This series began with a new collaged work; A Város (The City at War – I) was made specifically for the Város-Kép (City-Picture) spring 2022 juried exhibition of the Association of Hungarian Painters. Receiving a submission call for the upcoming exhibition, I mused over this theme; could it offer a hook, an opening into work? Added to that uncertainty were the logistics of yet another shipped work. The invitation was set aside for a time for thoughts to gestate. As the submission deadline approached, another context for interpretation unexpectedly surfaced – the horrendous new war exploding in Ukraine. The subject of City suddenly presented itself with powerful possibilities. The first City at War photomontage was created rapidly, manifesting itself without visual preconception or conscious creative strategy.
The finished piece was photographed, submitted and accepted; then slipped into a FedEx envelope and sent out. We’ll skip the unbelievable saga of its two-week journey to Budapest which thankfully ended well. I’ll just say that when it seemed to have been swallowed up in Budapest customs, there was no antidote to the stress but to make another piece, and then another!
The subject matter itself begged for more work as the war accelerated. It had not been my intention to continue with collage-work after the World as Collage Project, but it seemed that there was no other choice. Ideas of taking those many collages into a painterly direction would wait awhile as I resumed the intimate yet challenging play with paper fragments.
This time the papers were simple black and white ink-jet prints of digital photos downloaded from online newspapers and news sites – photos of cities in Ukraine utterly destroyed by Russian missiles. A tiny wet brush outlined small fragments for easy tearing, then these barely overlapping fragments were pieced and taped together for eventual gluing. I couldn’t help but notice that the verso sides presented interesting groupings of the blank paper fragments; however, these were essentially one-sided works, floated on a red or black background paper.
At this moment there are four completed pieces. I have no idea how many of these will be made, or for how long this will continue!