collection. They also took me to the library to look at the many catalogues of Mira Schendel’s work.

Here are a few of the pieces I would like to see if the museum can arrange it. I am very grateful to the hospitality that the staff of MAM-SP has shown me.

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I went to Bergamin & Gomide Gallery yesterday and was able to see a few of Mira’s works in person. It is a beautiful gallery in the Jardins district of São Paulo – small but more museum like then gallery like in its curation and presentation. Here are a few of my “experiences” with Mira’s work… thank you for the hospitality shown me at Bergamin & Gomide and please excuse my bad I phone images too…

I think this is one of her early paintings. The texture and quality of the surface is subtle and beautiful – I think it is green tempera paint and then gold vertical stripes on the sides….

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Here is another small painting at Bergomine & Gomide. I think this is tempera as well and you can see the burlap canvas texture.

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Below is the back, you see her name on the burlap.

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I was able to see two of the monotypes, one mounted In acrylic, the other mounted on paper. She she produced thousands of these monotypes on Japanese rice paper, so spare and beautiful…

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Today, my last day in São Paulo, I went to the wonderful Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo. It is one of the most important art museums in Brazil. I found three more works of Mira’s along with other wonderful art works.

This collage with tempera was kind of a surprise to me, I had never seen anything like this. It is untitled from 1964.

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Also this very formal painting of Mira’s from 1962, untitled. It is tempera on canvas which I believe a lot of her early paintings are.

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Finally I love the quality of this colorful little collage on paper, untitled, from 1976. Seeing this up close was wonderful. The small gold inscriptions and characters are beautiful and it reminds me of something like Tantric symbols and has some similarities with some of my works on paper.

 

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So I am off to the Kaaysa Art Residency tomorrow on the coast at Praia de Boicucanga for the month of October. I will be posting about the residency and my work from there. I am so happy that I have had these experiences in São Paulo looking for Mira and also seeing other wonderful art and architecture. I am also excited about a more “grounded” experience at Kaaysa, by the ocean and in the rainforest with other artists from Brazil (and around the world) with whom I hope to meet and get to know. Vamos ver… we will see…

Link to the Kaaysa Art Residency:

https://www.kaaysa.com.br/

 

 

 

 

Mira e Brasil– posted in Colorado, September 2, 2018

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Mira Schendel, untitled, 1966, watercolor and oil stick on paper.

The Portuguese words “que beleza” in the image above by Mira Schendel can be translated in several ways into English. They could mean “what a beauty,” or “what beauty,” or “how beautiful.” I love this ambiguity and multiplicity of meaning. Even though I know very little Portuguese I understand it to be a subtle and beautiful language.

I posted about Brazilian artist Mira Schendel (1919 – 1988) in September of 2017 before my last trip to Portugal. Mira (as she was known) has been on my mind for several years now. I am going to Brasil September 25th to study her work in the museums of São Paulo and then travel to a small coastal village near São Sebastião and stay at the Kaaysa Artist Residency for four weeks: https://www.kaaysa.com.br/

I am beginning my research and intersubjective process now with this remarkable woman artist of the 20th century. I have been reticent to take on a new artist with my specific form of “embodied research” that I have enacted with Portuguese conceptualist Helena Almeida (b.1934), Russian/ American avant- garde filmmaker Maya Deren (1917-1961) and Indian minimalist Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990). My process, research and travel with these three artists has been remarkably productive and has pushed the boundaries of my work in drawing, performance and photography. I have surrendered in some way with each artist, a form of falling in love and mirroring my own work in theirs. The results have been potent, particularly the performative works I accomplished in Portugal with Helena Almeida as my initial inspiration. So now the process begins again with Mira…

I am compelled by Schendel’s work for many reasons. I am interested in the philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of her work, her use of language and symbols, the looseness as well as the specific meaning of her paintings and drawings. We share common interests in phenomenology, though she was much more studied in philosophy than I will ever be. We also have shared cosmological and spiritual interests in Eastern philosophy and very specifically in the I-Ching.

I am also interested in her as a transnational and refugee artist moving from Europe to South America after WWII. Mira spoke 4 or 5 languages- German, Italian, Portuguese, French and English and used language in her work in a wonderful way. In São Paulo she was involved with philosophers and concrete poets as well as other artists involved in the South American modernist movement. I will be going to São Paulo to look for her work in the museums there and I hope to meet curators who have studied her work and written about her. I will also learn more about contemporary Brazilian art – São Paulo has a sophisticated cultural scene and by coincidence the Bienal de São Paulo will be going on while I am there.

Mira Schendel is considered one of the most original and important artists of her time in Brasil but she is little known here in the U.S. Mira was a prolific artist with works on paper and on acrylic, paintings as well as sculpture and installation. There was a large exhibit of her work at the Tate Modern and at the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo in 2014, that exhibition traveled to the Serralves in Porto. I also missed the recent exhibition Mira Schendel:  Sinais/Signals  at the Museo de Arte Moderna de São Paulo. So I  do have the beautiful catalogues and I will perservere to see how I can see her works in person while in São Paulo.

 

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Mira Schendel, The Return of Achilles, 1964, oil on canvas.

This is a short biography from the exhibition at the Serralves website:

“Mira Schendel was born Myrrha Dagmar Dub in Zurich in 1919, to parents of Jewish heritage. She was brought up in Italy as a Catholic, studying philosophy at the Catholic University in Milan. During World War II, because of her Jewish roots, she was forced to leave university and stripped of her Italian nationality. Becoming a refugee, she travelled through Switzerland and Austria to what was then Yugoslavia. In 1949, she emigrated to Brazil, where she began her trajectory as an artist. She recalled: ‘I started painting in Brazil. Life was very hard, I had no money to pay for paint, but I bought cheap paint and painted passionately. It was a matter of life and death.’ In Brazil in these early years, largely self-taught, she adopted new approaches to painting, learning from the example of artists such as Giorgio Morandi, Giorgio de Chirico and Paul Klee. From around 1953, when she moved to São Paulo, Mira Schendel began signing her works simply Mira.”

 

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Mira Schendel, untitled (Todos), 1964. oil on canvas.

 

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Mira Schendel, untitled, 1965, oil transfer drawing on rice paper.

 

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Mira Schendel, untitled, 1965, oil transfer drawing on rice paper.

 

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Mira Schendel, Objecto Graphico / Graphic Object , 1967, graphite, transfer lettering and oil on rice paper with acrylic.

 

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 Mira Schendel, Still waves of probability / Ondas paradas de probabilidade, 1969, first installed at the Bienal de São Paulo, (shown here installed at the Tate Modern, 2014).

 

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Mira Schendel, I Ching, 1970, watercolor on paper.

 

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Mira Schendel, I Ching, 1970, watercolor on paper.

 

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Mira Schendel, Untitled, c. 1985, tempera and gold leaf on wood.

 

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Mira Schendel – I am not sure when she did this one but she did a whole series of Mandala paintings and I particularly like this one.

 

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Mira in front of her painting Todos (which was painted in 1964).

I am excited about Mira and Brasil for many reasons. Of course I am excited about São Paulo and the the Bienal de São Paulo. Alternately the Kaaysa Residency is on the Atlantic coast in a small fishing village on the Praia de Boiçucanga. It looks beautiful and a whole new territory for me – there are rain forests and waterfalls and a new group of artists whom I hope to get to know (even with my limited Portuguese). I hope to work on my own drawings, photographs and possibly some new performative works in the landscapes/waterscapes of Brasil. Vamos ver…