Friday, December 16, 2016

Silk Paintings - Rainbow over Wailua

This painting was part of a solo exhibition called "Magic Landscapes" in Pittsburgh, MA.

The original image was an old travel photograph from back in the 90’s from a tour to the Haleakala in the early morning and the scenery was perfect for silk painting simply because of the light shining through the clouds.

"Rainbow over Wailua"
21" x 40"
silk

On the day when I took the photograph it was on the first third of the way up to the crater – when I remember this correctly – and at a lookout towards northeast of the island of Maui with the rather plain lava fields beyond the tree line. But I am not quite sure any more. In the end it is not really important and I didn’t want to nail it down that it was really the sight towards Wailua bay where the photo was made. I tried to figure out from a map where exactly that view was but that was not easy after such a long time. I hoped the day is not far away when I could check this out personally again.

I am crazy about NOT creating the standard kitsch stuff – I think photos are allowed to show the true beauties of nature which can never be trite - but paintings? I have a deep antipathy against the saccharine stuff. Especially paintings with rainbows easily belong into that category. So this was the real challenge for me: painting a landscape scene with rainbow but NOT making it trite. I leave it to you to judge…

Here are some details of the painting:






"Rainbow" is painted on real Pongé silk.
The silk painting is mounted on stretcher bars and is gallery wrapped (stapled on the back - sides are painted) and can be hung with or without additional frame. It will be shipped without additional frame though.

I recommend framing the painting in an additional sophisticated frame though if that blends well into your interior. This would complement the silk of the painting perfectly (see photo below).

The painting's reverse side is protected by 2 other layer of fabric, one a very thin polyester batting and another fabric as backing. This adds stability to the painting.

These silk paintings do not request different handling than oils or other artwork: dry environment and no direct sunlight. I have paintings on my walls since many years which look fresh and new as if just created. You can contact my gallery in Pittsburgh for reference.

As an example I have added another image of the painting how it could look like properly framed no matter as the original silk painting or "only" as print:



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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Silk Paintings - Ayutthaya

This silk painting belongs to a series called "Magic Landscapes" and was part of a solo exhibition in the BoxHeart Gallery in Pittsburgh.

The painting is a triptych, painted on 3 panels and was inspired by the ancient city of Ayutthaya in Thailand.


"Ayutthaya"
40" x 39"
silk, stitched

Ayutthaya is one of those special places which emanate an aura of magic and fascination ancient sites have in common. Ayutthaya (1350 - 1767) was once the golden capital of the ancient kingdom of Siam (Thailand) - a magical city with about one million inhabitants around 1700. It was destroyed by the Burmese and finally abandoned. Bangkok became the new capital.

Today nothing is left but ruins. Only hundreds of Buddha statues, partially intact or restored, prangs (reliquary towers) and monasteries, which form the Ayutthaya historical park, create a place of great magic and belong to the UNESCO World Heritage.

Here are some additional details:







The silk is mounted on stretcher bars and gallery wrapped (stapled on the back - sides are painted). The panels are ready to be hung.

As the painting's reverse sides are protected by 2 other layer of fabric, one a very thin polyester batting and another fabric as backing stability is guaranteed. These silk paintings do not request different handling than oils or other artwork: dry environment and no direct sunlight. I have silk paintings on my walls since many years which look fresh and new as if just created. You can contact my gallery in Pittsburgh for reference.


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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Quilt Art on Silk - White Tara

White Tara is the goddess of compassion and represents in Buddhism the feminist ideal:

“Goddess Tara, a female Buddha and meditational deity, is arguably the most popular goddess in the Buddhist pantheon. She is considered to be the goddess of universal compassion who represents virtuous and enlightened activity.”

"White Tara"
74" x 26"
silk

The goddess Tara is known in many countries under different names. In China f.e. she is known as Kuan Yin.

For me the feminist aspect was very appealing. You won’t find too many personalities in history and the devine pantheon which are feminine authorities in this world of male predominance. So my inspiration for this work resulted in depicting this image of a very sympathetic goddess other than the female aspect being interpreted as that of seduction and evil as in christian beliefs, a witch or revengeful spirit as in Greek mythology and other myths.

The second theme of this quilt is the lotus flower. Lotus is a symbol of purity and has healing powers.
“In Buddhist symbolism the lotus represents purity of body, speech, and mind, as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. The Buddha is often depicted sitting on a giant lotus leaf or blossom. According to legend, he was born with the ability to walk and everywhere he stepped, lotus flowers bloomed” (Wikipedia)




While the image of the goddess Tara was adorned with jewellery and lotus buds and blossoms allover, her skirts additionally were embellished with tiny beads. The patterns on her skirts were hand painted with metallic pigments.



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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Quilt Art on Silk - Apsaras

This artwork is an original silk wholecloth art quilt and it is called "Apsaras".


