« I like to speculate on the concepts of enchantment and neglect. The film "Urbicide" is both utopian and dystopian, a dense space in a state of perpetual construction-destruction. We find this also in the silence, suddenly broken by a displaced noise. Everything is constructed from the camera eye, shooting backwards, the space, the perspectives, the play of mirrors that cut and break up the reflection over 15 meters of train track. This means that freedom is an illusion, that the apparently vast space is landlocked by borders. People first see the beauty, and only then the omnipresent limits» Tinka Pittoors (1)
In artificial turf, a miniature railway, the broken lines in a mirror, the ambiguity of the forbidden always looms in the poetic landscapes of Tinka Pittoors, bristly like strange and unlikely architectures. The film Urbicide, -from the 2010 residency at Flacc in Genk-, is a perfect example. In 2011, it premiered at the Triangle Bleu gallery, in Stavelot.
What does this projection of an intimate and distressing world tell us? As an almost live Vanity, the huge installation made up of curious fantastic objects plays on the discomfort caused by the violence and the encounter one has with oneself.
"The eye follows the paths that have been provided in the work ...," said Paul Klee already in 1925 in his Theory of modern art. The viewer may well hold on to some time and space-related references, still he will find himself thrown off balance by a rather simple technical feat: the camera pans backwards and films a sequence of events in a confined space, an extreme situation devoid of all the proportions found in apparent normality.
As the euphoria of the forbidden, this large three-dimensional organic landscape shudders to the syncopated rhythm of strategic ruptures. Whistling cheerfully to the unexpected and the illusion of reality - falling marbles, displaced sounds, mirrors, diverted objects - a miniature train takes us to the heart of the maelstrom. It oscillates, resonates in our minds and our bodies, inducing powers of unimagined associations!
Hybridizations of identity
« Art does not lie in the beds that have been made for it; it runs away as soon as you speak its name: what it loves is the unknown. Its best moments are when it forgets what it is called». Jean Dubuffet (1960).
As the next-door neighbour of Art Brut, -even unconsciously so, especially in its logorrheic treatment of the landscape as the projection of the Self-, all the passionately inventive and identity-related work of Tinka Pittoors is contaminated. There is something magical about the poetry of the forbidden, concentrated in the compulsive flow of a strongly codified grammar of colour and a lexicon of associated forms.
Her writing is that of an all-encompassing poem, exciting to decipher. She creates narrative architectures on but a few fixed points of support. The most minute parts, visually improbable or disconnected, meld in a project of hybridization, and sow scratches, caresses, impromptu dialogue. Ladders, tables, a chair are always there for a mental climb, creating intimate connections. At your own risk and peril ...
The illusion of enchantment, the breakdown of guiding marks in even the most familiar objects salvaged from her environment form her vocabulary of choice. The play on words led to the same conclusion: the spectre of violence is ubiquitous in the work of Tinka Pittoors. But what kind of violence? A violence that is definitely devastating, but also nourishing, poetic and political, bearing a specific function within the economy of the universe.
