crude oil sludge on canvas, 85 x 120 cm each
The works of the series “Oil Field Paintings” were created on one of the world’s oldest oil fields, in Bibi Heybat, Baku. In a kind of »Plein Air« action, ironically engaging traditions of landscape painting – such as Impressionist as well as Abstract Expressionist techniques – crude oil is taken directly from oil spills in the landscape and carried onto white canvases. Applied in coarse gestures, the paintings are recordings of the different material characteristics and aesthetic qualities of oil. Either liquid or dried, concentrated or mixed with rain water or soil, ranging in color from dark black to light brown, with different textures and haptic properties, the works capture crude oil’s different material states, depending on which part of the oil pit the oil was taken from. Considering this fascinatingly wide spectrum of appearances, oil’s archaic mythological implications become understandable. It is not without reason that in ancient Greece oil was also known under the name »Oil of Medea«, which alludes to the fact that Medea is said to have used it for magical rituals. The performance-like “ritual” of painting the “Oil Field Paintings” was interrupted by the security force controlling the Biby Heybat oil fields, foregrounding the territorial power relations, in which this valuable resource is enmeshed.