Monday, December 2, 2019

Friday, July 19, 2019

Collage Manifesto (part-3)


To simply state the obvious: We are well beyond its 10th Century inception when calligraphers began to apply glued paper when writing  poems and we are now past living among the troves of modernism. Wouldn't it make sense that the simple shift in the ideas and ways we make art must also forge a new direction? One perhaps more relevant to the times we live in and the ways in which we make things and comprehend newer ideas.

Collage is no longer about the combined image or the manipulation of several images to make a new one. Collage, “to glue” (coller), is more about the complex networking of simultaneous information composed, or even compressed, into a new visual typology. We are no longer reliant upon outdated printed data to receive information; ie: news. We are now conditioned to receive information via bits , dpi’s, and  jpegs, et.al. and at an alarming speed - it is right at our fingertips , all of it, all at the same time  - whether we want it there or not. In order to still navigate this rapidly flowing current of information we must learn how to see, read, and even hear multiple things at once. It’s a kind of an information mash-up. In the context of collage, it becomes the multiplicity of both additive and subtractive layering to arrive at a new composition which can hold our attention and satisfy our conditioning for multiple forms of stimulation. In fact, the term collage, to combine/ to glue, may be simply outdated. We are surrounded by information all the time, weather it be a magazine or an LED billboard with moving images, or at the gas station with a mini-commercial broadcasting information while our tanks are filling up, we are surrounded by all kinds of ways information is filtering into our lives. Both the medium and the message, to reference Marshall McLuhan, offers itself  to explore and expand beyond that one dimensional representation of the traditional flat image collage, so that we can now explore ways to incorporate multiple layers, textures and materials to create something new... something never seen before. The avant-garde is not back, but the mainstream art world has got to stop playing it safe and move beyond its love affair with the past.

My point of departure here is not to criticize the ways we receive information or how much of it by various digital technologies, but it is to promote (create) a new visual typology out of the visual chaos our brains are being conditioned to receive and process in different ways. There’s no better way to play with these ideas than  with collage.. Collage is the slowest evolving contemporary art form; It's time to change that!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

sketches. black and white








My mom once commented that my art was so dark/ without color. “Why always black?” she would ask. That, was in fact, a long time ago and besides my art she was referring to, I wore black - All The Time. But the point of this little story is that she was right and the reason I’m writing this now is somewhat of a revelation I had recently… I still make a lot of dark work- “colorless” if that’s all you see, but monochromatic is better. 

The moment of revelation took place as I was listening to a conversation I was in, but in the end I was like a Diptera on the wall and seemed to be listening in on it while it was happening.  Like a fly, I was soon listening to the words being exchanged and  looking for my halteres for balance. The conversation was quick, something like this:
Person 1: hows you doing?
Me: OK, I guess.
Person 1: Well you look busy as usual.
Me: Not really.
Person 1: Well, looks like you’re making a lot of work.
Me: (I didn’t say anything, interrupted by…)
Person  2: They are sketches.

That was it.

They are sketches (mom). That was the revelation. It was not a noun, it was a verb. But that wasn’t the revelation either, it was that what I was doing (what people saw as art) was me thinking, doing, doing something/ anything, sketching ideas. In a lot of day to day instances what most people may see (note: what they are commenting on is always what they are seeing images of online) as art is really images of what I’ve made that day to think out an idea or to see what that idea looks like. I’m doing this so I have something to react to , learn from, experiment with or just visualize. Sure you can call it Art - da Vinci’s sketches have become this elusive art object, but in reality these were just ideas I was working out.

To give a little more detailed background of the many ideas that make up any one thing I may be doing at any time, I’ll try to explain a small part of my art practice and these elusive art objects/  aka: sketches.

  • I’ve always believed sketches had an inherent/ ephemeral life about them. They could appear unfinished or still in progress, so they had this feeling they could change - they were full of potential; ie: they were alive.
  • Sketches were traditionally loosely drawn and monochromatic- like an idea being worked out, but not ment for formal presentation. In most cases they were made with graphite or charcoal. It’s the monochromatic aspect of sketches that I found appealing. They are simple to see and understand. Color (not always) I felt complicated the subject. 
  • It is also my opinion that most people are poor colorists. Color theory is a complicated subject (I took two years of it in Art school) but knowing what to do with that color is the difference of making a perfectly rendered sketch into one bad piece of “art”. Somehow, I've typically migrated to the minimal use of color and a monochromatic palette because I wanted the complexity of all the elements in my work to still be legible and not be over burdened by too many colors. It's not that I'm not good with colors, I think I'm a really great colorist, but in some ways the work seemed to identify with and was simply constructed out of the idea of a limited pallet so I could focus on more formal aspects of the art like composition, structure, balance and subject. The irony with this is that if you look really close at what I do (in person, not online) and if your eyes have really developed cones you will see that what at first appears to be a monochromatic palette is actually made of af many colors in the field of range with a specific patina. That color or surface you see is a very complex chemistry to present a rather modest visual effect - the closer you can get to the surface, the more complexity you can see in its surface.

Then there was the first art show I was ever asked to be in… I was a sophomore in college and it wasn't the art I had finished for the final piece of the year that was asked to be in the exhibition (a large 48”x48” pastel) , but rather the sketch I made for the final piece. The final art piece was color and it was well received (I got an A), but the sketch, also 48”x48”, was what they wanted in the exhibition. That was it, the defining moment when what I did and how I made art and to this day what my art practice focuses on- the sketch, the idea, the process. From that moment on my art became more about note taking than about some final conclusion to achieve some image or object. 

So in conclusion, they are just sketches- things I do to keep challenging and seeing the ideas. The challenge is to make what I consider the formal art pieces for exhibitions just as fresh and lively as the “sketches”. But that's why keep sketching, practicing, experimenting; in the end, they are all sketches, but some will always be seen as (just) art.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

WHY AREN'T WE BETTER


Why, 2019 (2.22), 27in. x 27in., paper on paper
Aren't, 2019 (2.26), 27in. x27in., paper on paper

We, 2019 (2.28), 27”x27”, paper on paper.

Better, 2019 (3.2), 27”x27”, paper on paper.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

CHEETOzine- pre order.

It has now been 588 days since someone let the ball drop for it to become president. It has also been 588 days since I started these collages to comment on the first executive orders it signed while occupying the oval.  (Original collages are 19”x12”, paper on archival paper).  And now I'm finally trying to turn these into the CHEETO zine. The #CHEETOzine ($15ea) will have each of these collages and the executive orders. If you are interested in pre-ordering to help fund this zine please PM me.  I may be setting up a crowd-source-funding page soon, but for the time being, if you are interested in getting the Cheeto ball roiling please consider.  Your support will help finance the zine and other prints as well as a one-of-a-kind book containing all the original collages. 10% of all donations will go toward the Democratic party.  Donors will receive a signed zine and other signed prints of one of these collages.  Now get out there and rally and VOTE! To reserve a CHEETOzine you can send $15 via paypal: trgratkowski@gmail.com. If you want a zine plus a signed copy/print of any collage you like then send $25 (and YOUR ADDRESS) and a pic of the collage you like. THANKS! Original collages are $350 each (DM me)