We picked five artists from”There’s something about PAINTING“, Tatjana Pieters, Gent and asked them five questions about their work on view.

 

“There’s something about PAINTING”, Tatjana Pieters, Gent, a group show curated by Michael Pybus, is a show reflecting upon approaches to painting in our surface driven culture.

Could you explain this work?

Yes, entitled ‘Profile Style’, it began with a sharpie drawing of a woman’s profile. I was thinking a lot about the Wella logo at the time and how this abstracts the feeling of glamour to just a few lines. The rest of the work then happened around this, building forms and colours out from the centre.

What does this piece deal with? 

All of my work is both a celebration and critique of commercial graphics. As both a producer and consumer myself I can very easily get sucked in by advertising but then always  step outside of it to explore the devices used. Ultimately it is about escapism and the sometimes desperate need to leave the everyday towards something more spectacular and uplifting.

What medium and techniques did you use?

This piece is a mix of both digital painting on Photoshop with actual small drawn and painted tropes which I scan into my laptop. These digital collages are built up until the maximum impact is achieved. I then have them commercially printed onto Dibond which is a type of Aluminium composite. The fabricators also cut the shape out for me as it is very important to get a perfect finish; this makes the works ‘pop’. This process emulates shaped signage which I love; especially around American cities such as LA.

What were the struggles of making it?

This pieces took quite a long time as I changed the surrounding forms quite a lot; I even sent an earlier version off to the printers and then decided to add the yellow ‘popcorn’ like shapes on the edge; luckily I caught them before it went to print! Also its not really a struggle but a hard fact that I have to pay quite a lot to have these pieces made and so choosing which digital paintings to invest in and ‘make real’ can be difficult. I’ve learnt to follow my gut and just go for it; I am always pleased with the results.

What is the purpose behind this work?

Again referencing commercial signage, I employ the same maximalist visuals that advertisements use; especially from the 80’s as this was at the apex of this ‘more is more’ attitude. I then twist these into abstraction and so there is no ‘product’ to sell, just the crazy detritus left behind and turned up to the max. They are meant to make people feel good but with an underlying mystery as nothing is directly described as usually happens in advertising. I spent my teenage years being seduced by this imagery and now I am using my own devices to step behind the screen and claim the energy back, hopefully with an uplifting result!

Could you explain this work?

I am making my paintings in a way that you can’t explain them. It’s more about opening an interpretation space where everyone could see something different. For me it is essential that the viewer gets into a creative process of perception. So there’s no linear story or explanation of any kind. That would kill the artwork.

What does this piece deal with? 

To start with all my paintings deal with the intention to make a good painting. That’s the main goal. The starting point for this particular artwork was my interest in James Ensor. I admire his works a lot and especially the still lifes are fabulous. I carry around Ensor among others in my backpack full of art history and now and then I would reach in there and take out a piece and make a painting that is connected to it. These little, more or less recognizable art history samples work like baits and it’s a good view to involve the viewer. From my perspective it’s a kind of homage to Ensor and at the same time probably a self-portrait of me stumbling through life trying to digest his works. But it could also be many other things or someone else.

What medium and techniques did you use?

I have always enjoyed painting on MDF panels for many reasons. They are cheap, you can get them pretty much everywhere and in any format you want. You can draw on them, sand them and cut things in it even. So it’s a very versatile material. For this painting I worked on it unprimed (just a transparent layer of Acrylic Binder) and used it’s color in some bits. It works really well as the skin of that stingray dude. Something new in this piece is that the drawing lines of the pencils are quite visible. After I drew the motive I applied oil paint in various thin layers. So it became some kind of mixed media almost.

What were the struggles of making it?

That was one of the cases where there weren’t much struggles really. Before I actually start to paint I make a lot of sketches ant think for a long time how I want the painting to look. So I basically paint it in my head beforehand and then in some lucky cases I just execute this inner image and it works right away.

What is the purpose behind this work?

The purpose is to make the viewer have a dialogue with the piece. Speak to him or her through colors and forms and evoke some kind of emotional reaction. With this particular piece I want to amuse, confuse and involve people. As for all my works I want to provide an emotional and aesthetical experience.

Could you explain this work?

