Bright Broken Perimeter Collage by Robert Ayers

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Bright Broken Perimeter

Robert Ayers

United States


Size: 10 W x 10 H x 2 in

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Art Description

Collage: Paper, cardboard, recycled, printed, cut paper on Paper, Cardboard.

This is Bright Broken Perimeter. It is a lovely little collage that I made from cut paper and cardboard components. Many of these are drawn digitally and then custom printed before they find their place in the collage. After I came up with the (purely descriptive) title for this one, I couldn’t imagine why it seemed so familiar. It was only a day or so later that I realized it reminded me my very earliest days in New York City in 1979 when I worked for the Dia Art Foundation and one of my occasional responsibilities was invigilating Walter de Maria’s Broken Kilometer installation. So this one is dedicated to Walter.

I make my collages at my worktable in Brooklyn, which is fortunately inside my apartment so I don’t need to venture outside and can maintain social distancing. Bright Broken Perimeter is offered mounted in a black minimalist shadow box frame. The frames are deep enough to stand upright, thus allowing them to be displayed either freestanding or hung on the wall. Please note that the collage itself is about five inches square. The framed size is 10"x10"x2"

I started making collages of this type in 2004. They belong to the tradition of modernist fine art collage - which probably began with Picasso's cubist works of about 1907 - but pay particular homage to the collages and related works made by Kurt Schwitters from the end of the First World War until the last days of his life in 1948. They also pay tribute to the long tradition of geometrical and color abstraction - particularly the work of Sonia Delaunay, Ellsworth Kelly, and Richard Diebenkorn, but I have chosen to concentrate the dynamism of their large-scale paintings into these tiny jewel-like objects. So I also see them as relating to Indian watercolor miniatures and to medieval illuminated manuscripts.

When I began making collages, I adopted a personal rule that I could only use discarded materials, which meant primarily things that I found on the street. Apart from the glue that I used to stick them together, I didn’t allow myself to buy anything. Nowadays I’ve gone to the other extreme, and though I still recycle a lot of found materials, I also make a lot of my own collaging elements, both by painting directly on to paper and by printing digitally created components.

Although they are only a few inches square, these collages allow for a wonderful range of creative possibilities. Not only do I have the entire range of color and shape at my disposal, I can also work with the depth, finish, and texture of my materials. These collages are really relief-sculptures. I have included photographs in each of my listings to illustrate this: corrugated cardboard sits alongside paper printed with metallic ink and next to acrylic artist’s color applied by hand. All of these distinctions add to the finished pieces’ complexity and interest.

These collages are what is often called “abstract”: they are not intended to be pictures of anything. I emphasize this fact by giving them titles that refer only to their physical characteristics (or to the letters or partial words that appear in a few of them). I occasionally allow myself hints of architecture or landscape, but these are my amused nods in the direction of cubist and post-cubist complexity and can never be read straightforwardly.

I see the collages as objects of visual, mental, and emotional contemplation and stimulation. They are intended as the focus of meditation. Certainly the process of making them is meditative for me. At the most obvious level I might be grappling with the relationships between colors and shapes and angles and textures, but in the longer term these issues serve as the vehicle to take my mind to a deeper place. Perhaps even a more mysterious place. My ambition is that the collages might do the same thing for people who look at them.




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