Hello! Welcome to my first ever OSS post regarding mark-making. In Project 1: My Line is Emo, we have to make use of mark-making techniques to create 6 abstract, black and white strips to convey 6 different emotions (i.e. anger, love, joy, fear, sadness and surprise). This post will include some artworks by relevant artists that I have done my research on.
What is mark-making…(?)
it is used to depict the creation of various lines, patterns and textures. It can apply to any of the aforementioned points on any type of medium.
// CAI GUO QIANG’S GUNPOWDER DRAWINGS
Cai Guo-Qiang’s artworks are mostly inspired by his Maoist and Socialist beliefs as it often is the main concept of his popular pieces. His gunpowder works reflects the Mao’s ideology of “destroy nothing, create nothing”.
methodology: a sketch of whatever that is to be depicted is drawn and subsequently carved into a stencil which will then be put on a mattress of gunpowder in varying grades and types that awaits the mini explosion
I found a rather interesting video on how his gunpowder drawing is made.
Cai Guo Qiang’s unconventional method of mark-making is indeed out-of-the-blue, enthralling and inspirational as complex figures like the Chinese corner tower and dense vegetation as seen.
Using gunpowder to create such intricate works is indeed impressive, however, I do not think that it can be used in this project. Instead, attempting to tweak his idea, a stencil can still be created, perhaps of organic objects, followed by the splattering of large amount of paint over the surface to create marks on the canvas.
Cai Guo-Qiang’s Life Beneath the Shadows
His gunpowder pieces are not only eye-catching, in this piece-Life Beneath The Shadow, the result of the gunpowder on the canvas gave a rough texture and gave very delicate details. The spirit of breakthrough and the eagerness to fight for survival can be seen through the texture and the details of the stains from the gunpowder.
// MARK BRADFORD
Mark Bradford’s works can be often associated with collages on paint and his use of grid-like structures in his works. Although his works also comprises of installations and videos, this post will be mainly focusing on his printed or 2D works.
Mark Bradford’s Kryptonite
Mark Bradford’s Kryptonite is a mixed-media made out of collage and paint on paper that brings to thought a master plan of an urbanised city with the usage of rectilinear structures that could almost be seen like grids when placed next to each other. His usage of lines further aggravated the illusion of grids.
The usage of colour allowed the attention of the audience to be shifted to the spots of red and black in the middle of the painting itself. It is as if Bradford was recreating a satellite image of a city with the use of structured lines that are mostly parallel to each other.
The use of colour here might not be relevant to Project 1: My Line is Emo since it is to be made black and white, however, the use of parallel lines and grid-like structures can be a way to express rigidness and structure. Possible emotions that might be relevant to that could be anger.
// SOL LEWITT
Sol LeWitt was an American artist notably known for his Minimalistic and Conceptualised style. His clever usage of simple lines are very much highlighted in his style of work.
Sol LeWitt’s Scribbles
Sol LeWitt’s Scribbles although in 2D, seemed 3D due to the subtle difference in the white and black portion. The gradient created a “popping” illusion to the white portion of the wall drawing eliciting a sense of depth to the otherwise uniform and flat surface of a wall. To look further into the wall drawing, Scribbles, as its title suggest is made up of scribbles in graphite
The dash of white portion in his monochromatic wall drawings instantly captures the attention of its audience. As if a lightsaber illuminating a dark room, the dash of white created a sense of hope and forward-lookingness, relevant to the emotion of joy.
Andy Warhol was an American artist known for his pop art and his visual art movement and was dubbed the “Pope of Pop”. His works are often associated with the celebrity culture and his artistic expression.
Andy Warhol’s Shadows
Warhol’s Shadows is made up of 102 silkscreened canvases that stretches across the entire interior of Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao. The bright hues of colours used reflected Warhol’s style of pop in his works, added onto the canvas by sponge mops.
Warhol’s technique of using sponge mops to create these abstract figures is unconventional yet a unique mark-making tool to create the strokes that fades out subtly at the sides and areas with lesser pressure. His subject matter can be seen as a figure of a human body from the shoulders up, complementing his famous works that are often of celebrity figures. The use of sponge mops can be a notable point for Project 1: My Line is Emo.
