Painting Etc. is a solo exhibition of new work that follows on directly from my MFA studio led research and Versoexhibition. Various monochromatic forms are presented to reflect on the passage of paintings. This series employs the aesthetics of packaging, storage and transport in order to consider the conceptual contribution that placement within a site adds to an artwork. By assuming positions of both arrival and departure, ‘Painting Etc’ is an exhibition of works that presume their own disappearance in transit while remaining acutely present.
Painting, 2017. 90 x 90cm. Timber, acrylic, polyester
Installation view, Stacks Projects.
Baggage, 2017. 67 x 40 x 29cm. Suitcase, foam, timber canvas, choma key blue paint.
Hand, 2017. 97 x 690 x 194cm. Galvanised steel, enamel
Bushman's Stockroom, 2017. 108 x 209 x 96cm. Timber, acrylic, polyester. (Painting Rack w/ Tarpaulin)
Joe Wilson, Painting etc. – Catalogue Essay
Victory & Thinker, 2017. Digital Collage
Painting has left the room.
So, what has happened when you go to an exhibition of paintings only to find that Painting has turned its back and left the room? This is a room you may find yourself in at one of Joe Wilson’s exhibitions and it is a provocative quandary when encountering his work. Left inside the room are a collection of objects that point to the absence of Painting, much as a recent departure from the stage of a Big Personality. There is a sense of having just missed the main act, tempered by a little uncertainty about the objects left scattered on stage. The end-of concert announcement ‘Elvis has left the building’ comes to mind.
In this room, the works tell of painting through its absence. They do this by adopting its familiar form, referencing formalism, and by utilising a pseudo-materiality that is filled with insight and humour. Carefully assembled is a collection of objects that are associated with and which indubitably point to painting. They point to the imprimatur of painting and not, as one might expect, the well-mined arenas of painting activity as inspired spiritual process, its medium as skill-based, its output as an aesthetically valued product for lengthy gazing upon. The material elements of painting are not present but are recognisable in their absence, through references, substitution and word play. For Joe Wilson lays bare, as if on a stage the entire set of conventions that surround an exhibition of paintings. A Wilson exhibition is a work site and the works are exhibited as moveable and transitory artefacts of the exhibition apparatus – the making, staging, crating, transport and installation of painting.
As a mere viewer you will be caught up in this staging, as your role in the gallery is assessed. Within the exhibition space of Painting etc., you may find that your entry is facilitated but your spectating can be confounded by the transitory narrative conveyed by the works. The shop-like window of the gallery displays a blue painting bespoke-packed in an orange suitcase. On entry, Hand, 2017, a hand-rail painted in safety yellowseems toescort, support and guide you in your viewing journey. Then you see paintings in various stages of installation – wrapped for travel, leaning on a wall, hung. Usually monochromes, they resist being seen again whenever they remain resolutely crated and unpacked. Occasionally mounted plinth-like on white pallets these works take on a monumental, if slightly absurdist quality. The packing pallet, with its irresistible homophonic reference to a painter’s palette is a recurring Wilson motif, and a gently satirical dig at the paraphernalia, the etcetera of painting, that is the subject of the exhibition.
Clearly at home in the gallery, and fluent in the non-objective vernacular, the works are clean-lined, restrained, well-crafted objects presented in an elegant and reductive vocabulary. You see timber frames, flat colours, monochromatic surfaces, geometric compositions, ready-mades and rectilinearity. It is familiar, and almost too well done. There is a tension in the room, and it’s a tension created from flawless execution undercut by absence. In a strange inversion of their objecthood, the works resemble – maybe even mimic – images, functioning as reflections, understudies and surrogates of painting. In doing so, the works take on the appearance, semblance, expectation, the simulacra of art, as if what we know and have come to expect of painting has been held up to a mirror, and reproduced.
Situating himself as a painter, Joe Wilson, who also works as an art installer and art school studio technician, is broadly concerned with “elements, situational and compositional, beyond the confines of the painter’s canvas”. Indeed his recent research for his Masters of Fine Art posited painting as Dislocated Object and examined Mobility and Transfer in the Presentation of Painting. And when painting is transient, on the move, or just passing through, then its absence becomes very much a concept explored within each exhibition. Absence is instigated, and then perpetuated by the works’ consideration of the marginalia of roles and agencies that take place behind and beyond the surface of painting. In talking to Joe, he elaborates on a theory he has about the object-image dichotomy, (a central tenet dating from the birth of non-objective painting), seeing it rather as an object-image collusion. This is a co-dependant relationship specific to our contemporary age of ubiquitous media, where the image can not only extend the reach of the object, but also become a work in its own right.
Another instance of painting turning its back on a room was Wilson’s earlier exhibition Verso (February 2017, Rayner Hoff Space, National Art School). A verso is a technical term for the reverse side of a painting and in considering painting’s verso we are looking at its back. In that show, the physical site had been renovated to preserve multiple layers of the building’s prosaically utilitarian use, and this facilitated the presentation of painting’s absence in utilitarian disguise. A dolly, a ramp, crates, ladders and flights of steps were interwoven with the presentation of paintings on the walls, suggesting movement, transition and production. In several works, with disarming conceptual perspicacity, Wilson uses chroma-key paint as well as textiles as canvas. A chroma-key is not only a ready-made colour monochrome but a blue / green colour keyed to ‘disappear’ digitally,
The use of a disappearing colour for an exhibition of absent paintings recalls a tale from early painting mythology. The ancient Greek myth of Zeuxis and Parrhasios had two renowned painters in a contest. While Zeuxis produced a painting superior in illusion (birds flew down to taste the painted grapes) it was Parrrhasios who won, for his painting of a curtain which had deceived everyone. The point of the story was not that the curtain was particularly well painted, but that the viewers didn’t see it as painting because they didn’t expect to see it. Instead, the viewers placed all their hope and anticipation in painting that was not there, but was absent.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Painting has left the building. Thank you and goodnight.
