This article originally appeared on November 26, 2014 in The Alamedan. Michele Ellson, editor.
Jamie Banes uses largely found materials to fabricate mixed-media structures he describes as “reminiscent of childhood forts or treehouse experiments in miniature,” but which more readily suggest tenements. Silvie Lukacova works in oil and acrylic, inspired by photos she takes while walking her dog, abstracting a pleasing shape she discovers in a stone or cracked sidewalk.
The two have occupied studio space at Autobody Fine Art for the past two years, and when a break in the gallery’s exhibition schedule permitted, they self-curated a two-person show. “Of Walls and Floors” opened September 12 for a brief, two-week run which will conclude with a closing reception from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.
They spoke about their exhibit in a telephone interview.
What commonalities do you see in your work?
Jamie Banes: I see a relationship between our work both visually in terms of texture and palette, and also in terms of process. A responsiveness. Starting with an initial piece and letting the piece guide from there.
Silvie Lukacova: I think it was the abstraction of it. His work is less abstract. There is more resemblance to machinery or a skeleton of a building, a skyscraper, and the wires. I see those in an abstract way. That’s what I thought would really work with my paintings. The other thing is feedback that my new paintings reminded people of geography, of topography, of looking at land from a bird’s eye view. In a way, his work is not geographical, but it is about the land. Landscapes and cityscapes.
Although viewers may have their own take on your work, do you view your creations as playful or monstrous blights on the landscape?
Jamie Banes: The models themselves take on an anthropomorphication. There’s a persona. They kind of refer to individual personalities. Maybe that’s even part of my personality. They talk then about a relationship to larger society in dealing with these ominous things that are coming about: Overpopulation, construction booms and busts in developing countries, war and buildings being destroyed, squatters moving in to buildings and preventing their completion, stalling the process.
You’ve described your work as “quirky architectural assemblages.” Do you have an architecture background?
Jamie Banes: I studied architecture for a little while. For five years I worked in architectural workshops at the Academy of Art University. I helped build the workshop space. I was around a lot of students and seeing their models.
This work is quite different from what I saw in my first studio visit (June 2013). Is this a new direction?
Jamie Banes: Working in the smaller scale is a new thing for me. When I was in school I did bigger kinetic pieces. Moving to this space both forced and allowed me to work differently. Working smaller and scaling things down.
Your work is much more abstract than even a year or two ago. How did this come about?
Silvie Lukacova: It basically comes from the guidance of Jacquie (Cooper) and feedback from Dixon (Schneider). I was trying to do something without knowing what I’m doing. We have an ongoing workshop here and I started to come to those workshops every Wednesday and Sunday. Once I started attending, their feedback helped me to break through the geometric shapes. I was always connecting things, making straight lines, and trying to connect the dots. I discovered that it’s much more satisfying and challenging if you do a free form line than an exact geometric shape, which is predictable. The unpredictability of the line is what attracted me.
Silvie cited your wires and threads as a common visual element with her lines. What place do these threads — which are ephemeral — have in a sturdy structure?
Jamie Banes: Using the threads, I’ve started thinking of these pieces as making drawings. The threads versus the more rigid structure, dealing with different design elements. A lot of these pieces are about decay. There’s a fragility in all that to me. These big sturdy elements versus the fragile, worn, and falling apart. Subtle movement versus those things that are really attached. It’s an interesting juxtaposition. Now the work is getting more narrative. It is more playfully looking at these more ominous things down the road, with more levels and more information.
You wrote in your statement that your work is “a way of making sense of events and relations in real life, as well as a contemplation on the human condition.” Can you verbalize the way your work explores the human condition?
Silvie Lukacova: If I look back at the story from where I’m coming and where I am now, I see connections of certain events that happened in my life, and I see the reason for those connections. So when I walk and see the lines in nature, or the stones, or the plants, or the tree, in a way they remind me of certain people and certain events. Why people behave a certain way. Nature mirrors that. I see the connection and I apply them. I want to say with those lines in an abstract way what I see, without putting them into words.
Autobody Fine Art is located at 1517 Park Street. They are open from noon to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and by appointment. http://www.autobodygalleryandstudios.com. 865-2608.