Art4Transformation and Creativity Reflections

As you will remember from our previous News Letter, I recently started to reflect on how art practice and art appreciation could help for self-development and transformation and started to journal about my personal artistic journey from a self-development angle. Than talking with Chankerk from My Art Space, we decided that this could be an interesting perspective to share with the Art School students to activate a dialogue about this topic.

So, let’s continue our reflection about what our art practice can teach us for our daily life and work.

TECHNIQUE ONLY WITHOUT EXPRESSION IS NOT ART

Harold Speed in “The practice and Science of Drawing” wrote something I really resonate with. “The painter expresses his feelings through the representation of the visible world of Nature, and through the representation of those combinations of form and colour inspired in his imagination, that were all originally derived from visible nature. If he fails from lack of skills to make his representation convincing to reasonable people, no matter how sublime his artistic intention, he will probably will landed in the ridiculous. And yet, so great is the power of direction exercised by the emotions on the artist that it is seldom his work fails to convey something, when genuine feeling has been the motive. On the other hand, the painter with no artistic impulse who makes a laboriously common place picture of some ordinary subject, has equally failed as artist, however how much the skilfulness of his representations may gain him reputation.”

Seemingly in our life and work, we can use all our specialized knowledge in what we do but if we do not integrate our emotions and passion the results will be “lifeless”

FLOW

When I paint, I enter in a state of complete abandonment, time stops, my concentration is completely absorbed by the act of painting, I lose consciousness of what is around me. They call this state “flow” and is a state where you give your best artistic expression, because in that moment you do not care about the results of the painting or what others will think about it, you are just fully and effortlessly taken by the enjoyment of your hand colouring your canvas.

I had the same experience also at work when I was doing something new, or working in a project I was passionate about, or studying something I was relay interested in or talking with inspiring people. I do believe that creativity and passion expressed in any contest connect us to the best of ourselves and too often we just lose this opportunity by adapting routine and status quo.

MINDFULNESS

More and more often we hear people practicing mindfulness, yoga, meditation to find stillness, silence and quietness in their mind. In my experience Painting practice is exactly this. You are so concentrated in what you are doing that you did not even have to acknowledge and let go your thoughts… you just do not have them. You are in a different state of consciousness and you feel liberated.

Sometimes unpredictable accident happens too and it is very interesting to see how welcoming them and finding a way to integrate them in your painting can bring unexpected results..“

ACCEPTING UNPREDICTABLE OUTCOMES

When you paint you learn to accept that you cannot always be in control. Especially with some media like watercolour it is very critical to “let go” and let your hand go with the flow, sensing the movement of the brush on the paper.

Sometimes unpredictable accident happens too and it is very interesting to see how welcoming them and finding a way to integrate them in your painting can bring unexpected results. Once I mailed one of my paintings for an exhibition and when it arrived the curator called me very preoccupied, telling me that the canvas arrived partially cut. I told him to wait for me arriving there and see if there was anything I could do.

The painting (see below) titled “Unberable” was representing suffering and despair. (I represented the “cut” in the canvas with the below white line). Thinking about the message of the painting I thought that actually it was right to have it “broken” because the person in the painting was in a way also “ broken”, so what I did was to stich the cut with a red wire, without trying to “fix” and cover it but showing it very clearly and giving a meaning to it consistent to the entire painting mood. It was than very interesting to explain the creative and sense making process to the people coming to the exhibition. The title of the painting is now “Unbearable and Broken” and I like it better than before.

Several time, while painting, it also happened to me that the painting just WANTED to be different from what I had planned, because at the end the painting is an expression of our unconscious and our hand is freer than our mind and it expresses our deeper self without filters.

Wouldn’t be helpful to have the similar awareness and approach in our life and work? Sometime we really cannot fix things, we just need to embrace them and integrate them in our life with a sensemaking process. At the same time if we are always “in control” we lose opportunities for unexpected surprise and innovation that can bring us to better results. We would not have “post it” if someone would not have the idea of using in a different way a glued paper that was less sticky than normal.

Also listening to the message of our Unconscious (the body) without the filters of our logic mind is also very wise. Our body sometimes gives us messages that we are not prepared to listen.

ART AS DIALOGUE

Have you ever thought at your painting as a dialogue with the viewer? I did. When I paint, I express an idea, a feeling, a view of the world and when my painting is finished it goes “in the world” often without me explaining what was my intention. So, in a way the painting is my vehicle of communication and when it encounters other people looking at it, the paining starts a conversation because what I meant to express is not necessarily what will be received and at the end this is not really what is matter. It is the co-creation of meaning between the viewer and the artwork that is important to me. The viewer reflect him/herself in the painting I made and by doing so add or change my initial intention. And this is for me the power of art. It touches the sensitivity of people, proposes questions and reflections, stimulate emotions, by using a metaphorical language which by nature accepts multiple interpretations.

