art primarily deals with "spaces in between." That is, we all observe what's around us and use it to inform our art, but we have to find connections that aren't obvious in order to make our work meaningful. Those "connections" occur somewhere between the realm of reality and our imaginations. Those are what I would call the "spaces in between." there is a space between our original perception of reality and how we represent this in our work.
It seems there are many" in between" spaces in art. A common one is the use of layers to build up a painting. There is also the use of negative space as a compositional device. Tanja Softic uses both in her work.
Last year I was excited to find the work of Tanja Softic as I was researching various artists who cite memory as a driving force in their work. Since that time I've visited her website several times and each time I come away with new insights into her work.
Tanja is an associate professor of art at The University of Richmond, but she was raised in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. While she was earning her MFA in the United States, war broke out in her homeland permanently changing the pattern of her life.
In her words:
My work addresses factors of cultural hybridity that shape the identity and world view of an immigrant: exile, longing, translation, and memory.
.....The visual vocabulary of my drawings and prints suggests a displaced existence: fragmented memories, adaptation, revival, and transformation. Because I do not live and work within the comfort or boundaries of the culture in which I first learned to observe, interpret and engage the world, I have the arguable privilege of having lived more than one life. My memory is my virtual self and, paradoxically, my most authentic self.
Her references to memory as a "process that involves erosions and accretions" strikes a cord with me as I construct my paintings for Reading a Garden 18 months after my two week stay in Birr Castle Demesne. I am amazed at how quickly I forget specific details and how easily I embellish others and believe them to be true. Softic sums it up well.
" Re-membering becomes an act of reconstruction, where one works with what is there and tries to visualize what has been lost.
The images in Softic's more recent works suggest what Said called "an awareness of simultaneous dimensions." The maps and star charts represent conventional interpretations of distance and scale. Softic says:
I am interested in what they may become, layered upon each other, in visual conversations with other elements in the drawing. In Migrant Universe, the drawings function as re-arrangeable continuum of maps, landscapes and portraits of memory and identity.
The map of what happened below is part of the Mirgrant Universe series.
The map of what happened (2008) acrylic, chalk, graphite on paper on board 60 x 120
Nomad's polyphony (2004) 42 x 108 in. acrylic, charcoal, chalk on handmade paper
While I have found several different bodies ofSoftic's work and critical discussion of it, I was first attracted to the pods, orchid blooms and shells mixed with body organs and bones all juxtaposed with geometric shapes and architectural details.
The layers are complex but negative space exists within and top of the surface which has the ability to both calm and command the viewer. Her work has a dreamlike quality that provides a sense of past and present displayed together. Drawing and printmaking allow her to build up layers of subtle colour and texture. I like the way some of the objects recur in varying combinations throughout different works. David Bickman 2003 noted that "She combines the skill of a medical or botanical illustrator with the soul of a poet to make extremely detailed drawings that are nothing if not evocative."
Perhaps you would like to look at the work of my friend, Catherine Beaudette, who has a summer home in Duntara near where we live. Catherine teaches at Ontario College of of Art and Design. Look at her Recent Works and read her artist statement. You will see why.