The 5×7 Project – An Illustrative Painting Show

gallery display

The Five By Seven Project

The Five by Seven Project – half blog, half studio project, half exercise in self exposure – an art illustration experiment.

Each week, over the course of fifty-seven weeks,  a new illustrative painting was created which dealt with/reacted to events in my own life. Each piece was then posted online with a brief write-up describing the motivation behind that week’s installment. The 5”x7” format was chosen for its direct reference to the ‘snap shot’ photograph of the same dimensions.

Snap-shots exist to document and preserve the memories of events and periods in our lives. We view them as non-biased, honest records of a moment in time, in truth they are anything but that. Photography’s lie is its act of omission. We filter our photographs – we only photograph the celebrations, we only record the significant moments, we throw out the photos which don’t validate our own sense of self-image.

The Five by Seven paintings manage to side step some of the pitfalls of photography – they document the mundane, they’re not always the most flattering, yet they too are anything but honest.

Author, Angela Szczepaniak, describes the project as:

“A virtual visual journal, each of the five by sevens offers a look into szuc’s day-to-day life, and prompts us to look back at the mundane events and objects in our own. Appropriately, the five by sevens begin with a Portrait of the Artist; by way of introducing the series and himself, szuc offers an unassuming portrait of himself staring out a window. It gives the sense, in spite of the self-deprecating caption that refuses to commit to anything “deep and statement-like,” that the series is about something more than the humdrum weekly events of one artist’s life. As the weeks flip by, szuc’s project becomes a kind of anti-autobiography, in its incisive focus on the minutiae that we normally don’t think is worth immortalizing. With its spotlight on moments that are usually fleeting, ephemeral, or simply too mundane to record, The Five by Seven Project is an essay on documentation—how we do it and why, and more perceptively, what we choose to commit to our real or imagined scrapbooks.

The expansive—exhaustive, really—plan to produce one piece each week for 57 weeks captures the layers of our days, weeks, months (cue calendar sheets floating by à la 1930s film) without grinding us down under the monotony of our daily grind. Not to say that szuc didn’t get ground down trying to produce this batch of artworks with conveyer-belt constancy, but really, that’s his problem. You and I, well, we can sit back and enjoy the fully snapped shots, glistening with szucian sweat, anxiety, and chewed nails—all the specters of workin’ stiff drain-out that frequently hover behind the five by sevens.

So what do we see when szuc opens his brain up for a year and lets his image diary loose on the canvass? Scantily clad women, heads cracked open and filled with burnt-out birthday candles, contemplative artists (video game maniacally in hand, of course), stray cats, lucky cats, punning bunnies and robots, and a whacked-out reimagining of Snakes and Ladders with a groovy-Adam-’n-Eve bent. And all of this cracks our heads open on those tiny moments that we don’t seem to notice, or would rather forget. Props to szuc for flaunting his inner “dirty old man,” say, with all his beach babes and Pornographica pin-ups. Make no mistake; these are not the typical nudies that saturate the newsstands. By szuc’s hand, these figures are fantastically distorted so that their parts (the “good parts” no doubt some would say) are magnified out of all proportion, thwacking garish slabs of flesh dead centre, engulfing the canvass (see Fat Britney for a perfect marriage of the fascination and revulsion of the inner peeper lurking within us all). And this is precisely szuc’s aptitude: his ability to zoom in on those commonplace subjects to bring a sense of blissful, cheeky relief to his images. Birthdays are no longer celebrations with cakes and wishes, they’re the brain aging, literally smoking out with extinguished candles. Easter is not painted eggs and resurrection, but the Feaster Bunny—a grossly carnivorous plush
glutton, borne of a linguistic pun and an apparent attempt at vegetarianism gone awry. And a haircut is anything but pure blind hope that the barber will get it right; it’s that one lick of hair frozen on the precipice of being a snip in the right direction and hacked way off course, relishing in that agonizing moment just before the scissors slice their mark and commit you one way or the other.

Mapping the mundane with his whimsical eye, szuc leads us, one five by seven frame at a time, on a dazzling trip through some of the most banal events of the week, where the colours are electric and the air is… well, you’ll see. Time to meet szuc’s Idea Fairy and so much more.”

Angela’s Bio:

Congenitally ornithophobic, Angela Szczepaniak predictably became a writer. Her books include the gruesomely illustrated Unisex Love Poems, and the typeface-cartoon extravaganza The QWERTY Institute of Cosmetic Typographical Enhancement (forthcoming).