Fresco Manifesto

The following is written documentation of the creative process involved in the development of M.A.D Frescoes. This is an attempt to evaluate the aesthetic choices that were made consciously or subconsciously during the production of this experimental project. Some may see this as a frivolous effort to legitimize the paintings. There is definitely truth behind those sentiments, but be assured that the artist/writer is ultimately concerned with the analytical exploration of the human psyche when immersed in a progressive visual arts experience.

M.A.D Frescoes is an acronym for Modular-Abstract-Decorative-Frescoes, which is a general description of how the paintings exist in the physical realm. M.A.D also refers to Mad Magazine, a satirical comic book that has contributed to the artist's Duchampian sense of irreverence towards the established art hierocracy. M.A.D the word, is synonymous with crazy and insane, and perhaps the viewer may relate to these terms when confronted with a pretentious installation of this kind.

The modular aspect of this series is based on the fact that each painting is either a small square or triangular fresco. For this exhibition, the various selections were assembled in a spontaneous manner, with no preconceived composition or pattern in mind. The frescoes are interchangeable and their repetitive design elements create a myriad of alternative solutions.

The abstract qualities are fairly obvious since the shapes, forms, and content of the paintings are nonrepresentational. The basic visual language consists of simple geometric patterns of lines, circles, dots, triangles, squares and rectangles. These painted designs were influenced by Australian Aboriginal works, Polynesian tapa cloths and Mesoamerican hieroglyphs, but they do not contain any specific symbolic symbolic references.

The frescoes are quite Decorative. The use of bright primary colors and geometric shapes results in paintings that are docile and compact. With no moral, social or political context, the work submerges to a level of bad decorative art.

Fresco as an art medium has fascinated and intrigued the artist since learning about the painting legacy of Bounarroti, da Vinci, Raffello and others from the Italian Renaissance. Discovering the heroic exploits of the Mexican Muralists Orozco, Rivera and Siqueros provided more inspiration. Ancient frescos from China, Egypt and Central America have also been influential.

Technically, fresco involves the application of water-based paint on fresh plaster. A coat of wet plaster (intonaco) is spread on a layer of dry plaster (arriccio). Then the colors are added. As the plaster dries and sets, the pigments are partially absorbed and chemically bonded to the surface.

M.A.D. Frescoes are not buon fresco (true fresco) or fresco secco (dry fresco). M.A.D. Frescoes ignores the fine techniques practiced by the trained fresco artisans in favor of a tentative style that utilizes plaster-of-paris and tempera paint. M.A.D. Frescoes are a bastardization of the traditional fresco process and purists will probably find them blasphemous.

M.A.D. Frescoes have self-imposed restrictions that control the use of color, shape, and size. These regulations have encouraged the artist to investigate the multiple possibilities of a limited palette.

This is how M.A.D. Frescoes are made:

Individual triangular and square units are cut out of foam-core then gauze soaked in plaster is wrapped around them. Layer after layer of plaster is applied until the desired thickness is achieved. The intonaco coat is added after days of preparation and the painting begins. The first pieces to be worked are on a single square and an equilateral triangle. The painting is done extemporaneously and intuitively.

The next step requires putting nine of the small squares together to form a larger square and arranging eight right triangles to make an equilateral triangle. The designs from the initial frescoes are recreated with minor alterations then they are re-separated.

M.A.D. Frescoes are attached to the wall with velcro. Please do not try unsupervised removal because tests have shown that the velcro grip is stronger than the plaster on the back of the paintings.

As visual art, M.A.D. Frescoes are problematic. They can be perceived as a hundred paintings or as a single work. They are restrictive and deliberate on one level, yet impulsive and instinctive on another. They are not even actual frescoes, but merely an improvised imitation.

One can conclude that M.A.D. Frescoes are a total failure.
They have no redeeming aesthetic, cultural or historical significance.
They are the contrived graffiti of another
self-absorbed, egocentric pseudo-artist.

Finally, for those interested in wasting their money on these unresolved amateur paintings, they are for sale at fifty dollars per piece. All the frescoes are currently unsigned and will be autographed and updated upon request.

M. Takemoto
Maui, Hawaii 1992

Postscript:
Mahalo to M.A.D.
(Maladjusted, Antisocial and Darn mean)
A secret organization plotting world domination.


 
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