Cygnus: New Works by Dominique Knowles

By ARC Magazine Thursday, June 19th, 2014 Categories: Exhibitions, Features, Updates
 

Dominique Knowles is a Bahamian artist working at Popopstudios in Nassau, Bahamas. Knowles will receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Studio from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2017.  His work regards the internal environments of living organisms in relation to limitless spaces such as water and the atmosphere. He explores themes such as transcendence and multi-dimensionality, as well as elements regarding emotions and cerebral philosophies. He hopes to develop an interdisciplinary practice that incorporates timeless oddities such as painting, mundane materials of found-object-assemblages and video art of the Digital Age. Knowles is concerned about interactive art and material as efficient mediums for the artist and effective devices for the audience.

Knowles share his thoughts on his most recent and ongoing project, ‘Cygnus’ on view at Popopstudios in Nassau. The show runs through July 14th, 2014.

InnocenceAcrylic, Gesso on Cotton60’’x72’’2014

Innocence
Acrylic, Gesso on Cotton
60’’x72’’
2014

Cygnus began as a conceptual and technical response to my first series Transcendence. The idea of Transcendence is that two opposing oddities coexist in a transient environment. This notion refers to the equestrian, and an example of this would be the stretched and primed large format painting ‘Gravity, Water, Space’. After that series, I moved to a different climate, Chicago, so I felt as if I had enough distance to reply to it. There I realised that the Cygnus narrative is about one oddity having to evolve into this other more complex being. The first result of this movement is the frameless and raw large format painting ‘Fluid Earth’, which implies that human beings are ever changing.

This notion stated in Cygnus, was initiated particularly in the acting studio, where I spent eight months performing in order to allow that medium to inform my film directorial auteurship. It was quite therapeutic for some time, due to all of the exercises and focus on the body as a tool to communicate. Then it became more intense as I began to play characters that are extroverts. At times I would get emotional and daring enough to actually become my character. It was not just about the character, but also about the audience, my scene partners and my body. I needed to be worthy of all of these entities. Captivation, spirit, hysteria, volume, movement, relationships and intelligence were a few things being explored in the studio. The currents and tides that moved me in that space were similar to that of my favourite motion picture characters’. This ironic escape propelled me to explore the connection I have with a cinematic character. Doing that was rather rhetorical of me, because I selected factors that are relative to an impulsive and progressive life. Indeed art is life, likewise in theatrical and cinematic arts, an amount of storytellers experiment with their characters in hopes to discover new behaviours and they challenge themselves to enter new mental states that appear more natural to the characters’ soul. In regards to myself as a human being and not a fictional character, acting became extraneous for I realised that my film concepts were experimental and narrative film did not justify any of my ideas. After I took that risk, intuition basically began to fuel the work.

Evidence of AbsenceDigital 8:23 (loop)2014

Evidence of Absence
Digital
8:23 (loop)
2014

Fluid EarthAcrylic & Varnish on Cotton70’’x83’’2013

Fluid Earth
Acrylic & Varnish on Cotton
70’’x83’’
2013

Exploring and developing the meaning of the work as I made it became prominent. I treat the materials used in my art just as I would treat a horse or a fictional character. They are bodies and they have necessities and natural inclinations. This responsibility of being integral and liberated has weight, therefore my inspiration shifted from theatrical stories to more avant-garde performance meditations or exercises. The essence of the artist is filtered through the material, which then breathes a particular aura. As time progressed, the work’s visual composition increased in density. Not everyone was able to respire in the presence of my work.

The paintings in Cygnus are quite provocative to some people and the videos are quite minimal yet conceptual. Due to this, I became interested in the interactive elements of art. The critique from peers in Chicago became important, because the context of the work is relative to the content. With some viewers the paintings tend to invite them into imaginative spaces that resemble remote natural environments. Whereas the videos in Cygnus manipulate time, they may project a specific ambience and even absorb sensory details of the space while a viewer is sucked in the piece’s energy. So there is a movement between specificity of the site and the virtual worlds of the art, which ultimately is the act of transcending and coexisting.

