CONVERSATION BETWEEN BEN MAHMOUD, MFA,  AND RODNEY PYGOYA CHANG, MA, PhD

 

 

 

Update - Ben Mahoud passed away in 2009.

Ben Mahmoud - Chicago Tribune   Ben Mahmoud - Wikipedia

http://benmahmoud.com   Ben Mahmoud's artist's statement for an exhibit (1995)

Earlier Conversation - 1986   After failure of  Rodney Chang's "SOHO Too Gallery & Loft" in Honolulu
Note - Both conversations pre-date the advent of the Internet.  Ben's suggestions influenced the establishment  (1997) of Truly Virtual Web Art Museum 

 

 

Ben Mahmoud is a retired art professor of Northern Illinois University who know resides in Florida.  He was Pygoya's mentor and role model as his favorite  professor while attending art graduate school (1972, 1975) in Dekalb, west of Chicago.

 

February 9, 2008

 

Ben,

I read your '95 statement about the tension created from real world
reality and the painting reality.  Looks like you're now exploring
something else.  You have instead move to working with real world
objects and superimposing upon them sculptural as well as painterly
expression that personify them with your aesthetic world view.  As for
me, after being attuned to "painting and drawing" at NIU in 1975, I have
found my niche- digital art.  I spend years in the effort to attempt
acceptance of the tool as a legitimate "art medium."  I made the effort
to create the simulation of painting, drawing, even sculpture through
software.  That was the tension I sought from an audience.  Now the
tension is generated between observing the oil on canvas object
(painting, collector item), when in fact the design originates from the
digital realm.  Since (at this time) I select a hands off approach and
instruct my "human printers" in China NOT to deviate from the digital
image sent, I remain conceptually digital.  A painting has to be signed
so I go with "Pygoya," now designated as the collaborative production
crew of Pygoya Productions.

Rod

I liked the digital image a great deal.  Has a deep mystery to it.
Ben

Incidentally (actually not incidentally), the image I sent you the other
day is a oil on canvas (16x20) of the original digital image.  From this
size, I photograph with local print making Chromaco, Inc, using their
100MB digital camera.  Now my painted intermediary is digital with 100
megabytes, making 40x50" giclees (paper or canvas) with the same
resolution as the painting. As artist I am satisfied to see my original
image - simulated this time as a large oil (and within a large frame)-
at a scale larger than my 17" monitor and existing in the living space
of the physical world.  So this is where my art quest has come to roost,
starting back in '73 coming out of dental school.  The process continues to
pique my interest ( and drain my wallet).  In my seventies, I'll
probably move back to assemblages of found objects, free form ceramics,
and blocks of lava stone to chisel in.  My novels preach the worth of
the artist's life and sacrifices.  It's the common hidden theme behind
my stories of ghosts, witches, alien invaders, and evil spirits from the
depths.  So I have found yet another way to share the art experience,
through the written word.


Rodney

I have thought often of your having your works painted in China.  And I
suspect the price has gone up quite a bit in recent  years.


Ben

 

With the weaken dollar the "art manager" does up the price of
reproductions. Which makes me want to do more faster and faster to get a
deal that won't be there tomorrow.  Then there's the rise in inflation
within the robust local Chinese economy that affects what they charge to
paint. I also save by having the canvases stretched there with local
labor, coming out ahead even with the increase in shipping costs. I have
tried 3 different groups over the years, finally having settled on this
particular camp.  Their copy Renoir's look like the original.  Very good
craftsmen and as they know, I demand the best.  I can always detect when
an inferior painter had been assigned to one of my works and I do
protest.  There's always this cat and mouse game between the "painting
designer" that I am and the art manager when it comes to insuring
quality vs. not tying his best up with my most demanding digital
intricacies.  Sometimes it's still "fun" to play within the digital
media. I have after all, ingrained aesthetic sensibilities weaned out of
working with lst generation crude software ('80s).  Here permit me to
share with you a 2007 fun piece based upon this dichotomy of power
between yesteryear and today's software capabilities. 



The hard edge and luminescence (from Modern Art) of the middle vertical bar 
as well as the blocky squares in the lower right (pixelation of earlier software now
for the most part extinct in higher resolution software and hardware) is
part of the repertoire of imaging, even as I counterbalance these
primitives with slick glass art simulations of the reflective,
semi-transparent object in the background. Thanks for permitting me to
share a digital art moment with you.  Oh and here I am acting like the
Dali of digital art back in 2003.  Taken in Austria when I met with the
Webists, an international group I founded. 

Rod

The image is very interesting.  The violent contrasts makes one want to find the means of resolving them.  And I guess each comes to their own conclusion, if they think about the work.

Very good.


Ben

 

Thanks for the feedback, Ben.  Invaluable.  Yes jarring because decades
of software creation separate the resultant markings.  For me each
element of the contrast are like supports for a temporal bridge on which
I have traversed.  In such a way do I find resolution, the appreciation
of the process provides my satisfaction of the conflict left
unresolved.  Such an image won't be oiled to canvas as it screams
"digital art" which interferes with the subtle mind game I know play
between the digital and the tradition of painting. 


Rodney

 

 

 

 

 

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