with small texts and images
as the exhibition grows
– meaning always something new
for you to read … just scroll
“No Style Is Also A Style. PhotoGraphics Unfinished” is my 27th exhibition.
Opening and closing
It opened at Kulturnatten – Cultural Night – in Lund, Sweden, on September 17, 2022 (14:00-23:00). Then some new works will come up, and others be taken down between the opening and the Konsthelgen – Art Weekend – on October 15 (17:00-23:00) and 16 (12:00-17:00).
For the locals, the printed catalogue is very important. Unfortunately, the few words in my entry are not mine. Konsthelgen’s project director, Fredrik Weerasinghe, refused my English text and wrote his own! Although Lund is a very cosmopolitan town, the text must be Swedish! I immediately produced a Swedish translation well in time for the proofreading, but he refused it and other info too – like a pedantic, punishing bureaucrat. So see the information here instead. And if that link does not work (because it requires Chrome!), here is what you need to know:
After those two events, works will change because more experimental works will appear up to December 30 when the exhibition closes. And some works may be re-done… in short, constant changes over 3 months.
Truly experimental and unfinished
It is certainly not a coherent exhibition but trials and errors with ideas, materials, mixed media and printing – such as works produced by a car, works with images of yourself, works that are new versions of oldies, some acrylic paintings and more … while I wait to get my Silk Peace Art Road, SPAR, multi-media installation from the Venice Biennale shown in China …
As I write on the front page here, Photographer Oberg has been silent for quite a while now because Peace Researcher Oberg has written and spoken quite a lot at The Transnational Foundation, at my online home and blog and at his “Worldmoires” book.
The NATO-Russia conflict playing out so tragically on Ukraine’s territory has consumed me completely – articles, comments, videos, zoom, lectures, emails, social media, and interviews. During the summer I wrote the “TFF Abolish NATO Catalogue.”
In addition, I have also begun writing columns and articles and being interviewed quite frequently in leading media in China and one in India.
Everything has its time. And world events impose themselves on a professional like me.
So … this 27th exhibition …
Some ideas I work with in “No Style Is…”
The fact that I have not produced a lot of art and also not sent out my PostArt Newsletter doesn’t mean that art has not been on my mind. I’ve developed ideas of my own, been inspired by going to art spaces such as Art Basel and delved into books, videos, etc. Here are some which I aim to do something about for this exhibit:
• Car tyre paintings – painting the tyres, rolling out 30 meters of photo paper in the street and driving over it – great fun! And then print images on top of that random tyre imprint. This is an idea inspired by Robert Rauschenberg’s and John Cage’s Automobile Tire Print from 1953.
• Reviving Polaroid – I am the happy owner of the classical SX-70 model (1972-1981).
• Doing collage and painting on steel polished to mirror shine quality.
• Doing new and perhaps somewhat changed versions of old works, not the least because both PhotoShop and inkjet printing have taken great leaps in terms of possibilities and quality over the time last few years. In addition, I have both a new MacPro and had to buy a new printer since the former one simply died, and no one could get it back to life – so I now use an Epson SureColor P6000 – a fantastic machine.
• Doing the first couple of prints of my former student in peace studies, dear friend and TFF Associate, Ina Curic, who lives in Romania. I have taken pictures of her over many years.
• I’ve always been fascinated by Saul Leiter’s way of painting on his photo prints. I may not be able to do anything like that but combining paint with photos – or photo collages – on Canson paper attracts me. And they will then be unique.
• I’d like to continue experimenting with printing on metal – which I did way back 7-10 years ago. But this is a different business today with a new printer and other inks than those available back then (and see problems below).
• Experimenting with printing on papers that are thick, old-type handmade and not coated specifically for photo printing. I have lots of very old ones (bout 50 years old) from the US, some I bought ten years ago in Kyoto and those I bought in China in 2018. I’ll do prints on German Bütten paper to begin with and then, hopefully, get bolder.
