Tag Archives: Alexis Harding

Art practitioners // bodies, vulnerability, materiality // transformation

Suggestions on art practitioners that could inform my working practice

Alexis Harding (b. 1973) – at: https://profdocfineartuel.weebly.com/-alexis-harding.html
=> Harding is an abstract painter, exploring paint materiality and physical properties by combining oil paint and alkyd resin. He explores the incompatibility between both, resulting in some dynamic compositions. His method consists of:  ‘pouring gloss paint through a perforated trough across a wet oil surface, to create a grid, which is then left to dry. The paint over a period of months is pushed, pulled, squeezed and peeled away, to reveal dramatic scarred and puckered surfaces that when hung on the wall continue to change, and take on their own form, as they slip from the support.’ 

Kiki Smith (b.  1954)  – at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/kiki-smith/  and https://www.moma.org/artists/5486 and https://raffaellacortese.com/artists/kiki-smith/artworks.html and https://www.dmagazine.com/arts-entertainment/2017/10/in-mortal-artist-kiki-smith-makes-confusion-plain/ and  http://www.barbaragross.de/exhibitions/?show=Past&year=2018&eid=76
=> Smith uses materials in transformative ways relating to the body,. Her work explores the condition of being human, notions of vulnerability, often related to female sensibilities. Her subject matters are  mortality, abjection, and sexuality through figurative art. The abject as the hidden aspects from life. Mostly paper based works, but also sculptures and textile works, she connects her work strongly with a spiritual dimension. She also known or her printmaking works, as process going through multiple versions of proofs, reminding me of how Rembrandt approached printmaking. Overall, I am clear how her work could inform my practice at all. But as often, some connections might come up much later

Heidi Bucher (1926 – 1993), a Swiss artist interested in body relationship to space, works with latex and foam – hanging installations – at https://heidibucher.com/  a
=> ‘Bodyshells’ at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVsk75w3V6Q (large foam based human scale ‘costumes’ reminding me of Dubuffet’s ‘CouCou Bazar’ and a notion of post-human exploration – immediately thrilled when seeing her intriguing set of work, not heard of her before, more to look at. She used often textile, foam, latex, mother-of-pearl pigments  for her costume works, used by her in performance as well. The materials do have some connotation with preciousness, beauty and vulnerability, e.g. Dragonfly Costume, 1976

Christine Borland  (b. 1965), a Scottish and YBA – at: https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/our-staff/b/christine-borland/ and https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/christine-borland-2702 and https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/artists/christine-borland  
=> Part of her works remind me of Helen Chadwick, especially ‘Answering Anatomy‘ , life and death masks. Her body of work seems quite practice and research oriented, exploring visually history of hospitals and nursing, e.g. ‘The Power of Twelve – Mount Stuart’, 2018 – looking at the war times in Flanders with a bombed hospital. She made also a controlled explosion of a teapot related to that hospital , reminding me of Cornelia Parker’s  ‘Blown Shed’.. Borland relates aspects from the past with a contemporary sensibility when e.g. she refers to the hospital’s conservatory and the nurturing aspect and combining it with found botanist images (fruiting body of a seed from splachnum moss) to make a large sculpture from pink fabric suspended from the ceiling in that same place of the conservatory.
She works together with medical staff and explores the space between medical objects, body parts as teaching material and the story behind it, the story of the person’s body it derived from, e.g. Twin, hand-made, child-birth demonstration model, 1997. Her interest relates also to family trees, and how decease relate to that. A quite different, collaborative work with Brody Condon is Daughters of Decayed Tradesmen, 2013. A work built on oral history related back to the 18th century. Using punched cards, similar to the ones used for Jacquard loom, inscribed with the encoded oral histories. The cards were suspended from a renovated ceiling of the burnt out Watchtower of the New Calton Burial Ground. An intriguing aspect in appropriation process techniques in a revisited narrative to trigger memories and new narratives.
Overall, I find her practice as artist fascinating, reflecting more the way an attitude of an artist approaching cultural subject matters. A key aspect that comes across in her work is the relevance of making-connections.

