The October Show

THE OCTOBER SHOW

Opening Thursday 7 October 2010, 6.30 – 8.30pm
Open Thursday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm and by appointment
Open until Saturday 20 November 2010

‘The October Show’ is a painting show by one painter and two artists.

  • JAMES HARRISON
  • Rebecca May Marston: James, you’re a painter. Why do you think some artists have an aversion to painters?
  • JH: I don’t think I’ve really encountered this?! But I’ve been sheltered in painting schools...
  • RMM: How did you come to restrict yourself to the medium of painting?
  • JH: I started painting in my first term at art school. I made a commitment to learn how to draw from observation and paint from these drawings. I didn’t see it as restricting myself; it was more becoming embroiled in something vast.
  • RMM: You explore different ways of painting taking different forms, from canvases to zine like artist books. Can you expand on the breadth within your painting practice and explain how each work finds its form?
  • JH: The root of all my work is observational, something in the world that I’ve encountered and taken note of. I like what Merleau–Ponty says about painting being something that you see ‘because of and according to’. I think that the way I see the world is defined by what I am painting and vice–versa. I work across a variety of forms because each helps move the practice on. The first painted book I made was as an aside to other works. I painted all the black and white photos in the biography section of a Giorgio Morandi book, then re–ordered them when I put the book together, which created a new narrative of a painter visiting his studio. This is a good example of a piece of work being defined by its form; the possibilities for a narrative reading are key to the piece.
  • RMM: You have previously shown many different types of works together – is there a hierarchy? The way you install works together seems key to what you are suggesting?
  • JH: It’s a way of making the private and preliminary as important as the final paintings. Drawing or painting on paper can have a freshness and lightness, a more note–like, off–hand quality. My work on paper is as important as my painting and books. Installing all the work together in an exhibition came out of working in the studio. It was together in the studio, all paid equal attention and displaying it together intends to do justice to the spirit in which the work was made. Although it felt embarrassing showing the work which I had made for myself I think that was a good thing as I wanted to make something that was clear, humble and tender.
  • RMM: Please ask yourself a question and answer it.
  • JH: Describe your painting methods and techniques.
  • JH: No matter what I’m painting, each work finds its form through the application of paint to the surface, its erasure and re–application is down to my temperament and what I have the aptitude for. The way I paint affects the type of paintings I make, I’m never going to sit down and paint a photorealist painting because I don’t have the patience nor the desire to make such a thing. The process is important and enjoyable and one that (hopefully) produces work that surprises me. I think that to paint with a sense of discovery is important to justify the engagement with the medium by using it to get somewhere previously unseen.
  • RMM: What do you think is the position of painting within contemporary art at large, especially perhaps in relation to the position it has held within art historically?
  • JH: I’m not qualified to answer this question. I can say that I’ve had experiences with painting in churches and museums (from Goya’s Black Paintings in the Prado to Fra Angelico’s paintings in the San Marco monastery) that have amazed me in ways that I don’t think contemporary art can achieve. I’m not sure of the role of contemporary art anymore. That’s one of the reasons I make work.
  • YONATAN VINITSKY
  • RMM: Please ask yourself a question and answer it.
  • YV: Why?
  • YV: Because no one else will.
  • RMM: Can you tell me your rules for your practice that relate to your paintings?
  • YV: All of my painting works are painted with industrial gloss paint, a non–art paint that I buy in a non–art shop. I use seven specific colours; 1 x blue, 2 x greens, 2 x whites and 2 x greys. Each colour has been matched to specific colours I have encountered in public spaces in various cities. The restricted palate helps me to execute works without the need to ponder which colour to use. It defines my position as an artist that uses paint rather than a painter. My rules for the display of my painting are something I am still learning. With the new abstract works, for example, it is important to me to display the works as objects that use the display of painting. The rules are important for my practice as most works are based on other artists’ works, which are translated with my choices of colour and surface. My aim is to map a large amount of information onto one work – without rules it would be confusing.
  • RMM: Can you describe your painting technique? You often talk about it as a new technique and yet claim no affinity with the history or practice of painting...
