For many months, in addition to running Hilton | Asmus Contemporary, launching Hilton | Asmus Foto, curating nonstop rock 'n' roll photography exhibitions and designing an online store, I have quietly been working in the wee hours of the night (or morning) on a body of paintings that will be featured in a solo exhibition at Galerie Qu Art the end of October. You would think I had enough to do, but I had been putting off this fine invitation from my gallery in Brussels for the past two years, deferring always to another show or event at The Gallery. My European agent finally called me earlier this year to say, "Arica, you cannot let me down. Europalia Arts Festival will be featuring the country you were born in this year and you must, really, you must prepare an exhibition of paintings for this biennale. Do not let me down!"
I was born in the Year of the Dog which means we are very loyal and are "dogged" in our desires to accomplish and make sure we do NOT let anyone down when we make a promise. Many of you know that I have been known to be a "workaholic." But really, I'm not. I do love to play. I just can't do that until I know I have accomplished whatever goal it is that I have set for myself. Or for others. Which means that sleep deprivation has been big part of this journey to create a body of work that would be worthy of my first solo exhibition on the European continent. And in one of my favorite cities, Brussels.
It took me a while to get my act in gear. There was always another show to curate, another opening reception, another press release to write, another artist to meet with, the gallery website to update, another client to send information to. Always another. I felt guilty if I took any time for my own works because I did not want in any way to conflict or compete with any of the artists we represent. So I would keep my works in the background and begin painting around 9 or 10 at night until one, two, three and last week until five in the morning. I admit, I have been keeping vampire hours. But I look at the bright side, when I go to Brussels for my show the end of this month, I won't have nearly as bad jet lag as I would have if I kept what people would describe as "normal" hours.
It took me a long time to actually write about this experience. But today, my dear friend, Gail Mancuso ( of Chicago Synchronicity fame), offered to photograph the paintings for my exhibition catalog and was extremely patient while I noticed a small spot here and a small spot there that needed a few touch ups with my brush. Seeing her photograph the finished paintings was a giant relief and a confirmation that I finally accomplished my goal.
After my preview reception on Friday, I will not see them in Chicago again. Monday, the works will be off to Brussels. I have never had difficulty parting with my paintings, because it is a beautiful connection with the collector and most often, we become good friends. The people who collect my work are usually people who are looking for a quiet sanctuary in their art. Being an artist has been a rich experience. But now, the paintings will go to a place and a people that I do not know....yet. I wonder how that will feel? I guess I should brush up on my French!
I do believe that it will be a wonderful new adventure because of the gallery representing me. Established in 2001, Qu Art specializes in modern and contemporary sculptures. I will be one of the few painters they represent. Dr. Pick Keobandith, Director of Qu Art in Brussels, has been working in the field of Modern and Contemporary Art for 25 years. She has garnered the support of a network of museums and galleries who have ultimately become partners and friends through joint collaborations. The gallery has offices in Brussels, Paris and Suzhou. Pick is one of the most brilliant gallerists I have ever met with placing her artist's works in museum throughout Europe and China. Since she first saw my work, she has asked me to create a body of work that she can exhibit in her gallery. I am so excited, proud, honored.
This collection was inspired by my ongoing fascination and respect for water and the environment which has been an integral part of my life and work for quite some time. I created a series of paintings infused with recycled plastic water bottles that I actually drank from! As an artist, I feel the need to address issues in the world through my art and writings that will bring attention to and hopefully bring awareness to people who do not know about a particular subject, such as the outrageous problem we have created with the billions of pounds of plastic weighing down our oceans. Plastic does decompose eventually in the oceans, however toxins are released during this decomposition process that kills birds, fish and mammals. When ingested, plastic does not decompose in the bodies of the animals. It has been said that humanity's plastic footprint is more dangerous than it's carbon footprint. Pretty sad that we consider ourselves an evolved nation and are destroying our environment with lack of thought to where our debris is going.
In the last condo building I lived in, the building engineer told me that the same waste management trucks who pick up the regular trash also picked up the recycling trash. He laughed and told me that once we put our recycling bags in the trash room, we relinquished our knowledge of where they end up. And it is not the recycling centers. I, of course, was appalled and decided to do something about it. I searched and searched for a recycling company in Chicago until I found one that actually does recycle plastic. It took quite a bit of sleuthing, I must say. You would think that it would be easy, but it wasn't. I finally found a wonderful Canadian-based company called Antek Madison. And then, a wonderful friend and client surprised me a few weeks ago. I had asked him to recycle my large plastic bags full of plastic water bottles because his company made plastic bottle caps for ketchup. Lots of Fiji and Ice Mountain waters that I had ingested. He took them in the back of his car and a few months later, he brought me a gift of my bottles ground into little pieces. You can see them in the paintings this Friday. Otherwise, you will have to fly to Brussels. :-)
So now, I prepare for the preview of the exhibition in Chicago before they journey to their new home. More to come about this journey in the followings days and weeks.....
Wednesday, 7 October 2015