In an exchange of emails with Peter Fagundo, we discussed our relationship to the “things” in our lives. Peter is an artist living and working in Chicago, we have never met, but share similar sensibilities in our work. I had first emailed a link to Peter, he responded and then I followed up other thoughts. Shortly there after I asked if I could share this conversation with the readers of Open Space. Then we both left on family trips out of the city. When we returned, we continued our conversation with poetry written by the campfire while drinking wine and my own experience attempting to see nature in what can be best described as Disney Land in the middle of Yellowstone National Park (on a side note, I recommend anyone traveling to Yellowstone to drive an hour south to experience the Tetons, less people, more wonder).
Here is our exchange of emails unedited:
Peter Fagundo: I have been thinking a great deal about the nature of images and objects, realizing that everything has a beauty, a magnetic quality, it’s only a matter of doing something to it… contextualizing, re-framing, cutting, painting it, putting it next to something else… in order to show it’s true nature, it’s beauty. Your work makes me think of these approaches.
Brion Nuda Rosch: I am obsessed with images, and objects, and yes a continued rearrangement makes for interesting discoveries. I find myself at work constantly organizing piles of supplies and art (I work as an Art and Exhibitions Preparator for Creativity Explored). If I am not at work, I find myself responding to the chaos of my life at home, and again, always rearranging an influx of “things”. Then for brief moments in time (sometimes longer) I find myself in the studio making the most mundane adjustment to an image or object that has been resting in place for a long period of time. What I enjoy about your work is this similar approach to “things” in our lives. Your drop-cloth placed on the wall is a perfect example. I am currently contextualizing a body of work involving my studio floor. As I am moving to another studio I am looking at the ephemera of my current space, and the floor is the last place you look. I am not sure how this will result, I plan to cut the wood I have laid down over the refinished hard wood floor of our apartment into the dimensions of the walkable space of my current studio. The past floor will be brought to my new studio, and I will work in the space for some time. Then the floor will be shown in a gallery, on the ground (or possibly on the wall?).
PF: Bringing order to chaos, perhaps in order to understand the true nature of things… there’s something of the create and destroy aspect in what we do, in our lives and in the studio. I lived for the past year in a space where life and studio completely overlapped, there was not enough room for a separation. It was in a separation from my wife, interestingly, which caused the fusion of spaces, things and functions. We are back to together now and I have a “studio” again. We did a designer show house together in the house where we live. She has spent the last 12 years restoring an old manor house in Evanston, just North of Chicago. I found myself putting together paintings, furniture and objects in domestic spaces. It felt like painting, using the same tools of color, light and form. But there was the added aspect of working with designers, choosing art, wall color and arrangement of things. But now I am looking forward to making some things alone again, in a space wholly dedicated to making discrete objects. I have been reading this biography of deKooning, talk about personal chaos, but what holds me is the willingness he had to be “in between” “both” and “everything” in his work. “Both” has been sort of a mantra for me lately… what ever the conflict, the only beautiful truth is it’s both… find the “both” and that is the truth. sorry I’m rambling.
BNR: I really enjoy the images on your website within the “home“. You have a way with organizing your work into a comfortable setting with enough tension to provoke interest in not only the “art” but the surrounding objects as well. The “home” objects have a conversation with the “art” objects, the separation between home and studio become blurred.
Break for camping and for travel.
Return from nature.
PF: We were in Door County, Washington Island and Rock Island- Wisconsin. We stayed in a couple of great campsites, right on the lake. Fire was on my mind. I didn’t write much except this:
I notice that fire is light, color, sound and movement only
I have an old fire inside of me
It needs to come out
It needs oxygen and fuel
Maybe that’s why i smoke
I can watch a fire forever
I could lay and look at leaves forever
I could walk among trees forever
Thank you Grandfather Fire
So clean and strong
Fire cleanses and warms and cooks
Cooking is a conversation with fire
*form aspects of God
Maybe I had some wine. But I do often notice and wake up in the awareness and presence of light, color, form, space, sound and movement… and love. I finished the de Kooning biography and now I’ve been searching the net for interviews. I love hearing painters talking about painting. I have been making large paintings on paper, large sheets of paper taped together. At first I did this for lack of money for proper supplies, but now I see that I can cut them, the large paintings, I can collage them. Imagine if you could just cut up and rearrange a large painting on canvas, cut off a corner and put it somewhere else? It opens them up wide. I’ve attached a few pics of the one I’m working on at present. It is not resolved, but I think it asks some interesting questions. I love questions.