• Revisiting older works that I stored away as most likely ‘uninteresting’ and seeing whether that holds true today. You know, there are works one likes very much when they’re created – only to find after some time that they do not stand the test of time. The opposite also happens. Both are natural results of some personal and artistic development (hopefully).
Unforeseen problems – skip this if you are not interested in technicalities
Yes indeed! But you can skip this sub-chapter if you are not interested in technical issues and continue to read about “Some images and processes below. I am not writing this sub-chapter to bore you with my troubles. What counts for you is what you see on the wall.
The reason I write it is that we are many – actually, a world community – who are looking online when we run into problems and look for people who have found solutions. I have benefited countless times myself from learning through articles, videos and other stuff how to some artworks were created and how problems were solved. It feels only right to help those others out there in return, and when they search they may come to read here.
So, with that said, here we go.
Computer-Photoshop-Epson printer connection:
I recently got a new computer – the most powerful Mac with Apple’s new processor called M1 Pro. It’s a great machine, and while I can do anything I want to an image in Photoshop, I can’t get the Epson Surecolor P6000 to print it from Photoshop. The printer display will also tell me that even though I have set both the print facility in Photoshop and the printer to Matte Black, there is a “mismatch” and it wants to change to Photo Black (which I do not want it to).
The only way to print I have found is to use the much less advanced app Epson Print Layout to communicate with the printer. If you’ve done everything right in Photoshop that is OK, but it is weird not to be able to print an image from Photoshop.
So, I’ve spent many many hours studying the problem online, then going to Epson’s support who, first, believed it is an Adobe Photoshop problem, then talking with Adobe – sharing my screen with their technicians for hours – only to be assured that it is an Epson problem. And then going back to Epson’s support who then spends hours asking me to do a series of screenshots to “elevate” the problem to the core technicians at Epson. They have experienced the problem I have a few times before, they reveal. Countless emails back and forth too.
Everyone has been very kind and professional. But here less than two weeks before the opening, it’s quite gruelling.
Digital ground for printing on metal:
To print on metal, you need a special coating because metal doesn’t absorb ink the way paper does. The one and only product since 2008 has been Golden’s Digital Gloss for Non-Porous Surfaces and Digital Ground Clear (Gloss). See their introduction here. Since I had only about half left in these two bottles of 237 ml, I called those I always have bought digital ground from, Drewex in Malmö. They said there were problems with delivery and they had not been able to get it from the Danish importer, Stelling. So I called the latter who kindly told me what anyone can see on Golden’s homepage: the project is “discontinued.”
Very kind people at Stelling told me that they knew of one other option called Inkaid1, but they did not have it. They had experienced that for more than a year, and less than a handful including me had inquired about digital ground. With the market being that small, they were not going to get Inkaid products on their shelves.
Hmm – obviously inkjet printing on metal sheets is not that common. And by the way, Inkaid was closed until two days before my opening. So I searched for bottles left in stores in the four directions of the world, but none were available anymore. Who said it should be easy?
But since I have the idea mentioned above to print on steel polished to mirror quality – you can’t print on normal mirrors made of glass – I am going to try later whether Inkaid is a solution for my projects. They also seem to have an interesting emulsion for image transfer on any material.
Damaged steel mirrors damaged:
It isn’t that easy to find rost-free steel polished to mirror quality, but I did find a Swedish company, Metallvaror who did and also – great! – cuts them in the sizes you want. When they arrived, it turned out that they came from Denmark but unfortunately had been dropped somewhere so all the corners were bent and would, therefore, never slide through my printer’s max 1.5 mm gap. But Metallvaror were very kind and sent me a set of new ones.
Some images and processes
Look at the image below – a car wheel with paint on it. I’ve drive-painted about 20 metres of basic photo paper which were then cut into smaller pieces – pieces that in and of themselves were beautiful and could be printed on like the Buddha below. Others were fine compositions and colours, and some could not be printed on because the paint was too thick to go through a printer. I’ll exhibit some of them anyhow.
I like to work with random and chance, let materials and media interact without my control and then see what comes out of it and how I can use it. It’s nothing unusual; for instance, it is only when a painter lifts the brush from the canvas that s/he knows exactly what the brush created from the hand’s movements.