Sophia Starling  (b. ) – continuous painting => an artist I looked at since part 2, perhaps time to revisit it from another perspective at: http://www.sophiastarling.co.uk/ – found her recent work Lap Mutant (Graphite, Green), 2019 exciting. Starling works quite intensively with basic geometric shapes in juxtaposition with fabrics. Kind of exploring the dialogue between both. Especially this dialogue and contrasting aspect intrigues me.

Louise Brierley (GL Brierley) at: http://www.glbrierley.com/ 
=> manipulation of paint/references to distorted bodies. Some of her works remind me kind of mix between Hieronynmous Bosch and Giuseppe Arcimboldo in some of her works.  I am not suren whether this can inform my own work, doesn’t resonate so much.

Richard Tuttle (b. 1941) – at: https://www.pacegallery.com/artists/474/richard-tuttle
=> Fabric hangings/wire sculptures. I always found his material interrogations and sculptural installations of paintings intriguing. really a bodily encounter of work. I need more to time to look into his body of fabric, textile work. Found about his exhibition and book ‘I don’t know : The Weave of Textile Language’  from 2014 at Whitechapel and Tate. A tree-part exhibition: collected textiles from the world, body of work, and a large scale textile commission at the Turbine Hall (Tuttle ed al, 2014). Intriguing as apparently, not-knowing it before, some of his works strongly resonate with some of my own works, e.g. The Place in the Window #2, 2013, very close with my small scale work (Fig. 1 & 2):

Fig. 1: SJSchaffeld - P2SP - A4 - latex-sculpture

Fig. 1: SJSchaffeld – P2SP – A4 – latex-sculpture // resonating with Richard Tuttle The Place in the Window #2, 2013 (Tuttle ed al, 2014:149-51)

 

Fig. 2: SJSchaffeld - P2SP - A4 - latex-sculpture

Fig. 2: SJSchaffeld – P2SP – A4 – latex-sculpture (not a good photo) // resonating with Richard Tuttle The Place in the Window #2, 2013 (Tuttle ed al, 2014:149-51) 

 
 

Considering my tutor’s comment on my use of obvious canvas stretcher and being too dominant, I found it interesting to find Tuttle’s work How it Goes Around the Corner, 1996, a series of eight small scale works (around A4+) the title apparently emphasing  the over-dominant space of the stretcher, much wider than the inside picture space taken up by piece of cloth. This resonates with my own work in preparation of assignment 4: 

Fig. 3: SJSchaffeld - P4P2 - preparation A4 - latex stretch

Fig. 3: SJSchaffeld – P4P2 – preparation A4 – latex stretch // resonating with Richard Tuttle How it Goes Around the Corner, 1996 (Tuttle ed al, 2014:105-7)

 

 

Conclusion:

  • I find Christine Borland’s art practice interesting as she approaches history and memories through a practice-led research approach, combining various elements and aspects into a visual appealing work. Most of her works are site-specific and location history is informing the final work.
  • Heidi Bucher’s fabric hanging works kept my attention. Not sure, if it is because she is Swiss, or because it relates to sense of place and architecture. Being suspended, gives a sense of fragility and lightness, quite ephemeral. Overall, I do find the site aspect in work fascinating, but have no idea how this could inform my work at the end of this course. Definitely, beyond that as part of my practice.
  • Sophia Starling’s work is worth to revisit. At the beginning of this course it informed my folding of paper towards larger scale fabric work. Now, it seems that the spatial arrangements might actually inform my ‘latex skin’ works in a different way (and I need to consider latex alternatives as well). However, I find her shapes be too distinctive, to clean, missing crossing boundaries. And playing with a contrasting dialogue between materials, shapes, and color.
  • Kiki Smith is an artist I have the most issues with, as I can not sense how her work might inform my work (too symbolic in its figuration?). This might come at a later stage, but for now, I leave it as it is and move on.
  • I do feel some complicity with some works of Richard Tuttle, especially his small scale works with wire and cotton pulp and his explorations of shape and fabric in a freed space 

 


Reference:

  • Tuttle, R., Petersens, M. and Borchardt-Hume, A. (2014) Richard Tuttle – I don’t know : The Weave of Textile Language. London: Whitechapel, Tate.
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Project 4.1: Reimagining the canvas

Art practitioners did re-visit the canvas as a stretched and framed picture since Modernism, e.g Barnett Newman, and especially in the evolvement of Minimal Art with Donald Judd or Richard Serra. The canvas as a surface dictated by it’s relationship to the stretcher was perceived as contrived, also at a wider visual cultural discourse. A key question could be what we would expect a painting to be located, and how we encounter it physically and embodied b moving towards, and around.