Andy Warhol’s Oxidation Paintings
Warhol’s Oxidation paintings can be seen as one of his controversial works of artistic experimentation as many either loved or hated them.
Otherwise known as piss painting, Warhol’s oxidation paintings are abstract pieces achieved using his body fluid, after time causing the harsh marks on the canvas.
methodology: To create Warhol’s famous oxidation paintings, he first lay out huge amounts of canvas coated with copper paint and invited many of his close friends to urinate on them. The compounds in the body fluid will then react with the copper paint, creating some aesthetically pleasing colours as the uric acid causes metal components to be stripped. Slight alteration of the colours can be made, interestingly, is by alter the diet of the urinator, by including more vitamin B in his diet to give it blue and greener hues.
thoughts: Warhol’s oxidation or piss paintings, is an alluring way of mark-making, slightly eccentric yet not weird per se, since the result of such abstract paintings turned out pretty aesthetically pleasing. How he experimented with piss inspired me to reach out to objects that might seem a little unusual to common people in creating my very own mark-making tools.
Andy Warhol’s Rorschach
Warhol’s Rorschach works were first created for clinical purposes whereby an inkblot is created. Thereafter, it is interpreted and deciphered by patients for medical purposes known as the Rorschach test.
methodology: A patch of ink is first placed on one side of the paper and then folded down to be present on the other side of the page, creating a print of symmetrical pattern.
I am unsure if Warhol was given specific instructions on how the inkblots should look like or it is totally randomised. Despite that, i thought this is a way of mark-making is rather intriguing, looking at the end result. However, how I might tweak Warhol’s methodology is by eliminating the symmetry on both sides of the paper, allowing more overlays at certain places.
// JULIE MEHRETU
Julie Mehretu is an Ethiopian-American artist, notable for her abstract, layered paintings, where she often use urban landscapes as her inspiration.
Julie Mehretu’s Stadia II
As quoted by Julie Mehretu, “As you come close to it […] the big picture completely shatters and there are these numerous small narratives happening.” talking about her layered abstract works that is often referenced from the urban landscape around her.
methodology: Mehretu often uses layers of acrylic paints on the canvas as she stacks layers of mark-making by pencil, pen, ink and thick layers of acrylic paint.
Indeed, like what Mehretu said about her works, as audiences go closer to her work, our focus changes into the smaller details that might not have caught our eye at the start. However, because of that very fact, I find her work a little messy and hard to capture my attention in the beginning. Despite that, as I look longer, the entire picture starts to fall into place and I can start to comprehend what her work represent, for instance, her Stadia II piece. The foreground does look untidy, in spite of that, as we shift our attention to the background, Stadia II makes more sense as the interior of a stadia becomes more clear to the audience.
// CY TWOMBLY
Cy Twombly was an American artist and one of the most prominent Abstracti Expressionist who later moved to Italy in the later part of his life. Twombly served in the U.S army as a cryptologist and that greatly influenced and affected a large part of his artistic style. He then became intrigued by tribal art and the history of Graeco-Roman (relating to ancient Greeks and Romans) past in his home in Rome. He was described as an emotionally eloquent and intelligent artist
Cy Twombly’s Leda and the Swan
Leda and the Swan is amongst Twombly’s most well-known and accomplished works. It reflects his love for historical stories, literature and the classical realm which grew after he moved to Rome in 1957. Leda and the Swan is a Romanic myth whereby Jupiter is transformed into a swan that tries to entice Leda who then ;after gave birth to Helen of Troy. Leda and the Swan uses lines to correctly illustrate the union of Leda and Jupiter as seen by the swirls and scribbles in peach that is oval in shape on the canvas.
On 21 August, Monday, our class had a discussion on the things we had learnt from our artist research.
Something I found interesting from the discussion is that Cai Guo-Qiang’s process of gunpowder artworks can be considered performance art when a huge number of audience were present to see his process of his artwork creation.
Cai Guo-Qiang’s process of creating his artworks video.