Mid-century dreams

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The mid-century modernism developed in US in the post-war years and finds its astonishing expression in many symbolic buildings and houses in Los Angeles. Its reflection of the International style and Bauhaus resulted in less formal, rather organic structures, open interior spaces and more active integration of the nature. Combined with the local vegetation and the landscape, it produces particular images.

The departure point for my visual researches lies in the tradition of representation of architecture in the media of painting and architecture drawing.

These are visual investigations of the way how the artistic gaze changes the object and predetermine the perception of this. As Beatriz Colomina writes”architecture is not simply a platform that accommodates the viewing subject. It is a viewing mechanism that produces the subject. It precedes and frames its occupant.
” (Sexuality and Space, p. 83).

After projects about modern architecture and urbanism in Europe and the socialist countries, I shift my interest towards a part of the modernist movement, which has its full expression not only in big, representative projects, but in individual, almost intimate, open projects, such as the mid-century houses in and around Los Angeles.

The cinematography of this architecture has long been a theme developed in Hollywood cinema. The house becomes an independent story character – very important to the film story in The Night Holds Terror by Andrew Stone (1955), L.A. Confidential by Curtis Hanson (1997) or The Big Lebowski by Joel and Ethan Coen (1998) for example. All this cinematography is also present in the iconic paintings of David Hockney, which contribute to building a myth around the architecture of the private home in Los Angeles.

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In my painting series I am not so interested in accurately depicting one or another particular house but more in exploring this mythologizing and dramatizing Californian architecture in the art and the process of desire to create “modern machines for quality living.”

I examine the individual approach and the ways of interpretation on a visual level. My interest lies in the architecture, its connection to the organic forms, patterns and colors and its representation, historic and contemporary. The paintings show reduced, almost geometrical objects, mixed with organic, expressive shapes.

In these art pieces I work with flat colored panels and the geometry that characterizes this period. The way architecture is interpreted deliberately seeks some kind of “craft” approach. This corresponds to the pathos of the 1950s and 1960s, when we can see the desire to create the perfect geometric environment for living in a time when the digital design technologies did not yet exist.

These architectural phenomena, as a product of the culture of the time contrast with nature – represented as surrounding vegetation. Nevertheless, this “nature” seeks harmony with this “culture” – through the schematic (replica of the late modernism) depictions of palm trees or bushes.

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