'How to work - How to Live' was a central theme in the project named 'Zinging Tangerine' Koen Delaere and I did in the Vleeshal, where the museum was our shared studio space, open to the public while we were making the works for the duo show. Now there was an option of staying at La Brea studio artist residency/The Cabin in Los Angeles together, the perfect opportunity to make another step in this collaboration.
Any other place would have been ok too, but Los Angeles poses a specific challenge. Los Angeles and California are very present in our collective consciousness. The desert, the movies, Agnes Martin, David Lynch. California and Los Angeles were the studio and the backdrop for producing and presenting paintings. I painted 'en plein air' and presented the work within a locally given, found or constructed context. I rented a pickup truck and traveled and worked for a month within the epic natural context of California, the desert, the valley, the mountains, the sea. Koen and I worked together for a month in Los Angeles.
I can get overwhelmed by so much input. But while painting the desert was sand, the ocean salty water, the sun hot, the street dusty, the coffee black, the egg was fresh and I focused on the right thickness of the paint. Painting saved me from drowning. It worked out as I hoped: no deadlines, no complicated meetings, stressed out commissioners, construction delays, urgent emails or phone calls. None of the usual conditionings. This time-off period did give the freedom to focus on the work itself and take important new steps. The practice of a traveling residency was an eye-opener. Just a few basic ideas for production and a very open mind, many experiments, a dive into the unknown. A pickup truck, a suitcase, airbnb or a tent. Working in a studio is in many ways very conditioned. These conditionings were overruled by the landscape. Working in the landscape with its massive sensual input has a specific but unidentifiable influence on the output, the painting. The works I made in the landscape, especially a series of large canvases I made on Topanga beach, have a special ingredient that is impossible to reconstruct or recreate in the studio.
In meditation you can reach a state where you 'fall apart'. Your attention may jump from an itch on your toe to an in-breath to a hint of a thought to a pressure inside your front head to a sense of fresh air, a light sound outside, all in a split second. Your sense of self is eroded, thoughts arise like firework without connecting. Enter the unconditioned, the beginning of a journey to freedom. My work has always been an investigation of perception and consciousness. Often offering places, 'typologies of observation', to open up this sense of freedom in other people. This focus on the very basics of the human condition is explored in my painting on site now too. Breathing and color, the sense of a breeze and the smell of green paint, a brush-stroke and playing dolphins, surfers on the wave and whales out there in the ocean, folding canvas, sand, pouring paint, salt water, hot sun, burnt skin, hat, swim.
Met dank aan het Mondriaanfonds
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