"Apsaras"
52" x 69"
silk, painted

It is quite strange. While other artists, coming from the media “painting” suddenly turn their interest into working with fabrics and textiles, it was totally the other way round in my case. While I may go back to quilting from time to time and test my inspirations on rather unusual themes and materials again, it was the creation of fabric images and quilting that brought me back to painting, that I stopped doing for various reasons many many years ago.

Especially this art quilt motivated me to try my hand on painting again. Maybe you can compare it (although that comparison really sucks but I could not find any better) to those child’s painting pattern books, where the motifs are already outlined and the kid only chooses the colours to fill up the forms.

The longer I think about this I realize painting quilts can be really pattern painting. You already have a form outlined with the quilting lines. Now you only need to fill out the forms. That’s how I started to paint the quilts. Later on – depending on the image – I worked the other way round: first finished the painting, finally did the quilting after that. But this is an entirely different story and the techniques are others than in this art work.

At this stage I did still a lot of experimenting. First of all I had to cope with working on silk which is not only slippery but reacts to quilting lines completely differently than a piece of cotton or any other fabric. Silk produces a relief and does not stay flat, unless you use a stabilizer on the back, which is normally glued to the fabric, using the heat of an iron.
But I did not want to do that – I wanted the relief and those lovely shadows it would produce and I wanted that 3-dimensional feel.

Here are some details:





So painting on this piece of cloth was a real experiment, especially as I did not want the colours to flow beyond the quilting stitches. I did not want to use a resist either because then I would have had to wash the quilt again or would have got it dry cleaned which I did not want to do either. Each washing cycle or dry cleaning would take a little bit off the shimmer of the silk.

But with a special technique, painting with quite dry brushes, I achieved exactly what I wanted.



The “Apasara” motifs existed in my head a long time before I even travelled to Southeast Asia. Memories from the 70’s and Indian influences that flooded the western countries during the hippy era did already exist in rudimentary pieces in my brain. Through the years of travelling I developed a greater interest for the culture of the Khmer and I studied many photo documentaries in books and on film.

Although I have never been in Cambodia physically I got to know the country and its people through tales and contacts outside the country itself – many Cambodians still live in exile and have found new homes.
And although the heritage of the Cambodian people is subject to the UN and their tasks to protect the world’s biggest human heritages, there is still a huge deficit regarding the education and support of the people. Suffering from decades of murder and suppression of the Pol Pot regime the Cambodian people just starts to re-define its identity and build up a new valuable life. But they still need help.





In order to keep up the memories about a culture that has been nearly extincted I decided to create this silk quilt. I kept close to the rather flat style of presenting figures as can be found in basreliefs and paintings. Intriguing for me was the incredible detail of the Apsara figures, the detail of their jewellery and clothing. I love details in any respect be it in paintings or photography. Details are often overlooked but they are the essence of the bigger picture. It means you have to look close in each direction in order to perceive the complete picture.
I tried to reproduce that same love for detail that the ancient artists had for the wonderful sculptures in Khmer art.

The art quilt has been hand quilted with silk thread and hand painted. The reverse side of this art quilt has been appliqued with leaves and branches made of satin.


As usual the artquilt started as a drawing:


The motif was then transferred to the silk, all 3 layers of top, batting and back mounted together and then handquilted along the lines and finally painted.

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The original silk Art Quilt can be found here
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A Fine Art Print of the quilt can be found here

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Silk Paintings - Mesopotamia

This is another piece from the Magic Symbols series, a series about the icons and secrets of ancient cultures. The silk painting was called Mesopotamia:


"Mesopotamia"
40" x 13"
silk, stitched

Ancient cultures are tremendously fascinating, specifically when they keep their secrets, when no-one has been able yet to decipher them. This leaves enough space for speculation and theories. The less is really known about an ancient culture the more it incites curiosity of course, especially when precious treasures might be involved which could be very attractive for public and media and thus a valid argument to fork out new research grants.

Now we are talking about Mesopotamia – the land between Tigris and the Euphrates river. A while ago we heard something about the axis of evil, now we hear about the axis of chaos. The land between the Tigris and the Euphrates yet was also the axis of human culture from where civilization was brought into the adjacent regions. The ancient empire of Mesopotamia even once included parts of the Mediterranean sea, conquered by King Sargon who founded the city of Akkad. Doesn’t it seem a bit paradox that we are talking about the very same countries here which are now called Irak and Iran?

More than 5000 years ago, the southern part of the land between the rivers was only marsh land. No rock, no metal, nor hard woods for constructions could be found there, but nevertheless here was the cradle of the earliest advanced culture: the land of Sumer. Sumerian cities and temples were embellished with gold, silver and precious stones which were organized through long-distance trade.

