The exhibition plays reference to Michel Foucault’s exploration of the object of painting - in particular his recognition of Manet as the inventor of the ‘picture-object’. Manet was significant in producing a new kind of painting, a painting-object, which was about painting itself – the artists in the exhibition were examining Manet’s concept through the treatment of paint as material. This is particularly evident in Rudolf Polanszky’s Compression Spring Paintings where the video footage documents the artist’s erratic motions in the creation of the work - a direct reference to the act of making the work itself.
Whilst engaging with the materiality of painting, the artists were drawing the viewer’s attention to the ‘objectness’ of their works - from oozing oil paint to plastic flags flying in the wind of a domestic fan. On entering, the viewer is immediately faced with Sarah Kate Wilson’s work, 'Why did you have to tell me that?', a net of canvas suspending a number of coloured plastic balls: the work is a painting with objects, making the viewer question their own definition of the medium. The tension in the physicality of the work emphasises its structural presence and the viewer becomes aware of the work’s existence in time and space.
The exhibition looks to redefine painting – Polanszky through performance and Wilson through kinetic sculpture. Other artists included Helen Baker, Phyllida Barlow, Virginia Bodman, Sarah Bowker-Jones, Alexis Harding, Gabriel Hartley, Natalie Gale and Paul Merrick - each one presenting a personally profound investigation into the condition of objects being objects, whilst sharing a definite focus on material substance and the meaning of painting itself. The viewer is presented with a fragment of these explorations – an exhibition rich in information and a shared love of materials.
Words: Sarah Osborne