Holes are exciting!
As they reveal snippets of what lies beneath, holes fill me with curiosity. I wonder if the base material is the focus or the holes themselves? This plays with the dichotomous relationship between space and negative space. Making holes alters the stability of the base material, it changes the way it looks and feels. A substrate bearing holes will become lighter and more possibly flexible, it may become more delicate and prone to breakages. Holes can appear accidental suggesting damage or be planned to reduce weight, add light and suggest movement.
For this exercise, I researched two artists who explore holes in paper: Karen Margolis and Maud Vantours.
I was particularly drawn to Margolis’ work with Maps and Holes, where she cuts out cities, traces roadways and layers to produce ‘new territories’.
I found that I was able to appreciate the pieces without the information I discovered as I researched her work. It was very interesting to read about her approach which combines her experience in the world of Psychology (neurotransmitters, chemical reactions and emotional responses) it made me understand the pieces on another level. Once again, I find myself asking: ‘How much do we need to know about a piece?’ I liked the pieces at both at face value and given their context.
In my sketchbook I considered the difference between Salt Lake City and Ostia (both can be viewed at the above link). The uppermost layer of Salt Lake City is a harmonious mix of cool blues and purples, these analogous colours are enhanced by glimpses of complimentary oranges and yellow in lower layers. Ostia is made entirely from layers of white, although because the reductive process has been achieved using a soldering iron, the holes have a slightly darkened edge where the paper has burnt. These darkened edges on layers of white abaca provide enough colour for me, I don’t need the complexity added by the maps and roadways, however pleasing. The second piece looks like it would feel brittle and crumple under my touch. Its organic structure almost seems to be growing into the shadows, spreading, seeping and taking over…
Maud Vantours also works predominantly with paper, cutting holes into the surface and superimposing layers. In contrast to Margolis, Vantours work seems rather more formal and definite. It has a graphic quality I found very appealing. Whilst Margolis spoke to the artist in me, Vantour’s addressed the designer. She has an impressive portfolio of work for high-end luxury brands.
Vantour’s is a skillful pattern maker, I liked her geometric and floral designs but saw evidence of pattern even in such a simple design as Spirale. The decreasing concentric circles are not truly round and the jagged edges where the layers are misaligned are really textural, much more interesting than a smooth edge would have been. I feel that I would like her designs even if they were flat (ie, a print) but the 3-D relief quality make the pieces much more interesting, I am drawn in deeper and deeper until I get lost in the pattern. Her bio describes her creations as “multicoloured and dreamlike landscapes¹” which I have to agree is a good description.
How are these artists relevant to me?
The key seems to be in the layering. I already thought holes were inspiring but my research showed me that holes, beneath holes, beneath holes is even more interesting!
I am particularly drawn to circular holes, I think the fact they do not tessellate leaves interesting spaces between them. I am not only looking forward to cutting holes but to finding out what happens to the base material after multiples have been cut.