Saturday, June 27, 2009

Best of Tattoos, Artists, Books & Bodies

Archangel Logan McCree, For more information see images below.

Table of Contents
  1. Introduction with reference to my work.
  2. Books, essays and other written documentation.
  3. Visual Documentation.
  4. Tattoo Artists.
  5. Best Tattoo Craftsperson;  Daemon Rowanchilde. (Urban Primitive)
  6. Tattoos of Gangsters, fundamentalists and extremists 
  7. Films.
  8. Tattooed Body of Logan McCree (Philipp Tanzer)
1.) Introduction 
Tattoos are playing an ever increasing significant role in the development of the concepts of my ceramic statements, especially with regard to surface development, complimenting the forms and shapes; becoming the defining factor in determining the inherent meaning of the ceramic sculpture.

Like tattoos, with reference to Thimotheos Roussos' interpretation (see essay mentioned below), the insignia (decoration) on the ceramic sculptures draws the gaze of the viewer, exercises the power of fascination and lowers certain defences. The eye isolates and follows the decorative patterns of the design before seduction subsides and the symbolism provokes the viewer to respond and engage the underlining meaning.

I therefore dedicate this post entry to tattoo reference material, books, documents, photo-documentation, films, tattoo artists and their work and the best of tattooed bodies. I have already outlined the significance of Russian Tattoos, in developing the surfaces for my Rat installation and the series of Ceramic Sculptures with Gay slang Titles including, Giant Pansy, Government Inspected Meat, Muscle Mary - Darling of the Judges, Exquisite Slave/ Popsie, the first ceramic sculptures entered on this blog.

Big Jaw, Ballpoint pen Drawing (2007); Inspired by tattoos and blue and white ware ceramics.

2.) Books and Essays

The following selection of books and essays brought me up to speed with regard to cultural, historical and anthropological significance of Tattoos. The most influential include;
  1. Written on the body, by Jane Caplan
  2. Tattoo and anthropology by Makiko Kuwahara and 
  3. Spiritual tattoo - a cultural history of tattooing, piercing, scarification, branding and implants, by John Rush. 
  4. The Piercing Bible by Elayne Angel.
Two essays in particular stand out, A man's "true face", concealing/revealing masculinity's in novels by Alan Duff and Witi Ihimaera written by Timotheos Roussos and the introduction to the Encyclopedia of Russian Tattoos (mentioned below), titled, All powers to the godfathers, written by Alexei Plutser-Sarno. (a review of the book is provided in the link) 
(Timotheous Roussos (author of the essay referred to above) is orginally from Cyprus. He is a PHD candidate at the University of Sydney. His main area of interest is Anglophone Postcolonial literature and he is writing his thesis on contemporary depictions of transgressive masculinities by indigenous authors)

Choosing an Image, Symbol and or Sign for a Tattoo
                                    An illustrated encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols
Selecting a symbol, sign and or image as reference for a tattoo can be a daunting task. This book is an excellent guide. This book is an excellent resource to determine the meaning of traditional symbols from a religious, cultural and spiritual perspective especially in the context of the creolization of Cultures. Its also useful document to determine the meaning and representation of symbols, when considering a symbol for a tattoo. I have used it for 23 years in support of my conceptual development of my sculptural concepts. It is simple to use and provides the meaning of traditional symbols in various religions and cultures including eastern cultures.

Ballpoint pen Drawing, reference Scarification.

3.) Visual References

The following books provided visual reference material, they include;
  1. The Encyclopedia of Russian Tattoos, by Dansig Baldaey
  2. Permanence, Tattoo Portraits by Kip Fulbeck, Forward By Horitaka
  3. 1000 Tattoos Edited by Henk Schiffmacher (Taschen), 
  4. Skin Art By Philippe de Falco and 
  5. Tattoo by Dale Rio & Eva Bianchini.

    Daemon Rowanchilde, (Artist), Studios Urban Primitive.

    4.) Tattoo Artists.
    There are as many styles of tattoos as there are interpretations of its intended meaning, which I wont go into. I leave that aspect of the debate to the academics, tattoo organisations and tattoo parlours worldwide. Jane Caplan (2000:xi) states however that the "history of tattoos are barely researched and widely misunderstood and has achieved clearer definition only in the context of the new history and sociology of bodies and cultures, ... We do this in the knowledge of what is called the 'Tattoo Renaissance' that has swept through Europe and the USA in the past few years" (Introduction for the book Written on The Body).

    This book was first published in 2000 and I am yet to find a followup publication on the subject and chapters on related issues. I guess much research has been conducted, and yet to be published. Often a thesis is written and the contents not published (especially at Masters level). Academic knowledge management, especially dissemination thereof is often not a priority - the main objective is to get the qualification.

    Jane Caplan is Marjorie Walter Goodhart Professor of European History at Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania.

    Daemon Rowanchilde, (Artist), Studios Urban Primitive, Photo by Bryant.

    5.) Master Crafts person; Tattoo Artist.

    I wish to pay homage to the work, design and craftsmanship, of one particular Tattoo artist, Daemon Rowanchilde, visit his website, titled Urban Primitive. He began tattooing in 1983 before attending and completing a program in Experimental and Fine Art at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. His site provides insight into the stencil drawing technique that permits him to translate his complex and multi layered designs directly on the bodies of clients. A master craftsman in Tattooing indeed.

    Daemon Rowanchilde (Artist). Website Urban Primitive, Photo by Bryant, copyright with the Artist.

    Prison Portrait, Mara Gang Member, Chimaltenango, Guatemala, Photographer AP Rodrigo.

    6.) Tattoos of gangsters, extremists and fundamentalists.

    It is however the work by extremists, fundamentalists and prison tattoos that had the greatest impact, especially with regard to their inherent meaning and significance, as mentioned in the previous blog entry.

    Omar, Araminta de Clermont (Photographer). Omar is also Known as Krone. Out of prison for four years, purportedly a "KING" in prison. He now sleeps rough under the broken freeway in Cape Town. Article appeared in the magazine De Kat article My Journey with the Gangsters, page 56 (Photos and text by the artist).

    7.) Films
    Films have been an important visual stimulant in my life, especially during the apartheid era. I had the pleasure of seeing many thought provoking and visually enticing films, a number that were banned during my days as a student (eighties). Special screenings were permitted at selected cinemas and festivals (Standard bank Arts Festival), including the Labia movie theatre, right on our door step, across the road from the Michaelis School of Fine Art (UCT). I will do a blog entry on my top twenty films shortly.

    The following films are singled out seen in the context of body adronment, ornamentation and communication, Peter Greeneway's two films Pillow Book and Baby of Macon, American History X, The Believer, Alix Lambert's The Marc of Cain; In the Cell and Eastern Promises - an indepth explication of the significance of the tattoos (Eastern Promises) is provided at the link above .

    Alix Lambert has also just published a new book Russian prison Tattoos, Authority, and Domination.

    Edward Norton, in the film American History X.

    8.) Tattooed Body
    If there is one tattooed body that needs mentioning in the context of this blog entry, it is the tattoos of the Archangel Logan McCree, born Philipp Tanzer on the 1st of August 1977 in Dresden Germany. He calls himself a christain, acknowledging the fact that fundamentalists would disagree. His tattoos, transforms his body (head-to-toe) into an angel. He loves nature, does not do drugs, alcohol, nicotine, cafeine, steroids and considers himself to be spiritual.

    Logan McCree, born Philipp Tanzer, 1st August 1977 in Dresden Germany.

    This clean living individual is however a porn legend-in-the-making, already acknowledged as a Mr Leather Man in 2004. The notion of an angel porn star embodies the contraditions often inherent in tattooed bodies.

    Logan McCree. Mr Leather Man 2004.

    Sunday, June 21, 2009

    Ballpoint pen drawing for porcelain sketch.

