Statements



GARY A. BIBB


The artist's creative process is more than an intellectual puzzle or an emotional exercise; it is an expression of the soul whereby the rational, emotional and spiritual components of our being work in concert, each playing an integral role.

Confronted with uncertainty and disorder, we strive to resolve these conflicts. Therefore, an artist develops a compulsion to complete the task of selecting, signifying and organizing the various pictorial elements until a personal sense of balance, harmony and purpose is achieved.

When we are immersed in this process, working toward the resolution, a disclosure, an unfolding, a mysterious revelation of the "inner man" occurs. Our complex system of conscious and subconscious awareness is activated and engaged, enabling us to draw upon our aggregate identity along with the sum of our experiences. In this manner the whole of our being becomes involved in the problem-solving challenge.

 
Building upon the foundations laid by twentieth century Surrealists, Abstract Expressionists, Color Field and Geometric Abstractionists, along with the infusion of some twenty-first century Casualist sensibilities, I have developed a visual vocabulary integrating and contemporizing these concepts. Therefore, I consider myself to be an Integrative Visualist.


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My artistic rationale is based upon integration, along with an occasional twist of juxtaposition. Moreover, it is a sum and summary of the contemporary art stream spanning the past several decades. It is not a nostalgic review, but rather a fresh visual exploration, integrating image, form, technique, culture and attitude; building upon the past - expressing the current.




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The point and purpose of my art, indeed, of all art, is to evoke an awakening.


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An aesthetic experience is a convergence and an integration of the perceivable with the conceivable.

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Humans possess an incredible attribute that is all too often ignored or stifled; and sadly, many are missing a deep, enriching aspect of a cognizant life. Our minds are continually collecting, identifying and cataloging images, however most people stop at the level where the information is assigned an object/label recognition. Through aesthetic awareness a pure visual experience can be attained. As artists, we have an opportunity to liberate our audience from the tyranny of a shallow object-oriented prison.


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True art is a revelation of the human condition, both personal and universal; great art is an eloquent expression of that condition. The artist’s experiential and transformational journey from peak to peak requires a descent, often into the valley of indecision, or occasionally, the canyon of uncertainty where the destination is obscured. The goal remains ahead and can only be attained by pressing on - one step and then another. Art is an autobiographical record, a journal of the artist's journey through life. Some of our entries are elegant, eloquent expressions, however, others are fragmented, forced, or even awkward, but they all reflect the challenges we encounter - the challenges associated with traversing from where we've been to where we are going, transitioning from who we've been to who we are becoming. My artworks are epic poems expressing this journey. Press on o' seeker of summits.


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 When ability and experience are integrated and then refined they become skill, but the adaptation of those skills to new circumstances, combined with a zeal for discovery, define the explorer.


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An artist discloses the congruency of various realities through their creative expressions. Artworks are the result of an interface between the physical (material), intellectual (conceptual), emotional and spiritual realms. These multi-faceted realities, along with the sum of previous experiences, simultaneously inform the artist in a manner which becomes manifest in their art.


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Response to being questioned about my concentration on small works – 



Exceptional art is not determined by its size (scale) but rather by the artist's effectiveness in expressing and communicating the concept (content). Furthermore, the observer’s experience with small works is much different than that of large artwork. Both formats hold equal validity, however, they present the audience with divergent challenges. Large works of art can be observed from a distance and are at times much like a person speaking with a loud voice; while modest-scaled art requires the activation of the observer’s will - they must choose to move closer for a private visual dialog, a quiet conversation. Small artworks beckon the audience to draw near for a more intimate encounter and instead of an immersed experience, which is part of the artist's intention with large-scaled art, the audience is asked to focus their observation skills and aesthetic sensibilities.

I've consciously chosen to explore the possibilities and challenges of creating modest-sized art while maintaining an openness to the option of creating on a larger scale.


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Small Scale Cultural Shift:

Our culture is undergoing a perceptive shift from experiencing actual reality toward virtual reality. Electronic devices, especially hand-held devices, are becoming more widely used to investigate our world and obtain information. Mobility requires technology to limit the size of the image screens on these devices and due to increased usage, another perception shift occurs. Not only has virtual imagery become a common experience but the size of those images has also dramatically been reduced. As a result, the viewer no longer expects grand scale images, and furthermore, it is quite possible many are becoming ill equipped to visually process larger images. The norm is rapidly approaching a visual experience of inches rather than feet and may well be influencing our culture’s concept of artistic scale. If the audience is familiar with seeing images on a small electronic screen, it is conceivable they also expect, and are in some manner programmed, to experience other imagery on a similar scale. This is where I believe smaller artworks can be an effective forum to engage those who have already made this perceptive shift.





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Abstract Art


The rich legacy of abstract/non-objective/non-referential art has, at times, been pushed aside, discarded or deemed irrelevant by "cultural dictators" who believe these art forms are antiquated, exhausted or insignificantly decorative. On the contrary, abstract based art is the most universal of all visual languages and the most liberated/liberating artistic expression for both artist and audience.

