Mysterious and enigmatic, abstract and impenetrable, the Zen gardens of Kyoto are a product of enlightened and sophisticated culture whose aim was to transcend nature by means of a man made nature.
The empty space, the surrounding landscape and the frame of mind of the viewer are all part of the design. A design that transcends representation, meaning and ideology. A powerful idea distilled to simple ingredients, the evaporation of art as we know it.
The book is a collection of photographs I took and small poems I wrote during my journey to the Zen gardens of Kyoto. I felt it is impossible to untangle their mystery with the rational instrument of reason. It is a stream of visual and versed thoughts on the joyful occasion of simply being there.
Accompanying my photographs and poems are several short verses from Basho, Ryokan and other Zen poets. Their words have sometimes been modified to fit my own frame of mind, using their verses᠆ superior ability to express my own feelings.
This book is about the frame of mind and the geometry of calm that the Zen gardens of Kyoto represent. As there are no explanations on the walls of the gardens as to the meaning of the sand patterns, so is my book void of explanations and floats on a visual lotus, like an imaginary house.
This book is a photographic essay about the Zen gardens of Kyoto, designed specifically for the Kindle and features stunning, high-resolution photographs accompanied by small poems I wrote and small verses by Zen poets. It is crafted to create a calm space of the mind, a vision of tranquility and peace.
The title derives its name from an ongoing photographic chronicles I called “some kind of” project, of which Some Kind of Garden is the first volume.
It is a gorgeous Zen Book with Very Large Photographs and Very Small Poems.
I call these Zen Gardens the Geometry of Calm.
For me going to Kyoto was getting into the Zen space of the Mind. Japanese Zen Gardens have very little to do with Horticulture and a lot to do with sophisticated culture refined by the teachings and reflections of Zen Masters, whose sole focus had been to contemplate and distill reality to simple, vanishing abstractions.
Why some kind of? Some kind of is a larger body of work that started long time ago and contains Photographs, Video and Text. Some kind of is a thread that runs through all of my work and hops on various obsessions like one of those Stepping Stone Bridges in my book.
Music – ( Public Domain recording ) Ride of the Valkyries performed by The University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Barbara Schubert: archive.org/details/uso-2004-10-31
I created Tokyo walks for my some kind of street series, for the some kind of project. Tokyo and Japan in general have never been a tourist destination but rather an obsession I have had to pursue. It is only appropriate that I picked the Ride of the Valkyries for this piece as my experiences during my solo trip to Tokyo and Kyoto were pure ecstasy and until this day I cannot unravel this feeling into anything that makes sense, on any rational level. I simply have the hots for Japan.
Every cake I ate, every fist of rice, every foot I planted on the pavement felt emotionally charged and even today I feel as much charged about my experiences as I was the moment I dropped into Narita airport.
The note in my diary reads:
My plane ride to Tokyo was a bit like a train ride on a train with square wheels. I was flying from nearby Korea and despite the fact that the ride was fairly short – I was crazily afraid of flying, I still am afraid of flying and every flight I take is a rigorous test of my character.
Yet, the most exciting parts of my life have and are starting with a plane ride. After the rocky introduction to Japan I entered into an immigration procedure in a room with a sign that read:
PRIORITY LANE – only FOR: -GREAT AGED -FEEL BAD -PREGNANTS
Since I was fairly amused I wasn’t feeling bad anymore, neither too aged or pregnant, and proceeded without trying the Priority lane, into what I eagerly awaited to get into – Japan.
Dreams, 31 x 32 inches, dip pen and ink on hot pressed board
The purpose of this drawing was to implement a new language and the way it worked was that it developed into a language as it went. Never knew what a particular detail would look like until the very moment it was done. It was like a play with no script where I was the only audience.
Tiny changes happened along the way, and the world of the drawing changed incrementally.
By the time the drawing was fished – it had evolved into a dream tapestry that would draw you in just like a rabbit hole.
This whole struggle with paintings that look like dresses comes from a single well – I have always pushed the third dimension in my drawings and this comes directly from being a 3d artist for so long. My brain has been completely rewired to think three-dimensionally. I can’t imagine a satisfactory flat plane and there is this anxiety to twist it in another direction.
The thirst for dimension pushed me to animate the drawings, and, in turn, to take the animated drawings in yet another dimension with the wearable work. The wearability comes from sensory seeking, craving tactile things, feeling the work with the whole body, literally occupying the work.
