titleDURATION and PAINTING ~ An Exhibition at Art Space Gallery : 11 March - 9 April 2011



11 March - 9 April 2011

Eddie Farrell and Michael Wedgewood
Susan Forsyth
Jeff Gibbons
Ralph Hunter-Menzies


This exhibition brings together artists working with film, sculpture and painting. Painting more as a reflexive activity, a process than a means to an end. Although in a way all making is a means to an end and cross-referencing is necessary in any dialogue. Here the means defies an easy categorisation.

What is common ground for shared interests in how time and duration exist in painting when we think of painting in sculpture and film as much as in painting itself? Or in a car driving through fields, fragments of buildings, a city, edges of concrete, blocks, bricks, dirt, plastic rubbish, detritus and blue sky. To think of painting’s time as an elastic process, when a work seen is recalled, its duration persists in unquantifiable ways. It’s like any recollection, fragmentary and elusive in contemplating a work seen and recalled. Quantifying and qualifying the time of looking is part of the daily activity of making art. It reminds me of a film John Baldessari made called ‘I’m making art’, 1971, where he stands foursquare facing the camera, going through a series of gestures, his arms and head go this way and that while he repeats with every new position, the title, ‘I’m making art.’ The inflection of his voice varies from sounding bored to assertive and quizzical. It is like a mantra to dispel the mystique that often surrounds art’s production as elevated to a humorous comment on the often banal, and sometimes incidental nature of making art. And it takes time to do, look and watch. 

Eddie Farrell and Michael Wedgewood have collaborated for many years and have made an extensive number of films under the name Wedgywood. There are well over 100 of their films on YouTube. The fastlastpainting was made over the last 14 days of the Tudor Road Squat in Hackney when they knew they would have to leave. The walls and floor were painted to render the flatness of the picture plane with the camera and tripod remaining in one place. The idea was to make the painting direct to camera, using the camera frame as the viewer. A punctuating theme was the projection of innocent looking newspaper drawings throughout the process of making the painting. These depict the five acceptable methods Western governments can use during interrogation of terrorist suspects.

Susan Forsyth’s sculptures made from cardboard overlaid with gold leaf, stand resolutely within interior spaces, like the Minimalist canon she references. It pokes fun at the heavy-duty industrial materials favoured by formalist sculptors whilst engaging with shared concerns. The cardboard is industrial, like iron or steel, but insubstantial and vulnerable and the gold leaf is delicate. It echoes renaissance altarpieces with light-hearted seriousness.      

Jeff Gibbons paints painting’s lack with a faux game of trivial references to old language and tired expressions, and by so doing shows painting to be at best to risk failure of meaning. Deadpan paint, rose coloured, gives a hint of the old expression, ‘rose coloured spectacles’; it is a joke on nostalgia like so many signatures, elusive past painting, past concerns, current concerns dead painting, still dead, life painting. Colour, fleeting. It is what it is, a fragment. Words, phrases, a bit of painting, a bit more painting, seem to point to the paradoxical and humorous, painting’s impossible finitude.

Ralph Hunter-Menzies’s practice explores different periods of time through an obsessive cathartic painting process. He works either energetically and spontaneously (minute paintings) or in a laboured and highly deliberate fashion (thirty-day paintings) applying paint in layers, changing the direction and repeating the action to fulfil the designated timeframe. It is relentless and deadpan in method which contrasts with the seductive use of colour.

Jo Melvin


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