Visiting artist Naomi Gittoes’ creative space at AIAR

Blindfolded with a pair of hand painted eyes on the cloth of Venice carnival masks, is how we were in that very moment. Naomi had placed the masks on our faces as we entered the room labeled with a number six painted on a mosaic by the wooden door of her Residence studio. Our eyes covered with hers, we were about to have and “eyes wide shut” experience.

 

Blindfolded with her eyes...
Blindfolded with her eyes…

Blindfolded with a pair of hand painted eyes on the cloth of Venice carnival masks, is how we were in that very moment

 

Inside we listened to a live recording of a story being told, in a time when men and women rolled together, bonded by their navels, playful, not scared, primal. Then, darkness at the coming of ego saw the parting away of men and women, with hope hinting as a slowly rising sun on a distant horizon, as a perennial seed planted in us telling knowingly of the unequivocal return of those beautiful and playful times, on a day yet to come.

…  darkness at the coming of ego saw the parting away of men and women.

Swept away, my eyes still covered, I had no use for the camera I still held swinging as an extension of my hand. I had but to relinquish it, to surrender it and surrender myself to the absolute seduction of an ethereal moment that had everything granted by the Gods, in it. I dived deep into apnea and heard her speak with the tongue of a sirenna. She told of the  conversations that took place in the multidimensional realm of her painting; her canvas receiving the colours of life in every stroke of paint that possessed her, being applied as she spoke, still wet and unique as a newly born. We were witnesses to labour, not just friends visiting anymore; we joined in  accomplice sighing to her delivery high as a rainbow, our eyes wide shut.

Her canvas receiving the colours of life ...
Her canvas receiving the colours of life …

 

… we joined in  accomplice sighing to her delivery high as a rainbow, our eyes wide shut.

 

Her work of art unfolding as it was told by her voice. Her hands, guided. I could see it closely with her eyes, all my other senses engaged, as I propelled forward, undulating in harmony, lit as an eel, sunken and then wandering off into the void, just as an image of a buoy floated to a liminal consciousness, signalling my soul where to return from its astral trip, when it would. But still not wanting to, as my sentient essence kept travelling all of her painting dimensions. I slowed at the place of all seeds that are to become a flower. Some were wondering, in an oxygen consuming futility, what sort of flower would they bloom into, instead of just becoming one, as all inevitably were.

The place of all seeds ...
The place of all seeds …
A seed cannot comprehend what it feels like to become a flower
A seed cannot comprehend what it feels like to become a flower

I flowed past by a woman figure, stylish and flexible as she made an impossible balancing act, work amongst the different dimensions that played in Naomi’s Universe. She was observed closely by Nature through a set of popping eyes plants behind her.

Naomi Gittoes at AIAR
Woman balancing act …

 She was observed closely by Nature through a set of popping eyes plants…

 

The balancing woman held a key to one of my own doors that opened wide as I was taken a year back to the Yucatan town of Sisbichen. An elderly (or an “abuelito”) was telling me then regarding the year 2012 failed premonitions of yet another doomsday, about a Maya Baktun period ending and with it, darkness itself, and the advent of Light as a new one begun. He then added three specific things that were to happen during the new era: Change, not the end of the planet, was taking place, women would be the ones bringing change forth and those that were not Maya would also be involved in this change. Women such as the universal woman that was doing this balancing act in Naomi’s canvas. Women, that as Naomi, were not from this land.

  … women would be the ones bringing change forth …

 

Underneath the balancing act, a flock of pelagic birds flew over a city and took me in the flock. Just a mere couple of flaps of my new wings later, we, the flock, turned a sea current with waves where funny elephants shoot sprays of colours over a black and white checkerboard, that knit into rainbows as they enter the ear of a yellow race beautiful reptilian creature surfacing amidst ripples out of still water, remaining long enough to listen to the whispering of colours, to Naomi’s voice describing her painting and to us, wanting.

Elephants shooting sprays of  colours over a checkerboard (in process)
Elephants shooting sprays of colours over a checkerboard (in process)

Light, strong and white, drew my soul back from the void. I found the anchored buoy and headed to the surface, to the same ripples left by a yellow creature as it entered the dimension above and disappeared. As I surfaced, I rejoined my body and extended my arm-camera, ready to slice time and space with it.

