IMMIGRANT PAINTER BUILDS WORLDS AND ABANDONS THE NOTION OF BORDERS BETWEEN THE MEDIUMS OF PAINTING, MUSIC & DANCE
By Vincent Lyn
Art doesn’t just reflect the world — it engages with it. Art is a diverse range of human activity, and resulting product, that involves creative or imaginative talent expressive of technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agreed definition of what constitutes art, and its interpretation has varied greatly throughout history and across cultures.
Iva Gueorguieva was born in 1974 Bulgaria, her abstract paintings and sculptures investigate notions of space, illusion and movement. Drawing on the legacy of Abstract Expressionism, the artist’s paintings are driven by a sense of urgency, a desire to orchestrate chaos and recreate the complexity of life on canvas. Composed of intricate arrangements of painted paper and fabric collaged on the canvas with a feverish energy and dynamism, her paintings seek to investigate the fine line between the intrinsic illusion of the painting’s plane and the physicality of its surface.
The September 11th live hour long performance took place amidst a forest of Iva Gueorguieva massive, suspended tapestry paintings and included a large scale projection of multiple films, the movement of martial artist Svitlana Zavialova, professionally known as Wu Woman, the emotive improvisational dance of Jasmine Albaquerque, and the intimate interaction of Tonya Anderson with a stack of paintings and her dog Coco, accompanied by Phil Skaller on grand piano and Matt McGarvey on
The Transformative Arts space is not a pristine white box but an old weathered architectural ruin in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. The space felt excavated with layers showing through the cracked floors and partially collapsed ceiling. The rawness of the space perfectly echoed the physicality and layers of Gueorguieva’s paintings. The large scale tapestry paintings hung throughout the space creating a forest of exuberant colors and textures. The paintings act to further bifurcate the architecture and act to demineralize the space. The paintings looked like skins or pelts, unraveled, and coming undone into another form. They hang double-sided illuminated through the intense natural light which made them glow, feeling both fragile and undeniably tough. They are meant to be touched. Elements of bodies, eye, breast, feet emerge from all sides of the space from within the stains of color.
The project is about touch, about being touched…… to prioritize touch as a radical position. “Everything touching everything” is how Phil Skaller describes it. Gueorguieva’s painting installation is complemented by the sonic space created by Matt McGarvey and Philip Skaller. Stylistically, Phil Skaller and Matt McGarvey combine the complex palettes of avant-garde jazz and improvisation with hard hitting, accessible beats and electronic augmentation.
The live performance started with the screening of a film featuring Tonya Anderson and shot inside of a painting installation at Gueorguieva’s Studio. The film shows Tonya sitting on the floor surrounded by Iva’s gauze paintings telling a story while smoothing and handling the paintings akin to the intimate activity of folding one’s laundry. Her digital body projected on the large screen over one of Gueorguieva’s tapestry paintings was echoed by her live performance in a similar setting in the another part of the installation where she sat surrounded on all sides by Iva’s gray double- sided tapestries.
At the end of the film Svitlana burst into the midst of the crowd and in front of the projection of another film featuring bone breaker Matthew ET Gibbs performing on top of a mountain peak framed by the intense blue of southern California sky. Svitlana’s body wrapped in a mantle like gauze painting was intersected and fractured by the projection producing a synergy of color light. Her voice suddenly boomed “Iva!!!!!!!……“What am I looking at?”. Disrupting and challenge the audience. Wu Woman proceeded with her signature improvisational performance of martial movement
responding to the live musicians. The audience members were active participants as their bodies stood throughout the space and responded to Wu Woman intentionally projected energetic and physical pathways. The audience both opened up pathways and leaned into the space of her movement. The contraction and expansion of space was supported and heightened by the responsiveness of Phil Skaller’s attacks on the piano and Matt’s electronic inputs. Jasmine appeared on a pile of massive 30 feet floor tapestries beneath the suspended paintings crouched close to the floor and barely moving like a praying mantis swaying in the breeze. Her emotive and elegant movements were perfectly attuned to the music. At time her body resembled a puppet attached to the hammers inside of the grand piano. Jasmine brought a powerful sense of embodiment and the tapestries seemed to belong to specific bodies. She will fold tightly into herself with every muscle and tendon twitching inhabiting the crumpled terrain
and knotting the mechanical action of the piano with the pulse of her musculature. Phil, “there is a physical and non-musical dimension to the way I play”. It’s that physicality that allows for the bleeding of each participant’s respective medium into other forms.
Tonya sat on the floor on top of a stack of tapestry paintings with her dog Coco inside a cube like space created by double sided black and white tapestries featuring female bodied creatures with pendulous breast hugging, holding and supporting each other. Tonya in her bright yellow
dress seemed to be all alone inside this chamber of line color and figures almost directly behind the piles of cords, mics, speakers, synthesizer equipment and the gorgeous body of the ebony grand piano. The contrast between her slow and intimate folding and unfolding of the tapestry
paintings at the very entrance of the space to the high energy movement elsewhere served to heightened the tension between the collective and the personal. Tonya’s performance was an invitation to the live event amidst so many different bodies: animal, human, painting, instrument, building, etc. and a reminder of the inferiority that remains mysterious and untouchable.
What gives Art meaning and why is it so important? Art can have different meanings to different people. It can carry a message and can be interpreted in many different ways by its audience, often different to what the artist intended. The meaning of a piece of art can often depend on many factors, such as history, emotion, culture, and personal experiences of the artist. Art can communicate information, shape our everyday lives, make a social statement and enjoyed for aesthetic beauty.
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