Forms of Constraint

Closed Form, sketch

Millbank Prison

Millbank Prison, 120 x 70 cm, oil and graphite paper on canvas, 2013
Maze I, 120 x 70 cm, oil on canvas, 2013

Maze II, 120 x 70 cm, oil and acrylic paint on canvas, 2013

Narrenturm I, 100 x 70 cm, oil on canvas, 2013
Narrenturm II, 120 x 90 cm, oil and acrylic paint on canvas, 2013

Maison de Force, 120 x 70 cm, acrylic paint and graphite paper on canvas, 2013

Maze III, 100 x 90 cm, acrylic paint on canvas, 2013

Forms of Constraint

The Forms of Constraint Series is a research project of mine focused on space.
It is a continuation of my earlier (degree related) work in the field of interior design and painting on this topic. My degree project (painting) called Illumination and Time elaborated upon the concept of perspective from the Renaissance period. The divisions and their multiplication that have been used in this project relate to to the Continuos Linear System developed by the artist and architect Oscar Hansen. Hansen's system was aimed to be an alternative to the unicentric, despotic model of the medieval urban settlements. Hansen's intention was to shape all spaces in the architecture designed by him in an egalitarian way, and contrary to closed forms, they enabled further transformations. Due to these reasons, the perspective in this work can be described as a symbolic form of axially symmetry with certain deviations. Hansen's theory forms the interpretative framework that one needs to apply. In my most recent works I focus on the problem of closed form, which has been described by Hansen as a form of (symbolic) violence. These forms are characterised by structural domination taking the form of a centric closed composition. If the background in my diploma projects was a narration on its own, then in my newer paintings the central space of the paintings is the beginning and the end. From there one needs to interpret both the formal values and the context. The source of inspiration is to be found in the architecture of XIX century prisons, which was expected to reflect the industrial progress and the development of the views on the ways in which public spaces were to be shaped originating from the Enlightenment. One of the most characteristic ideas of that period was Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon, which was intended to become a symbol of progress in the architecture of prisons. The philosopher and ethics became the architect of an institution of oversight, though he never implemented any of his projects. His most significant concept – that of the panopticon – became, according to Michel Foucault, a despicable architectural allegory of panoptical power, discipline – the mechanism.

The labyrinth – the prison in which only one being could find his way, i.e. the mythical monster – the minotaur, is probably the first panopticon known to mankind. On one hand he was sent to this place of exile, but on the other he was the master of this place. Every other person entering the labyrinth was to remain there forever, which inevitably resulted in a gruesome faith of being killed by the minotaur. It is most likely due to that ability to attain control over the space of a trap that the labyrinth was used as a prison. Its purpose was to protect people form the outside against the cruelty of the minotaur. This very role was crucial for Jeremy Bentham in the XIX century. His projects placed the invisible eye in the central point and from there it was to exercise control over the course of events in the space around it. My paintings give the spectator the opportunity to take the role of the master, which can be a source of satisfaction and feeling of domination. Nonetheless the labyrint remains a trap that invokes a deluded, hypnotic state of mind. It is only the painter who remains the sole true master as he shapes the forms and the narration.

The panopticon is above all a play of light and shadow. It is a universal idea in a architecture that lets an invisible eye take the role of a voyeur – being able to have a sneak peek at everything and everybody. The manipulations that I was able to perform thanks to the application of computer software give new life to these utopias of power. Due to the intentional change of the settings of the perspective I make it possible to achieve a panoptical effect with regard to the space that the spectator is viewing. The logic of the direction of the sun rays should be seen as an important element of my work. My intention was to achieve a natural way of putting additional light into the space that is being shaped. The pleasure of treating space in a machinal way enables the creation of the architectural structure of the canvas and has an influence on the way in which one freely moves in this area. The ray-shaped atributes of my canvas can be perceived as an expression of the final character of the oeuvre, which, combined with its abstract and undefined background,  forms the organisational structure of the painting.