Unpainted, Purgatory Artspace Melbourne, 11 May - 28 May 2012

installation views


White and Black, 2012

Dulux acrylic ‘Lexicon’, Aalto acrylic ‘Black’; Cabot’s polyurethane on reverse of canvas primed with black gesso, 91.5 x 91.5 x 3.3 cm
Private collection

P A I N T I N G, 2012

Chroma acrylic ‘Carbon Black’, ‘Cadmium Yellow Mid’, ‘Ultramarine Blue’, ‘Cadmium Scarlet’ and Winsor and Newton acrylic ‘Titanium White’; Cabot’s polyurethane on reverse of canvas primed with black gesso, 8 paintings (each 30.5 x 40.7 x 3.3 cm), overall dimension 1525 x 915 x 3.3 cm
City of Gold Coast Collection

Lexicon Series [Barnett Newman], 2012

Dulux acrylic ‘Lexicon’; Cabot’s polyurethane on reverse of canvas primed with black gesso , Diptych 40.7 x 64.3 x 3.3 cm
Private Collection

House Painter, 2012

Aalto McCahon acrylic ‘Green’, ‘Dark Green’, ‘Green Bath’ and ‘Olive’; KT Colour acrylic ‘Le Corbusier Noir’; Cabot’s polyurethane on reverse of canvas primed with black gesso, Set of 4 paintings, each painting 30.5 x 40.7 x 3.3 cm
Contact Artist

Lexicon Series [Art and Language], 2012

Dulux acrylic ‘Lexicon’; Cabot’s polyurethane on reverse of canvas primed with black gesso , Diptych 40.7 x 64.3 x 3.3 cm
Justin Collection

Lexicon Series [Ad Reinhardt], 2012

Dulux acrylic ‘Lexicon’; Cabot’s polyurethane on reverse of canvas primed with black gesso , Diptych 40.7 x 64.3 x 3.3 cm
Private collection

catalogue essay


Although some of the paintings appear to have parts that are apparently left ‘unpainted’, all the paintings in Unpainted actually emphasise ‘paint’, ‘painted’ and ‘painting’.  The methodology consists of withdrawing or eliminating whatever painting could either possess or not possess, and still be ‘painting’.  The distillation removes anything non-essential to leave the pure and basic elements.  What in part is apparently left behind – sometimes an ‘unpainted’ area – remains after other parts have been separated out or removed. 

Unpainted investigates the possibilities for painting through a reductive logic to distil and edge painting to its zero degree – an ‘ultimate’ painting, the same, made over and over.  Abstraction has demonstrated that imagery is not part of the essence of painting.  Similarly the monochrome has demonstrated that something could be a painting while lacking pictorial space. The process for making the paintings is intentionally limited by parameters such as the ‘already-made’, reduction, and standardization.  The paintings are meticulously well finished with a machine manufactured appearance.

The approach continues the reductionism of Ad Reinhardt who in 1962 stated:

“The one object of fifty years of abstract art is to present art-as-art and nothing else, to make it into the one thing it is only, separating and defining it more and more, making it purer and emptier.[1]

Frank Lloyd White 2004 is a xxcm timber ‘stretcher’ or frame with the canvas effectively removed to reveal the gallery wall, with the stretcher/frame painted with the paint used to paint the walls of the Guggenheim NY.  Like the gallery walls, there is no colour variation between each painting.  The paintings have no conventional ‘image’ or ‘pictorial space’, and have similar characteristics to what the Minimalist artist Donald Judd described as ‘specific objects’.

Since the 1960s the ‘art market’ has had an exponential expansion and globalisation.  Like its economic counterpart – the stock exchanges – the art market has mirrored the same level of excess, investment and speculation.  Art has been redefined as a commodity.  The Contemporary art market is now more about the art of production with increasing emphasis and attention on the work of contemporary artists.  This has transformed the aesthetic and the way value accrues to works of art and affects their production, display and circulation. 

Applying the same reductive logic to Contemporary art, the distillation now leaves a residue of these elements, for example – the artist’s ‘brand name’, the promotion and viewing of art on the Internet, and the commoditisation of art as a product.  These contaminants (as opposed to the pure and basic elements) are now perhaps becoming the essential elements of art.

Viewing and promoting art on the Internet is the norm.  The all pervasive use of the computer means text is now all pervasive and digitalised images reduce everything to a standardised appearance.  n The use of with the used Conceptual art in the 1970s attempted to withdraw the object in favour of a concept, often resorting to words on paper or painted on the wall. 

A lot has happened in the world and art since the 60s and 70s.  Apart from the emergence of new movements and approaches to art, there have also been other trends:

  • The explosion in art, art galleries, art marketing, the value of art; and
  • The viewing and promotion of art on the internet.

Along with the Minimal conceptual approach I’ve also infused the paintings with these more recent trends.  Incidentally in addition to his strong convictions about the value of abstraction, Reinhardt’s was also disgusted with the commercialism of the art world.

The text paintings

Microsoft Word is first used to draw up some of the paintings providing a standard format, spacing, proportions and colours.  Ready-mixed paints (black, white or shades of grey), and using the same brush to evenly apply paint, allow a consistent (re)production of each painting. 

The internet, where art is reduced to a uniform, small, digital image, is increasingly being used by galleries to promote and market art.


The text on the side of each painting is the name given to the colour rather than a physical description of the painting’s materials and dimensions.  Another artist’s name as the brand name undermines the authenticity and originality.  Sometimes the actual value of an artwork is perceived as more significant than the work itself.

The boxes

The paintings are accompanied by a white cardboard box that is labelled museum like with details of the contents.  The cardboard is deliberately similar to pizza boxes or new electronic goods boxes – making the object just like another product, rather than preciousness of a conservation box.  The box is an integral aspect of the artwork: it functions both as a practical storage container, and as a kind of democratic or prosaic frame for display of the painting – the ‘white box or cube’. 

The artist’s names painted across the centre of the canvases are referenced in the other artworks.  Artist’s names are marketed like a product, a brand name.   


[1] Ad Reinhardt, “Art-as-Art,” Art International, December 20, 1962.  Reprinted in Art as Art: The Selected Writings of Ad Reinhardt, edited by Barbara Rose, The University of California Press, Berkeley 1991, p 53.