In my recent series, surfaces and scenes from my Bangkok neighbourhood are combined with landscapes elements and figures drawn from a Siamese
environment which serves as medium of expression for both universal issues in the drama of the age, as well as events in Thailand and my internal 'theater'.
Together my works form a visual opera/drama' where the animal , vegetable and mineral, architectural and psycho-cultural worlds engage-but never going
outside of 'Realism.' Just as Flaubert , Voltaire or Shakespeare addressed the issues and prejudices of their time through storytelling and theatrical effect but in
visual art the story is presented at once , but needs time to work out., just as a play or book unfolds through time..
Lewis Carroll wove the Alice fantasies from hats, watches, tea pots, rabbits and playing cards into a tale of adventure and fantasy, social comment,
madnesses and horror :with characters like his despotic, murderous red queen (a female Henry VIII) and a pre-feminist Alice trying to be ‘sensible’ in the
madhouse! In my work, the looking glass characters have become selected street animals and anonymous commuters, who move me in some way, and are
then 'embedded' or fused within select surfaces as if possessed by the city itself.
Not all my works attempt or describe/ or state the same issues, ideas or intention. Some are character sketches, others; scenes and events. They draw on
Bangkok surfaces and Thai folklore and imagery, addressing personal experiences and events, which mirror the wider, social and the political events issues
and tensions of our times.
Through these works I attempt metaphor, symbol and reference in an epic narrative tradition, for a contemporary mass audience, as if they are backdrops for
plays/ movies / operas, while the action, 'music' or 'song' is to be slowly unravelled within each Act / Image / Artwork, and between them all as a whole.
Combining and re-arranging the mundane beauties I find all around me is the heart of the process and the canvas a stage /arena for fresh visual combat, a
crucible for visual alchemy.
MARTIN P COLLINS
FINE ART PHOTO PRINTS BANGKOK 2010
Articles / Features On My Works
RECENT WORK: PHOTO-PAINTINGS 2008-2012 'URBAN ANIMIST OPERA / ALCHEMIC REALISM'
While my work employs and is informed by the formal, technical, expressive, abstract-symbolic achievements of Modernism, I aspire to build upon & update
the great pre-modern 'epic' story-telling traditions in image, word and drama where on the same 'Stage' (Image, legend , play) mankind questions himself
engaging with Gods, spirits and a 'personified' nature in a symbolic drama of good, evil and tragedy in 'action' The challenge for today is how to build a
secular visual language in an entertaining & accessible form , capable of delivering the thrills, action and dramatic resources of a hollywood movie while still
able to move and excite the hearts and minds of today's audiences.
A visual art able to mirror the complex action of our times, and which can personify the forces which drive individual and collective acts and behavior, which
are revealed as both cause and effect of the 'events' and ideas which govern our lives. For instance the recent 'Hamburger' financial crisis can be easily
translated into Homeric and tragedean terms either as portrayed as the 'price paid' for promethean hubris, as a 'vengeance' engineered by capricious 'fates'
or as avoidable tragedy viewed from either collective or individual perspectives.
The question is how to personify in visual terms the inner and outer drama of our time in a shared 'language' built upon a shared visual vocabulary and a
perceptual 'grammar.' My work so far has tried to establish lexical areas of visual 'vocabulary' and basic 'grammar' showing scenes, acts and characters
personifying my understanding , or grasp, of those forces and dilemmas acting on and within us today in artworks I see as studies towards an epic story. At
this (early) stage of my visual language adventures an image may often only attempt one word, scene or a short 'sentence' to describe one or two
'characters' in a larger drama. The process is, necessarily, like science, or language not a single theory or 'style' but piecemeal, cumulative and subject to
the abandonment of cherished hopes to evidence and efficacy, not ideology. The ideological meta-narrative was the God of Modernism and the crack habit of
the 20th Century. This in itself is a thrilling story, as yet untold, but more interesting is how after the shredder of post-modern relativism, how the hopes of
an integrated and popular art may rise again a little wiser!
KEY TERMS AND VOCABULARY & REFERENCES
The Labyrinth of Angels is a play on the Thai label for Bangkok: ‘City of
Angels’ combined with the legend of Ariadne and the Minotaur
Labyrinth aptly describes the hidden beauties and surprises to be
discovered within BKK's maze- like streets: secret staircases and trap-
doors to other sharply contrasting times , values and visions, tastes
Animism is an Exchange of External impressions and Internal
Projectons / dramas we all have with our environment. Our chemical
composite and DNA is almost identical to to the landscape we inhabit.
Ariadne, or Ariachne (the spider) Spins a thread to guide through the
labyrinth of our individual past and onto objects, people and our
environment . An Animist thread within us all connecting our past
experiences and projecting our own feelings onto all we see. This animist
ability to project inner emotion beyond ourselves is at the heart of
compassion for others and the capacity to be moved by visual art, to be
inspired by beauty in nature or have any form of love for other people
Cityscape Internal / External: Through my varied responses and
projections, on Bangkok's unique visual and cultural mysteries, the city
has become both my source and subject, an ongoing epic drama told in
rare combinations of beauty in a two way dialogue.
.A conversation or exchange between my inner and outer cityscapes.
