Painting Performance / reflection

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Our Painting Performance studio with our group’s “Klein blue experiment” piece on the wall.

Painting Performance wouldn’t come across as a useful practice for an illustrator, would it? Surprising as it sounds this module was an absolutely irreplaceable experience which helped me rediscover my artwork and process, as well as my ideas and drives as an artist.

Led by prof. André Stitt, this module was packed with information backed up by performance exercises. After learning about the history of performance art, its origins and increasing popularity throughout the years, we got to experience it ourselves, experimenting with the techniques of artists such as Yves Klein, the Gutai group, Carolee Schneeman, Hermann Nitsch and more.

As we got the chance to explore the subject more deeply within our respective groups, and of course on our own, I realised how this expressiveness that is so vital for painting performance is in fact just as vital for my own work. I started noticing my process in a much more conscious manner in the sense that I started having a much clearer idea of what I was doing with each movement when I painted, the materials, colours and shapes I used started becoming metaphors for specific ideas, the awareness of the duration and repetitiveness of the mark-making itself uncovered a meditative aspect, all of which I’d understood as an inseparable part of the process of art-making, but for the first time I was paying attention to it all, I was mentally, consciously and physically aware.

I was very lucky to be in a group of friends which allowed us to quickly come up and work on ideas we all agree with. Interestingly enough we managed to translate our differences into our work and make them work together to reflect on our interaction with each other as a process as well as the idea of the performance itself. This was all explored in our final performance, as well as the idea of interaction, the individual, the group as a higher form of synergic consciousness, the ways we influence one another, the ways we influence the world around us, the traces we leave through our lives and the intrinsic connections between all of these ideas. With the incredible idea to do it all with the sounds of space as a background we managed to bring it all to life, to reality, for the short space of time we had. The relief, calmness and content that I experienced every time, after finishing each session, had never been more clear and powerful than at the end of our final performance.

It made me understand how important it is for artists to be able to express themselves in their art, even if it isn’t fully understood by the rest of the world. By the end of the module I’d been so deeply influenced by painting performance in my other artwork, it turned into deeper, more personal experiments with free movement, different mark-making techniques, more repetitious, time-consuming or really quick elements and ultimately an exploration of my own self and how my mind works.

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left to right: Kirstin Crocker, (me), Ethan Dodd; at our final group performance
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