David Bohm says that " in a dialogue, each person does not attempt to make common certain ideas or items of information that are already known to him. Rather, it might be said that the two people are making something in common, i.e. creating something new together. {...} If people are to co-operate they have to be able to create something in common, something that takes shape in their mutual discussion and actions, rather than something that is conveyed from one person who acts as an authority to the others, who act as passive instruments of this authority.

But how does this "dialogue" happen when it is between a person and an artwork? I do believe that a painting effects on your inner state and this can be as fleeting and superficial — or as profound and transformative — as you allow it to be. “Inner state”, meaning the whole inner space of “eye-mind-heart-body” system which is you. What you are seeing is created for you by your own brain, based on its accumulated knowledge and patterns of image recognition. Your response is not determined by the painting alone, but also by who you are and where you are in your life right now. The practice of contemplative observation opens a connection between your inner state, your consciousness, and the innermost core of the painting. In a sense, you become — for a time — the subjective consciousness of the painting. Your inner response is the mirror of the painting, and the painting you see is the mirror of your inner response. The key to contemplative observation is to witness this response in its interaction with the painting.

In some of our Art4transformation sessions we practice contemplative art observation, starting with a transformative question in mind. It is powerful to see how this can generate in the individual unexpected connections with unconscious assumptions and a blind spot that the person needs to let go in order to be able to embrace the new: a fantastic act of co-creation between the painting/artist and the viewer.


GIORGIA MADONNO
Facilitator of dialogue, innovation and transformation
Artist

Giorgia is Italian by origins and has been living in Asia since 2008 and previously in France and US. She has been trained by international professional artists. Her encounter with different cultures has led her to deepen an artistic research that goes to the essence of things, overcoming the equivocality of the first impression and the cultural trait. Her art brings you in a journey of discovery. You travel inside her paintings and see the mundane with the surprise of foreign eyes, observe aspects you normally would fail to see. She unveils for you the unconscious. She leads to observe deeper, either a city (by observing new and uncovered details in her urbanscapes) or a human being (by the strong emotions expressed with her nude female bodies). With a limited palette of colors and minimalist strokes and lines, she captures the essence of things and their vibe, making Chinese and Western aesthetic dialogue together.

Giorgia is also the founder of Marco-Polo-Consulting, a consultancy company based in HK and operating in World Wide with major focus on Asia Pacific. The company is focused on facilitating dialogue and innovation for people-centric organizational transformations.

Giorgia has a quite distinctive background combining business and people behaviors expertise with artistic creative practice:

• Entrepreneur and Facilitator of Organization Transformation and innovation. In the last 10 years, since she created her own company in China, Giorgia has been facilitating journeys of transformations for individual, team, organization and people management systems in many Asian countries. She helps people and organizations to become more innovative and to improve the employee experience at work. She uses collaborative approaches such as Design Thinking, Lego Serious play, Art of Hosting.
• Artist and “Art4transformation©” facilitator. Formally trained and professional painter and visual/graphic facilitator, amateur theater actor and puppetry maker. In her consulting practice Giorgia currently leverages both her artistic and business experience to help others becoming more creative in the business context and develop their leadership and right brain.
• EMBA adjunct professor. She has been adjunct professor of HR and Organizational Behaviors in China for Tongji/MIP EMBA in Shanghai - China
• Corporate Human Resource senior executive. She has been leading HR departments/teams in international companies in Europe, US and Asia for more than 15 years

More details about Giorgia’s profile at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/giorgia-madonno-313b677/ and about her artworks at www.gmadonno.com

About Marco Polo Consulting
Marco Polo Consulting is a facilitator of dialogue and transformation. We provide organizational development and transformation professional services World Wide, with major focus in the APAC Region. We strongly believe that meaningful, engaging, innovative working environment will result in happier people and better business results. We belong to a purposeful international ecosystem of boutique companies and professionals, able to offer the flexibility and care of relationships of a local boutique company together with the international capability of a global organization. Our clients in Asia include Volkswagen group, Fiat, Datalogic, Pirelli, Kaspersky Labs, De Longhi , Electrolux, Vopak, Luxottica and Ferrero.

More details at: www.marco-polo-consulting.com