Alice in the land of sacrifice
It all starts with the word. The neologism is a founding principle. Head to toe, they swarm the premises of a fascinating and cathartic tale. Under her mutinous guise of Alice in the land of sacrifice, Tinka Pittoors incessantly tracks new concepts on her laptop. This is the case of the word "Urbicide", instinctively understandable, of which the artist unveils the source: « I found this word on the internet. It was used during the wars in former Yugoslavia and in Kosovo. Urbicide was defined by Bogdan Bogdanovic to describe the ritual murder of cities. Urbicide describes violence aimed at the destruction of a city, a community, not as a strategic objective, but as an identity-related objective. So I started thinking about the concept. I like the principle of neologism: a known word to which something else is added which gives it a different meaning. The process is identical when I use everyday elements, adding new meaning to them. The film "Urbicide" is a reference to the general state of the world. » (2)
As a duel between Self and Play, the issue of meaning is omnipresent in all artistic work. What does really take place behind this proliferation of diverted objects? To pierce into heart of the foundation of creation, one must often wonder about what the artist does not show. Here it is the human figure, totally absent from the works, installations, sculptures or drawings dominated by the principles of instability and inherent rupture. However, in this absence perceived as reference/catalyst, the play of presence is yet enhanced as the hold of man over nature beats the time of all the scenographies set up like totems, in galleries or in the urban space. «I play on the natural and the" culturalized," specifies Tinka Pittoors. In the Amazon forest or on the pack ice, I see only the "culturalized" because these areas are marked by man, deforestation, global warming. Like the box trees in our gardens groomed like pet dogs. » (3)
This practice of diversion of images does not involve horrific apocalyptic scenes, but subtle arrangements of ordinary objects, mostly from recovery. The poisonous beauty of reality, pushed to the kitschy level of an extraordinary journey; all the codes here, seemingly thwarted, bring peace, torment or other emotions. A windmill painted candy pink, a scale model for a suburban garden, has its wings shorn off («Symbolic Violence»). A pink flamingo rests on one leg amid a chaos of off-kilter objects («Change Management»). Spheres of artificial boxwood or a football impose their falsely reassuring spherical shapes as progenitors amid a chaos of broken angles and planes («Urbicide»).
In this convergence of elements disengaged from understood reality, are we really this far from the violence of Goya, Matthew Barney, Jake & Dinos Chapman? Faded artificial colours are introduced on the fringes of an apple green, red or pink «girly» universe. Tinka Pittoors plays freely on differences in scale and reality in the manner of Lewis Carroll. Again, «poetry of the forbidden» ...
These recurring passages beyond the mirror do lead us somewhere. In an explosive creativity, the phantasmagoria visually impacts a multitude of cultivated fears codified with the greatest care and blind obstinacy.
Strategist? Candid player? As if to revive hidden forms, a soccer goal box framed with artificial plants cut flush with the bars still evokes the poetic forbiddenness with which the artist nurtures all her creations. «The «Zoning» installation speaks of delimitation, of prohibition: these are the boundaries of an urban area built according to strict rules, where houses designed according to a regulating family plan are lived in. The cut artificial plants evoke the idea of discipline, of principles that are not questioned. » (4) The underlying notion of political control in the urban references precludes any illusion of freedom. Man has indeed transformed his vast natural landscape into a fragile environment, a physical and mental space that determines him just as much, in a radical way.
The art of confusion
«Initially, the art of the puzzle seems to be a very limited art, a meagre art entirely contained within the mere teachings of Gestalt theory: the target object - be it an act of perception, of learning, a physiological system or, in the present case, a wooden puzzle – is not a sum of elements which would first have to be isolated and analysed, but an ensemble, that is to say, a form, a structure: the element does not pre-exist the whole, it is no more immediate or older, it is not the elements that determine the whole, but the whole that determines the elements: knowledge of the whole and its laws, as well as the ensemble and its structure cannot be deduced from the separate knowledge of its parts: this means that we can look at a piece of a puzzle for three days and believe to know everything about its configuration and colour without having made even the smallest progress: what matters only is the possibility of linking this piece to other pieces, and in this sense there is something in common between the art of the puzzle and the art of Go; it is only the assembled parts that will become readable in essence, that will become meaningful: considered in isolation, a piece of a puzzle is meaningless; it is a mere impossible question, an opaque challenge; but barely have we succeeded, after several minutes of trial and error, or in a prodigiously inspired half-second, to connect it to one of its neighbours, and the piece disappears, ceases to exist as a piece: the intense difficulty that has preceded this connection, which the word puzzle - enigma - so aptly describes in English, not only no longer has a purpose, but seems never to have had one, to the point where it has become evident: the two pieces joined together have miraculously become one, and in turn a source of error, hesitation, confusion and waiting. » Georges Perec (5)
This quote by Perec applies to the puzzle art of Tinka Pittoors. In her narrative montages that converge on universal issues, her histrionic installations built around tools, chains, trees or nesting tables presented as identity markers, Tinka Pittoors suggests the gentle irony, opaque holdall and meticulous walk of Georges Perec. The artist also explores memorial stratification, while keeping an eye on political-economic logics. The present (the time of creation and perception), the future (the effect of foreknowledge) function within a dynamic that gives a central place to the person who is now «at work»: the viewer. Casually, the individual memory, the memory of codes, the social memory, will each infuse every creation with experience and imagination, creating a personal narrative. Into which one drifts, lost for meaning.
