About Taped Paintings

Understanding that in today’s media-environment, the function of the industrial tool is now two-fold – first for its function, use and application, and second; that it is liberally branded, serving the ulterior function to implant upon the subconsciousness of the user with with a catchy, graphical hook.

Using tape is my first foray into an inversion of this logic, where the branding becomes the primary function of the purpose (artistically speaking) and the application/use becomes an after-effect.

By accident, I noticed the branded blue tape sitting on my desk. It is blue painter’s tape to mark edges while painting interiors.

 

***

 

I once painted an interior myself. It was in Mid-town Manhattan. I got this job by myself. But by then, I had already painted entire galleries. A friend of mine, Mike had taught me an important technique to cover over-sized walls: Keep the paint trays filled to the brim with paint (Make sure there is plenty of floor covering, in these cases, we had a nice 4×8′ sheet of cardboard that we can slide along the edge that would catch any stray paint), roll the roller in liberally soaking it, start at the highest point (usually, you can reach the top, where the top edge has been cut (cut being a term for taking a brush and paint can and painting all edges of a room, typically corners where rollers will not reach), and let all of the paint dribble down while, in one stroke, the roller will coat the stretch from top to bottom in one stroke. This saves an enormous amount of time and energy it takes to otherwise roll the roller in an up and down fashion to cover the wall. This mark is the height of efficiency for covering large walls. This movement is repeated again, and there is always excess paint on the wall and roller to fill in gaps, splotches and streaks for an even coat. This is the zen of wall painting.

 

***

 

These several years of experience are etched in my memory sitting in my studio in Downtown, Los Angeles. My mind is turned on by these plastic materials, that are so unequivocally bereft of life. Industrial materials to me, represent a vacuum, one that on a large scale has stripped, bleached and destroyed the environment of which we are beginning to see is an inevitable outcome: Of life in decline.

Organically, I discovered that by aligning the printed, branded surface of this marvelous blue tape, that I could create a wallpaper. There is something extremely pleasurable about aligning the print just right. It reflects a certain pleasure that any manual laborer gets out of working with their hands whether it is laying down wallpaper, doing electrical work, diagnosing and fixing cars, mowing lawns or painting houses. It’s a certain functionality.

***

As an appendage to this, I’ve also collected coffee cup sleeves, whose whimsical and even melancholic imagery of floating coffee mugs swirl about. I guess I am in a process of discovery connection between things.

 

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True Grit! What is freedom? !tirG eurT

I had another amazing day today after what started lousily. But time and time again—as has been a recurring theme in and out of different yoga studios throughout Los Angeles over this seven-year period of being on the West Coast—I am nearing the conclusion that the business of expanding personal freedom is so far from a given and that to continue and thrive, it must be fought for every day, both outside and in. And it wouldn’t be so tasty if is was easy. In yoga as in many other sports necessitating endurance, this persistence is commonly referred to as ‘breaking through’ or having that ‘second (or third) wind’. Recently, in yoga classes, I have found myself in physically-demanding poses where the burning sensation in my thigh muscles or shoulders felt as if my flesh was burning so hot it would melt off of my body like hot plasma. This pain is what many teachers in one way or another have routinely suggested as a place where one come to terms with whole selves. It is in the middle of these postures where healthy relationships to our edge of limitations are confronted as well as the opportunity to enlarge or expand them. This is done by disassociating the negative stigma that we might attach to physical and/or mental pain while holding the poses. Furthermore, many teachers  suggest that if we worked on changing our attitudes during these postures towards acceptance of discomfort and pain we might start breathing fire! : ) Or just experience extreme joy.

I have come to take up this cause, of observing calm in the midst of chaos both in yoga as is in life. Any storm, no matter how big or threatening, will dissipate, “so breathe” the  teachers say. So, throughout my last few weeks here, I’ve put in concrete terms, that the high and lows happen no matter what, but how we handle ourselves in between is what really is at stake: The present moment, and it begs one to take a position, one that will constantly recur and will always invite a solution; are we the ones deciding or are we being decided for? I trust that in one of life’s greatest questions, it must be worth the pain of finding out.

***

 

 

I know my time has come. I see the ship and I am standing on the foggy port, bags packed, myself readied. The smell of salty and fishy water washes in my nostrils. I breathe it in becoming intoxicated by its wildness as well as by my mind moving in tandem with it. I am in admiration of having been delivered to bask in a deep brightness.

Others move about as if around me, it is a normal and normally-lovely day. I can feel uplift sprouting about as people mill about, as if their dreams and aspirations weren’t trapped and suffocated in only our individual shells but fluid, seeking, wandering and circulating among us all, and what we feel, which is resplendent! The sun has poked through. Amidst haziness, a patch of the ocean shimmers and light scatters about.

To which I feel free is yours as much as mine. Rejoice, for we have arrived in astute fashion from dank and bloodied repositories with vision blinded by betrayal of an epic magnitude. Whatever it was, you’re forgiven, but only because you have paid your dues, put in your toil and turned in your hours from when you were called upon. You were in safe-holding all along, while unbeknownst to you, your mettle was being evaluated and scrutinized. Did you think we’d let you down after all this?

