exhibitions

Intentionally left blank, Ryan Renshaw Gallery (formally Blacklab Gallery), Brisbane,, 2 – 21 June 2006

installation views




work

Steelworks 60 x 60 inches (White), 2004

acrylic enamel on perforated steel, button head screws and nuts, 152.4 x 152.4 cm
Contact Artist

Fretwork , 2006

Series of 2 paintings (Horizontal; Vertical), acrylic on perforated aluminium, each painting 100.0 x 100.0 cm
Artist's Collection, Private Collection

Drawing (small), 2000

graphite on timber, 70.0 x 70.0 x 3.1 cm
Private Collection

Box (FS) and (AR) , 2000

oxide on timber, 2 parts, 55.8 x 55.8 x 4.2 cm and 65.0 x 65.0 x 4.2 cm
Private Collection

Flag, 2000

kaolin on MDF panel on timber frame, 123.0 x 123.0 x 4.5 cm
Collection of the Artist

Steelworks 60 x 60 inches (Black), 2004

acrylic enamel on perforated steel, button head screws and nuts, 152.4 x 152.4 cm
Contact Artist




catalogue essay

intentionally left blank 

This

Page

Intentionally

Left

                                             Blank

PJ HICKMAN

The paintings in intentionally left blank have been selected from recent exhibitions by the artist in Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne, and other paintings produced since 2000 but not previously exhibited. 

During this time the transportation, installation and storage of some of the paintings has changed their original condition.  Since detailed specifications of the standard DIY hardware materials and processes used in each painting had been maintained, restoration of these paintings was readily undertaken.

In instances where a painting has been restored, two dates are given for the painting.  The paintings are listed in chronological order of when the painting was initially made.

The NOTES ABOUT THE PAINTINGS, particularly for the paintings exhibited in Outline, The Blindside Effect, Take Stock and Recent Paintings are a précis of the catalogue essays for these exhibitions with some additional notes by the artist.

Special thanks to Rachael, Christine, Pip and Ruth for the catalogue essays used as a basis for these notes and an apology for any unintentional plagiarism.

Special thanks also to Ryan Renshaw for providing support and the opportunity to exhibit at Blacklab Gallery.

NOTES ABOUT THE PAINTINGS

The constant point of departure for the paintings is what constitutes painting, and exploring the conventions and theories of painting.  The historical attributes of painting’s ‘zero degree’ including the grid, monochrome, stripe, cube and Minimalist primary structures are synthesised with the structural necessity of painting, the support.  The paintings are intentionally loaded with references to the signature styles of iconic artists associated with these attributes.  

The paintings are well-finished and constructed, but without mastery or virtuosity.  They are mostly made from materials purchased at hardware stores and assembled or fabricated in the studio.  The DIY materials are basic, relatively cheap and ubiquitous.  The materials have been configured or reconfigured in a minimal and logical fashion rather than in terms of their limitless transformational possibilities.  The standard dimension timber is cut into lengths and assembled using carpentry skills. 

The paintings are constructed objects to which paint or a ‘ready to make’ surface was subsequently applied.  Paint is generally applied in a regular overall finish similar to the processes and techniques of commercial painting and decorating.  Paint application is neither are they exaggerated or intentionally made expressive.  Although most of the paintings have paint applied to a support, the medium of each painting is not described as paint on the support material but as a list of all its components treated with equal emphasis.

In fact everything about the paintings is essential and given equal emphasis.  The nails are as essential as the paint, the timber as essential as the glue.  The materials are used without distortion or manipulation, and have yielded readily to the purposes to which they have been put.  While there is no attempt to hide, disguise or transform the material unrecognisably, the approach isn’t a total ‘truth-to-materials’ approach as there is no particular concern to reveal it either.

The paintings take the form of a frame which traditionally surrounds and delimits a painted canvas or a two dimensional surface.  Though they have only a shallow depth, they nevertheless extend into the third dimension as objects.  Their three-dimensionality and exposure of parts of the gallery wall through the picture plane ensure they inhabit literal space of the gallery.  As Minimalist ‘specific objects’ they adopt a literalness that threatens the distinction between the categories of painting and sculpture.

