Anna Belleforte

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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 outdoor pubs (the famous Budapest ruin 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 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 buildings inserted into the urban weave, 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 traditionally residential. 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: 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 of the empty lots to the vast openness of the space despite the density in this 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 architecture enthusiasts, who knew no limits when piling on the decorative icing. Being an ‘Empire‘ kind of 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. Reminds me how fun my Aerials series was.

Many of the city’s buildings are so ornamented that sketching/painting these details becomes too much, a mere copying exercise. And are they going to be my focus? I mean, the architectural detailing is so specific that the narrative of a painting can become about that, but I don’t want it to. There’s no denying though that Budapest (or maybe even Hungarian?) architecture is very much about embellishment. In all the classically inspired architecture here, 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 an enormous invisible history and enormous future potential – a future as yet invisible. In the present they are also invisible to many, or overlooked by them, but I think there is beauty and ‘relatability’ in this state, looking at the bare bones an d backsides. 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.

So every day it’s a different approach on 30x40 cm paper. Fine watercolour, bold colours, exaggerated shapes, blocky collage, loose structural lines... 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 textures and unexpected bits, straight-edged collage is great for building bold compositions, lines allow you to emphasize angularity, gouache is just great to work with…

#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)

The residency offers group workshops. Today’s was making zines: pamphlets images made from collage and drawing, for basic black and white 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, silk-screening 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.

first paints to paper in Budapest

Posted by Anna Belleforte on April 18, 2018 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I usually explore more than one path at the same time, inspired by the things I encounter. So drawing out details, collaging, doing watercolours of urban greenery, and painting acrylic scenes... Like this view from my window: I don’t know whether to confess this or not, but every time I start painting after a while of not painting, I look at the results and think: I don’t know HOW to paint – and now I’ll have to tell everyone. Ok, so it’s rough impressions I’m doing in a morning or afternoon. They don’t have to be perfect. I realize now that, at home, I’ve created a very useful environment and I have all my tools within easy reach. Makes me aware that I need to respect the creative process and its time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Good art doesn’t suddenly emerge. It takes hard work and practice. This first painting step allowed me, in any case, to ‘feel’ the shapes and planes of the urban landscape.

greenery and topiary

Posted by Anna Belleforte on April 16, 2018 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

One of the things I wanted to look at in Budapest was the relationship between greenery and urbanism. There are many small parks within the urban grid here, but none of the spaces are very green yet. The grass is green but most trees are still bare. I’ll have to wait a bit for more exciting scenery in this regard. There are some dark evergreens and I’ve been photographing contained greenery. The concrete ‘pottery’ sort of have playful shapes but are also inconspicuous and often a bit sad (which isn’t to say they don’t speak to me). There are little triangles of greenery, or as the Dutch like to say, postage stamp gardens. Not sure anyone cares for them (other than the dogs and some birds). And there’s the rows of trees that line the main thoroughfares, those on Karoly krt being nicely pruned and bright green. Why is it that trees/bushes trimmed into ‘unnatural’ shapes are so appealing?   #BARTR #artistinresidence2018 #Budapestartresidency


Posted by Anna Belleforte on April 12, 2018 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Put a bunch of lines together and you soon get a pattern. I don’t know anyone who isn’t attracted to a pattern. We love repetition. And then there’s Victor Vasarely who took it a step further through structure and colour, amazing totally saturated colour. The museum in Obuda says this Hungarian/Parisian painter investigated what the best colour dynamics were and came to the profound idea that art could be an integral part of any urban space and any community. Once art was reduced to a kind of formula, which he did, it could be multiplied and endlessly varied. He called what would result from this the Polychromatic City of Happiness. Okay, very 1950s/60s, the notion that communal interests would be best served by standardization and mass production, with only minor tweaks. But it’s interesting that he associated happiness with colour, and colour with the city. Take any urban picture and you get a lot of greys and browns (excluding the billboards). It just takes a lot of stone and concrete to build a city. But I don’t want to represent a city without colour, or pattern for that matter. So Vasarely was right: if the perceptions of our cities can be ‘polychromatized’, we might all be happier.

#artistinresidence #BARTR #Budapestartresidency #artistinresidence2018 #Budapest

Line up

Posted by Anna Belleforte on April 10, 2018 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (1)

Right now I’m just looking at the basics: the simple line. Lines are always of interest to me because they are so versatile: they can define objects, they guide sightlines, they are something you can (almost) grab hold of, they represent ‘going places’ and continuity… and so much more. I like working with line and making lines. So I’ve been gathering a collection of lines found in Budapest. Especially lines that seem insignificant when viewed in terms of scale: the thin electric wires that drive the trams are barely seen in contrast to the larger volumes of the city. Yet these tenuous lines carry the weight of an entire urban infrastructure. And the lines that tell us to stay off the road, that mark boundaries, that carry gases up to the sky…

I’m always looking to develop ideas that play with or say something about scale, whether it’s as simple as representing something as massive as a city on a postcard, or the small lines that stand for something bigger, or something more conceptually complex. These lines I’m collecting may turn out to be nothing, but they are a good way to absorb small details (my natural inclination anyway) in a big environment.