These sheets are then used to print on. More of this type – The Tyre Series – below.
While I don’t paint on canvas, I paint on plywood and find (metal) mirrors interesting and ‘interactive’ like no other material. And how do you get acrylic paint to stick to such a surface in the first place? (You can apply oil paint directly on metal but not acrylics). There are lots of technical issues in this, but you have to mix the acrylic paint with a fluid medium, e.g. Liquitex Gloss/Medium Brilliant, which is clear and functions as glue and, thus, fixes the paint to the metal surface. Otherwise, it would likely crack after some years. An additional advantage is that when the paint dries, it will then be slightly shiny/glossy like the mirror, avoiding its surface looking dull over time.
Here is a new painting – 60 x 80 cm, warm black, pencil and varnished. The elements are balls of pages from Sotheby catalogues from the 1990s crumbled, glued and varnished too. The title is dispersed over the painting – “Art Was Not Meant To Be An Investment.”
A more meditative old photo from a hotel room in Burundi:
And a coincidental find of Robert Rauschenberg’s photo from 1950 that reminded me of a never-used photo I took in 2014:
Then there are three images of Ina – Ina Curic from Romania – my friend and TFF Associate and former student from some 15 years back – whom I have occasionally photographed over the years. She herself is an author of children’s books, a story-teller and a peace-maker:
There are two more of Ina on my wall at the moment.
Yes, of course, there are also political works. I cannot totally separate my work with international politics from what I do with photographics.
This one contains images of Gorbachev with Western leaders – who later cheated him on the promise of never expanding NATO – an illustration associated with the “Yellow Peril”, an excerpt from a page that outlines the human and other costs of US warfare since 9/11, peace movement slogans and the little girl I photographed in December 2016 in Aleppo right after Eastern Aleppo was liberated from 4,5 years of terrorist occupation.
Then to the Polaroids!
As I said, I am the happy owner of my father’s Polaroid SX-70 Land from 1972, the classical, pathbreaking and extremely beautifully designed instant Polaroid camera which is actually a DSLR camera.
I’ve gotten the special 8-piece film packs in colour and black-and-white, and I intend to experiment with it, reproduce polaroids on fine art papers (the originals should not be exposed too much to daylight) and see what comes out of it. But first, I am experimenting with reproducing some from the 1980s that my father left behind.
Here, for instance, is one of Leo Castelli that he shot with that camera:
Have experimented a bit with “splashy” abstract paintings on mirror steel:
I’ve worked before with abstract patterns based – originally – on landscape photographs. They are almost square, and I’ve applied digital brushes to them. They can be changed in millions of different ways and still retain their structure. I’m thinking of making them a kind of ‘signature’ work – and they are also available in editions of 1 made for a client who wants to have a personal, unique edited version.
Here is a vertical combination of two of these – in this version with a thin frame around. Printed on exquisite Canson Arches Aquarelle or Montvalle Aquarelle fine art papers, they make me very happy. I call them Abstract Vision # xx, and you can see # 6 here. Use the enlargement tool by hovering over the image and seeing the incredibly crisp details.
I have created one more of this – which can be changed in literally unlimited ways – for the Art Weekend.
More traditional photography
There are also more traditional photographs in my studio. I spontaneously took a series of shots of this girl at Knez Mihailo, the main pedestrian street in Belgrade in 2016. You sense the concentration in her face and her fingers; she played like a professional with incredible intensity. I’m quite happy with the compositions crossing lines, and I’ve worked a lot with the soft colours and chosen this one because it has a calm background that makes her stand out (there were lots of people around her, but fortunately, I managed to avoid them in the frame). Note also her T-shirt: Live to love.
I wonder where she is today and hope somebody are loving and supporting her on her possible way into the world of music.
Here is another new one – shot in Paris three years ago:
And that can also be used as a new one in my Tyre Series:
So quite a few new works have been added between since Culture Night for the Art Weekend. And more will come – and go – up till the end of this year. One long experiment with media, printing techniques, styles and – no style…