9th September - 14th October 2017
©2020 Nelson Diplexcito All rights reserved
The three of us came together as a result of visiting each other's studios to look at paintings. We found that we had a common passion for the act of painting and what that meant for us and our lives. We are not interested in irony, or in having a lazy detachment from the painting. We believe in the singular image and that painting lives in its emtional power to portray the sensations of being alive. We also had a frustration with the way painting is seen through reproductions and we wanted to put on an exhibition that celebrates the sheer physical presence of painting.
We gave ourselves a series of headings to jot down some thoughts on why and how we do it.
Why You Paint?
JC I paint to create and invent a world, which is distinctive and particular to the medium. It's like a parallel universe to the real, yet somehow talks about reality. It also provides a structure to make "pictures". Chasing or finding a new image is always a challenge, in opening up lines of enquiry. Finally, the object of the painting offers a lot of complexity within its surface. Painting can be very dense in its physicality and its meaning.
ND When I was younger, working in London as an artist, I used to feel a kind of underlying pressure to be a part of the 'art scene', go to openings, be seen, hang out with the right crowd, form groups, etc. I had very little interest in any of these things then and my interest really hasn't developed. What I am saying is that I prefer the solitariness of the studio to the preview evening and I hsave an allergy to the scene, the network and to the club. Through design or default, when I am painting or drawing, when I am in the studio I feel this is what I should be doing, this is where I belong and I feel closer to the world then I do outside of the studio. I agree with Howard, painting for me comes from a kind of dark energy that is at work. If I consider what it is that I am doing, to give presence through paint, to bring a form into the light seems to me a kind of in extremis activity. When I consider the painters I return to and what I am interested in making, the commonality is to make paintings that communicate the intensification of existence. I do not mean expression, intensification is much closer to what interests me in painting and when I am painting I feel most attuned to this.
HR I paint to make things real, to give a face to feelings. The enigma at the heart of our relationship which speaks darkly to our everyday lives. Painting calms my disgust and gives space for heroics.
The Studio Environment
JC Some of my ideas are generated from the ongoing 2D and 3D experimentations within the studio space. For example, the left over paint from my palette gets applied to a 3D model. This in turn will be photographed and then used in a collage. The waste products of the process always go back into the production of the work. This has become my subject matter. The studio detritus becomes transformed and made "epic" via this restless to-ing and fro-ing.
ND There is precariousness to things, so thee is a kind of urgency about getting down to the work. Thee is a lot of delaying tactics but eventually you are compelled to do it, knowing that it will not paint itself. These delaying tactics are also a kind of hesitation, as you know that the demands of painting are such that it will take all that you have got.
HR THe studio is an accumulation of my desire to pin down my life. It is a private place made public by the paintings. It holds the promise of continuing.
JC Why does one get up each day and go to the studio? The drive is always to make the work new and surprising, there is always stuff to do, things to get entangled in. There is a constant need to push the medium in to different territories. Personally this is helped by combining painting with unorthodox materials. Tere is a compulsion of "what's around that corner?" A desire to transform the ordinary, combined with some knowledge and experience of past mistakes.
ND It is important to be clear, I am ambitious for the work, not myself. Personal ambition I have very little interest in. What is it that drives me? In short, to paint it real. For me, if there is ambition and drive it is always to make it emotionally real. I see painting very much as language and because it exists for me as this it has all the complexity and depth of learning a language. I don't just mean being able to communicate through a form of surface learning. It has to work on every level and the story of painting is that it knows this game inside out. For me there is no other activity that can move so swiftly and directly between destruction and tenderness other than painting. It's only equivalent of course being our own human interactions and emotions. This is perhaps why painting is so resistant, resilient as in some shape or form painting runs so closely to this.
HR To make make clearer paintings the artists I admire like Chardin, Manet, Guston show us the everyday as if it hsadn't been seen before. Meaning is 'bred in the bone' we have to access it within ourselves to make it real.
JC I begin my paintings by sticking collaged materials to the picture surface. These give a pattern to the image and provide something for the painting to "kick" against. My reference material is a collage of a 3D model, which is scaled up to create the painting. The painting often changes drastically untill it "fits" or feels right, on to the collage and underpainting. All these residues of past attempts remain visible and add to the final image.
ND I use photography deliberately as a reference for painting. When i looked back at the photographs that I have taken I always felt a sense of disappointment. To me they were always incomplete; they lacked weight, they hsad a thinness which I found difficult to respond to, perhaps it is because a photograph never belongs to the present. I realized later what I had made for myself was a museum of ghosts. This is where painting begins for me, with an imsage that has the thinness of a ghost. Then thee is the act of painting and the priming of the ghost trap; the setting of the space frame, where the light impression meets the material weight of paint and the painter's will to make it real. Out of this tension and coflict, what transpires is a series of necessary activations. It is as if the photograph, the painting and the painter through an uneasy treaty of sorts, temporarily inhabit and operate within the work. The difficulty always is keeping the dialogue alive and the recognition of a place where the painting has achieved a form of visual resistance where the painter can step backwards and outside of the work.
HR I don't use photographs but work directly from the objects. The paintings are built up over a series of prolonged attacks, retreating just before or after chaos sets in. The damage is where I start again. This lasts as long as necessary, untill the image is complete, without padding. I make drawings during the process, often discarding them along the way. The objects are set up in a corner of the studio but are usually redundant once the painting gains integrity. If I notice a technique becoming too habitual I try to discard it. Each painting starts again, there are no rules that shouldn't be broken. Many paintings don't make it.
JC My recent paintings are looking at hybrid body-machines. These are influenced by weathered and nostalgic interior and exterior structures. Colour is a key element in trying to create a vivid yet faded palette. I am interested in domestic architecture from the recent past. This is emphasised by the collaged floor lino patterns. The narrative element comes from looking at brutalism and space age like structures. I am trying to make these "dumb" sculptural objects become totemic and suggest a much larger scale.
ND It's a long story how I got on to making portraits. In 2012-13 I was making a range of paintings on paper; travel paintings, figure paintings, a group of paintings titled European Studies and in amongst these there were a hanful of prtraits. When I looked around the studio at the work, it was always the portraits that I responded to, returned to and which held my attention. I started to make more portraits and they now constitute the main body of work. Interestingly, the number of works destroyed increased, I have destroyed more work since I started making the portraits than at any other time in which I have been painting. On the rare ocassions that it does come together, it is as if there is a locking in of the form, the many channels in the quarrying and topology of the image one by one close down and with this there's a marked shift in painting activity. I spoke earlier about the thinness of the source material, it is at this moment that the image changes, it assumes a form of resistance and repels its ghost status. If this all sounds a little obscure, then it is an obscure truth that for me exists in the way I see and approach painting. I can't remeber exactly the quote I heard the other day, the dead are invisible but they are not absent. My subject is not the photograph, it is to give a face and a presence to the past; I do not see this as obscure at all. When I look at art I like to think about life not art. If someone asked me, why it was portraiture - for me poraiture is about compassion and solidarity for another.
HR In the recent work I want to push my painting to its limits. In the struggle to find ways of uniting "figure and ground" the paintings have become larger I would like to some really big one's. I am also thinking of using the figure again but don't know exactly how at the moment, so am doing some large drawings. I was seventy this year, I have been making Art for nearly 50 years but only now feel I have a grasp of what it is I need to paint and the tools for doing it. It has been a long journey with many years of not making paintings, but now I know that the fears that haunted me for long periods are aat rest. The painting I am making now contains all of me, the doubts, fears and certainties. I have nothing to gain by pleasing and nothing to lose by failing.