|Edward Monovich, A Day With The Goats #8, 2013|
BR: You've got some fine collages of which I was privy to see in your studio,
of which A Day For The Goats 8 was one. Why don't you start with telling
me what the inspiration was for the series and the genesis of what got your
mind into the particularity of this wild terrain?
While in grad school, I had a chance to chat with Paul McCarthy who
presented his “Heidi” film to us. At the time, his emotionally charged version
of the Swiss classic made an indelible impression.
When the opportunity recently arose to take a
mini-sabbatical in Switzerland, the Heidi story resurfaced. Combine this with
an early childhood fascination with Switzerland, viewed through the lens of
American pop-culture and “A Day With The Goats” was born. As a child I
experienced the Alps via Disneyland’s Matterhorn ride, heroic tales of Saint
Bernard rescues, James Bond’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (I painted in
Mürren, where this movie was filmed), and the original 1937 “Heidi” film,
starring Shirley Temple. So, in anticipation of my trip to Switzerland, I
picked up a copy of Johanna Spyri’s book and read it cover to cover.
At its core, “Heidi” is a story about humanity’s
connectedness to and dependence on nature. At a time where climate change is
tangible and millennia-old glaciers are melting in front of our eyes, (I
witnessed this while hiking in the alps this summer), this theme seems particularly
relevant. Goats are also a prevalent theme in “Heidi” and in my
drawings. In the book, Heidi forms profound and metaphorical relationships with
many of the village goats. In my collages, the goats are depicted as wild ibex,
which were nearly extinct in the 18th century.
The form of this project arose for pragmatic reasons. I knew
that I would be hiking to remote locations in the Alps. So I measured my pack
and built the largest drawing board/easel that would fit inside. This allowed
me to carry my materials and paint in plein air, in some amazing places. I also
collected fragments of alpine Kitsch, that splice their way into works. In
ADWTG #8, the foreground is a cardboard sliver taken from a local 12-pack.
BR: Its interesting
to hear you explain the formation of this series in such detail, as it reflects
the way the works are layered and loaded with a rich landscape of imagery.
In terms of retaining the background of the Swiss heritage of the
inspiration, I see you have integrated text from what I could guess is German
phrases from your travels? In this collage it is as if the goat/man is
calling to the Riccola helicopter almost UFO thing and to the rock of nature
tattooed with the phrasing. One speaks to the other and to the other...and
how is it you make a decision on the inclusion of your text?
The inclusion of text usually happens intuitively in response to imagery
in the collage. For example, while painting the heart-shaped flowers in the
foreground, I learned that they are called: "Vergissmeinnicht," which
means forget-me-not in German. For me, this phrase has poetic resonance with
the imagery in the drawing. To add mystery, the phrase is whispered by a
shadow-puppet cast on the rock. Meanwhile, the ibex calls to the Ricola-endorsed
copter (which happens to be an Aeryon Scout: a drone currently used by
Homeland Security). At that time, I was reading a "Filly Fairy" comic
book to my daughter and found the phrase: "Darf ich deine Flugel anfassen
und mir etwas wünschen?" which means: "May I touch your wings
and make a wish?" The drawing already had a bit of fairy magic, and I felt
that this text would enhance that quality.
For me, landscape has become a vessel for imagery, symbolism
and cultural detritus. This is an idea that I've worked with in the past, but
it has a larger role in this series. Maybe its because the Alpine landscapes
have become important characters in their own right.
|Edward Monovich, A Day With The Goats #3, 2013|
In addition to the conceptual parameters of the chosen imagery of your
collages, I'd like to ask a question about the not-so-obvious part of these
works, and yet an important quality to how they optically work: what is the
role of your use of push and pull visually in these works?
Heidi series has given me the perfect form for investigating push-pull.
Firstly, when I painted in the Alps, I was mesmerized and overwhelmed by
naturally occurring spatial shifts. I would stop to appreciate a tiny blue
wildflower, then glance upwards to find monumental peaks, then turn to see a
deep, dark gorge at my left. Delicate and fuzzy meet jagged and rocky. Add to
this mixture an infinite color palette of vivid greens, blues and yellows that
morph quickly from warm to cool and light to dark. I find the alpine landscape
to be a playground of tension. The inclusion of collaged elements and patterns
allows me to engage the picture plane, immediately adjacent to vast panoramas.
It is also important that the type of space in my works reinforces image
content, so there's a union of form and function. In the case of "A Day
With The Goats," spatial tension echoes a feeling that things may not be
as they first appear, in this world.
|Edward Monovich, A Day With The Goats #10, 2013|