Project 1.4: Things perform for you

Looking at works that embrace non-gestural markings, paintings etc. For me this could mean either through external natural forces or through artificial human constructed machines. 

Jessica Warboys Sea paintings (2015-16) could be seen as a gestural painting through the artist’s bodily movement, the dragging and pulling of the canvas and the movement of the sea. Her painting is wet and the paint as such is a combination of mineral pigments applied to the canvas mixed and blended with the salty sea water through moving actions. In the interview for the British Art Show 8 she desribes her paintings as a map of space and time and of layering of three locations composed together as one large mural.

I am not concerned with how the tableau looks or appears as I make a sea painting, but with the result or record of the process.” – Jessica Warboys

Her work could be seen as three step approach:

  1. Preparation: with a conscious decision of choosing material (mineral pigments, canvas rolls), scale (one entire canvas roll) and location (three sea shores in UK). She also made a decision on time (neap tide)
  2. Making & Performance: working on sea soaked canvas with mineral pigments, her body movements of dragging and pulling a response to the sea movement at the edge between beach and water. The creases and folds as kind of indexical representation of that movement. The sea and the artist ‘painting’ together, a response to atmosphere of the location.
  3. Montage: a conscious arrangement of rhythm and composition, a montage, she described it as a narrative.

Lastly, the presentation, either as a large mural above. Or for the Kunstverein Munich (2016) she installed the painted canvas on rotating drums with remiiscence to ‘proto-cinematic moving panoramas and the loops of film stock’, a movement of the painting alongside its indexical and pictorial information in front of the viewer, also as an association of the rhythm of the sea and the tides.

Jessica Warboys Sea Painting, Birling Gap, 2017 - The artist making the work in site

Fig. 1: Jessica Warboys Sea Painting, Birling Gap, 2017 – The artist making the work in site

I find her work intriguing as it resonates with my interest in natural forces, the human presence and interaction of human and nature. 

Rebecca Horn (b. 1944)

One main aspect in Horn’s body of work is her exploration and interogation of the human body at the interface of social interaction, ways of bodily communication and limits its limits. Her own body acts here as the surface of exploration of such limits. I find her work intriguing the more I look at it. I do sense a certain sensibility for the vulnerable interface of body and world and others. 

Jean Tinguely (1925 – 1991)

  • Méta-Matics No. 10, 1959 – kinetic drawing machine made from salvaged materials. Tinguely is truly a master of machine constructions, and during a past museum visit at Tinguely Museum, Basel I could hear and feel those machines. I could sense some industrial nostalgy, and at time it felt strange, kind of cultural memory from the past. Although the notion of salvaged materials and recylcing of waste for artistic purposes is still a hot topic today.

Karina Smiglia-Bobinski (b. 1967)

  • ADA – analog interactive installation, – kinetic drawing in reference to Tinguely, heliium ballon with charcoal sticks. Kind of playful expression, at the border of technology, gallery as art space, and joyful play.

Akira Kanayama (1924 -2006)  Remote-Controlled Painting Machine, 1957
=> a remote controlled toy car pouring paint while moving over the canvas on the ground. This work done in context of Gutai group was considered as a response to Pollock’s drip painting and the notion of the artist’s subconscious, psychological expression, kind of analogy of ‘pouring out expression’.

I find his work not so much intriguing, perhaps too long ago, or perhaps more as it acts more as a statement against something. Personally, I am more interested and fascinated by what human interaction can do as a liminal experience, and art the way to explore this in different ways. Art as a mere critique sounds to me rather limited. Or, automatic drawing becomes a toy, entertainment, like the victorian philosophical toys. 



  • Warboys’ sea paintings make me wonder whether the sea alone makes the painting as it moves the paint, or the artist, who moves the support, or both together. This opens up a new viewpoint of the painting with fixed paint and moving support, opposing traditional ways of keeping the support fixed and moving the paint with e.g. brushes over it.
  • To explore tools as a critique against sound less interesting to me than to look at what and how the human body is able to do – or not to do. To explore painting through removal of gesture can act as an expression of what gesture means, a juxtaposition that triggers thinking. Some  of Rebecca Horn’s works do show this approach.

A collection of machine driven or non-gestural artworks on my Pinterest Board:




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Spin-off Idea: Gesture as Narrative
Process of Art & Making – a strategy?

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