I didn’t actually post this when it happened earlier in the year, so here it is now. I’m pleased with how the ideas came across actually.
Part 4 of 4 Interview with Nicola Verlato. In this final part of the interview, we discuss more about the process that Nicola works through in creating his works, the ideas that guide his process, advice for young artists, with an emphasis on learning to draw from imagination and use some form of model making to generate paintings.
Finally we cover the museums where you can see Nicola's work next:
Haugar Vestfold Museum sept.28 dec 29-2019 "Metafysica"
Roma- Doria Pamphili Museum: 07 jan- 07 apr, 2020
Stockholm National Museum 20 febr-17 may-2020
Helsinky Finnish National Gallery 19 jun-20 sept 2020
The playlist of the the 4 videos of this interview can be found at:
Part 3 of 4 of my interview with Nicola Verlato In this section of the interview, Nicola unpacks his ideas about iconoclasm as it has been seen through history, and the importance of making physical artworks that are in the material world and refer to the material world.
Then we discuss Nicola's process, and how it has changed, how he uses sketching from imagination, photography and physical and digital model making in the development of compositions. Finally he discusses the types of processes he uses in the actual painting process, variations on traditional processes for building paintings.
In this interview we cover a bunch of concepts very important to Nicola's work:
Model making as a way for human beings to make reality comprehensible. In particular, the process by which a linear narrative becomes a spatial model - a transition from time to space.
This occurs over time in a cultural as important stories retold, compressed, digested, and once sufficiently well sedimented in the society's imagination, begin to be explored from other perspectives, before finally becoming sculptures and then paintings (the important example of Ancient Greece and The Iliad over time being reinterpreted as tragedies that tell the story from the perspective of other characters, finally being distilled into sculptures and paintings. Thus parts of the collective unconscious, or the shared imagination of a culture become physical objects that we can hold onto.)
The implications for the exploratory opportunities and multiple perspectives implied by this - for fine art, science, politics and how this relates to history of cycles of iconoclasm. Nicola suggests that the artistic image can bring us back to a sense of the sacred in the world (rather than in an afterlife or distant ideal God) and provide motivation to balance or limit the destructive excesses of industrial progress in this world. Nicola outlines the three broad categories of work that he does - personal visions, opinions about subjects, and projects intended for display in one particular place. Nicola's vision of the function of architecture is strongly connected to the sacralisation of a territory (examples of Shinto shrines).
Part 1 of 4: Interview and studio tour with Nicola Verlato. We discuss his current projects "The Merging" exhibited in experimental form at Nuit Blanche Toronto 2016, and "Hostia" a planned monument to Italian cultural icon Pier Paulo Pasolini, among others. We get into cave painting, and the significance of figurative painting and sculpture for human beings, as well as beginning to explore the aesthetic and theoretical ideas that shape Nicola's work. A tour of Nicola's studio shows how a Renaissance painter might make use of the digital tools and other opportunities available today.
For more about Nicola:
Phoenix Slides Slideshow Application
For Mac users, this free app called “Phoenix Slides” allows you to create a randomised slideshow from a folder of images, and set the duration for each image, pause and go back or forward. This allows you to practise say 1 minute drawings, or 30 minute drawings, with randomised poses, and skip poses that you don’t want to draw. (similar to what www.line-of-action.com provides with their practise image library, but here you can use your own image library such as those you can purchase through Posespace.com
To download Phoenix Slides, go to:
Works well and free, but think about making a donation to the creator Dominic if you appreciate the App!
I have written a series of essays to articulate the philosophy on which TIAC Academy of Fine Arts has been built. They are of interest more generally to artists who are exploring the direction for their representational artwork.
This video shows some of the tricks I have learned that really help to make neat and professional box frames for paintings, and that make the process much easier.
I took a photograph of a composition sketch in pencil, and transferred to iPad Pro, and worked up the colours there. Lots of possibility to change big things quickly. It might become an oil painting, though that would require a lot more further investigation in paint. The program is Procreate.
In this quick video, we go on a tour to a couple of my favourite places in Florence, and see some of Michelangelo’s most spectacular sculptures.