Kirk Varnedoe, art historian and former Curator of the Museum of Modern Art, commented in Pictures of Nothing (one of his epic published works) - "Abstract art has been with us in one form or another for almost a century now, and has proved to be not only a long-standing crux of cultural debate, but a self-renewing, vital tradition of creativity.” He continues, “This is one of abstraction’s singular qualities, the form of enrichment and alteration of experience denied to the fixed mimesis of known things.” Furthermore, he adds, "... the development of abstraction in the last fifty years suggests ... a tradition of invention and interpretation that has become exceptionally refined and intricate."

 "... painting in general and abstract painting in particular, rather than being exhausted by what has come before, can in fact be nurtured by the astonishing array of references now available. The potential sources of inspiration are myriad, perhaps unfathomable. The complexity, density, and diversity of art give ample reason to understand why abstract painting has not dried up or withered away."  Gary Garrels, Curator of the Hammer Museum.

In summation, perhaps artist Arshile Gorky said it most succinctly, "Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot physically see with his eyes.... Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind ... an exploration into unknown areas."

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Additional thoughts - click here


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Published Essays -

The Redemption of Rubbish 
(excerpts from the essay)

by Gary A. Bibb

Utilizing found-object materials in the construction of Fine Art has long been regarded as visually and metaphorically viable. For nearly a century, artists have collected non-art objects with the intent of incorporating them within their compositions. The results have repeatedly proven that the creative process of selection, signification and organization can elevate even the most humble scraps of human detritus into beautiful, majestic forms....

While foraging back-alleys and industrial sites for unusual pieces of paper, I discovered an affinity for the found-objects most commonly regarded as trash....  There was something significant, authentic and genuine about the discarded rubbish. Although rejected and deemed valueless, it appeared the found-objects were attempting to resist the ravages of time and maintain a sense of dignity. A metaphor was forming. These scraps of paper, cardboard, wood and metal were beginning to symbolize the concept of intrinsic value and the noble character of perseverance. I came to realize that through artistic intervention, discarded items could be transformed into expressions of renewed purpose, hope and beauty.

The utilization of found-objects to express an aesthetic ideology remains integral to my artistic intent. I
ncorporating collected items, along with various media and techniques, expands my visual vocabulary and adds an objective dimension to my art. Therefore, the ideas expressed are not merely limited to the realm of ethereal thought [concepts] but also enter into the viewer’s tangible reality.


Originally published in the book: Under the Influence, 2009.
(To read the complete essay - click here)



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White On White

by Gary A. Bibb

The visual theme for this exhibition challenged the participants to answer the question: Can an artist effectively convey a cohesive visual statement by limiting the use of color? Furthermore, it wasn’t a simple monochromatic criterion that was enforced, but rather one that narrows the parameters even further - where color is nearly eliminated altogether.

Most artists incorporate color in their visual vocabulary for emotional impact and they utilize it, along with the other formal elements (i.e. line, form, value, texture, image, etc.), to communicate their message. Without the seduction and impact of color (or in the case of some pieces, keeping it to a minimum) the strength of the remaining elements determines the effectiveness of the artwork in conveying the content – the message. Reducing the palette to white forced the artists to reconsider their visual vocabulary and challenged them to incorporate a more simplified linguistic approach. By limiting the color boundaries, the artists were actually liberated to distill their imagery to its fundamental essence.

Within the context of this exhibition, composed predominately of collage and assemblage artists, it is of special interest to note that artists who gravitate to these artistic techniques generally possess an acute awareness of subtle variations in texture. The use of white is well suited in accentuating this attribute. All other colors (including gray and black) fail to display the full range of dynamic subtleties present in shadows cast within a white environment.

In summary, white can represent simplicity - the absolute minimal, the fundamental, or the elimination of irrational emotions; however, it can also convey light, purity, virtue, spiritual essence, Divine holiness, or a sense of hope and peace. Regardless of the generalized interpretations set forth, the artist and the corresponding audience ultimately determine the symbolic meaning of color and art. It is within this interpersonal relationship of artist and audience where we find the potential for consummation and satiation of our human desire for soul to soul communication.


Introductory essay published in the book: White on White, 2008.



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Fluxface in Space International Art Project - Exhibition Book

Preface

by Gary A. Bibb

I believe we have entered a new era of the artist/curator where the projects rival or surpass the concepts and proposals of "professional" curators. Artists are beginning to take their place at the vanguard of art once again and are no longer waiting for institutions to endorse or establish trends - or extend invitations to participate in their exhibitions. Granted, artists have been organizing exhibits for nearly as long as the creation of art itself; however, instead of following the traditional pathways, today's Creatives are taking the initiative to connect via the internet and form cross-disciplinary global coalitions. The results have proven that they are conceiving and presenting innovative new projects.

One of the territories they (we) are exploring is the multi-interpretive, conceptual expression of artists through egalitarian projects; where there is no respecter of reputation, whether famous or obscure. The art is presented in a manner of equal significance by implementing uniformity through visual parameters - the standardization of scale and the set limit of entries per artist. Moreover, the gestalt, the whole compilation of interpretations and thematic variations by the artists, becomes the artwork, or the creative event. Much like collage, where the components are gathered and arranged in a manner to convey a concept, these projects are multi-faceted reflections of a singular theme.

