Painting without Paint
ArtSmacked’s first exhibition, Painting without Paint was held at Apiary Studios, London from 2-10 February 2012. The concept of the show was focused on emerging artists’ response to the age old question, ‘What is painting?’ By addressing the question through a variety of different media our international line-up of artists are pushing the boundaries of traditional painting practises.
Check out the video below for images of works from the show, installation and launch party. x
Painting without Paint
Curated by ArtSmacked
Private View: Thursday, 2 February 6-8 pm
Exhibition opening hours:
3-5 Feb, 12-5pm; 6-10 Feb by appointment
Apiary Studios, 458 Hackney Road, London E2 9EG
In his book, What Painting Is, esteemed art historian James Elkins describes painting as alchemy; “materials that are worked without knowledge of their properties, by blind experiment, by the feel of the paint.” By example, he compares Monet’s paintings to a single minded pursuit of the grain and feel of light and as a method for fixing light onto a canvas.
Painting without Paint is a thematic group exhibition that explores the painterly practices of emerging contemporary artists who in their own alchemical pursuits have chosen to ‘paint’ using materials other than paint. The show is about challenging the way we think about painting and questioning the nature of the medium itself by contrasting a range of works that contradict traditional ideals.
Elkins’ attempt to define painting both as an object and as a process is both practical and technical but theoretically the posed question, “What is painting?” has stimulated debate throughout history.
Modern artists have consistently deconstructed our notion of the conventions of painting. It is in their range of responses that we can begin to understand the enormity of the question “What is painting?” Painting without Paint takes its inspiration from notable artists such as Frank Bowling who incorporates found objects into his paintings creating a textural effect that teeters on the edge of painting and [relief] sculpture; Louise Bourgeois who substituted fabric for paint in works that exude the intimate relationship between artist and “canvas”; and filmmaker David Lynch’s pre-Blue Velvet days when as an art student he created Film Paintings by projecting film onto a blank canvas so as to ‘make a painting that moved’. Perhaps, one of the most ironic responses to the provoking question is John Baldessari’s, What is Painting, depicting only a few sentences of painted text on canvas which controversially and humorously challenges perceptions of what constitutes a painting.
Considering trends in current art practices, Painting without Paint aims to form a dialogue about painting through a common language using colour, pattern, texture and light effects as its symbols. Highlighting diverse creative processes, the exhibition aims to invite conversation in response to each individual work as well as overall painterly relationships throughout the show.
Lewis John Brooks
Lewis John Brooks is a London-based artist with a BA from the University for the Creative Arts. His work blurs the distinction between painting and sculpture by retaining many of the traditional qualities of painting while expanding into three-dimensional space. By transforming the work from a flat image into a sculptural object, while retaining its painterly tendencies, he moves beyond the boundaries of traditional painting. Motivated by a desire to manipulate and adapt not just the imagery of the work but the surface and space it inhabits allows the artist to concentrate more closely on the expression of the medium itself. Brooks’s paintings play with the subjective nature of perception; what initially appears abstract is actually, upon closer examination, figurative.
Bel Lefosse graduated in Fashion Design and Business in 2006 from Anhembi Morumbi University in São Paulo, Brazil, where she spent four years specialising in creation and product development. In 2007 she had her first contact with Textile Design at Central Saint Martins, School of Art and Design in London, UK. One year later she started her own Beachwear business focusing on the digital prints. Subsequently she furthered her studies in MA Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design in London, UK. She now works as an independent designer developing digital prints and transforming her 2D creations into 3D. Mixed media and techniques such as laser cutting, combined with her designs, reveal interesting abstract and colourful motifs applicable for both fashion and interiors.
Christabel Lindner, a New Zealand-born Chinese artist, holds a BFA (Hons) from University of Manitoba, Canada and an MFA from Chelsea College of Art and Design, London. Through her work Lindner seeks a greater understanding of her multi-cultural upbringings, spanning New Zealand, Taiwan and Hong Kong by exploring issues of identity and femininity. In her position as an ‘outsider’ Lindner’s amalgamated global perspective, which consistently fluctuates, is shaped by her immediate environment, surrounding culture, friends and family. To best express her feelings for the people most important to her, Lindner looks to the landscape to best represent their individual character as the importance of location is so heavily imbued in her shared experiences. For Lindner, cherry blossoms in bloom can be as warming as a friend’s embrace.
Bill Millett is a Glasgow based photographer, whose aim is to take the camera out of its normal context and utilise it as a canvas. To look at photography as a way of painting an image as opposed to replicating it. This methodology is illustrated in the series of light paintings. The images are first sketched then constructed, without the use of computer manipulation. They are an assemblage of light and colour an ephemeral sculpture captured on the camera. The presenting image allows the viewer to explore their own creativity constructing the image out of the presenting light and colour that inhabits the spaces like some distant nebula. His work is influenced by the paintings of Rothko, and in a similar vein invite the viewer into the work as opposed to pushing the viewer away, they are meditative works that invite viewers to draw their own conclusions.