Sumerian culture was a mix of foreign and local elements. The Sumerians were highly innovative people, creative in their response to the natural challenges of the two rivers and their immense flooding each year. Many of the great Sumerian legacies, such as writing, irrigation, the wheel, astronomy and literature, can be seen as adaptive responses to the great rivers. And now, today?

These formerly highly developed countries disappear in clouds of utter poverty of the population due to religious power plays. How is it possible that civilizations with greatly evolved societies fall back into medieval habits? Shouldn’t this be a warning for any civilization which starts to neglect freedom and tolerance?

 (image source: http://www.garone.net/tony/disc.html)
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“The Sumerians were the first people known to have devised a scheme of written representation as a means of communication. From the earliest writings, which were pictograms (simplified pictures on clay tablets), the Sumerians gradually created cuneiform–a way of arranging impressions stamped on clay by the wedge-like section of a chopped-off reed. The use of combinations of the same basic wedge shape to stand for phonetic, and possibly for syllabic, elements provided more flexible communication than the pictogram. Through writing, the Sumerians were able to pass on complex agricultural techniques to successive generations; this led to marked improvements in agricultural production.
Another important Sumerian legacy was the recording of literature. The most famous Sumerian epic and the one that has survived in the most nearly complete form is the epic of Gilgamesh. The story of Gilgamesh, who actually was king of the city-state of Uruk in approximately 2700 B.C., is a moving story of the ruler’s deep sorrow at the death of his friend and of his consequent search for immortality. Other central themes of the story are a devastating flood and the tenuous nature of man’s existence. Laden with complex abstractions and emotional expressions, the epic of Gilgamesh reflects the intellectual sophistication of the Sumerians, and it has served as the prototype for all Near Eastern inundation stories.” (Excerpted from Iraq: A Country Study. Helen Chapin Metz, ed. Washington, DC: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, 1988).
This may explain why the name of “Mesopotamia” seems to be connected with so many myths and secrets as well as with the Bible. Kings such as Nebukadnezar and Sanherib, cities such as Ur, Ninive, Assur and Babylon are all to be found in Mesopotamia.
But the Bible tells only a tiny part of Mesopotamia’s history and soon the people of Sumer sank into oblivion, until the oldest tablets (dating from ca. 3500 bc) were found in Kisch (see map). The typical cuneiform was developed much later, around 2700 BC.
It took another 4500 years until the tablets could be deciphered by a German philologist in 1802, by Georg Friedrich Grotefend..


But Mesopotamia possessed even more superlatives. It was probably the land with the oldest tree-of-life symbols. Since nearly 5000 years and in probably every society the tree was the symbol for life itself. The tree did not only deliver construction material for houses and all kinds of containers, but it was also needed for the supply of food, for transportation and many other requirements. All bigger civilizations such as Sumerians, Assyrian, Egyptians and Chinese, Greeks and Romans would not have developed without their forests!

The tree as a symbol for life had an additional meaning: in every country on this world the tree was always the link between heaven and earth. While its roots went deep into the soil and its branches reached high into the sky humans considered this as the tie between the two plains. All the known myths are talking about this and so it even seems to be the band that all humans are connected through.




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Monday, May 2, 2016

Silk Paintings - Machu Picchu

Quite a while ago, before I started this painting,  I saw a great documentary on TV about the ancient city of Machu Picchu. It was fascinating but at the same time I was shocked to hear that this spiritual place had become an object of mass tourism!!

While I fully understood that a poor country such as Peru needs the income from tourism badly it was again frustrating to hear how this is achieved. It was the same problem as everywhere in the world where survival of people clashes with the requirements for protecting the assets of a country as its natural environment and cultural heritage.
Machu Picchu was inscribed to the status of Worlds Heritage by the UNESCO in 1983. Being in danger to be trampelled down by tourists the UNESCO org now requires now that the daily visitors should be constraint to 500 people. The ministry of tourism in Peru though planned to admit a number of 10.000 people per day which would be even a higher risk to the sacred place than currently, where the culmination is 4.000 visitors per day – as you can imagine. A huge dilemma.
From the website of the World Heritage Center:
“To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. These criteria are explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention which, besides the text of the Convention, is the main working tool on World Heritage.”
One of these criteria currently says and which may apply to Machu Picchu:
“to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared” (read more)
The tragedy is that the income from tourism probably will not make any difference on the poverty of the people in general, only a few will have jobs and benefit from this income. And additionally there is a huge cultural discrimination between the visitors and the native people: it was mentioned in an interview with the locals that the indigenous people may visit their sacred places only once a month for free – paying the entry fees would be unattainable for them.

It will probably not be likely for myself to see Machu Picchu in reality for various reasons although I wished I could. So for me the only alternative is to look at pictures and videos about this magical place. And I have something other people might not have – the urge to paint this place as I see it in my dreams and talk about it. This at least will not add to the damage of this ancient site. The first result was a silk painting – Machu Picchu as part of the Magical Symbols series.
I painted this in warm colours – just the right thing to warm up your room when the temperatures start to go down again in the winter season.