The drawing, from visual confrontation
to a new table of orientation
«My drawing is very straightforward, precise. I often work from photographs taken everywhere. «Metamapping, », is perhaps what we see on a Google map, and then we add other elements drawn from memory. I compare my work to an alphabet: from 26 signs, we can make thousands of words, sentences, books. These structures provide new opportunities in the labyrinth ... » Tinka Pittoors (6)
A vertigious film, an exotic and hybrid installation, just to talk about drawing? In terms of mirroring play, the drawings, Tinka Pittoors’ daily supports, are so dense that their primal aspect creates confusion, exclusion. The act of drawing is a necessity that cannot be separated from the monumental work, functioning both as a mental fissure as well as a vital new way to interact with the sculptural work in which the dominance of the elements on and through each other makes play with the fundamental element of life that is precariousness, instability. They explain a state of being in an autonomous way.
Drawings that reveal a total confinement on the design, here the danger came from the artist's desired position: the point of view that dominates the installation, so as to decode its boundaries. Judgment, control, do not explain the visual interpretation, or its symbols. The graphic work was still the product of conscious aesthetic injunctions, even down to the dense intricacies of the normative lines.
In 2011, along with the extremely physical deconstruction of the monumental sculpture «Symbolic Violence», presented at the Botanical Garden of Louvain, the tradition of the drawing is suddenly completely altered.
The design is made by design, purposely leaving room for chance. Up to now, the desire for simplicity would capture a maximum through a minimum of lines, including these geometries, embedded into each other. Emerging from the graphic labyrinth, the magnitude of the line freed from its contingencies, the drips of paint of the «Symbolic Violence» piece affect the drawing, imparting a pictorial dynamic, a new freedom in which fragility, the unexpected, and a precious colorism, finally dare oppose the rigidity of the line. These constitute the most immediate, most authentic and a priori discrete expressions of Tinka Pittoors. (7)
This new approach strongly interrogates the gaze, whether the work is sculptural or graphic. The aspect of memory remains but the weight of the temporal creative act fades in favour of a new dimension: the complex pleasure of colour. The imagination of the artist is freed from the posture of the commonly visible. Ghettos of large cities, domesticated and abused nature, social and political environments remain the powerful engines of creation, which now slide into a promising freedom, outside the walls and boundaries of the forbidden.
Beyond the masks, the crippled ladders, the complex maps with sensitive dimensions, beyond the play on the truncated representation, emerges a space quite different from the utopian interlacement of prohibitions. Why does this gesture reach beyond aesthetics? After having tasted it to the fullest, Tinka Pittoors now ventures into this new reality, knowing that the hand never takes the same path.
Journalist and art critic.
« Le Soir », Brussels.
« L’interdit poétique de Tinka Pittoors », by Dominique Legrand, Le Soir, 30 March 2011. Exhibition at Galerie Triangle Bleu, Stavelot.
« Symbolic Violence » at the Jardin Botanique de Louvain, by Dominique Legrand, Le Soir, 17 August 2011.
Georges Perec, « La vie mode d’emploi », Hachette Littératures, 1978.« L’interdit poétique de Tinka Pittoors », by Dominique Legrand, Le Soir, 30 MArch 2011. Exhibition at Galerie Triangle Bleu, Stavelot.
Exhibition at Galerie Cypres, Leuven, September 2011.