Sujata Sengupta studied Textile Design at Sophia Polytechnic and Management & Marketing in Textiles at SASMIRA institute in India before embarking on her MA at Chelsea College of Art & Design in London. She has worked as a designer and product developer for home interiors and fashion studios who supply major UK retailers such as Marks & Spencer’s and Debenhams. The focus of her practise is to reuse post-industrial and post-consumer textiles in order to re-contextualise their meaning by attaching value to the discarded materials. She uses a broader and more modern illustration of the art of Origami tessellation & folding in juxtaposition with textiles and in combination with different techniques to create work that is sculptural and has multi-disciplinary applications. Substituting the traditional canvas frame she uses regular cotton fabric upon which she manipulates a combination of laser-cut origami and/or coloured textile waste. Her work not only blurs the lines between painting and sculpture but also between craft/design and fine art.
Emily Spence is a self-taught artist. Blurring the line between sculpture, painting, and crafts, Spence works with traditional stitching techniques. Like painting, each work is built up from many layers, over many months to gradually compose the piece’s texture and form. Rather than pigment on canvas, the layers are hand-stitched exclusively in shades of white. Like Louis Bourgeois’ “exercise of memory,” the works document the memories which enfold within the overall concept of the piece drawing on the material and inefficient or awkward method of production. Each work is a meditation or psychological insight producing a delicate record of the creative process and serves as a means of introspection for the artist. The combination of art and craft/ concept and decoration join together to address ambiguous issues of safety and comfort from the perspective of an outsider – as a foreigner in London.
Sorcha-Mae Stott-Strzala is a videographer and live artist. Her work explores identity and expression through gestures of the everyday. In her short films, she deconstructs notions surrounding the traditional painted muse. Intimate moments and quotidian, sometimes fleeting, occurrences create a highly mediated portrait of the muse and her movement through changing environments. Stott-Strzala’s practice revolves around the accumulation of fragmentary footage, a process not dissimilar to sketching, which is followed by an intensive period of ‘painting’, in which scenes are spliced, colours saturated, and the audience is made aware of the breach between the subject and mediated image.
Born in the Ukraine, London-based artist Nataliia Taranukha holds an MFA from Chelsea College of Art and Design, London. Though classically-trained, her current body of work pushes the boundaries of traditional painting by reconsidering the technical and narrative methodologies inherent to the ‘painterly process.’ Her interest in semiotics compels her to explore the signs or symbols embedded in our unconscious mind, which she believes have the greatest healing value. “When integrated into our wider consciousness, particular symbols have the power to release repressed tensions and to generate a higher level of sensibility. The symbol works to establish an occasional analogy between foreign elements.” Her work examines states of ‘being’ by striving to create a simple experience. She compares the accessibility of her work to a field of vision in which one must cross an empty beach to contemplate the sea.
Sarah Kate Wilson
Sarah Kate Wilson holds an MFA in painting, Slade School of Art, London. Wilson is interested in creating what she describes as a ‘living painting’, she has stopped making paintings in the traditional sense, having replaced paint with objects, she now chooses the found object. For Wilson, using paint as a material simply was not enough to activate her ‘living’ paintings; not abandoning painting completely but rather taking a side step to investigate the concept she, takes balloons, ribbons, candles and various ephemeral materials to create ‘painting-objects’. Candles burn the surfaces of paintings, fans move and animate materials attached to a canvas, giving the works a living quality. Ribbons are curled and pinned into place allowing them to be re-configured and ‘styled’ each time the work is shown, they embody both actual and potential energy. Wilson celebrates theatre in her work, theatre is a necessary condition of the work, her paintings need performers/viewers or as Fried stated ‘beholders’ to activate them.
Born in Tokyo, London-based artist Masaki Yada studied at both Central St. Martins and Chelsea College of Art & Design. Imbued with writings by post-structuralists such as Deleuze and Guattari, his work both explores and questions relationships – seemingly arbitrary at times – between images and their meanings. He is fascinated with the concept of representation in the 21st century; whether grounded in our collective imagination or in the ever-present semiotic language that we encounter through mass media – which he believes is increasingly becoming detached from reality. By examining contemporary imagery through a traditional medium, such as painting, Yada reconsiders the context of the represented image. He positions his work to serve as a catalyst which encourages audiences to use their imagination to create their own narratives.
Notes to Editors
For further information, sales enquiries and images please contact:
ArtSmacked Curator, Stephanie Cotela Tanner: 07894 390 423, email@example.com
Painting without Paint is curated by Stephanie Cotela Tanner, a freelance art historian and curator. She is the editor of ArtSmacked.com, which features daily commentary, issues and debates on international art news as well as services such as museum/gallery tours, lectures and tutoring. She has extensive experience in the art world in both the US and UK having held positions in San Diego, New York and London.
To read more about this exhibition click here.
Visit Momardi.com to read interview with curator.
Vist ArtSmacked’s Facebook page for images with descriptions.