Having the Fluxmuseum sponsor the Fluxface in Space project is a wonderful opportunity for an artist/curator because this is not your conventional, institutionalized museum. The Director and founder, Cecil Touchon, who is an accomplished artist, has been very supportive throughout the process and granted me wide latitude and flexibility while designing and implementing this project.

A primary goal of the Fluxmuseum is to promote 21st century Fluxus art; however, it also embraces the fluid ideas of a new interpretation, which Cecil Touchon refers to as FluxNexus. If Fluxface in Space were to be categorized, it would probably fit within this grouping. FiS (Fluxface in Space) is a hybrid, an integration of many different influences including, but not limited to: Conceptual, Performance, Multi-Media, New Media, Fluxus, Mail Art, Pop Art and more; which makes it FluxNexus.

Although the artistic concepts of FluxNexus are mercurial, here is a brief definition as presented by Cecil Touchon.  

 "Stagnation is Death! FluxNexus is the living vessel of Fluxus. The FluxNexus is an inclusive group of artists, working together to create a global community, coordinate fluxhibitions, fluxoramas, fluxfests, fluxconcerts, fluxpublications and whatever else gets dreamt up along the way. Following along the historic chain from Futurism through Dada, Surrealism and Fluxus; FluxNexus is the inheritor of the past and the shaper of the future."

The grandeur of the Fluxface in Space project far exceeds a first impression and is more than a collection of space related images. It is actually a well choreographed, coordinated performance by a diverse community of international artists. A minimal script was drafted to provide focus, uniformity and procedural guidance; however, it also allowed the artists creative flexibility and latitude with their thematic interpretation. While each individual artwork is a well conceived, personal expression and a stand-alone statement; when combined with the other artists' contributions, the whole is indeed greater than the sum of the parts. The entire collection becomes a symphony of diversity; rich in harmony and dissonance, tone, timbre, tempo, and filled with accents. The intellectual and emotional expression of each artist has its solo moment but then recedes to provide an atmosphere for the next artwork.

The objective of the Fluxface in Space project was to provide an opportunity for global artists to make a statement about the inspiration of space exploration and its corollary to artistic expression. All of the combined effort by the artists and the curators was in preparation of the Grand Event - opening night and the following final performance.  

Through the unique opportunity extended by NASA's Face in Space Program, the artists are participating in historical events, which are the final two Space Shuttle missions [late 2010 - early 2011]. The artists' "Self-portrait with Art" image files have been uploaded and will be launched into orbit onboard the spacecrafts. Shuttle Missions STS-133 and STS-134 will carry the signature autobiographical expressions of the artists into space; where they will rendezvous with the International Space Station and then return to Earth. These art exhibitions in space are the manifestation, the realization, of the original concept and are the actual artistic events - the Grand Performances. The creation of the artworks; along with the extensive preparation, was intended for, and focused upon, those cosmological exhibitions. All of the website portfolios, subsequent exhibitions and any other publications are documentation of the coordinated, conceptual performance by the artists.


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Watching the moon rise and the stars appear has been a nightly spectacle observed by mankind since the first heavenward gaze. This mysterious, captivating and inspiring performance continually beckons us to strain our eyes and our imaginations to perceive the sublime dance across the black velvet stage.

My childhood was spent in the vast openness of the prairie and although the flatlands are in my past, I remember looking into that sea of black ink, filled with flickering pin-lights, and finding myself spellbound and breathless. Have you ever been on open land, or in the middle of the ocean, where the flat horizon completely encircles you? The sky above fills your field of vision - and while lying down, looking up, the sky is so encompassing that you lose your sense of perspective and become certain you are floating in air. Late at night, far from any ambient light and once your eyes adjust to the darkness; you can see subtle wonders that stir your soul. In every direction there are countless multitudes of heavenly bodies and if you are quite still, holding your breath, you may catch a faint flickering glimpse of light; but when you look straight at it - it disappears! Or how about the time when you are simply soaking in the midnight experience and suddenly, a flash of light trails across the sky. "Whoa! Did you see that - a shooting star from a meteor shower?!"

A few experiences like that will ignite one's desire to explore the unknown, whether through science or art. The joy of discovery, those magical moments when apparently random bits of information, or visual fragments, come together and "make sense" or "feel right" are what we seekers live for. They are rare and elusive, yet so profound and enriching that the observer is assured for an instant that all is well in the universe.

The desire for those moments becomes a lifelong quest for an adventurous spirit. It's not about seeking experiences which are carnal attempts to satisfy a wonder-lust, nor a desire to accumulate information to impress both self and others, but rather a quest for the moment when our aggregate identity is awakened by a glimpse at immutable truth.

My heartfelt intention for the Fluxface in Space project is that it presents an opportunity for the artists and audience alike to again experience a childlike wonder as we gaze into the heavens together and ponder life's great mysteries.

Awake from thy slumber - O' adventurous one.
Rise up, take heart. Let the quest begin anew!

Gary A. Bibb, USA
July 2010


Published in the book: Fluxface in Space, 2010.