Xquisite Corpse is an ongoing project, a series of Installations and Performance Art pieces with open public participation. I began Xquisite Corpse in 2010 as a continuation to a series of earlier works I created with a group of artists called Absurdas.
The Xquisite Corpse work is about the body, the body as a landscape, and whatever surrounds the body, also as a landscape.
Xquisite Corpse doesn’t have an audience or a script, no money change hands, no models, no artists, no plan of what is going to happen, because anyone that stepped into the work played their own script, became the artists, the models, the canvas, the audience of their own painting.
Europe is cold and feels even colder after I spent considerable amount of time in Florida and California over the last couple of years. But as in New York, cold always stimulates the mind as there is no urge to be outside and move about.
Here are two pieces I did over Thanksgiving three years ago. For the first one I used the back of a Nordstrom catalog I got in the mail:
Another piece with a Thanksgiving theme is called I have everything. It is a digital collage over a photograph of me wearing a paper dress .The other strong theme here is Occupy and the effect the movement had on me and the way I viewed New York city. I have everything was completed shortly after NYPD cleared Zuccotti Park.
The paper dress I am wearing is a 30 x 40 inches mixed media piece. I painted over a Giclee print of my Lucasfilm W2 and scraps of paper collage:
You can listen to the voice piece about I have everything here:
I drew the Flying Tree during my failed attempt to go to Tibet, Nepal and Mt Everest Base Camp. I had already obtained Chinese visa, bought anti-diarrhea drugs, waterproof rainwear and wool underwear, arranged for a sidecar trip around Beijing, a trip on the train to Lhasa and a 4 wheel drive across the Tibetan Plateau.
Couple of days before the trip the results from my physical exam blood work came in and it turned out I was severely anemic. My doctor recommended I do not go on the trip as it involved high altitude -I panicked and never went. I spent a couple of days crying.
I closed the doors to my studio and drew for three weeks straight, all my dreams flowed out, into and with the ink. Flying Tree was one of the drawings I completed during that time.
I dedicated the Flying Tree to my late grandfather Spas who passed away September 28th, on the day I was supposed to hang the Tree in a gallery in downtown San Francisco. He was just like the Old Man and The Sea, he made fish cakes and raspberry wine, he grew large tomatoes. All my friends and my brother’s friends came to see him at his house on the Black Sea. He used to say a Macedonian soldier never turns back – just 180 and forward.
Eventually I learned that in Hindu religion, in the beginning mountains had wings.. they were cut off by thunderbolt. The Flying Tree was the foothills of my Govardhan, the imaginary mountain I needed to climb instead, perhaps to ascend mentally first before taking my body there. Ultimately, I gifted the “Flying Tree” to an anti-cancer benefit a former colleague of mine organized at Pixar.
As part of my some kind of series I am creating short videos using photographs I shot. They sound and look like the mood of the moment I took the photograph.
Going to Rome was one of the most exciting experiences in my life. Rome is not exciting the way Las Vegas is exciting. I went to Rome on Christmas and after spending Christmas eve waiting for the Pope to come out and give us a blessing, after spending the whole night in front of St Peter’s, walking across the dark city, all the way from St Peters to my hotel.. I slept through all of Christmas day and woke up in the evening to find out Rome was completely empty. There was nobody outside. Everyone was either at home, out of town or held up in their hotel room waiting for a dry morning.
There was nobody on the streets of Rome, it was raining, little bit, on and off. I went to see the Colosseum. It was the most serene and peaceful place to be. With the Colosseum raising out of the darkness with its 2000 years of existence. Colored in yellow and blue. I would end up not visiting it during the day.
I get attached to the materials I work with – I have been a life-long computer geek, a brush geek, a linen geek, a paper geek. After all, for a time – you and the instrument in your hand become a one in the pursuit of a work of art, or simply of work. Knowing what we now know of the micro-world of particles, the simple act of commanding an object is a miracle.
Here is my little dance to the tune of a Bulgarian folk song – I am preparing several canvases the traditional way. I stretch my own raw linen, size it with rabbit skin glue and prime it with several thin coats of lead oil, which I let dry for two weeks between coats. The tricky part with lead is that it is toxic so I dress up hazmat fot this little dance.