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Arezoo Moseni (AM) began the talk by discussing her two colorful works on paper made in 1986 and 1987. "I wanted viewers to see examples of my early drawings, especially people who only know my photographic work." She originally received much attention through her handmade photographs using 19th Century photography processes such as Kallitype and Vandyke.
Stephen Cox (SC) a graduate of the Columbus College of Art and Design spoke about his large red painting which he made in 1997. When they arrived in New York in 1990 he was painting realistic images. He realized his pace was too slow and that he really wanted to portray New York in an abstract way, influenced by painters from Mark Tobey to Keith Haring. He believes that painting with pure color can become too sweet. So he uses the color gray as the “fat cutter”, the “lemon on the fish.”
He had some advice for the students: “Drawing skills are very important for visual artists and it is a pre-requisite for all visual art fields. Graphic design, photography and computer skills are also important now."
Stephen and Arezoo lived in the East Village in a one-bedroom apartment where they both worked on their separate projects. Music is another interest of his. "I have produced three CDs of progressive guitar music, and I believe there is a relationship between my visual art and music."
Discussing his blue painting titled Vermeer's Tears: “the dark blue is an impasto and the oil is still not totally dry under the surface which will not completly happen for many decades. This yellow painting was done in 2003 at the Saltonstall residency in Ithaca where we had an entire month to create; food was prepared for us, the property was beautiful and so were the accommodations. I am mostly creating drawings now with similar visual concerns but they are different. The paintings deal more with the exploration of color interaction. Both deal with intuitive gestural marks accumulating on the surface. There is an element of freedom but freedom, must come through discipline and skill in devotion to a concern for the larger structure. It's not about getting drunk and seeing what happens" he warned.
AM: Lets discuss geometry and chemistry on this wall (back wall/south wall). The foundation of my work is a variation of interconnected tetrahedrons inspired by Buckminster Fuller's nature coordination synergetics concept that the tetrahedron is the basic building block of the universe.
The materials in the series Solids are ink, pencil, red wine and Vandyke sensitizer. I took Kevin Zraly's wine class at Windows on the World located on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center in 1998. During each session we tasted a variety of wines from different parts of the world. I became fascinated with wine chemistry and history, and after research found out that wine was discovered in northwest Persia approximately 50 miles from the location where I was born. The other interesting thing was that tartaric acid was in both wine and Vandyke sensitizer, so I decided to switch from acrylic and oil to red wine. It is a thin, translucent liquid and challenging to handle. The main reason for my attraction to painting is the sheer experience of controlling and moving liquids on a surface to produce an image.
Here in the display case you can see a selection of my sketchbooks. This is the first time anyone has seen them. It was Jennifer Mitchell-Nevin's brilliant idea of exhibiting them. In the small sketchbooks, each page represents one lunch break. People are always asking and inviting me to do lunch, and I decline saying sorry lunch is a busy time for me. It is so important to continue making the work.
Motion is the other critical element in my work and it originates from my photography. I have worked with an 8x10 Sinar view camera since 1988. I started a multivolume photography book project titled Human Stream in 2002. I walk all over Manhattan with the 8x10 camera mounted on a cine dolly documenting and interpreting human motion within street intersections. The challenge is to photograph each single intersection in Manhattan to discover an architectural human body. In a sense this project can be considered communal because I set up my transitory artist studio directly on street intersections where the public can have immediate access to the artist.
SC: This is my newest painting titled Interval Interactions, #1. Originally I thought of showing drawings but our curator Jennifer Mitchell-Nevin was taken by some paintings she saw in my studio and wanted to see more. I'm glad and grateful that she wanted to show the oil paintings and this one was created especially for this show. It is green but there is no green paint. I didn't have any tubes of green paint so I mixed many versions of blue and yellow and worked with variations of warm and cool greens against the gray ground. The limited contrast of value and chromatic saturation produces a silvery tone. I enjoy the process of using a brush with paint and producing the strokes which are plainly visible. You can see how it was made but they are unique because they can't be exactly duplicated. Titian, for example never showed brush strokes. Using traditional materials is in contrast to the New York school of Abstract Expressionist who experimented with house paints and alternative paint applications.
A student asked: “How long did it take to make this painting?" Steve replied “not too long, once you have developed the technique and knowledge of the visual concerns involved. That part develops over a life-time. This one was painted in February and had all March to dry. I work from left to right, top to bottom until I fill the surface. And then I put on the next layer of paint. There is a psychological element involved in working in layers allowing incidental occurrences to happen with semi-control. As the painting progresses I let it rip and don’t want to repeat the same stroke or just methodically fill in. You need a balance of the flow to figure out when the painting is done."
SC: "This white painting was done in 1997." A student asked if it was painted against a wall and was congratulated on good detective work. "I don't remember exactly but there are lots of colors in the visible remains of the underpainting and I used the color white as a way to tie it all together."
AM: This set of two drawings titled Intelligence relate to the different parts of human brain. I was thinking about the spine being the first part of the fetus forming inside the womb and how it continues up into the human brain. I have been drawing and studying the brain for almost a year now, and find it to be an exhilarating activity. The human brain is the next frontier. I am currently reading Steven Kotler's book The rise of Superman. He discusses athletes who can overcome physical limitations and get into an optimal state of consciousness to do impossible things. For instance a rock climber who climbed extremely difficult terrains for four days non-stop. I strongly recommend that you read the book.
This pencil drawing done in one sitting is the study for the 6 x 12 foot piece titled Flow, #2. I always start working from the center and move outward in different directions. My desire is to create large floating forms that may or may not exist on earth. Having been born in Iran, people always ask about my political views. I am apolitical. What I most identify with is the land, the flora and fauna. I would ike to visit Iran, and work the land side by side with the farmers and shepherds.
Working on Flow #2, I was totally immersed thinking about the life of a sturgeon which is an ancient fish going back to 200 million years ago. It swims in the Caspian Sea and it is one of the most popular fishes in Persian folklore. Sturgeons can live up to 150 years and are much sought after for the caviar they produce.
A student asked: “how long did this take you?” “8 to 9 months. I would work on it every day, even if for ½ an hour at a time depending on my schedule. I dip a tiny #0 or #1 brush into the wine and make at most three strokes at a time. At least 12 different wines were used in this painting. It is global because the wines come from many parts of the world and that is why you see the variations in color. Using wine as an art pigment, I try to create more value for wine. In a sense it is green and sustainable. There are no hard chemicals or harmful fumes associated with it. It is not a big deal if it gets on my hands. Every time I pour the wine into the cup and dip my brush in it, I feel as if it is the first time…the luminosity and color …simply magical.”