abstract art and systems thinking

Posts Tagged ‘NLP

More from Double Vision

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The Double Vision show at Lion and Lamb Gallery, curated by Katrina Blannin and showing until 14 July 2012 is an excellent selection of paintings by abstract artists working today. I enjoyed every work in this show, so excuse me if I come back to it more than once, to comment about another painting or two.

My snapshot of Geoffrey Rigden’s painting “Erik” 2012, 30.5 x 30.5 cm

Geoffrey Rigden’s Erik reminds me of a painting I saw at the Hepworth Wakefield last year by John Piper: Forms on a White Ground, 1935. It may simply be that they both contain ‘forms on a white ground’ and that the forms could be people, even whilst so clearly not being. The connection is no doubt an entirely personal one. Seeing this Rigden painting triggered my experience of the John Piper, of how ‘big’ the little painting had seemed to be, and how strange. I love the informality of the geometry, its ‘painterliness’ and the playing with space. My eye gets taken into those spaces in the centre and the figure (three rhombus shapes combined) on the left appears to be in front of the one on the right (again, not really a figure so much as four black shapes that my eye groups together and interprets as a figure), that ochre square in the bottom left is definitely in front of the red/brown square, until suddenly the white space in the middle becomes figure, softer and slightly curved, which for less than a second might be a female figure, or a face. And then my eye rests on the odd little cluster of triangular shapes towards the top centre of the painting which could be a painting all of its own, a painting within the painting perhaps, and then the upper pointing triangle takes me up and around the whole again. I have no sense that this is “abstracted from” anything, yet it does have some connections to picture-making and composition that I think of as “figurative” even within the larger frame of abstraction.

I find less picture-making in the painting by Estelle Thompson.

My (poor) snapshot of Estelle Thompson’s “Look at Me Now and Here I Am”, 2011, Oil on Panel, 50 x 40 cm

I first saw paintings by Thompson at the Angel Row Gallery in Nottingham in 200o and I was so impressed by them that I could hardly stay away. I worked near there at the time, so visiting them became my regular lunchtime activity for the duration of the show. Those paintings were stripe paintings, quite spectacular, eliciting lots of optical excitation. They grabbed your attention in a way that the painting here does not. It is almost as if Thompson says “now I have done that successfully, what would its opposite be like?” this painting rewards my attention rather than grabbing it. It is double in that we very clearly have a top and a bottom “half”, there’s also the duality of black and white VS colour (black and white is a major sub current in this exhibition), or rather it seems to highlight how black and white behave as colours. The red, black and white “half” of the painting looks harder to me than the bottom “half” of yellow/orange and a peach/flesh colour. The fleshy area also looks softer than any other section in the way the paint is applied too. This seems to contribute to my sometimes seeing the bottom “half” of the painting as sitting forward of the top “half” and sometimes seeing the other harder shapes as framing the soft fleshy area. And then the black and red seem to join forces with the yellow/orange to create a form in distinction to the white and flesh colour that become its ground. I hope it is not too grand to say that when looking at this painting I find that I am thinking first about what a strange thing this is but then about what a strange thing I am, that I can find many different ways of seeing such a “simple” arrangement of colour/shapes.

Does the title Look at Me Now and I am Here refer to this conversation I am having with the painting and with myself? I am reminded of that cartoon by Ad Reinhardt where a viewer of an abstract painting in an art gallery is mockingly asking “what does this represent?” only to be answered by the painting “what do you represent?” but the experience is more gentle than that. It is more like that greeting of West African origin that I came across in an NLP workshops with Robert Dilts, where one person says “I see you” and the other replies “I am here”. Until we are seen by another we do not yet exist, and that seems to be what’s going on here. This painting exists when I pay attention to it, and it rewards my continued looking with visual pleasure.

The other artists in this exhibition are: Chris Baker / Dominic Beattie / Isha Bøhling / Ian Bottle / Katrina Blannin/ Alice Browne / Simon Callery / Keith Coventry / Natalie Dower / Tom Hackney / Jumpei Kinoshita / Hannah Knox / John McLean/ Sarah McNulty / Neil Mendock / Mali Morris/ Jost Münster / Selma Parlour / Dan Roach / Danny Rolph / David Ryan / Julian Wakelin.

A New Series: Chromatic Syntax

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In NLP we sometimes explore somatic syntax, where we pay attention to changes in our experience when we make seemingly small shifts in our physiology. In a new series of paintings/constructions I am exploring what happens when, using the following as my starting point,

Chromatic Syntax 1:1111, June 2012, acrylic on canvas, 12″ x 12″, 4 stretchers joined

… I rearrange the colours by rotating each quadrant, within four rotations of the whole square, giving 1024 variations. I am thinking of it as chromatic syntax. Tip the whole so it becomes a rhombus and start again , and there are 2048 variations.

(The starting point itself is the result of four moves:

placing four stretchers together in four quadrants forming a larger square

move one – a vertical yellow band covering the two stretchers on the left

move two – a horizontal pink band covering the two stretchers across the top

move three – a diagonal blue band from top right to bottom left, creating the first four triangle forms

move four – a diagonal magenta band from top left to bottom right, creating the second four triangles.)

Written by Andy Parkinson

June 21, 2012 at 8:00 am

A Postcard for Stephen B MacInnis

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Hi Stephen

At last! I finished my postcard and got it in the post to you. Hopefully you have it by now.