Between Ghosts and Machines: is a multi-purpose metaphor . Just as the
city landscape , and buildings are a complex apparatus, bustling by day
and deserted by night, as if haunted by the presence of all who had passed
through over years. Also the human animal is part bio-machine, part
museum of personal and cultural experience, driven by hope, desire and
the shifting pasts of individual and collective memory.
As Individuals Condemned to Act we are stranded 'between the ghosts of
hopes and desire and the machine-like systems of culture, history and
economics in which we are bound but try to overcome to flower as people.
Alchemy is a Metaphor for the artist's aim: to re-arrange base material to
make gold. In Art terms the alchemist's 'gold' is when by a new
arrangement combining process an object can become charged with life ,
feeling, and fecundity. The successful artwork does not generate feeling. it
invites, lures or seduces others to project the emotion from within
themselves, like Ariadne, the spider animist.
Ambiguities are Vital for Art and the power of poetic Imagery: to seduce.
The viewer is more moved by beautiful uncertainties which tempt the eye to
explore an artwork. In painting the 'illusion of 3D space on a canvas is one
such ambiguity and a very powerful one to give pleasure to a spectator.
Visual Power is Generated through ambiguities of many sorts. All kinds of
ambiguities of image, assisted by illusion aided by colors, contrasting
materials, rhythms, tones etc prove irrisistable as a Catalyst to incite the
viewer to project their intelligence: emotion and experience into the work.
To ambiguity in verbal poetics we have the pioneering William Empson (7
forms of Ambiguity 1931) No one has yet mapped/illustrated the poetics
ambiguity in visual art as yet.
RECENT WORK: FAQS. TECHNIQUES, VISUAL
INGREDIENTS AIMS, MISSION
All Artworks This Section: Large-Scale Archival Digital Lazer Prints in limited
editions drawing on, and extending a quarter of a century of oil painting and
mixed media/ collage work, which still governs my taste in visual entertainment,
through 25 yrs experience attempting towards a 'visual language' in painting
End product: I use digital means to create photo-paintings/collage for public
display. By home-printing infinite test-proofs/ variations on a theme result
complete control of color / tone quality for a defintive statement/Mix and final
proof for a limited edition. Some images are re-worked over years: a history!
Standard sizes are 120cm x 85cm up to 200 x 145cm for exhibition/client
request, with various print finishes and framing solutions. Each work has
3 year Guarantee from loyal Printer
My Artworks are Combinations of my own high resolution series of images
and ambient surfaces taken near my Bangkok home mixed with landscapes
from travels in Asia and rural UK as a rich, pre- developed material in singles
or earlier combos and tryptychs (see Photo Singles/combos galleries)
An Exploration of Visual Ambiguities by layering and collaging, blending,
erasing and orchestrating matter in minute colour and tone and image
combinations using Photoshop as a tool to create visual ambiguities I feel
are at the heart of expression
I Use a 'Painter's Toolkit' of brushes and erasers, collage and layering in
Photoshop, and make full use of color and tone potential. I Employ No digital
rendering or digital generation with special filters or programs. In this sense
I'm not a Digital artist . I rely on the edgy alchemy of the seductive and emotive
visual facts and 'beauties' I have found all around my home: by addition, erasure
and alchemic fusion & visual adventure in image, idea, and contrasting
My Bangkok Photo Series,, are the ingredients for the recent photo -operatic
works. They have been pre-selected, and developed and considered emotive,
or ripe already as stand alone works.
The Recent Operatic Works play with the cream of all my photo library of
Bangkok's incarnations of beauty. In photo works as much as oil painting &
mixed media. Seeking a language in a matrix /mirror of possible beauty of our
time/world as the world and myself are in motion
A visual Theatre / Opera where the animal, vegetable and mineral spheres
engage. An arena to create a dramatic moment, of colour, edge and image as
scenes in the larger story of our time.
Process: first exploring /mapping my immediate environment for meaningful
beauties. Then selecting, combining, re-arranging, fusing, orquestrating,
adding / erasing, re-working.
A flexible language of color, form and concept, to describe and explore
contemporary experience, its beauties, issues & events, to mirror our times, as
both unique individual and concerned social citizen
The Dramatic story-telling traditions, from Shakespeare to Spielberg, provide
entertainment and thrills by murder, mayhem and menace, as much as by
heroics and the ideal, I mix the stange, dark beauties with the lovely, for
dramatic effect, and original, unseen before visual solutions.
The Artist as Critic: Articles / Features On Art,
My titles attempt to help orient the viewer into a picture, sometimes to try to say what I think is happening in it, or to simply say what to look for, which may
take a little time. Sometimes the poetic sounds of chosen words echo the feeling in the picture. Sometimes images suggest memories, and with those
memories are associatied smells and emotions related to those unique moments. My titles are sometimes a list of those associations and smells. I want to
check with you that you have the same associations, and hope you will share yours as equally valid. Sometimes I employ humour or a certain irony as a
counterpoint. Only the most serious things are worth making jokes about. Some pictures have had many titles, depending on how I feel, I choose, and change
them over time. They are short poems, and, like my pictures, are not attempting the same intention, but all share the same aim : to help an unknown
spectator to orient themselves to understand enough for a springboard to their own imagination the visual drama they are presented with. For a greater