Project 4.1: Pre-Reflections

Background and reflection

This part of the course explores the surface of painting, the canvas as considered traditionally the support for painting, especially oil painting. Today, I do see ‘canvas’ bifold: as material and metaphorically as a conventional flat base giving space for perceptual pictures.

I thought it would be good to look back and see if some of my previous works would suit this context. I discovered that some could be even be revisited in this part of the course (Fig. 1). At that times, both works were rather a side product, a leftover of my subject matters, and a result of serendipity. Both are painterly artefacts. Now the question: how to build on that? if at all…

Fig. 1 – Fig. 4: Artefacts of performative painting (click on an image to see in lightbox view and captions)


Also during part 1, I made a performative painting Washboard (laundry), and wondering how this could be considered as a canvas-stretcher relationship. The support (the ‘canvas’): a paper. The tool: not a brush, but a plastic foil. The paint:  a mix of shellac and gum solution.

The final work possibly a reverse: the tool became the canvas (Fig. 3)

What I do take away from my previous works:

  • stretcher gives context (Fig. 1)
  • stretcher does contain, but can also trigger deferred to narratives in a wider context (agency of viewer)
  • canvas as medium, rather than just support (Fig. 2)
  • installation: looking back I am more concerned now with way of installation and how the viewer is placed into relationship with the work. In that sense, Fig. 2 and Fig. 3 less successful due to a not so well considered background
  • deconstructing further might lead to new outcomes (Fig. 4)



stretch, stitch, fold, crease, wrap


These words brings me back to my museum visits of the works of Sam Gilliam, but also the large scale suspended and spray painted canvas of Katharina Grosse. The canvas released from its containment, and being free to play its own spatial role. At times, I am wondering when the canvas turns into a textile. Either from material point of view, or from a metaphorical point of view as well. And while looking deeper at Angela de la Cruz work in this context, I can see some relationship of above work (Fig. 1, left) with e.g  her work Vacant, 2013 (Wetterling Gallery, 2016) – that has quite a formal appeal for me.

Structural quality of the surface

Alongside my research on artists practising a deconstructing of the canvas and its stretcher, I did feel inspired to develop further some of my previous works in relationship to: 

folding, transparent, fragmentation, vulnerability, disruption

However, I think the question of canvas and stretcher a bit Modernistic, or as critique of Modernism by embracing the wider social context. I am wondering whether I could not find a more personal meaningful way…. With more ideas coming from previous works on relationship ‘canvas’ and ‘stretcher’ (Fig. 4) – with quite a few artists using a ‘stretcher bar’ as pole for canvas: Phyillda Barlow untitled : canvasracks, 2018-19, as seen at RA, or Robert Rauschenberg’s Pilot (Jammer), 1975

Fig. 4: revisiting ideas from part 2 - project 3

Fig. 4: revisiting ideas from part 2 – project 3, exploring canvas-stretcher relationships and meaning of stretching / folded paper as medium, as tool on paper/ installed fragments on transparent layers / timber  as dysfunctional stretcher – as poles to suspend from.


Perhaps one way to brainstorm on some ideas around canvas and stretcher (Fig. 5):

Fig. 5: sketchbook - ideation

Fig. 5: sketchbook – ideation / with some mockup artefacts from previous works (plastic ‘canvas’)


I got a sense that the ‘stretcher’ in any form or material acts as a holder, ‘container’ for the ‘canvas’, whatever this could be. The opposite would be a ‘canvas’ turning into a container, the holder for the stretcher, like wrapping paper or a table of objects (see combines and Georges Perec’s notes on the work-table), an approach I looked at with my object fragments in part 2. Certainly, one could always consider the canvas as a container, as what appears on the surface is often a perceptual illusion of an image. It seemed, I already ‘made’ some re-imagined canvases. However, those works can be seen only as sketches for something that need deeper investigation.

Related Posts
Fragmentation - Assemblage - Sketchbook ideas
Visits: Julie Mehretu – Helen Chadwick
Spin off play: Narrating a Gesture

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow Me

Follow my Learning Blog