Each painting contains a serial element being fabricated according to a process that is first planned, then executed, and repeated.  This serial element and repetition of forms in series is intended to give the paintings a cumulative strength.  However this serial element, combined with knowledge of the fabrication process and specifications of the DIY materials documented for each painting, means ultimately someone else could actually make the same painting, therefore challenging what is ‘unique’ and ‘original’.

 

1.      Box (AR)

2000-06

650mm x 650mm x 42mm

Yellow oxide powder; acrylic undercoat buff; pine finger joint mould 42mm x 18mm; bullet head nails; PVA woodworking glue; timber filler; keyhole plates; screws.

 

2.      Box (FS)

2000-06

558mm x 558mm x 42mm

Yellow oxide powder; acrylic undercoat buff; pine finger joint mould 42mm x 18mm; bullet head nails; PVA woodworking glue; timber filler; keyhole plates; screws.

 

FS in the title Box (FS) refers (more ironically perhaps) to Frank Stella’s signature works from his aluminium series of paintings, like Six Mile Bottom 1960.  Instead of working in an improvisatory way Stella painted Six Mile Bottom in accordance with a predetermined system.  By applying the system consistently throughout the painting he ended up with a composition that had small sections ‘left over’ at the edges and in the centre.  He omitted these ‘left over’ sections altogether to make a ‘shaped’ canvas.  This left a void or literally a ‘hole’ in the centre of the canvas.  Box (FS) similarly has a ‘hole’ in the middle.  In the drawing sourced from the cardboard box used as the basis for Box (FS) the square in the middle represented a void between the stacked boxes, as the particular size of boxes did not neatly fit onto a pallet.

 The two dimensional drawings for Box were ‘found’ as diagrams on the bottom of cardboard boxes.  The diagrams illustrate the most efficient use of pallet space when stacking multiple quantities of the particular box.  This link to ‘pallets’ is revisited again in Recent Paintings (number 14). 

In the same way (but instead of the box size) the internal space of Box was determined by multiples of the timber dimensions.  This strategy is adopted for many other paintings – allowing the material to provide cues as to how to determine size, composition and other elements of the painting. 

The yellow oxide powder (bound with PVA glue) has been applied flatly and uniformly to the timber support.  The oxide powder was used as an elemental material and intended to eliminate use of colour itself in favour of paint as material (oxide powder) which also has a colour (in this instance yellow).  It was also selected because it is a basic prosaic material, commonly used in the construction industry for colouring cement.

AR in the title Box (AR) refers to Ad Reinhardt and the five foot square black paintings he painted almost exclusively during the last decade of his life.  Although of course not the same size, image or colour of these paintings, some of the elements present in his paintings are: square, trisected, formless, no top, no bottom, directionless, no-contrasting colours, brushwork brushed out to remove brushwork, a matt, flat free-hand painted surface, monochrome and so on.  Box (AR) has recently been completely repainted after time in storage.  This again is not unlike Reinhardt’s practice of restoring his paintings “into a new painting painted in the same old way (negating the negation of art), again and again, over and over again, until it is just ‘right’ again.” [1]

FS in the title Box (FS) refers (more ironically perhaps) to Frank Stella’s signature works from his aluminium series of paintings, like Six Mile Bottom 1960.  Instead of working in an improvisatory way Stella painted Six Mile Bottom in accordance with a predetermined system.  By applying the system consistently throughout the painting he ended up with a composition that had small sections ‘left over’ at the edges and in the centre.  He omitted these ‘left over’ sections altogether to make a ‘shaped’ canvas.  This left a void or literally a ‘hole’ in the centre of the canvas.  Box (FS) similarly has a ‘hole’ in the middle.  In the drawing sourced from the cardboard box used as the basis for Box (FS) the square in the middle represented a void between the stacked boxes, as the particular size of boxes did not neatly fit onto a pallet.

 

3.      Drawing (Small)

2000-06

700mm x 700mm x 31mm

Graphite powder; acrylic undercoat buff; pine finger joint mould 31mm x 18mm; bullet head nails; PVA woodworking glue; timber filler; brass eyelet hooks; screws.