Looking at the creature from a hideout
Looking at the yellow creature from a hideout

 

Through the camera eye, I could see the yellow creature was still there, at an arms length, yet neither Naomi’s voice, nor her story were speaking of it then. It just was; its scaly skin of black circles and all. I listened to it telling of Earths been. A keeper of wisdom it was. The one passing it all from one failed civilisation to the next of several, until ours. It is watching us as it did others earlier. I asked of it, will we make it this time around? It knew, but did not answer. Its eyes those of a trickster, as if looking for one star above amongst all.

 

An image of Naomi talking about her own creation process inundated me, blinding my already blindfolded eyes with hers. It was as staring into the sun. I could not place where had this conversation taken place before, but it had alright. The dèjá vu spoke for her:  “I am watching it as an outsider; I am fascinated by it. I do not even understand the process itself.”

 

… blinding my already blindfolded eyes with hers.

 

Drawing by Naomi Gittoes March 1, 2014.
Drawing by Naomi Gittoes
March 1, 2014.

 

 

That we start creating as an “outsider” just as the yellow creature, deep in another dimension, immersed in the Universal process of creation, echoed as a peal of bells in a belfry, an epiphany. The idea came then to mind that we remain in this process until – out of moments of clarity and stillness – we are able to lift our heads out off the water lens, as if crossing a dimension over, and catch a glimpse of our creation being materialised by our guided hands. As others experience and see our creations acquire life of their own and fly away, we cross back, empty and dive again for inspiration, releasing any distracting thought we do not need so that it does not waste our precious and limited breathing air, until the day we emerge again with a new creation.

Creating, hands guided.
Creating, hands guided.

 

… we cross back, empty and dive again for inspiration …

I felt sure enough this was the creation cycle Naomi had referred to, in person or in my dèjá vu, as the one not having to understand and being fascinated with, as she painted.

On my feet, I am not a being of water anymore. I breath in the air in Naomi’s studio and with it the murmur of my friends awakening. I’m watching them with eyes of my own. The yellow creature’s imprint lays frozen in the canvas, as if photographed by Naomi’s painting hands, a mere thin slice of what it is in its other dimension.   Naomi stops painting and telling. She pauses and then seats by her computer, silent, resting  and sprays  – not colours -,  but drops of lavender essence from a tiny electric-blue bottle that reminds her of her mom when she was a child, on a candle vaporising artefact that fills up the room. Tea-tree and citronella are words that come into our conversation, now soft and slow paced. Her father is an artist, now involved with a film in Afghanistan; they do not need to talk about art because they understand each other in it. Art is their language and the exclusive space they exist together.

Mother's Lavender
Mother’s Lavender

 

The smoking artefact ...
The smoking artefact …

 

… drops of lavender essence from a tiny electric-blue bottle that reminds her of her mom when she was a child.

We make the floor our playground at Naomi’s indication, the last rays of sun entering through the window to the west. She shows some of her many sketchpads to us with amazing drawings. I thought of the Maori and of hypnotising geometry. My friends beside me have seen Naomi’s art span to clothing. They are buying it.

Hypnotising geometry...
Hypnotising geometry…

 

Floor-playground
Floor-playground

 

Sketchpads at the playground
Sketchpads at the playground

I’m looking at yet another expression of Naomi’s talent, this time in painted diving fins laying on top of her bed, decorated with her graphics. They look ready to go deep with her that night in her dreams and early one the next morning into a sinkhole out of many in the Peninsula, where she likes to dive and where she will get inspired to yet another creation as she surfaces and ripples to our hearts.

 

Naomi Gittoes at AIAR

 

 

 

 

This post is a part of a series of three , related to AIAR and Naomi Gittoes’ works. The first one “Experiencing the Akumal International Artist Residency” The third and last article, following will feature pics of her finished AIAR painting.

 

Note on Naomi’s featured work: All paintings (finished or work in progress at AIAR) and drawings, are the sole intellectual property of visual artist Naomi Gittoes and are included here in this writings accompanying photos just for the purpose of illustrating the narrative. Photos are taken with the artist’s consent and presence and those displayed now can change as per her request.

 

Creative Commons License
“Visiting artist Naomi Gittoes’ creative space at AIAR” text and photos by Juan Ayza M. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at juan..

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