Any statement made here should be considered ephemeral
Don’t trust it after it’s been written
The statement only applies (may only) to the period of 2016 – 2017
This serves as a note to myself. Your presence makes this diary entry a witnessed one, I suppose.
For four years prior to 2017, I had been fascinated with mammals, especially four legged wild beasts (jaguars and any sorts of large cats, rhinos, elephants, hyenas, grizzlies, even ancient ones like mammoths). To learn about them, often the only resort was to capture their movements, behaviors, on camera. Then later, refer to the images.
National geographic images, Pinterest, DK science illustrations, “The Prehistoric” were all references that I would cling onto.
I wanted to understand them perhaps because I thought I wasn’t one of them. I wanted to experience forms that wasn’t me.
I studied them, drew them, drew references of them, learned from the renditions of beasts from artists before me like Eugene Delacroix, George Stubbs.
Slowly, I began to realize my departure from real life engagements. In the same scope, as I traversed art shows, I noticed few expressions today are based off of a live object / subject only in front of the author. Artists engage in references after references, the layers of references add to our artificial grasp with the world that we currently indulge in.
When I plein aired some sessions, in observing nature, I found that all is lost when it’s fixated to pixels . it’s not my memory I captured , they were codes of the image, unrelated to my being, my way of perceiving. Layers of greens never reaching what my eyes or body really experienced. Depth of view, and angles of view, all trapped.
My first act of determination to change was after my several visits to Bronx zoo where I had only brought sketch paper and fancy camera. I decided to bring a real life size linen on aluminum canvas to the site.
On a high wind day, gray, and pre-storm in the autumn, I tied a 56 inch by 36 inch large canvas to the bars that stopped the grizzlies from roaming the zoo, so that the canvas won’t fall to the ground. The canvas already has two nudes on it that I did a few days prior with professional models in my new York studio.
I didn’t take any photos of the grizzlies. I followed their actions and moves with my brush and pinned down where I saw them. My live interaction with them was stressful, changeful, unpredictable. They can screw up my composition in segments of 15 seconds. How do I process that information? How do I commemorate their being? They wouldn’t sit still for me
From this painting onward, I changed my practice .
It was all about animals invading human spaces. Manmade spaces.
Perhaps I didn’t understand the deep desire of why I wanted that so bad “invading manmade spaces” the natural invading the artifice
Was I fascinated by the animal forms?
It’s frustrating at first, because to have the language to paint fluidly within a constraint of time where your subjects can only be in front of you for such a short time, means I have to get real good with depicting anything with precision and details
Male nudes became my first fascination to interact with live. They are also a species I am not, and I long to understand. Then I moved my interest to couples, and now perhaps back to animal forms and trees. The central moving force is about the ephemeral.
Now, really a variation on the same theme:
The ephemeral is invading the permanent.
The live is invading the artificial.
The time seized me or I seized time?
No stroke is the same
I am limited by the subject and time as well as the subject is limited . For the Ben & Emily painting, the couple said that they were locked in time. They are “forced” to look at each other, be with each other, and that aroused them. For David, he was “forced” to focus on writing his comedy sketch. The live painting sessions forced all subjects to remove all their distractions, to focus on what ‘s in front of the, and truly what at the moment only and really matters. Challenging our modern behaviors and addictions to machines, artifice, manmade rules?
Interacting with an alive subject. My subject and I being there in that short duration, minutes or hours, will never again replicate. Even if we reconvene at some point in the future, I’ll be in a different state, they will be too. We will be in another set of amalgamated skills and thoughts and flesh (cells).
Free , fluid, in the moment. Once it’s over, we are done. We don’t revisit the past. I don’t enjoy to. Keeping the free and fluid strokes alive is like keeping some untainted part of yourself alive. It’s very easy to lose it. To be tampered with authority, rules, painting rules, conceptual art rules, contemporary art rules.
Another thing about me, I enjoy taking information from many different disciplines , living real lives of a modern man to understand it, I don’t like to be stuck in the art world nor any particular world. My thoughts rest on contemplations way beyond the painting stroke, YET, it all comes back to the stroke, to the way layers of paint react with each other, which colors are chosen, splashed first, dabbled second, the energy the serendipity , the vivacity
The stroke is the mark of existence. It all comes back to making amark about that existence. So what is it a mark of?
It’s not really for you to not forget me
It’s more for me to not forget me
Reencountering earlier me(s) is rather fun
Odele E. Zhang as of August 15th, 2017 (what kind of time is this anyway, perhaps we run in a loop , instead of linear time)