Painting Performance; Week 2

Our Painting performance, based on the works of Hermann Nitsch

As Painting Performance has continued throughout the past few weeks, I have been finding myself enjoying the group a little more each session, with this session garnering a far greater interest than before. The ability to work in a medium as free and expressive as this, as well as focus on an artist I find incredibly inspiring, was incredibly enjoyable. I feel like the ability to create artworks in a performance based way is aiding my normal practice through a variety of ways; I am often messy, but this field project is showing me to step back and consider the marks I am making, as well as also opening up a new medium in Art for me to follow and explore. I am not one for performance art a lot of the time, but it is good to know that now I have experience in such a field, I can easily dive into it head-first and work my way through developing my skills within the discipline. This piece caused a lot of hassle within the group, I for one, did not want Kirstin to be naked at all; a simple white sheet would have better fitted the piece, especially if it was wrapped around herself; referencing Nitsch’s work more recognisably. However, in a group, one must compromise, and therefore she was allowed to clothe herself any way she likes. The marks the rest of us made were angry and instinctive, as we tried to emulate Nitsch’s philosophy of ‘Jarring those who wander around in a dream-like state, back into reality’. We also had the idea to showcase Nitsch’s work over our performance, so that it would project upon Kirstin, our bodies, as well as the space; through simulation and exhibition, we would create a connection between his work and our own.


These are two particular images from the performance which I deem incredibly important, as well as incredibly interesting. The first image showcases Kirstin creating one of her ‘imprints’ against the paper surrounding the space, we see a ‘crucifix’ shape be created here, through her body’s interaction with the paper’s surface. This creates a very beautiful mark, which one would deem very important to the central concepts of Nitsch’s work, as well as my own work, which deals heavily with religion.  The way the marks look on the paper, the way they flow and collide, every so subtly; like water ink, blending together to form something new, it’s beautiful.


The second image is this; of the sheet that kirstin held being whipped within the air, it resembles the flow of marks that I have previously mentioned; as if matter has attained some liquid form, as if it has passed the barrier between the solid and the liquid, the physical and the spiritual, becoming in a moment, something more. This also plays into my own practice, exploring different states of being and spirituality; I will utilise this at a later time.



This was followed by a performance by a masters student, who was looking into ways of changing and mutating the limitations of the body. Here she crafted a spider-like apparatus that would allow the user to utilise their body in an entirely new way to craft marks; intriguing, and quite beautiful in execution, I had to have a go! It was great fun, and really opened by eyes to the possibilities of breaching the surface of the body to create something new, to achieve another bodily experience not accustomed to in my everyday life. The marks were also beautiful, when created; I am not one for minimalist brushstroke paintings, but this has influenced me to possibly utilise them in the future.


We were then asked to create a series of paintings with unusual artistic materials; I utilised ceramic slip and icing sugar to create these paintings; and although I wasn’t that impressed with them, the texture of the slip drying; this really interested me, really made me want to experiment with clay as a painting tool once more; something that I explored last year through my cave paintings, and my plaster covered sculptures. There is a simplicity in the one shade, the one colour, something I often lack in my work, as I focus a lot on crafting something steeped in symbolism. This first painting was crafted my flicking the slip; and it created something interesting, a flecked texture on the canvas, the marks flowing around, much a retelling of the motions of my hand, in the drawing.


The second piece dripped, and blended amongst the icing sugar and the slip; interesting indeed, but not my favourite.


This piece incorporated a hand movement relating to two knuckles twisting on the page simultaneously; the resemblance to a ribcage is uncanny, and caused an interest in anatomy, especially bones to resurface.


A simple, delicate creation; on the dripping painting, I really liked it at one point during the creation process when it did not have much slip on the paper, and I wanted to create something that held that fragility; that delicacy, something unlike the previous pieces, crafting something more reserved in nature.


The final piece was an experiment in anger; Andre riled us up, made us angry, then let us loose on the canvas; at this point my materials had almost been depleted, so I had to recover some liquid from the floor to utilise in this piece. There are very obvious hand prints within this piece, and many layers of them, as I would have to go over and over the marks during the duration of the exercise. This was enjoyable, and a great release, but it is not something I choose to follow further.


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