My paintings use repetitive procedures, structures and processes of reproduction in an attempt to acknowledge one in the immediate present, standing one with respect to time, a feeling of time ’. The vocabulary of abstraction is entwined with reference to ‘experience.’ By navigating a route through abstraction as a ‘readymade construction’ and its potential ‘reproducibility’ my aim is to unify the diverse language of the “abstract” as a way to consider perception in everyday life.
Warhol’s legacy may register the impact of mass production on the work of art, not only in its serial condition, but its emptiness and its actual flatness. These developments represented the possibility of a new kind of experience that engaged further philosophical, social and political issues within painting. Painters today engaged with abstraction such as Wade Guyton, RH Quaytman, Christopher Wool – incorporate within their work notions of reproducibility, the equation between a photograph and the readymade and the shifting perceptual conditions of the encounter between subject and object. These artists are concerned with the specificity of painting and the image in a digital world and are significantly contributing to the revitalizing of painting ‘in’ contemporary culture.
Recent works uses drawing, painting and photography to investigate how the vocabulary around abstraction can be reinvented or expanded to reflect the technological info-manic world and condition in which we live. By navigating a route through abstraction and realism my aim is to understand the shifts in our experience by a ‘slowing down’ of perception to juxtapose the conceptual with the affective.
Each original source image being a photographed mark of found vandalism/graffiti that has been obliterated by a further mark -they were significantly erasures, where erasure is used as a process of producing and articulating the image. The paintings are a form of representation of these marks - an abstract form of representation. How it is painted is as significant as what is painted. Connecting representation to abstraction in this way, engaged a divergent conceptual interpretation, and for me shifted the dialogue away from the emotive and aspirational discursive narrative, synonymous with discussion around abstract painting.
These concerns involve a referral back to the act of painting itself. This has manifested in a series of varied sequential experimentations in painting and photography that aim to ‘construct’ an abstract mark that represents its source. These ‘studies’ have included painting an orange orange and throwing it three times onto graph paper.
"There's a story about a Roman wall painter who tried and tried to paint the foam on a horse's mouth. He just couldn't get it right. And in disgust, he threw a sponge at the horse and the sponge left a mark right on the horse's nostril that looked exactly like the foam. And so, he simply added a few more strokes and he had a perfect representation of the foam he had worked so hard to depict. This is probably the birth of abstract art and it is probably the beginning of how we do art now" [Baldessari]
A further work from this series involved sitting and throwing a pencil for several hours, which resulted in a series of repetitive but unsimilar marks and punctures across the surface of a standard A1 sheet of cartridge paper [ending with the pencil’s destruction]. Embodied in this series is the relinquishing of authorial control, based on a concept of strict randomness that comes with no pre-existent form or idea or expectation, they guide their own progression. Their origins are in action painting and directly refer to my participation. The intent is make a pencil represent a pencil [and an orange an orange, a black ball a black ball] rather than a desire to further the fetishization of gesture and expression inherent in abstraction.
The work most recently developed is a series of 3 sequential images beginning with a small gold monochrome followed by a digital flash photograph of the same painting [to scale of the monochrome] and ending with an ‘abstract painting’ translated from this photograph. Photography is considered to ultimately lead to the idea for the painting and the painting is considered equal to what has been pictured. They occupy the same abstract space, they are self-reflexive. Both photograph and the abstract painting reveal signs of their making, unmaking, erasure and cancellation. It remains an image of negative space. The painting without an image has become an image of a painting. Whilst these images are not intended to evoke feeling or association outside their own referentiality, they provide the capacity to mediate, to consider multiplicity in relation to perception of ourselves as ‘original human beings’ or with original identity. The painting’s status as singularity is interfered with, physically and materially. It considers the notion of dualities and particular difference in its reproducibility, leading to a reflection on what is actually present and absent.
The idea of 'being in' the painting that Kaprow attributed to Pollock is relevant to this work. I’ve used the ‘snapshot’ documentation of the monochrome to create a disruption in what is represented, both registering the event of my participation in dual relationship with its reproducibility. My attempt is to use the capacity of painting and photography in abstract form to operate as a lived exploration of presence. Andy Warhol’s Shadow Paintings is the key moment in the 20th Century when abstraction engaged with the notion of reproducibility. The move from a singular abstraction to a repeatable model has been significant to my thinking in how painting meets the challenge of mechanical production yet maintains reference to ‘expression within the cultural moment ’ and a manifestation of psychological expression. To this end I have identified three values that are at the forefront of my “practice”.
Process and painting: Blurring the distinction between the mechanical process of production and the expressive application of paint or mark-making has been a central working theme. Both approaches have illuminated how the process of reproducibility, erasure or cancellation can become a creative act in itself. How abstraction can remain simultaneously representative, ambivalent and gestural, recording the encounter between painter and painting as both action and process.
Action and perception: I have been identifying the moment when the language of abstraction is referred to in the creative act and becomes a ‘presence’ in the work – the moment of being both “in” and “of” the work in process. Disruptions such as reflection, glare and reproduction that obscure or disturb the unadulterated subject are employed as extra perceptual devices to introduce controlled chance and actions outside of personal mark-making.
The meaning inherent in the term “practice”: Through processes of painting out, negation, repetition, reproducibility, seriality, cancellation and the reinforcing of negative space, I am continuing my on-going interest in a “practice” of work that contains the idea of “practicing”. There is no definitive reading or automatic end to the work in progress, it creates an opportunity for its continuing possibility.
- 2012 Cabedal, Platforma Revolver, Lisbon, Portugal
- 2011 We are all in this together, Bureau Gallery, Manchester
- 2011 Untitled, FaFa Gallery, Helsinki
- 2010 MA show, Holden Gallery, Manchester
- 2010 Uncertain Limitations, Bankley Studios, Manchester
- 2010 MA students MMU, Hive Gallery, Manchester
- 2009 The Kiss of a Lifetime, Bearspace, London
- 2009 Kiss Kiss, ROGUE Project Space, curated by Mike Chavez-Dawson, Manchester
- 2008 FUTURE 50’S PSL, Project Space Leeds, Leeds
- 2008 Economic Thought Projects, Ard Bia Berlin, Berlin
- 2006 Isobel Nolan, Si Schroeder, Jo McGonigal, Ard Bia Ireland, Ireland
- 2001 Goethe’s Oak has Woodworm, Static Gallery, Liverpool
- 2001 More Jets to More Places, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
- 1998 The Unstoppable Force of the Immovable Object, Annual Programme, Manchester
- 1998 Crystal State, Artranspennine 98, Benefit Agency, Wythenshawe, Manchester
- 1997 Olympic Village, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow