press release

(extract from a conversation between Gillian Carnegie and Simon Thompson) S: Saint Remy paintings yeah…Van Gogh? G: (confused pause)…y..e..ss.. S: He’s got those little lumps of paint breaking out over the surface of his paintings. G: Trying to get into the real world, that’s why you called them blobs. They aren’t part of the image any more; they’ve left it behind… S: Are they leftovers? Residue? Is paint what’s leftover when an image is divided up into the real world? G: (laughs)…but there can be a real sensual quality to that paint, they’re not just (laughs) blobs… S: You mean the bumps breaking the surface of the sunflowers have a sensual, beautiful quality? I always thought they got in the way somehow, you know literally shitty… G: That’s what I like them for, they create a little distance between what’s being looked at and the present situation of looking at it S: That’s a very particular thing to make somebody aware of. When you said sensual quality I thought as a painter you might have gone on endlessly about the, (ahem) the eternal endless beauty and blah diddy blahh blah of the paint… G: (laughter) I’m not really bothered about those terms however cynical you may be about them, just that I’m more concerned with these blobs being able to retain all sorts of information about the process of the painting’s construction itself… The speed at which it arrives at its final intended destination…right here…in front of us on a larger scale… S: …yeah, but I like the idea that all of these things that you have just described as having potential to communicate such information can also act as a device to make the painting refuse its viewer, like that guy who tries to take photos of your black paintings for magazines and gets into a struggle with it on a personal level as he tries to transform it back into an image. G: yeah, he said that it couldn’t really work as a reproducible image, something to do with all the little reflective lines all over its surface stopping him taking the picture…not allowing him to capture its image. S: I like how monumental that feeling of ‘all over-ness’ has become when I see the painting ‘black square’…same trees over and over…same pattern on the surface here, same pattern over there…the image recedes and the objectness takes over…you get further and further away from the viewer with this painting. It’s more of an object and seems purposefully less intimate. G: yeah, but I also try to set up that experience for someone when they are confronted at a much more intimate scale of work like the still life, where the thickening black paint occurs at points where I think a person holds their gaze for a while…staring vacantly at a part of the scene…that’s where I remind a viewer of what has most obviously been forgotten during the process of looking. S: That they are looking at a painting? G: yeah…sort of leaving themselves behind in one respect returning them to where they actually are…dumb physicality…but that doesn’t have to just act as a singular device in every situation…through scale…through setting up a totally different situation. How did you describe it? S: Predatorial? Quite a seventies idea. The more abstract the painting the more predatorial its affect and the more a viewer is positioned as its prey…I guess there is an increased sense of vulnerability when relating to a more industrialized approach to a surface. It’s funny because I get that feeling with ‘black square’ and it’s a figurative work. Even if the figuration contained in the scene is itself under threat by the mass of black paint. G: Seventies as in Keith Richards or seventies as in Brian Jones? S: Brian Jones is more evocative of an industrial surface… G: …and Jagger wearing a cape more evocative of a mirror surface? (laughs) S: The bum paintings operate on a similar level as the black painting. The forest scene disappearing into its own blackness, your vulnerability during the photographing of this reference material and in some ways the realization of that image as it is scaled up places a viewer in a similar vulnerable position, that of being lost, or better still losing the sense that is prioritized in a viewer of painting…i.e. ‘seeing’. I mean, it’s simple, you can’t quite see this painting. It’s affect lies precisely in that experience. G: Right…I’ve thought of that in terms of the bum paintings…I get access to a part of me I can never see without assistance and that usually places me in a vulnerable position during the process of making that work and as a more distanced viewer of that work…it’s what drives the work. There’s a real vitality in that confrontation with vulnerability and that’s what I’m focusing on there, not so much an aesthetic blocking. I can see what is being suggested, but I think that’s what comes about from placing too much emphasis on the process involved in the making of the work, as in process painting. You always end up reading the finished product as an allegory of its own production…that’s too neat. I like the residue, the indivisible leftovers; I want people to see the relationships with the other work in the show…how the black element contained in the still life is scaled up to certain proportions in the forest scenes…how this in itself informs other works. Pressetext

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Gillian Carnegie - PAINT IT BLACK