The work shows a gathering of objects from different situations – buildings, pots, vases, flowers and fruit – in the same physical space. They sit on a gridded surface against a pink sky. 

What does this piece deal with? 

Unnatural arrangement, which runs throughout all of my work. My environments are supposed to reflect  jumbled ideology and disorientation within otherwise seductive arrangements. They’re a worldview led chiefly by a kind of internalised marketing speak. 

 

What medium and techniques did you use?

It’s all oil, and went through very many changes, as my paintings often do. Things are scraped off with a large palette knife and the crud is often reapplied alongside new colours. The actual brushwork comes a bit later when things are more settled and the arrangement is in place. 

What were the struggles of making it?

Navigating the duality of visuals is always a murky path. Like words, they use you as much as you use them. The works are heavily informed by visual conventions and history, so it’s difficult embracing all those great qualities without becoming subsumed by the nefarious aspects of the human picture. 

What is the purpose behind this work?

This, and others are all attempts to get hold of the promises inherent in painting and images, to fully inhabit materiality and deal with everyday experience whilst burning off some of the excessive baggage visual culture comes with. I think that’s what everyone’s trying to do. 

Could you explain this work?

I use a lot of images that can be or are recognizable to the general public, pop culture, low brow mass media, etc. for instance, in this painting the images are from McDonald’s characters.  I see them as ghosts, memories, Haunting our memories of to the point of irritation by familiarity.

What does this piece deal with? 

Psychological and metaphysical ideas. Using things from my own personal history to illustrate.

What medium and techniques did you use?

Acrylic, spray paint, glitter. Layers of different mediums.

What were the struggles of making it?

How much to add to the work, how much to edit. Not really a struggle though.

What is the purpose behind this work?

 Big question. To communicate. To possibly create a dialog with the viewer using visual language, about metaphysical ideas, and phenomenology.

Could you explain this work?

The painting shows a narrative (based on personal experience) that goes something like this: A group of girls(angelic vampires) are depicted eating lunch at their school cafeteria. One of the menu options of the day is spaghetti and meatballs, which the blue-haired girl chooses, but the other girls are not impressed with her choice and judges her for it.

What does this piece deal with? 

I was thinking about social interactions in smaller, more controlled environments(in this case, schools). Thinking back on my grade school days, I remember there being unsaid, but clear rules on what was ‘cool’ and ‘uncool’ with just about everything, including lunch menu options. It is systems and structures like these that I find so interesting. A lot of times they echo what goes on in a bigger scale, but there’s also amplifying and simplifying of certain societal behaviors, and vice versa, in ways that are unique to the environment. Also, spaghetti. Other than the fact that I love spaghetti and it is one of my favorite foods, I like the contrasting associations, depending on the context it finds itself in. Spaghetti can bring to mind keywords such as “home cooking” and “mama”, effectively conjuring up warm, fuzzy feelings, while on the flip side, it can also make you feel uncomfortable and disgusted, with the “intestines” in Halloween touch and feel boxes, and in popular culture (ex. R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps #21 ‘Go Eat Worms!’, the spaghetti scene in the psychological thriller ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’).

What medium and techniques did you use?

I used acrylic, gel medium, and glitter on canvas, and attached the canvas to a wooden dowel that I had painted so that it could hang from wall brackets. Parts of the canvas were cut out and filled in with tinted gel medium so that it would be translucent in areas (I’ll get to the reason below).

What were the struggles of making it?

Other than being physically tired from working at that scale, I had a hard time trying to make it hang properly on the wall without it warping or buckling. I had never tried to make a hanging painting like that before. In the end I attached a metal rod to the bottom of the painting to give it more weight and to straighten it out, and applied gel medium to places that would sag.

What is the purpose behind this work?

The painting originally had two functions when it was first shown at my thesis show. One, a function it still retains, is that of a painting. The second, not applicable to the current show, was that it was a decorative element, similar in function to a hanging rug or tapestry, that actually hid a secret door/portal to a room that housed an installation of mine. This was because I wanted to show both painting and installation at the same time, but not in the same space. From the gallery floor, you would only see the painting, but as you moved to the side, you would notice a hole in the wall behind the painting, as well as more cues inviting you in (translucency, sound, moving lights).

24.06.19

Words by Martin Mayorga

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