I looked at some aspects during my earlier coursework, e.g. Walk through Painting and my object-box (#Paint4OCA) – besides those earlier works that I made ‘on a side’ as reflected on in my current coursework.

Some time ago, I discovered during my visit to the Bern Kunsthalle (2018) the work Untitled Chair, 2015 of Nicole Wermers (b. 1971). Interestingly, that the work reproduced on the Art Basel webpage shows ‘just’ a chair with a fur coat. The Bern installation expanded this single viewpoint into a dialogue with a heater from the building, turning the latter into a piece of art work as well. In my visit reflection, I described my physical encounter as ‘my embodied perspective: distant, looking at it, looking down at it, sitting down and look in the direction’ (Schaffeld, 2018).  All together, installation of work can raise questions but also engage the viewer to look ‘beyond’ and to move into a physical dialogue.

Wermer’s work is not a painting, as apparently no paint was used, but it relates to the work Mundanza (green), 2015 or Mudanza (green), 2016 of Angela de la Cruz (b. 1965). The gallery’s artist description highlights how she embraces ‘deconstructing and reconstructing paintings into recyclable “Commodity Paintings” in a wider art historical discourse (Wetterling Gallery, 2016).  Here, she takes the canvas completely away from the stretcher;  compared to her earlier work Vacant, 2013, a canvas too small to fit the stretcher frame. The canvas as a glossy, shiny surface, emphasised with paint to make it a sculptural work, and even more, an installation.

I start to get a sense of how a sculpture could be seen differently from a sculptural painting. It seems, as the latter need to be installed. A sculpture as well, but the painting invites more for a relationship engagement, a sculpture possibly more for a face-to-face engagement. Possibly, that sculptural paintings like the ones of Angela de la Cruz do embrace much more a Minimal Art, a Gestalt approach as would be seen just at a first glance (or by looking at online screen based images alone). In this context one could see Frank Stella’s painting of shapes and lines with its own life, eliminating the support, letting the shapes and lines be the support in an open space. Similarly,  works by Richard Tuttle – or others.

I feel that Sarah Crowner‘s (b. 1974) paintings (as seen at Simon Lee Gallery) do relate strongly to an art historical moment of geometric abstraction, with large shapes painted with a limited palette but with high saturation that do extend the limits of the top surface and extend around the edges. I can certainly see some reference to Barnett Newman or Piet Mondrian and others. 

However, I am fascinated by her work ‘Garden Blue’ (2018) for the American Ballet Theater, New York (Morris, 2018). She made the customs and the props for the performance, reminding me of Robert Rauschenberg’s engagement (his series of ealier ‘Combines’ with Merce Cunningham’s Dance Theater (Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, 2019) or of Jean Dubuffet’s Coucou Bazar (1973, Foundation Jean Dubuffet). Both, painterly, sculptural and relational compositions to be engaged with (the actors) in a performative act.

Differently to de la Cruz, Dianna Molzan (b. 1972) engages at an intimate level with the stretcher. The stretcher functions beyond keeping a canvas tight and flat, e.g. untitled, 2014 (empty stretcher with suspended ‘cans’ inside the ‘picture plane’, or other works with suspended ‘pictures’ that build on art history and language to seek meaning from it. But not all works are embracing the stretcher frame, others look like side tables at the wall, with objects as pictures on the small shelf, e.g. untitled, 2015. I feel reminded of Nicole Wermers’ Moodboard #5, 2016 – as seen at the same Bern exhibition mentioned above (Schaffeld,2018). As stated on another site, Wermers  creates:

sculptures, collages and installations, whose humor and deep psychological resonance derive from their diverse subversions. They sabotage their objects’ original function, radically rethink unusual combinations of materials, and destabilize expected spatial and social hierarchies. – about Nicole Wermers (Art Viewer, 2017)

And her later work the conscientious objector, 2018 reminds me of Jutta Koether’s installation series ‘Seasons and Sacraments’ but also of Barnet Newman’s The Wild, 1950.