 

4.      Drawing (Medium)

2000-06

973mm x 973mm x 42mm

Graphite powder; acrylic undercoat buff; pine finger joint mould 42mm x 18mm; bullet head nails; PVA woodworking glue; timber filler; keyhole plates; screws.

 

Graphite (bound with PVA glue) has been applied flatly and uniformly to the timber support.  Like the use of yellow oxide powder in Box (numbers 1 and 2) the use of natural ground graphite (normally used as a lubricant) was selected because it is one the most elemental materials.  The title reflects the strong linear emphasis of the paintings suggesting ‘drawing’ and of course graphite is generally associated with ‘drawing’.  Agnes Martin’s use of simple geometry to pursue a classical perfection and use of graphite pencil lines (in both her paintings and drawings) greatly influenced these paintings[2].

In Drawing the ‘picture plane’ is removed altogether and the gallery wall completely exposed.  Fixtures provide a bridge to the wall ensuring the paintings are parallel and slightly elevated off the surface – they are not part of the wall.  The relationship of the paintings to the wall and the oeuvre of Robert Ryman are discussed further in relation to the paintings Frank Lloyd White and Builder’s Oxides (numbers 6 and 7) and to Fretwork (numbers 8 and 9).

The spacing of the timber bars of Drawing were determined by the mathematical sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and so on (the Fibonacci progression).  The paintings include all the steps in the progression as ‘bars’.  The paintings precede the Frank Lloyd White and Builder’s Oxides (numbers 6 and 7) series of paintings where the bars are reduced to the initial division denoted by a single bar near the bottom edge of the painting.

Also like the paintings – Box, Frank Lloyd White, Builder’s Oxides, Five, Six and Recent Paintings (numbers 1, 2, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14), the internal organisation of space within Drawing was determined by the dimensions of the timber used.  In the way the timber width determines the width of the bars, this approach is similar to Frank Stella’s black and aluminium paintings of 1959 – 60 where the width of the brush determined the width of the painted stripe.  The different overall dimensions of the two paintings are a consequence of using the two different timber dimensions, with the space between the bars a multiple of the depth of the timber, namely 42mm for (Small) and 67mm for (Medium).

The paintings have real space and depth, recognising that they are seen both frontally and obliquely.  The viewer experiences both the surface of the paintings (visible on the tangible object) and also the intangible ‘film’ created by the physical and environmental conditions – lighting, height of viewing, architectural setting, wall’s surface and so on. 

 

5.      Flag  

2000-06

1230mm x 1230mm x 45mm

Kaolin powder; PVA woodworking glue; pine finger joint mould 42mm x 18mm; standard MDF panel 3mm; timber filler; bullet head nails; aluminium flat bar 32mm x 3.0mm.

 

In the preparatory drawings for Flag the drawn lines were eliminated to leave just sufficient dots for the eye to ‘join up the dots’ to create lines.  Varying the position of the dots in relation to each other created an abstract image, in a way similar to Roy Lichtenstein’s use of Benday-dots grounds.  Instead the dots subsequently became holes drilled into the surface of the painting.  Like Lichtenstein’s works from 1974 up to the 1980s, the painting also considers the concept of artistic style and plays with the characteristics of well-known 20th-century artists. 

By drilling holes in the panels, the painting inhabits literal space with its extension into three dimensions drawing attention to the painting as an object.  The small glimpses of gallery wall through the holes breach the picture plane to confirm the solidity of the painting.  The perforations are an act similar to Lucio Fontana’s Buchi (holes) cycle of paintings.  Fontana punctured the surface of his canvases, breaking the membrane of two-dimensionality in order to highlight the space behind the picture.

The holes are a positive of what has been removed.  The holes seen together appear as an image (similar to the effect of Benday dots) perhaps not on but rather in a ground.  In a sense the holes operate as the ‘content’ and ‘image’ of the painting even though the holes through the surface out into the third dimension shift it away from a picture plane and towards an object. 

The painting also echoes references to Jasper Johns painting White Flag (1955).  The Johns painting is appropriated merely as an iconic image without intention