Moon Spill

Arryn Snowball and collaborators

Nathan Shepherdson, Sofia Karagiorgou, Jose Serrano, Pedro Almiro, Hinnerk Utermann, Steven Russell, Ole Brolin, Monica Vasile.

Presented by Proxi Projects.

 August 2020, Berlin

Boom Boom Boom Boom, 2019 tempera on linen, 120 x 90 cm. Slack Water colour studies, 2019-20, tempera on paper, each 40 x 30 cm

At the beginning of August 2020 a group of wonderful friends helped put on an exhibition of the my recent work and a number of on-going collaborative projects (with writers, musicians, architects, dancers, and other artists). I am deeply grateful to everyone who volunteered their time and energy to make this exhibition happen during these difficult times.

Most of this work is from the last two years, and was intended for a museum show in Australia that was cancelled due to Covid-19. Some works are still in progress and other are just getting started. This was my largest exhibition in Berlin, my practice has been transformed by this creative city. While firmly committed to abstract painting, I have been seeking an open practice, where process is fluid and visible, embodied and reciprocal. Most of this work follows simple formal structures that yet open onto complexity and uncertainty, intimacy and the vulnerability of being.  It was delight to share works and collaborative projects with my Berlin companions, perhaps the following images can give an impression of the exhibition.

Special thanks: Karla Marchesi, Jos Porath and Laura Thompson who together are Proxi Projects and made it all possible, Martin Eder for generously providing the space. Steven Russell, Graeme Auchterlonie and Felix Korganow for their expertise and physical efforts. Kris Carlon for cameras and angles. Chatschatur Kanajan for the incredible violin, and Monica Vasile for everything else.

Pink Duck, Berlin Desert, and Big Numbers, 2020, tempera on linen, each 190 x 190 cm

Big Numbers, 2020, tempera on linen, 190 x 190cm

Berlin Desert, 2020, tempera on linen, 190 x 190cm

Pink Duck, 2020, tempera on linen, 190 x 190cm

Colour studies for the Slack Water project.

Slack Water, in collaboration with the poet Nathan Shepherdson. For some time I have been responding to a collection of  77 poems by Nathan. Titled Slack Water, the poems use Grant's Guide to Fishes (by Ern Grant) as a starting point, they are cut-ups, each poem using only the words from one fish. It is a collaboration dealing with the Pacific Ocean, absurd physics, meaning and the dissolution of being. It involves the body, the coast, the reef, (its beauty and complexity, and the dire threat it's under). The poems are powerful, abstract, surreal, and the ocean swells within them.  This collection of poems are the primary subject of most of the work in this exhibition. These colour studies are the basis of my response, a selection will be published alongside the poems.

Design for forthcoming publication:

Zebra Shark Echo, performance by Sofia Karagiorgou and Arryn Snowball, 7.8.2020

Zebra Shark Echo, a collaborative performance with Sofia Karagiorgou. Biologist Ern Grant spent a lifetime writing a book on Australian fishes (Grant's Guide to Fishes). Nathan Shepherdson wrote the 77 Slack Water poems drawing from this Fisherman's Bible. I painted fragments and phrases, words cut from the poems arranged into the Slack Water Mammoth (on the wall in the image above).  Now Sofia interprets, bringing the words back to the body. Sofia moves and I read. Nathan is still present, so is Ern Grant, the fish and the reef, from the coast of Australia to the depths of Berlin, echoing from one practice to the next. 

Detail of Points in a puddle, 2020.

I try to keep the work simple, yet complexity naturally builds up. I don't want to disguise any aspect of the process. I prefer a hand painted edge. If the line is awkward, it is my awkwardness, if the line is wobbly it is more alive. In these works the grid structure acts as a net for colour and rhythm. I work the whole surface, allowing the inconsistencies to generate movement and depth. At some point the painting emerges from the process and is able to hold the expanse of the canvas. They gather associations and find their own titles, these are not prescriptive  descriptions. Paintings are vessels for meaning, like a bowl they want  to fill up with things, no matter how empty. It seems the emptier a painting is the greater the size of the metaphor that comes to rest in it. And like a bowl you can turn it upside down to empty it out again.

Points in a puddle, 2020, tempera on linen, 190 x 190 cm

Magic Grey, 2020, tempera on linen, 190 x 190 cm

Sunburn, 2020, tempera on linen, 190 x 190 cm

Night Fishing 2 & 4,  tempera on linen, each 120 x 90 cm 

Blackboards, PAZ, and Everdrawing. I often draw on blackboards. It is quick, ephemeral and always changing, each drawing affects the one above as surely as the one below. As PAZ, a collaboration with musicians Jose Serrano and Pedro Almiro, we transformed a large blackboard into an "instrument'. The drawing is electrified and woven into their improvisations for interstellar sound travel. For this exhibition we played a recording from our most recent session and invited the audience to add to the stream of rhythms.

Moments from the Everdrawing, 2020, chalk on blackboard, various dimensions.

Collaborative works on paper. Often friends visiting my studio will leave something special after a session, I've started combining these with my own studies in memory of their visits. Point, line, plane, with the moon, Wild Walt's Wild Words,  with Felix Korganow. Moody's Beauty, with Sebastian Moody. 2020, pencil and tempera on paper, various dimensions. 

Blocks. Architect Hinnerk Utermann, artist Steven Russell, and I regularly get together to play with blocks. What started as a diversion for our hands while we chatted, has become a project in itself.  We've started designing cutting our own. In the picture above, some are steel, ten times the weight of the equivalent shapes in wood, allowing for delicate counterbalancing, and louder crashing collapses. Like the blackboards it is an open and ephemeral process, where basic forms build complexity and allow for individual expression.

Karla, thanks again,  Blocks on the table, Moon Spill on the wall, Deep Above ( still in progress) on the other wall, 2020.

88.8 Moon Radio,  audio recording, in collaboration with Ole Brolin. You cannot hear it, but playing in the corner is the first couple of sessions of Moon Radio. Over winter Ole and I started a radio project, mixing recordings of experimental music, interviews with artists and practitioners of all sorts, odd guests, poetry, silly talk, snipets and zipets. Ole has moved home to the forests Sweden, but we shall continue it long distance. 

Chatschatur Kanajan, letting the magic flow through the violin. 

Chatschatur Kanajan on the violin, Moon Up Moon Down, 2019 tempera on linen, 190 x 190 cm, on the wall behind him.

I'm in the corner next to Dawn and dusk bite through daylight hours, 2019 tempera on linen, 190 x 110 cm.

Thanks again to Sofia and Proxi, Karla, Jos and Laura for the show and the magic, we did it!

© 2020 All images copyright of Arryn Snowball