You have fundamentally changed, and have been changed by the world, no longer to be relegated to trivial pursuits. You have been called upon for life’s ultimate journey which is, that it is yours and yours fully. Now take it and make us proud.

***

The smile on his face is one that bares semblance to reality, no longer easy and cheap, but fought for and wrested from compromised hands to have made his own and in his own form.

I had a good day! – An Accumulation of Positive Tidbits

I’ve been generally getting back into step after Spring Break (self-imposed, but also, serendipitous). 

What have I learned after having spent quality time with mom, dad, brother and brother’s gf? Mmmmm. .. Definitely that there is quality; Such high quality. Quality of experience, and of connection. So what do I do now that I’m back to my usual without their guiding influence? Here’s goes some notes to self.

***

I was up early. Incredible drive up the PCH. Eventually winding our way up the the Hindu temple. The large windows framed views of the mountainous valley while we sat in still calm for fifteen minutes taking in the experience of going to temple as well as doing it for the first time (myself) on the West Coast. Clusters of clouds rolled over the mountains that at their deepest distance shone a shadowed and saturated blue-violet where they mingled with the mountain’s peaks. We sat on the red and gold rugs covering the entire floor. The smell was familiar, like that of used agarbathi, hot coconut oil and other natural accompaniments. It was a morning to go up to this somewhat remote location and just feel gratitude for being alive and for what life has so far made of us.

We visited the farmer’s market down at the base of the mountain before zooming past the vast Pacific Ocean shimmering a blue I had never ever seen before as light rippled a billion melodies simultaneously off of crisp, crashing waves. It was the start to a day that declared its unequivocal intensity of perfected-dom with each wave of its own unfolding.

My boss was glowing, certainly not because I was twenty minutes late, but because I was twenty minutes late and was coming from temple, this signifying a new fold in what can safely be said from her perspective is my sheer and utter mysterious quality of developing. She has always been of the position in favor of people who have grown up with a religious upbringing. Very old school. Very school indeed. It seems she feels that people who practice religion are morally superior. As offensive as this has always been to me, I cast that aside for now and can say I don’t even know how I feel about religion personally. I would say though, that the sound of Sanskrit chants being performed in temple, when done well, have the potential to bring out something fundamental about myself- as if I become witness to an ancient tomb of heredity experience unspooling from within me into my cultural past. It is something mysterious, like I must be to Lydia: A true curious specimen.

We packed my mom’s paintings up. Over the last two days, Lydia and I have been clearing out the storage area. We have done this in stages over the last seven years. You can’t even imagine how impossible it was to move around in that place. After this morning, it was a work of art in and of itself, something to be exquisitely proud of. But more so, this pride of accomplishment is the first we have shared in seven years. It was like, all of those seemingly lost years of hating each other, hating life and generally being miserable had somehow reversed its momentum, halted periodically, and now we found ourselves deep into the sixth or seventh iteration of this storage war—I had been the gopher, wheeling out stacks of overstuffed and yellowed boxes that looked more like gnarly and epic sandwiches in another world—For while she more easily moved about this time around, I caught her becoming decisive and sure to let go of that that had bore its administrative weight on her through both the ugly, the gloried and the dark years of her non-profit organization. I piled the boxes on top of the dolly and eventually filled the newly-emptied dumpster well above its brim. Sometimes, it’s sad to see the entirety of one’s life being thrown out as surely as that, but noticing Lydia’s effulgent disposition, I couldn’t help but see someone who at eighty-four years old, was looking toward the future or at least, letting go of the past to some degree. Is it possible that the unknown, the end of your life, can also be a new beginning?

The Thai artists arrived with their works of art in suitcases. I had had the walls freshly spackled, sanded and painted as I do before the beginning of a show that is about to be hung. We hung the show easily, but only because I sensed a certain shift in my attitude that in recent times had become one of letting go also. Moving forward was the key now to which the root of this actual moving forward begins consciously, with the breath, and letting go of it. Though the conditions are most of the times never ideal, learning to breathe (something my yoga teachers have been repeating forever now) is the key to operating out of love rather than out of selfishness. So that when the day is ideal as this one today, operating on this basis transforms it into a killer song.

Snippet from an email – a little bit of history…

…. Oh yeah, Franklyn – one of the things I noticed about him up until even 2 years ago was that he had become somewhat irascible or unable to open up in broad terms – to another person’s idea. I actually had a studio visit with him at point and I think I had made something with found fabric. He became very menacingly stuck on how you can’t just borrow material or else you’ll get sued. He was getting so worked up about it that I didn’t really get a word in edgewise – had no space to talk or say anything. And that’s how it ended. He was nonplussed. It was similar to when Lydia saw my work 5 years ago in K-town and projected upon it so strongly, as if to miss the actual taking place of a meeting, of an interaction – she was so swept up in her own programmatic paradigm that she simply couldn’t adapt or see the situation. That is when I realized – with both of them and at different times, that you can’t be everything to any one person. Like, it made me think, “Oh, I guess I am not allowed to be a part of this space!” Yeah, it was one of those things – it would take a lot of work to rebuild those bridges if you know what I mean. That was the last time I think I saw Franklyn though. He looked to be a little over the edge. Kind of not in good shape, like, when a year or two before, we could be chatting merrily at a bar before a Laker game. I loved those times – those were my early days when Downtown was dead! All to say, that that was only 5-6 years ago.

