Fad-Space as an exhibition epitomises my body of work this year. Through painting I have been exploring sites or areas which can neither be wholly defined as spaces of places due to their transient nature. The local and the universal have drawn closer together in the last few decades and this has led to an expansion of seemingly identical buildings worldwide. Commonly these architectural similarities exist in non-places from airports to supermarkets however this as expanded into other areas including exhibition spaces. Broadly speaking these are sites which ones passes through yet never actively occupies and therefore their spatial nature often goes unnoticed as one’s focus is on the current experience.
I have been highlighting the spatial natures of such spaces by abstracting the buildings so that they are reduced to bare geometric forms. In a limited palette without any definable features the space itself becomes more apparent. There is a set archetypal prototype within the places I have been depicting with many modernist connotations. As a result, apparently identical buildings exist the world over so that what one viewer may identify in a painting as their local supermarket another may see as a garage many miles away.
Chain, 183x123cm, Emulsion on canvas
As a final piece I have drawn on this notion in four paintings which are derived from two locations. They are local sites which the viewer may have passed through on the way to the exhibition and therefore the spaces should be recognisable if not wholly definable. As with the Bargehouse show I have used a gallery (university will be transformed into gallery at the time of show) and a commercial site. Both are spaces redundant without activation but which can never be permanently occupied. For the commercial site I chose the local Lidl as its expansion as a company in the last five years to over 10,000 stores across Europe epitomises the mirror like architecture of the spaces I have been looking at all year.
Company, 91.5x76cm, Emulsion on canvas
The exterior of both spaces are depicted on the larger canvases and the interior on the smaller ones. Positioned around the room are four metal grills, both commercial tools and industrial products. These are used to reflect and extend the architecture depicted in the paintings out into the exhibition space. The manufactured yet commercial nature of the metal echoes the industrial nature of the sites whilst the lines correspond to the equally regimented constructions on the canvases.
Institution, 183x123cm, Emulsion on canvas
None of the paintings are actively obstructed however each one can be viewed through a grill. The grills also dictate the way one can walk around the room reflecting the hidden controls in many commercial spaces. This notion is highlighted by Gaston Bachelard who suggests that in commercial and capitalist sites one is both inside and outside the system, party to but with no controlling hand what happens and only set actions allowed. Doreen Massey echoes this, proposing that such buildings epitomise the “vesting of control over spaces in the hands of non-democratically elected owners” rather than the romanticised image of them as places of free speech. Once inside these spaces one has to adhere to their rules, actions such as loitering frowned upon.
Establishment, 91.5x76cm, Emulsion on canvas
Martin Boyce explores the way in which recognisable spaces can be continually re-adapted and co-opted in his works. He considers the physical and psychological experience of the built environment especially in the places ‘we pass through every day’ but only ever catch a glimpse of. Boyce reduces complex forms to simple shapes and reconfigures them to give new structures, highlighting how a multitude of spaces and things can be generated from the same basis and this is something I wanted the grids to highlight in my work. The built environment is both paralleled and contrasted to give a new space whilst referencing an assembly of pre-existing similar forms.