Technique: bituminous mastic, gesso, matte black acrylic paint, Indian canvas.
In Brooklyn, in late 2011, I used bitumen to create the form of a coiled snake, in the corner of a space. I was dissatisfied with the work, which seemed over-figurative. It was rolled up in pergament paper, and stored in New Jersey for a year.
On returning to New Jersey in 2013, I opened the rolled-up work and decided on a solution: I cut it into eighteen sections, so that the coiled snake would find itself stretched out and its body divided into eighteen sections. The stretching would be performed by suspending the eighteen parts on a straight wall, as a spiral, or inside a space between four walls with an opening. The plan is to stretch part on a wooden frame, but with the edge of the canvas not folded inwards but emerging out, so its unfinished sides would be visible.
Following are photographs of the process, in 2011 and 2013.
The process of constructing the coiled snake in 2011, in the corner of the room:
The work began by sketching it on brown Kraft paper that was pressed onto canvas of the same size. The cutting knife passes around the body's silhouette. Drying took longer than expected, and three weeks later it had not yet dried. By mistake, I had used cold bitumen instead of hot bitumen. The cold bitumen had long dried.
During the transfer of the canvas from Brooklyn to New Jersey, to Eugene Lemay - founder of Mana Fine Arts - the canvas was hung on a wall (a photo is attached). The snake's body bled black 'blood'. The packing crew had rolled up the canvas with pergament paper covering the bitumen. In 2013 I returned to New Jersey for a three-month residency, at Eugene's invitation. I asked for the canvas to be taken out of storage, and then sought a formal solution for the work. I needed to solve the figurative problem. Everything had to disappear yet simultaneously be present, and all with abstraction. Then I thought about cutting the canvas into several pieces, so that the too-obvious shape would vanish. In addition, I thought this would make it possible to perform the cutting process by applying the law of continuity - sequentially cutting the images to render them formless, with remnants of the organism above it. When I opened the rolled canvas, I saw that the pergament paper had shaped the bitumen - which has assumed a shape recalling a snake's scales, or an unidentifiablepart of a primeval, monstrous snake.
Cutting the canvas into 18 pieces ultimately led to the existing work, and in retrospective - it was a beneficial result.
Then I ordered an albino boa constrictor to be delivered to the studio. I placed it alternately on a white and a black surface, with silvery polyethylene plastic as the background - acting as a mirror. The snake can hardly be seen in the photo, losing its power due to the gleaming white background that re-projects the empty, distorted space. The boa slithered backwards and forwards, its head turned to the plastic, as if trying to touch its reflected double. As it crawled, it moved the plastic and created a distorting effect. In this way, I managed to moderate the presence of the figure - the snake - as the photograph's central theme.
The canvas hanging on the wall on the day it arrived in New Jersey, before being packed for storage. Some sections of thebitumen had not yet dried.
The canvas with white chalk marking, before the cutting process started.
From close-up, the remains of organism-like material are visible, and signs of the cuts in the white chalk. Some areas seem 'empty', others 'compressed'.