Creme de la Creme

[So I get in the occasional mood where I think to ask for help would be to be weak. Wrong! I’m wrong. In truth, I was thinking, if I have to depend on someone, then I am dependent. What a crazy mindset to have I am now thinking. I need to learn how to identify a problem better so I can ask for the right kind of help.]

I had an awesome day yesterday. I learned a lot and I cleared my head. It didn’t hurt that the weather was a balmy 78 degrees with the sun’s reflections rippling across the city, pouring through various thickets of foliage and creating suspended, balanced geometries of shadow-play all over the city. All you had to do was go outside and you were thrust into the fury of its delight. I was down to see where it went, like questing for gold at the end of the rainbow. (I actually tried to do this when I was young, less for the gold, and more to go where I hadn’t been before. If this isn’t the allure of being young and much smaller-bodied — where the world beyond the neighborhood street you grew up on is completely and only known by the imagination — I don’t know what is.)

I found myself in Glendale and stepped onto Brand Avenue. I looked toward Downtown and the sparkling Angeles Crest mountains beyond in what became kind of a live painting of balanced elements between the hard edges of the buildings, the irregular edges of the rocky mountains beyond them and the wide open walkway of the avenue stretching out into both as they reflected the sun in a kaleidoscopic clarity. It was a sight/sleight of beauty.

I turned off the strip, honing in on a residential street that would eventually take me to my car. I found myself in a pocket of stillness. A brief moisture was in the air. The leaves gently fluttered as the city sounds dampened. I had a cup of warmed coffee in my hand and I was looking at Facebook on my phone, thinking of a certain someone momentarily, and noticed the odd lack of palm trees in Glendale.

I was driving back toward the freeway, the street was so congested that I made a U-turn and so headed out southbound. At this point, I wasn’t sure where I was going, but that was sort of the point. We don’t allow ourselves to get lost enough. When I got closer to Silverlake and Los Feliz, I phoned my bff since high school, Mike. Though he was out, I just continued on tracing Los Feliz Blvd as it undulated up and down beneath a tunnel of tree and mountain shade. I felt as if on this path, that instead of being carried by gas, that I was instead lifted by the fluttering breeze only to land upon Griffith Park where I turned in and parked facing down the street. Without thinking, I plopped down on a shady spot along the bank.

It was starting to become evening. My restlessness was getting the better of me though, and soon, I could be found exploring the hillside moving from Los Feliz to Hollywood to West Hollywood. I ended up at Regen Projects because I had stumbled into it while picking up my car from the tire shop. Unconsciously, I think I might be creating diversions in order to see more of the city and gain my footing in it. You know how you enter something new and now I guess it’s that I’m needing to see what all is there in order to make the best navigational choices. Also, I think it’s also to continually seek and find inspiration. We all need it to continue making the life we want, whatever that is. It gets too easy to not get out, and to get caught up in a routine or work. Let’s break the pattern! Let’s break the conditioning. Let’s just…live.

Morning with Mr. Liashkov

I did not want to get up this morning. But I had to fulfill an obligation to Mr. Liashkov, that I would sit for a portrait. So I tore myself up onto my feet, looked around in a daze for my things, washed my face and headed out. It was my day off. Mr. Liashkov greeted me at the top of the stairwell with his usual stern disposition, yet I see where this is directed: Into the journey of his soul, so I do not take this personally though it had been slightly alarming at first. After an amazing breakfast at a nearby cafe of brick toast topped with marinated veggies, kale and an egg with coffee, we leisurely conversed about Zarina Hashmi’s work, how things at work are going for me, how my acting class has been going etc. During the sitting, I asked him about a question that was being pondered a few nights earlier which was: how do you define intelligence? Now Peter as I remember from before, does not like to talk during a portrait session. But this particular morning, I could see we were at a different place; comfortable in each other’s company – realizing there was no need for guards to be up. He acceded his control to conversation and began to discuss this question of intelligence. It became apparent to me how subjective we really are when I ascribed a measure of compassion that is inherent in intelligence. “Well,” Peter disagreeing, “What about Hitler, or what about Stalin? They had incredible intelligence but to what end?” True. So much for an absolute truth!

As the drawing moved along he commented that the drawing was making me a romantic hero. I was humored. When I asked him what he meant, he talked about Lord Byron, the concept of love being identified around the time of the Enlightenment, British landscape painting – where feelings took precedent over the scientific reasoning. I understand. But I am a fan of science too. By the time he was done, I was a bit taken aback, not expecting at all the semblance. It was like looking in a mirror, but through someone else’s eyes. Can you imagine if you asked your friends to draw you? It would be a kaleidoscope of interpretations, a reflection of who your are in accordance to how another person sees you. It would probably be very different from how you see yourself. I wonder now, how people see me.

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