Interrupt/continue, postcard, 6"x4"

It took a long time to complete, mostly thinking time, looking at what I had done and deciding whether to

  1. throw it away and start again
  2. continue, or
  3. stop, it is finished.

In NLP lingo it’s a TOTE (Test, Operate, Test, Exit)

I threw a lot of versions away and the “deciding whether to” took ages!

Written by Andy Parkinson

April 18, 2012 at 7:30 am

Excuse Me While I Kiss The Sky – NLP for Artists and Performers

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I have just seen the event Excuse Me While I Kiss The Sky – NLP for Artists and Performers, with Judith Lowe, advertised for 01 May 2012, posing the question “What is creativity and how do artists effectively manage their unique creative gifts and states?” exploring how to develop and enhance creative expression, free up creative ‘blocks’ and manage the  process of bringing something new and aesthetic into the world that will resonate meaningfully with others.

What are the secrets of successful artists?
Where do they get their inspiration from?
How do they work and keep learning and growing their skills?
How do they manage the highs and lows?
How do they stay sane (ish)?

Of course, it has more general appliction than the arts alone, as it is about meeting new challenges and ‘thinking outside of the box’, so it is appropriate for coaches, leaders, trainers, parents, managers and anyone who wants to create new approaches to problems of any kind.

It is about improvising and creatively collaborating with others to produce worthwhile new structures, perspectives and experiences.

It sounds great and I want to go. I wonder if I can creatively find a way to be there, at University of London Union Building, Malet Street, WC1H, 7pm – 9pm, £15 if pre-booked or £20 on the door.

All welcome.

Written by Andy Parkinson

April 10, 2012 at 8:00 am

Posted in Art, NLP

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Ghost as a verb

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When I stepped back to look at this little painting I was working on (or is it a drawing?)…

Ghost, April 2012, ink on paper, 3"x3"

…I was reminded of a term I heard Mali Morris use in relation to one of her paintings, when she referred to a colour “ghosting through”. I like the use of the word ‘ghost’ as a verb.

By the way this one is actual size, (well it is on my screen anyway).

I didn’t intend for it to have an Easter reference but it could easily be read into it. Come to think of it I would like to see a 9’x9′ version of it in a public space, a church building. You wouldn’t be able to avoid the (unintended) iconography then!

NLPers are fond of reciting that Gregory Bateson derived saying “the meaning of the communication is the response you get, rather than the message you intended”.

Written by Andy Parkinson

April 8, 2012 at 9:30 am

The joy of art blogging

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Recently Rachael Pinks blogged about art blogging in a post entitled Why Artists Need a Blog, and Angela Sefton at Blackbox Art Studios reblogged it, the content itself a reblog from an AN blog originally published in June 2009. Some artists like to blog and then to blog about blogging.

It's turtles all the way down

…because blogging really can open up new avenues for study, learning and inspiration. Choosing to ‘abide by the rules’ when it comes to using images I spend quite a lot of time seeking images or permission to use images and I ‘meet’ lots of people as a result (even though my wife refers to them as my imaginary friends). Most of the time I get very generous responses to my requests, and I often learn things about the artworks and related issues that I would never learn otherwise.

The blog also opens up opportunities for collaboration. I exchanged art postcards recently with a few fellow art bloggers (BTW sorry Stephen, yours is still in production! I keep destroying them, nearly there now.) Stephen B. Macinnis has some interesting collaborations going on and I liked this recent trail: an idea he proposed that was taken up by another artist/blogger who blogged about the results and then he reblogged it. I am reminded of an NLP workshop activity that Robert Dilts does sometimes, where in pairs one person makes a gesture or move and the other person copies it adding something else, then the first person incorporates the new gesture/movement and adds to it, going back and forth in this way until quite a complicated ‘dance’ develops… and much laughter.

Written by Andy Parkinson

April 2, 2012 at 8:30 am

Models and modelling: Thomas Demand at Nottingham Contemporary

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Walking towards Model Studies the Thomas Demand exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary, and having forgotten whose work was on show, I felt sure that I was walking towards an exhibition of abstract paintings.

In fact, they are large photographs of small architectural models. The scale tends to flatten out the space and to produce large areas of lightly modulated colour, hence the resemblance to American abstract paintings of the 50s and 60s. When you get a bit closer the space in the photos becomes more apparent, it reminds me of the space in a cubist paintings now. I can imagine the artist bending a craning to get into the tiny models attempting to experience it for himself, in a way similar to the cubist modelling of space, as experienced in time.

Demand is known for his photographs of life-size models, made by him, of architectural interiors like the Oval Office, paper models which are destroyed after being photographed. In these new works the models he photographed were made by the architect John Lautner (1911 – 1994), and discovered by Demand in the archives of the Getty Research Institute when he was artist-in residence there.

In this short video clip he talks to Alex Farquharson, the Director of Nottingham Contemporary, about how he found these models and about his interest in the status of the model: far from being a diminution of reality modelling is our way of perceiving the world and communicating our experience of it to others. (In NLP we think of models and modelling in a similar way. We make models of how people do what they do well so that we can teach it to others.) It occurred to me that these photographs, themselves 2 dimensional models, document the process of modelling. They show us something of how in modelling we alter scale, freeze time, distort space in order to ‘understand’.

Written by Andy Parkinson

March 7, 2012 at 8:45 am


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