The 11 Question Interview Series continues with artist Beti Bricelj sharing her thoughts photography and art. Learn more about the artist and visit pivotartgallery to see the featured portfolio.
1. How did you first become interested in painting the geometries that you do? Was there a conscious decision to engage in abstract work rather than another kind?
The decision to dedicate myself to abstract painting of geometries was most likely a subconscious one, made when I completed my studies at the College of Visual Arts in Ljubljana. However, I think that my living in Australia where I spent valuable time doing research into the ancient Aboriginal art of painting for my diploma thesis actually crucially influenced my artistic development. Aboriginal art gave me the opportunity to encounter typical simple geometric elements and patterns, which Australian Aborigines used to enforce their deepest beliefs about nature, rhythm and cycle of life. Incidentally, a significant leap in my artistic growth was caused by a review of my first exhibition in Melbourne, which drew parallels to optical art. From that point onwards, I consciously started to devote my time to geometric abstraction in its fullest manner of expression.
2. Can you articulate in words what you are looking for when creating your work?
I find myself constantly in the process of exploration, searching for new solutions in terms of composition and colour, which, from series to series, lead me to new options, new work and new opportunities for reflection. I place high importance on studies of colours, and I strive to harness the physicality of colour, its vibrations and influences different colours have on each other. I try to make use of all available artistic elements in order to produce paintings with an added value. This means that each individual work of art does not only represent a carefully thought out geometric abstraction, but also serves as a tool to include the observer as a personified reflection, thus allowing him or her to find something more in the observed art, respond with different associations, emotional states of being, and, to put it simply, be drawn into the work and react to it. Through this interaction, the observer becomes trapped in two different systems of perception – mine and his/her own.
3. What is most satisfying to you about the creative process?
What I love most about the creative process is the phase, which I reserve for the development of an idea, as it is this phase that simultaneously leads to the budding of new ones. They appear like sparks, which need to be caught and recorded for future use. All this is an intense game of exploration during which only one sketch can produce several solutions or possibilities of expression. The exact geometric compositions inevitably contain my own personal perceptions, experiences, as well as views of the world and nature – this intimate approach to creation eventually softens up the mathematical exactness of the developed form. Even though the final version of my paintings is often already visible in my sketches, the leap from the rough idea to the final result – a painting that suddenly becomes alive – always manages to excite me.
4. If you have artistic/creative role models, who are they and how do you relate to them?
I have never idealized anyone in my life, yet I am sure there were people present during my artistic development who influenced me in an abstract way and whose artistic expressions and thought have left a mark in the studies of colour, which were important for my own growth.
5. Can you describe your technical processes? How do you make the images, what materials do you use, etc…? How do you decide on a specific composition? Do you make sketches?
The manner in which I paint is above all a careful thought process, originating from a net system, which allows me to develop my ideas. The compositions are created from basic shapes subjected to change as I go along. The sketches are in their initial phase merely compositions made up of lines. They represent the first step – a black and white version. This contrast is extremely important, as it allows me to get a glimpse into the visual effect my idea might have. The first step is followed by playing with coloured surface variations, which may turn out to be numerous. My most commonly used technique involves painting with acrylic colours on canvas in different sizes. On the other hand, when I work on series featuring small-size paintings, which I decided to name “Point of attention”, I also paint with acrylic colours on wooden surfaces. Sketches are, at all times, of crucial importance on the path to the final result.
All of my paintings, when seen as final results, do not allow mistakes and demand extremely exact and disciplined work. Since I possess the nature of a true Aries, I also tend to be driven by my stubbornness and perseverance.
6. Your pieces each have a unique visual movement (grouped in series, for example “geoLOM” ). How do you decide on a specific approach to a series?
Each series possesses its own specific characteristics. The decision on the structure of any of my series originates from the very first idea for the first painting, which, in its initial form, is only a sketch. This sketch then goes through the creative process and becomes a sort of a continuation of the initial idea. The geoLOM I.,II. series featured smaller sizes of painting that demanded of me to resort to a different approach. I had to put crucial emphasis either on rhythm, the composition, colours or the net basis, thus creating a unique movement in each painting.
With the GEOtransFORM A series, for example, I explore the animate nature of the inanimate world. I ponder on the primal and elementary characteristics of the Earth (gea – geo), I reflect on the origins of the world and, on the other hand, I think about the cold, exact geometry, which, through a transformation of the inanimate, can pass over to the animate flowering, and to crystalline and pyramidal structures. “Geo” as a word, a prefix or even as a concept suddenly becomes a living artistic organism within the painting, as well as a language or a way in which I achieve several associative states and produce symbolic messages.
7. Is there a specific artistic philosophy that you adhere to?
Actually, this is how I view constructivism where everything is determined. There is only one possibility for the unpredictable to happen – and that is a spontaneous, unplanned line or a stroke within the initial sketch, which I use for the creation of a new idea.
8. Where do you want to see your work progress to in the future?
I remain curious in facing new discoveries and I keep wondering where this path might take me; what will be the results of my artistic endeavours. I would like to see my art being introduced to other fields like ambient art, urban artistic living, and architecture. The latter was actually the first to give me a great opportunity to contribute in terms of design, as in 2007, I was asked to provide an idea on the colour compositions for the façade of the business and commerce building Epicenter B2 in Slovenia. For me as a painter, this project represented a large and a demanding challenge.
9. How do you feel about contemporary art and your contribution to it?
I see myself as a part of a larger diverse whole, which thrives on its own versatility and grows in a very specific era of individualism.
10. What is the most important thing you want viewers to come away from your work with? What, if anything do you want them to learn through your work?
The most important purpose of my paintings is to make the observer stop and be immersed in the art, and to be compelled to think, contemplate. My art encourages logical thinking, and stimulates perception in terms of finding one’s own reflective and associative explanations for the observed objects. It is important and it is considered as an achievement, if the observer of my art stores my paintings deep within his/her memory.
11. What can you add that would help us understand you and/or your work better?
My art possesses limitless possibilities for interpretation. My purpose is to stir emotions within the observer who has to be open-minded and, above all, not burdened with explanations.