  • YV: I would not say I do not relate to the history of painting. I am interested by painters and their deliberate choice to work in this medium. In my ‘back–painting’ technique I paint on a table on clear polyester sheets. I make marks on the sheets with different pens, markers and pencils, then in the newer works I erase them with white spirit using cotton wool. After that I layer industrial gloss paint over the whole thing and when it dries I turn it round and show the unpainted side. This process puts the emphasis on the paint: I present the paint, but at the same time it makes the surface very visible. I have recently come across a brochure, ‘Plastic Paintings. A new medium by Hilla Rebay’ (1927), I think the title is a good frame to work from; i.e. that she’s intending to create a new medium. This is what I am trying to do with my painting technique... At the time of this show there is a vast new monochrome piece on display in London. It is a replica in size of a work by Rupprecht Geiger, which was acrylic on linen, hung so that you could see both sides, painted on the front. My work is the same but reversed so the back of the work is the painted side. I am using the same action with this work that I have with others previously in other media such as sculpture. The work isn’t important as a painting but as the action it contains.
  • RMM: You recently said that painting is the ultimate form of expression in art – did you mean it? What are you expressing?
  • YV: I never said that! I said I feel that painters are the highest form of artists. Maybe because I can’t paint, but mainly because of the way painting is preserved in history. I aspire to this kind of simplicity of structure – to work in one medium, without the need to make so many decisions about materials etc., but at the same time I know that I cannot achieve this within my practice.
  • RMM: How does painting sit within your wider practice?
  • YV: Most of my shows mix different mediums and can look like group shows. Each work is autonomous and can be shown on its own but is part of a wider perspective. I am apprehensive (and excited) to show painting without other work to contextualise.
  • RMM: Why do you make ‘seductive’ painting yet have disdain for it and those who like it?
  • YV: I can’t really answer this.
  • JESSICA WARBOYS
  • RMM: Can you describe your two painting techniques; ‘sea painting’ and ‘cyanotype/photograms’
  • JW: In ‘sea paintings’: through immersing canvas into the sea, waves and wind move through pigment applied by hand, leaving the trace of their movement. In cyanotype/photograms: the negative image is the shadow left by various forms, momentarily placed onto hand–painted, photosensitive canvases exposed to the sun.
  • RMM: How do these paintings sit within your practice?
  • JW: The various processes relate to aspects of performance – in particular improvised gesture, in the handling of pigment or objects and in cyanotypes with a particular focus on time and space. Both processes require an element of speed/pacing and spontaneity. All this is similar to the way I approach film. For me: cyanotypes/photograms are filmic in the sense they are the shadows of the result of a sequence of actions in the format of a giant film still; ‘sea paintings’ allude to the grain of film in their pointilliste like surface. I use super 8 or more recently 16mm film, for several reasons: it mirrors the format/cutting of the canvases. Relating to the structuring/editing of film, I prefer to work with a limit of 10mins of digitally transferred film rather than endless digital footage. Using limited footage, I approach the documentation like a puzzle or a narrative, which was not entirely foreseen, but is revealed through the edit. In both ‘sea paintings’ and cyanotype/photograms, the performer/protagonist is absent in the final visual record of the event, so in this respect they are the antithesis of the films.
  • RMM: Can you tell me about the significance of your studio ‘en plein air’ – is that how the ‘sea painting’ developed?
  • JW: I was spending a lot of time traveling from the East to the West of UK, without any real pauses for studio time and realised I would need to work outside if I was to make pieces with theatrical proportions. I had made several short films in gardens and by the sea in Cornwall, I suppose this led quite naturally to thoughts about painting on the beach; I made a small joke about this romantic notion of the artist ‘en plein air’, when in fact I was serious.
  • RMM: How did the paintings arrive at such large–scale, unstretched canvases, made as installation?
  • JW: I had in mind work with theatrical proportions, as I mentioned, work which could consume a wall for example, whist opening the space and viewer to a vast field of colour. The way they are hung reflects the way they are made, in the simplest way possible. The surfaces are developed on unstretched canvas, the only intervention then is to hang them. The cuts or rips in the canvases expose functional parts of the wall/architecture, such as doors, and also to make shifts in the composition. Cont... The process of deconstruction and reconstruction is the moment, for me, to resume control/responsibility in an intuitive or logical way. I also see it as a moment when I can literally re–enter the work. The rips are decisive moments, which can assume an element of drama or a release of tension in the surface of the work – causing shifts in the composition and atmosphere of the work. The large canvases are works within works and pictorial planes delineating the spaces around film and other works.
  • RMM: Please ask yourself a question and answer it.
  • JW: A question to myself? If the International Space Station asked for a ‘sea painting’, where would you make it?
  • JW: Motutapu Island.

