SHAPE & FUNCTION
Looking back at my first visual thoughts when I moved off the wall and away from the idea of conventional painting, there was one aspect that has repeated its self, organically , that is the repetition of the same shape, and within that repetition, the notion of stacking.
Through trying to understand this shape, I started looking into Joseph Albers “Homage to the square” series from 1949 to his death in 1976. This series reflects an insight into the mutability of human perception within optical and psychological effects that colour and shape can have. What I focused on within this series was the exploration and potential that a static 2D medium can have on our 3D perception. Having been so involved within the idea of expanded painting so recently within my practice, this concept of moving away or manipulating with the 2D has been paramount within my way of making and thinking about sculpture and painting. It helped me start to understand the mutability of perception with shape and material. From this understanding, I attempted to understand my most recent obsession.
A 30 x 30 x 7cm shape (shrunk and enlarged), that I have experimented in with different materials seems to be an itch I can’t scratch. This fascination with a simple, functional shape, using functional materials and minimalist aesthetics was something that I finding fascinating to try understand. Other artists and friends asked me “Why are you stacking the shape?”, “Why are you using this shape?” my answers would follow as such.
Q - “Why are you stacking the shape?”
A - “Because why wouldn’t you want to stack this shape. That’s the most obvious thing to do. By stacking these objects, you can organise and create a calm order. When you stack this particular object, you’re allowing it to do exactly what it can (and possibly) should be doing, you can’t easily do much else with the shape. You’re allowing it to function and have a purpose. And that purpose is what I want to change. To give a material and shape that has a past of function and purpose and to twist it.
Q – “Why are you using this shape?”
A – “I think, because I’m trying to understand my attraction towards it through continued trying and critical repetition. I think it’s just a basic approach to a something I like. By using materials that have a definite role, it would make sense to make a shape that is simple, like the materials it’s made out of. How can an object or shape interact with the material it’s been made out of? How can shape activate material, or vice versa.
My latest piece "88 Seconds of Fame", my most ambitious and only site specific work to date, represents my most recent studies towards this stacking and towards a fake, unreal, monumentally large scale piece. The square shape and material that represents purpose and function is lacking in stability and structure. There is a conversation between what a material can do, and what I will let it do. How far I will let it be practical, or true, to its original state. Things are then bent and broken to balance them on a line between true and fake. The
Within the function of the shape and material, there is the weight of the baggage they carry, modernism, and this macho masculine material used to create something for complete purpose without ornamentation. Within this baggage, there is an opportunity to talk about them, and within my work, I want to communicate the use of material and shape
MATERIAL & GRAVITY
With a move into sculptural work, I started to research British sculptors and looked more deeply into the practices of Richard Deacon, Tony Cragg and Phyllida Barlow. With each artist having different artist to the next, it was a good opportunity for me to learn the language of sculpture in different ways. Having recently stepped into 3D work, I was having to deal with new issues; gravity, material, having the ability to step around the artwork, so this short crash course of sculpture was much needed.
Deacon & Barlow have had a significant influence in my practice and the way I think about sculpture and material, in particularly, Phyllida Barlow. From reading an interview with her from her book “Brink” about her show in the “Ludwig Forum” in 2012, Barlow spoke about defining sculpture, something I was struggling to comprehend at the time. She talks about sculpture as an experience a viewer has while seeing the work and about the spatial dynamics of the work while in the gallery space. Something she touched on was whether things are bigger or smaller than you, and how that influences the relationship with the space and viewer. While trying to understand the language of sculpture, I completely bypassed these simple issues, about scale, material, process. Barlow’s practice considers all these aspects.
The material she uses is mostly, wood, cement, paint, polystyrene, tape, materials that all have very secure uses in the world. Something I find fascinating is the balance of what the material can do, and what she is letting it do. Is she letting a painted wooden panel stand up straight like a painting? And if so, is it against a wall? Or is it being propped up by something? Suspended between painting and sculpture. Her use of material helped fuel an interest in the using and butchering of these chosen ingredients, on how I can manipulate materials and their basic qualities. How can I use concrete as something that creates a visual joke, as something flimsy and feeble, something impractical? How can I understand somethings key qualities and then reverse them?
Im finding the relationship with an object that is larger than you interesting. The relationship changes when you look up at an object, when your able to walk around and underneath it. It creates an experience, and that is how I want viewers to see my work, as an experience, a dance with the piece, with the material.
INSIDE THE GALLERY
While installing my most recent work, a conversation started including the scale of the work and the space that the piece is showing in. When considering work on a monumental scale, the main obstacle to overcome is the reality of showing inside. The fight between showing in galleries while still wanting to create large scale work. My latest piece addresses this in a rather clumsy way, the work has simply been stuffed, bent and twisted to fit. This opens up conversation about the space and the way one occupies it and dominates it.
Angela De La Cruz and Phyllida Barlow are known for inhabiting the space they're showing in and for completely dominating it. They create visual poetry with the space they're given, leaving no square foot unconsidered. This, for me, automatically associates the work humour and a sense of what is real and fake. It helps to create an experience, as the way I determine sculpture is from the experience you have when you walk around it
In this sense, for me, making sculpture is like making theater. The work is the set and the viewer is the main protagonist , adding their own physicality into the work by circumnavigating around the pieces.
EXPANDED PAINTING & OBJECT-HOOD
In an essay “Picture is dead” Vierkant starts with talking about the circulation of a “picture” within the vast ocean of the internet with its mass image productions. He’s touches on how the majority of an artists viewers will experience their work through secondary means, and the importance of overcoming the circulation of these mass produced images, by incorporating this secondary experience into your work.
In short, Vierkant states that the “picture” is dead. The way that I understand this is that now, painting is in a very vulnerable state, as everything is so easily accessible, a primary experience with a work has been dulled, blurred. The idea of a painting is now transparent. This is leading artists to look at painting beyond the “immaterial” image supported by the canvas. Painting isn’t an illusion anymore, artists are looking at the object-hood of the painting. Painting is more than something to simply create an image.
For example, Wendy White, who uses multiple canvases and wooden cutouts arranged around the canvas. White’s understanding of a painting extends into the viewer’s space, her work lacks perimeters, understanding that her work is an object as well as a painting. This is something that really excites me, the idea of expanding a preconceived theory of what a painting is.
A minimalist view-point would be to bring in the world around the painting, into the painting, to understand the painting exists beyond they physical “frame”. To strip the painting from all non-essentials and understand that it is not separate from the surrounding world. For me, this is helping me to start to grasp the basic understandings of how far you can strip a painting, and yet for it to still be defined as a painting. The way I see it, to expand something, you must first understand it. I’m really excited about where painting seems to be, in terms of it being flipped on its head and turned inside out.
Within my practice, I was focusing on the abstraction of the object of a painting, of the frame and the canvas, its shapes and its processes. How far could I better understand the deconstruction of a painting, by understanding its basic materials and simply having fun with them. The presence of paint is very tantalizing to me and is such an open subject which I’m itching to investigate. The sculptural qualities of object-hood within a painting is something that really excites me. How can the idea and physicality of 2D and 3D mesh together.