Alice Mendelowitz

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Tentative Title How paintings perform Introduction I plan to continue with playing around with painting. With “playfully” being used as an adverb to describe my painting so that I can include collage and sculpture in to the process. I imagine my final project to be a series of paintings, on various things. I do not wish to pinpoint yet what those things will be, or what images I will choose to depict. Key questions that drive my practice are as follows: 1. How the presentation of painting in the public space can re-enforce the concepts within the painting itself. 2. Surfaces are objects which are functional, whereas paintings are not functional. How can this statement be questioned? 3. How painting (as a verb), behaves on different surfaces. 4. How my “9-5” mentality of my art practice affects the overall outcome of the work. By “9-5”, I mean a factory like working process where materials are never wasted and physical results are prized before concepts.

Relation to previous practice. The functionality of a painting interests me. I have a horrible scar on my right leg that I acquired the Summer before last. It happened when moving ridiculously large and heavy wooden paintings into the basement of my friend’s squat for storage. Sweating with my sight obscured by the massive wooden picture I bore, no-one told me about the missing floor board I was about to tread in to. Anyway, a year and a half later all that was stored had to be taken to the dump due to a quick forced eviction from the property. So why bother making things which are big and heavy and have no function? Hence last year was spent making paintings on flat sheets, laminate flooring (made into a screen), and papier mache “piñatas”. These materials are economical and light in weight, and with those properties, enable work to be made on them that contains a sense of “make believe” and transcience. What I discovered was that I am excited by the challenge posed by painting on a variety of different surfaces. Some surfaces being more reluctant to paint application than others. I have an antagonistic relationship with the source material I choose to paint from. If you put a figure in a painting I think that is almost impossible to describe the painting without primarily describing the figure. If you put a building in a painting, the same is true, but to a lesser extent. If you put something abstracted in a painting, the conversation about the painting can be more abstracted. I usually use fairly personal imagery as source material, and often I don't want someone to comment on the type of jumper that my boyfriend is wearing in a painting. And why would someone be necessarily interested in a painting of my friends and family? So a safe space happens when abstraction is added in to the collage of a composition. However what is interesting is the combination of the "safe" with the “personal”. The intimate mixed with the common. How everything is ultimately so generic, but seeing the beauty in that universal blanket.

Relation to a larger context So much that we see in the present day is on computer screens. In the computer screen format, we can see many different images all at the same time, but formatted in a certain manner. This has without a doubt affected my generation’s way of looking at what is around us. I have just picked up Imagery in the 21st Century – by Oliver Grau. Although I am as yet to read it, I believe, from reading the back, that it explores the exposure we have to this multitude of pictures.

On that note I also intend to read some of Gerard Richter’s writings on painting and image. I would very much like to familiarize myself with the considerable theoretical and critical literature on painting and the position of the spectator. If I want to play around with the canon of painting, knowing more about it will give me more artillery. I read a lot of fiction. Of late; The Goldfinch – by Donna Tart, Extremely loud and Incredibly Close, and Everything is Illuminated - by Jonathan Safran Foer, and All the King’s Horses - by Michele Benstein. What these stories share is that they are all fictions rooted in the everyday. My paintings are the same really. I would like to come to terms with the personal narrative in my practice in relation to these novels. A large flock of sheep grazing on a hill outside an apartment block; the block being situated in between a round about. It is interesting when regarding the landscape of Rotterdam that the border between the urban and the countryside seems to almost not exist. I experience Rotterdam physically mostly by bicycle, and the City itself has been re-built after the invention of the car. Therefore my experience and subsequent documentation of this place is heavily influenced by the feeling of easy movement past fleeting snapshots of snackbars. I am interested in the rhythm of the way that cities are built, and so I also plan to look at The Urban Revolution – by Henri Lefebvre.

Practical steps I have recently just finished painting on a surface that is an obtuse shape, a “sort of diamond”, but turned 90 degree clockwise. For me personally, this shape had the reminiscence of a film still, taken from a camera that had been fixed to a car, but the car had crashed, and so now the camera is resting at a weird collateral angle. I wish to continue more with painting on surfaces that hold some sort of context within themselves as surfaces. I am now planning to take a physical step in changing the way I paint. I have hung a large piece of gold satin, approximately 1m by 3m, vertically on my studio wall. I am planning to paint on it with it attached to the wall as it hangs, and with me standing up to paint on it. I usually paint in a seated position, with the surface flat on a table to avoid any drips. I hope this change will enable me to break out of a painting routine that I am overly comfortable with and perhaps slightly bored of. Through some sculptural experimentation last year I have begun to think about how shapes and forms have their own personality and can converse with each other. So I used the “sort of diamond” shape as a stencil, and now have a “sort of white diamond” on the large piece of gold satin that is hanging vertically on my studio wall. The “sort of white diamond” has been almost obtrusively in my eyesight for a while now, but it was only last night that I realized that the top half of it had similar triangular dimensions to my attic bedroom wall. On that bedroom wall hangs a sturdy shouldered red velvet dress, that can’t help but be in dialogue with the wicker chair only a few meters away. Although this chair has it’s seat turned away, it wants to be complicit in a rendezvous.


References Imagery in the 21st Century – by Oliver Grau, 2011 Massachusetts Institute of Technology All the Kings Horses – Michele Bernstein, Henri Lefebvre’s The Urban Revolution