OCTOBER SHOW INSTALLATION VIEW
Installation view, The October Show

OCTOBER SHOW INSTALLATION VIEW
Installation view, The October Show

YONATAN VINITSKY NEW POSITIVE INFORMATION 6
Yonatan Vinitsky, ‘New Positive Information 6’, 2010, Back-Painted Gloss Paint (0603-G70Y) on Erased Black Marker Pen, Oil Pencils (Red, Brown), Graphite, Glass Pencils (Black, Red, White), Coloured Pencils (Purple, Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Brown, Green), Permanent Markers (Green, Blue), Yellow Highlight Marker, Soft Pastels (Grey, Blue), Pencils (HB, 7B, 3B), Pens (Blue, Black) and Purple Felt-Tip Pen on Clear Archival Polyester Film (75 micr) on Plywood (12mm), Washers, Screws, Pine Frame, H49cm x W63.5cm

YONATAN VINITSKY NEW POSITIVE INFORMATION 6

Yonatan Vinitsky, ‘New Positive Information 6’, 2010, Detail View

YONATAN VINITSKY NEW POSITIVE INFORMATION 4
Yonatan Vinitsky, ‘New Positive Information 4’, 2010, Back-Painted Gloss Paint (0603-G70Y) on Erased Black Marker Pen, Oil Pencils (Red, Brown), Graphite, Glass Pencils (Black, Red, White), Coloured Pencils (Purple, Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Brown, Green), Permanent Markers (Green, Blue), Yellow Highlight Marker, Soft Pastels (Grey, Blue), Pencils (HB, 7B, 3B), Pens (Blue, Black) and Purple Felt-Tip Pen on Clear Archival Polyester Film (75 micr) on Plywood (12mm), Washers, Screws, Pine Frame, H49cm x W63.5cm

YONATAN VINITSKY NEW POSITIVE INFORMATION 1
Yonatan Vinitsky, ‘New Positive Information 1’, 2010, Back-Painted Gloss Paint (0603-G70Y) on Erased Black Marker Pen, Oil Pencils (Red, Brown), Graphite, Glass Pencils (Black, Red, White), Coloured Pencils (Purple, Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Brown, Green), Permanent Markers (Green, Blue), Yellow Highlight Marker, Soft Pastels (Grey, Blue), Pencils (HB, 7B, 3B), Pens (Blue, Black) and Purple Felt-Tip Pen on Clear Archival Polyester Film (75 micr) on Plywood (12mm), Washers, Screws, Pine Frame, H89cm x W114cm

YONATAN VINITSKY THE YOUNG ORATOR 11
Yonatan Vinitsky, ‘The Young Orator 11’, 2010, Back-Painted Gloss Paint (0603-G70Y) on Black Marker Pen, Oil Pencils (Red, Brown), Graphite, Glass Pencils (Black, Red, White), Coloured Pencils (Purple, Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Brown, Green), Permanent Markers (Green, Blue), Yellow Highlight Marker, Soft Pastels (Grey, Blue), Pencils (HB, 7B, 3B), Pens (Blue, Black) and Purple Felt-Tip Pen on Clear Archival Polyester Film (75 micr) on Plywood (12mm), Washers, Screws, Pine Frame, H44cm x W37.5cm

JAMES HARRISON LEAVES
James Harrison, ‘Leaves’, 2010, Oil on Linen, H42cm x W30cm

JAMES HARRISON IN THE GARDEN AT NIGHT
James Harrison, ‘In the Garden at Night’, 2010, Oil on Poly-Cotton, H83cm x W59cm

JAMES HARRISON DOUBLE BEACH

JAMES HARRISON DOUBLE BEACH
James Harrison, ‘Double Beach’, 2010, 2 x Framed Watercolour on Paper, Each H21cm x W29.5cm