Anna Belleforte

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acappella and collage

Posted by Anna Belleforte on May 21, 2018 at 4:15 AM Comments comments (0)

I attended a wonderful a cappella concert last night in Budapest (with a cappella groups from Hungary, Sweden and Germany) and while listening I found a similarity to my working process that day – and every day, working on this Budapest series. A cappella is like a patchwork of voices, sometimes overlapping, a harmony of opposites, sometimes shooting out of the melody; there’s rhythm and repetition, peaks and valleys. As I lay the paper strips one after the other onto the canvas, I follow the same process: overlapping, synchronizing, finding/creating rhythms and textures. I’m ultimately creating a kind of melody with coloured papers, and because they are such defined shapes – I’m now working with geometric strips – they also look a bit like the staves of musical scores. I’ve never really thought much about the parallels between music and visual art, though of course there are many (mark-making/notes, brushstrokes/playing an instrument, abstraction/jazz…). There’s purity and something fundamental in both these art forms. Somehow I feel a cappella to be a musical expression of my ‘papier colle’ process and the collage building a visualization of a cappella music.

the stage is set

Posted by Anna Belleforte on May 18, 2018 at 3:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Buildings have narratives, infrastructures have narratives, parks have narratives… all places made by or touched by people have narratives. I see it as an artist’s task to ‘record’ these in some way. Obviously there’s some construction involved on my part: I am human with my own perspective and make a selection in the multitude of human stories; then there’s what I choose to see or narrate/depict… Having chosen these empty lots as my subject, I’m thinking of the next step: should I place a narrative in the spaces I’m painting? As always, I’m initially attracted to the perspective and simplicity of space (and the geometric aesthetics), but I see the potential of the subject as a sort of stage. On the one hand I feel these vacant lots speak for themselves, there’s satisfaction in seeing (and creating) the textures, lines and dynamic perspectives. And I’m not one for putting humans in my paintings. But putting a sense of human presence in could be an added dimension. Nothing elaborate. More like the elements I have seen: caravans, dogs, playing kids, junk/remnants, or even dead potted trees.

#vacantlot #architecture #Budapest #representationalpainting #BARTR #artistinresidence2018

piece by piece, laying bricks

Posted by Anna Belleforte on May 13, 2018 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Although it takes time, it’s not so hard thinking up ideas (maybe only easily said once you have one). It’s the execution that poses real difficulties. I knew that some of those difficulties would dissolve by painting bigger. But other new ones are on the horizon. It’s difficult to maintain the crispness and clarity of collaged acrylic papers on a large scale. This size simply requires much more painterly work. Or so felt. I’ve come to realise that I’m really more of a builder than a painter. I had created some interesting texture with teabags, then managed to kill that with paint while trying to pull it together, losing all the random tea stains (and the evidence of tea drunk at this residency). The walls are too expansive to be left as uninteresting planes. I came to see that I really only could do it by focusing on every individual inch, applying inch by inch with colour to create a pattern … I’m just a builder. I see that while I’m fascinated by the large scale, I can only process it through the small scale. Some people are able to build (or happen upon) surprising effects through paint, I can only do so through collage, piece by piece, and sometimes surprisingly leave behind an interesting effect.

#artistinresidence #BARTR #Budapestartresidency #artistinresidence2018 #Budapest


underpainting and other decisions

Posted by Anna Belleforte on May 9, 2018 at 5:30 AM Comments comments (0)

So many decisions for this new series. Which colour combinations? Colours that pop or are subdued? Use the same colour palette for the whole series? Use coloured papers as the underpainting, or as the meat with which to build the image? Whether to include fine drawn lines or rely on the juxtapositions of collages shapes? How to treat the sky (I think I would prefer collage-free)? Could gold-leaf be an interesting accent layer here? Often you just need to get started to figure these things out. So now I’ve figured out: when I work with colour patches on a small scale, I can cut the desired shapes from a single sheet, and sustain a kind of unity/harmony; not so for the larger areas, and the pages from the Magyar book I’m using are even smaller than A5. Hoping these will give some interesting, unexpected textures, but worried that I may need to work with even smaller mosaic-type coloured pieces to make it work better. (Only worried because that requires much more time, to amass shapes.)

First, a final experiment in underpainted patches done in opposite colours (A3 size) …and getting the outline of the subject on a first big canvas…

#painting #acrylic #mixedmediatechnique #bigcanvas #urbanism #Budapestartresidency

big new canvases

Posted by Anna Belleforte on May 7, 2018 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Buildings are capable of transforming your mood. Just think of coming into a church from the street or stepping into an intimate courtyard. It’s the kind of transition I want people to experience in my art (wow, that’s a big statement!). Well, it’s a factor in my choosing a new size: 150x100cm. Of course I’ve also had to consider getting them back from this Budapest residency to Holland. But still, it’s a size you can almost step into, or somehow feel the scale of what’s represented while also feeling a connection to the tactile aspect of such a space. It’s a new challenge, so big.

