Natural progression

To begin anything from nothing, we look inward for what we already know and then decide what can be done with it as a point of departure.  Often times the apprehensiveness of how to begin something new of which we feel we know intrinsically but have not yet found a concrete outlet for expression could result in self-stagnation without a way of going forward.  At times, what we desire and envision grow more complex as the desire for expression gets stronger and yet the interior fantasy and the exterior physical have not come to an agreement on a form for which both feel able to elaborate with harmony.  By working meticulously with what we already know, vicariously gathering every little bit of fragments taking them to different directions and with coordinated movements, then with a lot of patience, experimentation and good faith, the original begins to depart from its infancy and hence we discover something new. 

During the last week when there was a sunny and warm day, with much effort exerted to ignore my personal troubles I found myself taking a nice long walk toward another Brooklyn neighborhood.  It was not an aimless walk, I was on my way to meet with an artist from Brazil who is currently participating in a residency at RUDaniela Antonelli was petite and soft-spoken when I met her in her rented apartment in which she works on her drawings and builds "magnetic sculptures". 

Daniela was unpretentious and humble as she started the presentation with her works from earlier experiments.  Before becoming a visual artist, Daniela had been trained to become a ballerina since the age of four.  The relentless practice with repetition and self-discipline later became evident in her work as a visual artist.  While showing me her drawings, she demurely confessed to me that she had no idea how to make a good drawing nor did she ever considered herself to be very good at it.  Then again, one must start somewhere if one wishes to get anywhere. Daniela started with what she knew and the methods of which she was familiar working with by setting strict rules and having a plan in hand for future developments.  Translating her tireless rigor as a dancer, Daniela put herself to working on drawing within a set of rules that she made for herself.

To start a drawing, Daniela began by setting apart the basic elements that each of her drawings would encompass.   While taking the paper dimensions into consideration, she then allowed herself to use only red, blue or black inks to apply dots, markings and the lines would come after.  In her early experiments, Daniela worked off of grids that served only as a foundation for what would later become a series of applications of dots, markings and lines.  All these gestural elements then would gradually started to permeate and overlaid each other in a natural progression.   Using a fine point ink-pen, Daniela invented moving compositions for each square within the grid, filled them with meticulous applications of variations.  The whole process was laborious, first taking a ruler to measure out the grid, then using tracing papers she duplicated different layers to work on the details.

In these images of her drawings, even though the rigidity of the grid looked to be quite visible, however each drawing also produced the effects of vivacious movements.  As each line began to extend and the dotted formation began to permeate in an almost liquid-like fluidity.  The details of these drawings added another layer of richness in such a way that when seen from far away parts of the composition seemed to be drippings or stains in motion.  Yet upon close-up, the drawings seemed to tell a different story, one that mimicked the experience of looking up at a night sky to study its magnificent constellations. 

As Daniela grew weary of making only two-dimensional works, she began to explore other possibilities that would later become the trajectory into her making sculptures.  While still working with these similar compositions, the discovery of using magnets to attach the pieces together became a new way of presenting the drawings in the form of a stand-alone work in three-dimension.  After much diligent research for various kinds of magnets and testing their attraction and resilience to each other, Daniela finally found ones as seen in these pieces that were small enough to serve as only holders while at the same time strong enough to hold together the pieces in stacks.  In these works, the materiality of the paper and the magnetic connections became the essential components that slightly departed from the overly emphasized compositions and movements in her two-dimensional drawings.  In such a way that the movements of the pieces became something more literal, and that the movements appeared more physical as air shifted between the pieces they swayed in the physical space of which surrounded the pieces.  Whereas the movements presented in the two-dimensional drawings seemed more metaphorical than actual. 

The works shown in the above images also inspired a series of jewelry or wearable art, as Daniela modeled them when worn on a body.  In these pieces, there was an elegant combination of fragility and resilience.  Since the jewelry was made only with paper and magnets, one would expect them to fall apart easily when in fact they actually stayed and remained in tact on the body.  Upon discovering the power of magnets to connect different types of metal together, Daniela went on to incorporate other more natural materials such as found animal bones and dried tree branches.  In these works, she was interested in combining natural elements with man-made elements in order to experiment how the meanings of each elements would shift and change.

Here (see below) the thin metal pins and the tiny magnets held together forming a labyrinth of intricate connections.  The idea was to experiment with something removed from nature and to take away its original association with things that we would conventionally associate it to be.  With the web-like structure crawling between the branches, the metal pins almost seemed as if it once had a life of their own.  As the web gradually crawled up along the branch, the branch then became something we identify as a support for a man-made object, a piece of sculpture and a piece of art work. 

I named the post "Natural Progression" because I found Daniela's work was much about experimenting with objects and ideas that started off as something quite simple but then along the way they became more complex. It seemed a natural progression because before starting anything, she had no idea where it would take her or how she was going to resolve the conflict. Then somehow by hard work, meticulous planning and relentless repetition she made these works that grew more complex as different layers began to grow and overlap.  In so many words, the natural progression of anything could only work its way to fruition when one chooses to work at it persistently.  Daniela is currently preparing a show with her fellow RU residents, and it will be open to the public on April 27th


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