by Angela Biancofiore
Painting bites life. Painting must bite life.
Colours seep through colours, completely, strongly, avidly, chaotically.
Colours thirsting for colours.
The line has to be free, fast instantaneous : the stroke bites the colour on the paper.
The speed of the stroke must be faster than the speed of the thought. Colours mixed with colours on the surface of the paper. The embodied line. The line becomes body – blue, red, yellow – on the theatre of the sheet of paper.
Like the shot of an arrow
Like a lightning in the sky
Like a volcanic eruption
Like an overflowing river
Like a wave moving the whole sea
The line, absolute master reigns over the uncontaminated field of the paper
I show signs
Signs emerge inside me
Pour down on the paper
Signs of life, birth, eruption, cry, dialogue, hunt, pursuit, violence.
Signs of death-life
Cold colours-warm colours
The violence of natural elements appears in the space of the sheet
The violence of the human goes through the sheet of paper
My signs-forces grow into space, show attraction and repulsion, forces that represent situations of communication or incommunicability, dialogue and non-dialogue, cry, gestures, words.
My signs carry cosmic forces, the forces of elements: earth, water, air, fire.
My signs describe orbits, result of opposed tensions – centripetal and centrifugal – the signs-forces embody also situations of great anguish, of terror: pursuit of preys, rage of predators, the breath of the prey and the predator.
The moment of the fight for the survival is fundamental, necessary to life. And like anything vital, it interests me because my signs don't tell anything unessential, but by their bare style, they are searching for the fundament of bios, the biological and the pre-human.
Edward Bond talks about the grammar of art and the logic of the human in an article recently published in "Le Monde" (11/10/2003). The human, he says, is always rudimentary, the humanity of creator. What makes visible what is hidden is the rudimentary character of art, because the artist wants to think all that exists. Nevertheless, it is rudimentary to think all that exists. To be total, the image should be rudimentary. E. Bond gives the example of graffitis on rocks, of tatoos, of the cult of deaths.
Artistic creation is connected with the essential, with the basic condition of the human, it is not related with the aesthetical production, the practice of art is confrontation, is "bullfight" (tauromachie) . The french writer Michel Leiris thinks that creation is not only aestetic, "vaines grâces de ballerines". He wanted to write a work "un équivalent de ce qu'est pour le torero la corne acérée du taureau, qui seule – en raison de la menace matérielle qu'elle recèle – confère une réalité humaine à son art" (De la littérature considérée comme une tauromachie Gallimard, 1939, Folio, p. 39)
When I paint, I am not before an empty space, on the contrary. This white space of the canvas or paper is already totally colonized. As Deleuze says, it would be a mistake to believe that the painter works on a white virgin surface. The surface is already entirely full of any type of clichés that the artist has to eliminate for a moment.
The automatisms of perception prevent us from seeing the world through new eyes. The difficulty is to start from the white which is overcrowded with commonplaces, stereotyped images coming to our mind – like a continuous stream – from the media.
Solitude – isolation – is necessary to barricate oneself against the stream colonizing the creative thought, against the media trash.
Then, much time and much practice is necessary to find again the creativity, the will of symbolic activity that our world tends to cancel.
From the body to the letter: between the body and the alphabet there is a deep relationship, a systematical connection which is the base of many civilisations.
The work of Antoni Tàpies is related to this profane (non-religious) mystery ("mistero laico"), as we can call it. That is the connection between a naked body (nude) and the letters A and B (G. Raillard 2002 : 24).
I feel near the daily practice of painting of Antoni Tàpies : he paints always horizontally, canvases and papers are on the ground, territory ruled by the artist. The canvas shows all that is included in the weigh of the body over the paste of soil and colours : that is the relation with the ground, with the roots; in a second time, the canvas is vertical, upright like a wall or a mirror, it proposes a friendly, open, united communication.
There is the atelier, the room where artistic activity is carried out but the real work consists of continuity, of the unity of a movement of the whole being – affections, involvements, culture, thoughts, mind, writing, sensitivity, the same time, that of the unique stroke of the brush, as Chinese people say (G. Raillard 2002 : 11).
When I paint my signs on paper I think about one thing and its contrary, I cannot prevent myself from acting by opposed poles (birth/destruction, life/death, dialogue/non-dialogue, light/darkness)
As Heraclitus says: "from the contrary – comes – the most beautiful harmony".
Signs-forces embodies opposite tensions: I painted a Snakes' goddess, female figure tending to make a hard balance between opposite poles, the two snakes.
Ritual repetition of creation : birth.
In the set of paintings The metamorphosis of the sun one may recognize the embryo taking shape, cells reproducing themselves, fusions, separations, deaths, continuous rebirths.
The signs reveal the relation between the reproduction and the movement of the stars, sexual forces of creation and reproduction of life, sidereal forces of universe.
The same tension animating the cosmos-chaos.
Now we know that every system tends to the chaos and the order is only an intellectual fiction.
In order to trace the sign, to translate on the surface the very rhythm of the body, it takes an intensive practice, the repetition of the same sign which will never be the same. The repetition ensure that the sign endly becomes pure, it becomes essential, by eliminating the surplus, the redundant.
What remains is the bare sign, connected with cosmic forces.
The chaos emerges in mixing colours. I try to control the chance when I mix liquid colours, the brilliant inks on the surface of the paper.
The dry sign tends to separate, the liquid sign tends to the fusion of elements, endless fusion and separation, like at the threshold of life (bios).
My painting is like the snapshot of a metamorphosis.
Memory of the sign. I paint these signs because I belong to the eastern Mediterranean world, where signs and seals are tightly related. A world that was maker of signs and writings, where alphabets travel on board of ships…I am Cretan, Assyrian, Cypriot, Babylonian, Egyptian… I went through the Mediterranean sea searching for a common writing, I found signs of the sunny circle, the labyrinth, the minotaur, the ship, the signs of human. Coupling, hunt, war, death, life.
I was the signs-hunter.
The signs start from the world of worshippers of the sun, of hunters, of predators…and they come to the world of agriculture and weaving. My signs are the embodiment of the myth, because all that is mythic is realistic and all that is realistic is mythic (Pasolini).
Painting is a form of resistance in a society that standardizes, where creative symbolic activity is reduced, where the values of marketing are imposed to the whole system.
A few years ago I used to paint on earthy surface, often with red or gold ochre. The sign was hieratical, stable, like graffiti engraved on a rock.
Now the sign hovers in the air, it does not lean on the vertical soil of the pigment.
Now the sign moves into space
It became lighter
There is the air in the ink
My signs are fighting with force of gravity.
A friend told me: your signs remind me of the lines of the hand. In fact, I look for the natural line, the organic development of the sign, like the growth of an organism, of a vegetable.
My signs resist against the domination of a merely scientific knowledge of the world. By way of signs, synthesis of the human, I defend an intuitive knowledge of the world, within the empire of scientific and technocratic reason. Even the science recognizes the importance of intuitive knowledge.
As Ernesto Sabato says in The writer and the catastrophe (1986) "Don't be surprised if I give the same importance to mythological thought and to the human being that the positivist European arrogance called "primitive".
The artwork represents the chaos. The Art is what resists.
New York, april 2003