Documentation, ‘Blood’ Paintings – 17/10/14

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Blood & Fat paintings, and detail

I’ve begun to be drawn to the beauty of blood through my research into the work of Hermann Nitsch (one of my favourite artists, and a firm advocate of gore within artistic work). These works are created by wrapping fat within small parcels of fabric, submerging them in boiling water, and then squeezing the ends of the parcel; causing blood and other fluids to be extracted from the flesh, ‘bleeding’ into the fabric. They are strikingly beautiful, but also incredibly delicate at the same time, utilising a rather grotesque medium to express a certain delicacy about the flesh of not just animals, but of our own bodies. I really love the way that the blood seems to be drawn to the edges of the stain, and the inner area retains a simple brown hue. I also experimented with some dye on one of the pieces, but it did not give the desired effect (see top picture).

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As I could not aquire any blood, I went out searching for substitutes, and was able to aquire some scarlet dye. Interestingly, it does imitate the bodily fluid quite well, and allows me to work with a material that does not stink out the studio space (I would like to invest in some blood for further work though). These are two quick, experiments within dying fabric; as a means of creating ‘shrouds’ similar to the one I crafted the other day outside of my house. These are of quite a small scale, which I’m not really fussed on; I believe that on a larger scale, they are so much more effective at creating a response within the audience, they need to evoke thought within the viewer.

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The first of the experiments with dye and fabric; reminiscent of the other shroud I crafted. I create these pieces by placing the fabric down, paint the ‘form of the bird’, and then pour water down onto the ‘blood’ to allow it to be absorbed into the fabric, as well as flow off of the fabric, removing unnecessary build-up. I like this one, it also incorporates feathers into the work, but I also do not like it; it’s not delicate enough; not fragile enough.

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A more interesting version of the work, and also, more relevant to the concept. I have been exploring concepts of transcendence this project, and the idea of ‘Death of the Self’. These paintings symbolise the moment that the soul leaves the body, so to speak. When the mortal coil is lifted, and we become one with the spirits of the word. This is that ‘essence’ I have been attempting to harness, the bird is seen as so spiritual because it can fly, it appears to be lighter than air, and can escape the chains of gravity. This piece, with the splatters of dye from where I have poured water upon it, seems to mimic an explosion; a sort of spiritual discharge from the body.

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One of my favourite pieces from this series, I really love how the dye has bled downwards, but not outwards; the presence of the ‘bird’ is quite clear, which is a change from the ‘ambiguity’ of the original shroud, but is still quite successful. I also like how the shape has not been lost to the sheet, but also dislike this feature of the work; which is why the next one was faded far more.

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Besides the original shroud, this is my favourite of the series; the way the dye has bled, revealing a very slight outline of the bird’s form, the ambiguity that comes with this, as well as the accidental handprint, all combine to make this sheet the most beautiful of the series. The fabric is also different, being a form of voil that has blended the absorbed and blended the dye almost perfectly.

However, I don’t think I can work on this series anymore. Friday, I had a small mental breakdown, and I have decided this work is not right for me right now, I need to make something about hope; something in a positive mood, my work has been used therapeutically by myself for years, and this breeds more negativity within me than positivity; something un-needed as of right now.

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An actual blood painting is next, which has a beautiful brown hue to it that comes with dried blood. The piece has started to scab, as it is created from veins that were present in the fat that I had, pulled out and manipulated with my own hands onto the fabric. It is interesting sure, but nothing revolutionary.

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