I see these spaces as modern cathedrals, for a society that increasingly does without religion. You can enter them and find calmness and cool air and feel enveloped and small. They are spaces of potential and transition, they relativize the urban environment. In a sense the formalization of such a function is already happening: some of these spaces have been converted into mini-parks, playgrounds or bars. Or even when they’ve turned into private dumping grounds, they serve this secularist purpose of needing an ‘overflow’ space and nurturing the attachment to things some people just can’t permanently get rid of. 

dog cities

Posted by Anna Belleforte on May 5, 2018 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

While waiting on some special order canvases, I’ve made some collaged maps again, fitting in with my earlier Narrative Maps series. I keep coming back to them because they are so satisfying, and when I come across local maps – in this case, a book of aerial/orthographic photos of Budapest and a retired Hungarian guide book (Magyarorszag Utikonyvek) with old Communist street names – I can’t resist seeing things in them and cutting them up to find those things. So I made two. This time the theme was specifically Hungarian dogs, just because there are so many happy dogs here in Budapest. Here the Pumi (orange city maps) and the Viszla (using the green Danube):

the hunt for voids

Posted by Anna Belleforte on April 27, 2018 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Empty lots: I like the shapes and strong perspectives, and have collected quite a bit of source material. The city centre of Pest is in pretty good shape. It’s cleaned up with slick new insertions, attractive to tourists with no space left un-used or unprettied. Outside of the central core, the older neighbourhoods are a bit run-down, or in the process of being regenerated with new-builds filling in the holes in the urban grid. Beyond this zone again it becomes a bit more gentrified. The vacant lots there have their brick walls stuccoed over, so as not to make it an eye-sore I guess. The plainness and propriety of it all makes it a bit boring. I’m drawn to the middle zone with its sporadic vacant lots of land. I like the rough brick walls, the big planes of colours and textures showing where past volumes attached themselves, the jagged skylines of angled roofs and chimneys, and the serious height and scale of it all – from the insects running amok on the gravel to the vast openness of the space in this dense part of town. And the cameos of green too.

#mixedmedia #paintingprocess #vacantlot #urbangreen #artandarchitecture #Budapest

ornate architectural details as subject

Posted by Anna Belleforte on April 25, 2018 at 3:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I love how every city has its frivolous bits, usually built by 19th century architectural enthusiasts, who knew no limits when piling on the decorative icing. Being an ‘Empire‘ city, Budapest has its fair share, and on a grand scale. The Fisherman’s Bastion on Castle Hill is one such bit. What’s not to love about all that excess? The arches, twisting columns, crenulations, pointy domes, creamy stone… And then the views over the Danube, Parliament and Pest. Makes me want to resume my Aerials series.

Many of the city’s buildings are so ornamented that sketching/painting these details becomes too much, and can steal the focus. I mean, the architectural detailing is so specific that the narrative of a painting can become about that, and I don’t want it to. There’s no denying though that Budapest (or perhaps Hungarian?) architecture is very much about embellishment. In all the classically inspired buildings, it’s never restrained, there is always a Baroque quality to it.

#monumentenzorg #buildingconservation #historicpreservation #architecture #Budapest

fullness in a vacuum

Posted by Anna Belleforte on April 23, 2018 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (0)

I’m now exploring all these empty slices of land throughout the city, with massive brick walls full of character. They have both enormous history, which is invisible, and enormous potential – a future, as yet also invisible. These invisibilities can mean the present is being overlooked, but I think there is beauty and ‘relatability’ in this state, looking at the bare bones. It’s also simply an interesting perspective, feeling the smallness of self, standing on or at the edge of the lot, and knowing you are only a tiny moment in the history of this space.

Every day a different approach on 30x40 cm paper. Fine watercolour, bold colours, exaggerated shapes, blocky collage, loose structural lines... So now trying out angles, shapes and colours through different techniques/media, which creates a variety of results. There are multiple aspects to like, so I don’t know what the focus will be yet. Watercolour is great for creating unexpected textures, straight-edged collage is great for building bold compositions, lines allow you to emphasize angularity…

#artistinresidence #BARTR #Budapestartresidency #artistinresidence2018 #Budapest #RakocziKartell #Mindspace #workinprogress #artiststudio 

the directness of print

Posted by Anna Belleforte on April 21, 2018 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

As a group here at the residency we’re doing workshops. Today’s was making zines: producing images out of collage and drawing in pamphlet format for basic photocopying. Fun to do, playing with your basics, and a cheap way to self-publish your thoughts and art. The zine culture is big in Central/Eastern Europe, complete with an annual event – Ukmukkfukk Zinefeszt next weekend – hosting all these great, creative printers/self-publishers. We also had a first introduction to risography, at Hurrikan Press. I like it a lot – the strong print colours, high contrast, simple shapes, silkscreening quality. All our print work will also culminate in the publication of a print anthology at the end. But apart from that, it’s good to have an alternative avenue for ideas, because I’m overloading a bit. So far I’ve collected ideas based on things that appeal in the urban environment, so picture folders for: lines, patterns, green stuff, spaces, courtyards, street objects and architectural details. Now the challenge to streamline, find focus.