Two Weeks at The Triangle Artists Workshop: notes from a journalSunday, December 30th, 2012 Categories: Features, Updates
‘Every year is different,’ so the saying goes about the ‘Triangle Artists Workshop’, a bi-annual event founded thirty years ago by British sculptor, Sir Anthony Caro. Well, it certainly has been different for me personally. Right now it’s two a.m. at the end of my first week in residence at the studio here in Brooklyn. Another artist has just wandered by my open door. She stops to peek curiously into my room. But with a quick wave and smile, she’s gone. I suppose she too has also decided to work through the night on her own project.
Goals of the workshop include positive collaboration and interaction among the artists who have come here from all parts of the world. But there is a shared urgency to make the most of our two weeks of intensive creative activity. I’ve just finished my third or fourth wall-work in the small but bright room that’s divided between artist, Krishna Luchmoomen and myself; he comes all the way from Mauritius. The studio spaces donated to us by a generous real estate developer is in a commercial office building within the proliferating DUMBO area of Brooklyn. Since refocusing on my own art production a few years ago, after many years of activity as curator and writer, being chosen to participate in 2012’s Triangle Artists’ Workshop, was a good booster for my artist’s morale, as it’s the first thing of its kind that I’ve ever applied for. My paper sculpture on the left wall is over seven feet tall and very simple… more or less just a strip of paper, but the pale material reacts in subtle ways with natural light from the windows or what is available in the room. I’ve been trying to complicate the structure a bit, but it insists on its own inviolability. I guess it’s complete.
Now, at the end of our last week here, another long day at the studio has begun… some fruit, tea… and I’m ready to get to work. I’d spent yet another night working. Well—mostly working. Sometimes dozing. I’ve come to the conclusion that leaving here to sleep at the domicile provided us, only to travel back a few hours later is—for me, at least, not time effective. There are ideas I wish to work through and it is in the studio that this can be done. I‘d assumed I would be making more of my ‘angel’ series of wall works here. But after constructing a few of those, I realized that because of limited wall space, I would only be able to keep three up at any time—one to each available studio wall. And that would restrict my effective production. So I’ve gone back to basics—drawing—mostly with red conté and various wet media such as inks and acrylics. Seeking ‘freshness’, I’ve started a large experimental wall painting as well as a new series of works on paper. All are related to my ‘angel’ wall works in formal terms. Some of these paper ‘drawings’ have bits of three-dimensional elements attached. I will have to see where this takes me.
My studio-mate Krishna and I have developed a personal synergy, but the work we do is very different. My abstract environmental wall structures and other work aim for clarity, simplicity, and an immediacy of formal effect that is visually assertive and perhaps, transformative; but any metaphorical interpretations are an after effect of viewers experiences and projected desires. Krishna’s composite animal/human/child figures are hung upside down from the ceiling. They appear almost like magic from simple crumpled up wads of newspaper that he wrestles into shape. With delicately articulated fingers and/or paws, they’ve acquired a poignancy based on their abject familial relationship to us, and our identification with those small creatures we love almost as much as we love ourselves. His work is deeply humanistic. In its social and political complexities, his native island of Mauritius may as well have been located in the Caribbean rather than where it actually is, in the Indian Ocean.
I’ve been fed and cared for during these two weeks in a totally supportive environment that’s been designed just for my artistic welfare. So, as I pack my stuff preparing to leave I’m a little rueful concerning facing the realities and responsibilities or the ‘real’ world. This brief interlude helped me clarify some thoughts about what I’ve been doing and pointed the way to possibilities I hadn’t thought of before. I have to conclude it’s been quite a success.