So what about you? What did you see? What did you notice? Sometimes I think if we just show what we notice that is most we can hope for.
BNR: I found myself feeling rather small. I experienced nature formed billions of years ago. I read Gombrich’s A Little History of the World. He begins with Once Upon a Time, “The past and memory – Before there were people – Earth without life – Sun without earth – What is history?” Writing on Leonardo da Vinci “He was left-handed and and wrote in minuscule mirror-writing, a reversed script, which is far from easy to read. This was probably intentional, for in those days it was not always safe to hold independent opinions. Among his notes we find the sentence: ‘The sun does not move’”
During a recent studio visit a curator asked me about space, I jokingly answered referring to outer space, to later find myself in the middle of nowhere staring at the universe. In a related note, I was also reading Campbell’s The Inner Reaches of Outer Space.
So here I am small, and in awe of Yellowstone and the Teton’s. I was thinking about these “unimportant” <art> “things” you and I have been discussing and how we interact with “things” in our lives, I found it interesting how others interacted with “nature”. In Yellowstone, nature viewing is often interrupted by people. I found myself at Upper Falls pushing to get a view of the waterfall, hundreds of others were also confronted with the same challenge. One by one, we made our way to the front, after hours (for some; days) of travelling we quenched our thirst with possibly thirty seconds of the view and a snap shot form a cheap camera or phone. When I lingered I could feel the frustration of the others.
PF: I have a painting entitled ” the sun never rises, we turn towards it” I had this realization sitting on the rocks by the lake. I got a small coach house and went to the lake every morning to watch the sun rise and see what I could see, hear what I could hear and to feel. I would then go home and take a hot bath. I learned a great deal this past year. About how small we are, but also how big. We are oceans. And we effect the moon. Coming back now to the full time life of family, the space that was created in the moments of solitude remain inside and alive. The ritual has changed, the space is the same, shared now more with children and my wife. It is a great challenge to stay connected sometimes. Often it only takes an hour in the studio, a bike ride, a smoke at midnight looking up at my sisters the stars or brother moon. We moons and oceans do effect and sometimes infect each other, the question is “what are we spreading?”
I watched interviews with Francis Bacon who ended by saying “we kill what we love.” and a few with Lucian Freud, how gentle he is when speaking, they are discussing light and he seems away from us, inside the light, it has eaten him. Agnes Martin’s interviews are worth a whole study, she empties out into light also.
I love the places you are going, the people you are bringing in, the sentiments coming up. The thing about waiting to snap a shot, it’s very sad. You can glimpse the grand canon in a dish towel, you can sit with it and hold it and take all you want.
What is next for you?
BNR: I am going to take this in consideration, look around at what is being made today and plan on making a book (working title: Bay Area Contemporary Art Today). Topics include tree’s, rivers, mountains, woods, hippies, drum circles, Indians, outer space, rituals, religion, etc, etc… My friend and partner for the book found a collection of photographs taken in the seventies which we plan to use. These photographs were found after we discussed the above mentioned trends.
For now I plan to build fire, drink some wine and write poetry about kids having dreams to become lawyers and accountants rather than artists and musicians (Thanks David K. for that thought).
Thank you for taking part in this conversation with me, I really enjoyed hearing about your experiences this past year or so. It really is a head trip making things, and at the same time the only thing I can find myself doing.
PF: Funny what we talk about when the silence of the studio is disturbed.