Lisa Sharp, August 2017
Half Arsed, 2017. 48 x 48 x 8cm. Timber, acrylic on canvas. Palette (White), 2017. 7 x 40 x 40cm. Acrylic on timber.
Painting Rack (Small), 2016. 36 x 38 x 37cm. Timber, acrylic on canvas. (+) alette (White), 2017
Blue Rack, 2017. 36 x 36 x 17cm. Chroma-key paint, cor-ten steel.
Baggage, 2017. 67 x 40 x 29cm. Suitcase, foam, timber canvas, choma key blue paint.
Joe Wilson & Chanelle Collier
Tribute is our third collaborative project and continues to develop a combined practice investigating the contingent dynamics of networks that are social and situational.
The works in this exhibition are all modelled after selected works from our own collection, mostly comprised of local artists with whose work and practice we are familiar. The works titled Tribute or After take the structure of their namesakes and are made to celebrate the work of our peers and influences. In each piece the artist’s signature hand is removed, leaving a blank chroma-key stand-in as a physical tribute to the work that came before it, offered as a gift to the original creator.
We seek to mindfully engage the inherent authorisation and agency that comes of building a collection of art; and to navigate the shifts in identity-roles between collector, curator and artist. Through the presentation of stand-in works, and images of works in situ at home, this exhibition attempts to re-locate artworks set adrift, and to draw attention back to their originality while simultaneously expressing concepts and practice of our own making.
Exhibition: 16 - 26 MARCH
Studio 8, 19-23 Wellington Street, Chippendale
Install Photography: Sarah Kukathas & Patrick Cremin
Top Left to Bottom Right: Tribute (Anastasia Klose, HUO Just Do it, 2014); Tribute (Matthew De Moiser, Composite #4, 2014); Tribute (Louise Tuckwell, Glimpse, 2014); Tribute (Cornelis “Ton” Timmers, Syndrome, 2011); Tribute (Damian Dillon, Untitled #748, 2008); Tribute (Marc Etherington, Medicine Man #4, 2014); After Easel Painting 9, 2011; Tribute (Michael Bennett, No-mans Land, 2014); Tribute (Adam Norton, Space Posters, 2013); Tribute (Sokquon Tran, Light Study 2, 2015); Tribute (Eko Bambang Wisnu, Sold, 2015); After Painting + Fan, 2016; Tribute (James Powditch, Kornfield XIX, 2013); Tribute (Glen Hayward, A Spiral of Black Paint Enacted via a Phonograph, 2015); After Art that Does Catalogue, 2016
Stairs Poster; Mantelshelf Poster; Living room Poster, 2017. A0, Laser print on paper.
Adam Norton, Space Posters, 2013
Anastasia Klose, HUO Just Do it, 2014
Michael Bennett, No-mans Land, 2014
Damian Dillon, Untitled #748, 2008
Eko Bambang Wisnu, Sold, 2015
Glen Hayward, A Spiral of Black Paint Enacted via a Phonograph, 2015
Joe Wilson & Chanelle Collier, Art that Does Catalogue, 2016
Louise Tuckwell, Glimpse, 2014
Marc Etherington, Medicine Man #4, 2014
Matthew De Moiser, Composite #4, 2014
Sokquon Tran, Light Study 2, 2015
Cornelis Timmers, Syndrome, 2011
Lynne Eastway, Fold, 2015
After Easel Painting 9, 2011, 2017. 49 x 19 x 14 cm. Chroma key fabric and paint, timber.
Thurs 16th, Feb. 2017
Rayner Hoff Project Space. NAS
MFA(Research) Final Presentation
An exhibition in two parts that firstly addresses a contemporary digital transfer from object to image, and secondly, represents the mobility of objects in physical space. The transfer and mobility between physical sites, and to digital sites, are forms of transition. These transitions lead to a dislocation and a disruption in the perception of an original work. Artworks are in these ways subject to many modes of presentation. Each presentation exacts a new appearance, an extension that both mediates and comprises a work as it tracks through varying sites, between the studio, galleries, storage, and documentation.
A centenary tribute to Duchamp, who in 1917 entered 'Fountain' into the Society of Independents exhibition, only to have it refused.
'Centenaire' is a site specific installation where white on white paintings hang in the graffitied mens room of the Cricketers Arms Hotel, Surry Hills. In there, the paintings inevitably succumb to the vandalism of the site, disappearing into the colour and glamour of its walls.
The work is about privileged identity domains relating to site, gender, authorship, and fine art.
For the duration of the opening night the mens room was open to all genders as an exhibition space. At times uncomfortable, pub goers met with visitors of the artworks to share in moments of personal reflection. It took all of 2hrs for the clean painted surfaces to begin to be overwritten. After 12 months, two paintings have been stolen, one vandalised beyond repair, and the remaining covered by tags, stickers, and graffiti.