Category Archives: Material for thought

Miss Venus, tell me about your modelling career

This is awesome!

Standing Ovation, Seated

She modelled for hundreds of artists. Her first-hand experience of art is invaluable. It took me some years to arrange an interview, given her extremely busy schedule, and the fact that her personal assistant behaves like a 9-year-old boy who just got a toy bow for his birthday.


I: Miss Venus, you’ve modelled for most of the greatest artists in these parts of the universe, and my readers would love to know what it was like. Who was your favourite artist?

Venus: Modelling for God was, perhaps, the most rewarding and memorable.

I: You mean God that created the real you?

V: Oh, no. I was born out of sea-foam. It was rather an accident than a plan. Sitting for God was my first modelling job. I had a breakdown when I saw the result. He came up with a perfect sphere, and I thought God thought I was fat.

I: Is it…

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Life’s too short not to cherish its moments

Standing Ovation, Seated

We stare at ocean waves, get mesmerized by fire, gaze on mountains, and trace the silver lining of fancy clouds as if God left there calligraphic answers to questions we feel awkward to ask of other people, like “When are you going to get married?” or “Does your job pay well?”

Why do we love watching the elements?

Simple, I guess. While any of the elements in too much quantity is deadly, life is impossible without any one of them. We love watching them as long as we are in control, just as we crowd around tigers in a cage, and tend to run away when meeting them in person under less restricted circumstances for the dangerous species.

Water is especially…interesting. Air or fire are always the same except for pollution levels and intensity. Earth, as an element, offers a degree of variation, of course, but ultimately it is the…

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Insomnia

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Fabric, plastic sheet, polyester wadding, rope, PVC pipe, food colouring solution, wood, alarm clock

As much as it feels like a state of the mind, sleeplessness is a physical condition, a malfunction of the brain. Insomnia gives you a lot of time to think – of your insomnia among (endless) other things. The paradox is, that the grave anxieties which cause insomnia more often than not manifest themselves in trivial thoughts that roam in your head while you are tossing and turning in the dark.

Using trivial materials found in the drawers, cabinets, and the garden of my home and studio – the spaces I inhabit physically during the day, I have created an object which is a material embodiment of my insomniac mind. Assembling this entanglement felt like I was holding my thoughts in my hands. Weird, but fun.

Insomnia was included in Nocturnes, a group art show which I curated in The Grand Gallery in Freeport, Grand Bahama. Here are a couple of other images showing “the thing”:

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Photography: Christine Matthai

Self Portrait in REM

Self Portrait in REM Boryana

This is one of two pieces which were included in Nocturnes, a group art show which I curated here in Freeport.  Nocturnes opening was last night and generated a lot of interest. I am preparing a full case study of the experience, which will be published here in due course.

The piece is titled Self Portrait in REM and is executed in acrylic on paper. My amateurish photograph doesn’t do it full justice, but you can get the idea.

Rapid eye movement sleep, or REM, is one of the five stages of sleep that most people experience nightly. It is characterized by quick, random movements of the eyes and paralysis of the muscles. It’s during this stage of sleep that most people are able to have especially vivid dreams.

While most of us see dreams when sleeping, I have visions from my disturbed nights when I am awake. This image must have been one of them.  It came about spontaneously, in the midst of other things. The idea for Nocturnes was already brewing in my mind so it must have had something to do with it.

Rapid eye movement also alludes to the rapid movement of the hand while creating this entirely gestural piece. Gestural painting is possible only when one is deep ‘in the zone’ – a state of mind  as far from awareness as only sleep could be.  Maybe for this reason, even in retrospective, it is impossible for me to differentiate between intention and accident in the content and form of this piece, including its title.

The Bullet In The Eye Of The Beholder

… came from this pistol:

DeadOn… a piece, titled “Dead On” by photographer Jackie Black.

“Dead On” puts the viewer directly in front of a pistol floating in an abyss of darkness. Spend a few moments looking at this image.

In Jackie’s own words she is drawn to the pistols as a theme of her art because of their beauty. Not quite what you would have expected.  Some argue, that if she wanted to focus on the beauty of the pistol as an object, she could have presented it from a lateral perspective which would show its form and proportions.  Instead of a tame, catalog-style side view however,  she chose the energetic, frontal view which turns the pistol into a striking abstract shape of laconic perfection. Its single eye stares at you with such engaging intensity that you have an almost physical sensation of its presence.

The fact that there is no hand holding the pistol adds a surreal feel to the scene, of which you are now a part, whether you wanted it or not. Without the hand of the shooter, you are not facing a killer with his motivations and justifications – but the sheer phenomenality of the weapon and its unblemished, minimalist beauty.

A good piece of art always contains conflict at some level. This is as valid for the visual arts as it is for fiction, poetry, drama or music. In ‘Dead On’ the conflict is between the  pistol as a killing device and its irresistible beauty as an object. It is this tension between two extremes, which bursts into a myriad of associations and questions in the mind of the viewer. And this is what makes the depth of this artwork.

We are the only species on the planet, capable of creating beauty and tools – including tools for killing.  Where, in the complex puzzle of the human mind does the need for beauty, the appetite for killing meet?  How are they related?

If ‘Dead On’ triggered questions in your mind (pun intended) – please share.

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Jackie Black chooses difficult and often unforgiving subjects for her art  ranging from gender, death penalty, and arms, to children and animals. Her eye is both penetrating and loving and her visual idiom – austere and intense.  To learn about Jackie Black and see her moving, poignant and ultimately, beautiful work, go to www.jackieblack.com