The Magma Group

The Magma Group was founded by Annie Zamero in 2011 and is an international exhibiting group of artists who share the objective of combining expressive and conceptual qualities in art, notwithstanding that these qualities may seem to be mutually exclusive. The aims of The Magma Group are to form an alternative path for the current of energetically expressive contemporary art and to provide a showcase and network for artists whose work combines expression and concept.
From Jean-Pierre Roffi's works inspired by old and modern rituals such as fanaticism, trance and frenzy, to Kimbal Bumstead's exploration of chance encounters with strangers and awkward sensually charged intimacy, the diverse practises of the Magma Group artists come together in 2013 for their third exhibition.
DAGMAR DOST-NOLDEN 'Action Space 9' two canvases
and wood, acrylic & mixed media, 170 x 115 cm
KIMBAL BUMSTEAD 'Composition I' varnish & bitumen on canvas, 80 x 120 cm
CAROLINA KHOURI 'Abstract in Red' oil on canvas, 164 x 121 cm
ANNIE ZAMERO 'The Warrior I' oil & acrylic on canvas, 121 x 76 cm
JEAN PIERRE ROFFI 'Body Painting' mixed media on canvas, 100 x 100 cm
ELIZABETH JAMES 'Colour in Motion 7700' photography on Di Bond Mount, 84 x 119 cm
KATERINA STAVROU 'Gypsy Royalty' oil on canvas, 140 x 180 cm
ROBERT MELDRUM 'June' oil on canvas, 120 x 190 cm
ELI ACHESON 'The Elibabies' (1 of 3, detail 'Elibababy Break') plaster, pigment & compressed polystyrene, 60 x 60 x 30 cm
DYLAN SHIELDS 'Hercules as Heroic Virtue Overcoming Discord'
cardboard, packing tape & wood, 85 x 50 x 50 cm
Expressing the Inexpressible
of Selves and Others Through
Conceptual Romanticism

The Magma Group is a group of individual artists who, even though working completely independently from one another, share a common path. This path is characterized as a conceptual and internal journey through expressive form. In the work of the Magma artists sensation and expression give meaning to an exploration of the Self, the sublime as well as of the relationship of the artists with others, the world they live in, the universe.

In the processes of both making and viewing contemporary art a negotiation between the self and the art piece takes place. Elements that logic cannot satisfactory explain, correspond with a seemingly internal piece of truth through an intuition or a feeling that appears as personally valid and significant. The artists of The Magma Group employ expressive and conceptual methods to explore how issues, ideas and situations personal to them can come across, whilst simultaneously stimulating the senses of the viewers.

The term Romantic Conceptualism emerged in the art scholarly field in 2006 to discuss conceptual art works of various mediums such as video, installation and sculpture, which employ both conceptual methodologies and also autobiographical, emotional and poetic elements. Conceptual art, often associated with dryness, cold intellectualism and lack of emotion, is often seen to be the antithesis of Romanticism. But many conceptual art works are in their effect transcendental; they draw attention to the ways that meaning is being produced beyond logic. The works of artists directly addressing and exploring the mystical effect of the processing of ideas accentuate these romantic aspects of conceptualism. In other words Conceptualism is romanticized.
The artists of the Magma Group each produces work which displays similar ambiguities and tensions of both the conceptual and the romantic. As well as romanticizing the conceptual, they also address the romantic in conceptual ways. Elements of Romanticism, such as spontaneous and pure expressions of feelings (sometimes to the extent of sentimentality), the grotesque, the sublime, emotion, and an emphasis on individual subjectivities are all explicitly explored as ideas. The romantic elements are the tools as well as the subjects of the artists. In this way we can say that the Magma Group engages in Romantic Conceptualism as well as Conceptual Romanticism.

The artists in this exhibition each uses 'free expression' as a theme in itself which contextualizes the manoeuvring of ideas that is underlined in conceptualism. In this sense, 'free expression' regards the ways that these artists handle chance, intuition and 'mistakes', as well as themes of self-representation, personal journeys, auto-biographies, absence, confession, nature, relationships with others, dramatic struggles between opposing powers and impossible tasks.