Installation shots of 'Cygnus' on view at Popopstudios: International Center of Visual Arts

Installation shots of ‘Cygnus’ on view at Popopstudios: International Center of Visual Arts

Installation shots of 'Cygnus' on view at Popopstudios: International Center of Visual Arts

Installation shots of ‘Cygnus’ on view at Popopstudios: International Center of Visual Arts

Installation shots of 'Cygnus' on view at Popopstudios: International Center of Visual Arts

Installation shots of ‘Cygnus’ on view at Popopstudios: International Center of Visual Arts

Now the work made in Chicago is at Popopstudios in The Bahamas, and thus I am eager to answer questions that a viewer might ask me or that I will ask myself. In this gallery context the work seems less like a narrative than it did in the studio. The idea of maintaining a forward momentum deconstructs, as the skeleton of the art navigates its way through the space, causing the work to be a non-linear unit. The pieces, regardless of which position the object holds in the emotion driven narrative, have a dialogue with each other due to the origin of the material and the tone of the work’s atmospheric visuals. It is pleasing that viewers engage in this dialogue, mostly because the viewer is going to be oxygenated in the spaced based on his or her background. Water is a universal solvent and it is present in Cygnus. Viewers of the Caribbean diaspora may connect my work with the water of The Bahamas because of the paintings Fluid Earth, Evolving Form and Supposed.

A viewer visiting The Bahamas, might also relate water to the Caribbean, but would be surprised that some of the pieces such as Drowning III, Drowned and Evidence of Absence are actually referencing Lake Michigan in Chicago. However, the viewers in Chicago automatically think of the water in Chicago. Water is in The Caribbean, but it is also in other nations just in a different temperature and degree of purity. This is why I deliberately used tap water in the video Drowning IV and the objects Drowned, when I no longer had access to Lake Michigan as I did for the video Evidence of Absence. The other material such as the rubber tires that are in tap water may be equated with the melancholic nature of some of the other paintings. The first time I found tires and developed the concepts regarding the material was in Chicago. In The Bahamas, tires were given to me so I could assemble the installation piece. Frankly, the tires were originally imported to The Bahamas, which probably makes it easy for people to allow the material to be a reference to Chicago. This all simply shows my travels and it deconstructs the definition of an artist of the Caribbean.

MuteGesso on Cotton60’’x72’’2014

Mute
Gesso on Cotton
60’’x72’’
2014

Supposed Acrylic & Stain on Wood29’’x24’’2013

Supposed
Acrylic & Stain on Wood
29’’x24’’
2013

Also, there is a critical discussion about artists working within the Caribbean region, artists of the Caribbean diaspora working outside of the region and international artists sustaining residencies in the Caribbean. I found that being an artist of the Caribbean, working outside of the region to then bring the work to the Caribbean for an exhibition prompted various unpredictable scenarios. In other words, it is not something that can be permanently defined. The concept that a body is complex and flexible is based on multiple transfers and screenings, as well as shows. Bodies and their aura in relation to the specific architecture of a space can produce surprising conclusions. The work moulding itself in the realms of Popop creates a proposition of my own factors rather than a complete development of them, which is contrary to the studio process. This is similar to a deep person that has e a sea of emotions and a flux of nerve impulses simultaneously. Therefore, I now believe that the gallery is my body and the art is my soul. What unites the studio and the gallery is that Cygnus has been and still is a wealth of introspection.

drowning IV still

Drowning IV
Digital
00:57 (loop)
2014

Evolving FormAcrylic, Enamel & Stain on Cotton 71’’x201’’2013

Evolving Form
Acrylic, Enamel & Stain on Cotton
71’’x201’’
2013

Installation shots of 'Cygnus' on view at Popopstudios: International Center of Visual Arts

Installation shots of ‘Cygnus’ on view at Popopstudios: International Center of Visual Arts

Finally, the view that a body of work is a shape shifter equates to the point made almost a year ago that bodies are complex and ever changing. The art may have moved into this new gallery because of the curator of Cygnus, Heino Schmid. He is the muscle of the entire unit, which enables the body of work to be harmonious in new arrangements. It has been quite an invigorating twelve-month process. I find it useful that he delves into my work with enthusiasm, generously presenting the work with an injection of his own experimentation. This is exciting because he sees components and illusions in the work that I may have only implied, highlights a particular point and creates a more penetrating projector. In terms of the curator and the artist as collaborators, there is a steady dialogue between the material, him and I that promotes understanding and footing for future developments.

ARC Magazine
ARC Magazine

ARC Inc. is a non-profit print and online publication and social platform launched in 2011. It seeks to fill a certain void by offering a critical space for contemporary artists to present their work while fostering and developing critical dialogues and opportunities for crucial points of exchange. ARC is an online and social space of interaction with a developed methodology of sharing information about contemporary practices, exhibitions, partnerships, and opportunities occurring in the Caribbean region and throughout its diasporas.