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