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Paper Trails, Inspired by Automatism & The Events of 2020



Paper Trails is a short series consisting of 15 artworks painted on paper which took place over the first 6 months of 2020. The following paintings were based off the Automatism and Action Painting techniques mentioned in detail below. If you do not know what these techniques are and want to learn more about them, please read the 2nd section of the article.


Paper Trails is an artistic documentation of the multiple events happening both internationally and locally within the US - it is a study on how Das B subconsciously interprets and expresses them. As we all know, 2020 has been a rather turbulent year, which has brought major disruption to our social and economical standards. Families, institutions and societal foundations have been rocked by the multitude of sequential grave events. The need to document these moments and emotions without filter came from the unprecedented historical concerns set out in front of us; from ample amount of deaths worldwide, to new social norms, general awakening of the people and international tensions rising, etc. The following collection takes a closer look into the festivities as well as catastrophes, diseases and our response to it, social injustices and movements arising from them, as well as random thoughts spurred from the subconscious sprinkled with the signature Das B flair. In many ways, although we were and currently are isolated and socially distancing from one another, a lot of the themes portrayed are presently endured universally.


The process in which Das B put himself through to be able to act subconsciously and without predisposed impetus was invigorating in some ways:


'Sometimes I meditated, sometimes I didn't sleep for days, and sometimes I consumed mind altering substances, all in order to be able to get lost in my thoughts without a true sense of time, ego or inclination - which in all honesty is rather enjoyable if done properly. I got to understand myself a little better through this process.'

We get to have a glance into Das B's psyche and creative aspect without governed thoughts, boundaries and rules, where colors and raw emotions define the outcome and results of each artwork. Staying true to the automatism and action painting techniques, along with its spontaneous nature, none of the finalised paintings were planned ahead of time. Each painting was created and shaped stroke by stroke; although some strong hints of symbolism may be found and even some clear depictions of other paintings are present; the recurring themes and originality of the works remain true. Das B treated the Paper Trails collection much like his creative/design notebooks, where his focus is entirely based on the lack of judgment and desire to create without limits nor prejudice. Some of the paintings in Paper Trails set out to be the blueprints for later paintings in the Hommage series and other projects yet to be finalised.


Finally, love, sex, friendship, anger, joy, nostalgia, isolation, good / evil, fear and hope are all recurring themes represented in various ways throughout the 15 artworks expressed through strokes, colors and shapes - that being said I am no psychologist and will let you decide for yourself.


Please, leave a comment below and let us know what your thoughts are on the collection.


(Keep reading if you would like to learn more about Automatism and Action Painting)

A Closer Look Into Automatism and Action Painting.


Automatism as a term is borrowed from physiology, where it describes bodily movements that are not consciously controlled like breathing or sleepwalking. Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud used free association and automatic drawing or writing to explore the unconscious mind of his patients.


Freud’s ideas strongly influenced French poet André Breton who launched the surrealist movement in 1924 with the publication of the Manifesto of Surrealism. In the manifesto, Breton defined surrealism as

‘Pure psychic automatism ... the dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason and outside all moral or aesthetic concerns’.

Breton and others produced the earliest examples of automatism in their automatic writings, aiming to write as rapidly as possible without intervening consciously to guide the hand.

Surrealist collage, putting together images clipped from magazines, product catalogues, book illustrations and other sources, was invented by Max Ernst, and was the first form of automatism in visual art. Ernst also used frottage (rubbing) and grattage (scraping) to create chance textures within his work. Various forms of automatic drawing and painting were developed by artists such as Joan Miro, Andre Masson as well as Ernst.


Later automatism played some part in the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and others and was an important element in the European movements of art informel and arte nucleare.


While the term automatism is specifically associated with twentieth-century artists, and particularly Surrealism, earlier artists such as Alexander Cozens used some elements of chance to create works, while others reportedly tapped into visionary or trance states.


During the mid-1940s, Jackson Pollock (1912-56), leader of the New York School, developed the highly energetic, trance-like method of Action Painting, in which he dripped and poured paint onto a horizontal canvas. Influenced by Surrealism, Pollock and others employed this technique to promote the importance of existentialism in art, in which "existence precedes essence". Thus instead of being painted according to a specific plan,Jackson Pollock's paintings emerge out of the process of painting. In Europe, a similar method was seen in the form of Tachisme.


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