This exhibition of paintings considers material as a cue for perceiving the world in an age of extreme image saturation. The emphasis on material over image is a counterpoint to the tyranny of the screen that realigns the visceral properties of matter as new potent narrative ‘actants’ for the 21st century.
The term ‘materiality’ has been banded around a lot recently, infiltrating contemporary discourse perhaps in recognition and acknowledgement of an increasingly virtual experience of the world, one in which the act of looking has itself been hijacked by the proliferation of highly co-modified imagery. In this scenario the once primary physical world becomes the shadow, other, and its simulacra experienced through the screen-world takes its place in a reversal of conventional oppositions of material-immaterial, physical-metaphysical, looking/non-looking, seeing/non-seeing.
We take our cue from images, in the beginning on cave walls, holy walls, canvas and screen but, saturation of image depotentialises image – over exposure leads to image loss. Impotent yet all consuming screen-image-hyper-reality (fuelled by the stuff under our feet) powers on while physical things, smells, touch are relegated to the under-world – matter, materiality, stuff is trampled under-foot. This under-world, is the domain of worms where earth is turned in a cycle of consumption and displacement – by eating earth and shitting earth they change physics, chemistry and biology by becoming their environment not separating from it.
Paintings’ survival as a visual form resides in its in-separability from touch, sensation, presence, stuff, matter. The materials used in painting (un-bound by the frame and thoroughly ‘expanded’) and the actual accumulation of matter brought together assembled and disassembled, activated and driven describes the actions of worms whose material transformations recall their origins. Like stories that fill the holes in knowledge by giving meaning to our fragmented thought patterns materials are agents with histories embedded in their fabric.
In this spirit the show presents a discourse with the material under-world – a reversal of structural assumptions that consider material as the conduit, collaborator and container for narrative.