Painting Hopes; Writing Architecture
For the past 10 years Gaza has been a conflict zone, where 1.8 million people are illegally enclosed between borders made by man, designed exclusively to divide. Gaza forms part of the spirited Mediterranean coast, however, it is being denied the right to share its story; becoming part of an inclusive future.
The city's ambiance has been stigmatised by darkness and cold. Unable to visit the absent city, books became the ultimate source to imagine and represent the city’s fragmented urban fabric. The ‘invisible’ city’s ‘voids’ are re-imagined and reconstructed. The Strip’s ambiance is altered by light and thermal layers. From the sea, through the overcrowded refugee camps and the old towns, the proposition evolves typologically.
The project foresees to challenge the ‘confined’ space and the mundane image of Gaza by ritualising daily activities; cultivation, heating, cooking, reading and playing. The power of the sea, the community’s stories, and the available scarce materials are collected to address Gaza’s skin condition and to re-configure space enabling Gaza to enter a more hopeful phase.
Who influences you graphically?
The structure, construction and composition of my drawings can be broken down in 3 elements: first the digital line drawing, second the analogue line drawing and third the collage. Australian architect Gunther Dominig and Morphosis Architects have particularly influenced the first element. There is a wide variety of lines and drawing layering, which describes both parties' work; Dominig Gunther's drawings, in particular, are a strong representation of line deconstruction or maybe put better, a reconstruction. In order to enrich the second element of my drawing composition, the hand-drawing, I am indirectly influenced by Peter Salter and Carlo Scarpa. I admire both architects' intensity of free-hand drawing as well as the clarity and at the same time the illusion which their work reflects. As Salter's and Scarpa's work is elevated through the use of colour, my collage technique is derived from the study of both architects and painters. The most influential are Thom Mayne, principal of Morphosis, Superstudio and Claude Monet. Thom Mayne's use of colour adds a third dimensional perspective on his work either through the use of shadow or a bright tone. When combining lines with rendered elements like shadows and colours, one needs to achieve a certain balance. I believe Superstudio have been 'toying' with this balance extensively, consciously or unconsciously. Composition can 'make' or 'break' an image; I have, therefore, been thoroughly looking at Superstudio's work. As the title of the project is 'Painting Hopes; Writing Architecture', I am most certainly influenced by the master of colour in paintings, Claude Monet. Painting has always formed part of the core of my education from an early age, therefore I often combine it with drawing. Achieved, I believe, is a capturing imaginative abstraction, which allows the images to be additionally appreciated from a distance. When approached the abstraction becomes the reconstruction.
What defined the graphic language of the project?
Subversion and unfamiliarity defines the graphic language of the project. The work addresses the representation and the reconstruction of a city, Gaza, which is barely accessible, due to raised man-made borders. Therefore, the drawings are a reflection of the imaginary; informed through photographs, films and books. The unknown produces an abstracted graphic representation, where every drawing is inhabited by layers that express moments of thought and creativity superimposed on past and future layers. The city is never represented as static but in motion; a means to grasp and illustrate its deeper essence. The graphic language further foresees to subversively make the viewer aware of environmental and sociopolitical issues surrounding the 'invisible' city. Cohesively, the work is composed to express a separation between the imaginary and the re-imaginary; between the existing and the proposed. The 'invisible', written architecture of the city is 'dipped' in colour and is awaken; it enters a new phase as it changes face.
You play between analogue and digital means of representation – what is your take on this combination? What is the effect and purpose?
When I draw by hand, I think! Free hand drawing is unpredictable, and that is where its beauty lies. Sometimes a small and other times a large percentage of the lines and shapes, which ornament a blank surface, are developed by chance; that I find non-exhaustive and thus motivating. A part of myself is exposed through hand-drawing; analogue representation is personal. As I explore analogue means, I discover and re-discover parts of myself and I further develop critical thought. Analogue means often – through the intensity of the hand – offer a vivid perception of the project. As I question the abstraction and irrationality of the analogue means, I often combine them with digital means in order to investigate their rational. Free hand drawing is not coded and thus it is boundless; a quality which offers infinite possibilities. I limit and focus the 'possibilities' with digital drawing. The combination effectively increases the dynamism of the project; the digital representation would be bare without the analogue representation and vice versa. Accordingly, they are the bone and the skin, the skeleton and the envelope.
What was your work process in terms of concept development and production of images?
The concept development and the production of images moved parallel to each other. The images reflect the narrative – concept – of the project but also 'test' the proposal's development, focus and clarity. The graphic of the project – of any project I believe – cannot be achieved or treated in isolation from the concept as one moulds the other. Escaping a mundane image, the project proposes a reconstruction through the ritualisation of the community's tales – daily activities. The 'imaginary' existing context is re-imagined as it merges with the proposed content. Meanwhile, the graphic style – the analogue and the digital, the line and the collage, the black and white and the colour – highlight the ritualisation as the existing scenes morph to become more hopeful.
What is the role of the white background as opposed to the black?
'Hello' is a statement drawing and the only one with a black background. As you go through the images the viewer is encouraged to pause at this one image; with the bold black background. The black frames the white frame; it frames an image with a bold statement. Alternatively, the white background allows all other illustrations to float in space, as if they were a fragment of each other but also a fragment of a larger blank 'canvas'. Additionally, the colourful collage painting is celebrated on the white background, which does not limit; the textual strips of colour can be imagined to extend and reach beyond the digital and physical borders, an effect similar to an impressionistic painting. The content never appears to be still as the brushstrokes' intensity prescribe a direction.