Ali Beletic | The Mineral Painting Series
Ali Beletic is a contemporary conceptual artist specializing in a new type of experiential work she calls Earth Art Ceremonies, which participate in the historic tradition of ceremony as a means to create evocative experiences for the modern art community to have access to ancient emotions, latent instincts and 360 degree sensual experiences.
She recently finished several large-scale sculptural works for the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona and recorded a full length record which is coming out in the Fall of 2014 on Lightning Records. She is currently working on a new series of large-scale sculptural works for the Mojave Desert.
Ali’s practice also hones in on a philosophical perspective regarding a human tradition of joy and celebration. Her work often draws on a wide variety of ancient symbols, narratives, traditions, materials, ancestral technology, art, medicine, architecture, ecology and mythology to help invoke some of these latent instincts and feelings.
About the Mineral Painting Series
The mineral paintings series was inspired, alongside my other recent works, to focus on a primitivist and archetypal perspective – choosing to work alongside the natural raw and rugged beauty of ancient technology, natural materials and mythological shapes. The intention of using these universal references to light, primitive survival, architecture & art, symbolism, natural shapes, mythological and storytelling from ancient and cultures throughout humanity’s history is intended to employ a Jungian archetypal celebration, hoping to bring to mind simple, beautiful, sensual responses and power which has been passed through generations.
The paintings themselves are designed to be viewed in more than one direction. When viewed from the side and lit, the minerals glow in a beautiful and awe-inspiring contrast to the matte canvas. Each mineral is selected carefully and crushed down to a fine powder to be used for its own natural beauty in color and intrinsic properties.
While working on several large-scale sculptural works in Arizona I started the mineral painting series as a gallery analogue to the work I was doing out in the field. Painting with the mineral rich earth and hidden deposits beneath our feet with their intense array of color, beauty and innate worth was an excellent way to bring my Earth Art Ceremonies into the gallery and collector’s homes.
History of Minerals
Ochres are among the earliest pigments used by mankind. They were also used as medicine, and body decoration among the Egyptians and Chumash. Aboriginal Australians used them in cave painting, bark painting, and in the preservation of animal skins. The Maori mixed them with fish oil to color the large waka taua – war canoe. Carvings of Ochre show up in the Blombos cave in South Africa- dating back to around 75,000 years ago, and again marking an unfinished obelisk in the northern region of the Aswan Stone Quarry. Ochre was the most commonly used material for painting walls in the ancient Mediterranean world. The Gold Ochre above is non toxic and is made from the ochre clay that is mined from the ground and then washed in order to separate the sand. The remaining ochre is then dried in the sand and sometimes burned to enhance the natural color. Mineralogically, Gold Ochre is called limonite and is a chemical composition of hydrated iron oxide.
Jet, the origin of the common phrase ‘Jet Black’ – now coming to mean the deepest of blacks, is considered to be a minor gemstone. Jet is the result of high pressure decompostion of wood from millions of years ago, commonly the wood of trees of the family Araucariaceae. Jet can either be soft or hard depending on the salt content of the water at the time of carbon compression. Jet, historically has been used as a gemstone, dating back to a jewelry piece found in Asturias, Spain in 17,000 BC. In the Roman period, amulets and pendants of Jet were considered magical because of its protective qualities. The micorstructure of jet, which strongly resembles the original wood, can be seen under 120x or greater magnification.
Cinnabar is generally found in a massive, granular or earthy form and is bright scarlet to brick-red in color. Generally cinnabar occurs as a vein-filling mineral associated with recent volcanic activity and alkaline hot springs. Cinnabar is deposited by epithermal ascending aqueous solutions far removed from their igneous source. Cinnabar is still being deposited at the present day from the hot waters of Sulphur Bank Mine in California and Steamboat Springs, Nevada.
Cinnabar has been mined since the Neolithic age. Ancient people of South America often used cinnabar for art, or precessed it into refined mercury (as a means to gild silver and gold to objects.) Cinnabar has been used as a decorative color since the Olmec culture and was often used in the Mayan civilization. During the Roman Empire it was mined both as a pigment and for its mercury content.