Sunday, 5 July 2015

Painting in Time Symposium

Today's Painting in Time Symposium at The Tetley Gallery in Leeds proved to be an excellent way to pull together and scrutinise some of the thoughts behind, and issues surrounding the exhibition which ends tomorrow.

The exhibition has been co-curated by Sarah Kate Wilson and stems from her practice and PhD research at The University of Leeds.

Speakers for the symposium were drawn from a network of academics, curators and artists. Each presented their research on painting and its relationship to time. 


Dr. Joanne Crawford’s paper focused on American abstract art in 1952 where painting’s role became one of the deferred ‘revolutionary moment’.
Through her own painting practice Nadine Feinson discussed how a painting might be understood to be in motion, despite its material fixity. She spoke about Triboelectric Series 2, a site-specific work made for RIFF/T, an exhibition at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art's project space BALTIC 39, Newcastle, 11th December 2013 - 2nd March 2014.
"The work explores and utilises the material properties of polythene dustsheets1 as a painting support and their ability to retain static charge - resulting in the contact-electrification of the painting. The thin plastic, electrostatically charged, is a responsive ‘film’ that clings, shifts and moves on the wall. It responds to touch, rubbing and buffing, to atmospherics in the exhibition space, gravity, and the weight of paint. Holes in the surface, drafts, and moisture – all these things shorten its ‘life-span’. As paint is applied, it stretches, puckers and falls into holes, so that paint is deposited on the wall underneath: the polythene creating its own repertoire of ‘gestures’ in the wake of painting activity.
A number of paintings on polythene are made, one after the other, in the same space. As each painting is finished, it is discarded, leaving behind paint marks and gestures on the wall where the plastic has torn – these then become reconstituted into the painting that follows."
California-based Curator, Sinead Finnerty-Pyne examined the act of viewing and exhibiting painting as a time-based experience, posing questions such as 'can artwork rebel against our fast nation society?' She spoke of the current exhibition, Expanding on an expansive subject, that she has curated at Armory Centre for the Arts, California. 
"Expanding on an expansive subject is a group exhibition that explores the expanded field of painting through nine artists’ investigations into painting’s range and potential as a cross-disciplinary medium. The exhibition presents a unique model, a group exhibition displayed as individual solo projects that unfold (or expand) over the course of time, offering the possibility of an exhibition as a temporal experience. Since May 2014, Expanding on an expansive subject has featured six-week projects by Margie LivingstonAnalia SabanJohn BurtleLiat YossiforJohn KnuthKendell Carter, and continues through November 2015 with shows by Kate Gilmore, Sarah Kate Wilson, and Constance Mallinson. While each artist’s approach to the discursive nature of painting is unique, the exhibition as a whole asks how painting today is distinct from its art historical predecessors."
Artist Kate Hawkins’ paper set out to explore durational modes of address and spectatorship in relation to contemporary painting. With reference to her work included in the exhibition, Hawkins discussed explorations of mourning in art from Picasso's Weeping Woman to Chris Ofilli's No woman, no cry.
She explained how her paintings in the exhibition were painted when she was pregnant, and struggling to come to terms with what she thought was going to be the end of life as she knew it. Hawkins believes that an artwork should exhibit tenderness and love to the viewer, and commented that the spectator should be treated as an equal.
The theatricality of the work is enhanced by the three-dimensional supplements that are added to the two-dimensional surfaces. 
Dr. Catherine Ferguson talked about how paintings make time in relation to history.
Natasha Kidd, used Huberman’s text ‘Take Care', 2011, to discuss how her new work in the exhibition Painting in Time was set loose in the world, what it wants and how it behaves or misbehaves.  She talked about how an instruction to attend to the work was essential in order to keep it alive and her curiosity around the word “care” in relation to the systems she makes. Kidd is interested in "unlocking the artwork as static". She used her contribution to the Test Run exhibition at Modern Art Oxford as an example of how an artwork can provide access to the creative process and to demonstrate her interest in learning.
Curator and artist Sarah Kate Wilson used the rainbow as a figure, and presented a case for painting as a time-based medium. She discussed how viewing paintings during World War 2 was an event as one artwork per week was removed from the mines where they were being kept for safe keeping, and made accessible to the public. Similarly, in his work Act III, Daniel Buren made an event of viewing an artwork as his positioned a painting on the  stage of a theatre and the audience were forced to pay attention to this artwork as nothing else happened on the stage. Wilson used Jutta Koether's 'Hot Rod' to illustrate how painting can be a social space, and cited Oscar Murillo's work as a way in which viewing painting can be a performance.

The symposium concluded with a question and answer session involving all of the days speakers, and was chaired by Dr Joanne Crawford.

It really was a fascinating event to complement the varied and exciting exhibition, with lots of very interesting and inspiring people both in the audience and as speakers. 

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