Machu Picchu is truly a magical place, an archeological site which still holds many secrets. Although the trip may not be as exhausting as 20 years ago it is still not easy to reach this place as it is hidden high in the mountains of the Andes which is good for the place. The plans of the Peruvian government though may change this dramatically. As I already said above the site is in danger to be simply trampelled down by thousands of tourists.
“Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas”, it is perhaps the most familiar icon of the Inca World.
The Incas started building the estate around AD 1400 but it was abandoned as an official site for the Inca rulers a century later at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Although known locally, it was unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Since then, Machu Picchu has become an important tourist attraction.
Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Since it was not plundered by the Spanish when they conquered the Incas, it is especially important as a cultural site and is considered a sacred place.” (from wikipedia)”
Whatever might turn out to be the real purpose of Machu Picchu – there is no doubt that this is a place full of magic and an incredible aura. Until today artefacts are found at this site and may lead to new discoveries.


“Machu Picchu”
40″ x 13″
 silk, stitched

.The golden ornaments that I included in this painting/collage certainly add a special touch to the historical city and the dreams about the lost treasures of the Inca people. And although much has been written about Machu Picchu the spell and mystic aura of this place is not lost yet and the cultural objects and symbols, the textile art and ceramics that have been found are a huge treasure and inspiration for our dreams and fantasies.

Here are some details of this painting....





And again I have added a virtual example how this painting could look like framed i.e. even as Fine Art print it will give you the impression of a treasure...



Btw - the Fine Art prints of these stitched silk paintings look awesome due to the excellent print shop I have as a supplier. These prints are done on heavy cotton canvas and show every little detail you can see on the original - even the stitching. And as I use to re-work the prints with metallic pigments after the printing the shimmer of the metal is emphasized...


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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Silk Scrolls - Panaxia I

Panaxia was inspired by a natural spectacle that takes place in Rhodes, Greece each year:

on the western side of the island there is the Valley of the Butterflies. During August, thousands of butterflies of the genus Panaxia (species Quadripunctaria Poda) overwhelm the valley in order to reproduce. During the rainy season, the caterpillars feed on the foliage of the Mediterranean bushes. Towards the end of May, the metamorphosis begins and thousands of butterflies appear. They move constantly towards areas of highest humidity and finally arrive at the valley.
Due to several factors this natural wonder is endangered: disturbance by visitors. The butterfly cannot eat because it has no stomach. As a butterfly it purely survives from the energy stored from its previous stage as a caterpillar - if it is disturbed it has to fly all day consuming its energy which is needed for the mating season.

These decorative scrolls are reminiscent of ancient Chinese or Japanese scroll paintings, their construction though is completely different and has been developed by myself.

While traditional Japanese and Chinese silk scrolls are made from very thin painted silk, that is glued to paper which again is normally covered by patterned silk, my scrolls consist of 3 layers of fabric and no paper at all. The middle piece is constructed like a quilt with a layer of very thin batting between the top layer which is the painted silk and the back. Headpiece and footpiece are normally made from silk as well, which has been fused to a thin layer of rayon fabric.

Different from the Chinese and Japanese painting scrolls where the dowels are glued to the paintings themselves I have created something different: the fabric has been sewn to the back in order to form a little sleeve so that the dowel can be pushed in but also removed again. This gives more freedom in regard of hanging this scroll. Thus it is also possible to mount it on stretcher bars instead without damaging the painting.

 "Panaxia I"
42" x 24"
silk scroll, stitched and embroidered


The lines are an abstract representation of the bark of a tree and the red embroidery is the butterfly's under wing which you can only see when he opens his wings.
Here are some details of the scroll....





And again a virtual example of how the scroll could look like framed (just the middle piece)....



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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Painting on Paper and Wood Block Printing again - Sari II

Here is my second painting and wood block printing on paper - Sari II. Of course this has been as much fun as the first one. Again painted in red a bit differently and then different wood block patterns of course.

Sari II has also been painted on heavy watercolour paper. The block prints add a graphic element to the painting which is a reminiscence of those precious silk saris Indian women wear for special events as f.e. a wedding.

I have a great love for textiles. Besides creating quite a few painted and hand stitched art quilts, I have done silk paintings where stitching was added to achieve additional textures and shadows. Now theses textures led me to patterns, regular and irregular patterns as you can find on handprinted cloth. Additionally I wanted to access something that I have never used before in this combination: a wonderful collection of old Indian wooden stamps for block printing which contain intriguing and very delicate handcarved patterns. I have always been intrigued to create works that are mocking the real thing - this is another example.

The painting has been glazed with layers of acrylic glaze. Therefore it is not neccessary to frame this painting with glass.


Sari II
20" x 15"
acrylic on paper 

Here are some details again....






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