Off the Wall came about as a response to problems or questions I have about my own work. Issues around the edge, the relationship between the surface, form, the support and the question, when does a painting become an object?
Although I have not completely let go of the image or frame in my own work, there has been a move towards physicality and this was something I wanted to explore.
Marcia Tucker wrote about Richard Tuttle for his exhibition at the Whitney in 1975… .So much of Tuttle’s work is a result of body activity that is partly caused by the fact that physical activity is the most direct and common means we have of translating interior states into external expression; in a very direct way, frowning, smiling, closed or open body positions, etc., are our primary means of communication, because they are experientially rather than analytically comprehensible. Our own experience of our bodies is “pre-‐scientific,” primitive and immediate.
In the late sixties, The ‘Supports and Surfaces’ movement focused on processes in painting essentially involved in the materiality and objecthood of the painting surface itself. They prioritised the importance of site and the reduction of painting to bare essentials, foregrounding the structural support of the stretcher for instance or leaving canvases bare or un-stretched, folded or suspended, tied off or draped. Obvious comparisons can be drawn to some of the work here today.
With shows at Cherry & Martin in Los Angeles followed by another at the Canada gallery in New York, both in 2014, the short lived movement has had somewhat of a resurgence although some might say, for many artists it never went away. Maybe for someone like Richard Tuttle this is true.
With shows such as ENANTIODROMIA, also featuring Simon Callery, at the Fold gallery in 2014 and REAL PAINTING in 2015 at the Castlefield Gallery which was co-curated by Deb Covell and Jo McGonigal, it is plain to see that the ethos behind the Support/Surface movement is still very much alive.
The list of artists showing here today has developed over time and with discussions between Martina and myself I feel it has evolved into a cohesive group that bounce playfully off one another whilst still asserting their own individuality. From the beginning we were keen for the exhibition to represent both UK and international artists and although they are from far afield there is a tangible collective consciousness.
Some you could say are more painterly and others more sculptural, though all consider themselves to be painters and continuing in the tradition of painting. Saying this, there is a will to break out of the conventions and free painting from the reigns of the canvas and frame, Off The Wall and into the space of the gallery.
By removing the frame and therefore the image, painting is allowed to be matter and material. This move towards objectness raises the question of, what is the stuff that makes a painting, what is it made of and in turn this leads to decisions about the making and the process of construction. Whether it be the wood of the support, the canvas or the paint itself, each are treated equally and the emphasis is put on the materiality and physical nature of each component.
Jai Llewellyn, 2017
This body of work comes out of my current inquiry into tools, not merely as articles of utility but as implements that serve the human need to alter, adapt, create and destroy. Tools are both contrived and used for extending the force of man onto something, much like language, and the resulting marks of action that they can leave behind imply a residue of possession.
For most people the outcome of an action is what is important. However, this work is about constructing something that articulates the indication of a mark. In so doing, the significance of the action becomes disrupted, its intended outcome secondary, and its suggested implementation forces one into positing the question, ‘what made that and why?’
Based on drawings from an old photograph of a turf cutting with marks of the slane (a spade for cutting turf) clearly visible on the walls of the ditch, the elements of ‘Before me Floats an Image’ are the results of something pushed forward into being. They indicate a boundary, define a limit and are an absolute statement of fact and existence, they are a combination of the scars of removal, definition and intention – however much they hint at the unintelligible. The top layer pushes down and the bottom layers push upward creating a site of something that is neither recollection nor history, but that other place that mimics the act that it is based, in part, on. They are the objects of an act of thought or disappearance.
A spade is used to dig a hole and to thrust your way into the earth. A shovel moves something from one place to another. It used to be that every region in Ireland had its own shovel and spade makers, and each design was used for a particular place at a specific time of year. Some regions had as much as 250 different types of spades. This is a fascinating image of affinity with land and the considered craftsmanship of the tools people used to work it.
The wooden shapes of ‘Husbandmen’ made from walnut, are cut to the actual size of 6 different spades made in a small factory in County Tyrone, which closed down in the 1950’s. The rings in the wood mimic contours of the land they were made to work – with a sort of yearning nostalgia. The forms have the purity of modernism when art and architecture were together seen as one essential necessity in life, just at the time when the way people worked the land was undergoing its final transformation through to mechanisation.
The Untitled 1-8 watercolours show and fix that instant a missile is fired, when the ground turns to dust and light, and that formidable tool of destruction moves out of our sightline leaving a vacuum filled with anticipatory violence. ‘Like a Laughing String’ oscillates between the two opposite conditions of thought or action – in suspense, undecided and wavering.
These thoughts on tools and the link they have with language as a method of articulating intention, led to my making things that imply a demanding and purposeful activity. And in fact all this new work asks, ‘Why do we need and make things and how do we say this?
Liadin Cooke 2017 www.liadincooke.com
Liadin Cooke’s new work comes out of her enduring interest in language and materiality. Alongside this is her current inquiry into tools, not merely as articles of utility but as implements that serve the human need to alter, adapt, create and destroy. Tools are both contrived and used for extending the force of man onto something, and the resulting marks of action that they can leave behind imply a residue of possession.
For most people the result of an action is what is important. However, Cooke’s work is about constructing something that articulates the indication of a mark. In so doing, the importance of the action becomes disrupted, its intended outcome secondary, and its suggested implementation forces one into positing the question, ‘What made that mark and why?’.
Irish born artist Liadin Cooke has lived in the UK since 1993. Shortlisted for the Northern Art prize in 2012, recent solo exhibitions include Nostos at noshowspace London and Holden at Huddersfield Art Gallery and at the Artists house, Roche court, Wiltshire . Other shows include Overlay: Sculpture & Drawing, Yorkshire Sculpture Park , Ballroom (ornament), Henry Moore Institute, Leeds . Her work has been shown extensively in Europe and the USA. Cooke’s work is in public and private collections including: Dublin Corporation, Camden Council and the Henry Moore Institute.