My life is so exciting now that I am sharing a studio with Gunther Hartzog. I hope that Gunther is as happy as I am. I have spoken with him about my work as a lithographer whose work celebrates the link between Man and his environment. We don’t see eye to eye about everything but that doesn’t matter; our discussions have been very fruitful – I think for both of us.
Our dialogues have opened me up to new ideas and concepts and I’m trying to develop some works which celebrate Machines of Travel and Earth’s Environment. Maybe I will focus on the Traveller’s Eye as he or she moves from the airport or the railway station back into the natural environment.
Gunther and I have discussed the works of some of the contemporary environmental artists. We are both modernists in the broad sense, although Gunther is obsessed at the moment with creating social change through painting, somewhat in the manner of Manolo Valdes.
We both admire Pedro Reyes whose work almost seems to follow in a line of succession from the work of Joseph Beuys. Reyes aims to increase our sense of “agency” or the feeling that we do have the power to creatively change society. He invents playful answers to the big questions. For example, in Reyes’ work, guns are turned into musical instruments.
We also admire Agnes Denes whose artist statement reads, in part “Making art today is synonymous with assuming responsibility for our fellow humans.” I believe that artists have always been socially aware, perhaps more so than others. There has been some debate as to whether representational art demonstrates a political awareness; I feel that to depict something in realistic terms is an act of respect, love and celebration, therefore, I believe that representational art is as worthy of esteem as more abstract works are.
Agnes Denes most well-known work is probably “Wheatfield, a Confrontation, Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan, Two Acres of Wheat Planted and Harvested Summer 1982.” Denes has said this large-scale work was put in place to “Remind people to rethink their priorities.” Such a fantastic work of conceptual art does integrate some of the ideas I’m mulling over, because it celebrates man’s link to the environment, albeit in a rather pointed manner.
One other truly sensational conceptual art work is NazihaMestaoui’s “One Beat, One Tree.” Viewers of this work connect to it by a smartphone. As the Virtual Forest is projected over the skyline of a big city, the trees grow in time with every heartbeat. A real tree is planted for every virtual tree that is seen. I must admit to being overawed by the broad-thinking conceptualism of this piece.
It’s good to know though that I am not alone in my desire to celebrate man’s links to the environment. There are many artists practicing in the world today who are called Green Artists. Artists have always been at the forefront when there is a need for change, or when a big change is taking place. Right now, working here in a studio I share with Gunther Hartzog a German abstract artist, I feel very fulfilled and I hope to produce some really cutting edge art for the Anthropocene Era.