The work of Katerina Stavrou inspires a meditative process in the viewer regarding form and abstraction when looking at her paintings. Even when the viewer finds an answer considering whether s/he is looking at an image of 'something' or into a depth of shapes and colors, s/he remains confronted with the strength of the image. Stavrou's technique, influenced by Abstract Expressionism, involves automatic methods, such as the spontaneous overflow of emotions gestured through her painting actions.

At the same time she is conceptually invested in a process of inviting the viewer to 'perform' the act of searching for meaning in the images she creates. The artist's expressive methodologies used on her canvas underscore the personal journey of the artistic process as being as significant as the final art-product.
The journey as a theme and as a process is also integral to the work of Kimbal Bumstead. The artist starts with the idea of representing, through abstract drawings, the experience and sensations he feels as he touches other people's faces and bodies whilst he is blindfolded. These 'intimate drawings' are the basis for the development of his paintings following a commitment to an abstractly expressive process. The romantic significance of the journey is highlighted through the marks the artist makes as he travels into the unknown through the blind bodily contact with strangers. The conceptual part of his work is not only about the 'idea' of these physical encounters, but also about his conscious decision not to represent the bodies and faces of the strangers he touches. Instead he expresses in his paintings the experience of intimacy he shares with each person. There are open elements of performance in Bumstead's work as each intimate encounter is itself an art happening that the artist later translates into images.

These elements of performance in the interdisciplinary art practices of artists of The Magma Group invite the viewer to engage with the struggle of creating new form out of both the concept and the experience of a personal situation. Abstract elements in artworks draw attention to the ways that expression negotiates the space between form and absence. Jean-Pierre Roffi's working process starts, like Bumstead's, with mediums other than painting but find their resolution on the canvas. Roffi is interested in the shared experience of trance, frenzy and fanaticism. His work is a meditation of intense states of emotions that take place within groups and individuals.

The artist occupies a transcendental space between the joint ecstasy of the group and the loneliness of his artistic process. Roffi initially uses old photographic technologies to both capture situations and also to start observing them more creatively through the aesthetic elements that these photographic techniques bring to the images. He then experiments with collage and drawing to finally start working on canvas. The outcomes of his work resonates with the artist's own ecstasy located in the actual process of creating.
Annie Zamero, the founder of The Magma Group, in her current work is interested in ideas of inner forces opposed to, and in conflict with each other, conceptualized through the written works of Carlos Casteneda and Carl Jung. Zamero's paintings and photomontages are abstract landscapes of internal conflict within the psyche. In these works, the Self and Other are represented by figures of mythical or magical presence, including mystical terrorists of the psyche, which she refers to as 'warriors' and 'allies'. In this fantasy-real landscape warriors coexist with allies in which the characters are involved in dramatic conflict but also in moments of resolve. The allies have the power to destroy the warrior and are often witnessed as grotesque or horrific. Symbolism is juxtaposed here with abstract details that combine the mystical with a contexualized political reality. Her works show moments of dramatic battles but also moments of break-through, and ecstatic personal achievement. Zamero's current work is perhaps a more abstract realization of her previous body of work, in which the artist continues to explore opposites, through satire, humour and irony rather than conflict. 

Dagmar Dost-Nolden creates paintings, sculptures and installations that explore methods of channeling, through her own creative agency, the streaming, spreading and expanding energies of the universe. The artist uses her paints to explore the tension and movement of forces across space and time. She creates small pauses for the energies to rest upon her canvases on their way to infinity. Dost-Nolden's journey through her paintings establishes the role of the artist at the centre of a personal journey.

This reinforces the idea of the Self as a catalyst for art making, in which the artist is a vessel that navigates its way through channels of perception.  In this exhibition the artists' conceptual framework highlights their expressive choices as their individual relationships with that which cannot be linearly expressed. Through their processes of making art they mediate between the unknown, the inexpressible, that which lies out of reach, and the human. The artists make choices through which they link the sublime with the tangible - humans, concepts, language and objects.

AnnaMaria Pinaka
University of Roehampton

Romantic Conceptualism Conceptual Romanticism