madcollage snippets january 2022

Updated: Jan 27

“If I knew what the picture was going to be like, I wouldn’t make it.” – Cindy Sherman


happy new year...dream a new dream

to a better year may it be the beginning of many beautiful stories ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️


cut it out

I've never been much for creating new habits. I like routine. It's safe and predictable by definition. Considering the way I grew up, these are things to be celebrated and cherished. I have, however, identified a few hiccups in my daily activity that don't do much for my well being. Some impact my health in a detrimental way, and others simply make me feel depressed and unaccomplished. I have decided to implement small but actionable changes that will offset these entrenched habits. I don't believe in "resolutions" and even though the timing of this declaration might be suspect, I intend to make this whole year one of tiny but meaningful improvements. Turns out, science backs the "baby steps" approach to improvements. If you too are ready to make lasting changes, read on...


courage needed. apply within

In early December I was given a commission that intrigued me. Truth be told, I had never heard of the woman at the center of this story, despite my penchant for (unfairly) obscure female role models. God knows that female achievements have been swept under the carpet of history for centuries. There are so many accomplished female pioneers we could learn so much from. Alas, they remain relegated to the unreachable upper shelves of history, gathering dust and utterly invisible to the general public. I researched diligently and with gusto. I enjoy digging for information and cross referencing data to see what stands up to scrutiny and what is mere exaggeration. I found some contradictions, but soon a clearer picture started to emerge. There was no doubt that this was a complicated, often controversial figure and that I needed to tread with care and impartiality. When I felt ready, I moved onto the potential image. What should I focus on? An image destined for a book cover (as this one was) should not try to emulate the text within, but it must entice the potential reader to pick up the book and start reading. I went back and forth quite a bit regarding what should be in it and what should remain “unsaid”. It is my belief that ruthless editing, the making of a succinct image, is the secret to any successful collage. Therefore, I set out to create a compact illustration of who this woman was. I highlighted what I felt were her most distinguishable characteristics as a person. Since nobody really knows what she looked like, we have been at the mercy of versions with a variety of biases depending on the source. I had no intention of following suit. I was not about to create yet another completely fictional, cartoonish, or idealized image. Instead, I wanted to evoke her character rather than her appearance. We do have records that describe her bravery, resolute character, tenacity, entrepreneurial spirit and her love of country and family. Of course, there is also bloodshed and war, which should never be ignored, but her circumstances only made her an even more unusual person. In my estimation, the whole of these facts painted a better picture of who she was far beyond any external trait. If there was one physical attribute that was pointed out to me by experts, it was her distinctive, intense gaze. Eyes and faces are evolutionarily pleasing and instantly capture the attention of the human brain. I decided to use it to some extent, and settled on making her look sideways (and not directly at the viewer) as if showing vigilance and shrewdness. So far, she was coming through loud and clear, yet in a minimalistic, elegant way. I surrounded the visible part of her face with a flower motif in magenta, the color of bougainvillea. This beautiful climbing plant grows vigorously all around the Mediterranean. I also used one single curved acanthus leaf that suggests location (the acanthus plant being quintessentially Greek). The word itself derives from ákanthă or thorn. I’m sure that being a nonconformist woman, many people must have considered her “prickly” or of difficult disposition despite her achievements. I then added the circular shapes, which are are symbols of unity and are specifically connected with femininity. Meanwhile, the flat blue background is clearly a reference to the sky, while the waves of the sea are visible in the larger circle. Through this process, I was following her story and trying to tell it with color, shape and line. Once all these elements were in place, I considered my work done. Encapsulating the story of a larger than life personage in a single image can be daunting at first, but I enjoyed the challenge. If you are still wondering who this remarkable woman might be (and you are not alone for the reasons mentioned above), perhaps you'd like to read the following article. Enjoy!


when we are least expecting

I don't have a whole lot of plans for 2022. Remaining sane is one of them. Retaining a semblance of health (the bar is quite low for someone like me with chronic illness) and functionality, is the other biggy. In any case, I intend to keep making collage because it helps me in the above mentioned areas. I have in the works two series that I hope will be well received. The first one revolves around music. Specifically, the music I listened to when I was a teenager. Believe it or not, I was an inveterate Beatle fanatic. I had a fringe (bangs, in the USA), wore round glasses (with no lenses), and spent all my allowance on LPs. I bought all their records. Most second hand. I used to play them so often, it was a miracle the needle didn't go right through the record on some of my favorite tracks. In fact, I can still remember the words of all their songs even though it has been quite a number of years since I listened to them. The series will not only be about The Beatles (perhaps not outwardly), but about those awkward years between childhood and adulthood, and learning a second language with fabulous music as my guide. I can't think of anything that exerted a stronger influence on me at that time (with the exception of reading art books). Music was a refuge too. One that drowned some sorrows and difficulties with loud beats. There are some twists (and shouts) to this series, but I won't reveal them now. Sometimes things change as they become, so I wouldn't want to create false expectations. We'll just have to wait and see. Another series that I have been working on behind the scenes (so to speak), is about words and the disconnection between what we want to communicate and what we actually say. I guess it is about things I always wanted to say but couldn't. Putting them into images will be, I finally realized, far easier. This series will only be available as originals, since their format will not lend itself to printing. Expect some surprises and some three-dimensionality. Enough said. In between, there will be commissions (I hope), experiments and unintended diversions. I welcome them all. Inspiration comes from strange places, and often when we least expect it. I hope you agree to accompany me during 2022. It will be so much nicer if we can share our discoveries with each other.


out and about - Clarity Haynes Altar-ed Bodies @ Denny Dimin Gallery

Emergent artists often have a fresh view that I find exciting. They might not have found their style yet, or they could be experimenting with different voices, but they undeniably bring crispness and certain purity to the scene. This solo show consists of large format paintings that, in other contexts, could be regarded as conventional. Believe me, they are certainly not. We are familiar with the work of Frida Kahlo, Modigliani, Klimt, Schiele, Lucien Freud or Mickalene Thomas. All of them looked at the female body through a different and personal lens. Their reasons for focusing on the female form were as different as their backgrounds: from the loss of agency and independence due to illness, immortalizing the object of all consuming love and lust, to addressing racial disparity. They all had one thing in common, and that was the appreciation for the mysterious nature of the human body. Clarity Haynes takes a different approach, albeit rooted in the classical tradition of nude portraiture. She holds space for bodies that are not often represented or even acknowledged in either modern advertising or traditional art. She presents them frontally and unapologetically. I would even say that there is an element of defiance in these canvases. The viewer ends up being captured by them. Some bodies are large and scarred. Some are adorned by trinkets and tattoos. Some are old and translucent with barely visible veins traversing them like tributaries. Together they exemplify diversity itself. These bodies are all of us. Haynes invites us to look at their surface without judgement, and to consider and marvel at what each body holds within.


to your health

Why not raise our glasses to the health of the people who kept the three ring circus that was 2021 together? If you were one of them, thank you. May next year be kinder to you...and to all of us.