Union & Concourse

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For the exhibition ‘Iris Turns’ in Bargehouse at Oxo Tower Wharf I chose to make two works which were dictated by and responded to the exhibition space. I have been looking at spaces of transience which need activation if they are ever to progress into becoming places. Commonly this has been non-places such as shopping centres and stations however a gallery is also a redundant site until activated by people and work in the same way as a supermarket. Consequently, the first painting is derived from the gallery, reflecting the exhibition space back on itself and the other image a nearby carpark that some viewers will have used before attending ‘Iris Turns’.

Positioned side by side they have a similar spatial quality, the white entrances or exits paralleled, and could in some sense have been taken from the same building. The precise nature of the paintings was enhanced by the decrepit nature of the exhibition space. The crumbling plaster and walls reflected the run down nature of many non-places whilst exacerbating the strictness of the architecture contained within the works. A clinicality was apparent which hadn’t been present in previous exhibitions, the works almost an homage to the architecture of modernism.

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Union, Emulsion on board, 150x88cm

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in ‘Commonwealth’ propose that it is impossible to challenge the structure of the globalised world, suggesting that “one primary effect of globalization is the creation of a common world, a world that we share, a world that has no ‘outside’”. Though is it possible to critique this structure everyone, despite however much they try to ignore it, is “subject to its powers of domination but also contaminated by its corruptions”. Though this is an analysis of globalisation and capitalism as a whole it does go some way in explaining the rise of spaces, a set structure and system being rolled out worldwide, the common perpetually produced. This commonality is apparent in both of the spaces depicted which could be derived from any city in the world.

As a whole feedback for the works individually and as a pair was positive, people commenting on the way in which the sterility enhanced the power of the architecture. Non-places were seen as a relevant area by many because of the way in which they reflect that society is interested in the endgame and destination rather than means; a focus on where we are going rather than where we are. The unseen is rendered visible and the viewer able to project their ‘own place’ back onto what is depicted.

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Concourse, Emulsion on board, 150x88cm

Viewers identified that one work was derived from the gallery space whilst comparing the other image with non-places they have actively associated with. Whilst in this instance the paintings worked in a spatial sense, as they provided such a contrast with the exhibition space, this has not been so apparent elsewhere. In future works where the gallery space does not lend itself to the pieces so well I need to consider exemplifying the spatial quality of my practice. This could be through constructing more of a space, finding a way of making the paintings extend into the gallery more or creating an abstracted three dimensional space. In a sculptural sense I do not want to purely create a space in a reflective sense, rather taking the geometrical forms apparent in the paintings to create a new form which references all the sites I have been discussing without being purely pictorial. As a starting point for this I am going to extract the varying forms found in my work in the last year and see how they piece/un-piece together in a more abstracted sense.

Gerard Hemsworth’s use of matt colour highlights how flat surfaces can invoke the austere simplicity of monochrome when subjective gestural marks are removed. In this sense I want to experiment with some use of colour in future works as abstraction is still apparent, though not in the strictest sense, minimal visual language employed. Hemsworth shows how when something is not wholly representational it needs to be continually re-assessed, the act of re-recognising something making one re-evaluate expectations. My paintings are potentially still to pictorial and subsequently there is not room for re-assessment and as a result I need to experiment with potentially a higher level of abstraction so that the representative quality is lessened. Gary Hume takes such an approach with his ‘Door Paintings’, ornate inlays and cornices ignored to leave behind simple geometric forms which still have an architectural resonance without actively depicting a certain building; space echoed rather than represented. Through this though there is a factual quality which I need to emulate in my work, basic geometry denoting tangible forms, ghost forms making one re-assess the real. 

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Gerard Hemsworth

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Gary Hume

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