Below that, you will find a few of my studies from these places - the Michelangelo’s Medici Chappell and the late Pieta by Michelangelo in the Duomo museum.
The first two were from my first visits in 2013 and the ones on brown paper was from early 2019.
My new solo show “Whispered Ocean Hymns” at Lethbridge Gallery (Paddington, Brisbane) opens this Friday 12th October, in the evening from 6-8pm, and will be up until the 31st of October.
Below are some of the works from the show, and the full catalogue can be viewed at https://www.lethbridgegallery.com/artist/scott--breton
Prices will be available on the Lethbridge Gallery site from midday on Wednesday the 10th October, and sales will open by phone at this time via the Gallery on (07) 3369 4790
Hope to see you at the opening!
The drawings below will be displayed at Brisbane Grammar School art show this year (Gregory Terrace, Spring Hill). The ticketed opening (sales now closed) is on Friday the 14th September, but will be free to see on Saturday the 15th. I will be there from around 10 am to 1pm, so come and say hi!
This painting was recently sold to a very appreciative and wonderful buyer who asked about the meaning. This prompted me to retrieve something I wrote about it at the time, and in returning to this found something worth posting. I was reading TS Eliot's "Four Quartets" a bit obsessively at the time, which if you are familiar with it might go some of the way to explaining the theme.
The model, a dancer, half pushes, and is half dragged around the fulcrum of a wristwatch, with the inexorable gravity of a unidirectional timeline. She usually is constantly in motion, flowing with the arcs of music and the eddies of emotion and personal meaning, but here she held one pose for extended sittings for the painting to be executed. Time hung, the objective measure of the watch hands moved agonisingly slowly, while she worked to maintain both the tension and stillness of the pose, having to continuously reimagine the intention of the movement.
Subjective time is central to the conscious experience of a human being, to our sense of both identity and agency. The present moment feels crisp, rich with the delineations of form, while the past and the future feel progressively murky and approximate the further we get from Now. They are dreamworlds that stretch in either direction away from us on the linear, unidirectional timeline that Physics, as it currently stands, suggests is an illusion. It feels as though the present moment is bracketed, like the frame of a movie, yet the past and the future (subjectively at least), invade and blur that bracket. Time is at once disconcerting and central to all we can value.
Dancing, like the music which provokes its motions, moves through time and then disappears - a brave flash of human will and passion in the darkness, a defiant and beautifully tragic song of the body. Painting, on the other hand, sits quietly - an artefact composed of the marks and thoughts of its making - the insights, frustrations, simplifications and errors are layered into a static thing that can nonetheless point to a history of will, consciousness and aliveness.
Here are two oil paintings that are currently in the studio being worked on (and a water colour study for one of them). Both have evolved towards a dark, mysterious void at centre, perhaps inspired at some level by Arnold Bocklin's use of this motif. A poem has also emerged out of this, and is included below.
I have also now made a page for my other poems at www.scottbreton.com.au/poetry
Black, clear water
sings its depth.
Meteor shower of ripple-light licks the surface.
levitating for as long as they move
in an impossible dance above slow currents.
They dance above a song so slow we barely hear it -
Slower than molasses and transparent as deep space.
What does she sing?
A billion scores written in A, T, G, and C,
Remixed endlessly in a larger melody,
and counterpointed by edies of extinct body plans.
And each note sustained for its allotted time,
Then falling down into far silence of and ancient bed.
We look down into that slow darkness
and see ghosts of the great arcs of melody
in gestures fossilised into hard-coded neural paths,
in the tattooed lines of bloody clan motifs,
and the stories,
oh the self-same stories,
the repeated pantheon rippling across every new made heart.
Yet something in the glancing stones, in the gloriously jagged light
says She loves us more for our futile defiance,
for throwing off gravity in a desperate last leap from that surface.
With a half smile She whispers:
“Do not forget, mortal, that my cruelty
to a million generations
gave you eyes, hands and creative will.
You defy me with my blood-gifts,
therefore defy me but remember that you are no innocent in this song -
child of wild, dark currents
of burnt out stars
and a billion lost souls who burned to live on”
I have been exploring the characters who will appear in the first two panels, things are starting to make sense, and am thinking of individuals to seem to embody different attitudes/ ways of being.
Alfred Hitchcock, Carl Jung, Jeff Buckley, St Francis of Assisi. The female figure behind Jung seems like she will become a generalised character rather than specific individual (like the cavemen). Perhaps some sort of Pagan goddess - perhaps an overseeing muse.
However, still tossing up whether referencing specific people is a good idea...
Here are some updated images of the multipanel work, done digitally to explore different possibilities, particularly around orchestrating the major movements of the design
Also, here is a mock up of the third sculpture - the upside down whirling dervish figure:
This installation, still in development, combines paintings and sculptures in an integrated perspectival space. It is intended to provide for the viewer the experience of a kind of “dreamscape”: a connected series of images that float together in the psyche in the way that we might remember a dream from the night before. The general theme revolves around certain conflicts I have felt between the perspective of different cultural viewpoints that nonetheless all seem true or at least partially true. I think that the main conflict could be summarised as the tension between “doing” and “being”, where “doing” means taking action to improve one’s situation or the world generally, while “being” refers to intense conscious experience of the kind that is celebrated in theology and the arts as a valuable end in itself.
Perspective is here both the visual perspective of space (a topic that has long fascinated me) and the idea of the human mind being able to hold multiple perspectives that might appear to be mutually exclusive. The viewer looks through faux VR headset that fixes a rotating station point, from which all the panels appear perfectly square on to the viewer - all except for the orthogonal panel that reaches towards the viewer, but has its image foreshortened to correct proportions from that one viewpoint. The sculptures, while at a different scale to those in the paintings, overlay exactly on their 2D counterparts, again, from the station point.
Consciousness and perspective seem closely interwoven to me - the unique viewpoint of the conscious observer is perspective. I want to use certain simple elements of perspective to give the viewer a fascinating and fun visual experience, that also stretches the mind - and to tie this stretching to the overwhelming and conflicted feelings I have about the trajectory of our point in history, its relationship to universal or timeless human experiences, and the implications for what to value and hence what to do.
The subjects depicted do not have a literal narrative, but instead are symbolic in my mind (and I suspect in the mind of many other people) to certain value structures, ie ways to choose what to do. Here are some of the subjects depicted: Chauvet Cave (oldest known cave painting), Plato’s cave, the Simulation Hypothesis (via the character in straight jacket with the VR headset), St Francis of Assisi, Laughing Buddha, my Singularity Koan sculpture, Elon Musk as adult and as child, a child humanoid robot with an electric motor for brain and desk lamp arm for elbow, Yoky Matsuoka (Roboticist - here working on an anatomically correct robot hand her lab developed), VS Ramachandran (Neuroscientist, here working with a soldier with phantom limb pain), the mind-bendingly weird proposition of wormholes in space, and the strange symmetry of the orbit of fundamental particles in atoms to the orbit of planets and galaxies, a Sufi whirling dervish, and a contemporary ballet dancer in the same pose (sculpture still in development).
3D model of sculpture uploaded to sketchfab - click to rotate/zoom
With this project I asked myself "What would I do if I could do anything at all? If I was not taking into account constraints about physical saleability, competitions and public digestibility?"
I have had a long interest in science and technology - I completed a Bachelor of Science (majoring in Genetics) in 2005, and although I directed my attention towards art since then, have continued to follow the news in this and other fields. I tend to agree with the argument that these areas, particularly the application of science to human life through technology, exert a stronger effect in shaping the human story than most other factors. However, the external conditions of peace, health and abundance that can be increased via technological means - that most people would presumably like to see increase in the world - are not necessarily tied to the subjective experience of wellbeing and/or meaning. There is an inner world, accessible through contemplation, that involves a different kind of wellbeing - in some cases at odds with physical wellbeing - and this is the territory of many great mystical traditions (such as Sufism), poetry and other apparently impractical endeavours (including making paintings and sculpture).
An enormous amount of work remains to resolve the paintings and complete the final sculpture, but I am excited about the direction of this piece and hope that in the future it can go out into a museum or other appropriate space to quietly bend the minds of some sympathetic audiences!