Sunday, 11 May 2008

Doing collage and thinking collage


FPP#3 WIP , mixed media collage on board
[if you follow the link,
click at 'all sizes' above the photo to see a close-up]

I had just uploaded my most recent Found Papers book to Flickr earlier on when I stumbled across a recent post by one of the collage artists that I had discovered over the past few months. Neda at Papiers Colles does collage that stay with me quite some time after I leave her blog: they are often composed of female figures, difficult, intense and haunting. The compositions are striking and - working much more conceptually than I do - of a clarity that really gets to me.

One of her recent posts spelled something out that I had only in passing picked up: she explored - inquisitivly and carefully - the differences between collage and scrapbooking. In so doing, she put a name to something that had rummaged (if not loudly so but persistently) in my own mind since I've been exploring and seeking out collage artists.

It is the link to avantgarde (however awkward that term may be) that makes collage an art form that was fought over, experimented with and thus often outwith mainstream art. The one collage book I bought a while back has some intriguing collages in it which include fumage - the technique of using soot - of candles, lamps etc - to leave marks on paper. While I couldn't find anything online about the artist - Banerjee - I did find plenty on the technique. Always in the context of surrealism and experimental automatic techniques with which the meaning of art was pushed to its boundaries, transcended or just to have had fun with (taking the piss would be the Glasgow phrase for it).

  • See, here, e.g., something on the techniques employed by the artist Ithell Colquhoun
  • Or, here, the Wikipedia entry on surrealist techniques
And while I am getting rather conscious of me turning into an art snob at this point: I wonder if it's not the curiosity, inquisitiveness and love of experimentation that makes art? Well - I suppose much of that has to do also with creativity, doesn't it - have a look at Neda's post and the many comments on what matters to her readers.


Yellow said...

Nope, you're not being snobby. When you lay down a wash of watercolour there's an element of unknown, random lines will appear, and the painter will either choose to keep these, or work over them. With fumage you know the effect you're vaguely after, and will re-work til you create the desired effect. Your artistic mind will make choices at each stage, no matter what medium of technique you're working in. Laying on a layer of soot, or a layer of oil glaze - it's not you who is being snobby or elitist, as you accept both as valid techniques. When acrylics first became available they were rejected by some of the oil painters as being a lesser medium. You wouldn't say that David Hockney or Chuck Close are lesser artists of the 20th century I'm sure.

Lindsay said...

I totally agree about appreciating the difference between scrap booking and collage. You are really moving into interesting areas with this series. I can't wait to see what books you are making!

Gesa said...

Yes - creativity, and allowing for lucky accidents along the way is part of every medium, isn't it. In many ways I'm enjoying getting more of a sense of that with the mixed media stuff I've been doing. The snobbiness was less in regard to different media but more about making cutsy scrapbook designs to then sell en masse.