Fig. 1: SJSchaffeld - Presence and Absence, 2017

Fig. 1: SJSchaffeld – Presence and Absence, 2017 – an early approach to artefacts and releasing the frame. Re-staged as folded fabric on the stretcher (apparently new ones)

 

I can see other artists who work at the liminal space between painting and sculpture. With Sarah Crowner an example on the rather painting side and Nicole Wermers rather on the sculpture side. Somehow, all are in between, trying to get a physical demanding piece of work installed where the viewer can not relate merely on a dead-pan gaze of a flat surface, but need to put her/himself into a physical but also cultural and art historical relationship:

  • Alex Roberts (b. 1975) uses silk as a translucent supporting material, letting the stretcher shine through (Midpoint II, 2019) alongside an intriguing installation with fragmented painted parts on steel bars. Examples: Reds to blues, 2015 (Acrylic on wood, 23.5 x 17.5cm) as part of the installation The Room is the Resonator together with  Paul Abbott & Alex Roberts in an Old Police Station in Deptford, London (2016). The colored tiles resonating with the monochrome painting, questioning not only a White-Cube ideal but also the agency of a painting. 
  • Simon Callery (b. 1960) who embraces the textile materiality of the canvas to make sculptural paintings, e.g Undercut Yellow Wallspine, 2017.. Installed to advance from the wall into the open space. They remind me of large pocket filter units used in industrial air filter environments. These works seem to be a re-interpretation of the stretcher and the canvas as visible in Symmetrical Aluminium Wallspine, 2017. Fascinating to see how he even re-interprets the thread. In other works, e.g. Blue Horizontal Wall Pit Painting, 2014 the stretcher becomes a different shape and the viewer feels reminded of other cultural artefacts, e.g a toilette cover. An interesting approach can be seen in his work Flat Painting Bodfari 14/15 Ferrous, 2014 – 2015, painted on canvas with distemper and use of  thread, wood, and aluminium. (Distemper an interesting cheap material made from hide glue and wetted whitening chalk, with added colored pigments  – see here). Callery interrogates the material of the canvas as a fabric in all it spots and flaws, though installed as a flat wall based work.
  • Alexis Harding (b. ) looks at surface phenomena of paint on a canvas, e.g. Substance and Accident, 2012. The paint rather as a skin, peeling off the surface and extending the edges. Materiality of paint from a rheological perspective.
  • Sarah Sze (b ) is looking more at fragments of pictures in space through fragmented materiality of supports, turning the entire room into a colorful and painterly installation. She extends the dimension of painting <-> sculpture with the element of photography. Her installation are full immersive spaces of images leaving possibly the viewer uncertain whether to be an observer or an integrative part of the work.
  • Ally McGinn (b. ) defines herself on her webpage as a ‘conceptually representational painter and installation artist, working within a narrative that questions perceptions of art and the conditions of painting’. For her, paintings are paintings because of the materiality of it, not because they are painted. A very interesting shift in perspective on what is painting. The materiality of objects, used for work, are re-presented in a painterly manner. Perception of what material objects tell us. Her recent works after her MA (2017-2018) shows how the stretcher becomes embedded as an material object inside the picture plane of a painting.

Learnings:

  • The stretcher and the canvas, deconstructed in its structural elements (wooden frame, fabric, threads) are becoming materials for new interpretations and appropriations. Often applied, to raise questions in a wider cultural discourse – of rejected objects or commodities.
  • Materiality as such are combined with the visual energy of color. Paint as a mediator for new meaning.
  • It seems that a reduction on material  properties alongside linguistic signs (e.g. through shapes or cultural use) do open up new perspectives not only of meaning but mostly of creating, an exploration of material behavior.
  • Installation of such ‘sculptural paintings’  do question perception and can raise narratives beyond representational functions.
  • Re-staging painting as material performance, as Ally McGinn addresses a shifting perspective of what painting can be, as a very perceptual encounter.

Reference:

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