Evolving! My dear water, Gallery ArsIn, Velenje, 2010.
Milena Koren Božiček
THE PRINCIPLES OF A PAINTING IN PROGRESS
Nataša Tajnik Stupar’s active participation on the Slovenian art scene since 1995 has been to question the notion of painting as an artistic, social and technological process, even in the stages before it actually becomes an artistic process. She investigates the concept of work-in-progress and its development, which is consequently also understood as a step in the direction towards new kinds of final forms. This new orientation also openly embraces all processes of realizing either a tangible work of art or another process as one of the levels enroute to the final artistic artefact. The processuality of painting is her creative premise, enabling her to take many different steps, and apply processes and ways of transposing creative allusions into a variety of creative media. In Nataša Tajnik Stupar’s work all of the processes are related exclusively to painting, especially in the mental, manual and technological practices. After receiving a formal education in art, she also took additional training in painting. In her eyes painting is more than a self-evident, conscious and mechanical act. She chose painting after a thorough analysis and consideration of her own aspirations and objectives. She makes use of the plurality and complexity of contemporary time by utilizing it as a polygon for her painting and researching networking. Nataša Tajnik Stupar devotes her work on several levels by trusting herself and the possibilities she sees in painting, its effects and complexity: colours, the processuality of the painting process, the construction and deconstruction of a painting, texture, the lucidness and confined quality of a painting, artistic issues, stringing together recurring images, the covering and uncovering of images.
A visit to the artist’s studio is always a discovery and only experienced by few. Since it is a privilege to work with artists and at the same time a privilege we need to work hard to gain, we are amongst the special few and we take our work very seriously. The privilege is made accessible to the public through our joint work with the artist at exhibitions, when the doors to the artist’s intimate sphere are not opened to »everyone«. The story of the artist and the chosen few (the curator when it comes to exhibitions and the critic when it comes to wording the artist’s work) begins in the studio. I pay regular visits to Nataša Tajnik Stupar’s studio every two years, sometimes even more often. Usually my motive for visiting her is a quest for new themes, techniques or sometimes simply a friendly visit.
A random motif is perceived by the artist as a challenge, pushing her with its intrigue to research it, thus resulting in a series or a cycle of work. Discoveries take place on multiple levels. In her last series or cycle in progress, the figures thematically evolve similar to embryos, from which sketches and paintings of figures come to life sometimes in pastel and egg tempera techniques, while the dominant technique is watercolour. Traditional forms of painting techniques are preserved also by developing the colour spectrum according to classical methods of making and mixing colours. The paintings are constructed in stages by adding and removing colour to create images which form variants, equivalent in their formal as well as technological research of the relationships that arise between the conceptual, technical and technological elements.
Ideas are always hidden and dormant in the background up to the point when the paintbrush touches the canvas and enables the built-up energy to explode in creation. No obstacles prevent this outpour of energy which would, without the presence of colour, appear dull, while its production would be ascetic. Primarily, colour opens the way for other technological emphases that Tajnik Stupar skilfully incorporates into a uniquely lucid restlessness of layering a painting. Restlessness and self-critique challenge her to employ technological novelties, which also open up new functional possibilities. Undoubtedly, the painting is not a static one. Even at a glance, the different frames produced with dynamic scalability in the different stages of colour application seem recurrent. However when we delve deeper and immerse ourselves in their schema and structure, many astonishing frames are disclosed. The irrational space of the frame establishes the painting’s dynamic. If in the following painting the dynamic comes close to becoming too similar or even equivalent to the previous, the possibility of removing saturation instantly presents itself, especially in the centre of the painting, thus the painting is also created by following the reverse path of its construction.
Sometimes the artist covers the painting with strokes that invoke the illusion of emptiness and thus decompose it. One could worry that we are here approaching the end of the road. The painting processes involving the removing of more paste-like layers are the new procedure of constructing a painting. The visible traces of this procedure and the once again identifiable brush strokes are an invaluable didactic display of painting creation. The didactic components are naturally mirrored in the artist’s work as a self-reflection of the other side of her creative spirit, which is passed on to the young candidates she teaches at the Velenje secondary school of art. The apparent radical streak of the painting is already transformed through the colour spectrum into an innovation, while both strive to show that modernism in paintings is extremely complex and that its complexity expands with the specificity and precision of the issues in painting. The more of them there are in designatory symbols, the more innovation and contemplation can be found in them.
Contemplation is suggestive and in Tajnik Stupar’s latest paintings, the focus on the centre of the painting is increasingly being made visible in the concrete nature of forms. In the painting entitled Untitled (2009), the laying of structural features and layers is the continuation of the series of water surface paintings, which commenced the evolution of horizontal tendencies and the appearance of the forms of aquatic inhabitants on a fluorescent pigment base. The painting Fish eye (2010) opens up in the reputable principle of the golden section and in classical Monet format. Just as the painting Trapped, while floating (2010) the figure visibly opens into a silhouette that is caught in a net of coloured forms and in the confined nature of the central form, it blends in a balanced way and with sensuous softness with the initial raster of the painting. The figure in sensual form refers to the subject, the painted body conveys the overall feeling and the form is a reflection of the sensation of experience. The abstract in the figuration is transformed contrary to the feeling, which always passes from one thing to another, but always remains authentically personal.
Nataša Tajnik Stupar reveals creation, preserving ideas and the energy charge of the realisation process in the brushstrokes, texture and colour of her paintings, includes a personal emphasis on various views as well as leads us to the possibilities of how to both look and perceive the evolving painting in different ways – as a diary of the stages of painting and as a greater spectre of mankind.