VENICE BIENNALE DIARY MAY 29

The main motifs for this exhibition are the circle and downward linear gesture. I call them breath drawings. The idea was to translate architectural structures – line, form, and symmetry, found in the distinct cities of New York, Venice, and London – the places I have been living and working between over the past five years.

By Claire Zakiewicz

May 29

I wake up too early and try to sleep more but I have an anxious feeling that is increasing the longer I lie so I get up. I am unsure whether I will perform tomorrow during my closing reception, or whether I will show a film, give a speech and present the performance artist Hector Canonge, who will be performing. I decide to prepare for any of these possibilities. I paint with transparent gesso over three of my large paintings, which can be used to paint onto during a performance. The gesso provides a good texture for pastel, ink or any other paint. Painting can often be a meditative practice for me. Especially when I am following a pattern. I work in a performative way with close attention to my breath and movement of the body. When I am finished I leave them to dry and go to the gallery. It is raining so I don’t expect many visitors.

I am anxious about the finissage tomorrow because I haven’t decided what I am going to do and I haven’t met with Hector yet. We have an appointment to meet in the gallery in the evening. The main motifs for this exhibition are the circle and downward linear gesture. I call them breath drawings. The idea was to translate architectural structures – line, form, and symmetry, found in the distinct cities of New York, Venice, and London – the places I have been living and working between over the past five years. Each line represents a fluctuation in rhythm and density. The verticality represents energy and growth, the horizontal lines provide a sense of stability and reflection. The works become geographical typography that visualizes both kinaesthetic and sonic movement. I layer each composition responding through gesture to sound, notation, memory or I follow a prescribed pattern, relating to duration. The durational aspect is created by the connection between the brush stroke and the attention to the breath. It is a calming and meditative practice and today I produce many new pieces.

I have more visitors coming into the gallery when I hang a brightly coloured painting outside and have the door open. Today I want to work alone, to be with my thoughts so I have the door closed but people do come in – with their wet umbrellas and they seem interested that I am working, taking photographs. Some of Anita’s friends – Japanese artists have come to see the show. They must have noted that it closes tomorrow and I feel like I am part of this tremendous international community that has gathered here in Venice during Biennale time.

I make my own watercolour today with black pigment and a binder, which I have bought from the local art store. I have never used this particular binder and it dries much slower than I expect. I spill some paint onto one of my favourite paintings. I think about the title of the exhibition. IMPRECISION: The Aesthetics of Failure – I am a sloppy painter. Disruptions are so common in my work that learning to embrace them seems the only way to develop my practice. I’m not sure how I can turn the spillage into a positive development but at least I make sure no paint gets onto the floor or table. I use the paint to make a lot more paintings than I intended.

When the works dry I rehang the show. I am happy with some of the new works.

Hector arrives. It is always so great to see a familiar face in an unfamiliar setting. We go for an exciting dinner and make plans for tomorrow.

IMPRECISION: The Aesthetics of Failure (new install)
IMPRECISION: The Aesthetics of Failure (new install)
IMPRECISION: The Aesthetics of Failure (new install)
Hector Canonge and Claire Zakiewicz

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