Armando Chant

In my artistic practice, I delve into the transformative power of materials on photographic images of landscapes. I explore the boundaries of their representation through erasure, disruption and repetition, creating works that exist in between craft and concept, image and object, local and global, and visual and tactile.

Media and techniques juxtapose the technological/visual in terms of photography and the material/tactile in textile techniques. The dynamic relationship and binary tensions resulting from combining these techniques result in hybrid and ambiguous imagery between photographic images and materialised surfaces.

I begin by sourcing vintage glass negatives of archetypal landscapes that you would see within paintings of the western romantic tradition. I have no personal connection to them, yet they evoke a sense of familiarity. These glass negatives, fragile and delicate, carry the essence of both atmospheric places and alchemical processes. When digitised and enlarged, they reveal an otherworldly material quality, showcasing the hidden surface materiality of the glass. Marks and scratches hint at the passage of time, technical craftsmanship and human touch.

Building on this transformation of scale, I use diverse media to create a shift in perception that bridges the gap between object and image and past and present place. This process, which I call “materialisation” or “resurfacing,” creates transparent, ethereal and reflective layers, inviting viewers to peer through and into the artwork. It fosters an open engagement, drawing on each viewers’ unique experiences, memories and imagination when interacting with the landscape.

My use of embroidery as a drawing method has led to a cross-cultural collaboration with master artisans in India. We work openly and collaboratively, embracing chance and interpretation as integral to the creative process. I relinquish control, understanding that the work will transform through another person’s embodied perspective, resulting in a transcription rather than an exact copy of an image or idea.

In this collaborative exchange, the artisan works on linen pieces I’ve stained or drawn on, using techniques that erase the original drawing, giving rise to something new: a palimpsest of visual gestures and material interventions.

This process generates visual and tactile dialogues between the artist, technique, thread and material substrate, oscillating between addition and erasure to produce a hybrid of image and surface.

I expand my working methodology by adding to the embroidered works after their creation with pigment washes, altering the materiality and texture of the surface and the work’s perceptual depth. The washes act as atmospheric veils of erasure and diffusion, pushing what was once representative to become an abstract evocation of place, inviting viewers to inspect the work closely and immerse themselves in its interactive space.

I combine these contrasting material and visual elements by assembling them in a diptych format to encourage perceptual shifts in an unfolding visual and material transformation narrative.

The diptychs create visual tension and complementarity between their parts, representing a separation and a merging of image and surface. Paired images ultimately coalesce to form multi-layered, hybrid entities evoking the past and present image and object. They are visual artefacts straddling the realms of the ethereal and physical, residing in the space between image and surface.

My works challenge the relationships formed through interactions with images, gestures, traces and surfaces. The transitional and unfolding nature of the works visually, materially and spatially prompts both artist and viewer to explore different modes of perception that lie between image and object, surface and space.

This emphasis on our encounter with the hybrid image/surface serves as a method of re-creation and reinterpretation. By engaging with diverse interpretations of the visual image and material surface and bringing them together, the works become “imaginative instigators,” fostering open, interpretive, and experiential communication between the viewer and the practitioner.

Expanding my practice through collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches has allowed me to break free from rigid boundaries. My artworks and practice invite viewers to engage with the landscape through an atmospheric veil of time, medium and sensory perception.

The ever-evolving forms, transitioning from image to surface and back, capture the transformative essence of art in the realm of visual and emotional experiences. It’s a constant interplay of physical and visual gestures. Instead of imposing a fixed experience, I aim to evoke individual, personal encounters that oscillate between engagement that is both real and atmospheric.

In this way, through my work I encourage viewers to embark on an imaginative journey, contemplating the origins of these images/objects and how they occupy transitional spaces.

This article was originally published in Artist Profile, issue 65

Group Exhibition: Atmosphere
3 November 2023 – 10 February 2024
Francis Gallery, Bath, UK

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