“A painting was not a representation of a living form since a painted surface was a living form itself” (Imi Knoebel Catalogue 2015)
6 weeks has flown by since the end of the summer. During this time I’ve visited London and been to see Imi Knoebel’s exhibition at the White Cube gallery in Bermondsey. I discovered his work on Facebook back in June and then took the chance to see his work in person. I’m really attracted to his use of colour, so complex and rich. “What we recognize here, as we move, is that colour is spatial, not only in the sense that it works optically to create space, but also more fully in that it occupies and articulates our environment”(Imi Knoebel Catalogue 2015)
In terms of my own work what really struck me is that his paintings read as objects, almost sculptures and I think this marked a turning point at least for the understanding I have about the direction I would like my work to go in. “The tension Frank Stella spoke of, that exists between the painted surface as image and the painting as literal object sharing gallery space with the viewer, is felt intensly in these works.” (Imi Knoebel Catalogue 2015)
A route that has been making itself apparent to me since the first year is not about the narrative qualities inherent in 2D painted surfaces but in the 3D quality the elements within my paintings often elude to. It seems a natural step to allow these elements to come out into the world and take on their own presence.
I am lacking skills in 3D design and this makes me feel very uneasy, this is an interesting place to be in a way it means I have to just let go and allow the materials themselves to lead me. I’ve been looking at a lot of work by other artists, and some tribal art, I’m really attracted to geometric shapes and bright colours in this work. I watched a video on YouTube of Marlene Dumas talking about how paintings are always dialogues with other paintings and I think that’s absolutely true and something I have been a little ashamed of for some reason. My paintings are more often than not responses to paintings I love. Now that the work I love most is often more object like I feel the need to respond in my own way.
Jessica Stockholder is an artist whose work I’ve only recently paid closer attention to and I’m very interested in how she uses objects, found and donated to make compositions that break the boundaries of the traditional abstract picture space “…sometimes the surface generates a kind of fiction. It is this possibility, inherent in materiality, to generate fiction that I am enamored with. This interest has fueled my exploration of how paint meets, sticks to, or appears to jump off of, many different kinds of material.” (Stockholder). Colour is essential as always but the materiality and the space it occupies is important too. “For a moment the abstract insubstantial nature of feeling/thoughts can be experienced as external and embodied by material.” (Stockholder)
Reading Interaction of Color by Josef Albers is giving me a new awareness of my colour choices. I’m waiting to see how this develops. It made me think about how artists I like use colour. There’s Deborah Zlotsky who creates a sense of volume through her use of colour and shadow. Then in the work of Sabine Frankenauer and Antonio Ladrillo colour is flat and decorative, like children’s toys. Stockholder’s work uses bright colours like those found in plastic items bought from a pound shop. I’m also attracted to these kinds of items; pink plastic baskets, plastic clothes pegs, translucent coloured shower curtains, my own children’s toys.
I’ve been working in my sketchbook a lot more this year and it has been a good thing as I’m currently quite overwhelmed by all my discoveries. As a result I’ve started playing with the materials I’ve managed to collect in the studio. Pinning coloured papers to the wall and spreading them on the floor. I’ve experimented a little with adding builder’s putty to a wooden panel and pressing objects into it to create texture and therefore call attention to the objecthood of the painting. I’m still feeling very tentative but I have a lot of information in my head which needs to be processed still.
I’m still seeing connections to poetry and painting, Jamey Hart is an artist who makes 3D object paintings that are put together intuitively through a playful engagement with materials and colour. He also writes poetry which expresses the materiality of his works.
I’ve yet to look into the writings of Robert Rauschenberg (as suggested by my tutor) to find out what made him create more 3D paintings but I have been reading about another painter who made the same move from 2D to 3D; Robert Irwin. He was fascinated with how a painting occupied a space until the painting became part of the space and couldn’t be distinguished from it. He recognized that in the history of painting the painting always represented a hierarchy of things to be looked at, Modernism criticized this hierarchy of looking. Cubism flattened figure and ground giving them the same importance. The thing of value was no longer isolated.
Katherine Bernhardt is an artist who paints things and gives importance to everyday things and things that shouldn’t go together, and rugs and patterned cloth. Her paintings flatten things out and make them decorative. Her paintings read as objects because of this decorative flat quality.
Sabine Frankenauer is influenced by toys and kitsch sentimentality but her work has moved away from narrative and transformed these themes into structured architectural forms that focus on colour and space. Her visual language translates well over different materials 2 and 3D alike, paper, wood, cloth, metal. They are objects and forms that give a feeling of potential, the potential to activate the creative and narrative imagination or invention of the viewer.
I’m about the read The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard, Talking Art: Interviews with Artists Since 1976 and Hungry for You: Essays and Extracts by Joan Smith. My head may implode.