    Forest Island. Ballpoint pen drawing.
    Another day at home, recovering. I thought I would keep myself busy with another attempt at the Forest Island. Very kitch indeed, but all the reference you need, when doing a porcelain hand built sketch. The thunderbolt and lightning symbols are weak formally and the overall tonal qualities are too similar. It will have to do, unless my creative urge gets the better of me, before I return to the studio.

    Forest Island. Ballpoint pen drawing for porcelain sketch.

    Being sick, with the flu, has it's advantages; nothing better than to stay at home, ensure you are warmly dressed, take the necessary drugs, and get down to some art therapy. That is, if you don't have a splitting headache and or feeling too drowsy from the drugs that you cant see the wood for the trees, excuse the pun. Well I was up to it and got stuck into it, a drawing I wanted to do for sometime now. What made matters worse, yesterday was the first day of the winter recess. I was planning to spent sometime in the studio, making more rats, however that was not to be. Instead, to boost my confidence, not to feel too sorry for my self, I decided to embark on this drawing. Inspired by the blog entry on Skronked, post entry entitled Wild thing I made the following series of drawings for a porcelain sketch, one of three for my exhibition. One is already completed, whilst the drawing of the second piece, featured on a previous post entry.

    Forest Island. Ballpoint pen drawing for porcelain sketch, second phase.

    The tree's leaves are drawn to represent clouds and will have lightning bolts, axes and hammer heads protruding from it. Lightning is the symbol (JC Coooper Encyclopedia of Symbols) of spiritual illumination; enlightenment; revelation; the decent of power; sudden realisation of the truth cutting across time and space, the Eternal Now; the destruction of ignorance; fecundation, nutrition,; the massculine power. Lightning, like the urays, is regarded as both fertilizing and destructive, also like the lance of Achilles which could both heal and wound. It is associated with all storm and thunder gods and is symbolised by the zig-zag, trident, axe (the sky axe) hammer, thunder bolt, arrow and bird of prey. In Hinduism "in the thunder flash is truth".

    Forest Island. Ballpoint pen drawing for porcelain sketch, first phase.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    Developing a vocabulary of clay forms.

    Ensemble of references. Images of a cow in India (above), Brooding Hen, Bruce Arnott . (bottom left) Wedgwood Ceramic Ornament, designed by John Skeaping 1927.

    Whilst in the process of making work for my exhibition, I decided to share some interesting incites into the development of my ceramic forms. The bulk of my early work (during the early 80's), my initiation into ceramics, were hand built. I was drawn to the inherent qualities of the clay, and as mentioned before, exploring the plasticity and rigidity of clay. The work was realised in the most basic of hand built techniques; modeling and slab building (influenced by my lecturer John Nowers). I played with the clay, rolling slabs, pinching forms and carving into the surfaces; making intuitive ceramics statements that could only have been realised in clay. This led to the work being very creative, imaginative and innovative. This contrasts sharply with my latest work, modeled, moulded and slip cast; very stylised. For the purpose of this discussion I have included two fine examples (shown above) of stylisation; on the left is the bronze sculpture of my Masters Co supervisor, Bruce Arnott, and on the right, the Duiker (1927), by the Wedgewood sculptor, John Skeaping (first husband of Barbara Hepworth). Above the two works of art and design, I have included a photograph of a cow, including a close up of its head; representative of mother nature.

    Draw inspiration from the qualities of the clay.

    In realising our ideas and concepts in ceramics techniques and processes (as sculptors), we have to consider the form and the shape of the product; drawing inspiration from either nature, history's fine examples of reference material (photo-documentation) and or both, whilst giving serious consideration to the appropriate (or chosen) ceramic technique and process (hand building, press-moulding and or slip casting).

    Fountain of Life (1983).height 360mm. Porcelain hand built. Private collection.

    The above photographed ceramic sculpture was the first piece completed for my Masters at the University of Cape Town in 1985. The pinching of the leaves on the trees, the interpretation of the water and various ways of carving the surfaces, reflect an intuitive response to the sculptural concept when manipulating the clay. The technique of hand building allows the ceramic artist to explore the inherent qualities of the clay, including its plasticity and rigidity; a very expressive approach, that allows the sculptor to make formal creative decisions along the way.

    Fountain of Life (detail) 1983. Porcelain hand built.

    Apples of Hesperides1983. Print of original Drawing.

    Hand building in porcelain (high shrinkage) requires great skill and endurance that improves with experience. Starting off however with hand building is important as its lays the foundation for developing a vocabulary of ceramic specific forms (material specific) that become part of the artist's conceptualisation phase of the ceramic statement. It reveals itself in the drawing stage of the creative experience. Hand building and press moulding allows for great freedom in altering the forms and shapes. Additions and changes are clearly visible when comparing the drawing (above) and the final piece below.

    Apples of Hesperides1983. Length 360mm, Porcelain hand built. Private Collection.

    Approach to construction at undergraduate level.

    Work produced during the undergraduate level was far more intuitive and expressive in the use of the clay (see unfired example below). The big difference being the illustrative qualities of the postgraduate work; signs and symbols take centre stage, derived from an investigation into myths (making meaning). The final images is a creative response to the evocative nature of the chosen literature and or myths. The undergraduate work relied on the subconscious to make formal decisions during the construction and manipulation of the clay. There was no need to define the meaning; to analyse the meaning, whilst making meaning. These earlier works demonstrate a freshness and spontaneity in their construction, never really seen again in my work.

    Untitled 1982 (height 250mm). Porcelain hand built ceramic work. Private collection.

    Saints in Action. 1982. height 100mm, Porcelain hand built. Private Collection Australia.

    Impact of drawing and the overriding concept - artist's intent.

    This shift occured during the final year of the BAFA degree in Ceramic Sculpture. Drawing inspiration from biblical text, the work became far more illustrative, depicting the lives of the saints and their visions, specifically the vision of Saint John, as described in the book of Revelations. I started to make drawings , trying to illustrate the text, whilst considering the hand built techniques and processes to be followed. The drawings for the figures closely resemble the technique of construction - cylinders manipulated into bodies with hand built extentions (as seen above). These images became frozen in my mind and when drawing for modeling and moulding sculptures (to be press moulded) at postgraduate level, the style of the forms and shapes reflected these inherent qualities. It was as if it became a creative style, reflected in all the modelled, moulded and press moulded sculptures that made up the final body work. The drawing below (detail) clearly reveal these qualities - take note of the shape and form of the body (when compared to the image above), including the handle like shape around the neck of the horse. The texture in the star, including the texture of the horses main, both reflect hand built techniques. Even more convincing is the decorative elements on the costume of the rider (bottom half), reminiscent of the pinching of the clay with your fingers.

    Horse and Rider (detail), Ballpoint pen drawing for one of the final pieces of my masters1985.

    Magic Carpet, Ballpoint Pen drawing 2008.

    Impact of slip casting process.

    This drawing is one of my latest works. The work is much more stylised; even though there are aspects in the styling that are reminiscent of the inherent qualities of clay. The incorporation of more sophisticated surface decoration reveals a far great emphasis on transfer decoration (drawings of waves to be translated into ceramic decals. The anticipated technique for construction is slip casting, resulting in the work being far more refined and stylised. Sacrifices that have to be made due to the nature of the process. Now and then it is good to stand back and review our techniques and processes, especially the impact of such limitations on our creativity and the final gestalt of our ceramic works.

    The Swine (detail). Collection Carl Landsberg. Porcelain, Hand built - Modelled and carved.

    Best of both worlds, but is it the most appropriatte ceramic process.

    Seen in sharp contrast to my latest work, is this particular work (details), hand built in porcelain in 1996. The woman depicted above closely resemble the style of hand built figures in the early stages of development, whilst the figure below (Pig) embodies a combination of both; modeled and moulded with hand built extentions and textures. The influence of our mentors and tutors also have a significant impact on our work. This will be discussed in the next entry.

    The Swine (detail). Collection Carl Landsberg. Porcelain, Hand built - Modelled and carved.