Teto Elsiddique’s Mimicking Surfaces

Teto Elsiddique, Plastic and Gold and New Money (2014) Spray paint transfer, clock, party poster board, mylar balloons, acrylic and latex paint. Weeks Gallery.

Teto Elsiddique, “Plastic and Gold and New Money” (2014)
Spray paint transfer, clock, party poster board, mylar balloon, black ink, acrylic and latex paint. Installation in the Weeks Gallery at Jamestown Community College.

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I met Teto Elsiddique a few weeks ago when he was a resident artist installing two pieces on campus.  In three days he installed two large site-specific spray paint transfer prints on walls—one in the Weeks Gallery, another in the college center at Jamestown Community College.

Teto Elsiddique installing a site-specific spray paint transfer to the wall of the gallery.

Adhering spray paint transfer to the wall of the gallery.

Elsiddique learned to use spray paint as a teen making graffiti in Toronto. As an art student at the  Nova Scotia College of Art and Design he found ways to integrate this highly coded material into gallery installations with an ingenious transfer method he invented himself.

The colorfield-esque wall abstraction at the center of Plastic and Gold and New Money started long before Elsiddique arrived on campus. It began with a large plastic tarp (9o cents at a hardware store) which Elsiddique often uses as a printing matrix.  He draped the very thin plastic across the surface of a bed so that the the plastic conformed to the undulating pattern imbedded in the mattress’s surface.  Applying spray paint at an extreme raking angle, Elsiddique picked up, essentially copying, the wavy pattern on the matters with the metallic shapes of spray paint silver, purple, black and green.

spray paint transfer, detail.

When the spray paint on the tarp is dry Elsiddique has an inked printing matrix.  In the gallery,  he applies latex paint to the wall where he wants to  print (or transfer) the image. Pressing the dry spray paint side of the tarp to the wet wall paint, he rubs and squeegees the plastic so that it becomes affixed to the wall. When the latex  paint dries the spray paint is adhered to the wall. At this point Elsiddique pulls the plastic tarp away leaving the spray paint transfer behind.Screenshot 2014-03-03 21.40.14

Although the wall print is a field of atmospheric abstraction that looks like the night sky, sea waves, or sand dunes, or “the northern lights” as one viewer said, it also contains highly realistic tracings of the mattress  surface which perfectly mimic the familiar pattern.

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By indexically mimicking the mattress pattern in this work, Elsiddique creates a signifier through a process  direct physical  contact with a signified. This means that like a photograph, his mattress pattern tracings share an intimate physical bond with the object they represent. Considering that touch is central to this process in other ways as well–Elsiddique spreads the tarp across the surface of the bed and presses it with his hands to conform to the patterns–the intimacy suggested  in the final work is considerable intensified as this is the same gesture as he would make to spread a sheet on a bed if he were making it.

The process yields powerful results when Elsiddique uses flesh colored spray paint to trace the surface pattern of mattress in such a way that the printed transfer looks like a sheet of skin when printed on  a piece of gaudy poster board that glitters brightly behind and beneath the paint.

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Spray paint transfer print on sparkly holographic poster board. Plastic tarp matrix conforms to the surface of a bed mattress.. Installation detail.

the flesh tone paint traces the wave pattern of the matters foam

Flesh tone paint traces the wave pattern of the matters. Installation detail.

Elsiddique’s bed tracings take on an added level of meaning when they are considered in the tradition of frottage. Like Max Ernst’s  frottage drawings made by rubbing the wood grain of floor boards, Elsiddique transforms banal traces of the everyday world into marvelously rich fields of imaginary  worlds. For Elsiddique the world is filled with objects to print from and to print onto. Every surface is essentially equivalent to shiny silver mylar ballon or holographic sparkly poster board, in that it can be reflected, mimicked or doubled with the help of some spray paint or a vessel of black ink.

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Elsiddique uses an inexpensive clock purchased at a dollar store as a “vessel to hold black ink.”

To see more of the process and Elsiddique’s installation in the Hamilton Collegiate Center visit the gallery Facebook album. Please “like” the Weeks Gallery.

Teto Elsiddique was raised in Sudan and Canada. He received his BFA from  Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in 2013.

About Patricia Briggs
Patricia Briggs is the director of galleries and curator of exhibitions at Jamestown Community College in Western New York. She writes the blog "Scene Unseen: Viewing Notes" about visual art in her community.

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